Archive for January 2011

The Marauder Pistol comes complete with a plastic shoulder stock to turn it into a carbine.

I am convinced that the new Benjamin Marauder Pistol will shoot little tiny groups at 35 yards. I have pretty good evidence that it will, but I can’t prove it.


Because I breathed. Before we get into why breathing messed up a sizzling hot group, let’s start at the beginning.

The nice folks at Crosman sent me a sample of the new Benjamin Marauder Pistol for evaluation. There are a lot of things I like about this pistol, starting with the packaging. As you can see from the three picture below, the gang at Crosman has designed the packaging so the pistol will arrive in excellence condition.

The Marauder Pistol (known on the Internet by the shorthand P-rod), is an eight-shot, bolt-action .22 caliber pistol. It stretches 18 inches end to end and weighs 2.7 lbs. It is equipped with an 8-shot self-indexing magazine and a 12-inch choked and shrouded barrel. It also comes with a plastic shoulder stock that, when the pistol grips are removed and the stock mounted, turns the P-rod into a slick little carbine that measures just 30.25 inches stem to stern. Even with a Hawke 10X tactical scope mounted, the P-rod carbine weighs only 5 lbs, 12 oz.

Let’s take a tour of the P-rod. At the back, the ambidextrous black plastic pistol grips are textured a bit for better gripping and are marked with a “B” for Benjamin. There is a screw on either side of the grips. Undo these screws, the grips come off, and the shoulder stock slips on. Re-attach the screws to keep the shoulder stock securely in place.

Just ahead of the pistol grips is a black metal trigger guard that is part of the pistol frame. Inside the trigger guard is a black metal trigger that is adjustable for weight, first stage, second stage, and overtravel. The trigger can also be adjusted to become a single-stage trigger. A push-button safety sits between the trigger and the grips. When the red stripe is showing, the trigger is set to fire.

Ahead of the trigger assembly is a black plastic forestock, which has an inset for a pressure gauge. Beyond the end of the forestock is the air reservoir. It has a black plastic cap snaps off to reveal a male foster fitting for filling the reservoir up to a maximum of 3,000 psi.

Above the air reservoir is the .22 caliber shrouded barrel, the aft end of which is connected to the P-rod’s receiver. The black metal receiver is inscribed on the right hand side with “Marauder” in white scrip just the rear of the breech and has dovetails for mounting a scope along the full length of the receiver. At the extreme back end of the receiver, you’ll find the bolt handle which is set up at the factory to work from the right hand side but can be switched to the left hand side if the shooter prefers. Below the bolt handle is a port through which fill pressures and velocities can be adjusted by changing hammer spring pre-load and stroke.

Next time, we’ll look at the performance of the Marauder Pistol.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS 460 is a handsome air rifle.

The RWS 460, available in .177 and .22, is a long, slender, underlever spring-piston air rifle. It measures 45.5 inches from the tip of the muzzle to butt pad, yet it weighs just 8.3 pounds. At the extreme aft end, you’ll find a ventilated rubber recoil pad. Moving forward, the righthand hardwood stock has a modest cheek piece on the left side. The pistol grip is checkered on each side, and forward of that, there is a black trigger guard which houses a black plastic 2-stage trigger.

The forestock, checkered on either side, tapers gently from the trigger guard to the end. Underneath is a long slot that provides clearance of the underlever when the gun is being cocked. Ahead of the forestock is the underlever which snaps into a fitting mounted on the barrel. The same fitting incorporates the front blade sight.

At the aft end of the barrel, you’ll find the receiver with the rear notch sight on top. To the right of the rear sight is the anti-beartrap release tab, and behind the rear sight is the silver breech block. The breech opening is cut more deeply on the right side to favor loading pellets from that direction.

About six inches behind the breech block is a scope rail with a couple of dimples for anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the end of the receiver is a plastic push-pull safety that can be reset.

If you plan on shooting the 460 with a scope, I can highly recommend the RWS one-piece lock down mount, which is available in both 30mm and 1 inch. It has dual recoil pins, a clamping bar which is sized to the scope rail on the RWS 460, and .025 inches of elevation built in to deal with the barrel “deflection” (or droop) that is usually found in RWS air rifles. The mount worked exactly as advertised, and I had no trouble with it whatsoever. I mounted a 4-12×50 RWS scope (30 mm tube). Although the scope has a minimum focusing distance of around 13 yards at full power, by turning down the magnification I was able to see well enough to make closer shots.

The RWS 460 with a peep sight mounted.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know of my predilection to shoot “Quigley style” with non-glass sights. I mounted Gamo supermatch rear peep sight that had been drilled for an anti-recoil pin, and it worked just fine. The only downside to this setup is the width of the front sight blade, which obscures small targets at longer ranges. All in all, I really liked this rig, which weighs barely more than the naked rifle.

I also tried the rear sight that comes mounted on the 460. If you find the rear notch to be too narrow, you can loosen a tiny allen screw on the lefthand side of the sight, slip out the sight insert, flip it over, put it back in place, and you have a wider rear notch.

