In the decade or so that I’ve been writing about airguns, I’ve noticed that airgunners, roughly speaking, can be divided into three groups. In no particular order, they are: collectors, customizers, and shooters. Collectors, of course, are the guys who accumulate airguns because they enjoy the craftsmanship of vintage airguns, a particular model, or a particular brand. Customizers are the folks who start with a relatively ordinary airgun, like the Crosman 1377, and then customize it to turn it into something special that is uniquely their own. Shooters are people who first and foremost enjoy launching pellets from their airguns rather than collecting or customizing them.
Why do I mention this? Because when the good folks at Airguns of Arizona suggested that I might like to have a look at the the Diana 34 Centennial – Anniversary Edition, my chief interest in the air rifle was as a shooter. My attitude is: “I don’t care how nice it looks . . . how well does it shoot?” And we’ll get to the answer in just a little while.
The Diana 34 Centennial – Anniversary Edition is a special edition of the popular RWS/Diana Model 34 break barrel air rifle, built to commemorate the 120th Anniversary of Diana (1890-2010). It has an oiled walnut Monte Carlo stock, Scottish checkering, ventilated rubber butt pad, front sights with changeable inserts, anniversary engraving on the stock and receiver, and the TO6 trigger with a gold plated trigger blade.
Available in both .177 and .22, the Centennial weighs 7.5 lbs and measures 45 inches from end to end. At the aft end, there is a ventilated rubber recoil pad, attached to a right-handed walnut stock with a very moderate cheek piece on the left side. I think that a southpaw should be able to shoot this air rifle without much problem.
Moving forward, the pistol grip has checkering on either side, and on the bottom of the pistol grip you’ll find an anniversary medallion embossed into the wood. Ahead of the pistol grip is the black metal trigger guard which surrounds the TO6 metal trigger that has been plated with 24 carat gold.
The slim forestock has checkering on either side and a long slot underneath to provide clearance for the cocking linkage. Ahead of that is the .22 barrel (on the sample I tested) which has a globe front sight mounted on dovetails near the muzzle. At the aft end of the barrel, you’ll find the breech block on top of which is mounted the notch rear sight. Further back on the receiver is a scope rail with two anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the tail end of the receiver is a push-pull safety that is resettable.
To ready the Centennial for shooting, grab the barrel near the end, pull it down and back until it latches. Insert a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. I estimate the cocking effort to be in the low-30s, around 33-34 lbs. Next, take aim at the target, push in the safety to turn it off, and squeeze the trigger. This is where the new T06 trigger really shines. On the sample that I tested, the first stage requires only 1 lb. 1.3 oz., and at 1 lb. 11 oz., the shot goes downrange. The Centennial launches 14.3 gr. Crosman Premier .22 pellets at about 665 fps, which works out to 14 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
At 30 yards, the Centennial put 5 shots in a group that measured just 5/8 inch edge to edge, which works out to .405 inch center to center. I find that very satisfying accuracy in an air rifle that has a pleasant shot cycle.
In the end, I bought the Centennial – not because it is a nice looking air rifle or that it is collectable or that it is a limited edition model. Instead, it now has a home in my gun safe because I enjoyed shooting it so much.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott