Posts Tagged ‘Marauder’

Recently, as research for a story in ShootingSports USA, I had the opportunity to interview several of the shooters who won their classes at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship held at Crosman Corporation, July 10, 11 and 12.

There were several unusual stories, and one that certainly caught my attention was that of John Tyler of Yardley, PA. He won the Hunter PCP class, which the most hotly contested with some 44 registered shooters.

A couple of things really struck me about John’s effort. The first is that he was shooting a somewhat unusual air rifle. He was shooting a Benjamin Marauder in .177 equipped with a hammer de-bounce device and with a forestock that has been shortened by several inches. The underside of the buttstock has been removed which took off about a pound of wood. Because he is shooting in the hunter class, which allows the use of shooting sticks, the stock has a notch at the end of the forestock to fit the shooting sticks.

In the photo below are two of John’s Marauders. He won with the one on the bottom.

IMG_20140806_181534593

What really sets John’s Marauder apart is that, having been tuned by Chris Helm, it shoots hot, sending 8.44 grain Air Arms pellets downrange at 1,010 feet per second, for around 19.8 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while or paying attention to various on-line forums, you know that conventional wisdom has it that you really don’t want your air rifle launching pellets at more than 930-950 fps, because higher than that will likely produce inaccuracy. Tyler’s Marauder apparently has not gotten the news. It shoots very accurately at that power level and delivers about 50 shots at that power level per fill.

John tells me that his M-rod shoots flat from 22-45 yards and that additional power really helped him to punch through high winds and torrential rain on the second day of the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship. While most shooters shot significantly worse on the second day, John shot the same score both days, although he feels he should have done better on the first day.

IMG_20140806_164557703_HDR

The second unusual aspect of Tyler’s effort was his use of a radio-controlled truck to help him confirm his “scope dope” on the sight-in day. Walking a target holder out yard-by-yard to make sure that his scope is set up properly could be very interruptive to other shooters, since the rangemaster would have to call a cold line each time John wanted to move his target. So he mounted a sign holder on the back of his radio control truck and uses that the move the target as needed without interrupting the other shooters. At the Northeast Regional, he positioned himself at the far end of the sight in range and inched the truck out yard by yard as he sighted in and made sure that all was well with his scope.

John tells me that there is a very small printed sign on the back of the radio controlled truck that says, “If you shoot me, you’ll have to deal with my owner.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

— Jock Elliott

Dan Brown shooting in the Quigley Bucket Challenge at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship.

Before we get to our conversation with Dan Brown and Dan Finney, a brief reminder from the good folks who make this blog possible:

Don’t’ forget: the 2nd Annual EXTREME BENCHREST competition , being hosted by Quail Creek Gun Club in Green Valley, AZ (25 miles South of Tucson) and sponsored by www.airgunsofarizona.com will be held on the weekend of Nov. 10-11, 2012.

What makes it extreme benchrest? Well, here’s a quick summary of the rules:

  • All targets will be placed at 75 yards
  • There are 20 targets to be shot and scored
  • 20 minute time limit for all 20 shots and all sighters
  • Targets will be scored from 0 to 10x per target
  • If a shot breaks the outline of a ring then the shot is scored up
  • Highest shot per target is scored
  • Any shots over 20 will have a 10 point penalty per shot
  • There are 4 targets that are on the bottom of the target board designated for sighters only
  • Shooters are allowed as many sighters as needed
  • Any shot above the sighter line will be counted as a competitive shot
  • Shooting the wrong target is an automatic disqualification

Registration will be limited to 120 shooters, and there will be prizes, lot of prizes, amounting to over $10,000 worth of merchandise to be given to match and raffle winners. For more information, and to register, click here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/ExtremeBenchrest.html

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: At the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship, Dan Brown took third in the WFTF Division and won the Hunter Pistol match. His son, Dan Finney, won the Hunter PCP rifle match. I interviewed Dan Brown about what made him and his son so successful at field target.

JE: How did you get started in field target?

DB: When I was a kid, I was really big into airguns. I used to read about Rodney Boyce and American Airgun magazine. When I was in high school, I used to skip school and take off in the woods all day with an airgun. About two years ago, I bought an FX Independence and went to some field target shoots. That’s how I got involved.

