Diana Panther 21 carbon
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- Last updated: 30/01/2017
Diana is undoubtedly one of the most respected names in airguns, although their history is somewhat confusing. We all knew the company as the ‘Original’ brand back in the 1980’s, and their product evolution has seen the Diana name go from strength to strength. As usual, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Diana’s rifles remain among the most copied.
Take a close look at many budget springers on the market, and the tell tale features such as the small push button safety catch and foresight housing, are near perfect copies. Distinctive profiles are not always what they seem!
Pick up the real McCoy though, and you’re left in no doubt as to its origins; for Diana rifle’s in general just feel solid, and well engineered.
The Panther 21 is a dedicated junior model, but what makes this rifle a seriously good proposition is the fact that Diana now fit them with their acclaimed T05 trigger unit - more of which in a moment.
Break barrel air rifles still hold immense appeal, for their ease of use and fast-fire handling, and the format is ideal for juniors and newcomers to the sport. No awkward levers or air cylinders to refill. Just snap down the barrel, chamber a pellet, snap back the barrel, and take the shot. Little wonder that this system still enjoys such popularity, and this model is a fine example of the art. At 5.7lbs, the model 21 may not be super-light, but it is highly manageable. A well proportioned action, and a full list of specifications put this rifle well above the average junior model.
Choose Your Plastic!
Diana offer a choice of synthetic stock with this gun - the ‘Carbon’ model as tested giving the appearance of carbon fibre, a Military Green version, Black, or Camo. Having seen them all, I reckon the Military Green is the smartest, yet this Carbon model is undoubtedly eye-catching - not to mention extremely well executed.
Unlike many inferior rivals, there’s no cheap, hollow feel here. All the detail is very crisply moulded, with a super solid, dense feel to the synthetics. Grip is excellent too, due to the relief around the fore-end and pistol grip area; incorporating raised dots and borders within the pattern of the moulding. The fore-end tip is perfectly curved too, so comfort is assured in the aim. Ambidextrous stocks are always something of a compromise, yet synthetics allow for super thin sections of moulding, with no loss of strength. In this case, the thin mid section allows for two distinct palm swells in the grip, with very pleasing results.
One minor criticism concerns the butt pad, since it’s unnecessarily solid and dense. Admittedly recoil is near non existent, but for added comfort, a softer option would just feel more cosseting - especially to youngsters and new shots.
Fibre Optic open sights are included in the deal with this Panther 21, and the sight picture sees a hooded red dot fore-sight, held within a notch, formed from two green dots at the rear. Fibre Optics are increasingly popular on this type of rifle, and the beauty of the design is that they work well, even in poor light. The rear sight is fully adjustable, making this system well worth playing with before any glassware is even contemplated.
Given these rifles are made in Germany, we shouldn’t be too surprised that they display a standard of manufacture to impress. Finish is excellent with well polished surfaces, and an even coating of traditional chemical blueing applied. The dovetail scope rails are well machined and reassuringly deep. Consider the compact proportions in this area though, coupled with the break barrel design, and it’s clear that a scope needs to be selected that will not foul the breech area, as the barrel assembly swings through its arc of travel. I opted for a compact Hawke Airmax 2-7x32 model, which seemed to perfectly compliment this rifle’s dimensions.
Two points of interest at this stage, concern the safety tab to the rear of the action, which is re-settable if required, and the fact that the action can be de-cocked (the process where the barrel is held down firmly with one hand, the trigger pulled and the barrel allowed to slowly rise against spring pressure, until it is level