Diana model AR8: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

  • New Diana scope base
  • Droop?
  • The test
  • Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads
  • Firing behavior
  • Better artillery hold
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • RWS Superdome
  • Notice all three groups
  • Conclusions

This report has taken a long time to write. I wanted to test the Diana AR8 from 25 yards with open sights, but my sighting eye has degraded to the point that I can’t do that. The AR8 is also very hard to cock and it would be too much trouble to shoot it left-handed, so I scoped it for today’s test. I used a 3-12X40 UTG scope that’s no longer made.

New Diana scope base

As you may remember, Diana changed the installed scope bases on all their spring rifles a few years ago, negating the aftermarket bases that were designed for them in the past by UTG. There are still hundreds of thousands of those vintage rifles that those bases fit, but the new base on all their spring rifles will not allow the old droop-compensating UTG mount base to be installed.
The problem is — Diana’s base on the rifle doesn’t accept a scope ring set very well. I wanted to use a base that accepted Picatinney scope rings, because of the heavy recoil of the AR8, but Diana doesn’t provide a ring like that, nor would it fit their base if they did.

Droop?

I had a prototype UTG base that did fit, but it did not have any droop compensation. In my first test today with H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53mm heads the pellet was striking the target about 8 inches below the aim point, and I thought it was due to droop, but with the next two pellets the groups were right on target. After testing I don’t think the AR8 I’m testing droops very much. It does droop a little, but not as much as vintage Diana breakbarrels.

The test

I shot from a rest at 25 yards. I used the artillery hold and in this report you will read that the best hold is with the off hand rested under the cocking slot, not touching the triggerguard. I shot 10 shots per pellet and the groups were so scattered that I had to photograph the target still taped to the backer board.

H&N Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads

First up was the H&N Baracuda Match pellet with the 5.53mm head. That was the most accurate pellet at 10 meters using open sights, so I thought it was a good place to start. Unfortunately this heavy pellet dropped so much (around 8 inches) that I had to use the third mil dot down on the vertical reticle as my aim point. And, even with that the group was still a couple inches below the aim point.

Ten pellets went into 1.321-inches at 25 yards. The group was very vertical and this was the only group that was shot with my off hand rested so it touched the triggerguard.

Diana AR-8 Baracudas 25 yards
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 1.321-inches at 25 yards. The verticality of this group may reflect where my off hand was resting beneath the rifle.

Firing behavior

The AR8 has a very light trigger that I love. The rifle doesn’t vibrate much when it fires, but it does recoil significantly.

Better artillery hold

After the first group, I slid my off hand out until it rested beneath the cocking slot of the stock. That stabilized the rifle more and I think gave better groups. I would have shot another group with these Baracuda pellets, but this rifle is too difficult for me to cock. After a few sighters and 30 shots for the record, I was finished.

JSB Exact Jumbo

The next pellet I tried was the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. The heavier 18.1-grain Jumbo Heavy did not do well at 10 meters, so I wanted to give this lighter one a try. Using the new artillery hold, 10 of these pellets made a group at 25 yards that measures 1.415-inches between centers. The group did strike the bottom of the bull I aimed at, so this pellet shoots about 8 inches higher than the Baracuda Match. It’s also the reason I say the AR8 is not much of a drooper.

Diana AR-8 JSB 25 yards
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo pellets went into 1.415-inches at 25 yards.

RWS Superdome

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. It’s light for the power of the AR8, but if it’s accurate, who cares?

Ten Superdomes went into 1.288-inches at 25 yards, which proved to be the best group of the test. They landed lower on the target than the JSBs, though they also did strike near the bull at which I was aiming. A couple of the last shots landed off the target paper, so I left the target taped to the backer board for photography and measuring.

Diana AR-8 Superdome 25 yards
Ten RWS Superdome pellets made this 1.288-inch target at 25 yards.

Notice all three groups

If you examine all three groups you’ll see there is a group within each of them that contains about half the shots. That suggests to me that there is a shooting hold that will improve the accuracy significantly. I almost had it, but not quite — as these groups show. I therefore think the AR8 is more accurate than my testing was able to demonstrate.