JE: What’s your current competition rig?

DB: This year, I’m using an EV2, and I’m shooting in the World Field Target Federation (WFTF) Division, which is 12 foot-pounds. I have a Sightron 10-60 scope and I use it all the time at 50x, even shooting offhand. I’m shooting 7.9 grain JSB pellets.

Dan Finney shooting his highly modified Marauder on the B course at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship.

JE: What about your son’s rig for PCP Hunter?

DB: That’s a Marauder. I’m an amateur machinist, and we heavily modified my son’s gun. It has a Lothar barrel with a 1/15 twist, a thimble on the end so we can index the barrel, a custom hammer with a debounce device that improves shot count by 25%, a custom regulator that delivers 1.5% consistency, and a special bolt lug that tightens the actions. It gets a lot of shots per fill and is shooting at 910 fps right now.

JE: What about the pistol rig that you won with?

DB: That’s a Crosman 1720T that we bought the day before the pistol match.

JE: The day before?!! You mean you had less than a day to practice?

DB: Yes, and I had to borrow a scope from Ray Apelles for the pistol match.

(An aside: at this point, Your Humble Blogger is sitting mute on the phone, shaking his head in disbelief.)

JE: How do you practice?

DB: Me and my kid are big into bench rest. We get the guns shooting as accurately as possible. We shoot indoor leagues in the winter and attend weekly silhouette shoots for our offhand skills. We also practice in the backyard. We can go out to 100 yards. So one of us will put out a target, and whoever it’s it first gets to put out the next target at whatever distance he chooses. We do a lot of long range shooting, measuring ballistic coefficients, and we have even done high speed video of pellets in flight. We experiment a lot with different barrels with custom rifling to try to maximize accuracy. I find shooting from a bench very valuable as well.

JE: What about your son’s practice routine?

DB: Well, he follows a very highly regimented discipline. He plays video games about 95% of the time when he isn’t working, and he usually sights in his gun the night before a match.

JE: Any advice for newbies?

DB: One of the best practice aids is to get involved with benchrest match shooting. You’ll learn how much the wind affects the flight of the pellet. At the last match, I was holding off two inches to make the shot. It’s especially important with a 12 foot-pound gun. I think benchrest helped my kid quite a bit. Benchrest is a different mindset. It’s more technical and it will help you to get your gun accurate in a hurry. The bottom line: you need an accurate gun, need to understand the wind, and need to get your positions down pat.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

One of the nice things about being an airgun writer is that occasionally I get news releases from various airgun manufacturers and distributors concerning new things that they have going on.

On Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, I received an email from Crosman announcing “CROSMAN CORPORATION® LAUNCHES WEBSITE REDESIGN.” Now, normally I don’t get too excited about website redesigns, but I also know that Crosman has set a pretty high standard in coming out with interesting new products, so I thought I would poke around the new website to see if anything caught my eye.

And, sure enough, something did. On the home page, if you scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the lefthand side, you’ll see a section entitled “Croswords Blog.” Run your eye down the column a ways and you’re likely to run into a link entitled “Crosman Releases Hunting Capabilities Guide. (If the link has disappeared from view by the time you read this, here’s the direct link: http://www.crosman.com/croswords/?p=1955 )

The upshot is this: apparently a bunch of folks at Crosman got together to determine the proper hunting distances for their full line of hunting rifles. You can download the chart here: http://www.crosman.com/mediacenter2/Guides/Crosman_Airgun_and_Pellet_Capabilities_Chart.pdf

To be perfectly candid, I found the chart intriguing. (A warning: at the time of this writing, if you try to print the chart on 8.5 x 11 paper, you will need an electron microscope to read it. It is designed to be printed on 11 x 17 paper.  The best plan is to download the chart to your computer, open the chart with the PDF reader, magnify it to 100%, and print “current view.” This will allow you to print half of the chart at a readable scale. Then magnify the other half of the chart, print “current view” and tape the two halves of the chart together.)

