by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Scoping a drooper
- Firing cycle is smooth and quick
- Trigger takes some learning
- Artillery hold
- First group
- Second group
- Third group
- I was pleased!
- Artillery hold abandoned — the fourth group
- The bottom line
Boy, has this test turned out to be an eye opener! I had hoped that the Diana 340 N-TEC Classic would not disappoint, and believe me — it didn’t!
Scoping a drooper
Today, I’ll test the rifle scoped at 25 yards. I mounted an AirForce 4-16x scope in UTG Quick Lock Max Strength high Weaver rings; but this is a Diana air rifle, and that means the scope base on the rifle is proprietary. Knowing Diana’s reputation for drooper barrels, I also mounted a prototype UTG drooper scope base on the rifle. They aren’t supposed to fit, but this one did, perhaps because it’s a prototype and not the same as the bases they sell.
Even with the drooper base, the rifle still shot too low at 25 yards. The drooper base I chose has a shallow droop angle, so I think the 340 N-TEC either needs a drooper base with a steeper angle or an adjustable scope mount to compensate. At least, the rifle I’m testing needs that.
Firing cycle is smooth and quick
I’d forgotten how smooth and quick the firing cycle of the 340 N-TEC is. When the gun fires, it seems like the pellet is already at the target 75 feet away. The rifle is dead calm, like something that comes from a top tuner’s shop. And there’s no aggressive slap in the face from the cheekpiece like you get from most rifles with powerful gas springs. The shot is just solid, fast and pleasant — the way we expect spring rifles to be, although very few ever are.
Trigger takes some learning
The trigger, on the other hand, requires getting used to. It’s vague and light. The rifle fires before you’re ready. The best solution is not to touch the trigger until you’re ready to let the shot go.
I used an artillery hold, with my off hand slid forward to the point that the rear of the cocking slot was touching my palm. This is a good hold for stability.
After sighting-in the first group I fired was with JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain domes. I saw that they did well in the 10-meter test, and I felt they were a good pellet to begin with. Boy — was that an understatement! The first 10 pellets went into 0.492 inches at 25 yards! That may be the best group I’ve ever shot from a powerful gas-spring rifle at 25 yards. I can’t remember a better one.
I have to tell you that I was impressed by the way this rifle shot. It seemed to need very little in the way of special holding technique, and, where most gas-spring rifles would have scattered their shots into a one-inch pattern at 25 yards, this rifle seemed to want to stack one pellet on top of another. I got the feeling that this is a natural shooter — that rare airgun that just wants to put all the pellets into the same place. More testing would tell the story.
Next, I tried some H&N Baracuda with the 4.52mm heads. I have no good reason for choosing this pellet except I wanted to see how something different would do. Ten pellets went into 0.641 inches at 25 yards. That’s not as good as the JSBs, but it’s still not too shabby.
Like the first group, I was getting the sensation that this rifle wanted to put every pellet where it was aimed. Although the pellets landed in a larger group, none of them surprised me by flying erratically, the way pellets from powerful gas-spring rifles often do. I was starting to realize that the 340 N-TEC is a very stable air rifle.
I thought I would shoot just one more group of JSB pellets. This time there would be no excuses. I would hold each shot perfectly.
And that’s exactly what I did. The second group was also small, at 0.544 inches between centers. That’s slightly bigger than the first group, although the difference is so small that it could just be a measurement error. I’d obviously reached my limit with this rifle and pellet.
I was pleased!
This is the first time in all my years of testing airguns that I’ve shot a powerful gas-spring rifle that is also neutral to hold. I knew the lower-powered gas-spring guns were pretty forgiving, but not the magnums — which the 340 N-TEC certainly is.
And that’s when I got a crazy idea. What if this rifle is so neutral that it’ll even shoot when rested directly on a sandbag? As in, no artillery hold? Is such a thing possible? Until this test, I would not have thought so. But this 340 N-TEC acts like it wants to shoot, so I gave it a try.
Artillery hold abandoned — the fourth group
Lo and behold, I put 11 shots — not 10, but 11 — into 0.732 inches at 25 yards, with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag. I miscounted the shots, which is where the extra shot came from. This is the powerful spring rifle many of you said you wanted — one that’s neutral to hold. Well, here it is! And it’s powerful, relatively easy to cock (for a powerful gas-spring rifle, that is) and it has a light trigger.
My complaints are few. First, the trigger is too vague. It certainly doesn’t perform like a Diana T06 trigger. But look at the groups I was able to shoot. Obviously, you can do good work with this trigger.
Second, I don’t like the excessive barrel droop. You have to plan on that going in. Otherwise, the 340 N-TEC is a world-beater.
The bottom line
I’m so glad I selected the least expensive 340 N-TEC to test for you. This is an affordable gas-spring hunting rifle that’s within reach of a lot of airgunners. If you haven’t made the switch to pneumatic rifles yet because you’re holding out hope that a good springer will come along — here it is. I don’t know that every 340 N-TEC will be as good as the one I tested, but I’m guessing this one is representative. Good on ya, Diana!