RWS/Diana 56 Target Hunter Technical Performance Review

Forums Springers, Pumpers, C02, & Replicas RWS/Diana 56 Target Hunter Technical Performance Review

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    bdzjlz
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    On at least three occasions over the last two decades, I owned RWS / Diana 54 Air Kings.  They were great rifles but I always seemed to have someone that wanted them worse than I did and I would let them go.

    As my PCPs shoot so accurately and effortlessly that I find myself getting bored with them, especially in the cold winter months when I am limited to indoor shooting, I still really enjoy shooting more traditional springers.  I am fortunate to own an Air Arms TX200 MKIII in .177 and a Weihrauch HW97K in .22, both of which have been custom tuned by Scott Schneider at Motorhead Airgun Tuning Services – CA, and both of which are extremely accurate at +/- 14 ft lb of energy.

    Since the RWS/Target Hunter arrived on the scene in .22, I have studied all of the materials and videos available, believing I would like to add a side cock rifle to my spinger collection, just for something different.  As I refuse to own an air rifle that won't shoot a 1" to 1.5" group at 50 yards, and most of my shooting is from a bench, everything I would read or watch led me to believe that maybe the 56 TH would best fit my criteria.  Still, I could not find any really good information on how well it really did perform.  All of the on-line information was about shooting batteries, or rocks, or targets at +/- 20  yards, and mostly in .177.

    What follows is a comprehensive review of the 56 TH in .22 for those with interest – with ballistics and performance experienced "right out of the box."

    I am not going to spend much time discussing cosmetics or first impressions as others have done.  What I will say is that while perfectly adequate, the fit and finish of the stock and the bluing are not as deep and/or rich as one would find on my TX200 or HW97K.  Again, it is ok, but not magnificent.

    The gun arrived after waiting for more than two months, ordered from PA.  The T06 trigger was not at all accuracy friendly as received.  It had a very long approach trigger pull in the first stage, and was lengthy and very "mushy" in the second stage.  I got on line, ready the adjustment instructions, watched a few You Tube videos (thanks for posting guys), and within about 10 minutes afterwards, had it breaking fairly clean and at least acceptable.

    I called the service experts at Hawke and asked them if a Sidewinder 6-24×56 FFP scope would hold up on this rifle.  After assuring me that it would, I installed a UTG droop compensating picatinny base, upon which I secured a UTG fixed 30MM ring scope mount, complete with 4 bolts and two recoil stop pins, all sitting on the rifle's 11mm dovetail. I proceeded to sight the rifle in at 18 yards, the length of my indoor basement range.  Even with the droop mount in place, I still did not have enough scope adjustment. Two thicknesses of paper-backed aluminum duct tape on the back ring served as the perfect shim and everything was easy to dial in afterwards.

    I have been shooting in a basement range for two decades.  One observation that I might share is that not once in that time period, has my wife every commented on the noise of any of my rifles.  She did comment on the 56, indicating that it was "very loud."  It does have a pretty violent sound as the heavy spring drives the piston home.

    The rifle is very front-end heavy, but with the configuration of the fore-end and the weight forward, it makes for a very steady bench gun.  

    I then set-up my Chrony Pro approximately 1' from the muzzle, and proceeded to shoot two ten shot groups (at 18 yards) with each of eight different pellets, for accuracy and consistency .  All 20 shots were recorded across the Chrony.

    Once this exercise was complete, I moved across town to my indoor range where I have up to 150 yards available.  The same exercise was repeated with the same eight different pellets, except at 50 yards and without the chronograph.  At both yardages, sandbags were used under the fore-end and the butt pad to be certain that the rifle was adequately stabilized.  The temperature in both cases was +/- 65 degrees.  There was no wind to affect the outcome and lighting was more than adequate.  All pellets were pulled straight from the tins with no special sorting for weight or shape uniformity.

    Note that the output was consistently +/- 21.5 ft lb of energy – exactly as advertised by the manufacturer.

    Below, you will find photos of the rifle set-up, photos of the groups experienced at both 18 and at 50 yards and the performance summary chart.  As you will ascertain, the smallest group achieved at 18 yards was .37" using the H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 grain pellet and the best average 18 yard two shot group size equated to .48" shooting the Air Arms Diablo Field 18.0 grain pellet.  The smallest group and the two group best average at 50 yards was achieved shooting the H&N Baracuda Match pellet, resulting in group sizes of 1.25"  and 1.47" respectively, with the Air Arms Diablo Field 16.0 grain and 18 grain pellets coming in a very close second and third.

    You will also note that the AA 18.0 grain and the H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 grain pellets had a standard deviation across 20 shots of only 3 fps.  This is regulated PCP performance territory.  

    While there is obviously room for improvement, one should keep in mind that all of this work was done within <400 pellets from coming right out-of-the-box.  I am certain that it will only become smoother the more it is shot.  I do plan on sending the rifle out to Scott Schneider at Motorhead within the next few days, allowing him to work his special magic, and I am certain it will come back shooting at an even greater performance level.  

    For now, see below.  I hope this information helps those with interest in this rifle be more informed as to whether or not it might be for you.

    DZ

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    • This topic was modified 9 months ago by bdzjlz.
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    biohazardman
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    Nice review and beautiful gun I always wanted a 54 or 56 but ended up with a 52.  It likes the front supported a couple of inches from the end of the stock.  Something you might try for accuracy but not sure it would make much difference with the recoil system the 56 has.  Thanks for the post.

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    Zermat
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    I just got one also, I mounted an Old Walther 10-40 FT scope, using FX adjustable scope rings,They are very useful, plus you can mount the scope lower to bore axis. and it takes care of the droop

    I shootAA 16.0gr at 756 fps and 18.0 flbs

    The pellet that surprised me the most was the Predator GTO's….962fps and 21.76 Ft Lbs, plus they group as well as anything……plug tha numbers into a tjectory chart and you will be amazed, almost same poi at 25 and 50

    I have a 54 also, love that gun

    I got the 56TH and an FX Crown the same day, I'm having more fun with the 56, it has a soul, PCPs are cold and have no soul, but then I love those also

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    bdzjlz
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    Thanks for the thoughts.  What I will share is that since the original test data was completed about a week ago, I have been shooting at least one, if not two, 10 shot comparative groups with the custom tuned TX and HW97K, and then the 56 every day on the indoor 20 yard range.  All three rifles are sub 1/2” every time, with the TX nearly coming in at +/-3/8” 95% of the time, and the other two +/- 1/2.”  The POI is holding consistent.  It is getting better the more it is shot as one would expect.  I have settled on the AA 16.0 Gr for now, just because I have a lot of them.  Will rerun the performance test with the three best performing pellets once it comes back from Motorhead in a few weeks and post an after tune comparison.

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    blackdiesel
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    I have 2x D56s (177 & 25 cal) and a 22 D54.  I don't do a lot of analysis by shooting paper because I personally lose concentration after 3 shots.  But what I have found is that I can consistently hit bottle caps at more than 60 yards and 12 oz cans at more than 100 yards.

     

     

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    xindaris
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    I have the same rifle in .22 and the pellet that surprised me with it’s accuracy is the H&N Terminator. It has out shot every other pellet I have tried and I have tried a lot. All my testing has been at 35 yards.

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    bdzjlz
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    Steven, thanks for the reply .  I have not tried any of these, and would frankly never have thought to.  

    Good shooting.

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    Mossonarock
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    Thanks for sharing your accuracy data. Correct me if I am wrong but It sounds as if you are pleased enough with the accuracy. I have a D56 in .22cal. Honestly, I don't get any better accuracy from it than I do my HW97kt. In fact, the HW97kt may be more accurate but I haven't rigorously tested it at 50m yet. Also, its seems like somedays my D56 is a tack driver and the next I can't get it to group at all. I haven't figure it out yet. I've tried several springs in it and haven't noticed a difference in accuracy. IMO, the OEM spring is about as strong as you'll want. I have the Vortek PG2 HO kit in mine and that doesn't produce spring twang like the OEM spring did. But it is a loud rifle. I think its the big hollow space in the forearm of the stock. It just serves as an echo chamber IMO. I wish there was a 1/2x20unf muzzle adapter available so that I could use a sound moderator on it.

    I'm really interested in hearing about your rifle after you get it back from Scott. There's someone on GTA who suspects the barrel is the suspect in the accuracy issues in these rifles. He suspects the rifles made in the former Rastadt facility weren't quite as accurate as the ones made in the Ense facility- or something like that. 

    BTW: does the action of your rifle rock laterally in the stock? Mine does. I don't think that's a good thing but IDK. I've been thinking of sending mine to Hector Medina to be looked at to make sure its working like its supposed to. I want to squeeze every last bit of accuracy I can get out of my rifle.