At the top left of the chart, in red, you’ll find a box that says: “Recommended kill zone for all species is a head shot.” Across the top of the chart, you’ll find categories such as: powerplant, caliber, velocity, energy, pellet type, pellet weight, estimated effective maximum ranges (with sub categories of smaller-sized game, medium-sized game, and larger sized game), sound scale, and suggested optics. Down the lefthand side of the chart, you’ll find categories for powerplants (and specific gun models underneath them): multi-pump, break barrel – spring piston, break barrel – nitro piston, pre-charged pneumatic, electronic pre-charged pneumatic variable power.

Taken altogether, the chart is a cornucopia of interesting data. For example, you’ll find out that a Benjamin 392 multi-stroke rifle, launching a 14.9 gr pellet at 685 fps is generating 14.9 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and might be used to shoot a prairie dog or woodchuck at 25 yards. A .177 Benjamin Trail NP XL1500 could be handy for popping turkeys at 20 yards.  The .25 caliber Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 might be used to hunt coyotes at 20 yards while the .25 Marauder could be used for Coyotes at 30 yards. Only the .357 Benjamin Rogue is recommended for hunting hogs, out to 60 yards, depending upon what weight projectile is used.

I was curious about the genesis of the chart, so I called Laura Evans, marketing coordinator for Crosman.

“About a year ago, we began to get into television advertising to promote adult airguns for hunting, and we realized that some education needed to take place,” Evans said. “A lot of potential airgun hunters are unfamiliar with airgun powerplants and energy and simply didn’t know what to expect from them. Education and safety are the driving forces behind this chart.”

So Crosman put together an informal committee of engineering, marketing, sales personnel and industry sources, as well as anyone else at Crosman who hunts with an airgun and wanted to have input. The goal was to pull together a kind of spreadsheet of conservative suggestions of the ethical effective range at which Crosman’s various hunting air rifles could be used. 

Evans says, “We must have gone through 20 revisions before publishing the chart. It’s a living document that will be continually revised as appropriate when new models are introduced and more data and input are gathered. We’re recommending a head shot on all species because we feel that is the best and most ethical way to hunt with an airgun.”

I think Crosman has done well in publishing this chart. It’s my belief that both newcomers and old timers will find it instructive and useful.

Oh, yeah, one final note: as an airgun hunter, it is up to you to know and understand the legalities of hunting with an airgun in the jurisdiction in which you plan to hunt. Don’t give our sport by doing something illegal, even if through ignorance.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Part I showed you how to disassemble the Marauder in preparation to installing the HDD. In Part II, you’ll learn how to install the HDD. The numbering of steps follows in sequence from Part I.

5. Now, insert the vinyl Installation Tube provided in HDD kit into Bolt hole at the rear of the Breech. You’ll notice that the tube has an asymmetrical flare on one end. Steve calls this the Retention Tab; I call it the “fish lip.” Insert the tube into the hole at the back of the breech so that the fish lip is protruding from the breech and pointed downward, per the picture below:

Next, using a screwdriver or allen wrench, push the vinyl tube forward until about 1/2″ emerges into magazine slot in the breech. Flip the breech over so that you can see the underside. You should be able to see the vinyl tube visible through a slot under the breech. With pliers or an allen wrench, pull the fish lip so that it sticks into the slot, roughly flush with the edge.

The picture below shows the fish lip in the slot, but the aft end of the tube should actually be about a half inch further toward the muzzle.

6. Remove Screw #25 from Hammer #40. This will require use of the 9/64 allen wrench. Screw #25 will not be reinstalled – the place it occupied will be used by the HDD. Set it aside in case you ever want to return the Marauder to factory trim.

Next, set HDD with its ball bearing fitting into hole exposed by the removal of screw #25, with HDD concave side facing toward the muzzle end of the Marauder.

7. At this point you need to hold the Marauder very steady because, as Steve puts it, “the only thing holding the HDD in its proper position at this moment are Happy Thoughts.” Of  course, once assembly is completed, the HDD will be securely captured and locked in position between hammer and bolt.  But for now, it’s a little precarious.  If you removed the barrel from the barrel band, slide the barrel back into position now. Next, very carefully, lower the breech onto the air tube, taking care that HDD enters the slot on the bottom of the breech, and the Transfer Port Sleeve #19 slides into its port in the breech. Make sure that both Breech Gaskets #29 are in their correct positions before completing this operation. While bringing the breech back down onto the air tube, I found it helpful to use a small flashlight to locate the hole that the transfer port sleeve should slide into. The Big Trick here is to complete this operation without knocking the HDD out of position.  Remember to keep thinking those “Happy Thoughts!”

