Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Marauder pistol’
by B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
This is the second of my reports on the 2012 SHOT Show. There will certainly be at least one more after this, and perhaps even more, as there’s simply too much new information to pack into a single report.
The state of the airgun industry in 2012
Before I get to some specifics, I want to make a general observation. This year’s SHOT Show was different for me in a major way, because I saw for the first time that firearms shooters are beginning to understand airguns as never before. In the past, I always had to start my explanations with the cooling of the earth’s crust and then progress through the age of the dinosaurs because each firearms person I talked to thought of airguns as either toys or BB guns. This year, a lot of them were clued-in on what’s happening. They weren’t surprised by the accuracy we get, and they knew about big bores. A lot of them had some airgun experience and more than a few asked me the same kind of questions that I get from long-time readers of this blog.
That tells me the day of the airgun has finally dawned in the U.S. Instead of 25,000 to 50,000 active shooters (at best!), we will now see an influx from over 5 million active firearm shooters who are ready to augment their shooting experience with airguns. I’m already getting calls and emails from state departments of wildlife resources, asking about the issues of incorporating airguns into their hunting seasons.
It has been a long haul to get to this point, but we’re now seeing the start of the harvest of all the work that’s been done over the past 40 years — starting with Robert Beeman in the early 1970s. The job is now to manage this growth and provide useful information to the tens of thousands of new airgunners who are flooding in the doors.
Let me reflect on how the industry seems to be reacting to this trend. Some companies have been on board for many years and are poised to ride the new tidal wave of business as far as they can. Other companies are aware that airguns are very hot, but they’re foundering, trying to understand them. Let me say right now that it’s not as easy as you think!
The readers of this blog are among the most clued-in airgunners in the world. But they’re unique, and they do not represent the true market. The demographic of a new airgunner is a man (usually) in his late 20s to late 40s who is most likely a fan of AR-type rifles and Glock-type pistols. He wants repeaters, semiautos and he thinks that a five-shot group is the gold standard of any gun. Velocity impresses him, and he isn’t comfortable with the term kinetic energy.
Things like good triggers and good sights are not an issue with this customer until he experiences bad ones. His ARs have decent triggers off the rack, and he can choose from many drop-in triggers that are much better. When he encounters a spring-piston gun with a horrible trigger that cannot be easily modified, he’s surprised.
He does not use the artillery hold, and he equates all airguns to be alike in terms of performance. When he learns about precharged guns, he’s put off by the additional equipment he must buy. Spring-piston guns seem the best to him for their simple operation, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that they’re also the most difficult airguns to shoot well.
That’s the customer who’s coming to airguns today, so that’s the person airgun manufacturers have to deal with. If you have wondered why many of the new airguns are what they are — this new-customer profile is the reason.
Okay, I’ve talked about those companies that get it and those that are struggling to understand. There’s one more type of company out there. I like to call them the “gloom and doom company” or the “zero sum company.” They’re firmly entrenched in the 1970s and cannot take advantage of this new windfall of business. They either fired their engineers years ago or they let them all retire, and now they couldn’t build a new airgun to save their lives. As far as they’re concerned, there are only 25,000 airgunners in the United States and it’s the NRA’s responsibility to identify and train them so these companies can sell them some guns.
They think of marketing in 1950’s terms, when a simple paint job and some sheet metal was enough to create a new product. Their “secret” business plan is to buy guns made by other manufacturers and have their name put on. If you’re a collector, better buy up the guns these guys sell because in 10 years their name will be a memory.
That’s enough of the big picture. Let’s see some more products.
More from Crosman
Many of you saw the list of new Crosman products Kevin posted last week, so the few that I show here are by no means all there is, but they’re the highlights. Crosman had about half the new airgun products at the entire SHOT Show.
New tan M4-177 and carry handle
The M4-177 multi-pump that I recently tested for you is going to be very popular this year. Crosman is also offering it as an M4-177 Tactical air rifle with a new carry handle that replaces the rear sight for improved sighting options. I think this gun will be in their lineup for many years to come.
I mentioned to Crosman’s Ed Schultz that this rifle looks like the A.I.R.-17 of the 1990s, but done better. He said he always wanted to update that design, and that is exactly what this is. So, what he said next came as no great surprise.
I shared my thoughts on a 2260 made as a multi-pump in .25 caliber, and Ed told me that was how the rifle was originally created (not in .25, however). The CO2 version was an afterthought that got put into production, while the multi-pump version languished in the Crosman morgue. I told him that I thought the time was ripe to bring it back as an upscale hunting rifle, and he seemed to agree. We can only hope.
Carbon fiber tank
As Crosman extends their capability into PCP guns, they know shooters are always looking for better options for their air supply. Besides the new butterfly hand pump I showed you last time, they’ll also be adding a long summer-sausage black carbon fiber tank with increased capacity over their current tanks. This is a 300-bar tank that has 342 cubic-inch capacity. It comes in a black nylon carrying case with sling for field transport.
More air for you! New Benjamin carbon fiber tank will help you take your PCPs further afield.
Benjamin Nitro Piston breakbarrel pistol
The Benjamin NP breakbarrel pistol certainly has people talking on the internet. This is the first commercial gas spring application in a pistol, I believe. The most distinctive feature is a cocking aid that can either be detached or left in place while shooting. That reminds us that this pistol is going to be hard to cock, but I’ll test one for you so we’ll all know just how hard.
New Benjamin Trail NP pistol is a breakbarrel with a gas spring. The cocking aid can be detached or left in place while shooting.
Crosman 1720T PCP pistol
Everybody was ready to jump down Crosman’s throat for creating the 1720T PCP pistol. They wondered with the .22-caliber Marauder pistol and the .177-caliber Silhouette PCP pistol already selling, why was this one needed? As Ed Schultz explained it to me — this one is for field target. It’s a .177 (naturally) that produces just under 12 foot-pounds through a shrouded Lother Walther barrel. It can be used for hunting, but field target was its primary purpose. They worried about the shot count with the Silhouette; but with this one, power was the criterion. Look for about 800 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain Premier. And the trigger is the same as the Marauder, so excellent operation there.
Crosman MAR 177 PCP conversion
The Crosman MAR-177 PCP conversion is another new product that has a lot of people talking. This AR-15 upper converts your .223 semiauto into a .177 PCP repeating target rifle. Because it’s on an AR platform, almost everybody expects it to be semiautomatic — including those who should know better. This rifle is a bolt action that cocks and loads via a short pull on the charging handle.
This conversion is an Olympic-grade target rifle for a new official sport that Scott Pilkington and others have been promoting for several years. It will take the U.S. battle rifle back into the ranks of target shooting. However, the look of the gun has many shooters totally confused. I was even asked at the show if I thought Crosman should have come out with an “everyman’s” version of the gun first. That would be like asking whether Feinwerkbau missed the boat by not first making their 700 target rifle in a $300 version for casual plinkers.
Crosman TT BB pistol
It’s all-metal and a good copy of the Tokarev pistol. The weight is good and the gun feels just right. This will be one to test as soon as possible.
Crosman’s TT Tokarev BB pistol is realistic and looks like fun.
Benjamin MAV 77 Underlever
The Benjamin MAV 77 underlever rifle is going to force Crosman to recognize spring-piston air rifles instead of just calling them all breakbarrels. This is the TX-200 copy from BAM that was once sold by Pyramyd Air. When the quality dropped off, it was discontinued. Hopefully, Crosman will watch the quality on this one.
They didn’t have a firm retail price yet, but hopefully it’ll be significantly under the TX. Otherwise, why buy it? I may test one for you, but I already know that BAM can make a great rifle when they want to. I think it all comes down to price.
Benjamin MAV-77 is an underlever spring-piston rifle that looks and, hopefully, performs like an Air Arms TX-200.
The Crosman TR-77 is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston rifle in an unconventional stock. It’s different enough that I want to test one for you. It appears to be a lower-powered rifle that probably sells at a bargain price because it’s branded under the Crosman banner rather than Benjamin. Mac photographed one in a sand-colored stock for you.
Crosman TR-77 breakbarrel in a sand-colored stock also comes in black.
There was a lot more at Crosman that I could have mentioned, but now let’s go over to the Leapers booth.
I’ve watched Leapers grow from a relatively small company back in 1998 to a major player — blasting past older, entrenched companies as they grew. This year, they were playing a video about the company on a continuous loop in their booth. I was impressed to see their plant in Livonia, Michigan, where they build airsoft guns, tactical mounts, accessories and scopes right here in the U.S. The plant is filled with many CNC machining centers and testing facilities to keep close watch over their products during development.
Leapers owner David Ding told me he wants to get control over the production process so he can assure the quality of all of his products. In keeping with that goal, I was shown the new scope line for 2012 that now offers locking target knobs on all of the upscale models. Many of them feature etched glass reticles that are amazingly crisp and sharp.
Mac was impressed by the reticle on the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope. He urged me to look through it; and when I did, I saw that the reticle is now fine and sharp — not the heavy black lines of the past.
David Ding shows me the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope (not out yet), with target knobs and a finer reticle.
But scopes were just the beginning at Leapers. Next, I was shown the whole line of tactical flashlights and lasers, including some mini lasers I will test on my M1911A1 for you. These are all made in the U.S. now and have more rugged internals, adjustments and optics than similar products from the Orient.
UTG 555 Long Range Light
One item I hope Pyramyd Air will consider stocking is a fantastic 500-lumen tactical light for law enforcement. It can be mounted on a rifle, handheld or even mounted on a bike! It comes with rechargeable lithium batteries and a smart charger…and believe me when I tell you it turns night into day!
The UTG Long Range light can go on your rifle, held in the hand or even mounted to your bike! The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack will keep it shining at 500 lumens for 1.5 hours.
Fast Action Gun bag
Not all Leapers products are for airguns. They also make tactical and law enforcvement gear that rivals spec-built equipment but sells at a fraction the cost. As a result, many of their customers are ordering straight from the front lines of combat and from law enforcement agencies all over the country to get the products that their own supply lines cannot or will not furnish.
One of their latest developments is a Fast Action Gun bag that lets the wearer walk in public with a substantial firearm hidden from view. A quick pull of a strap, and the bag opens to reveal the weapon inside.
Leapers owner Tina Ding models their new Fast Action Gun bag. Here, it’s concealed; but she’s just pulled it over her shoulder from her back, where it looks like a tennis bag.
And in less than a second, the bag is open, giving instant access to the tactical shotgun or submachine gun inside.
Leapers has an entirely new range of quick-disconnect scope mounts coming this year, but there’s another innovation that I think you’ll find even more impressive. It’s an adapter that snaps into a Picatinny scope mount base, turning it into an 11mm dovetail. So, your conventional air rifle will now also accept Leapers Picatinny scope mounts with this adapter.
11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter is small and doesn’t raise the mount at all! This will be one to test!
Leapers is still the company to watch because the owners want to build a lasting corporation here in the U.S. They’re poised to move to the next level of quality in their optics, which gives me a lot of hope for the future — they’ve always been receptive to the needs of airgunners.
Whew! That’s a lot of products, and there are still many more to show. As I said in the beginning, there will be at least another report.
by B.B. Pelletier
Happy New year! I thought I’d review the best products I got to test last year. Some will be new, but others have been around a long time — I just got around to testing them.
Benjamin Marauder pistol
Back in January, when I was pouting about missing the SHOT Show, I had the opportunity to test the Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol. Actually, the test began in 2010 and extended into 2011, but it was such a good test that the pistol has to make it into this report.
I even did an extra accuracy test because for the first one I mounted an old Leapers 6×32 scope that didn’t seem to give the pistol a chance to perform up to its capability. When I substituted a CenterPoint 3-12×44AO compact scope in the last test, the pistol showed what it can do.
The Marauder pistol is a .22 caliber with all the accuracy you could hope for. The power is great for this size airgun, and I strongly recommend attaching the standard shoulder stock extension that comes with the gun.
The next great product of 2011 was the Beretta model 92FS air pistol with wood grips. I completed the test on this one in March. I was so impressed that I thought for a long time that Edith and I needed to get the firearm to go with it. In the end, we returned it because you just can’t keep them all; but while I had it, I thought it was a wonderful air pistol.
Hawke Sport Optics 4.5-14×42AO Tactical Sidewinder rifle scope
This one is not an airgun, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the finest rifle scope I’ve ever tested — the Hawke Sport Optics 4.5-14×42AO Tactical Sidewinder rifle scope. I’ve owned several Leupolds and looked through other premium scopes, but this Hawke has them all beat.
What’s so good about this scope? The clarity. It’s even clearer than my Unertl 6x that used to be a standard for target shooters. At 14x, it’s clearer than other scopes are at 32x. You have to see it to understand how that could be possible, but it is.
It’s very costly, though with the clarity it surpasses others of greater price. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.
Crosman Silhouette pistol
The Crosman Silhouette PCP air pistol is another pistol that made my list. I’d tested it the year before, but this one had some improvements, the most notable of which was the trigger.
The power is great, in the high 400s with medium-weight .177 pellets, but the number of shots on a fill reached 75, which is even more phenomenal. Crosman really did their homework on this pistol — refusing to let it alone after the initial offering. The result is that they launched an even better model in 2011 that will have airgunners talking for a long time.
Walther Lever Action rifle
Walther already had a good lever-action air rifle, but last year they modernized it to accept the 88-gram CO2 cartridges, and the new Walther Lever Action Rifle is even better than before! I liked it so much that I did a special 4-part review on the gun and showed you accuracy you didn’t expect to see from this kind of airgun.
This rifle is pricy, but you get what you pay for. It’s slick, accurate and reliable. If you want a good lever-action pellet rifle it’s the only game in town. (My test featured the nickel version, but Pyramyd Air no longer sells it…but the blued version is still available.)
Crosman M4-177 air rifle
I would be remiss if I didn’t rave about the new Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle. I liked mine so much I bought it! Does that tell you anything?
The gun is realistic, accurate and well-made. I bought one of the early guns that were mismarked, but Crosman begins shipping guns with the correct marking this month. I don’t know if Pyramyd Air has any of the mismarked ones left. However, don’t let that stop you — this is an airgun we can all enjoy.
MTM Predator Shooting table and Predator shooting rest
I use both the MTM Predator shooting table and the Predator shooting rest for almost all of my tests, if that tells you anything. But they’ve just been added to the Pyramyd Air product list and are now available to all of you. So, I included them in the 2011 list, even though I’ve had mine for several years. Both products let you make a firing line wherever you are, and that’s a necessity for someone who shoots a lot. I take mine to the rifle range and use the table in preference to the concrete tables on the range.
Dan Wesson BB revolver
We ended the year on a high note with the Dan Wesson BB revolver. When I reported on this novel new revolver, I said I was impressed by the realism they packed into the design. Twenty years ago, you just couldn’t get this level of realism in an airgun.
The one thing I failed to note in my report is the quirky way the safety works. Of course, a safety on a revolver is about as common as a unicorn horn; but if you have one, it ought to work right. This one doesn’t. You can put it on when the hammer is down and the action will be locked; but if the hammer is cocked, the safety does nothing at all. That’s dangerous, because there are new shooters who haven’t been properly trained and will test every safety in an unsafe way. This one will fire if they do.
Still, the gun is powerful, gets lots of shots and is quite accurate for a BB pistol. It’s also all metal. I don’t know what more you could ask for.
I reviewed many other airguns in 2011, including a host of vintage models that I won’t report in this list. These are the ones that stood out and caught my interest. You may have others, and now it’s your turn to comment.
by B.B. Pelletier
I expect to get some negative feedback from this report. It won’t come from airgunners, but from airgun manufacturers who think I’m in bed with Crosman, because these days it seems like I’m always praising their work. Well, sorry guys; here comes another one.
In a day when many manufacturers seem to think their No. 1 testing resource is their customer, Crosman turns the tables and actually listens to what people are saying. The pistol I’m reviewing today has been on the market for the past year, yet the model I place before you now is completely new for 2011. How can that be? Well, Crosman learned a few lessons over the past 12 months while selling the earlier release, and they did something about it. They took a well-designed successful air pistol and improved it.
You see, the original Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol was actually introduced at the 2010 SHOT Show. It was touted as an air pistol made on the 2240 frame with an improved trigger, a better barrel and the ability to operate on air instead of CO2.
I was among those who told Crosman that changes were needed to that first Silhouette pistol. In my fourth report, while praising the accuracy of the gun, I was critical of the “improved” trigger. If you take the time to read that report, you’ll discover that I shot a quarter-inch five-shot group at 10 meters using an aperture sight! At the same time, I complained about the long, creepy second stage of the trigger.
And Crosman listened — not necessarily to me, but to all of you. The new Silhouette pistol has the same adjustable trigger that’s found on the Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol, a trigger that’s received a lot of deserved praise from those who’ve used it. I’m not going to report on that new trigger today, but I’ve tested it briefly and the praise is warranted.
My year-long illness, which began on March 29, 2010, created a time capsule that allows me to compare the first Silhouette pistol to the one I’m now testing. Because I never finished testing the first pistol before entering the hospital, I now have both of them on hand to examine side by side.
Something old, something new
The visible differences between the new gun and the old are very small. There are some lettering changes, a new muzzlebrake that serves as a base for the front sight and the front sight, itself. The old one was just a round post, while the new one is a square post that can be turned to vary the width. You can vary it, that is, if you plan to use a rear sight, which I don’t think many owners will, because this pistol is more like a small rifle when it comes to accuracy. In May, Crosman will bring to market a new CenterPoint scope with multiple reticles that’s well-suited to use on both this pistol and the Marauder pistol.
Just looking at the two guns doesn’t tell you much. But shooting does. That’s what you’ll get from this report. For now, however, let me finish my assessment of the pistol as if you were seeing it for the first time.
The Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol is a single-shot, .177 caliber target pistol based on the venerable 2240 frame. But it’s nothing like the 2240, which is a budget .22 caliber CO2 pistol. The Silhouette is a precharged pneumatic that operates on 3,000 psi air (206 bar). While the 2240 has a plastic receiver, the Silhouette receiver is 6.25 inches of machined aluminum, with a scope rail that runs the entire length. It will accept open and peep sights, but it’s really made for a scope and I suspect the majority of them will have one.
The gun is made of metal and finished in a non-reflective matte black. Steel is used for things like the reservoir, where strength is needed, and aluminum is used where it works best. Plastic is reserved for the reservoir fill port cap and the grips.
This pistol was designed with input from Steve Ware of the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA), so it conforms to the rules for silhouette airguns. It has a 10.1-inch Lothar Walther barrel that not only gives great accuracy but also provides a long acceleration time for the pellet. So, the gun doesn’t waste air. However, you have to face the fact that this is a pistol built for the sole purpose of silhouette shooting.
They didn’t make it a magnum handgun for hunting, and it isn’t a good starting point for those who modify, either. They made it powerful enough to send metallic silhouettes into space with a good hit, so it gets a great number of good shots, rather than far fewer high-velocity shots. Crosman advertises it as having 50 good shots on a charge of air, which is incredible when you consider the small size of the reservoir. If you read Part 2 of my report on last year’s Silhouette pistol, you’ll discover that I got over 60 good shots from it, so I expect to see at least as good from this gun. All of that is at an average of 450 f.p.s., which the first gun delivered, as well.
The pistol comes from the factory with the bolt handle on the left side, which is best for right-handed shooters. However, it can be switched to the other side, if you like. And, the bolt handle is longer than the one on the 2240, so cocking this pistol is smoother and easier.
Adjustable fill pressure
The gun comes from the factory set for a 2,900 psi fill (200 bar). You can adjust it from 2,500 psi to 3,000 psi. With a higher fill pressure, you get more shots per fill, but you also run your scuba tank out of air faster. Since we may see more shots than needed in the velocity test with the gun set at the factory setting (2,900 psi), a higher fill pressure would not make sense to me. A somewhat lower fill pressure might work just as well (give an adequate number of full-power shots per fill) and require less air from the scuba tank. Or, if filling from a hand pump, a lower fill pressure would make the job easier.
Why would you want this air pistol?
You would want this air pistol if you like to shoot silhouette in all kinds of weather and temperatures. The Crosman 2300S and 2300T pistols are both similar single-shot target pistols, but because they also both run on CO2, they’re inoperable in cold weather. This pistol won’t notice the cold nearly as much.
The trigger is great
I’ll have more to say about the trigger in Part 2, but it’s a winner. If you can live with about 450 f.p.s. in .177 caliber and great accuracy to boot, this might be the air pistol for you. However, don’t get into the modification mindset with this one, because for only a few more dollars you can buy the .22 caliber Benjamin Marauder pistol that’s both silenced and a repeater. Think of the Silhouette as a dedicated target pistol, and the Marauder as a do-all hunting pistol.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is the test I promised at the end of Part 3 of the .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol report back in December. You’ll remember that I didn’t think the scope I used for accuracy testing in Part 3 was doing all it could for the gun. I said I would try it again with the 30mm Centerpoint scope Crosman had sent with the gun, once I had a set of rings to mount it.
If you’re just learning about the Benjamin Marauder pistol for the first time with this report, you need to know that this pistol has taken the airgun world by storm. Just as the Marauder rifle holds its own with European PCPs costing two to three times as much, the Marauder pistol does the same when compared to the high-priced PCPs coming from the same European companies. It’s a red-hot seller that offers unprecedented power and accuracy at an affordable price.
It has a choked Crosman barrel that stands equal to tubes from Anschütz and Lothar Walther. The reputation hasn’t been built yet, but the performance is undeniable. The trigger is very sweet and fully adjustable, and of course the pistol is shrouded. When fired, it sounds like a Daisy Red Ryder instead of the 15 foot-pound hunting airgun that it is.
I wasn’t satisfied that I’d seen all the accuracy the pistol had to offer in the last accuracy test, so this additional test was added to give us a second look. What I learned this time was remarkable and worthy of note, but I’ll get to that later.
For this test, I mounted Centerpoint’s 3-12×44 Power Class scope with mil-dot reticle and sidewheel AO in a set of two-piece Centerpoint 30mm high rings that Crosman provided. The high rings raised the scope up so high that I had to rest my chin on the comb of the detachable shoulder stock to see a clear image. If this were my pistol I would attach about an inch of firm foam padding to the top of the shoulder stock comb to bring my eye comfortably up to the right height.
This scope is sufficiently clear and bright enough that it enhanced the sight picture rather than detracting like the last scope did. Although the reticle lines are not thin, I was able to see the intersection of both the horizontal and vertical lines clearly inside the 10-ring of the bull, so aiming was more precise than it had been during the test in Part 3.
Which pellet to use?
Normally, when testing the accuracy of any airgun, I select four to six different pellets that I think will work, given the power and potential accuracy of the test gun. Then, we’ll see how they actually do on the range. Picking pellets for accuracy testing is fairly straightforward and based on the past performance of those pellets in similar guns. But not this time. I tried five different types of .22 caliber pellets, in addition to two other pellets that were used in Part 3 (Beeman Kodiaks were reused in this test because they did so well the first time around). However, nothing I tried wanted to group — except the Kodiaks. Kodiaks grouped so well that the pistol is an undeniable tackdriver. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Unfortunately, I didn’t pick Kodiaks from the start to sight-in the new scope, therefore I stumbled around with two other pellets for quite a while before realizing what was happening. They were RWS Superdomes and 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes. Both gave mediocre groups of about one inch at 25 yards in the test pistol, which made sighting-in very difficult. Then, I just gave up and defaulted to the Kodiaks that had done so well in the last accuracy test I delivered in Part 3. That’s when the gun started to perform.
In fact, the first “group” of Kodiaks was just for kicks to see where 8 pellets would land. Eight instead of 10, because that’s how many the magazine holds.
After that, I shot group after group, and they were all similar. After several tight groups had built up my confidence in the gun, I was reminded of my old Hakim rifle that used to lob them into a similar round group at 10 meters. I would get so mesmerized by how accurate that rifle was that I couldn’t stop shooting. The sight of each new tight group when I went downrange to change targets was a turn-on. In the case of the Marauder pistol, I could watch through the scope as shot after shot went into the same ragged hole, only not at 10 meters but 25 yards. Thinking about my old Hakim also reminded me that the most accurate pellet in that rifle was the RWS Superpoint, which is now called the Superpoint Extra.
So, I got a tin of those and tried them in the pistol. Wrong! The groups opened up to almost one inch once more. So I wondered whether the heavy 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbos would perform more like the Kodiaks. After all, they are within a couple grains of the Kodiak’s weight and they are made by JSB. But I might as well have been shooting a shotgun, for all the good they did. No, this pistol wants to shoot Beeman Kodiaks, and nothing else!
I know this photo looks fishy, like I’m hiding a pellet hole under the coin, but I’m not. It’s just difficult to position a dime next to a target on a scanner. This group of eight Kodiaks measures 0.529 inches between centers. The top and bottom holes have closed, making the group appear smaller than it really is. This group is about the average size of all the Kodiak groups I fired.
Then, I had a thought. What about those new copperplated Kodiaks? Would they do just as well as the regular Kodiaks? If I didn’t try them, someone would bring it to my attention. I didn’t think the copperplated ones would perform the same as pure lead Kodiaks, but the only way to know for sure is to shoot them. I loaded a magazine and gave them a try. Much to my surprise, they did just as good as the all-lead Kodiaks.
That’s my report on the Marauder pistol. Some will read it and grouse about the pistol not doing well with a wide range of pellets, but the black powder cartridge shooter in me says that as long as there’s one bullet or pellet that shines, the gun is alright. Once I find that one best pellet, I never mess with the others anyway. In the test pistol, Beeman Kodiak pellets are the clear winner. I would continue to try other pellets from time to time, but Kodiaks would remain my standard ammo until displaced by something even better.
The Benjamin Marauder pistol is every bit as stunning as the Marauder rifle, by reason of accuracy, power, trigger and quiet operation. As long as you use the shoulder stock that comes with the gun and as long as you mount a good-quality scope, this pistol is a real shooter. If you’re looking for a stealthy hunting air pistol, give this one serious consideration.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers. I hope this holiday brings you all that you hoped for and more. And, let’s not forget the real present that was presented to all mankind on this day several thousand years ago.
This is Part 3, but there’s going to be a Part 4 coming. I’ll explain why in this report.
Mounted the scope
Crosman sent me a special one-piece cantilever scope mount and a CenterPoint Optics 4-12×44 compact scope with an adjustable objective (AO). There’s just one problem. The mount had one-inch rings and the scope has a 30mm tube. As I had only a brief time to run the test because of other pressing things, I replaced the scope with a Leapers 6×32AO compact scope with an illuminated reticle.
I cannot say for sure that the scope is a Leapers, for no brand name appears on it anywhere, but it certainly resembles one in all other aspects. The small scope size is perfect for a carbine, but the optics were not as sharp as I would have liked them to be. I want to go back with the same pellets and see how much better the pistol can do with the CenterPoint Crosman sent.
The test was 10 shots from a rest at 25 yards. I swapped the two grip panels for the detachable buttstock to make shooting easier. And, I rested the gun across a shooting bag. After I got it sighted in, I started shooting for the record.
The first pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak. I was surprised by how loud the gun is when shooting this pellet. It’s like a Sheridan Blue Streak on 8 pumps of air, which is quite a bit louder than what I told you in part 2. The first magazine failed during this part of the test. It allowed me to shoot down to four pellets remaining, and then it stopped feeding. Fortunately, Crosman had sent a spare mag that got me back in the game in no time.
I wish you could have seen the gun shoot! It lobbed pellet after pellet through the same hole, enlarging it only slightly as the shot count grew. At the end, I was looking at a vertical group that measures 0.61 inches. I thought about that vertical stringing until the next group stretched horizontally. So, it wasn’t the pellet or the gun. It was me. I was unable to precisely place the scope’s fat reticle against the small target time after time.
The last time I watched a rifle shoot like this, I was shooting an Egyptian Hakim military trainer. At 10 meters, it made groups of about the same size. That built my confidence in the gun tremendously.
Satisfied that the pistol could shoot, I switched over to Predator pellets — the ones with the red polymer tip. One of our readers touted these to the skies, so I thought I’d check them out. On shot No. 1, there was a marked difference in the muzzle blast. It now sounded like a silenced airgun. So, I didn’t imagine anything in Part 2. This pistol really is quiet!
But better than that, the Predators are accurate pellets, too. Not quite as tight as the Kodiaks, but accurate enough to land 10 in a group measuring 0.745 inches. Like the Kodiaks, I got groups that were both vertical and horizontal, so we know it’s the aim point that needs refining.
The Marauder has a choked Crosman barrel, so it should perform well with Crosman Premier pellets. But, on this day, it wasn’t up to the standards of the other two pellets I tried. Again, I blame the lack of aiming precision, except in this case it really looks like the Premiers came in third out of the three pellets tried. They fit into just less than one inch at 0.961 inches.
The Premiers are on the loud side, as well. I think what the Marauder wants are pellets with thin, soft skirts. In the next accuracy test, I’ll try some new pellets, as well.
