Andy McLachlan tries out the Diana 470 TH, a full-powered
sporting rifle with a lot of heritage behind it
Recently I have spent a lot of time shooting underlever spring-powered rifles. However, I have not, until I kindly received the review gun from Diana importer Edgar Brothers, shot one manufactured by this famous German company. My last experience with owning any gun from Diana was in the late 1970s; the gun was the famous Original 45 break-barrelled springer in .22 calibre, the preferred hunting calibre of the time. (See The Gun Room, page 98, for a look at an Original 75.)
Diana had to use the Original name as the Allies had confiscated all of its manufacturing equipment following World War II. It would not be until decades later that the famous name would be returned, and the iconic Diana goddess logo could once again appear on its actions.
Anyway, back to the rifle. The 470 TH is a large, full-powered sporting air rifle. Compared with its competitors, the gun is long and certainly lets the shooter know that they are handling something substantial. In saying that, it can be argued that having additional weight allows the shooter to maintain a steadier aim, providing of course that they are strong enough to manage that for a sufficient period of time.
A closer look
Taking a closer look at the action, the first thing you notice is the lack of traditional bluing. The metal surfaces are finished in a matt dark grey, which might suit the hunter well due its lack of reflective properties. The underlever locates in a recess under the muzzle and due to its length, provides a fair amount of leverage, thus easing the cocking action. The rifle is fitted with an anti-bear trap device, to avoid the loss of fingers for those careless enough to touch off the trigger during the loading process. As with any spring-powered rifle, it is best practice to ensure that the shooter maintains a firm hold of either the barrel in the case of a break-barrel, or the underlever as in this case. It is comforting to know that manufacturers provide additional safety features, but they cannot and should not be relied upon to prevent what could be serious injury by not using safe loading procedures at all times.
Pellets are loaded directly into the barrel. The barrel on the test gun appeared to prefer ammunition of 4.53mm rather than the usual 4.52mm diameter, as the smaller size was in my opinion too slack a fit and might have resulted in the odd pellet dropping from the action if loaded with the barrel facing upright, as you might do if in the prone position as I happened to be during testing, for example. Incidentally, there is also a slot machined into the action to allow wayward pellets to exit the gun, without resorting to the ‘upside down and shaking’ dance that must be adopted with most of the gun’s competitors when you’re attempting to remove improperly loaded pellets.
Diana has used its latest T06 trigger assembly to complement the 470 TH rifle’s potential for accurate shooting. It certainly proved more than capable to me right out of the box, although if the gun were mine, I would probably have reduced the pull weight slightly. The safety catch is located ideally at the rear of the action and allows the shooter to activate it whenever it’s required.
The rifle is not provided with open sights. Let’s face it, there are very few shooters who prefer to use irons, and the first thing that 99% of us will do is fit a telescopic sight. Diana has provided the gun with a raised scope rail, complete with a couple of well-located positions for the recoil arrestor stud that most springer shooters will use to ensure total security of their scope and mount. I fitted my Bushnell HFT scope to the rifle, and was quickly able to establish a zero at 35 yards.
This was in part assisted by the well-designed stock shape on the rifle. Possessing some nice highly defined chequering at both the forend and pistol grip, it quickly became apparent that the ambidextrous TH thumbhole stock possessed great proportions for a suitable and consistent head position when lining up the scope sight picture. The stock is also lower than the rest of the forend just in front of the trigger, which will allow those preferring the target shooting stance to use this to their advantage. In addition, those fellow club members of mine who looked at and fired the gun all agreed that it is a nice-looking piece of furniture. A bonus feature is the standard fitment of an adjustable butt pad that is properly curved and provides a great purchase in the shoulder, particularly for standing shots.
As with any new spring-powered rifle, there is always a period of time when the internal component parts get used to each other’s company and finally start to bed in. This means that the areas that are in contact with other moving parts need to fit together perfectly allowing the action to become much smoother with use. The piston seal also needs to be properly formed to the air cylinder: this can take time as the nylon seal has minute amounts of material removed from it as it moves over the metal compression cylinder at great velocity. This can take anything from 200 to 2,000 pellets in my experience. The test rifle was no different to most new springers in that it would have greatly benefited from a clean and relube of the main components – although this would undoubtedly invalidate any warranty, I might add!
Due to the brand-new and non-run-in action, the chrono readings of about 10ft-lb would most likely increase as the internals start to loosen up. The action upon firing was very traditional. By this I mean that rather than the super-fast action times noticeable on many modern springers, particularly those that have been professionally tuned, the 470 has an almost leisurely feel as the piston moves down the compression cylinder. Recoil is noticeable, but not excessive, and would also be much reduced following a successful run-in period – and preferably a full re-lubrication of the internal components in the correct places using modern lubricants.
To summarise, the Diana 470 TH represents something different to the norm. It possesses a superb stock and a good trigger unit. It would be nice to reacquaint myself with the test gun when it is properly run in, as I am confident that it would give a good account of itself both in the field and as a competition gun.