Posts Tagged ‘Model 56’


Before we get into the performance of the Model 56, the key thing to remember is that, like the model 54, it is a recoilless spring-piston air rifle. Here’s why that is a Big Deal: when you cock a spring-piston air rifle using the barrel, under lever or side lever, you’re driving back a spring and a piston until it latches, holding it in place like a sprinter in the blocks. When you pull the trigger, the spring and piston rocket forward in the compression tube, creating recoil in the opposite direction. As the spring and piston near the end of the compression tube, they bounce off the wad of compressed air at the end of the tube, creating recoil in the opposite direction. So the spring-piston air rifle recoils first in one direction and then the other.

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: all this forward-and-back whiplash recoil happens before your carefully aimed shot exits the barrel. That’s why so many shooters have to work really hard to shoot springers well.

The Model 56, however, has a neat trick that helps to tame that recoil and make accurate shooting easier: the entire receiver of the air rifle rides on a sliding rail system. When you cock the Model 56 with the side lever, it drives the receiver forward. When you trigger the shot, the receiver is allowed to slide backwards. The end effect is that the shooter feels much less recoil; it is easier to shoot well, and more of the shock of recoil is transferred to the scope. It also means that you want a high quality scope sitting on top of the Model 56.

When I pulled the Model 56 out of its box and saw the knee-riser design of the stock, I thought this is an air rifle that just begs to be shot in field target competition. So I slapped a scope on it, threw on my SteadyAim Harness and went outside to see what it would do from a sitting position at 35 yards. Since Crosman Premier Heavies had worked well in my Model 54, I tried those.


After a little bit of fooling around, I shot a five-shot at 35 yards that you could cover with a dime. The group measured just .5 inch from edge to edge, which works out to .323 center to center. That’s pretty darn good accuracy at that range. The chronograph revealed that the 56 was launching 10.5 gr. Crosman Premiers at an average of 872 fps. My Lyman digital trigger gauge confirms what my finger could feel: the newly designed trigger is excellent. One pound five ounces takes the first stage out of the trigger; at 1 lb. 8.7 oz, the shot goes off. Sweet!

To say I liked the Model 56 is a gross understatement. My feeling is that, with the 56, Diana has drawn a line in the dirt that says “Here’s what we can do when we decide to build a wicked, gnarly, accurate springer that is second to none.” I would love to see what a really talented field target competitor could do with one of these. I think it could be impressive.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


Every once in a while, an airgun comes along that really impresses the heck out of me, one that perhaps has the potential to be a game changer.

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