If airguns were baseball, the Crosman Corporation would be on a thermonuclear hot streak. Last year, they introduced the Discovery, an entry level PCP rifle that shattered the price floor.
This year, they introduced the Marauder, an absolutely spectacular PCP sporter rifle that has everything I would want in a trip to Santa’s lap — astonishingly quiet, wickedly accurate, excellent trigger, and a repeater — to define a new sweet spot in the price/performance curve.
If that were not enough, this year they are also introducing the Crosman Challenger 2009 (CH2009), a three-position sporter PCP air rifle that appears to be positioned to take the world by storm.
I was given a chance to shoot a near-production prototype of the CH2009, and I must say it grieves that I have to send it back.
Let’s take a walk around the CH2009 and kick the tires. At the very aft end of the fully adjustable ambidextrous sporter stock is a butt pad that is adjustable for length of pull (adjustable from 12.5 inches to 16 inches), vertical position, and tilt. Forward of that is a cheek piece that is adjustable for height. The pistol grip is nearly vertical and has a nice palm swell on each side.
Moving forward again, the fully adjustable metal trigger and metal safety are partially enclosed by a metal trigger guard. About an inch and a half forward of that is a single screw that secures the action in the composite stock. Moving ahead again, you’ll find an accessory rail that extends to the far end of the forestock.
Above the end of the forestock is the air tube. At the end of it is a plastic cap that snaps off to reveal a male Foster fitting for pressurizing the action. Above that is the muzzle brake, which has a dovetail for fitting the front globe sight with interchangeable inserts. Moving aft, you find the .177 caliber choked and crowned Lothar Walther barrel which is free floated even though it appears to be held by a barrel band.
At the rear extremity of the barrel is an extended aluminum receiver with dovetails in front of and behind the breech that can be used for mounting a scope or the rear aperture sight. The rear sight, which is micro adjustable for elevation and windage, clamps to the dovetail with a thumbscrew. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is a patented ambidextrous T-handle for moving the bolt. Under that is a knurled knob for adjusting hammer spring tension, and there is another adjustment for adjusting hammer stroke. The only other item of note is an air pressure gauge located on the right side near the front of the receiver. The CH2009 sample I was sent weighs 7 lbs 4 oz with the sights mounted.
To get the CH2009 ready for shooting, pop the cap off the Foster fitting, connect a SCUBA tank or pump, and charge it to 2,000 psi. Pull the bolt back with the T-handle, drop a pellet into the breech, and push the T-handle forward to close the breech. Push the safety lever forward toward the muzzle. One pound four ounces of pressure will ease the first stage out of the trigger. At one pound 9.5 ounces, the shot is trigger with a surprisingly mild “pop.” (The trigger is fully adjustable and can be made much lighter, if desired.) With a 2,000 psi fill, the CH2009 will deliver 100 shots between 549 and 585 fps. The first 50 shots range between 561 and 585, and the last 50 shots vary from 549-579 fps.
In my view, the Challenger 2009 delivers everything you would want in an entry level match rifle (and then some) for a very wallet-friendly suggested retail price of $529 for the rifle without match sights and $629 for the rifle with match sights.
Since the CH2009 can be scoped so easily and it’s so accurate, it would make an excellent rifle for mini-sniping, and given that, with a minor part change, the power can be adjusted up to 900 fps, it’s an excellent candidate for air rifle field target.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott