This is probably the third variant of the Diana (Milbro) Mod 2. The air pistol was also known as the Diana G2 or Milbro G2 according to advertisements and their cardboard box packaging. They were manufactured by Milbro from 1965 to 1982 and were available in blued or nickel-plated finishes.
The first variant of this air pistol used almost the same action as the wooden gripped Mod 2. The difference in the action is at the rear of the pistol where the wooden variant sheet steel compression chamber is rolled over the outer body whereas with all the plastic gripped variants, the end of the compression chamber is flush with the outer body. This variant is seen with two different inscriptions on the top of the pistol. The first has the image of the “huntress” and the inscription “DIANA MOD. 2 MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” whilst the second has the inscription “MILBRO MOD. 2 MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” and the “huntress” logo is removed. The first variant was produced in 1965 according to The Airgun Book by John Walters. It is not known when production of this variant ceased and the second variant started although the second variant was seen in the first Argos catalogue in 1973.
The second variant was almost identical to the first, however, the folded sheet metal trigger blade was replaced with a die-cast alloy trigger blade. This variant also had both styles of the inscription of the first variant. Interestingly, a catalogue company called Argos introduced this air pistol to their product line in their first catalogue in 1973 at a price of £2.20! It was last seen in the 1974/1975 Argos catalogue.
The third variant brought along a significant change to the construction of the pistol. Where the previous variants used the same action as the wooden gripped Mod 2, the third variant maintained the width of the compression chamber all the way through to the front sight. The pressed steel front sight that slipped over the end of the tube was removed and replaced with a steel barrel shroud bush and plastic blade front sight. This variant was inscribed “DIANA MOD. 2 MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” and included the “huntress” logo. This variant was seen for one year only in the Autumn/Winter 1975/1976 Argos catalogue. I believe it is safe to say that this variant was probably only produced in 1975 as the fourth variant replaces it in the 1976 Spring/Summer Argos catalogue.
The fourth variant sees the steel barrel shroud bush replaced with a plastic barrel shroud bush and the plastic front sight replaced with a blued steel pillar style front sight. This variant was also inscribed “DIANA MOD. 2 MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” and included the “huntress” logo. This variant was first introduced in the Argos 1976 Spring/Summer catalogue. It was produced right up until the company ceased trading in 1982.
The third and fourth variants might also have been stamped as Milbro although I am yet to find any such examples.
It’s possible that the steel barrel shroud bush was replaced with a plastic one to reduce wear on the blued barrel shroud. I’m at a loss to wonder why else such a change would be made.
All of the variants were typically blued although at least one example of the first variant is known to be finished in nickel which is marked as a Milbro. Some also have gold-coloured inlaid inscriptions.
Typically the first variant used the same traditional ornate shaped pin-seal as the wooden gripped Mod 2. The later variants had a pin-seal that was much plainer. They had a simple knurled cylindrical grip and were blued. The simpler knurled grip has been seen on some first variants. Perhaps stock of the old style had run out and the remaining stock of the first variant pistols was sold with the later style pin-seal.
In terms of rarity, the first, second and fourth variants are more commonly found. Nickel variants are the rarest of all with the third variant a close second on the rarity scale.
In “The Airgun Book” by John Walter, 3rd Edition, the pistol is designated G2/5 although there is no illustration to indicate which variant he is referring to. This is also shown in the 1st edition of his book. Malcolm Atkins in his book “GATS A Guide to Junior Push In – Pop Out Airguns”, states that the fourth variant is designated G2/5 in the 1981 JLS catalogue. Whereas the third variant is also shown as the G2/5 in the Autumn/Winter 1975-1976 Argos catalogue. John Griffiths states in his encyclopedia that the nickel version was designated G2/6 in the January 1989 Airgun World magazine. I’m unable to verify whether this reference is for an article or an advertisement, however, Milbro ceased trading in 1982 and therefore it was likely an old advertisement that was part of an article.
Malcolm suggests that the older, tin-plate grip variant of the Mod 2 could be the G2/1 with the wooden gripped variant the G2/2. However, this appears to be a supposition. John Griffiths notes that the blued wooden gripped variant is designated the G2 in the 1962/3 Milbro catalogue with the nickel wood gripped version designated the G2NP.
An advert in a c.1971 Milbro catalogue shows the first or perhaps the second variant as Milbro Pistol G2/5. Thus it would appear that despite the four variants, the blued variants were always designated G2/5 and the nickel-plated variants G2/6.
We know for certain of designations G2, G2NP, G2/5 and G2/6. Was there ever a G2/1, G2/2, G2/3 or G2/4 designated Mod 2 pistol by Milbro? Who knows?! Tell me what you think in the comments section below.
Until next time, happy shooting!