Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4a
Part 4b

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Benjamin’s new Trail NP breakbarrel pellet pistol with cocking aid removed.

Before we begin today’s report, a word about my late friend, Earl (Mac) McDonald. His family has set up a memorial page in his name to collect finds for research into the causes of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is one of the names prion disease goes by. Most of you knew Mac only through his writing and testing here on the blog; but a few of you were friends with him through this hobby, and I thought you would like to know about this.

Today, we’ll continue testing the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. Although today’s title says Part 5, it’s actually the 6th report because I had to break Part 4 into sub-parts a and b.

We’ll look at the accuracy of those 3 lead-free pellets that Crosman provided with the test pistol. As before, I’m shooting at 10 meters, and the gun has a red dot sight mounted. I’ll describe all the other shooting conditions as we go. It has been so long since I last tested this air pistol that I had to read both parts of the fourth report to find out how to shoot the pistol for the best results.

I decided to shoot everything with the cocking aid attached. My testing demonstrated that it didn’t hurt the accuracy, and in a few cases it seemed to help it. At any rate, it makes the pistol easier to cock, so I left it on for this whole test.

Crosman Powershot Penetrators
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Powershot Penetrator. It’s a synthetic-bodied pellet with a heavy non-lead metal core. They fit loosely in the breech, so I seated them flush but did not try to seat them deep. Since some of my best shooting was with the gun rested directly against the sandbag last time, I decided to start out that way. Imagine my surprise to see a near-pinwheel shot with the first pellet! [A pinwheel is a shot in the exact center of the target, and it refers to taking out the extremely small 10-ring of a smallbore target so that just the white scoring ring remains behind.] The shot was so good that I stopped and took a picture of it to show you — in case history was about to be made. This happens about one time every ten thousand shots or so for me, and it’s usually by pure chance. It is, however, the sort of thing that gives rise to lies and legends and is probably the basis for the Cargo Cults.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Just in case I was about to make history, I photographed the first shot of the Benjamin Trail NP pistol with Crosman Powershot Penetrators.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Shot No. 2 (at the bottom of the picture) made it clear that the first shot was a happy accident. Resting the pistol directly on the sandbag was not the thing to do!

Much as I would have loved to bask in the radiance of that first shot, shot No. 2 dispelled the miracle. Pellet 2 landed 4 inches south of the first one, humbling me once more.

Here’s a lesson in testing airguns. When something goes wrong like this, and all your experience says that it should have been wrong to begin with (resting a spring gun directly on a sandbag), take the hint and change your ways. So I did. I moved my hands forward of the bag and held the gun with no part of it touching anything except me. Then, I shot 10 more shots into a very decent group that measures 1.587 inches between centers. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a bad group for this pistol. Not the best by any means; but for lead-free pellets, it’s not bad.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Resting the arms on the sandbag and holding the pistol free was the way to go. Ten flush-seated Powershot Penetrators made this 1.587-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman SSP hollowpoints
Next, I tried the SSP hollowpoint pellets seated flush and with my arms resting on the bag but the pistol not touching it. This was how I held the gun for the remainder of this report. This time, 10 pellets made a slightly smaller group — measuring 1.513 inches. Amazing! Who would have thought that lead-free pellets could be so accurate?

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Ten SSP hollowpoints seated flush made this 1.513-inch group at 10 meters. This is a decent group for lead-free pellets.

This pellet fit the breech tighter, so I figured I could try to seat them deeply. Next, I shot 5 of the same SSP hollowpoints seated deep with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. When the first 2 pellets landed very close to each other, I thought I might be on to something; but after 5 shots, I knew differently. I had a vertical string that measures 2.013 inches between centers. It’s very tight side-to-side, so I was holding the pistol okay…but the velocity of the pellet was way off, shot-to-shot.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
It took only 5 shots to learn that nothing was gained by seating the SSP hollowpoints deep. Group measures 2.013 inches.

Allow me to explain what I mean by the velocity was off. I’m not referring to the velocity from the muzzle to the target. At 10 meters, you can vary the velocity by 50 f.p.s. and not affect the group that much. But the time the pellet remains inside the barrel while the gun is moving affects things greatly. That is what I mean by the velocity affecting things. I really mean the pellet dwell time inside the barrel because that determines where the muzzle will be when the pellet exits. Obviously, when this pellet is seated deep, that time varies enough to affect where the pellet strikes the target — even at 10 meters.

The bottom line — deep-seating is out for this pellet. And another testing tip — I don’t need to fire a second 5 shots to figure that out. I can stop here and move on with the test.

Crosman SSP pointed pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Crosman SSP pointed pellet. This is another lead-free pellet. Instead of a hollow point, it has a pointed tip. The weight is the same 4 grains as the SSP hollowpoint. I seated them flush with the breech and started to shoot, but they were hitting so low that some were below the target paper. So, I stopped and adjusted the red dot sight up several clicks, then started the group all over. Ten pellets landed in a 5.004-inch group that told me the test was over. Sure, I could have tried seating these pellets deep or holding the pistol directly on the sandbag, but this huge group told me it wasn’t worth the effort. What was the best I could do — shade the hollowpoints by a fraction of an inch? No, I know when to hold ‘em, and I also know when to fold ‘em. Now, it was time to end the test.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
When your target looks like this, you’ll know what to do.

Impressions so far
I remain impressed by the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. For the money, it offers performance well beyond what most airguns of equivalent price can give you. It’s an air pistol you must be dedicated to, however, because it takes some getting used to. But for smashing power with decent accuracy, I can’t think of another spring pistol in this price range that does as well.

There is still one final test to do. I want to rerun the velocity test. That will establish if the hundreds of shots we’ve given this pistol to this point have finally broken in the gun.

17 thoughts on “Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 5

  1. I agree with you B.B., this would make a nice plinking carbine. Tell Crosman to get on the stick. I hope to do something this Fall.


  2. So could this pistol prefer higher velocity pellets?
    I hope they make a .22 that would safely put it under our legal permit limit.
    It would make a great can killer.

    J-F


  3. I own this NP Pistol, have fired about 200 pellets and it shoots better than new! Trigger has smoothed out slightly and cocking as well. Interestingly enough as BB said it seems to like lightweight alloy pellets.


  4. Good heavens, what a story about Mac. I had no idea how quickly the disease progressed. What a nice idea about the memorial fund.

    Today’s blog is more evidence about why 2 shots is not enough for statistics!

    Also interesting to hear about the performance of the non-lead pellets. California is discussing a ban on lead ammo. So, it would be just my luck that when ammo appears, I will be barred from buying any of it for this reason. Hawaii has not approved most gun legislation, but there is one new law saying that out-of-state guns must be registered. So, if I want to shoot there, I need to spend one of my precious vacation days standing in line for 8 hours to register the guns. Argh.

    Matt61



      • Let us hope that there are more reasonable people in California’s state senate.

        Ahh who am I kidding.. within a year, California will ban clouds that remotely resemble firearms, and establish a committee that watches the sky so they can fine the atmosphere for every offending cloud they see.


    • If you are living in The People’s Republic of Kailfornia, you need to get out of there……….fast! Idaho comes to mind, or perhaps South Dakota! (The best Pheasant Hunting on the Planet)

      Mike



    • Greetings, John …

      Would you mind if I were to ask you which other pistols you have seen that do much better?

      Are they pistols that I can buy for $80?

      NRS


      • If you don’t want to work for your shots you can try the Crosman 2240.
        If you prefer a self contained pistol get a Beeman P17, it’s more accurate than most people are.
        The P17 might need some work because they’re not deburred good at the factory but it’s easy to work on and the o-rings will be easy to find.

        Now that being said I’ll probably order one of those anyways.

        J-F


        • And, now that you have said what you said, I can say that I do have all three of the pistols that you mentioned. No doubt that the P17 is simply lovely. The Crosman, for me, does take a second place but I don’t think I have used it enough to get everything out of it. So, the Benj-Trail came as a big surprise. I feel less recoil in my hand than with the P17. I feel little or nothing with the Crosman. Based on just casual break in shooting so far, I think that the Benj-Trail has the potential to be the most accurate of the three. But, I have some miles to put on it before I could actually say that.

          I also have a Crosman Custom Shop 2240 with the LW barrel in it and the metal receiver. THAT is no doubt equal (at least) to the P-17 and all three of those could be a dead heat, based on my experience with them. In any case, no one could go wrong in recommending any one of the four.

          NRS


  5. Looks like nothing shoots very well out of this pistol. What a shame. It is a good concept but between the groups you have posted and the need to max out the sight elevation I think many will pass on this one.


  6. I was thinking of things like the airforce pistol and the baikal 46M. But I wonder how this would do against some other pistols. I might be a bit unfair in that since pistols are not long range guns, but it just doesn’t seem they group that well. I know B.B. is a great shot so I have a feeling that what you are seeing is the gun performing not B.B. here. Given a bit of tweaking I have a feeling my 2250 might be able to do a bit better too. At least that is what I’m working on tuning it to do at this time.


  7. Many different batches will be tested in this manner, and the pellets which give the smallest consistent group size without fliers (shots which fall outside of the main group) will be selected (small but inconsistent group sizes are not useful to a top competitor); and the shooter will then purchase several tens of thousands of pellets from that batch. Group sizes of 4.5 mm (0.177 in) diameter are theoretically possible, but practically shot groups of 5.0 mm (0.197 in) are considered highly competitive.


  8. I have recently purchased the np trail pistol mainly because it is reported to be a BAD shooter. I like the challenge of taking a BAD shooting gun and making it a GOOD shooter. That is exactly what I have done.First of all, the sight,s as mentioned are useless. I needed to recrown the barrel so I removed the front sight and left it off. The cocking handle I replaced with a long 10″ barrel break. Then I polished the trigger part,s and shortened the sear and lock mating surface to lessen the pull length. A little moly grease and the trigger is much nicer. Not great, but better. The difference in group size shrunk, but still pretty bad. 1.5″ at 15 yds. As far as the gun was concerned I thought I had done all I could as everything else looked fine, except that barrel droop bothered me. I don’t have the skill,s or machinery to reshape the leadle, so I looked at the catch and noticed it was dry. I added a little grease and snapped the barrel up hard when cocking, and VOILA !!! There it was. I get sub 1″ group,s using RWS Hobby,s. I am waiting for some JSB 7.3 gr exact rs pellet,s to arrive, and hope these might tighten the group a little more. All in all, this gun will never be a competition shooter, but at least it can be made useable instead of a dust collector.


  9. I forgot to mention that during my experiment,s with this gun I tried many different hold,s and rest,s. The weird thing with this gun is I found that the best accuracy is achieved by resting the “barrel” on a bag. This is usually something a shooter never does, but with this gun, It work,s.


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