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Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

Overview
Testers

Eric Brewer

Caliber

.22 cal

Model Number

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec

Test Date

26 December 2016

Serial Numbers

2359320S

Source of Supply

Supplied by Air Venturi.

Condition

New.

We Like

Outstanding trigger.
Smooth firing cycle.
Great for hunting.

We Don't Like

Heavy recoil.
No rubber buttpad.
Very hard on scopes.

HAM Rating
Value for Money
80%
Speed and Accuracy
80%
Trigger and Cocking Effort
70%
Comparison to Makers Claims
95%
Consistency
90%
Noise Level
70%
Sights
95%
Shootability
40%
Appearance and Finish
80%
Buying and Owning
90%
Hard Air Magazine Test Conclusions

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is a great single-shot, break barrel hunting airgun. So long as you are a strong adult, that is.

It looks quite conventional, but demonstrated several unusual characteristics. Best accuracy was demonstrated in the HAM test gun with alloy pellets, rather than lead. It has a very light trigger, combined with a very heavy cocking effort. And, given the heavy recoil, Diana has not fitted the 350 with Weaver/Picatinny rails to counteract scope "creep" when the gun is fired.

For the right person, who knows how to shoot a powerful break barrel air rifle, the 350 Panther can be a great buy. But this is not a family-friendly plinker and is not intended to be.

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle gained a well-deserved HAM Bronze Award.

79%
HAM Rating
You have rated this
Full Review

VALUE FOR MONEY

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is almost the definitive “he man” break barrel air rifle. It’s big, powerful, tough to cock and eats unsuitable scopes for breakfast! Because of this, it requires real skill to shoot well. Probably only the Diana 460 fully matches the 350’s challenging reputation as a magnum non-PCP hunting air rifle.

With this much power, great accuracy potential, strong brand reputation, limited lifetime warranty and quality German manufacture, the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is never going to be a “bargain basement”purchase. So, it’s not cheap, with a typical Street Price in the $400 range – plus scope, of course. This makes a likely combo price in the $550 range.

But for the right person, this is great value for money in a non-PCP hunting air rifle. And there are many of these shooters around: that’s why Diana’s magnum air rifles have always sold strongly.

HAM tester Eric Brewer gave his succinct opinion in his testing notes. “I would buy this gun!”, he wrote.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

HAM Test Rating79%
Value For MoneyGreat, powerful, gas ram airgun hunting tool.
Best ForHunting.
Best Pellet TestedH&N Field Target Trophy Alloy
Street Price at Time of Test$550 including Scope
Caliber Tested.22
RateAGun Score
Skill and Experience Required to Shoot Well
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Diana Panther 350 N-TEC Magnum Air Rifle
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle

SPEED AND ACCURACY

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle tested by HAM delivered a maximum muzzle velocity of 972.6 FPS using 10.03 grain H&N Field Target Trophy alloy pellets. With lead pellets, the maximum muzzle velocity was 891 FPS using RWS Hobby 11.9 grain pellets.

These muzzle velocities definitely put the 350 N-Tec well into the “Magnum Springer” class, reinforcing the reputation that the 350 model has always had for sheer power. (The .177 version achieves a claimed 1,250 FPS, just to put this into perspective).

And talking of power, Muzzle Energy averaged 20.8 Ft/Lbs, peaking at 22.05 Ft/Lbs with the JSB Jumbo Exact pellets.

PelletAverage Muzzle VelocityAverage Muzzle EnergyAccuracy
Gamo Raptor Platinum 9.7 Grain939.84 FPS19.03 Ft/LbsPoor.
H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain972.6 FPS21.64 Ft/LbsExcellent. Best Tested.
RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain891.1 FPS20.99 Ft/LbsVery Good.
Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain804.17 FPS20.54 Ft/LbsPoor.
JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain831.8 FPS22.05 Ft/LbsExcellent.
H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain789.98 FPS20.32 Ft/LbsExcellent.
H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain649.08 FPS21.14 Ft/LbsGood.

Accuracy for the The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle was somewhat mixed and gave the HAM team some surprises!

This is one of the very few air rifles tested by HAM that gave its best accuracy with alloy pellets – in this case, the same H&N alloy pellets which produced the highest muzzle velocity. That’s a very unusual combination. If you live in a State that mandates the use of alloy pellets, that’s a very significant benefit.

Another surprise is that the test gun clearly didn’t like Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets. This is unusual as, while not always giving the absolute best accuracy, these pellets often score well for accuracy in HAM testing.

BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets, .22 caliber
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
H&N Field Target Trophy Green Pellets

TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT

Trigger pull and cocking effort are at completely opposite ends of the scale for the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle!

Here we have a very light trigger, combined with a very high cocking effort. Again, not a common combination in an air rifle.

The trigger pull weight of the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle was outstandingly low for such a powerful gas ram-powered airgun. In HAM testing, the average pull weight was just 1 Lb 1 Oz. The T06 trigger was clearly doing its’ stuff!

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

The T06 trigger fitted to the 350 is a two-stage type. In the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle tested by HAM, the first stage was almost imperceptible – it seemed just like taking up a long length of slack. But then the second stage was clearly and consistently felt. Pulling lightly through that resistance released the sear immediately and fired the gun.

In fact, the trigger felt almost like a single stage mechanism. But the HAM team liked it. And, although we’re not – as a group – fans of automatic safeties, it has to be said that the Panther’s safety was very conveniently-placed, clear to see and easy to operate.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

Cocking the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle was never expected to be easy. And, it wasn’t – particularly after firing a couple of dozen shots.

However, the cocking effort felt less than the HAM team expected and the cocking action was nice and smooth. There was no galling or grating as the barrel was being pulled down against the resistance of the gas ram. The measured cocking force was 40 Lbs. This is a heavy pull and it requires a strong adult to manage cocking the 350 single-handedly.

 

COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS

As with most higher-end airgun manufacturers, Diana makes relatively few performance claims for the 350 N-Tec.

First, of course, in muzzle velocity. The factory’s own, official documentation claims a maximum of 910 FPS for the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle with lead pellets. The gun tested by HAM achieved an average of 891 FPS with RWS Hobby pellets – the lightest lead ammo.

So, muzzle velocity of the gun tested by HAM was very close to the manufacturer’s claims.

Diana also claims a maximum power level of 30 Joules – that’s 22 Ft/Lbs for the 350 N-Tec. HAM testing gave a maximum muzzle energy of 22 Ft/Lbs with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. That exactly met the claim.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

CONSISTENCY

Consistency of the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle tested by HAM was good.

The amazingly low trigger pull weight varied by only a few ounces either side of the 1 Lb 1 Oz average figure. This was definitely an undetectable variation to the human trigger finger. Great consistency.

Muzzle Energy was also tightly controlled for a gas ram air rifle. With a maximum of 22 Ft/Lbs and a minimum of 19 Ft/Lbs, depending on the pellet used, the average figure was 20.84 Ft/Lbs, pretty well in the middle.

Standard Deviation (the variation in FPS between shots) was fairly well controlled. Indeed, it fell to a very low – good – figure of just 1.0 FPS with the JSB pellets. But the Standard Deviations became large with both the heaviest and lightest pellets tested, giving a reasonable, but not outstanding, average of 15.6 FPS.

 

NOISE LEVEL

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is a powerful air rifle with no silencer. So it’s no surprise that it’s quite loud!

To put things in perspective, the 350 is far louder than HAM’s gold standard for quiet shooting – the Benjamin Marauder. But then it’s also nowhere near as loud as an .177 caliber air rifle shooting pellets at greater than 1,100 FPS. Because of the larger caliber, the pellets from the 350 in .22 caliber fly slower than the speed of sound and, therefore, there’s no sonic boom. This gun would be far louder in .177 caliber firing light pellets.

So this is not a stealthy backyard plinker. But it’s not intended to be. As a hunting air rifle, firing few shots, the fairly high noise level may not offend the intended users. For some, this noise level will be a killer. Others won’t care…

 

SIGHTS AND SCOPE

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is fitted with a typical set of fiber-optic open sights. These are windage- and elevation-adjustable using the rear sight, as you would expect.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

But of course, most users will choose to fit a scope to maximize the accuracy potential of the 350. So, there’s a scope rail fastened to the top of the compression tube in time-honored Diana fashion. This scope rail includes multiple holes for scope stop screw pins and these are really needed given the 350’s fearsome – and justified – reputation for recoil.

Although HAM tester Eric Brewer had no issues with scope movement during his shooting test, it’s clear that the scope rail had taken a battering as it held the scope mounts in place. It’s somewhat of a surprise that Diana does not fit Weaver/Picatinny rails to this gun as these are noted for their ability to hold scopes in place under extreme recoil, preventing scope “creep” in use.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

The HAM tests of the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle were undertaken using a Nikon Prostaff 3-9 x 40AO scope. This is becoming our “go to” scope for testing springers and gas ram guns due to it’s proven ability to hold-up under the recoil. Sadly, it lacks a Mil Dot reticle and thus is not really suited to general field use with airguns. But for testing purposes, it does a great job.