I think we have a clear winner in the Marauder pistol. This is one to write home about, but I think there’s more than we’ve discovered. That’s what I’ll put in Part 4.
by B.B. Pelletier
Man, there was strong interest in this new pistol when Part 1 was published. It’s riding the coattails of its rifle siblings, but I see that many people feel this smaller format will be just right for them.
First things first
I promised Kevin that I would try to run the drawing of the pistol’s trigger, so he could get some sense of how it works. So, we’ll do that right now.
I doubt that loading the 8-shot magazine could be any easier than it already is. A counter window faces the shooter, informing him which pellet’s on. But, when the last pellet is fired, the gun cannot be shot again until the mag is removed. The mag rotates to block the bolt from going forward so there’s no doubt that you’re out.
The counter window on the Marauder magazine tells at a glance where you are with respect to expended pellets. If you just cocked the pistol and loaded a pellet, the counter tells you it’s the last one.
When you insert the magazine back into the receiver on the right side, there will be a sharp click to tell you the mag has gone home. Then, simply cock the bolt which loads a pellet, and you’re ready to shoot.
Shooting the Marauder pistol
There’s noticeable recoil when the pistol fires. Not as sharp as a rimfire cartridge — it feels more like a rocket push. But the gun definitely moves.
The trigger breaks too cleanly to feel, in light of the recoil and noise of the discharge. And, speaking of the noise, the Marauder pistol makes less noise than a silenced Ruger Mark II shooting CB caps. That’s about equal to a Talon SS with a 24-inch barrel and an Airhog bloop tube. Read this report. You’llmake more noise clapping your hands.
I filled the gun to the recommended 2,900 psi and was surprised to note that the gauge on the gun and on the tank were in complete agreement. That doesn’t happen too often. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience, but I liked it! Time to shoot.
The first pellet I tried was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. The first string of 10 averaged 655 f.p.s., with a spread of 25 f.p.s. They ranged from 638 to 663 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy of 13.63 f.p.s. They dropped into the magazine with great ease and there were no feeding problems.
Because they were the first pellet and because they’re Crosman pellets, I continued to shoot until the power was on the way down. How many shots do you think I got? One magazine? Two? Before I started the test I guessed there would be as many as 20 good shots in the pistol from a single fill, but that was way off. I shot four full 8-shot magazines, plus one extra shot, for a total of 33 shots from the initial fill. Shot one registered 638 f.p.s. and shot 33 registered 639 f.p.s. The fastest pellet went 677 f.p.s., and there were three that went that fast. The average velocity for all 33 shots was 663 f.p.s. and the gun pressure had dropped just below 1,600 psi. In case you aren’t a precharged buff, that’s some impressive performance! And looking from that perspective, the gun generated 13.96 foot-pounds.
Next, I tried RWS Superdomes. They weigh 14.5 grains in .22 caliber and averaged 665 f.p.s. in the test gun. The spread went from 649 to 671, which is a 22 foot-second spread. The average muzzle energy was 14.24 foot-pounds. From a pistol! Yes, they’re a little heavier, but they’re also made from a nearly pure lead alloy, so they’re self-lubricating. Also, they have a thinner skirt, which helps seal the bore behind the pellet.
The last pellet I tried was the tried-and-true Beeman Kodiak. If you’ve got a .22 caliber PCP, you’ve got to try it with Kodiaks. It’s a heavy pellet, but it’s made of pure lead and therefore a little faster than if it were harder, because there’s not quite as much resistance when it goes down the bore.
But with Kodiaks, I noticed two additional things. The Marauder made half as much noise with Kodiaks as it did with either of the other two pellets. And, perhaps because it was quieter, it seemed to whack the target harder than either of the other two pellets. The quiet pellet trap actually moved when hit by Kodiaks.
Kodiaks averaged 584 f.p.s., with a 9 foot-second velocity spread from 578 to 587 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy came out to 16.01 foot-pounds. So, the Marauder pistol I’m testing is a 16 foot-pound gun. Pretty impressive for an air pistol, don’t you think?
I have to tell you that I’m lovin’ this pistol so far. If it turns out to be accurate, as well, I might have to buy it, rather than send it back.
by B.B. Pelletier
When Crosman announced the new Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol at the 2010 SHOT Show, airgunners in the know turned into preschoolers awaiting Christmas. And, without a bit of irony, we’re now there and the pistol is out! The release of the first 100 guns was widely celebrated on this blog, as well as many other popular hangouts on the internet.
What is the Marauder pistol?
Okay, I plan to discuss this next aspect well enough that everybody should get it. Yes, the Marauder is an air pistol, but no, that doesn’t mean that you can put it in your pocket or that there is a holster for it — yet. When you think of the Marauder pistol, don’t think of a smaller sidearm like a Colt M1911A1 or a Ruger Blackhawk revolver. Those are one-hand guns. The Marauder is more like a Thompson Center Contender pistol that can be chambered in .270 Winchester and can drop a mule deer at 200 yards. You need to think about that as you lust for one. It may be an air pistol, but it’s a big one.
The gun is 18 inches long. It has a 12-inch barrel that’s fully shrouded, which is where some of the size comes from. And, veteran readers of this blog understand that, in a pneumatic gun, the length of the barrel equates to the power of the gun, because the air needs time to push on the tail of the pellet. In spring guns that use a tiny fraction of the amount of air the Marauder precharged pistol uses, the air is compressed and released in an explosive blast that lasts only a few milliseconds. Pellets shot from springers are like champagne corks bursting from bottles; pellets shot from PCPs are like ballistic missiles that have calculated burn times.
The grip frame of the gun will look remarkably similar to one from a Crosman 2240 pistol — this is the model 2220, after all. It looks that way because that’s where it comes from, but the trigger’s much better. As I look the gun over, I’ll have more to say about the trigger; for now, know this — it’s two-stage. Stage two is adjustable for pull weight, stage one is adjustable for length of pull (travel) and can be adjusted out to make the trigger into a single-stage unit. There’s also an overtravel screw that can be set to stop movement of the trigger blade the moment it’s released the sear. That gives you the feeling of precise trigger control. And, of course, there’s a positive trigger-blocking safety that’s fully manual. In all, this is a fine trigger and fully what you’d expect to find on a Marauder.
Shoulder stock extension is standard!
One additional blessing this grip frame brings is that there will be aftermarket and Crosman Custom Shop grips in no time at all. And, in what has to be one of the best single decisions I have seen in a long time, this gun comes standard with an extension shoulder stock! Yes, they knew we wanted one and they provided it without our asking. Brilliant move! It stops those asking for a Marauder carbine before they can ask.
Being a pneumatic, the pistol needs an air reservoir, and, given the overall size of the gun, it has a generous one. That’s important, of course, because the Marauder is a .22 caliber pistol. This is a hunting airgun and a serious bruiser that we will measure well in part 2 of this report. The reservoir fills at the front, just like the Benjamin Discovery and the Marauder air rifle.
In the forearm, there’s a reliable onboard pressure gauge to tell you at a glance the state of the air charge. Once you start becoming familiar with your own gun, you’ll quickly learn the nuances of this gauge that should become part of your shooting procedures. By that, I mean that each gun is an individual and your gauge will help you learn exactly how your gun performs.
According to the manual, the gun comes set to operate on a 2,900 psi fill but can be adjusted up as high as 3,000 psi. I don’t plan to adjust the fill pressure during this test, because it doesn’t affect the performance of the gun that much. I want to know the realistic power and accuracy of the gun as I received it, and I’ll leave the fringe testing to the soon-to-be hundreds of new owners. No doubt, the next year will be a very busy time for them as they explore the limits of this fine new pistol.
There are no sights, so some type of optical sight will be required. The top of the aluminum receiver is grooved for 11mm dovetails. There’s zero recoil, so no thought need be given to a scope stop. The magazine sticks up above the top of the receiver, so two-piece mounts will be required to straddle the protrusion.
As if all of the above weren’t enough, the bolt handle is designed to work equally well on either side of the receiver. It comes from the factory set out to the right side, but if you want it to stick out to the left, the change is possible. Some disassembly of the gun is necessary to make the change, and Crosman recommends sending it back to them, but I know that savvy airguners will make their own changes.
And then some more…
Just like the Marauder rifle, the pistol lets you adjust the power curve and air fill pressure level. Experimenters will delight in finding just the right combination of pellet and fill pressure to give what they feel is the optimum number of shots correlated to the power level. The one thing the pistol doesn’t have that the rifle does have is the variable air transfer port. Instead, it offers both the hammer spring tension and the length of the hammer stroke. It should satisfy most owners, and old guys like me will find one setting that works and forget the adjustments exist after that.
Is that a lot of innovation? Well, it doesn’t end there, because the Marauder pistol is an 8-shot repeater, as well. So, in my mind, it simply doesn’t get any better. What more could you ask for, besides a revocation of the laws of physics that those unfamiliar with airgun operations dream up while sitting on their thinking stools…
“Benjamin really missed the boat with this one. What I would like to see is a full-auto pistol with at least 100 shots before it needs refilling! And, an onboard chronograph that speaks to you would really be cool, too.”
I like the gun
Can you tell that I like the new Marauder pistol? I’m sorry that this report sounds like a sales pitch, but I really am impressed with everything I see. I’ve avoided nonsense observations like the plastic-to-metal ratio (only the grips, forearm and shoulder stock extension are plastic) or where the freaking’ barrel band is placed (except to note that it’s never in the right place), because in my time of looking at airguns I haven’t seen very many with this level of innovation and value. I’m sorry that the gun costs almost $400, but my gosh, a gallon of gas costs me almost three dollars and I still seem to buy as much of it, as I still need to go where I want to go. I guess what I’m saying is that this new airgun is a serious shooting platform, and the data of how cheaply an offshore manufacturer can produce a gun I would never buy has no impact here. If you want nice toys, you have to pay for them.
This is Friday. Please chew this one up and digest it for me, so I’ll know what I need to look at in future reports. I really do value all of your observations.