To ready the 460 for shooting, slip the underlever out of its retaining slot by pulling down. Next, move the underlever down and back until it latches. This slides the breech block back and exposes the breech so that you can load a pellet. As you do this, you will notice the anti-beartrap release tab on the right side of the receiver traveling backwards along the right side of the receiver in concert with the breech block.

Just forward of the breech you can see the anti-beartrap release tab, which slides back and forth in unison with the silver breech block.

Next, insert a pellet into the aft end of the barrel. To close the breech, you have to depress the anti-beartrap release tab, which is now located near the rear of the breech opening on the right side of the 460, and return the underlever to its original position. The RWS 460 is the only airgun I’m aware of in which the anti-beartrap release “travels,” but it presents no problem once you become accustomed to the novelty of it.

With the 460 loaded, take aim, push the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. It takes 1 lb 10 oz of effort to take the first stage out of the trigger, and at 2 lb. 9.4 oz, the shot goes down range. The 460 launched Crosman .177 Premier 7.9 gr. pellets at 1,023 fps average and Crosman Premier 10.5 gr. pellets at 836 fps average.

I got the best accuracy results with the Crosman 10.5 grain pellets. My first four shots with the heavy pellets went into a group just hair over .5 inches edge to edge at 35 yards. I yanked my last shot, though, so that the group opened to 7/8 inch edge to edge. That works out to .69 inches CTC.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

A little while back, Dale Johnson responded to my review of the FX Independence by saying “10 lb. rifle, if it sits on sand bags all day that’s fine, but a rifle that heavy is useless to me for hunting. 7.5 with scope is my limit.”

When I read that I thought, “You know, I’ve heard other hunters say similar things, that ideally their hunting rig would weigh no more than 7.5 lbs. to ease the burden of carrying it all day.” So I decided to do a little research on the Airguns of Arizona website to see what kind of 7.5 lb. (or less) hunting rig I could put together.

The first and perhaps most obvious choice would be either the Benjamin 392/397 or the Sheridan. Either rifle weighs 5.5 lbs. according to the Crosman website and can be fitted with a peep sight that adds negligible weight. Scoping these pump-up rifles is difficult, but barrel-clamping scope mount adapters are available, and the hot setup seems to be a pistol scope or red dot mounted well out on the barrel, Scout Rifle style.

 Another possibility is the Marauder PCP Air Pistol which weighs 2.7 lbs. without scope. It’s a .22 caliber pre-charged repeater that comes with a plastic stock that quickly turns it into a carbine. I’ll be reviewing one of these pistols in the near future.

The FX Verminator is a carbine version of FX’s double bottle airgun and weighs only 5.3 lbs. Similarly, the Ranchero carbine weighs in at 4.8 lbs. Either of these diminutive repeater carbines is available in .177 or .22. Virtually all of the FX long guns weigh less than 7 lbs. (with the exception of the Revolution), and some of them weigh under 6 lbs.

The Daystate Huntsman Classic tips the scales at 6 lbs., as does the Daystate Huntsman Buckmaster. The Brocock Enigma weighs 6 lbs., 13.5 oz.; the Brocock Concept weighs only 6 lbs; and the Brocock Contour weighs only 4 lbs.

Among springers, Weihrauch has several candidates that might fill the bill. If you’re willing to go after smaller game at closer ranges, the HW30s weighs 5.5 lbs., as does the HW30S Deluxe. Either can be fitted with a peep sight or scope. At 7.8 lbs., the higher power HW35E is just a touch over the weight limit, but would make a delightful hunting rig, especially if equipped with a peep sight. The HW85 is a little bit lighter, at 7.7 lbs. and would be a good candidate for a peep sight. The HW50s and the HW50S Stainless weigh 6.8 lbs., deliver more power than the smaller HW30S models, and would also work well with a peep sight.

The BSA Lightning XL, available in .177, .22, and .25, weighs just 6.6 lbs. The BSA Supersport XL, available in the same calibers, weighs 6.8 lbs.

If you want a scope and rifle combination that meets the 7.5 lb criteria, there are some lightweight scopes available to mount on a light rifle. The Burris Compact 3-9 x 32 weighs just 12 oz. The Bushnell Sportsman 3-9 x 32 is just 6.3 oz., and the Leupold EFR Ultralight 3-9 x 33 weighs in at 11 oz.

Play mix and match with light air rifles and light scopes, and you should be able to put together a combination that you can carry for a full day in the field with a grin on your face.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

A while back, a thread popped up on the “Yellow” forum that made me take notice. Larry Durham, otherwise known as LD, was responding to another post, and he said some pretty interesting things.

LD is the designer of the famous LD air pistol as well as the USFT air rifle. He has been around airgunning for many years and has likely forgotten more about airguns than I have learned.

Here is what he had to say back on October 29, 2010: “If you don’t live in some draconian liberal-ruled area, and are not a convicted felon, well then I want to point out that the principle good reason for owning an airgun is because it allows one to enjoy shooting, whether it be target or hunting at relatively short range in comparison to firearms.