Whatever scope you choose to mount on the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle, it’s essential to ensure that it is “airgun rated”. This means that the scope must have bracing for both forward and (conventional) rear recoil, otherwise the optics will be destroyed rapidly in use. For example, Leapers’ True Strength feature – included in just about all their scopes – is specifically designed to address this forward recoil and works very well.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

 

SHOOTABILITY

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is a long, heavy air rifle. At 48 1/2-inches overall length and with a heavy, 16mm (approximately 5/8-inch) diameter, solid steel barrel, it could hardly be otherwise. Balance is good, however, with the center of gravity of the gun being directly under the “grip areas” molded into the sides of the stock’s forend.

As already covered, cocking is a major effort with the 350 N-TEC. Again, there’s no way around this. To obtain this much power from a break barrel air rifle, the cocking effort is bound to be high.

Overall, this is an air rifle for a big, strong adult hunter. It’s ideal for a few, powerful shots of shooting a day. This is not a family-friendly, all day plinker, but it’s important to note that Diana never intended it to fulfill that role. The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle requires a lot of skill and knowledge to deliver the accuracy it’s capable of achieving. This is reflected in its high RateAGun score of 9.6 – it’s difficult to shoot well and needs skill and experience to achieve the inherent accuracy the 350 is capable of.

The N-Tec gas ram powerplant benefits the airgun hunter. This is because the gun can be left cocked – with the safety on of course – for extended periods whilst waiting for the quarry to make an appearance. This is a big benefit over a conventional spring/piston action where the spring may take a “set” if held cocked for an appreciable time, thus reducing power.

HAM tester Eric Brewer was also impressed with the smooth shot cycle of the 350. He felt this was much smoother than would be delivered by a comparable spring/piston model of similar power.

But Diana definitely missed a trick with the 350 N-Tec in that the buttplate of the test gun’s synthetic stock is solid plastic. Most buttpads fitted to air rifles are made of rubber to absorb some of the recoil. If ever an air rifle needed a rubber buttpad, this is it! Yet, strangely, the synthetic buttpad is molded to make it look as if it is a ventilated rubber buttpad.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

This lack of a rubber buttpad was HAM tester Eric Brewer’s major complaint with shootability of the Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle. A sore shoulder the result!

 

APPEARANCE AND FINISH

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle tested by HAM had very nicely-finished metal parts. The compression chamber and barrel, in particular, were well finished to a very smooth, almost mirror finish, and exhibited deep – almost black – bluing.

The ambidextrous synthetic stock has a light stippled finish over most of its surface. There are also heavier areas of stippling to provide grip, either side of the wrist and the forend. This surface finish is well executed and provides good grip.

However, there are very pronounced mold seams along the full length of the stock. In the opinion of HAM Publisher Stephen Archer, these seams are unfortunate and really spoil the appearance of the gun. Yes, they do not impact handling or performance, but the HAM team is used to seeing far less prominent mold seams on the synthetic stocks of less expensive air rifles.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

 

BUYING AND OWNING

The Diana Panther 350 N-Tec air rifle is widely available online in the USA from the usual specialist suppliers. However it’s not so likely to be available in your local big box sporting goods store.

Due to Diana’s unusual strategy of employing multiple US distributors, you’ll need to be careful about the company you contact if attention is necessary under the gun’s limited lifetime warranty. The 350 N-Tec tested by HAM was supplied by Air Venturi and is sold by Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot. The distributor name is shown on the side of the compression cylinder.

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal.

Air Venturi provides the warranty in this case, and the instruction manual also. In fact, the Air Venturi manual is excellent. Although an “omnibus” manual covering all the Diana models, it provides detailed, useful information about the product and how to use it. There are clear, useful line illustrations and the only downside for some shooters may be that it’s in English-language only.

 

TEST TARGETS

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. Gamo Platinum pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. H&N FTT Green pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. RWS Hobby pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. Crosman premier pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. JSB Jumbo Express pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. H&N Field Target Trophy pellets

Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle Test Review .22 Cal. H&N Baracuda match pellets

BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Diana Panther 350 N-TEC Magnum Air Rifle
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Diana Panther 350 N-Tec Air Rifle

This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.