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    bdzjlz
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    Thanks for your inquiries.  I believe the rifle shows much promise towards being very accurate.  Already, it produces PCP quality groups at 50 yards with the AA 18 Gr pellets.  
    To me, the effective range of any air rifle is the maximum distance it will stay inside a 1 1/2” group.  
     

    This 56 and the previous three 54 Air King rifles I have owned all had a little side to side movement but I don’t find it to be an issue.

    My rifle is on the way to Scott this week.  I will provide an objective update as to what improvements, if any, are realized upon its return.

     

     

     

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    Zermat
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    Thanks for all the info, laterside play is not an issue , I have it but it seems thats the way it is…..I only have 25 yds at my house and the 18.0 AA and the 16.0 AA are VERY accurate

    Biggest problem for me was getting the scope low enough and achored &nbspMerry Christmas

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    bdzjlz
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    Zermat:

    I would suggest that you use the premium Sportsmatch High adjustable mounts/rings.  They come with a recoil lug and are infinitely adjustable.  Adjust your scope before mounting back to center by going all of the way to each end of the range, both windage and elevation, then count clicks back to the center.  Then use your mount to adjust the basic scope adjustments instead of the scope.  You will finite adjust using your scope.  This will give you the maximum adjustment possible with your scope and make your whole system perform better at longer ranges.

    When I get my rifle back from Motorhead, I will provide an update.  I concur that the AA 18.16 are the most accurate pellets, at least in my rifles.  I will probably settle on the 18 but am awaiting the rifles return for one more round of 50 yard testing.  Once concluded, I will pick the best performing pellet and shoot 10 shot groups every 5 yards from 25 on out to where the accuracy begins to exceed a 2” group, and call it quits.  I then plot out the poi for each of the groups upon an image of the scope’s reticle, printing it to a card then attached to the rifle and copied to my phone.  I find that this gives me pinpoint accuracy at any point within the rifle’s effective range – and much more dependable info than even StrelokPro.  There is no substitute for time invested.

    Have a good day.

     

    DZ

    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by bdzjlz.
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    Mossonarock
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    There's been a number of people to also find the 18gr JSBs to be the most accurate in this rifle (.22cal). When my rifle is deciding to shoot accurately, its usually also with the 18gr JSBs. But it also does well with Predator GTOs. Seems strange to me.

    I look forward to hearing about your experience after you get your rifle back.

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    Vatiger18
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    What Gun Do you like better 54 or 56 I know their are just about the same. But just wanted to ask thanks. 

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    bdzjlz
    Participant
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    I find the 56 to be much easier to handle.  Both are extremely heavy but the stock configuration of the 56 is much more convenient and steady in the hold for me.  
     

    Also, I see no reason to have the open sights on these rifles and the 56 just appears to be more “clean” without them.

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    c_m_shooter
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    bdzjlz

    Zermat:

    I would suggest that you use the premium Sportsmatch High adjustable mounts/rings.  They come with a recoil lug and are infinitely adjustable.  Adjust your scope before mounting back to center by going all of the way to each end of the range, both windage and elevation, then count clicks back to the center.  Then use your mount to adjust the basic scope adjustments instead of the scope.  You will finite adjust using your scope.  This will give you the maximum adjustment possible with your scope and make your whole system perform better at longer ranges.

    When I get my rifle back from Motorhead, I will provide an update.  I concur that the AA 18.16 are the most accurate pellets, at least in my rifles.  I will probably settle on the 18 but am awaiting the rifles return for one more round of 50 yard testing.  Once concluded, I will pick the best performing pellet and shoot 10 shot groups every 5 yards from 25 on out to where the accuracy begins to exceed a 2” group, and call it quits.  I then plot out the poi for each of the groups upon an image of the scope’s reticle, printing it to a card then attached to the rifle and copied to my phone.  I find that this gives me pinpoint accuracy at any point within the rifle’s effective range – and much more dependable info than even StrelokPro.  There is no substitute for time invested.

    Have a good day.

     

    DZ

     

     

    I have a Sportsmatch adjustable 1 piece mount on my AirForce Condor.  It is alright on a PCP, but there is no way I would mount that on a magnum springer.  I don't believe it will hold up to the vibrations without vibrating loose.  I have seen them come loose on other shooters PCPs during field target matches.  

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