Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin pellets’

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

This report covers:

• 50-yard accuracy of Predator Polymags on high power.
• JSB Exact Kings accuracy.
• Kings on high-fill pressure.
• Benjamin domes.
• Kings on max power.
• Observations so far.

AirForce EscapeSS

If you’re seriously interested in one of the AirForce Escape survival rifles, this blog series should be very beneficial. I’ve tested each rifle and attempted to get the best accuracy possible, using the best pellet. Last time, we looked at the rifle at 50 yards with the Predator Polymag pellet. Today, we’ll look at the EscapeSS accuracy at 50 yards using different pellets with the gun set to higher powers and greater fill pressures. Today’s test was an eye-opener for me.

The day at the range was windy, with a 5 m.p.h. breeze blowing all the time and gusting to 20 m.p.h. I waited for the wind to get as calm as possible, but all shots were in the wind. Sometimes, I took shots with the wind blowing up to 10 m.p.h. I think you can get away with that when shooting a .25-caliber pellet gun, though it’s not ideal.

Predator Polymags at higher power
In Part 2 of the EscapeSS, I shot the rifle at power settings 6 and 7 and with the reservoir filled to 2000 psi and 2200 psi. That was done because testing with both the Escape and the EscapeUL rifles demonstrated that the Predator Polymag pellet was the most accurate. Those rifles also seemed to be most accurate with their reservoirs filled to 2000 psi.

I said at the end of the last test that the Predator Polymag pellet still had to be tested at higher power and with a 3000 psi fill, so that was the first test on this day. I filled the gun’s reservoir to 3000 psi and dialed the power to 8. Then, I shot 5 Predator Polymags.

EscapeSS power 8
The power was set to 8, but as you can tell from the dial on the left, this is not a precision setting.

The results were not very promising. Instead of the 3/4-inch to 1-inch groups I got last time, this time 5 Polymags went into 1.526 inches. While that’s acceptable for hunting at 50 yards, I’d hoped to get better accuracy from this rifle.

EscapeSS Predator target power 8
When the power and pressure were raised, the Predator Polymag pellets started to scatter at 50 yards. Five went into 1.526 inches.

JSB Exact King
For the next group, I wanted to try something that was way out of the box. I filled the reservoir to 3500 psi and left the power setting on 8. That’s more pressure than the factory recommends, but I’ve read some reports from other shooters that say the gun does well with this kind of fill. I wanted to see. This was the first time I was trying JSB Exact Kings in this rifle.

The impact point shifted up about 4 inches, and 5 Kings landed in 1.387 inches. The rifle actually shot better with this pellet at this higher pressure; although, with a 12-inch barrel I doubt that there was much more velocity.

EscapeSS JSB King target 1 power 8
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.387 inches at 50 yards on power setting 8 and a fill of 3500 psi.

Having one good target, I decided to try it again with the same setting and fill pressure. This was to see if the first group was a fluke. This time, 5 Kings landed in 1.588 inches, which is close enough to the first group to say this is about what the rifle can and will do with these settings. This time, though, I adjusted the scope to get the pellets on target.

EscapeSS JSB King target 2 power 8
The second try with Kings at a fill of 3500 psi and power 8 gave me this 1.588-inch group.

Now, I decided to follow the manual and fill to just 3000 psi. I left the power setting on 8 — and 5 Kings went into 1.077 inches. Almost a one-inch group!

EscapeSS JSB King target 3 power 8
The fill pressure was lowered to 3000, and the power stayed on 8. Five Kings went into 1.077 inches at 50 yards!

That was so surprising that I filled the rifle to 3000 again and shot a second group, also on power setting 8.  I noted that the shots did drop a bit, so I adjusted the scope again. This time, 5 Kings went into 1.233 inches. So close to the first group that I think this is where the rifle wants to be.

EscapeSS JSB King target 4 power 8
The second try with Kings and a 3000 psi fill on power setting 8 gave me this nice 1.233-inch group. This is a good setting for this pellet.

I also noticed something interesting that illustrates a point I’ve been making for years. The gauge on this particular rifle does not agree with the gauge on my carbon fiber tank. When the tank gauge reads 3000 psi, the rifle’s gauge is off the scale! This illustrates how some small pressure gauges can be off by a lot, which is why you pick one gauge to follow — in this case, the one on my carbon fiber tank — and go by it all the time.

EscapeSS  pressure gauge
When the carbon fiber tank gauge reads 3000 psi, this is what the rifle’s gauge says. This is only on this particular rifle. The other Escape gauges read pretty much the same as the carbon fiber gauge. The point is that small pressure gauges can differ a lot.

Benjamin dome
Now it was time to see what the rifle would do with the Benjamin domed pellet. I kept the power at 8 and the fill at 3000 psi, and 5 pellets went into 1.667 inches. That sort of turned me off after seeing what the Kings could do, so I didn’t shoot a second group. Sometimes, you just know when one pellet is better than another.

EscapeSS Benjamin dome target power 8
Benjamin domes seemed to open up at these power and fill settings. These 5 measure 1.667 inches between centers.

JSB Kings at max power
It was time to try the JSB Exact Kings at maximum power and a 3000 psi fill. I shot 5 of them into a 1.831-inch group. As I was finishing this group, the wind was picking up to the point that I had to shoot in 10 m.p.h. wind and higher. I finished the day with these results:

EscapeSS JSB King target 5 power max
The last target was shot with Kings on a 3000 psi fill and poower set at max. It measures 1.831 inches between centers, but the wind was really picking up when it was shot.

Observations so far
I was surprised that the EscapeSS liked a higher power setting and fill pressure than either the Escape or the EscapeUL. Perhaps, that’s because of the shorter barrel, whose muzzle is so close to the front barrel bushing. I don’t know, but it underlines the need to test these adjustable rifles in many ways and with many pellets.

All 3 Escape rifles are for survival, though they can be used for hunting by anyone. Hunters typically use very few actual shots. The only exception would be when eliminating pests like rats or pigeons. The Escape rifles have small reservoirs that allow easy filling from a hand pump. I’ve found all 3 rifles to be well-suited to their role, but each has different qualities that the shooter may enjoy. With the EscapeSS the big difference is how quiet the rifle is. It’s not as quiet as some PCPs, but it’s also a good deal more powerful than most of them.

I’m still planning to report on the velocities of the 3 Escape rifles at their optimum power settings, so there’s more to come.

Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 4

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

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 3
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 4
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 5
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 3

Benjamin Marauder
Benjamin Marauder

Wow! More than one month has passed since the last part of this report. I’ve been to the Roanoke airgun show and also out to the rifle range at least 3 times trying to get the data for today’s report, but what a quest it has been! It all boiled down to false confidence in my ability to get the job done. I’m used to certain rifles cooperating with me every step of the way, and this time I got called by the fates who expose pride for what it is.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I will point out the most recent example of my stupidity because it’s a lesson for us all. When I went to the range last week, I thought I was ready to complete my 50-yard test of the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder. I’d swapped the scope mounts from a previous test because they were too high. The new mounts were lower, and I didn’t have to hold my head as high on the comb. I knew this would help with the accuracy. But then I went to the Roanoke airgun show, and forgot that I’d made this change.

What’s most important about the change, though, are that the new mounts were vintage B-Square adjustable mounts. And the rear ring was jacked up higher than the front. I always liked that setup because it gets the drooper problem taken care of on the first shot — even if there isn’t one! But not if you forget that you did it!

And that’s why this report didn’t happen last week. I had the Marauder at the range with the TX200 Mark III, on which I reported last weekWhen I shot the Marauder, there wasn’t a pellet hole on the paper. And I’m not just talking about the target paper, either. I mean the 2-foot x 4-foot backer paper that I use whenever I have a rifle that’s not known to be sighted-in.

Naturally, I was disappointed. This was a Marauder after all, and I expected it to go right to the point of aim. After shooting just two 8-round magazines, I took the rifle off the line and put it away. I needed to look into the situation deeper and figure out what was wrong.

What was wrong, was that I had forgotten about the new scope mounts. When I looked at the scope back in my office, I immediately saw that the rear was higher than the front. Then I vaguely remembered something about changing the mounts before going to the Roanoke airgun show, so I reread the last report and discovered what had happened. The gun had not been sighted-in with the new mounts. It was obvious that the scope was set up for a rifle with severe barrel droop, and this rifle doesn’t have that.

I even went back to the rifle range last Friday and looked at the backer board where my target and backer paper had been stapled. Sure enough, above where the top of the paper had been there was a hole in the backer board. It had the appearance of a nice rifle group. And some of the holes in the group appeared to be .25 caliber.

Benjamin Marauder group in wood
This group in the backer board is just above where my target paper was stapled. I believe it’s the impact point of the 25-caliber Marauder from last week’s test!

Suspecting what happened, I started shooting at an aim point much lower than my anticipated target. Sure enough, my pellet was hitting the paper about 16 inches high and 6 inches to the left. That’s a problem I can deal with! All I had to do was adjust the scope down and to the right, and I was on target. It took me less than 10 minutes to get my groups landing where I wanted at 50 yards. Now, it was time to test the rifle.

The first group was shot with H&N Baracuda pellets. In the past, these were the most accurate .25-caliber pellets on the market, but they have since been replaced by several others, including one huge surprise that emerged in this test! The group measured 1.021 inches between centers. It’s a good group for any rifle at 50 yards, but I did think the Marauder might be capable of better.

Benjamin Marauder H&N Baracuda group
Eight H&N Baracuda pellets went into a 1.021-inch group at 50 yards.

I should mention that I was firing two magazines of eight shots each in this test. So the groups that you see have 8 pellets and not 10 in them. I recharged the rifle with air after every 16 shots because the reservoir pressure had dropped to around 2,100 psi by that point. That was as low as I felt it could go and still be accurate.

JSB Exact King
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact King, a .25-caliber pellet that’s shown a lot of promise in recent testing. The first group I shot measured 1.447 inches between centers. That’s not very good for a PCP rifle at 50 yards. Interestingly, however, 7 of those 8 shots went onto 0.719 inches, and that is good. I hoped that the one flyer was an anomaly, and that a retest of the same pellet would do better.

Eight JSB Exact Kings went into 1.447 inches. That’s not very good, but 7 of the pellets went into 0.719 inches, which is promising.

The second group of JSP Exact Kings when into 1.094 inches. That’s a lot better, but it still wasn’t what I’d hoped for, so I left the Kings to try other pellets.

JSB Exact King group 2
Eight JSB Exact Kings went into 1.094 inches. It’s better than the first group, but still not thrilling. At this point, the .25 Marauder looks like a 1-inch rifle at 50 yards.

Benjamin domes
Another stunning pellet in .25 caliber is the Benjamin dome. It has no model name, but you could think of it as a Premier pellet because it looks similar to the other pellets in the Premier line. The first group of 8 pellets measured 1.226 inches between centers, which was again larger than I was looking for.

Benjamin Marauder Benjamin dome group 1
Eight Benjamin domes went into 1.226 inches at 50 yards. It’s larger than I would like.

The second group of Benjamin domes measures 1.06 inches. While that’s better, I still thought the rifle could do more.

Benjamin Marauder Benjamin dome group 2
The second group of Benjamin domes was better, with 8 in 1.06 inches. It’s good, but somehow not good enough.

Predator Polymag
The last pellet I tried was the .25 caliber Predator Polymag. It showed well in the 25-yard test and earned its place in this test. There really aren’t a lot of options when it comes to accurate .25-caliber pellets, and I think we’ve included all of them in this test. Yes, there are other brands out there, but do they perform? In my experience, they don’t.

The Predator is a hollowpoint pellet that has a red plastic tip in the center of the nose. Normally, hollowpoints fall off in accuracy at around 25 yards, but this pellet doesn’t. That tip seems to do its job.

Predator Polymag
The Predator Polymag pellet is a hollowpoint with a plastic tip in the center, and it really works at long range!

The first group of Predators measures 1.121 inches between centers. Once again, that’s okay for 50 yards, but it’s nothing to scream about. But the second group measures 0.808 inches between centers. That’s what I was looking for! While the Marauder can’t be expected to shoot that well every time, this group proves that it has the potential. And it does it with a pellet that is acknowledged to be a great hunting pellet!

Benjamin Marauder Predator Polymag group 1
The first 8 Predator Polymags went into 1.121 inches at 50 yards. That’s not bad, but not what I was hoping for.

Benjamin Marauder Predator Polymag group 2
Now, that’s a group! The second group of 8 Predators measures 0.808 inches. This is the accuracy I was looking for from the Marauder.

No .25-caliber airgun has ever been as accurate as the best .22 or .177 guns. What we see from this test is a range of results that represents what the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder can do at 50 yards. I think these groups show what this gun can do very well. Sure, if you shoot more there will be some smaller groups. But there will also be many more groups that are larger than those shown here. I think we can safely say the Marauder in .25 caliber is capable of putting 8 shots into one inch at 50 yards when you do your part.

The .25-caliber rifle uses a lot of air! I was getting just 16 good shots in this test on a 3,000 psi fill. Compare that to the 32 good shots I got in the test of the .177-caliber rifle filled to the same pressure.

From a handling standpoint, there isn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between the .177- and .25-caliber rifles. The trigger can be adjusted to operate virtually the same, and the stocks feel the same. The one small difference is the .25-caliber gun does move back slightly with each shot. I didn’t feel that with the .177, but I definitely felt it in this test.

If you want a .25-caliber hunting air rifle, I think the Marauder is a good candidate for your short list. It’s powerful, accurate, quiet and reliable. How much more can you ask?

Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 3

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

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 1
Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2

Benjamin Marauder
Benjamin Marauder

I told you this report was going to be a different kind of test, and today I’ll prove it. I shot the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder off a rest at 25 yards, but the purpose was not to learn if the rifle is accurate — I already knew it is. And 25 yards is hardly long enough to show the accuracy potential of this powerful PCP.

No, I told you that I would be searching for the most accurate pellets in this rifle. You see, unlike .177- and .22-caliber guns, the big .25 doesn’t have that many accurate pellets. Going into this test, I only knew of 3 — the H&N Baracuda (also branded as the Beeman Kodiak), the Benjamin dome and the JSB Exact King. Other .25-caliber pellets I’ve tested were not accurate enough to be considered. Today’s test is to establish that the 3 good pellets are still good in this test rifle and to see if there’s another good pellet or 2 out there.

The rifle is now scoped with the UTG 6-24X56 AO scope with illuminated reticle, which I’m also testing for you. I won’t get into that evaluation in this report, but I will use this test to report on that scope. This scope has high rings that come packaged with it.

Testing pellets rapidly
Time is a commodity in short supply around here. It takes a long time to test something, then pictures have to be taken and it takes even more time to write it up. Normally, I shoot 10-shot groups for accuracy, but I told you I was going to do things differently today, and this is where it starts. Instead of shooting 10-shot groups (or 8-shot groups because the .25 Marauder circular magazine only holds 8 pellets), I decided to shoot 4-shot groups. The results of those groups would tell me which pellets were worth testing more closely. But testing more closely won’t be at 25 yards. It will be out at 50 yards.

H&N Baracuda
Since I’d just mounted the scope, I had to sight-in the rifle, and for that I loaded a full magazine with 8 H&N Baracudas. Sight-in took just 2 shots, so the first group for the record was 6 shots instead of 4. As predicted, it was a tight 0.376 inches at 25 yards. Of course, some of that is due to the lesser number of shots, so bear that in mind. Also, bear in mind that a group of .25-caliber pellets will look much larger than the same size group of .177-caliber pellets.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Baracudas
Six H&N Baracudas went into 0.376 inches at 25 yards. This pellet is on the list for 50 yards.

JSB Exact King and Benjamin dome
Next, I shot 4 each of the JSB Exact Kings and Benjamin domes. Both performed exactly as expected. The 4 Benjamin domes went into 0.196 inches. Of course, I would expect this group size to double with 10 pellets, but it’s still the kind of accuracy I was looking for.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Benjamin dome
Four Benjamin domes went into 0.196 inches at 25 yards. They made the list, as well.

I shot the first 3 JSB Exact Kings into a very tight 0.11-inch group, but the fourth shot was a called pull to the left. It opened the group to 0.383 inches; but since I know that I pulled the shot, it doesn’t phase me. This pellet also made the cut for more testing.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target JSB Exact Kings
Three JSB Exact Kings went into 0.11 inches at 25 yards. That’s the larger hole on the right. A pulled fourth shot that was called opened the group to 0.383 inches, but that doesn’t bother me. This one is a keeper, as well.

Predator Polymags
The only other pellet that showed promise in this test was the Predator Polymag. Four of them went into 0.274 inches at 25 yards. That’s good enough to earn a chance to shoot at 50 yards in my book.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Predator Polymag
Four Predator Polymag pellets went into 0.274 inches at 25 yards. That was enough to make the cut.

The other pellets
As I said before, the .25-caliber pellet is not as uniformly accurate as the .177 and .22. Until this test, only the first 3 pellets I shot had shown any promise. Now, we have a fourth. To show you what some other pellets look like in comparison, here are 3 more that didn’t make the cut.

RWS Superdome
The results of 4 RWS Superdome pellets tell the story of the .25 caliber very well. Four went into a group that measured 1.378 inches between centers. You can clearly see there’s no need to shoot 10 pellets, when just 4 make a showing like this.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target RWS Superdome
Four RWS Superdomes made this 1.378-inch group at 25 yards. It was the largest group of the test.

Diana Magnum
Next, I tried the pellet that was the best .25-caliber pellet for many years in the 1990s. Until the H&N Baracuda came out in .25 caliber, the 20-grain Diana Magnum was the pellet people chose for accuracy. Certain individual guns may have done better with other pellets, but the Diana Magnum was considered the best all-around .25-caliber pellet of its day.

Not surprisingly, Diana Magnums turned in the smallest group of the three pellets that were not selected to go on to longer-range testing. Four went into 0.588 inches at 25 yards.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Diana Magnum
Four Diana Magnums made this 0.588-inch group at 25 yards. Fifteen years ago, this was the best pellet we had in .25 caliber.

Beeman Ram Jet
Another pellet that has left the stage is the .25-caliber Beeman Ram Jet. It was supposed to be a domed pellet that also performed like a wadcutter, but accuracy was never this pellet’s strong suit. Four of them made a 0.769-inch group at 25 yards.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Beeman Ram Jet
Four Beeman Ram Jets made a 0.769-inch group at 25 yards. This pellet was also never in the running.

I hope from these results that it’s clear why I went with 4-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups. I never planned on testing the .25-caliber Marauder at 25 yards, except to prepare for the 50-yard test, which will be next. I think you can see the clear differences between the pellets that were selected and those that missed the cut. More than any other caliber, the big .25 is an all-or-nothing caliber. And there aren’t that many pellets to choose from.

