Checking out a Diana RWS 34P: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- George’s rifle
- Are Diana 34s ever not accurate?
- Examining George’s rifle
- It it a scope problem?
- Use open sights
- Condition of the test rifle
- What I plan doing
- What if it’s not accurate?
- What does accurate mean?
Today we start looking at the Diana RWS 34P rifle that reader Geo791 has had trouble with. If I understand his problem, the rifle will not group for him. I think he said the best he could do at 25 yards was 10-shots in a group measuring 1.5 inches between centers of the two widest shots. George, if that’s not accurate, please enlighten us, because we want to know exactly what we are testing here.
George’s rifle is a .22. He bought it for pest elimination. As I recall, the garden was the primary area of concern and chipmunks were the principal target in the beginning, but squirrels are now on the list too. He bought a .22 because he read that is was better for taking game, which I would absolutely agree with. Not that a Diana 34P in .177 can’t do the job, but in .22 it’s a lot more positive. That’s assuming you can hit what you shoot at, which brings us to the problem I am evaluating.
Are Diana 34s ever not accurate?
Can a Diana 34P be inaccurate? Certainly! I remember back in the very early 1990s when Diana 34s were considered cheap airguns. They retailed for about $120 at a time when a TX200 Mark II (an earlier version of the TX200 Mark III) sold for over $300. At that time they only came with a plain beechwood stock and the metal was finished very matte. They buzzed when they fired like a mason jar full of hornets. The triggers were heavy and their whole shooting experience was generally unpleasant. I owned several of those old Diana 34s and none of them was that good.
Sometime in the late ’90s or even the early part of this century Diana started improving the 34 line. They tightened the tolerances of the powerplant parts to reduce the buzz, and the triggers got much better. When I tested a Diana 34 Panther (they had to change the name to 34P to avoid infringement of another air rifle) back in 2008 I liked it so much I asked Pyramyd Air if I could hold onto it for an extended period of time. I have used that rifle to do the following:
1. Develop the UTG droop compensating scope base.
2. Test various scopes.
3. Test new tuneup kits from Pyramyd Air.
4. Test new tuneup kits from Vortek.
My rifle currently has a Vortek kit installed and it is a wonderful breakbarrel. It still shoots over 20 inches low (from where a scope lines up) at 20 yards, but I have a drooper base that fixes it.
Examining George’s rifle
This report is about the rifle Geo791 sent me. I’m not going to give you the specs because you can read them in the product description I have linked to. I will comment on this specific rifle, though.
I’m guessing this rifle is a drooper, because most Diana 34Ps are. I want to find out more about why it doesn’t shoot accurately. I already advised George how to conduct a couple different tests to see what the problem might be.
It it a scope problem?
If the rifle droops and you have adjusted a scope’s reticle as high as it will go (or even into the final quarter of the elevation range), the first thing to do is dial the elevation all the way down. I usually tell folks to dial it down 40-60 clicks, but if you go all the way down it’s fine. Then shoot at a target 20 yards away and leave a lot of paper below the bull so you can see the pellet when it hits. Remember, my 34P shot 20 inches low at 20 yards!
Once you’re on paper, shoot a group of at least 5, but 10 shots are better. Is the group tight? If it is your scope was adjusted so high that the erector tube that contains the crosshairs was “floating” on top of a relaxed return spring. The scope shifted its zero all the time. The solution is to either shim the rear of the scope so it slants downward or use a droop-compensating mount like the one I showed above. Diana breakbarrels are the reason I encouraged Leapers to develop that base.
Use open sights
A simpler way to see whether the scope is the problem is to use the open sights that came on the rifle. One of the things I insist upon on inexpensive air rifles I recommend is they have open sights. Fully half the shooters I meet do not really know how to use a scope, or what to do when it doesn’t work. Open sights are pretty foolproof, though they can be off on some guns — like the BSA Meteor Mark I I recently tested. Diana guns usually get their sights right.
George did both things and had no luck with his rifle. So I offered to look at it for him. Not only am I doing this for him, I’m doing it for all of you who have similar problems with your air rifles. I can’t examine everyone’s rifle, but you can look over my shoulder while I test George’s.
Condition of the test rifle
George’s rifle is stock, from all I can see without taking it apart. The mainspring is bone dry, which is very common with Dianas these days.
He bought it in 2013, so it’s the newest 34P I have examined. It differs from mine in the forearm and pistol grip that have scalloped ridges instead of checkering and the breech that has a deep chamfer my rifle doesn’t have. The stock I like better than mine. The breech helps to deep-seat the pellet so the skirt doesn’t get damaged when the barrel is closed. I wish mine had the same thing.
Other than those two things, George’s rifle seems very much like mine. It fires with very little vibration, due to the closer tolerances of the powerplant parts. The trigger is a T06 and adjusted quite nice. I feel just a little creep in stage two of the pull, but overall it’s very nice.
What I plan doing
This will start with a standard 3-part review. Today I’m looking at the general rifle. I have to say this rifle appears brand-new! In Part 2 I will test the velocity, and in Part 3 I plan to test the accuracy. I’ll start at 10 meters and then move back to 25 yards in that same report so I can cover more ground. What happens after that depends on what I discover.
If the rifle turns out to be accurate, I will proceed to tune it with a new Diana 34 tuneup kit from Vortek. Vortek donated the kit for this series, so I will show you everything that’s in it. I plan to use the Air Venturi Rail Lock mainspring compressor for this job. This will be the second type of air rifle I have disassembled with the Rail Lock.
After installing the kit I will test the rifle’s velocity again. I will also try to evaluate the difference in the shot cycle, if there is any. I have used Vortek kits on Diana 34s before I I think there will be a dramatic difference in how it feels. I plan also to show you the Diana parts next to the Vortek parts for comparison.
What if it’s not accurate?
If the rifle is not accurate I plan to explore the possible reasons. George pushed pellets through the barrel and gave us a report on those results, and I will do the same. I’ll also examine the crown closely, although I have looked at it and can see nothing wrong.
George also sent me samples of the three pellets he has been shooting. I think these are the three best he has tried (and not the only three he’s tested), though I hope he will address that for us in the comments.
What does accurate mean?
For a Diana 34P I think if I can put 10 pellets into less than one inch at 25 yards with open sights, the rifle should be considered accurate. To see what I’m suggesting, re-read yesterday’s report on the FWB 124.
I think a scope can shrink the group size by a lot, because the 34P has fiberoptic sights, front and rear. I would also like to test this rifle scoped. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we have to see what it can do and tune it.