Until this year, I had never shot a .25 caliber air rifle. To be honest, I felt .25 was at the fringes of the airgun world, a caliber that was enthusiastically embraced by a small group of shooters, but wasn’t really “mainstream.”
Perhaps I was wrong in that assessment, but when Crosman Corporation announced early in the year that they would be introducing two .25 caliber rifles as well as .25 ammunition, I decided I better start paying attention to “quarterbore.”
So I tested the .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder and found it to be an entirely worthy air rifle capable of dispatching game at long range and a potload of fun to shoot.
For me, that experience was a game-changer. Suddenly I was a .25 cal enthusiast! Naturally I decided I better have a look at the other .25 cal air rifle that Crosman was introducing, the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston .25 caliber (it’s official product designation is the Benjamin Trail NP XL 725, but I’ll refer to it as the Trail .25).
What sets the Trail .25 apart from other break break barrels that Crosman is currently offering is that it is (a) .25 caliber and (b) powered by Crosman’s Nitro Piston powerplant. The powerplant operates on the same principle as the gas struts that lift the back hatch on an SUV. This powerplant type is sometimes referred to as a “gas ram” or “gas spring.”
Inside the powerplant, instead of a spring, there is a cylinder that holds gas. When the barrel is pulled down and back to cock the gun, a piston inside the cylinder is driven backwards, compressing the gas. The gas is held under compression until the shooter pulls the trigger. The gas drives the piston forward, which compresses air ahead of it, squirting a blast of air through the transfer port and causing the pellet to shoot down the barrel and down range. What’s neat about the Nitro Piston powerplant is that you can leave cocked for as long as you like, and there is no torque or vibration when the shot goes off.
The Trail .25 is one of the biggest air rifles I have ever tested – fully 48.15 inches long and 8.8 lbs. It comes with a CenterPoint 3-9 x40 scope and a sling, so the whole package weighs 10 lbs. 9 oz.
At the aft end of the Trail .25 is a soft rubber butt pad, attached to the ambidextrous hardwood thumbhole stock by a white spacer. The rear sling stud is located on the bottom of the butt stock between the pistol grip and the butt pad. The pistol grip has checkering on either side, with a black cap and white spacer on the bottom. Ahead of that is the plastic trigger guard which surrounds and metal trigger and push-pull style safety.
The forestock has checkering on either side and the word “Benjamin” incised underneath. Ahead of that is a long slot to accommodate the cocking mechanism, and the forward sling mount is attached to one of the cocking pivots. Ahead of that is the bull barrel.
At the aft end of the barrel is the breech block. Moving back again, you’ll find the main receiver which has a weaver rail mounting system for the scope. That’s all there is to the Trail .25.
To ready the Trail .25 for shooting, grab the muzzle end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. (It eases the process if you break the breech open by slapping the end of the barrel down). Cocking requires about 40 lbs of effort and is incredibly smooth and quiet. Next, stuff a .25 pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position.
Take aim and squeeeeeze the trigger. Now, here’s where things get a little weird. The Trail .25 has basically the same trigger system as the Benjamin Trail NP All Weather which I reviewed previously. At 1 lb 5.6 oz, the first stage appears to come out of the Trail .25’s trigger. Then there is a long creepy pull and a kind of “bump.” When the trigger goes over the bump, the shot goes off quite consistently at around 3 lbs. 3.4 oz.
So while you have this somewhat strange trigger that feels like it has three stages, it doesn’t interfere at all with accurate shooting. The Trail .25 launches Benjamin 27.8 grain .25 dome pellets at 633 fps average, which works out to 24.74 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Further, the shot cycle is extremely smooth, almost supple. Currently I am testing three different breakbarrel .25 cal air rifles, and I can tell you without doubt that the Trail .25 is the smoothest and quietest of the bunch.
A wise man once said there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So it is with the Trail .25. All that power means that you really have to do everything right, to bring all of your spring-gun shooting skills to bear, in order to shoot with high accuracy with the Trail .25 (or any .25 cal springer, for that matter). I found that, off a soft front rest, the Trail .25 would put 5 Benjamin pellets into a group that measured a half inch ctc at 20 yards. I’m pretty sure that better springers shooters could easily best that at longer ranges, but I couldn’t.
In the end, I think (for me, anyway), the Trail .25 makes a fine hunting and pest control air rifle for short to medium ranges. It’s the kind of gun you could keep behind the kitchen door to deal with that raccoon that been molesting your garbage cans out by the garage, and, with all that power, it’s highly likely you won’t have to worry about a second shot.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott