Well, it’s official: three Benjamin air pistols – the EB22, the HB22, and the HB17 – have been “obsoleted” according to a Crosman Corporation spokesperson and will be dropped from the line.
The EB22 is a .22 caliber, single-shot, bolt-action, CO2 powered pistol. Overall length is just nine inches, and the weight is 28 ounces. All the metal is black with the exception of the silver metal trigger and silver bolt at the back of the receiver. Under the receiver is the metal pistol grip frame, which is fitted with a couple of dark-colored hardwood grips. Ahead of the grips is a safety button. Push it full left to allow the EB22 to fire. Just forward of that is the silver metal trigger inside the black metal trigger guard.
Above the trigger guard is the tube that holds the 12-gram CO2 Powerlet that powers the EB22. At the end of the tube is a black knurled metal knob, the filler cap. Above that are the muzzle of the 6.38-inch brass barrel and the front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech and the loading port. Behind them are the rear sight and the bolt.
To ready the EB22 for shooting, remove the filler cap and insert a CO2 Powerlet small-end-first into the tube under the barrel. To ease removal of spent Powerlets, it’s helpful if you smear a dab of Pellgunoil on the end and around the neck of the Powerlet. Replace the filler cap and make sure it is completely screwed into place. Cock the action by rotating the bolt knob ¼ turn counterclockwise and pull it full back until you hear two clicks and it stays back. Put the EB22 off “safe” and pull the trigger. This usually punctures the CO2 Powerlet, and you should hear a “pop.” If not, reactivate the safety, tighten the filler cap, and repeat the procedure.
Next, cock the action again, insert a pellet into the breech, close the bolt and rotate it clockwise until it locks. Now you’re good to go. Take aim at your target, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. At around 2.5 pounds pull, the shot goes down range at velocities up to 430 fps, depending upon the pellet weight. That’s enough power to punch through one side of a soup can at 10 yards. You can expect 25 to 35 shots per cartridge before the velocity really starts to die.
I like that the EB22 is solidly made of brass, metal, and hardwood, is its handy and compact, has enough power to defend the bird feeder or garden at short range, and is just plain fun to shoot..
The Benjamin HB17 and HB22 are multi-stroke pneumatic pistols that are outward identical. Both weigh two-and-a-half pounds, stretch 12.25 inches overall, are single-shot bolt action, and are made of metal (including a brass barrel) and American hardwood. The only difference between the two is that one is .177 caliber (the HB17), and the other is .22. With 8 pumps in them, the HB17 will launch pellets a little over 500 fps, and the HB22 will propel them a bit more than 400 fps. The HB17 will punch through both sides of a soup can at 10 yards, and the HB22 will punch through one side. Like the EB22, they are solidly built.
If you are fortunate enough to acquire either of these MSP pistols, there are a couple of tricks that make life easier. First, lubricate the gun before you shoot it the first time. The manual recommends Crosman Pellgunoil, but you could use some light machine oil or non-detergent 20 or 30 weight motor oil. Put a drop of oil at each spot recommended in the owner’s manual. This will ease the pumping effort a bit and extend longevity, since the guns are shipped nearly bone-dry in their factory packaging. Be sure to give your pistol a little lubrication before each shooting session.
Second, when pumping the HB17 or HB22, make sure that you don’t grip the forend so that the heel of your pumping hand is over the trigger guard. If you do, you’ll whack the heel of your hand on the trigger guard with every stroke, and this becomes annoying very quickly. Instead, grab the forend so that the heel of your hand rests on it just forward of the trigger guard. Wrap your other hand around the barrel and the trigger guard so the heel of your hand is resting on the breech. Open the forend all the way, then return it to its original position by driving your two hands together. When the pumping stroke nears completion, wrap the fingers of your forend hand around the barrel to help finish the stroke.
It saddens me to see these classic air pistols go out of production. I suspect that many airgunners will treasure the ones that they own. I know I will.
Til next time,
Aim true and shoot straight.