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Definitive Guide to Diana Mauser K98

The German K98 was introduced in 1935 and is reported to still be in use by some factions yet today some 85 years later. This is a great testimony to the innovation, design, and durability of the K98. The K98's most recognized feature was the bolt action and is still often considered the best bolt action rifle ever made.

Diana, an airgun maker based in Germany, has brought back the K98 in airgun form with two very unique variants. The Diana Mauser K98 underlever spring air rifle and the K98 PCP rifle. While they share some similarities, they also have some very distinct differences.

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Detailed Review

The K98 Spring version consists of an all-metal action set into a beautiful hardwood stock. The key features are the fully adjustable rear sight, precision post front sight, and Diana's patented T06 trigger, perhaps one of the best airgun triggers on the market.

The rifle is a single-shot breechloader that's cocked using the under lever cocking arm. This allows the barrel to be fixed, delivering better accuracy over a traditional break barrel. Our test model arrived chambered for .22 caliber but it's also available in .177.

Moving to the PCP version of the K98, as said above, much is the same. Our test model is chambered for .22 but is also available in .177. The action is metal and set into a wood stock. The stock is not quite as nice as the K98 Springer, but it's decent. The PCP also has open sights but unlike the springer, the rear sight is not adjustable for windage. This means that to get on target, you'll have to use good old Kentucky windage to get on target. The trigger, while adjustable, is not as adjustable as the T06.

What the PCP does having going for it is a 10 shot rotary magazine and a wonderfully smooth bolt action which is what made the Mauser K98 so famous. Shooters can easily maintain their sight picture while working the bolt, setting up for the next shot.

Accuracy, Power, and Shot Count

For our tests, we'll be using three pellets from JSB and shooting with just the open sights at 15 yards. The pellets we are using are the 15.89 grain JSB, an average weight domed pellet, the 15.89 Hades which are the same weight as our first pellet but have a nose that's designed to open up and deliver maximum energy on small game, and lastly we are shooting the 18.13 grain JSB pellets which are a heavier domed pellet that's generally used for long-range accuracy.

In our performance tests, each pellet delivered between nearly18 to 19 foot pounds of energy with minimal spread and a relatively low standard deviation. Here are the averages below:

  • JSB 15.89 - High 720 FPS, Low 696 FPS, Average 708 FPS, Average Energy 17.64 FPE, Extreme Spread 24 FPS, Standard Deviation 9 FPS
  • JSB 15.89 Hades - High 738 FPS, Low 729 FPS, Average 733 FPS, Average Energy 18.96 FPE, Extreme Spread 9 FPS, Standard Deviation 3 FPS
  • JSB 18.13 - High 692 FPS, Low 682 FPS, Average 686 FPS, Average Energy 18.95 FPE, Extreme Spread 10 FPS, Standard Deviation 3 FPS

While those numbers would suggest that either the Hades or the 18.13s would be delivering the best accuracy, it was actually the 15.89 grain domed JSB pellets that delivered on paper giving us a Center-to-Center (CTC) 5 shot group of only .14"! Not bad when shooting 15 yards with open sights. While the receiver is equipped with an 11mm dovetail to mount an optic, using the open sights really stays true to the "replica" genera Dinan was going for. As a note, the T06 trigger and wonderful open sights really make this a wonderful gun to shoot.

The PCP version needs 200 bar (approximate 2900 psi) to operate. From there you will get about a maximum of 30 shots. It is not regulated which means that there is a shot curve from start to finish as the pressure in the tank competes with the hammer spring and valve spring. In reality, you will get about 10 to 15 decent shots between top-offs. Here are the numbers we got using the same three pellets:

  • JSB 15.89 - 10 shots - High 939 FPS, Low 911 FPS, Average 925 FPS, Average Energy 30.2 FPE, Extreme Spread 28 FPS, Standard Deviation 10 FPS
  • JSB 15.89 Hades - 15 shots - High 945 FPS, Low 884 FPS, Average 917 FPS, Average Energy 29.68 FPE, Extreme Spread 61 FPS, Standard Deviation 21 FPS
  • JSB 18.13 - 15 Shots - High 910 FPS, Low 839 FPS, Average 884 FPS, Average Energy 31.47 FPE, Extreme Spread 71 FPS, Standard Deviation 21 FPS

As you can see, the standard deviation was about 7 times what we saw with the K98 Springer with both the 15.89 hades and also the 18.13s. The 15.89s did better but we also shot only 10 shots vs 15. Our method was to stop when the last shot met the first shot. For example, if the first shot was 911 and each shot began to increase velocity from there until it peaked and started down, whatever shot was basically back to the starting point, that's where we stopped.

Additionally, you'll notice that the power output on the PCP is significantly higher than that of the K98 Springer. This may explain why, even with the extreme spread and higher standard deviation, it did MUCH better across all three pellets in our accuracy tests.

Both the 15.89 grain Hades and the 18.13 JSB domed grouped into one ragged hole while the standard 15.89s opened up a bit, but was still respectable for the included open sights. We would expect excellent results out past 35 to 50 yards if scoped.

Summing Up

In the end, both rifles delivered something connected to the K98 they were created to emulate. The Diana Mauser K98 Springer is everything you'd expect from a German-made, quality spring airgun. Right down to the T06 trigger, gorgeous hardwood stock, metalwork, and of course, those exceptional iron sights all in the shape and feel of an old-world Mauser K98.

The K98 PCP delivers in other ways and the first thing that stands out is it's faithful reproduction of the original. It also has the multi-shot magazine, a lot more power which will probably extend range and accuracy beyond that of the K98 Springer. And, most importantly, the authentic bolt action which is what the Mauser K98 was all about. In the hands of the right shooter, with the right pellets, and in the right conditions, both airguns deliver.

If you would like to know more about either of these products or if you have questions about which would be best for your needs, then please give us a call here at Airgun Depot. We are always here to help!