Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin’

My first job was to check out the guns for 10-meter accuracy. While all of them come equipped with iron sights, I decided to test them with optional scope or peep sight mounted. As you might expect from telescopic sights that cost less than $30, neither the Crosman nor the Daisy scope would make any of your shooting friends insanely envious, but at the same time, if what you are looking for is a sighting device that is adequate to the task of removing vermin from the garden at relatively short range, these scopes are up to the job.

When it got down to the actual evaluation, I decided to test the air rifles at two pumping strokes less than the maximum the factory allows. Experience has shown that the extra two strokes add only a little to the velocity. Incidentally, despite what you might have heard from other sources, pump up airguns are extremely consistent in their velocity. You can even pump one up, let it sit for half an hour or more, and still get very consistent results.

At eight pumps, the Daisy 22X happily shot 1-inch (edge-to-edge) groups at 10 meters with most pellets, including Daisy MaxSpeed .22 wadcutters and Crosman .22 Premiers. Group size dropped to 3/4 inch with RW Meisterkugeln flat-nosed .22 pellets.

At 8 pumps, the Crosman 2200B was extremely finicky about pellets. It shot huge groups – some over three inches — with every pellet but the RWS Meisterkuglns. With these pellets, groups settled down to 1 1/16th inch, not a great showing, but sufficient to the job. (Crosman tells me that its quality standard for the 2200B is 1 1/2 inch groups at 10 yards, with 1 inch being typical.)

The Benjamin 392, at 6 pumps, was the least pellet-sensitive gun tested, shooting half-inch groups with almost any pellet I fed it.

Then it was time for the can test. Shooting from a sitting position at 20 meters, I shot at steel soup cans with each gun, using Meisterkugln pellets and the same number of pumps as I had used at 10 meters. All three guns easily hit the can in the center mass and punched through one side. The 392 dimpled the backside of the can trying to make an exit hole.

At 15 meters, the Benjamin 392 went in one side and out the other. The Crosman 2200B went in one side and made a large dimple on the back side. The Daisy 22X pierced on side and made a smaller dimple on the back side.

At 10 meters, both the 392 and the 2200B blew through both sides of the can like a hot knife through butter. The Daisy 22X pellet lodged in the exit hole on the backside. Note well: these shots were made with wadcutter pellets. They generally do not penetrate well, but when they do, the typically leave large wound tunnels. Dome-headed pellets certainly would penetrate more efficiently.

It is also important to note that two air rifles of the same model, but two serial numbers apart, can perform better with radically different pellets. So, just because my Crosman 2200B achieved a certain level of performance with Meisterkugln pellets, that doesn’t mean your 2200B will perform similarly with the same pellets. Testing with different pellets is the only way to find out what works in your gun.

The bottom line: The Daisy 22X pumps the easiest, offers moderate accuracy, but penetrated the least on the can test. The Crosman 2200B offers moderate pumping effort, good penetration in the can test, but the lowest accuracy. The Benjamin 392 pumps hardest, hits the hardest, and offers the most accuracy, but costs nearly twice as much as the others. As the man said: “Ya pays yer money, and ya takes yer choice.” Any of these guns could be used for defending garden at 60 feet or less, but my first choice would be the Benjamin 392 if my wallet could stand it.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

But before I get to my take on the actual air rifles, some words about my selection. I decided to go with American pump-up .22 caliber air rifles for several reasons. The first, quite frankly, is that I have a weak spot for pump-up air guns. I own several, and I enjoy shooting them frequently. In addition, pump-up guns are generally easy to shoot; they don’t jump and buck the way many spring-piston air rifles do. Pump-up rifles are also typically less expensive than their spring-piston counterparts, and they are usually a fraction the cost of pre-charged air rifles which are filled from a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump.

Lastly, I was inspired. Recently I received a copy of an excellent book American Air Rifles by James E. House (Krause Publications). In it, he evaluates more than a dozen American-made air rifles. His words reminded me that you don’t need an expensive European or Asian model to enjoy a great deal of shooting satisfaction – and utility — with an air rifle. Thanks, Mr. House.

One of the first challenges that I faced was generating some sort of performance standard. What kind of performance would be necessary to send Jabba the Chuck to that Big Salad Bar in the Sky? Since I didn’t have three equal National Institute of Standards-certified pest animals lining up to be shot for evaluation purposes, and at that time I did not have a chronograph, I chose the next best thing . . . soup cans. Yup, good oldCampbell’s to the rescue.

My reasoning was thus: a steel soup can is small enough and tough enough that, if you can hit it and cleanly pierce at least one side, you can probably hit and punch through the skull of a varmint. I have killed animals with air guns that wouldn’t pass this test, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If possible, I prefer to drop ‘em where they stand. (I chose .22 caliber for all three guns for the same reason.)

So let’s have a look at our three candidates.

Daisy 22X.

The Daisy 22X is 37.75 inches long and weights 4.5 lbs. It is the lightest of the three guns. It has 20.8 in rifled steel barrel. The manual says it can be pumped up to 10 times and claims 530 fps with 8.6 fp energy but doesn’t specify what weight pellets are involved. The 22X is a handsome gun with a wooden buttstock (with plastic buttplate) and wooden forearm. The receiver is metal.

The 22X is loaded by dropping pellets into the breech on top of the receiver. The bolt is opened by pulling a plastic lever on the right side of the receiver. Opening the bolt also cocks the action. With a scope attached to the rail on top of the receiver, loading requires placing the pellet in the slot on the top of the receiver just to the right of the breech and rolling the pellet into the breech. The 22X is the easiest to pump of the three rifles, but, as we’ll see in a bit, it comes at a price.

In 2002, the suggested retail price of the 22X was $73.95. The Daisy 2-7x scope that I used for testing carried an SRP of $29.95.

Crosman 2200B

The Crosman 2200B measures 39 inches long and weighs 4 lbs. 12 oz., just a few ounces more than the Daisy. The 2200B has a 20.79 inch rifled steel barrel, and the factory manual claims 525-595 fps at 10 pumps with 14.3 gr. pellets. The buttstock and forearm are plastic, and the receiver is metal and is equipped with a scope rail. Overall, the appearance is clean and appealing, and it looks like a “real” rifle. The entire plastic forearm moves to pump up the gun, and the 2200B requires only slightly more pumping effort than the Daisy.

The 2200B loads by dropping pellets into the breech on the right side of the receiver. A plastic lever opens the breech and cocks the action. Loading requires tipping the gun on its side. The slot leading to the breech is somewhat deep, and there is no elegant way to control the descent of a pellet to the breech itself. As a result, sometimes nose-heavy domed pellets arrive at the breech sideways or backwards. Sometimes jiggling the gun or dumping the pellet out and starting over is necessary to set things right.

The suggested retail price of the 2200B was $69.95, and the 4x Crosman scope that was used during testing was $9.95.

Benjamin 392

Benjamin 392, manufactured by Crosman Corporation, is 36.25 inches long and weighs 5.5 lbs, making it both the shortest and the heaviest of our three candidates. The 392 manual states this gun will produce velocities of 685 fps at 8 pumps but does not reveal the weight of the pellets used in making that determination.

It doesn’t take Holmesian powers of observation to figure out the 392 is solidly built. The only plastic used on this air rifle is the buttplate. The buttstock is solid wood, and so is the forearm which also serves as the pumping lever. (The 392 is also the hardest of the three guns to pump.) The breech and bolt are made of metal, but unlike the Daisy and the Crosman, there is no scope rail on top of the receiver. Holes for attaching a Williams peep sight are tapped into the side of the receiver, and that’s what I used for a sighting system.

The 392 can be scoped using intermounts from Crosman for around $15.00 and attach a scope (or a red dot sighting device) forward of the receiver. In the case of a scope, this requires either a long eye relief scope (a la Colonel Jeff Cooper’s scout rifle concept) or putting both scope rings forward of the turrets and letting the body of the scope hang over the receive.

