The RWS Model 56 Target Hunter by Diana is just such an air rifle. Available in .177 or .22, I call the Model 56 the Big Kahuna because it is the heaviest air rifle I have ever handled. It weighs fully 11.1 lbs without a scope (two pounds more than a Model 54) and stretches 44 inches from muzzle brake to butt pad. With the Model 56, Diana has improved on the Model 54 (which I consider an underappreciated classic) in fit, finish, and performance.
We’ll get into how the Model 56 performs in a little while, but first, let’s take a guided tour. At the back end of the 56, you’ll find a rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically. Just loosen a screw and slide it up or down to where you want it. Just forward of that, the hardwood stock is emblazoned on either side with a stylized “TH” for Target Hunter. The buttstock is fully ambidextrous with a cheekpiece on either side. Moving forward again, there is a large opening for the thumbhole, and the pistol grip is checked on either side.
Just ahead of that, the trigger guard houses a metal grooved trigger that the manual says is adjustable for length of first stage and second stage weight. I made no attempt to adjust the trigger.
Forward of that is a flat section of the stock that is extended downward almost on the same level as the trigger guard, like a knee riser block. This section is checkered and says “Diana” on it. Moving ahead, the forestock tapers and is checkered on either side. Beyond that is the barrel with a substantial muzzle break at the end.
One of the most interesting things about the Model 56, besides the metal trigger and metal safety, is that most of the metal parts, including the barrel and receiver, are given in a satin finish that is very distinctive and attractive.
Moving back from the barrel, you’ll find the receiver, and a little further back, the silver breech block. The opening for the breech is cut lower on the right side so that when the cocking lever is pulled back, and the breech slides back, it is easy to load pellets from the right hand side. The cocking lever is on the right side of the receiver, and a small pushbutton anti-beartrap latch is on the left side.
Further back along the receiver is a scope rail with a couple of recesses for anti-recoil pins. At the tail end of the receiver is an all-metal push-pull safety which is resettable. That’s it. Overall, I think the fit and finish of the Model 56 are excellent. If pride of ownership is your thing, the Model 56 has it in spades.
Next time, we’ll have a look at how the Model 56 performs.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott