The Incredibly Versatile Challenger

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in April, I had the opportunity to take a fast early look at Crosman’s new three-position, sporter level PCP match rifle, the Challenger 2009. I was impressed. Based on the Discovery chassis, the Challenger incorporates some goodies – notably the trigger – from Crosman’s Marauder air rifle and some of the Marauder’s tuning capabilities. The result is an entry level match rifle that does a lot of things well.

One of the things that slipped by me when I first looked at the Challenger 2009 is how incredibly versatile this air rifle is. To start, you can shoot three-position air rifle with it, and you can use it as an entry level rifle for shooting Olympic-style ten-meter competition.

But the Challenger also qualifies for the new competition developed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, called National Match Air Rifle (NMAR). Shot indoors or outdoors on 10-meter ranges, NMAR events simulate highpower rifle shooting and are shot at reduced highpower rifle targets. There are two official NMAR targets. The AR-SR is an exact, proportionate reduction of the standard highpower rifle 200-yard short-range target. The AR-MR is a similarly reduced version of the 600-yard mid-range target.

Three classes of air rifles qualify for NMAR competition: AR Class, Match and Sporter. The AR class – or so-called “clone” rifles – are modified sporter or precision class air rifles with stock systems configured similar to M16/AR15-type rifles. The NMAR Match air rifle class includes any precision air rifle that is ISSF legal. The Sporter class includes air rifles of 7.5 lbs maximum with 1.5 lb minimum trigger pull. That’s where the Challenger 2009 fits in.

There are two basic courses of fire for NMAR. The standing course consists of two sighting shots and 20 shots for record on the AR-SR (200-yard) target in the standing position. The full course/half course consists of 20 (full course) or 10 (half course) shots each in the standing, sitting or kneeling, and prone position, fired in that order of the AR-SR (for sitting and standing) and AR-MR (600-yard) (for prone) targets.

For the UJ Quigley Bucket Challenge, you'll want a post and bead front sight insert like this one.

There are lots of other things you can do with the Challenger. Get yourself some of Lee Shaver’s blackpowder silhouette sight inserts (available from many gun shops), slip the post-and-bead insert into the Challenger’s front globe sight, and make like Matthew Quigley shooting at the UJ Quigley Bucket Challenge.

A Challenger with a scope is an excellent setup for minisniping or NRA air rifle sihouette.

(I feel like one of those silly infomercials here) But wait! There’s more! If you mount a scope on the Challenger, which is really easy to do, thanks to its scope rails, and put some spent 9mm brass out at 35 yards, you can minisnipe with the Challenger. With a scope, you also can (and some folks have already done it very successfully) shoot NRA air rifle silhouette in the “match” category. Beyond that, the engineers at Crosman are also exploring the options for turning the Challenger 2009 into an entry-level field target rifle.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the Challenger’s other admirable qualities. First, it’s really, really accurate. With a big scope mounted, I found I could hit the exact spot on the target that I wanted at 20 yards . . . for example, that little spec of white still showing where I had already blown the center out of the bullseye. That’s the kind of accuracy that puts a grin on my face.

Second, the trigger is excellent and makes it easy to shoot well. Third, the Challenger delivers 100 shots from a 2000 psi fill. That means if you fill it with a high pressure hand pump, it will be relatively easy to get it up to pressure (certainly easier than going to 3,000 psi) and you won’t be refilling the Challenger every two seconds. And if you fill the Challenger from a 3,000 psi SCUBA tank, you’ll get a lot of fills before you have to go back to the dive shop for a refill.

In addition, the Challenger is makes very little noise, which if you live close to others, is excellent for maintaining good neighbor relations. Last but not least, the Challenger has a highly adjustable stock, including a length of pull that is adjustable from 12.5 to 16 inches, which means it will fit a wide range of different size shooters.

In short, the Challenger is a very versatile air rifle, offering its owner the ability to compete in many different shooting disciplines, and providing access to a whole lot of fun in formal competition and the back yard.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


  1. Dotti Workman says:

    My son was shot in the eye with your BB gun and is permanently blind. Thats a Toy? Fun for all ages? Fun in the back yard? Where are your warnings on this add.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Sorry to hear about your son’s eye.

      BB guns and airguns are not toys. I never said they were.

      Please check on this blog “A Word to Parents about Airgun Safety” here:

      I think this addresses your concerns.

  2. Slinging Lead says:


    I would very much like to know how Ms. Workman got a hold of YOUR gun, and since when the Challenger is meant to shoot BBs. If her son is genuinely blinded I feel very badly for him. Perhaps he will realize one day that if his parents had taken the time to teach him gun safety, and educated themselves a just a little about the gun before they splurged for it, that he would be better off.

    BTW: This is an airGUN review not “an add [sic].”

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Slinging Lead,

      I’m sure that Ms. Workman is just using a figure of speech . . . she couldn’t have gotten hold of my gun.

      For me, the key to parental supervision with airguns means being close enough to redirect the muzzle of the gun at a moment’s notice if needed. It doesn’t mean, for example, glancing out the kitchen window every once in a while to make sure everything is okay.

  3. mike says:

    are you the only one that writes these reports? everything on here is by jock elliot?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      I write 99% of these reports.

  4. Dotti Workman says:

    Jack. My son was swimming in the back yard while visiting my sister in TN. The boy next door was shooting and my son turned his head to look and was struck in the eye. What I see as a problem is not enough warnings or accountability. I think it starts with the Mfg’s and dealers. Ex: I called Walmart and said “My 8 yr old son wants a BB gun, what do you recommend?” The sales clerk said “Well you can start him off with a Daisy but he will want something more powerful pretty quickly” No warnings at all. I went to the store and you can buy them right off the shelf. The only warning is on the box saying “This is not a Toy” As a parent I had no idea that at 250 fps they can penetrate skin, at 400 fps it can crack bone. There is a little girl right a few months ago shot in the eye and can no longer, walk, talk or feed herself. Kids get guns they think are toys and like to aim them at each other and shoot. 30,000 children per year are admitted to the ER with these injuries. And I use BB gun, because I’m not familiar with the difference. I’m trying to get my voice out there to push for stiffer warnings and penalties, even to the parents. The little girl I was referring to was in her grandmothers house with lots of people around and her cousin pulled it out of the closet. If they are suppose to be treated like handguns then why aren’t they sold like them. What suggestions for change do you suggest.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I suggest you read the following:

      If all parents would follow these guidelines, “accidents” would drop to zero.

      Please read it and pass the link along to anyone you know who is concerned about airguns safety.

  5. Dotti Workman says:

    Also, not sure exactly what gun it was. it’s still under investigation. I was told it was a Crossman. It was a pump gun. I’m also not sure what it fired. BB’s, Pelletts. I don’t know. And I really don’t understand the comment of the other Blogger who said “If her son truly is Blinded” That is not something any parent would want to lie about.

  6. Bobby says:

    I have not seen this gun, but will. I am looking for a shooter for my grandaughter. The club has a rule for less than 500 FPS. She is performing well with a basic gun and is ready to step up to a pcp. Are you familiar with the workings? can a new spring or?? be installed to imit to 490?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I suggest you contact Crosman regarding your question.

  7. Roberta says:

    What size insert did you use for the challenger front globe sight insert?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      To be honest, at this point I don’t remember. But I believe I got the inserts from Lee Shaver.

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