This German-made air rifle overcame the safety issues of its rivals while remaining one of the most accurate on the market, says Bruce Potts
Diana has always produced air rifles for both the common shooter and the enthusiast, as well as offering dedicated target and hunting models. The air pistols, too, are highly regarded.
Diana was the brainchild of two colleagues, Jakob Mayer and Josef Grammelspacher, who chose the Roman goddess of hunting as their trademark. The iconic image of Diana throwing away a bow and holding aloft a rifle adorns Diana rifles even today. It remains an important airgun manufacturer with new and innovative designs while retaining the quality that Diana stands for.
The Diana Model 48 was part of the Firebird range of side-levers, with a large gold-coloured pendant inlayed into the pistol grip cap with the image of a firebird. It was Diana’s reaction to the new Weihrauch HW77 under-lever design that had taken the airgun world by storm.
Retaliating in the late 1980s with the Diana Model 48, Diana hoped to solve some of the safety issues associated with its rival.
The Diana Model 48 was a side-lever-type action, but it had a new safety ratchet system that held the breechblock on cocking by means of several large serrated teeth. This is very safe, in that the lever cannot not swing shut as the fingers are loading a pellet, but it was noisy, so not so good for a hunting rifle. However, there is a small release lever on the left of the action that lowers the teeth to avoid this noise.
The action itself is very large with typically over-engineered German construction. However, it is made this way due to the ability of the Diana Model 48 to shoot at well over the British 12ft/lb energy level. In fact, at these figures the Diana Model 48 is just ticking over, which is why it seems to last for ever, as it is not working hard. The springs last well, though the piston and compression cylinder seals need attention periodically.
Crisp trigger release
The scope rail is poor – a small scope rail screwed to the receiver top is really not long enough, in my view. However, the trigger is good. It is a two-stage unit with a good feel and a crisp trigger release, but first you need to release the automatic safety catch that pops out from the rear of the receiver as you cock the rifle.
Due to the large size of the compression stroke, the firing cycle is quite long and a little “twangy” with the spring and the shorter barrel making a crack on discharge.
Accuracy, though, was always good with Diana air rifles, as the overall build quality and barrel rifling were very well executed, making this model popular for hunting.
Function rather than form
The stock on the Diana Model 48 is the plain beech type with no cheekpiece and a thick lacquered finish. There is a small rubber butt-pad but no chequering, making it functional but no looker. The Model 52 is the same rifle but with an upgraded walnut stock, cheekpiece and chequering to the pistol grip and fore-end and is therefore a better buy if you have the choice.
Beech models can be bought for around £150, while the walnut-stocked Diana Model 52 can go for £200 or more.
What to look for when buying a second-hand Diana Model 48
Barrels: There is nothing really to go wrong here as the rifling is very well made; the only problems arise when the muzzle has been threaded incorrectly for a sound moderator.
Action: Due to the large size of the action and potential for increased power to FAC levels, check that it is legal at 12ft/lb before you buy.
Weight: 8½lb Length: 42in
Features: Full power and amazing accuracy and good build quality.
Price: £150, second-hand only