Conclusions

I still think the AR8 makes a nice hunting rifle for those wanting a springer. It’s definitely not for plinking, but if you can discover the right hold, I think you will be surprised.

Given the power, I think this rifle is very well-behaved. This is the second Diana with an N-TEC gas spring that has surprised me this way. I think they have their act together.

43 thoughts on “Diana model AR8: Part 4


    • RR,

      Been there! The touch screen on my iPad is too small for me. And lets not talk about the size of the one on the iPhone. And then there is auto correct…

      As a side note, dead full size key boards make interesting targets if you have a safe place to shoot them. Just call the letter and shoot it off.

      Jim


  1. B.B.,

    First, I am glad you used a scope for the 25 yard. Second, I am a bit confused on not being able to use a drooper mount. The DN T06 from UTG requires nothing more than an 11mm. rail. I have them on the TX and LGU.

    As for accuracy,… mmmmm? You did mention little to no buzz,.. but good recoil. Does it want to “slap” you at all? I guess a 50 yard test is out the question? I would not either.

    Chris



    • Chris,

      Being a gas sproinger, there is a pretty good chance there will be no buzz, ever. There will be significant forward and reverse recoil as the piston accelerates and decelerates at a very high rate. The trick of letting this thing float around and recoil as it desires and keeping it from jumping right out of your hands is going to take a lot of trigger time if you hope to hit anything with it. For someone who desires to take this air rifle and bring out it’s full potential will require a considerable amount of time.

      This air rifle appears to me to be designed by marketeers attempting to exploit the apparent success of companies selling sproingers to the big box stores. They have mistakenly arrived at the conclusion that all American air rifle enthusiasts desire an uber magnum sproinger that looks like a Mattelomatic. The fact is they are seeing the inexperienced newbies buying air rifles in large numbers at the big box stores that look like Mattelomatics with high velocity numbers plastered all over the boxes. After trying to shoot these things for a bit, they end up being relegated to the back of the closet until the Mrs. demands they do something with it and it ends up in a yard sale or pawn shop.


      • RR,

        At 380 I do not think this will be anyone’s first springer (gas). Plus, 225 seems to be the upper limit on air rifles in the local Wally’s. I see a Maximus or Wildfire with basic pump combo showing up first, but I would not hold my breath on that either.



  2. BB,

    There, that’s better.

    This does not seem to be the sproinger for me. I would much prefer the 340 N-TEC like you tested previously, especially if I can get it in the Luxus walnut stock.

    /blog/2015/05/diana-340-n-tec-classic-air-rifle-part-4/

    Hold sensitivity seems to be a major issue with all uber magnum sproingers, whether it has a metal or gas spring. These things are definitely not suitable for the newbie, but it seems it is the newbies that buy them. I’ll just have to pay more attention to the yard sales.


  3. B.B.

    You totally lost me on the scope base! I checked parts 1-4 and found no pictures of the scope base.
    Do you mean to say that this rifles scope base is a normal 11mm dovetail. Some older Diana’s had a funky “semi-Weaver base” With little indents across the top.
    Is that what you meant?

    1.5 inch groups at 25 yards is not really even good enough to do any hunting, IMHO. Perhaps you could do a series on the differences between a normal T-06 trigger and a gas spring T-06 trigger?

    Thanks,

    -Y


  4. BB

    I must be missing something about not being able to use an after market elevation compensation adapter. Either the UTG Chris mentions or Hawke Sport Optic Elevation Adapter would seem to work if anyone encounters droop on this rifle.

    Decksniper


  5. B.B.,

    Diana’s are infamous for their barrel droop, and while other break-barrel makers probably have some droop in their air rifles, it is apparently not bad enough or consistent enough to warrant a reputation such as Diana’s. And do underlever Dianas droop a bit as well? I’ve noticed in many a photo of their K98 that the rear sight is elevated half way to the moon.

    So, what is up with Diana that their springers droop? Is it a problem caused by a design trait? If so, why does the company not fix this once and for all?

    Michael


    • Michael,

      I have a Diana 46E underlever. It does indeed have “droop”. It is common with all air rifles as their trajectory arc is more pronounced than that of powder burners, which scopes were designed for. As noted, some air rifles have a more pronounced droop than others. At this moment I have a Diana and a Hatsan sproinger, both of which I have Hawke adjustable adapters on. This allows me to compensate for “droop” without using up the elevation adjustment range of the scope.

      The RAW HM1000X has a certain amount of “droop” compensation machined into the mounting rail so as to allow for longer range adjustments of the scope.



      • RidgeRunner,

        Manufacturers make air rifles that way on purpose? Well, ya learn something new every day. I always thought barrel droop was a defect common among medium grade (Diana, BSA) and budget grade (Crosman, Gamo) makes.

        Most of my air rifles have open sights as I tend to shoot at short distances, and most are low powered anyway, including my two Dianas, a Model 50 and Model 24.

        But my scoped springers are a TX200 and HW77 (both underlevers), and an FWB 124 and HW30 (both breakbarrels). No droop with any of them. I have a Gamo SOCOM Extreme which has no sights and has not been scoped (or even fired, except for two shots into the ground to confirm it worked). If I were to scope it, I would not be surprised if it had some barrel droop.

        Michael


        • Michael,

          That topic comes up from time to time. B.B. has tested some that the droop/downward slant of the barrel was visible in a picture. B.B. uses a .002 shim very often right out the gate. I use a .011″ shim from a tooth paste tube. Works fine. Has some “smoosh” too. Basically if you have to crank the elevation way up,…. droop is suspect. Of course,.. it helps to know where in the Elevation range you are at.

          None of that answers your question,… but it does give you some additional insight on the topic.


  6. Pingback: Diana model AR8: Part 4 | Airguns: Air Rifles and Pistols

  7. .22 Maximus report:

    (I will break this up into several shorter post.) I did 30 shots over the chrony with JSB 15.89’s and 18.13’s on a 2000 fill. I measured the gun fill every 5 shots.

    15.89 chrony at 1,5,10,15,20,25,30,.. (806, 818, 815, 813, 786, 749, 692) The first ten shots avgd. 815 with a spread of 17.8 and a SD of 6.0. Gun fill went to 800 giving an avg. drop of 400 psi per 10 shots.

    The highest fps shots were at shots 7,9,10-13 at 824.

    Gun fill at 1,5,10,15,20,25,30,… 2000,1875,1740,1525,1325,1125,800

    Based on this I would say there is 20 good shots with a spread of 21 from 807-786 (shots 1-20) Shot 25 was still 749.


    • .22 Maximus,… (cont.)

      18.13 chrony at 1,5,10,15,20,25, 30,… (765,775,781,774,740,691,618) The first ten shots avgd. 776 with a spread of 16.6 and a SD of 5.19. Gun fill still ended up at 800, same as the 15.89’s.

      The highest fps shots were at shots 7-12 at 781.

      Based on this I would say that there is 20 good shots also with a spread of 24 from 765-741 (shots 1-20). Shot 25 was 690.


      • Chris U
        And next how is acurracy with your Maximus. And what do you think about the scope that came with it?

        And I think you mentioned on yesterday’s blog that you could live with the trigger.


        • GF1,

          The scope is nice. It can not be a real good one given the overall price, but I would not tell anyone to not buy it. I will leave it on the gun.

          Oh yea,… the trigger. The trigger is fine. Tested at 6.2, 6.7, 5.11, 5.7, 5.14 (# and oz.)

          Accuracy at 41′ was as good as the TX and LGU. It looks like it will be just fine. I will run some Chairgun numbers and see what a good sight in range will be. I can not wait to get outside see what it will do at 25-50. Intended use is 15-40.


    • .22 Maximus,… (cont.)

      The scope is Center Point 6 mag. X 40 objective with front AO. It is clear. It is a mil-dot, except all lines, no dots. It shows note book paper lines at 41′ clear and long distance looks good too. The scope is 1″ tube, 13 1/4″ long, but not heavy. The E/W knobs are under caps, but are tool free with good detents. The mounts look to be UTG with 4 screws per cap. Both had that black pad in the bottom and 1 has a stop pin.

