by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Diana listened
- 2020 SHOT Show Day 4
- The rifle
- Firing behavior
- Barrel swap and droop compensation
- What comes with the rifle
- What doesn’t come
Today we start our look at the Diana 34 EMS breakbarrel air rifle. The title of the first section will set the theme of today’s report.
I saw this rifle at the 2020 SHOT Show, but the Diana booth where it was, was unmanned every time I stopped there and the rifle was inside a glass case. It was in there because it was disassembled to show the features. Here is what I said.
2020 SHOT Show Day 4
Okay, several of you (RidgeRunner) keyed in on this before I was ready to report it. Diana has redesigned their popular model 34 breakbarrel, yet again. But this time the changes were large and noticeable. They call it their Easy Modular System (EMS). I’ll start with the elephant in the room — barrel alignment! Yes, sports fans, Diana has finally seen that barrel droop is not a good thing, and they give you the ability to adjust it out with shims. Please forgive the photo that follows, but they put everything inside a plexiglass case and photography is quite difficult!
Besides the droop issue they have made the barrel changeable and threaded the muzzle with a silencer-friendly 1/2-inch by 20 UNF thread. The sights are also changeable. Better still, the rifle can be converted to a gas piston, if desired. Wow — it’s almost as though they know what we want!
The 34 EMS comes in both .177 and .22. I’m testing a .177. It also comes in either a conventional wood stock or a synthetic stock with a thumbhole. Personally I like the conventional stock best, but I ordered the thumbhole variation so I could report on it for you.
The two-stage trigger is adjustable for the length of the first stage pull, the second stage let-off point and the trigger weight. As I fired the rifle a few times today I discovered that the trigger is set far too light as it came from the factory. There is also not a definite second stage stop point. The rifle fired before I was ready, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I will have to adjust the trigger to shoot this rifle safety.
The manual says to use a 1.5mm Allen wrench to adjust the trigger but the trigger on the test rifle has slotted screws in all three adjustment places. Thankfully I bought a set of long-bladed screwdrivers with small blades recently, because these screw are just slightly larger than the screws in eyeglass frames.
The trigger blade is nearly straight and I like the shape a lot. When I get the trigger adjusted for me I know I will be able to do some good work with this rifle.
The rifle comes with fiberoptic sights front and rear, but for those who don’t like them (which includes me) the front sight can be exchanged. The Diana manual says you can get a premium front sight (a globe with interchangeable inserts) from specialist dealers. Pyramyd Air comes to mind as the biggest specialist dealer in the world, but they do not yet have any information on the optional front sight.
Since the front sight can be removed, Diana gives you a way of knowing when the new sight is on the rifle straight. It involves two alignment bars. They even tell you how to align the sight in the owner’s manual. But the alignment bars are not included with the rifle, or at least my test rifle didn’t have them. I can guesstimate the sight alignment anyway, so nothing is lost, but be aware the bars are not included.
The Pyramyd website says that the rear sight can also be exchanged, but the manual doesn’t address it. The signage in the Diana booth said the same thing, so perhaps it will be at some point in the future, but at this time there is no telling.
But the rear sight did come with something I have never before seen. You can remove the fiberoptic rear sight blade and replace it with a non-fiberoptic one. Maybe this is what Diana means by a replacement?
The Diana 34 EMS is a spring-piston air rifle that cocks by breaking the barrel down. I will measure the effort to cock in Part 2, but I can already tell it’s over 30 pounds. The rifle is 46.3-inches long, so it’s a big one. And the synthetic stock is wide through the forearm, though the very vertical pistol grip is slimmer and fits my hand fine. The thumbhole stock is ambidextrous and doesn’t hinder the hands either way. I suppose if your hands are large it could get in the way, but normal hands will find that it works.
Of course I have shot the rifle several times, just to get a feel for it. I can tell you that there is no vibration when it fires. I don’t see any reason why you would want to install an N340 gas piston unit, but Diana designed the EMS to accept it.
The synthetic stock is roughly textured in all the right places and it really works. The rifle does not slip in the hands. The flat and thin rubber butt pad is semi-soft and grippy. You can position the butt anywhere on your shoulder that you want. And the stock sounds and feels solid, which will be welcomed by many airgunners.
The 34 EMS synthetic weighs 7.85-pounds so it’s not a lightweight. You know you’re holding something!
Barrel swap and droop compensation
This is one area where the manual leaves you wondering. There is no mention of how the barrel is exchanged or how to use the barrel shims. In fact, if I didn’t get a picture of the shims at SHOT last year we wouldn’t even know what they look like.
What comes with the rifle
The rifle comes with the manual, the spare rear sight blade and a package of stickers the manual says can be pasted over the spring tube holes for the scope stop that you don’t use. That’s a solution to a problem I never heard of.
What doesn’t come
You don’t get the optional front sight, the alignment bars, the barrel shims or instructions on how to remove the barrel and use the shims. There are also no tools that come with the airgun.
The Diana 34 EMS is the next generation of the venerable Diana 34. The older design is no longer available. So this test will tell us how well the Diana 34 tradition has been maintained.
The new rifle appears to be powerful and seems to have a very nice trigger. I hope it is accurate, and with the Diana name on the airgun it seems quite likely that it is.