When I reviewed the Crosman Airgun and Pellet Capabilities Chart discussed in last week’s blog, I was struck by the fact that, aside from the .25 caliber Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 (which I had written about a while back), only one of the breakbarrel air rifles listed on the chart consistently offers the longest estimated effective maximum range.
That rifle is the .22 caliber Remington NPSS. The chart suggests that it is capable of taking pigeons and squirrels at 42 yards, prairie dogs at 45 yards, raccoons at 15 yards, and turkeys at 30 yards. That’s quite a resume. And while I had reviewed the original Crosman NPSS in .177 a couple of years ago, I decided I needed to have a look at the Remington version in .22.
The good folks at Crosman were kind enough to send me one, and here’s the skinny. The Remington NPSS, which proudly displays “Made in the USA” on the receiver, stretches 43.75 inches from end to end and weighs 9 lbs exactly with the 3-9 x 40 CenterPoint scope mounted. Physically, the Remington NPSS is identical to its Crosman-branded predecessor. It has a weatherproof ambidextrous polymer thumbhole stock that features a soft rubber cheek piece and “nubbly” texturing at both the pistol grip and the forestock. It’s available in a digital camo finish (on the sample I tested) and a carbon fiber look, neither of which affect the performance of the gun.
What really sets the Remington apart from other breakbarrel air rifles you may have shot is the NPSS powerplant. That stands for Nitro Piston Short Stroke. Unlike conventional breakbarrel air rifles, it has no spring. Instead it has a gas ram – much like the gas strut in the liftback of an SUV. When you break the barrel of the Remington NPSS to cock it, instead of compressing a spring, you’re driving back a piston which compresses gas in a cylinder. When the cocking mechanism latches, it holds the gas under pressure until you pull the trigger, allowing the piston to shoot forward, compressing air in front of it and launching the pellet down the barrel.
It works exactly the same as a conventional “springer,” except there is no spring, and that gives the NPSS some advantages. For example, you can leave it cocked for long periods without worrying that the spring will take “a set” and weaken the power of the air rifle. In addition, cocking is generally smoother, and there is no torque or vibration when the shot goes off. Crosman also claims that the NPSS powerplant is quieter than a conventional springer. From the shooter’s position behind the receiver, that is difficult to prove, and I’ve found that trying to measure the relative loudness of various airgun powerplants can be fiendishly difficult. Bottom line: if the NPSS didn’t seem especially quiet to me, it didn’t seem particularly loud either, which in my mind works out to “average” loudness.
Getting the Remington NPSS ready to shoot is straightforward. Grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back until it latches. This takes about 23-24 pounds of effort, according to Crosman. The cocking stroke is incredibly smooth, with no spring noise or creaking. Insert a pellet into the aft end of the breech and return the barrel to its original position.
Take aim. Flick off the safety (The Remington NPSS has a lever-style non-automatic safety inside the trigger guard). Squeeze the trigger. At 3 lb, 15 oz, the first stage comes out; at 6 lb, 8 oz, the shot goes down range. That’s heavier than I would like, but the trigger seemed very consistent and didn’t appear to interfere with accurate shooting.
With .22 Crosman Premier pellets, which went down range at about 850 fps and generated around 22.9 foot-pounds of energy, I was able to shoot essentially one-hole groups at 13 yards, but the groups opened up to 1.25 inches (edge to edge) at 30 yards. I also noticed that the point of impact would shift if I moved from sitting position to shooting off a rest to shooting offhand. It seems to me that the big trick with this air rifle is either (a) to learn where the point of impact will be from various shooting positions or (b) shoot consistently from only one position such as offhand.
In the end, I liked the .22 Remington NPSS. It seems to me to be a solid, workhorse air rifle that would serve many shooters well for pest control and hunting duties.
Til next time, aim true and shooting straight.
– Jock Elliott