      Upon opening the box, the grip butt cap was off. It looks to be a snap in fit, but poorly done. Super glue gel to the fix. The bolt was sloppy in that the handle could flop up and down with little effort. I removed the handle, cut some vacuum line to the correct length and reinstalled it. Very nice now, adds just the right amount of tension and the tube acts as a bit of a finger pad. I had no issue with cocking it. The only other issue was the front barrel band that had a few paint bubbles. 3-4 no bigger than a pencil eraser combined. Scraped off and used a black sharpie. the OD of the Foster fitting was a tad on the large side, tighter than the M-rod, but is fine as is.

      Overall, I am very pleased,… very pleased. The gun is good to go as is, handles well, is light and looks nice to boot. I would recommend it to anyone without hesitation. A real bargain as well.



        • RR,

          Let’s just say I took the “direct” approach. If you have GF1’s E-mail,…. he can fill you in.

          Better question,… why don’t you have one? I see BNM has a breech kit set up for M-rod mags. for about 130. I will not go that route but,….just sayin’. Good as is.


          • Chris,
            I have also been looking at that BNM breech. They also offer a full kit with breech, magazine, and a fully shrouded barrel and 8 baffles for $230. After over 15,000 rounds of single shot firing in the last 13 months I am really ready for a repeater! Don’t be worried about the hunting capabilities of your Maximus,with my Disco I am confident out to at least 60 yds. It will consistantly shoot 3/4 in. 10 shot groups at 50 yds. Racoons @25-35 yds,3 inthe last 4 mo.,numerous birds a dozen rats,a bunch of tasty bunnies,and last but not least, at least 2 reams of paper targets and several hundred feral cans.
            I also found a free-floating hammer system for Discos and Maximus from Joe @ Airtanks for sale.com. for $40. Will let everyone know how well it works when I get it.



              • Bruce,

                Good to hear from you. 🙂 Thank you for the info. It sounds as if you have really been giving that thing a work out! I am going to try (real hard) to not turn the Maximus into a project gun. I do not “pest”, but would love to. I got it for off hand and walking or just to have handy for a target of opportunity. I bet you are looking at that Wildfire pretty hard for “light/close” work huh? For the price, it would be hard to beat. I imagine that your Discovery has a much nicer trigger.

                Chris


          • Chris,

            Let’s see, I just bought a Tomahawk which I have not even begun to tinker with and an HM1000X and I need bunches and bunches of support equipment for both I need to buy and I have not had time or weather to shoot any of my toys for a couple of weeks now. Yes, I need another air rifle.

            AS far as BNM and such is concerned, I would not really want to modify it more than tuning would require. I would be fine with it being single shot.


        • RR,

          Oh yea,… safety stays off,… which I love! And, a large Limbsaver butt pad fits like a glove and pushes the LOP to 15″. All of my rifles are 15″-15 3/4″ LOP. You think that they would be the same, but different things make it vary. Good grip too which is one of the gripes due to the slick plastic butt cap. The balance is just ahead of the gauge, scoped.


  8. I find that if I shoot my R1 with the cocking slot on the u-shaped gun support of my bipod, that it shoots very accurately. It must be that that U-shaped support allows the rifle to move and recoil freely. It’s the Record trigger that really contributes to the accuracy though. Even though the R1 requires more violently than my xs46u, it is more accurate because it has a much better trigger



  9. Is anyone interested in a SHOT show meeting time/place? Is anyone attending (besides B.B.)?

    I’ll be at Stephen Archer’s “Selling Airguns at Retail” presentation (Jan 18 2017 12:30PM-1:30PM).

    Will you be attending Stephen’s talk, B.B.? Will you be carrying your UTG monopod with a camera on top so I can spot you on the floor from a distance? We (Smart Firearms Training Devices) don’t have a booth this year.

    -Cal


    • Cal,

      I am slammed this year! Sig has me out at a range on Sunday and at a dinner Sunday evening. Then Media Day is all day Monday. SHOT starts Tuesday and I have to take pix and look at guns until 2, then write the next day’s blog, because I’m going to dinners each night at 6!!!!!