8. Once you have the breech back on top of the air tube, replace Screws #31 and (both) #36 screws. Screw #31 tends to fall off the allen wrench, so insert the allen wrench as firmly as possible into the screw head before lowering the screw into position. Below is what the completed assembly should look like.

9. Gently slide the vinyl Installation Tube back until contact with the HDD is felt.  Apply gentle but firm finger pressure to end of Tube to hold HDD in position. The picture below shows the approximate position of the installation tube when it is touching the HDD.

10.  While holding the bolt handle in a vertical position, slide the Bolt #9 into Breech #8, so that Bolt passes over HDD and contacts Installation Tube.  While applying counterpressure on Installation Tube to hold HDD upright and in position, continue sliding Bolt so that Installation Tube fully emerges into the Magazine slot. Shine your flashlight on the vinyl tube in the magazine slot. If you see the bolt probe protruding into the vinyl tubing, you know that the bolt has passed over the HDD. (The function of the installation tube is simply to hold the HDD in position while reinserting the bolt into the Marauder.)

11. Using care not to damage the Bolt probe, with long-nose pliers or similar tool, pull the Installation Tube out and free of the Breech. I used a small screwdriver to tease the end of the tube out of the magazine slot and then grabbed it with needle nose pliers.

12.  Replace Plunger #7. Note: the plunger controls how easy to hard it is to rotate the bolt. You don’t want to tighten it as hard as you can. Tighten it a little, test the results, and retighten or loosen as needed. Next, replace Screw #26 and Bushing #24. If you keep the Marauder upright, you run the risk of the screw and/or bushing slipping off the allen wrench and disappearing into the innards of the gun. Instead, invert the gun so that you are inserting the screw upwards. That way, if it falls, it will fall out of the Marauder.

13.  Check your work. With the gun fully reassemble, slide the bolt all the way home. You’ll probably notice some friction as the bolt slides over the HDD. Since you cocked the Marauder when you started this installation, flip the safety off and pull the trigger. The gun should fire.

Next, cock the Marauder. (If it won’t cock at all, the HDD is probably out of proper position, and you need to retreat to step 7 and start again from there.) You may notice that the cocking effort is extremely high during the first dozen or so shots, but the effort drops noticeably as the HDD assembly wears in. Congratulations, you’re done! You now have a Marauder that will deliver more shots per fill because it wastes less compressed air, and it will shoot more consistent velocities as well.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Note: This blog on installing the Marauder HDD is broken into two parts. Part I covers the disassembly of the Marauder prior to installation. Part II will cover the installation of the HDD itself.

Virtually all airguns that store gas under pressure (such as pre-charged pneumatics, multi-stroke pneumatics, and CO2 guns) and use a knock-open valve suffer from hammer bounce. When the airgunner triggers the shot, the hammer hits the valve and knocks it open, allowing gas to rush into the breech, propel the pellet down the barrel, and out the muzzle. So far, so good. The very next thing that happens is that the compressed gas inside the reservoir acts like a spring and pushes the valve shut, often with enough force to drive the hammer off the valve. The hammer then slams back down on the valve (this is hammer bounce) and pops the valve open again. When this happens, the gun wastes air (or CO2) and makes a louder report than necessary. Even worse, hammer bounce contributes absolutely nothing to the propulsion of the pellet downrange, since the pellet has already left the barrel before the hammer bounce occurs.

To prevent hammer bounce, a hammer debounce device (HDD) is needed to prevent the hammer from rebounding off the valve and needlessly opening the valve again. The result of installing an HDD is a flatter shot curve with more shots per fill, as shown by the diagram below.

