Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crosman's new Nitro Piston Short Stroke - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Well, nobody can say that moss grows on the Crosman Corporation! In two years, they've set the pneumatic world on edge with their price-busting Benjamin Discovery and their feature-loaded Benjamin Marauder. But they haven't put all their eggs in the pneumatic basket, either. While the airgun world was watching them break ground there, they were quietly developing the new Crosman Nitro Piston Short Stroke series of spring-piston guns with gas springs. And now they're bringing them to market.

History
I first saw the new gas spring rifles during a visit to the Crosman plant earlier this year. Ed Schultz, their director of engineering, asked me to step outside on the back side of the plant. What he had was a prototype breakbarrel that, frankly, didn't look any different than a hundred others I'd seen. It had a fabricated Delrin can for a muzzlebrake, but knowing that springers don't make much noise at the muzzle, I was unimpressed. Then Ed said to me, "Tom, what part of a spring rifle makes the most noise?"

The answer was obvious--the powerplant. But did Ed know that? In fact, he did! He then proceeded to cock and load the .22 caliber rifle and handed it to me to shoot. He directed me toward a high hill across the empty parking lot. I fired and almost nothing happened! The rifle did pulse, and I knew it had fired, but the sound was so low it didn't sound right.

Then he handed me a Gamo Whisper and told me to shoot it. Now as everyone knows, the Whisper is a quiet spring gun, but that .177 example was noticeably louder than the .22 I had just fired.

Ed explained, "Everyone knows that the powerplant of a spring rifle makes at least three-quarters of the noise. So putting a silencer on the gun does very little. We've put a silencer on, but more importantly, we have managed to also reduce the noise made by the powerplant."

By this time, I was cocking and firing the rifle while Ed was speaking. I noticed that this was a gas spring gun, but one with a difference. Yes, it had more cocking resistance from the start--a characteristic of all gas springs, but this one seemed much easier to cock than most. Once my arms got up to speed with the power required, it never increased (gas springs never do); and toward the end of the short cocking stroke, it seemed to diminish a bit. This was something new!

Three months later, while filming the Crosman plant tour for American Airgunner, Ed showed me another new gas spring rifle. This one had a shrouded barrel and was covered with a digital camo pattern that felt rubberized and grippy. This was the first pre-production Nitro Piston rifle! Ed asked for comments on the cocking, the feel of the stock and the general impressions of the shooters. Paul Capello was shooting this one with me, so here was another person seeing the Nitro Piston system for the first time. We were both pleased with the performance of this stunning new spring rifle, and now I want to include all of you in the experience.


The Nitro Piston Short Stroke is a handsome breakbarrel. This one is finished in digital camo, but there's also a charcoal gray carbon fiber stock, as well.


General description
What we have here is a spring piston air rifle made in East Bloomfield, New York. They're made in both .177 and .22 and sport either a digital camo or all-gray stock. The model I'm testing has an ambidextrous thumbhole stock coated in a rubberized digital camo pattern. Inside, the rifle sports a gas spring that Crosman prefers to call a Nitro Piston, in reference to the nitrogen gas fill. And that gas is one of the things that makes this rifle so relatively easy to cock. The other things are patented, and nobody has told me anything--but I know that micro-fine surface finishes are at least part of the secret.

The barrel is fully shrouded with an aluminum shroud that extends from the baseblock to the muzzle. It's tapered at the baseblock end and parallel out to the muzzle that it capped with a non-remnovable cap. A peek inside with a strong light shows the possible presence of technology, though as I have already mentioned, a spring rifle hardly needs it.

The rifle is light, weighing just 7 lbs., but it comes without sights and Centerpoint's AR22 series 3-9x40AO scope that comes with the rifle boosts that to just over 8.25 lbs. Speaking of scopes, this is a good one. Usually, rifles that come bundled with a scope have the cheapest model obtainable, but this one isn't. It's one many of you would buy for your other rifles.

The top of the receiver has a scope stop hole to accept a vertical anchor pin. It's a small feature but a necessary one that some other airgun manufacturers don't seem to grasp. I'll cover mounting the scope and the full specs of the scope in the report on accuracy.

The trigger is adjustable for the length of the second-stage pull. The safety is manual and workable with just the trigger finger.


The trigger is adjustable for length of second-stage pull. Safety is manual and can be worked by one finger.


Speaking of noise!
I couldn't wait for the second and third reports, either, so I stepped out my back door and fired several Crosman Premiers into the ground. As I remembered, the rifle is quiet. The action is quick like all gas springs, and the recoil is very minimal. But I want to discuss noise for just a moment.

If you're an experienced airgunner, you'll think this rifle is pretty quiet. If you have no experience with spring-piston guns, you probably won't. If you compare this gun to a Marauder, the Marauder will be quieter every time. But if you compare this to a silenced .22 rifle shooting CB caps, this will seem very similar. How the rifle sounds depends on your experience with airguns.

Last week I was at the firing range, and a boy and his grandfather were shooting a .22 rifle next to me. The boy was afraid my Hammerli Pneuma would be noisy. I told him that while it was noisy for an air rifle, it would seem quiet to him. Everyone had hearing protection on, and the Pneuma was just a tiny fraction as loud as the .22 rimfire. So, don't listen to those who say PCPs are just as loud as rimfires, because most of them aren't. And, when it comes to the relative noise a Crosman Nitro Piston makes, it's less than a Gamo Whisper, but just about the same as a Whisper with an Air Venturi gas spring installed. And the only way to completely appreciate this is to shoot the rifle outdoors, away from buildings with reflective walls.

Summary
The Nitro Piston Short Stroke is lightweight, quiet, relatively easy to cock, comes with a quality scope, and finished with an attractive and grippy camo pattern on a thumbhole stock. Now, we need to see how powerful and accurate it is.

47 Comments:

At June 25, 2009 6:24 AM, Anonymous Vince said...

Sure looks like it's built on a Legacy 1000/Genesis platform. Which isn't bad by any stretch. The spring versions weren't perfect, but they were well-made and easy to service. The trigger is an interesting affair, it's a Gamo-style mechanism BUT with a genuine 2-stage profile on the trigger, in general principle like a GRT. But the return spring is fairly stout, making the trigger kinda stiff. And it is, I believe, the only strong breakbarrel platform manufactured in this country.

So, the question I have is this - what do they mean by 'short stroke'? If the stroke of the gun is the same as the springer it appears to be based on, then I'd think that the gas ram could be backfitted.

 
At June 25, 2009 8:10 AM, Blogger FRED said...

You've certainly peaked my interest here, BB. Can hardly wait to see what the accuracy and power is. I think I need to add a gas piston rifle to my collection....

Unfortunately, I feel I am way behind Wayne - college tuition for two, you know.

 
At June 25, 2009 9:11 AM, Blogger Fused said...

Can't wait for the next installment! I was wondering about the short stroke term also. Maybe they're working on a long stroke that will make more power? If it refers to the length of the piston travel, does that make it less hold sensitive than other springers?

 
At June 25, 2009 9:23 AM, Anonymous Vince said...

Offhand, I don't remember what the stroke of the Legacy 1000 powerplant is. But the bore is on the large side - something around 27-28mm. So it doesn't need as long as stroke as, say, a Gamo does, to get the same displacement.

It'd be real nice o' BB if he could measure the stroke on the gun he's testing....

 
At June 25, 2009 9:37 AM, Blogger BobC said...

B.B.

Sure looks like Genesis, which I love to shoot. If the further test are favorable, this might be on my short list. Any idea when this rifle will reach the market.

BobC NJ

 
At June 25, 2009 9:48 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

I wonder how this rifle compares to a HW90 or its twin the Beeman RX2. If it is comparable in performance then it will be a great seller. I think the most important question is how is the trigger?

 
At June 25, 2009 10:11 AM, Blogger Fused said...

Vince,
Since your here, I have a question about adjusting the triggers on the 92/94 to make them more similar. The 92 feels a little too hard and the 94 too light. There is an adjustment screw, is that for length of pull or for pressure? When I switch back and forth between the guns, the 94 is firing unexpectedly until I get used to it again because it's so light. In reverse, I'm searching for the release point on the 92 after using the 94. Seems like the 94 is the better trigger to me (even though it's plastic) - just too light right now. Any suggestions?

 
At June 25, 2009 10:27 AM, Anonymous Vince said...

Fused, the trigger blade material really has little to do with the quality of the trigger itself. The worst triggers on the market (the old B1/B2 and KL3B chinese airguns, the Hammerly Storm and it's clones) have all-metal triggers. Considering how bad the pull weights can be on these, they have to be!

That said, I'm having a massive (and embarrasing) brain fade on the function of those adjusters. I believe you'll find they are for pull weight only, but I'll have to check later today to be sure.

 
At June 25, 2009 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish Crossman would pay a little attention to their pellet making operations. Their .22 HPs is pure junk. It would either fall straight through the barrel or would not fit. Hiding behind the flag is reminiscent of GM, Ford and Chrysler.

 
At June 25, 2009 11:12 AM, Anonymous Colin said...

BB,

Is there a bipod that would fit on a Benjamin Discovery?

Thanks,
Colin

 
At June 25, 2009 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon - re:"Hiding behind the flag is reminiscent of GM, Ford and Chrysler."

If I'm reading this correctly, you're saying the U.S. auto industry and Crossman make junk but still expect people to buy it because it is American made? You should be ashamed of yourself.

-Aaron

 
At June 25, 2009 11:41 AM, Anonymous Vince said...

Anonymous, how old are the Crosman Premier HP's you're using? And what are you using them in?

Reason I'm asking is that a few years ago I tried the HP's in .22, and found them to be an excellent pellet - quite possibly the absolute best for the price, especially in that caliber. I ordered a slew of them, and shot through them very happily.

About 2 years ago I ordered another bunch - and found these to be horrible. None of my .22's would shoot them worth a dang, including my RWS48.

More recently Crosman pellets went through a major price increase, and they brought out the "Discovery" line of pellets apparently to coincide with the launch of the PCP by the same name. Even though they are just rebadged Premiers, I decided to give them a try. Don't know if they're as good as the first ones I had, but they are certainly quite acceptable.

But here's the thing - I strongly suggest that you're better off ordering Benjamin Discovery pellets, since you know you're getting fairly recent production (they haven't been out that long).
But if you order Crosman Premier HP's, you might be getting old stock that came from that bad production run.

 
At June 25, 2009 12:02 PM, Anonymous BG_Farmer said...

Aaron,
You're young, so you may not remember how the big automakers and UAW used to run ads playing the patriotism harp, but continued to crank out substandard cars at increasing prices whose only purpose of manufacture as far as anyone else could see was to support the inflated lifestyle of auto workers and executives. I think that's what the anonymous poster was referencing.

 
At June 25, 2009 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B.

So a gas piston just compresses gas; there is no metal spring at all, right? This would eliminate the problem of springs breaking. The gas spring should also make no contribution to the recoil--there's no metal mass moving forwards and hitting anything, so I see no reason why this technology could not compete with pcps for accuracy. Perhaps there's as much room for improvement in spring piston technology as there is for pcps.

After some thought, I believe I am going to pass on tuning my IZH 61. I'm focused now on building my fourth radio control plane in an attempt to get airborne. The previous three went the way of the Divine Wind. And I can't wait on my learning curve to get back to shooting the IZH 61. Mike Melick said he would fix it and where there's a choice in tuning between Mike and myself, well... This of all rifles needs the attention of a pro.

Vince, so you're the proud owner of an RWS 48. What do you think of it?

Matt61

 
At June 25, 2009 12:18 PM, Blogger Fused said...

Vince,
I'm interested in your feedback also. Especially in comparison to a 94. Is it worth the extra $300?

 
At June 25, 2009 12:58 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Cloin,

Any bipod that attaches to the stock directly will work on the Discovery.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 1:26 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

The 48? Very nice gun. A bit heavy, balances well, accurate AND easy to shoot well. Good power. And my concerns over the safety of the sliding-cylinder sidelever are somewhat mitigated by a simple, reliable, and stout anti-beartrap.

Compared to a 94 - well, I find the 94 harder to shoot well, but it's such a friendly and fun rifle that I generally prefer it for 'fun shooting'. Trigger is comparable (maybe a little better), it's lighter, a little easier to cock and load, and power isn't as different as one might think.

The price difference you mention is a bit misleading... 94's currently on the market are either used or refurb - and some of the refurbs can be pretty ugly. Comparable used or refurb 48's are, say, $100 or so more than the 94's.

The Diana sidelever has better parts support, the 94 is rapidly becoming a bit of an orphan in that regard. Fortunately Jim Maccari has piston seals, and he just started carrying a mainspring that fits it, too. His spring is a BEAR to install the first time, but after a few shots it takes a good set and settles in very nicely.

For hunting I'd take the 48 any day. But I don't go hunting, so the 94 definitely sees more shootin' time at my house.

But my '48 ain't exactly up for sale either...

 
At June 25, 2009 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BG Farmer -

"but continued to crank out substandard cars at increasing prices"

Examples?

I'll give you the Corvair and the Pinto :)

-Aaron

 
At June 25, 2009 1:38 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Matt,

You have described a gas piston's function perfectly.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B.

Well, how about that. I had shoved the gas piston idea into the back of my mind as a curiosity, but now it seems like the very thing. And in addition, I suppose there is no vibration which I may be starting to feel the tiniest little bit of with my B30. The gas spring could be the ultimate--the accuracy of the pcp with the convenience of a springer. I'll be watching this test closely and will be particularly interested in the hold sensitivity. I had never thought of this apart from recoil, but perhaps the gas spring will cut down on this too.

Vince, thanks for the review. If my tuned B30 wasn't working so well, I would definitely get an RWS 48, super gun.

Aaron, I have to agree with BG_Farmer that after the revolting display of fat cat behavior by auto executives asking for government money, I have a hard time believing that the Detroit automakers were competing as hard as they could have been all along. This isn't to criticize the autoworkers themselves among whom I have relatives. But I do think lumping Crosman into this big picture, especially after their great work in turning out the Discovery and Marauder, is not fair.

Matt61

 
At June 25, 2009 2:25 PM, Blogger ajvenom said...

To me it seems that crosman and Gamo are huge competitors in the airgun market. If one doesn't keep up the other one will gain an edge.

Is air venturi a PA brand? Can you tell us more about them?

 
At June 25, 2009 2:43 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Matt,

Don't talk yourself into something that isn't true. AS gas spring does not rival the accuracy potential of a PCP. It has very little vibration, but the rifle does still move forward on the shot.

Conside it the equal of a well-tuned spring gun.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 2:43 PM, Anonymous Airdog said...

No use trashing Crosman if you know enough to stick with Premiers. I can stack 'em with a 1377 carbine from 25 yds.

 
At June 25, 2009 2:44 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

ajvenom,

Air Venturi is the company PA uses for distribution. They deal with PA's dealers, and they import exclusive lines of products.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 2:44 PM, Anonymous Airdog said...

Correction, make that a 1322 carbine.

 
At June 25, 2009 3:21 PM, Blogger OMB1080 said...

B.B.-
I can't wait to see how accurate the whisper is. I haven't had much luck with springers, but that's just me.

Does anyone know if the R-10 Match or the Meisterkugeln "Professional Line" is better? Also on the topic of springers, has anybody had good experiences with the Crosman 1000x? Mine fell apart a while back and it's been there at the back of my mind lately. Was it me (overuse), is Crosman just a crummy company, or was it just a fluke? Any opinions/comments/ideas would be appreciated.

-Alex

 
At June 25, 2009 3:24 PM, Blogger FRED said...

Fellow bloggers, if you want an idea of why quality went south on many manufactured items in this country, not only in the auto industry but tool and die, consumer items such as white products (washing machines), and almost anything else, I highly recommend reading "Well Made in America" by Peter Reid. It's the story of Harley Davidson and how the employee buyout had to overcome the sins of the corporate owner, AMC. Here you will learn of Edward Deeming, the father of statistical operator control and sampling. Essentially, Reid dumps all the problems on corporate management's greed to make the largest possible profit possible and damn the quality control.

My first company car, in 1972, was a Chevy Impala - from the driver's side. From the passenger side, the front fender's badge said Belair!

 
At June 25, 2009 3:26 PM, OpenID mechredd said...

This rifle seems to look very similar to the Remington Genesis.

I have a genesis that I like, and would love to be able to convert it into a gas piston gun.

BB, do you know if Crosman will offer their Nitro Piston separate for conversion of their older rifles? This gun looks so close to the Genesis that I wonder if I could eventually order a piston from their parts department and convert the rifle myself.

 
At June 25, 2009 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey B.B, I know that you haven't tested the Benjamin super streak in .22 caliber. Could it break the sound barrier in .22 with the pellets that come with it ?

 
At June 25, 2009 4:06 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

mechredd,

I don't know if Crosman will sell the gas spring separately. I will ask them.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 4:08 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Sound barrier,

Since I don't know which pellets come with the .22 Super Streak, my answer is I don't know.

However, since most spring guns diesel in the first hundred shorts, my guess it is will.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 4:19 PM, Anonymous BG_Farmer said...

BB,
Its exciting to see an air rifle that is made in the USA. I'm not convinced that a gas spring is any better than a normal one, but I've never tried it, so I'll take your word on the advantages.

Aaron,
I don't put Crosman in the same group as the automakers.

Matt,
The piston is the main weight, so a gas-spring gun is still going to exhibit recoil and some hold-sensitivity.

 
At June 25, 2009 4:38 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Aaron - I had a Pinto! Two, actually! Seriously, regardless of their reputation - mechanically they weren't that bad. And it didn't come out at a higher price, but at a low one. It was never an 'upmarket' car!

But your point about cutting corners is nonetheless valid, whether it be in QC or engineering. And Crosman definitely pooped on a run of those pellets. But I think it's fair to say that this was an aberration... at least in my experience it is.

 
At June 25, 2009 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, I forgot about how a piston is still necessary to a gas spring rifle; that would explain the difference from pcps.

Alex, I've had only good experience with Crosman. Their light pellets shot as well as anything else I've used. They were quick to repair and replace my $65 1077, and for the last year or so, it has performed like a champ in every way.

I understand that Edward Deming first offered his scientific approach to American industry but was spurned. So, he took his methods to Japan as they were recovering from their post-war occupation and was embraced. The Japanese then proceeded to thrash the U.S. automakers in the 70 and 80s. But there is some gadget freak whom I mentioned--can't remember his name now--who invented an automatic shotgun who claims that now, at the nadir of the auto industry, is when Detroit is producing some of its best products. This fellow claims that the most recent Chevy Impala is one of the best buys out there.

Matt61

 
At June 25, 2009 6:00 PM, Blogger ajvenom said...

953 tip:

Don't set it on a bench and cup the bottom of your hand so you don't touch the pump handle. When you shoot, the handle vibrates and lessens your chances at tighter groups.

Once you get it all down...you can shoot 2mm to 5mm (.079" to .179") ctc groups at 10M most of the time.

 
At June 25, 2009 6:02 PM, Blogger Kiwi90 said...

Matt,

Jerry Baber (I cheated and checked Wikipedia).

And while it's true that Detroit is producing better cars, it was too little, too late when the economy tanked. That, and they were producing SUVs when the market was shifting towards smaller vehicles. We have a 2003Pontiac Aztec (no ugly jokes) that hasn't had a single mechanical issue in the time it has been with us. American cars were getting better, and it's unfortunate that they didn't plan ahead.

Jake

 
At June 25, 2009 7:25 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

BB,

You wrote "in reference to the nitrogen gas fill. And that gas is one of the things that makes this rifle so relatively easy to cock."

Does that mean that the rifle would be easier to cock than other similiarly powered rifles? Are other gas piston filled with air and not nitrogen?

Thanks!

Jack

 
At June 25, 2009 7:34 PM, Blogger FRED said...

Correction to my earlier post on who owned Harley Davidson - it was AMF, not AMC (American Motors Corp. speaking of lemons - anyone own a Gremlin or a Pacer?).

As to quality of American cars, yes they most certainly have gotten better - my feeling is they are on par with the Japanese of the 90's which is not a bad thing. Now they have to hold their suppliers to the same high standards! I own two Fords but no Harleys (I got tired of going slow :).

Fred

 
At June 25, 2009 7:37 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Jack,

Many gas springs are filled with air. Nitrogen compresses easier.

B.B.

 
At June 25, 2009 8:25 PM, Blogger ajvenom said...

Up to 1985 and through 1989, I feel American cars peaked in quality and longevity. Later, cheaper production methods and or materials destroyed their vaue to consumers, not to mention their overwhealming prices.

 
At June 25, 2009 10:30 PM, Anonymous Joe B. said...

Wayne,

Have you seen this one on the S410?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5md7Ke4BsA&feature=related

 
At June 25, 2009 11:48 PM, Anonymous DB said...

Nitro... sounds very interesting.

About American industry. Talk to someone form France or Germany. Their industry went the same direction only faster.

Reasons are many fold and can not be fully discussed here. But yes the US auto market fell behind on quality and today they are on par.

 
At June 25, 2009 11:55 PM, Anonymous wayne said...

Hi Joe,
Thanks for thinking of me..

Yes, I've seen that one before.. and it's still pretty impressive.. breaking beer bottles at 200 yards with a AAs410 .22 cal .. notice that it was the JSB 16gr that did it for him! and some of the other pellets he called nasty names!

He didn't even use a fancy bench rest, just prone on a blanket pad..

Wayne,
Ashland Air Rifle Range

 
At June 27, 2009 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted my initial thoughts and some test groups over at this address:

http://www.gatewaytoairguns.com/airguns/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=18565&mid=149980#M149980

if anyone is interested. Also, it would be a neat comparison to BB's results as well.

Jay

 
At June 27, 2009 7:43 PM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

Jay,


Congrads on the free gun and thanks for the link to your post. Please let us know how it shoots. Thanks much.

Dr. G.,

Nice to hear from you again.

Mr B.

 
At October 29, 2009 10:07 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

Have you ever used the Ruger Air Hawk? How does it compare to the crosman 1000x, storm 1000x,Hämmerli490 Express ? Also do you know where it is made?

 
At October 29, 2009 10:15 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Brian,

B.B. did a 3 part series on the Ruger Air Hawk. Here's the link to part 3. Click on parts 1 & 2 at the top to read them in order:

http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2008/06/ruger-air-hawk-elite-part-3.html

You can use the search box on the right side of this page to find answers to your other questions about the other guns you asked about.

If you're unable to find the answers you may want to ask your questions in the "comments" section under the MOST RECENT article that B.B. has written. That's where you will find the majority of airgunners, like you, asking and answering each others questions and sharing airgun stories. Great place.

B.B. writes a new article everyday, Monday-Friday and this link will always take you to the most recent article:

http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

Look forward to seeing you there.

kevin

 

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