The suggested retail price of the Benjamin 392 was $149.95, and the Williams peep was $27.95, making this combo by far and away the most expensive of the three guns tested.

Next time, we’ll see how these three rifles perform.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Back in 2002, my wife and I decided that we would like to grow some fresh veggies. The next couple of blogs recall what happened then and make some recommendations in case you need to defend your garden.

There is no way to confirm this with rock-solid certainty, but according to my back-of-the-ammo-box calculations, it was the most expensive salad bar ever. And I had not tasted so much as a single bite of it – not a morsel of wax bean, not a sliver of tomato.

My wife and I had labored hard through sun and rain over the darn thing. We hired the roto-tiller guy (who showed up with a commercial-grade Troy-Bilt tiller and a business card that read “I dig my work.”) to pulverize a section of our lawn. Then we raked, picked rocks (lots of ‘em), ran strings and pegs, and planted: tomatoes, corn, squash, a couple of kinds of beans, peppers. It was a work of art. We were regular Arlo Guthries out there: “inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow . . .”

Then, by the sweat of our brow, we surrounded it with steel fence posts and sturdy critter-proof wire fencing. And we watched it grow and tended it. Then, just as the tender new plants were seriously establishing themselves, we went away for a weekend.

When we came back . . . someone . . . something . . . had given our garden a crew cut. Where once there had been vibrant plants bursting with the promise nature’s bounty, there was stubble. I was in utter shock: for the amount of money, sweat and effort we had put into this thing, we could have had veggies FEDEXed to us fromChile. Who was the culprit?

Then I saw him. Not one of the deer that wander through the yard. No, this was smaller, more insidious – good old Marmota monax, a woodchuck. And what a woodchuck this was! Round, firm, fully packed, he was so swollen and porcine he could barely wriggle through the hole he had dug under the fence. He was so fat he had a roll behind his neck. I had worked my butt off all spring so this groundhog could enjoy some mitey fine gourmet meals at my expense.

I wanted to shoot him so baaaaad! “Honey, call the supermarket and see if they got any Woodchuck Shake ‘N’ Bake, will ya?” (I never did terminate this particular woodchuck with extreme prejudice. Instead I took my revenge in laughter – he was so obscenely corpulent, likeGarfieldthe cat, his legs barely reached the ground. I referred to him as Jabba the Chuck.)

If you’ve got a problem with a woodchuck, a rabbit, a squirrel or other varmint munching on your garden or prize azaleas, and you live in or near a populated area, there is a problem. The law generally takes a very dim view of popping off any kind of firearm near dwellings, and many jurisdictions have specific prohibitions about shooting guns. Besides, any reader of this blog worth his or her salt will naturally be conscious of the safety of neighbors and their property.

In my case, I live within one-half mile of a major technical university. Shooting any kind of powder is strictly verboten. There is hope, though. Many places have absolutely nothing to say about shooting airguns. Recently, I’ve had my hands on three vintage American .22 caliber pump-up airguns that will dispatch vermin quite well at short ranges.

Next time, we’ll talk about them.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

I hunt very little, but I do get called from time to time to do pest control “favors” for the neighbors. When that happens, my go-to airgun is usually a Benjamin 392 .22 caliber pump-up rifle.

There’s a lot to like about the humble 392: it’s easy to shoot well; it delivers enough power to terminate whatever you might reasonably want to shoot with an air rifle; the power can be readily varied; it doesn’t cost a ton of money, and it delivers good longevity and value for an air rifle in its price class. Mostly I like the 392 because it is light, easy to handle, and reasonably accurate.

But all is not 100 percent tickety-boo in 392-ville. The factor iron sights – particularly the rear sight – that come with the 392 are lackluster. Williams makes a peep sight especially designed for the Benjamin that works pretty well, with some caveats.

First, the Williams peep has no screw adjustment for windage.  As a result, to adjust windage, you must loosen both screws that prevent side-to-side movement of the peep.  Then you gently move the windage adjustment with your fingers.  At this point there is the very great risk that it will slip completely out of adjustment, forcing you to start from scratch.  Once you gingerly ease the windage into what you think is the proper position, you must then re-tighten the screws without jiggling the sight out of adjustment.  Elevation adjustment, however, is as simple as turning a screw.

Second, once the Williams peep sight is properly mounted on the Benjamin 392 and adjusted, there is the problem that, at various distances, the front sight blade appears to be wider than the thing that you are aiming at. This, of course, can be a problem with any rifle with a blade front sight.

Finally, at dawn or dusk or anytime the light doesn’t lend itself to high contrast, aiming with metallic sights can be challenging.  For all of these reasons, there are times when I yearn for a better sighting system for the 392.

Mounting a scope on a 392 is problematic. There are no dovetails on the receiver. Some tuners will cut dovetails into the receiver, but even if you mount a scope on the receiver, unless it is a very short scope, it raises the question of where do you put your hands while pumping? If you mount a normal-length scope, you are forced to pump with one hand on the 392’s pistol grip or use the scope itself as a handle for pumping.

But there is another alternative for solving the problem. Some years ago, Colonel Jeff Cooper touted the idea of the scout rifle – a rifle of no more than one meter long (39.4 inches), no more than 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds), with a forward-mounted low-power scope. The forward-mounted scope allows the shooter to keep both eyes open, to aim with precision and yet be aware of the surroundings at the same time. 

I was intrigued with the idea of the scout rifle, and, using intermounts clamped to the barrel of the 392, I built one with a forward mounted pistol scope.

Here's my first attempt at a scout rifle, with a forward-mounted pistol scope.

I liked it well enough, but recently I wanted a Benjamin scout rifle that offered better performance in low-light conditions. The good folks at Crosman were kind enough to send me the goodies to put such a scout rifle together.

They consist of a Benjamin 392, Benjamin B272 intermounts, 2-piece medium profile dovetail rings for 30mm scopes, and a CenterPoint Multi-TAC Quick Aim Sight, which is basically a green/red-dot sight with four reticles.

Putting it all together first requires clamping the intermounts to the barrel on either side of the rear sight. Next, loosen the weaver rings on the CenterPoint Multi-TAC Quick Aim Sight and slip them off. Slide the 30mm medium profile dovetail rings on where the weaver rings were and tighten them. Finally, attach the dovetail rings to the intermounts on either side of the rear sight.

Here's my newest version of a scout rifle, with a red/green dot sight.

Tah-dah! You’re done. The result is a fast-handling pest control gun that’s a lot of fun to shoot and easy to pump because there is plenty of room to grab the rifle just forward of the breech. I find my head position behind the dot sight is a bit higher than looking through a peep, but not so high that it bothers me. The CenterPoint sight displays either red or green dots (your choice), and a continuously variable rheostat in the sight makes it easy to set the degree of brightness that you like best for the shooting conditions. The sight allows the shooter to select one of four different reticles simply by rotating a knob: a single dot, three vertical dots, a dot with a dash on either side and the bottom, and a dot within a circle.

That knob on the left side of the sight allows the shooter to select among four different reticles. The big knob on top controls the color and the brightness.

In the end, I really like this Benjamin scout rifle. It’s light, easy to handle, and quick to aim and should make a dandy tool for doing those pest control favors for neighbors.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

If you have never tried field target competition, you really owe it to yourself, as an airgun enthusiast, to give it a go. It’s a lot of fun.

On May 1, 2011, I attended and competed in a field target match put on by the Eastern Field Target Competitors Club (EFTCC) at the Dutchess County Pistol Association in Wappingers Falls, NY.

Field target is the fine art of shooting at metallic silhouettes of squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the like. These silhouettes are generally 4-12 inches high. There is a hole, called the kill zone, in the silhouette, and behind the hole is a paddle. If you put a pellet cleanly through the hole, it hits the paddle, and the target falls down. If you hit the face plate of the target or split a pellet on the edge of the kill zone, the target stays upright. What makes field target challenging is that the range to the target can vary from 7 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone can range from .25 inches to 1.875 inches. Further – and this is key – there is no correlation between the range to the target and the size of the kill zone. A one-inch kill zone at 10 yards is fairly easy to hit, but a one-inch kill zone at 50 yards can be downright challenging.

Normally, you score one point for each target you knock down (and no points if you fail to drop the target), but the May 1 EFTCC match was scored on a risk/reward system: you got one point if you knocked the target down from a sitting, prone, or kneeling position, but you scored two points if you dropped the target from a standing position. 

The catch in all this is that it is harder to shoot from a standing – or offhand – position. Most lanes had two targets, and you could take two shots at each, four shots in all in each lane. If you were successful with all four shots from, say, a sitting position, you would get four points for that lane, but if you were successful with all four shots from a standing position, you would get eight points. So, is it worth the risk to attempt the more difficult by higher scoring standing shots? That was the question facing the competitors.

Six classes were available for competition at EFTCC: Hunter, WFTF (World Field Target Federation), Pistol, PCP, Spring Gun, and Junior. There were entrants in all classes but Pistol.

Below is my attempt to capture the day in pictures.

The day was gorgeous: mid-70s and low wind. It started with signing up for a class to compete in.

The shooting lanes are along the left edge of the photo, the check-in table on the right.

A couple of typical field targets. Hit the yellow kill zone, and the target goes down.

Can you spot the field target on the tree?

Here it is up close.

 You could spot just about any type of air rifle in the competition.

Tom Holland took first in the WFTF class with this Steyr LG110FT.

Michael Arroyo finished second in Hunter with this Beeman R11.

Glenn Thomas campaigned a Gamo CFX.

Hector Medina took second in Spring Gun Division with a Diana 54.

Veronica Ruf competed with an HW95.

Brian Williams goes prone in Hunter class with his .20 caliber Daystate Air Wolf.

In Hunter class, Greg Shirhall reloads his custom-stocked Marauder.

Robert Bidwell shot a QB78PCP in Junior Class.

Paul Bishop won Spring Gun Division with this custom-stocked HW98.

Jerry LaRocca won Hunter class with his .22 caliber Diana 56TH.

Ron Zeman shot an Air Arms S300 in PCP Division.

Art Deuel finished second in the PCP Division with this customized Marauder.

Nathan Thomas sights in a Marauder. He won the PCP Division with it.

Your Humble Correspondent with his trusty FWB150.

Match Director and Team Crosman member Ray Apelles shot a Marauder Hybrid bullpup that was specially built for ease of transportation to the FT World Champsionship in Italy.

Ray's father Hans is co-Match Director and the other half of Team Crosman. Here he is shooting his lefthanded Marauder Hybrid Bullpup.

And a good time was had by all!

The FT match was a lot of fun. You get to meet a lot of nice people, enjoy shooting for half a day, and see some interesting equipment. What’s not to like?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Recently, I received a response to the blog from Sean, who said:

I need an air rifle to kill some roosting pigeons and feral cats at a commercial property in Tucson. I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.

Any suggestions for an appropriate rifle would be helpful.



Thanks for the question, Sean. I’ll do my best to provide a useful response.

Your first big concern should be to determine the legality of your situation. Is it legal for you to be discharging an air rifle at this commercial property and is it also legal for you to be killing pigeons and feral cats? The last thing you want is a legal hassle because someone saw you terminating pigeons or feral cats and decided to make an issue of it. That is not the time to discover that you are on the wrong side of the law. So check it out first. If legality is a problem, you might want to see what your options are with a pest control professional.

You mention “I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.” Safety is your second big concern. You really have to take a critical look at the area where you intend to shoot. What, indeed, will happen if you miss your shot? Where will your shot go? Will you hit adjoining properties, possibly critical or sensitive equipment, or will your shot go into the air and you have no idea where it will land? (Understand, Sean, that I am not getting on your case here, but simply pointing out that it is your responsibility to be sure of the background where your shot is going to land.)

Study your field of fire and look for alternative shooting positions. If you can arrange a position where you are shooting downward into the ground or into a backstop you devise, that could be very helpful.

One of the unknown variables in the question you pose is the distance at which you will be shooting. That will influence what type of air rifle you choose. You also don’t mention what type of commercial property is involved, and that may make a difference as well.

Scoped HW30.

Some years ago, I did a profile on pest control professional Alan Becker. He is called frequently to kill birds in grocery stores, and one of his concerns is over-penetration. “If he pellet goes through the bird, I have to find it. I don’t want to take the risk that it might be in a food product.” For that reason, Becker uses a Beeman R9 in .177 that launches .177 pellets at 875-900 fps, and a CZ630, also a .177, with a velocity around 600 fps (a readily available equivalent would be the Beeman R7 or HW30). With an HW30 or R7, you should be able to kill pigeons out to about 25 yards.

Here's an older Benjamin 392 set up Scout rifle style with a red dot sight.

If you are forced to shoot upward at roosting pigeons and don’t want to risk damaging the roof, you might consider a Benjamin 392 pump-up rifle. By varying the number of pumps, you can vary the power and velocity of the shot. At as little as 3 pumps, you might be able to kill the pigeon without “killing” the roof.  The 392 can be difficult to scope, but can be outfitted with a peep sight or a pistol scope mounted out on the barrel in “scout rifle” fashion.

The Benjamin Marauder Pistol, outfitted with shoulder stock and scope.

Another good candidate is the Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine, the power of which can be adjusted, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

The FX Gladiator offers tons of shots, super easy power adjustment, and a high degree of stealth.

Another consideration is noise. Some pest control situations require the utmost in stealth. The .177 Marauder rifle is very, very quiet, and the power can be adjusted, but it isn’t quick and easy. If you want a PCP rifle that offers a lot of shots per fill, power that is adjustable at the flick of a switch, very muted report, and excellent accuracy, the FX Gladiator Tactical is an outstanding choice.

Finally, Sean, whatever you choose, be certain that you practice, practice, practice until your shot placement is precise and sure.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

This fine air rifle could be yours if you win the Amazing Uncle Jock Reader Appreciation Free Gun Contest

I think ingratitude is close to a national disease in the United State. Many folks, it seems to me, hold the belief that they are possessed of a God-given right to have things go absolutely perfectly in their lives, and they get mightily hacked off if anything messes up a completely smooth and wonderful trip down the highway of life.

Me, I tend to take the opposite point of view. I think life is a messy, dangerous, unpredictable business, and we ought to be darned grateful when things go right.

One of the things that I am thankful for are the readers of this blog, and I am doubly thankful for the folks who are kind enough to submit their comments.

So, since this is Valentine’s Day and by way of showing my thanks, I hereby announce the Amazing Uncle Jock Reader Appreciation Free Gun Contest. The winner of the contest will be given an air rifle from my personal collection – a Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 (otherwise known as a Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston .25 caliber). This is an air rifle that I reviewed previously: The gun is lightly used, but not abused.

To enter the contest, you must submit your thoughts in writing on one of three topics:

  • What I like best about airguns


  • My favorite airgunning experience


  • Why I am thankful for airguns

Your entry must be at least 250 words long, but no more than 1,000 words. It must be your original work and not have been used anywhere else. Send your entry to my email address: DO NOT submit your entry to the comments section of the blog. Instead, email them directly to me. Be sure to include your UPS-able address and phone number in case I need to contact you.

All entries become my property and I may (or may not) use them in this blog.

I will be the sole judge of the entries and will pick the winner based on the entry I like best.

The winner is responsible for complying with all applicable laws pertaining to receiving, possessing and shooting this air rifle at his or her location.

The deadline for entries is midnight, Feb. 28, 2011.

So get busy and start writing. Somebody is going to win this rifle, and it might be you! Besides, you’ll probably have fun writing the entry.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

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

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

The potent Benjamin Trail NP .25 caliber.

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