To install the Marauder HDD, engineered by Steve Woodward and offered by Airguns of Arizona, you will need to print this Marauder Parts Diagram from Crosman Corporation:
http://www.crosman.com/pdf/manuals/1763%20and%202263%20EVP%20and%20PL%20update.pdf

You will also need a flat-blade screwdriver, pliers, needle nose pliers, a 3/32” allen wrench, and a 9/64” allen wrench. A small flashlight will also be helpful. Note: you don’t have to remove the action from the stock, but you can if you want to.

The HDD kit (shown below) includes the HDD itself (right) and a vinyl installation tube.

Okay, let’s get started.
1. SAFETY FIRST!   First, remove the magazine or single-shot tray, and degas (depressurize) rifle. You will be working with the rifle cocked (see below), and if you inadvertently trigger a shot with the rifle pressurized, you could (as Steve Woodward put it) “send the transfer port parts to the fourth dimension.”

2. Set the safety and cock the rifle.

3. Remove Plunger #7. This is a screw assembly at the extreme back edge of the receiver.

You’ll need the flat blade screwdriver for this.

Here’s what the assembly you are removing looks like:

Next, remove Screw #26 and Bushing #24 that is attached to it. You’ll need the 9/64 allen wrench for this, and you’ll find the screw on the lefthand side of the receiver, just aft of the magazine slot.

BIG NOTE: There is a bushing around the shaft of screw #26, and it will want to fall into the innards of the gun if it doesn’t stay attached to the screw as the screw is removed – so try to tilt the gun so that the screw and its bushing want to fall out of the gun as you are unscrewing it.

With screw #26 and its associated bushing removed, you can slide the bolt #9 completely out of the back of the breech.

4. Next, remove Screw #31. This requires sliding the 3/32 allen wrench into the hole from which you removed Plunger #7. I found I had to use pliers on the end of the allen wrench to get the screw to break free.

Next remove (both) Screws #36 using the 3/32 allen wrench. These are located on either side of the breech forward of the magazine slot. 

With screw #31 and both screws #36 removed, you can lift the breech #8 free of Tube #1. If it is easier for you at this point, you can also slide the barrel out of the barrel band, completely freeing the breech and barrel assembly from the rest of the Marauder’s air tube assembly.

We are now done disassembling the Marauder breech in preparation to installing the HDD. Next time, we’ll go through the actual installation of the HDD.

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,

Sean

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

To ready the P-rod for shooting, fill the air reservoir with a high pressure pump or SCUBA tank to 3,000 psi and load the magazine. For details on how to load the magazine, check out this blog: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/05/marauder-part-i.html Pull the bolt all the way back, slide the magazine into the breech slot from the right until it clicks, and push the bolt hand forward and down.

Take aim, push the safety off, and ease the first stage out of the trigger. On the sample I tested, the first stage required only 1 lb. 5.4 oz. At 1 lb., 14 oz., the shot went down range. The Crosman folks have done a wonderful job of designing an excellent new trigger for the P-rod, and I could find no fault with it.

Now here’s where life got interesting in the testing process for me. Check out the picture below. These were the shooting conditions on January 1, 2011 when I first shot the P-rod here in the wilds of upstate New York.

That white rectangle waaaaay in the distance is the pellet trap.

I had loaded the magazine with Crosman .22 Premier pellets. Look at the target below. The first two shots cut the inner most ring of the bullseye at 35 yards. The next shot was just slightly outside the inner ring at about 10 o’clock. At this point, I need to talk about something that I have never seen mentioned in the shooting forums: the psychology aspect of shooting groups.

The truth is that when I saw how tight those first three shots were, I started to get excited. I could feel my heart rate go up. I tried to calm myself by exhaling. Some of my breath landed on the eyepiece, which started to get a bit fogged up. My next shot landed to the right at about 3 o’clock, so I tried several calming breaths so settle myself down. That’s when the eyepiece got considerably fogged, with the result that the last shot landed near the outer ring. Unfortunately, I was under time pressure, so I had to accept the results I got. Nevertheless, I am convinced that .25-.375 inch groups are achievable with the P-rod at 35 yards.

The report of the P-rod, thanks to its shrouded barrel, is very mild. It is not as quiet as, say, a .177 Marauder rifle, but it is certainly no louder than a very quiet springer air rifle like the Beeman R7/HW30.  I think it is the kind of airgun that can be shot in the back yard without irritating the neighbors, but if you want something that is dead quiet for ultra-stealthy pest control, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

In factory tune, the P-rod will deliver around 30 shots from a fill, averaging about 660 fps, which works out to 13.8 foot-pounds of energy (average) with 14.3 grain Crosman .22 Premier pellets. For an actual string shot by Steve, owner of the “Yellow” forum, check out: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/message/1293414891/Forum+Owner%27s+First+Review+of+the+Crosman+Marauder+Pistol-+Graphic

Also, if you want to see how the P-rod can be adjusted for various parameters, check out this work by “Airgun Enthusiast: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/message/1294258894/The+Benjamin+Marauder+Pistol+At+Various+Fills+%26amp%3B+Settings

In case you haven’t figured it out already, the upshot is that I really liked the Benjamin Marauder Pistol. It is light, easy to handy, accurate, admirably quiet, highly adjustable and has a great trigger. I can see many airgunners starting with the P-rod as their first PCP airgun and being satisfied with it for a very long time.

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.

Why?

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

Back in 2004, I had an assignment from SHOT Business magazine to do a profile on Crosman Corporation. As part of putting that together, I had the opportunity to speak at length with Ken D’Arcy, CEO of Crosman.

When D’Arcy arrived at Crosman, the company had been coasting for eight years. Management had not brought a serious new product to market in years, and it was not looking for ways to reduce costs to remain competitive.

“The company was dead,” D’Arcy said. “It just didn’t know it yet. Like many companies that have been around for a long time, it had forgotten what drives the business. Consumer products companies are about just that–consumer products.”

“Clearly the answer is to bring new offerings to market that consumers will want to buy,” D’Arcy said. We’re a consumer products company. Our responsibility is to introduce new products. You become stale if you are only changing the cosmetic appearance of existing products.”

In some four decades of writing for a living, I’ve found that CEOs love saying stuff like “We’re taking the company in a bold new direction,” but it’s not so common for them to actually get it done.

But D’Arcy certainly appears to be making good on his promise. During his tenure at the top, Crosman has introduced dozens of new products including the Discovery rifle, which shattered the price floor for PCP rifles, and, last year, the Marauder PCP rifle which had all the goodies on most airgunners’ Christmas list: quiet, wickedly accurate, excellent trigger, repeater all for about $500.

Among the new products being introduced this year by Crosman is the .25 caliber Marauder. Outwardly the .25 cal Marauder is nearly identical to the .177 and .22 versions. It stretches 43 inches end to end and weighs 7.5 lbs. What’s really interesting is that this is, apparently, Crosman’s first venture into .25 caliber.

The new Marauder is equipped with a .25 barrel manufactured by Green Mountain. The slot in the breech for the magazine is deeper to accommodate the new 8-shot .25 cal rotary magazine, which in turn is deeper to make room for larger .25 pellets. Those are the major differences from the .177 and .22 Marauders. To accompany the new Marauder (and a new .25 cal gas ram rifle to be introduced later this year), Crosman is also introducing Benjamin .25 cal domed and pointed pellets.

I had the opportunity to shoot one of the very first production .25 caliber Marauders. It was my first experience shooting .25 caliber, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very quickly delighted. At 35 yards, shooting Benjamin .25 domed pellets, I was easily able to put five shots into a tiny group that you could cover with a dime. Even better, the report was remarkably quiet, and the trigger was well behaved (1 lb 10 oz first stage, 3 lb second stage).

Cliff Tharpe, producer of Airgun Hunting the California Ground Squirrel, has shot similarly tiny groups at 50 and 65 yards with his .25 Marauder, and he routinely hunts prairie dogs at 50-100 yards with it. He finds he can get 16 shots (two magazines) before he has to recharge the air reservoir. Shooting Kodiak pellets, his Marauder generates about 46 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. He says of his Marauder: “I’ve got a lot of expensive shiny rifles, and when it comes to accuracy, this one shines with the best of them.”

In the end, the Marauder has a whole lot going for it for hunting and pest control: outstanding accuracy, enough power to deal with anything you might reasonably want to hunt with an air rifle, and a very neighbor-friendly report.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott