A Goddess of a Gun
This sweet little springer gets Mark Camoccio’s attention
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.
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.
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.
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