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Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact

Will Mark Camoccio need to tame the Diana Panther 31 Professional?

Diana airguns have been a household name for years, and with their German heritage it comes as no surprise that they hold something of a reputation for both engineering integrity and reliability.

The range really has diversified over the years, and with the current line-up now including some bolder additions alongside more established favourites, this illustrious company is clearly looking to the future.

Panther Professional

My test rifle (or more accurately ‘carbine’) on show here is the Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact. Rather a mouthful admittedly, but the number of model options available is partly to blame. A standard Panther Model 31 exists which comes fitted with open sights, but for the Professional version, the sights are dropped, and a chunky barrel weight is fitted in their place.

The Model 31 Panther takes the form of a conventional break barrel, spring/piston action, fitted within a black composite stock. The ‘Professional’ variants come in two barrel lengths, with my example, the ‘Compact’ sporting a 15.6inch carbine barrel; whilst a 19.5inch full length rifle option is also available.

What makes this carbine really stand out is the intriguingly different balance and weight distribution. That large tube on the front may look like a silencer, but is in fact a chunky barrel weight that covers the actual barrel to within half an inch of the tip, once it’s slid into position. Significant weight then lies at the muzzle, and with the rest of the action of a solid construction, the resultant centre of balance registers at the front tip of the fore-end chequering. That’s around eight inches further forward than accepted wisdom dictates, but I for one found the rifle just wanted to sit on the target as a result.

A straw poll at my club revealed rather more mixed reaction to the handling characteristics, so personal taste and preferences will clearly play a part in this model’s fortunes.

The barrel weight is removed via two grub screws that simply grip the barrel. I couldn’t wait to remove it, expecting the carbine to feel significantly lighter and lose that strangely dense feel. However, significant weight remains, with the composite stock itself adding its fair share, and solid over-engineered components clearly doing the rest.

That stock, whilst being composite, is actually very slickly presented, with exceptionally sharp chequering included in the moulding. Near parallel edges form a subtle taper to the forend, to give an extremely sleek purposeful profile.
Lack of a raised cheek-piece is a curious omission, however, whilst the solid rubber butt pad is functional rather than comforting.

All the metalwork on this rifle is treated to a pleasant matt finish, which obviously makes sense in any hunting scenario - apparently achieved by blasting with glass beads, according to Diana’s marketing blurb.

A bolt-on scope mounting rail is fitted (similar in style to BSA’s Maxigrip system), which guarantees positive dovetails equal to the task of securing a scope mount.

Cat on the range

Trigger wise, Diana’s reputation gets called into question, with the inclusion of a plastic blade disappointing to say the least. With some give in the blade itself, and a small amount of creep, the unit is never going to be super crisp, yet in use, it’s still better than many and passable given the reasonable breaking pressure. Plastic blades are fine on an ultra-light match unit fitted to a pneumatic, but the sheer poundage to hold back (inherent in the spring-piston system) dictates a more robust set-up.

An Achilles heal of any break-barrel system can often lie in the integrity of the breech lock-up, but here Diana show their aces, with a solid design that takes some breaking open for a start! I found I had to jolt the rifle open over the knee, and its areas such as this that make the Professional an adults’ rifle from the outset.

Cocking effort in itself was fairly easy, yet the power of this test rifle was a tad lower than expected, with RWS’ own Superfield pellets and JSB (Daystate FT) returning 10.3ft/lbs and 9.6ft/lbs respectively. This will inevitably creep up as the action beds in with use. Consistency was fractionally better with the more snug fitting Daystate pellets - a fact ignored by the barrel once the accuracy tests began. Over 30yds, half inch groups were possible with Superfield; just shading the Daystate FT’s.

On firing, the action did feel rather harsh, although the mainspring appeared to be running dry on inspection through the cocking slot, so a correct lubrication regime might improve things somewhat.

One point of interest was that changes in shooting position seemed to affect the point of impact (POI) quite markedly. For example, with the rifle zeroed from the over-arm FT position, then shot from a kneeling position at 30yds, the POI (point of impact) would alter by over 1inch. This is a characteristic that affects all spring powered rifles to a greater or lesser degree, and with the level of change in the POI dependent upon several factors, such as barrel length, recoil etc., it’s certainly something to bear in mind.

Conclusions

In short, the Panther Professional has a rugged and durable, workhorse feel about it, and with Diana’s reputation, it certainly comes from pedigree stock. But whether that’s enough in todays competitive market remains to be seen.

Bear in mind the effort to break the barrel, and that rather unorthodox weight distribution, and this is definitely a case of try before you buy!

Technical Specifications
Model Panther 31 Professional Compact
Manufacturer Diana (Mayer and Grammelspacher)
Country of Origin Germany
Type Break barrel sporter
Calibre .177 on test (.22 available)
Weight 7.9lbs
Overall Length 42inches
Barrel Length 15.6inch
Stock Composite
Power Source Spring-piston
Velocity RWS Superfield pellets/Daystate FT pellets
High 754fps/High 720fps
Low 720fps/Low 699fps
Ave 740fps/Ave 715fps
Vari 34fps over 10shot string/ Vari 21fps
Energy 10.3ft/lbs/9.6ft/lbs
Trigger 2-stage adjustable
Price £262 approx
Options Longer rifle version (with 19.5inch barrel)

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Distributer information
Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • Does it come with a scope or is that aftermarket?

    Comment by: Paul     Posted on: 23 Jan 2009 at 05:49 PM

  • The scope is an aftermarket accessory, but most good gunshops will offer a discounted rifle/scope package deal.

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 29 Jan 2009 at 12:37 PM

  • very heavy rifle, comparable to an air arms pro sport. solidly built though.

    Comment by: david jones     Posted on: 08 May 2009 at 11:46 PM

  • Good review ,except that the plastic trigger doesn`t hold back anything,it merely tips the sear,which is holding back the spring/piston.I had a 10 year old much used/abused Mod48 and the trigger unit was brilliant and defenitely nothing to lose sleep over!

    Comment by: kenny burns     Posted on: 29 May 2009 at 03:35 PM

  • Yes, you are quite right, but I do think the reviewer was justified in pointing out that (some) plastic trigger blades have an inherent 'flex' that you don't get with metal. Regarding Diana triggers in general, personally I've never had a problem with them.

    Comment by: pat farey     Posted on: 30 May 2009 at 12:05 PM

  • Nice honest review.
    Well done.

    Comment by: jay     Posted on: 30 May 2009 at 08:09 PM

  • peleas said me reng of fire

    Comment by: etean     Posted on: 09 Jul 2010 at 12:37 PM

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Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
Diana Panther 31 Professional Compact
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