      My blog has to be published each night by 9 because that’s midnight on the East Coast.

      So, no talks for me.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        That sounds like a lot of fun while at the same time sounding like a lot of work. Must be ruff! 😉

        Thank you,…. Chris

        P.S.,…. don’t forget to have good time! 🙂


      • So, the time for the SHOT show has rolled around again. It will be interesting to see what shows up, and I’m hoping for a break from the recent tactical trends. It seems like the industry is focused on endless AR type rifles, super-compact concealed pistols, or very large pistols that are super-compact rifles. It would be nice to see a new idea.

        Matt61


      • Such is the life of “The Godfather of Airguns,” eh B.B.? I have a brand new airgun invention that I wanted to float to you. My initial testing indicates that it’s even better than my last idea that I told you about at SHOT two years ago and never devleoped (due to other life priorities like selling a house and my half of my former business). Based on my initial testing, my latest invention is more effective at increasing accuracy than either the Pelletgage or an air gauging device, but I’ve been struggling with the prospect of high manufacturing costs. One of your recent blogs actually gave me an idea to manufacture it at far lower cost, though your blog subject was completely unrelated to my invention! Funny how ideas pop into one’s head sometimes. That’s why I’m attending SHOT.

        Well, if you get some time, I’ll be carrying my cell phone. Same for other readers here. Just contact me and we’ll meet-up.

        area 509-.-.-.-
        then dial 675-.-.-.-
        and 25_18

        (above number obfuscated as a web bot deterrent).

        Safe travels,

        -Cal


  10. Nothing wrong with a good scope when testing a rifle. I was not too crazy about the sights on my SW MP Sport rifle that I was shooting on vacation. They were particularly hard to line up because of the rifle’s straight stock. I forgot to use a bazooka hold, but that wouldn’t have solved everything. And it’s good to hear that this airgun has a light trigger. I’d heard that the MP triggers are better than the usual AR, but this one was extremely hard. I would rate it around my Mosin trigger before modification.

    Matt61


  11. What is the point of a 26 ft/lbs hunting rifle that is barely accurate enough to be usable on quarry species beyond 30 yards? Something more accurate but less potent would have a longer effective range.


  12. Michael—- Re the Diana 98K–The front sight can be adjusted. The rifle comes with a tool that fits the front sight blade. It can be screwed up or down. A lock screw in the front of the sight base locks it in place. If the rear sight is too high, it probably means that the shooter does not know how to adjust the front sight. Barrel droop will not affect the sight line, if the sights are mounted on the barrel. Droop becomes a problem when scope or peep sights are on the receiver. ——Ed


  13. I’m with Geezer, this is unacceptable accuracy from Diana. I mean I’m no expert but I thought the whole idea of spending $380 was to make sure you were getting a quality rifle. I only own two pellet rifles but they are both RWS and they both shoot groups less than half the size of this rifle at 25 yards. I have a really old model 34 .177 that has been sent back to the factory twice to be rebuilt after losing power and a model 350 I bought for Christmas a year ago that is just now coming into it’s own. I think maybe I could shrink the size of the groups to one fourth the size of these if I had one tuned. Can you even tune the gas spring rifles? And aren’t they supposed to be easier to cock too? It didn’t sound like any of those things were accomplished with this gun. I’m kind of disappointed, I have always been and RWS Diana snob.


  14. I find the testing of accuracy of springers quite interesting. Here is a rifle that has suitable power for hunting small game, but unless you are able to unlock the ‘secret hold’ for proper accuracy, you will not hit your target? I decided to break down and buy a ‘decent’ spring-powered rifle (HW95 in .22) and can’t seem to do anywhere near as well with it, scoped (offhand) as I can with my 50+ year-old Sheridan Blue Streak with an aperture sight.
    Hunting ethics require me to be sure that every time I take a shot, it will be effective. If that is the case, why bother to do anything but buy a Maxximus (with all of the additional encumbrances) and forget about spring-power for anything but plinking?
    (sorry about the rant, but I am mildly frustrated)


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