A God­dess of a Gun

This sweet lit­tle springer gets Mark Camoc­cio’s at­ten­tion

Air Gunner - - Springers -

W hilst I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate the re­coil­less fir­ing cy­cle of a PCP for com­pe­ti­tion shoot­ing, the con­stant re­liance on an ex­ter­nal air sup­ply can be ir­ri­tat­ing. So when a spring gun comes along which is light and handy, yet can still of­fer some se­ri­ous per­for­mance, I’m al­ways in­ter­ested with one eye on a ‘go to’ hunt­ing ri­fle.

On test this month is the ul­tra­com­pact, spring-pow­ered Diana model 280, made by Mayer Gram­melspacher, in Ger­many, and I don’t mind ad­mit­ting that it has been one of my favourite air­guns ever since I first tested one shortly af­ter its re­lease, back in late 2010. Diana as a brand is syn­ony­mous with tra­di­tional, high­grade air­guns, and the 280 is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of their craft.

REAL LOOKER

My test ri­fle is termed the 280 Clas­sic, yet has the more ba­sic stock. Diana makes another ver­sion, known just as the ‘280’, and this has the more elab­o­rate stock (still lac­quered beech) with a de­fined cheek piece, che­quer­ing, and a bet­ter butt pad. As it stands, though, this spring- pis­ton- pow­ered, break- bar­rel model has a grace­ful pro­file, and is def­i­nitely easy on the eye. ‘Slim­line sim­plic­ity’ sums it up well, and with mod­est pro­por­tions, and a thinned- down grip, it’s an ideal gun for ju­niors and ladies, too. As far as the spec­i­fi­ca­tion goes, we have fi­bre- op­tic open sights, an up­mar­ket two- stage trig­ger, au­to­matic safety catch, and raised scope rail.

SIGHTS

As men­tioned, we have come to ex­pect a cer­tain level of fin­ish from this man­u­fac­turer, and the 280 didn’t dis­ap­point in this re­spect, with finely ma­chined com­po­nents, and rich chem­i­cal blue­ing on dis­play. Wood to metal fit is also ex­cel­lent. Syn­thetic/plas­tic com­po­nents are used for the fore sight as­sem­bly and trig­ger guard, but they are very well done, and cer­tainly don’t de­tract from the qual­ity feel over­all.

As I’ve of­ten stated, I’m a big fan of open sights be­cause they teach the ba­sics of marks­man­ship, and the fi­bre- op­tics fit­ted here are ex­cel­lent. They’re ul­tra- pre­cise, and be­ing all- metal, are su­per- ro­bust. There’s fin­ger wheel ad­just­ment, too, so no need for a screw­driver, which

is ac­tu­ally re­ally nice when you’re learn­ing the ropes. Ar­rive at the point where a scope is deemed nec­es­sary, and Diana has that sorted, with the sturdy rail fixed to the 280’s receiver. There are even pre- drilled holes to ac­cept a mount with an ar­restor stud, so scope creep can’t be­come an is­sue. I fit­ted a light­weight Hawke scope that suited the ri­fle well.

HANDS ON

OK, time to get hands- on, and I did find my test ri­fle’s breech just a lit­tle stiff on test, with a quick jolt across the knee prov­ing the an­swer, to re­lease the bar­rel ini­tially. Cock­ing the ac­tion there­after, re­quired rea­son­able ef­fort, made eas­ier with a more pur­pose­ful sweep down.

The in­clu­sion of the highly ac­claimed T06 trig­ger unit, is a real bonus on this model, and with a nicely curved and ribbed metal trig­ger blade, and a prop­erly weighted, sen­si­tive mech­a­nism, it’s a trig­ger that can be ad­justed to suit. The au­to­matic and re­set­table safety sits to the rear.

Shoul­der the 280, and whilst that sim­ple stock doesn’t overly cos­set, es­pe­cially with the lack of a soft butt pad, the fast han­dling and over­all feel can’t fail to im­press. Bal­ance is key with air­guns, in my opin­ion, but whilst I did find the 280 just a lit­tle light at the muz­zle, it didn’t stop me man­ag­ing reg­u­lar groups of around an inch from the kneel­ing po­si­tion over 30 yards, which was a pleas­ing start!

Mov­ing to my favoured over­arm FT po­si­tion for full test­ing, the groups shrank to an av­er­age of half an inch with a va­ri­ety of pel­lets, so we are talk­ing se­ri­ous per­for­mance. OK, there is some spring res­o­nance and a fair amount of re­coil on fir­ing, but bear in mind the power- to- weight ra­tio of the 280, and the fir­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics over­all are wholly ac­cept­able.

There’s a lead- in ma­chined into the lip of the ri­fling at the breech, and the idea with that is to keep pel­lets flush at the breech, rather than getting dis­torted. As for con­sis­tency over the chrono­graph, a to­tal spread of 11fps over a ten- shot string with JSB/Air Arms Di­abolo Field pel­lets, is fairly text- book stuff!

VER­SA­TILE AND CLASSY

So yes, I’m a big fan of this model, and for good rea­son; full power is on of­fer, it’s sleekly styled, well- made and fin­ished, and all im­por­tantly, pleas­ingly ac­cu­rate. The highly por­ta­ble for­mat means it can be car­ried round the hunt­ing field all day with min­i­mal fa­tigue, or dou­ble up as a be­gin­ner/ju­nior/ladies’ ri­fle. One for a va­ri­ety of short­lists then!

ABOVE: The 280 is per­fect as a light­weight hunt­ing tool

RIGHT: The breech has a lead to help pel­let seat­ing

BE­LOW: An au­to­matic re­set­table safety sits at the rear

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