I own all manner of firearms, thank God, but none is really quite so suitable for quiet, safe, accurate shooting at short ranges. By short range, I mean inside about 100 feet. Yes, airguns can be stretched beyond 100 feet for sure, but many, if not most are truly in a class by themselves within that distance!

The only firearm I know of that might also be considered very useful at 100 feet is your venerable shotgun, but there is the noise and short range safety aspect that for me, rules it out for casual shooting in most folk’s backyards.

Sure, I know there are sub-powered rimfires that can shoot at airgun power and noise levels, but the accuracy is totally lacking, and cost is up there. Also, for sure there IS danger from airgun pellets well beyond 100 feet, and likely even to a degree, at three times that, but when compared to a rimfire, well, the danger is much easier to compensate for.

So …. please try to understand that there is little need to try to make airguns serve the duties that firearms handle so well, since we can, for the most part, still own firearms and airguns!”

I thought LD had a good point, and, strangely enough, a few days after I asked LD for permission to quote him, a semi-unusual coincidence happened. As I was chatting with a friend who owns a farm, suddenly he began singing the praises of his RWS air rifle. “I have all kinds of firearms,” he said, “but at 75-100 feet, my air rifle is just superb.” He went on to tell me how he has used it to dispatch woodchucks in the garden and pigeons in the barn.

I was a little surprised to have two people within a week say basically the same thing: airguns are really excellent inside a hundred feet. That certainly squares up with my experience. When I get the occasional call to do a pest control favor for a neighbor, I feel most comfortable shooting within 100 feet because I have higher confidence that I will hit the target where it counts. And when I am shooting field target, those 40 and 50 yard targets are a lot less certain than the ones closer in . . . particularly when I am shooting a springer.

Of course, there are those excellent fellows who make an art form of shooting air rifles at longer ranges. For example, Cliff Tharpe routinely hunts ground squirrels and prairies dogs at distances far beyond 100 feet with his precharged air rifles. He told my once that his quarry is so skittish that typically he can’t get closer than 50 yards, and sometimes not even that close.

So, what do you think? Is inside 100 feet a kind of magic spot for the utility of airguns? Feel free to chime in and post a comment.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

On a warm Sunday afternoon back in October, 2010, back when there weren’t large white bears roaming my yard (well, maybe that’s a teeny bit of an exaggeration, but it was 8.8 degrees F. just the other morning), I got to do something that is becoming increasing rare for me: I got to shoot my own guns.

Now, I realize that this might be kind of a cheesy thing to say, but I spend so much time reviewing various airguns for this blog that it has become really uncommon for me to drag out a bunch of my own guns and shoot them just for the sheer joy of sending a few shots down range.

But it happened that a warm, fairly calm afternoon popped up one Sunday afternoon in late October, so I began pulling a few of my favorites out of their gun cabinets to see how they are behaving.

The Quigley Sheridan

The first gun I decided to try is my “Quigley” Sheridan. This is a modern Sheridan that Larry Durham very kindly fitted with a globe front sight and a tang vernier rear sight. Shooting .20 caliber JSB Exact pellets off a casual rest, I managed to put three shots in a group that measured only 5/8 inch edge to edge at 35 yards, but the next two shots expanded the group to nearly 2.5 inches. The problem with shooting an air rifle with non-glass, non-magnifying sights is an optical one. It’s simply hard to see the target. Perhaps I’ll start experimenting with shooting with my left eye in the future.

The second air rifle to come out of the closet was a modern “Steroid” Sheridan with a 10X scope. At 35 yards, 5 JSB Exact pellets landed in a group that measured 1-1/8 inch from edge to edge. Four of the shots measured only ¾ inch edge to edge, certainly good enough for defending the garden or the bird feeder.

I then decided to give my scoped Beeman R7 a try. At 35 yards, shooting Crosman Premier Light .177 pellets, I could only squeeze out a 1.5 inch edge to edge 5 shot group. Clearly I was not having my best luck with a spring-piston air rifle that day.

My scoped FWB150

Then the guys who inhabit the back room of my brain handed me an idea: why not try a recoilless springer? Once again, I dove into the basement and emerged, this time, with my trusty FWB150. This time I put all 5 JSB Exact pellets into a group that measured just ¾ inch edge to edge. This was clearly more like it!

A target like this always puts a smile on my face!

My final candidate for the day was the always reliable Benjamin Marauder. Shooting again from the same casual rest, I began launching Crosman Premier Heavy pellets at the target 35 yards away. After 5 shots, I strolled down to the pellet trap to admire my work. The group (seen above) measured just 3/8 inch edge to edge. That works out to about 2/10 inch center to center.

So what did I learn from all this? First, that it’s always fun to put a few shots downrange on a nice afternoon. Second, there’s a reason why people use scopes on rifles (so they can see better!), and third, for wicked consistent accuracy, it’s hard to beat a precharged pneumatic shooting the right pellet.

May you soon find a nice afternoon to enjoy a little casual shooting. In the meantime, there’s this big white bear in my yard . . .

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott