Diana model AR8: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana AR-8
Diana AR8 N-TEC air rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

  • Mega-blaster
  • Baracuda Match 5.51mm heads
  • Initial observations
  • Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • Bottom line?

Listen up, kiddies, because I don’t often get a chance to do what I’m about to do today. I have found a world-beater air rifle! It has some stuff I don’t like, but the bottom line is — the Diana AR8 is a winner. Allow me to explain.

First of all, I didn’t mount a scope for today’s accuracy test. The AR-8 comes with nice adjustable sights, so I shot it off a bag at 10 meters with open sights. I rested the rifle on my hand that was resting on a sandbag.

Mega-blaster

As noted in the velocity test, the AR-8 is a mega-blaster, and one with a gas spring at that. Because of that, I had almost no hope for accuracy. The thin thread of hope that I clung to is the fact that the Diana 340 N-TEC was very accurate when I tested it. But that rifle isn’t as powerful as the AR-8. Until today my experience with extremely powerful gas spring breakbarrel air rifles is they are not accurate. Except for the 340 N-TEC I just noted, the rest of them are punishing disappointments. The AR-8 changes that. Let me show you.

Baracuda Match 5.51mm heads

The first target I shot was with Baracuda Match pellets with 5.51mm heads. The first shot went high in the black bull, so I left the sights where they were. Ten pellets went into a horizontal group that measures 0.816-inches between centers. That’s not bad, but I hoped for better.

Diana AR-8 Baracuda 5.51 target
Ten Baracuda Match with 5.51mm heads went into this 0.816-inch group at 10 meters.

Initial observations

I was surprised that the pellets stayed as close together as they did. Usually these mega-magnum blasters throw pellets all over the place. However, because I was shooting Baracuda Match that comes in several head sizes, I decided to go up to the largest heads I had and see what a difference it made — if any.

I really appreciate the AR-8’s ultra-light trigger when I’m shooting targets. It makes everything so much easier.

The rifle doesn’t kick as much as I feared in Part 2. But it does vibrate. I got slapped in the face every time the rifle fired, and they were painful slaps. That’s something I could do without.

Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads

Next, I tried 10 Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53mm heads. This was the pellet for this rifle. They went into 0.49-inches at 10 meters. Now, THAT is a group! And it’s 10 shots. So, this AR-8 can really shoot!

Diana AR-8 Baracuda 5.53 target
Ten Baracuda Match with 5.53mm heads went into this 0.49-inch group at 10 meters. This is a group!

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The last pellet I tried was the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. Ten of them made a 0.735-inch group. That’s in-between the first and second groups, and closer to the first.

Diana AR-8 JSB Jumbo target
Ten JSB Exact Jumbos went into this 0.735-inch group at 10 meters.

Bottom line?

The bottom line today is that the Diana AR-8 rifle can really shoot. Yes, it does slap you in the kisser with painful vibration, but the trigger is superb and I don’t think hunters are going to mind that much.

Now that the detonations are over, this AR-8 has settled down to become a great shooter. Remember that, if you get one. There is a short break-in period.

I want to back up to 25 yards and shoot this rifle again with open sights. I know that’s not the way I normally do it, but that’s what I want to do. If this were my rifle, I would never mount a scope on it at all. That said, I will most likely conform to the usual plan and scope the rifle for the next test.

75 thoughts on “Diana model AR8: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    Congratulations for finding another world beater and from the new management of Diana to boot. Since the rifle vibrates so much that it slaps you would it benefit from tightening of tolerances such as buttoning or sleeving the gas ram? How does one go about this?

    Siraniko


    • S,

      It is not really vibration, but the forward recoil that is slapping him. There is no mass in that light stock to help absorb it, so it moves forward rapidly and the long lever of the shoulder stock pivots on the fulcrum of the pistol grip and makes sudden, violent contact with his cheek.

      I speak from experience.


      • RidgeRunner,

        So the answer is to restock the gun with a more classic shape and denser material? If the forward recoil is that bad would decreasing the piston weight be a modification worth considering?

        Siraniko


      • RR,
        I had that problem with my TF 87. Made a sleeve from Velcro and some foam packing mattered- had lots from the last shipment of pellets from PA. The sleeve goes over the butt and acts as a cheek weld as well as putting some cushion between the face and the stock. Now it’s fun to shoot.

        Pete


      • RR

        What about adding some weight at the rear of the stock to dampen the recoil rotation.

        I have epoxied lead fishing “sinkers” into a cavity I drilled under the butt-plate to balance a rifle to the owner’s liking but I have never tried it for recoil reduction.

        I like to balance my rifles so that the COG (center of gravity) is about 5 inches in front of the trigger.

        Hank


        • Hank,

          I am certain that would help, but the idea is to keep it as light as possible for carrying all day. I will have to keep the balancing idea in mind should I get another hollow stock air rifle.

          As far as this thing is concerned, I personally think it is too ugly and mean tempered for me to date.


          • RR,

            Know what you mean about watching the weight – no fun to be lugging a heavy rifle all day. My FWB124 is my favorite for a walk-about – not many feral soda-cans around but there are lots of aggressive acorns that need to be dealt with. 🙂

            Being at the far end of the “lever” it doesn’t take much lead to get a nice balance and often makes the rifle “feel” lighter. (I “test” for balance by looping the handles of a small plastic bag over the butt of the stock and adding weight as required.)

            I tend to shoulder/point/shoot very quickly so I am very fussy when it comes to fit and balance of the rifle. (I used to shoot some decent skeet scores with a .22 rimfire 🙂 ) Working on a new stock for the FWB124 at the moment – ’bout 3/4 done. The advantage of DIY is that you can custom fit everything to suit.

            The AR8 is not my kinda rifle either – I’d go PCP if I wanted/needed that kind of energy. Think that the perpendicular pistol grip and thumb-hole design is too “target” for me as I find an conventional angled grip to be easier and faster for handling and off-hand shooting. Each to their own.

            I never have been a fan of plastic stocks but have to admit that I do like the one on the Maximus… though my granddaughter has ask that I make a maple/cherry stock to fit her for it.

            Hank


  2. BB
    Great shooting. I didn’t expect this accuracy with the slanted breech damage to the pellet skirts. Off topic the trigger blade on my hatsan 125 broke off at the front adjustment screw. I’m doubting the quality of hatsan now as its clearly a metal flaw. I mailed hatsan the details with photos,but they usually never reply & the local agent wants me to bring the gun to them, when I asked them to sell me the part as I can easily do it. I am wary of them as their workers are clueless & put engine oil into the transfer port of the new gun before I could stop them. Can you or anyone on this blog please tell me where I can get a new quattro unit for my gun. Thank you
    Errol


    • Errol,

      I have no clue where to find parts, but I am familiar with the quality of Hatsans. I have a Tomahawk.

      As for the clueless workers, the manual tells them to oil it. I am still trying to burn off the factory oil in mine.


      • RR
        Thanks for taking the time for me
        Do you think it’s possible to turn out a trigger blade on a CNC machine? Or I may be forced to go to the dealer. BTW there was a small note in the box which said not to lubricate the piston and/or seals to prevent damage to the inside from detonation. How to lube it then? I’ve already tuned and lubed it lightly with moly & it was shooting real smoothly & dead accurate although the power dropped a bit. I got me a new chrono BTW Prochrono Pal. Don’t know how I managed without it! Pity about the trigger blade. Will fix it somehow.
        Errol


        • Errol,

          I see nothing to stop you from having a replacement trigger blade turned out on a CNC machine. Tuning an airgun making it smooth and accurate in the process is a good trade-off for some loss of power. What good is that power if you can’t hit the target?

          Siraniko


          • Siraniko
            Thanks so much for your feedback. I think I’ll try to see whether someone can do it for me. I’m also checking out some online sellers. There is a place in Belgium but unfortunately they don’t ship out of Europe. They have the original Quattro unit & I’ve asked them if they will make an exception. It’s so darn frustrating when I’ve tuned it to shoot so well & the trigger blade snaps
            Errol


        • Errol,

          I looked into getting an arrow barrel made for the .25 M-rod. With part measuring, computer programming, material cost and machine shop time,…. it can add up to 200$+ in a hurry. Most shops will not fool with that anyways. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted something made. (like your trigger blade), that I was going to have to find someone with a manual mill and lathe in their shop or garage. Kind along the line of someone that is retired and has a small hobby set up and that pretty much just “tinkers”. I have not found anyone like that. Good luck on your quest.


          • Chris,

            Just a quick note to say the barrel on my Titan locks up nicely now. Adding the smaller diameter spring inside the original spring is working well. This along with the replacement gas ram from PA and the rc bearing for the trigger are all doing the job. The rc bearing is definitely preferable to a washer. Even so, it is crucial to ensure there is no safety sacrificed.

            The only thing left is for me to fine tune my part until I know the rifle is doing the best it can do.

            ~ken


          • Chris
            Thanks. Everyone is so helpful here, that’s what I love about this Blog, its one big family. I see it could cost more than the price of a new gun just to get a specialized part done. I’ll check out what you advised. It maybe best to get an original part so I’m checking that option as well. Last resort will be to go to the local agent & get it done. Ugh!
            Errol



              • BB
                Thanks so much for your valuable time for me. I have also mailed Hatsan Turkey (thats where my gun came from)of the problem along with pictures. Hope they respond favourably. Its frustrating for us when there are problems regarding spares. Its a solid very accurate gun otherwise. Have contacted PA too.
                God bless
                Errol


        • Errol,

          Like BB said, give PA a try for the parts or the actual repair.

          I think they are referring to not introducing lubricants into the compression chamber in front of the seal, like dumping motor oil down the transfer port. Some do recommend a drop or so of silicone chamber oil every couple of thousand shots to help keep the seals pliant.


          • RR
            You’re right there. I also replaced the piston & breech seals with top stuff from CustomAir Seals Aussie. Piston seal is rated to 1000bar. I just put a couple drops silicone chamber oil. But the seal is supposed to be moly impregnated self lubricating? Does it mean it doesn’t need lube?
            Errol



    • Hi Errol,

      If you live in the USA, Hatsan USA will not sell you trigger parts. They will sell you any other type of replacement part but trigger parts. They will tell you to send the gun or trigger pack in and they will fix your broken trigger blade. Thank the lawyers!
      If you know somebody with a CNC machine, a new trigger blade should be easy to duplicate.
      Good luck,

      Yogi


      • Hi Yogi
        Thanks. I live in Sri Lanka. The local Hatsan agent too is refusing to sell me the trigger unit & wants me to bring the gun in. I’m reluctant as the cost of transportation to and from them is very high as I can’t use public transportation to take it there. Also I’m not happy with the competency of their technical guys. Their idea of a service is squirting 40w oil through the transfer port of a magnum springer like the 125 & saturating the mainspring with same. I did a very good tune on it & I don’t want it being messed up, plus I know what to do & prefer to do it myself. I will try Pyramyd Air as B B advised. If not I’ll get it turned out. We have some very good machinists here but the problem is locating them as they operate from small hidden places but can be found if you ask the right people. Will see how it goes.

        Errol


    • Errol:

      “I’m doubting the quality of hatsan now as its clearly a metal flaw.”

      I too doubt the quality of Hatsan. I had an AT44 that the side lever broke when I was cocking it and it appeared to be a metal flaw. The AT44 has an auto safety that engages when cocked. The gun was not cocked when the lever broke so it broke before it was cocked which indicated to me a metal flaw. The side lever appeared to be made of cast aluminium or pot metal. This is a part that should have never broken.

      The lack of reliability of the gun and the complete indifference of Hatsan USA’s “customer service” means that I will never own another Hatsan product.

      Jim


      • Hi Jim
        You’re exactly right. The 125 trigger blade seems to be made of pot metal ( it just broke off & fell out just as the piston engaged the sear at the end of the cocking stroke I didn’t even touch the trigger) though the sears are made from a hard white steel. I own a Striker 1000s too but no problems with it though the trigger pull is a bit heavy it doesn’t affect accuracy. Hatsan better brush-up on QC & customer service or they will be left behind.
        Errol



    • RidgeRunner,

      How much mass do you think is going to be needed to tame the nearly 28 fpe this lady keeps belting out? Judging by the TX200 I estimate you need to add about 5 pounds of weight to tame the recoil.

      Siraniko


      • S,

        Maybe not that much, but it would be enough to make it no fun to carry in the woods all day.

        This is not a target rifle, it is a hunter. If you feel you need this much power, you will learn to deal with her carresses.

        I myself think she is ugly and I have no desire to date her, but she does seem to be interesting. 😉


        • RR,

          I like it on several fronts. With that much power, it would be good for squirrel at 50 yds. But, if it is not “minute of squirrel” at 50 yards,…. then why bother with the down sides,.. when less power would do the job closer in? I am trying to see where this “fits” in the grand scheme of practical application. Maybe ground hog and coon at closer ranges? That would work. For the occasional hunting shot, I could live with it. I am afraid though that I would have to really force myself to get through the break-in period and the scope zeroing when determining hold overs. Looking forwards to the 25 yard testing.


  3. Pingback: Diana model AR8: Part 3 | Airguns: Air Rifles and Pistols

  4. Nice to see Diana coming out with new products that perform. It would be great if HW would follow suit.

    I’ve been impressed with the accuracy of my .22 cal Dianas. I do hope you scope the rifle and test for droop like you mentioned in part one. Perhaps the weight of the scope would take some of the edge off the vibration.

    Thanks for this one,
    Mark N



  5. B.B.,

    Your comparing the two sizes of Baracudas proved to be enlightening. Obviously, the larger diameter pellets engage the rifling more. The butt-stock does come high and straight back to the shoulder, so Diana has done something at least to lessen the felt recoil. Do you think a thin pad or hand stitched “sock” of neoprene or other shock-absorbing material might reduce the slap?

    Michael



  6. That was definitely some superb shooting b.b . I’m curious as to your technique. As some who’s recently hit the half century mark my vision is on the down hill slide and I’m looking for pointers in using open sights. Are your sights in sharp focus and the bull fuzzy?do you wear your prescription glassesor readers etc. and as a long time reader first time commenter I just want to commend you on your wonderful blog.


    • coduece,

      Welcome to the blog.

      As a long-time reader you know that I’m 69. And you remember that my right retina (shooting eye) detached in April and I was blind in that eye. After an operation my vision has returned but I am 20/100 in that eye instead of the 20/20 before the operation.

      I shot with prescription glasses to see the front sight. It isn’t possible for anyone to see the target clearly when sighting — just the front sight. That I can do.

      B.B.


  7. Hi BB, sorry, another dumb question about the UTG “droop” mount on the RWS 45. There is a “hump” in the receiver/compression chamber ahead of the existing rail. Should the “foot” of the mount be “in front of” the hump or “atop” the hump and abutting the rail?


  8. Well, Diana can still make a barrel at least that’s clear, now let’s see if it’ll shoot under an inch at 40 yards through an optic, then it can be called a hunting gun.
    They are a rarer breed than marketing suggests



  9. O.K. it’s off topic, but I just got an email a couple hours ago from Pyramyd Air about Air Venturi’s “NEW” V10 target pistol…except, it looks a lot like the Gamo target pistol that’s been around for some years. Have changes been made to this pistol to justify the “NEW” or is it the same product?

    Motorman
    St. Louis, MO


  10. BB,
    When you said “extremely powerful gas spring breakbarrel air rifles is they are not accurate. Except for the 340 N-TEC (and this AR8). What about the RX-2/ HW90, is it inaccurate too?


  11. BB,

    still waiting for Part4 with mounting a scope.

    Greets from Germany ld

    PS. I bought this Diana too, very nice Gun with a lot of power. But I’m a little dissapointed where the quality of Diana goes… Weihrauch seems to me much better, and for less money!


  12. BB,

    what diameter measure the transfer port ?

    Quick measure of the transfer-port from a .177 system is 3mm.
    I have the .177 version and mount a .22 barrel from the diana 350.
    Works fine, but it is a beast. Very difficult to shoot with, a lot of recoil, and cocking is no fun.
    In .22 1050fps/320m/s with lead-free RWS, in .177 1301fps/397m/s with RWS Hypermax.
    Lead pellets like JSB RS,14.43 grains, are only at 24-25 Joule/18footpounds.

    Maybe it will be better with a transfer port which is 4mm ?

    Greetings from Germany LD

    BTW. Professional success is the original tag from Blaser, its not from Diana.


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