One more thing I want to report today is how the trigger now performs. I adjusted it before this test and got it exactly where I want it. I won’t say that it’s better than the trigger on my .177 Marauder, but it’s just as good. The Marauder trigger is something Crosman can be proud of, for it surpasses most PCP adjustable triggers I’ve tested. This one now has a positive stop at stage 2, followed by a very light, crisp break. It allowed me to hold very precisely and know when I pulled my shots, which only happened once during this session. This trigger will certainly do!

Next, I plan to shoot the rifle at 50 yards with these 4 pellets. That should give us a good idea of the long-range capability of the rifle. If the results suggest it’s capable, I may attempt a 100-yard test, as well. I need for the shooting conditions to be perfect to do it; but if they are, we may see the real potential of the big Marauder.

Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2

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

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 1
Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1

Benjamin Marauder
Benjamin Marauder

Today, I’ll test the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder for velocity and also get the shot count. From past tests done by my friend Mac, we know this rifle should be in the 38-40 foot-pound region, but today is the day the rifle gets documented by me. No tuning has been done to this rifle to the best of my knowledge; so, although it’s 3 years old, it’s also straight from the box.

H&N Baracuda
The rifle was filled to 3,000 psi and the first pellet tried was the .25 caliber H&N Baracuda. This domed pellet weighs 31 grains; and in the test rifle, it averages 778 f.p.s. That’s good for an average 41.68 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The total velocity variation in an 8-shot string was 774 to 782 f.p.s. That’s just 8 f.p.s.

Benjamin domes
The next pellet I tested was the 27.8-grain Benjamin dome. This pellet averaged 805 f.p.s. with a low of 802 and a high of 808 f.p.s. That’s just 6 f.p.s. for the total spread. The average muzzle energy for this pellet was 40.01 foot-pounds. The Benjamin dome has been one of the most accurate .25-caliber pellets around since it first came out, so it’ll be interesting to see what it can do in the test rifle. I always think of this pellet as the .25-caliber Crosman Premier, though the company doesn’t brand it that way.

JSB Exact King
Next, I tested the 25.4-grain JSB Exact King. This is another fine domed pellet that has been one of the most accurate .25-caliber pellets since it was introduced a few years ago. It’s also light enough to travel faster than most of them.

These pellets averaged 831 f.p.s. in the test rifle, for an average muzzle energy of 38.96 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 829 to a high of 835 f.p.s. That’s another one that’s just 6 f.p.s.!

Predator Polymag
The last pellet I tested was the 26-grain Predator Polymag — a high-tech hollowpoint pellet that has a cone-shaped plastic nose for improved aerodynamics. This pellet averaged 814 f.p.s. in the test rifle and delivered an average 38.26 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. We’ll see how accurate it is in the next test. I have no experience with the Predator in .25 caliber. The spread went from 808 f.0.s. to 820 f.p.s., for a total of 12 f.p.s.

Shot count
I got just two 8-shot magazines from a charge before the velocity started dropping. By dropping, I mean the velocity was falling straight off with each shot. I could stretch the total to 3 mags, which is 24 shots, if I wasn’t trying to shoot groups at 50 yards. The velocity spread would triple with the final 8 shots, which would take 6 f.p.s to 18 f.p.s. and 12 f.p.s. to 36 f.p.s. As long as you keep your range to 35 yards or less, those final 8 shots should work fine.

Discharge sound
Here’s the part of the report many of you have been waiting to read. The test .25-caliber rifle is noticeably louder than the .177 Marauder, but it’s still not loud. I tested them side by side. The .177 Marauder is just so quiet that everything else sounds louder in comparison. And now that I’ve dialed back its velocity to 965 f.p.s., it’s probably quieter than it was when it was pushing out pellets at over 1,000 f.p.s. The .25 has more of a crack to its discharge, but the sound it makes is still quieter than all magnum spring rifles I’ve tested. So, it’s quiet too — just not as quiet as the .177.

I said I wasn’t going to mention the trigger again; but when I compared the trigger on the .177 Marauder to the one on the .25, the difference was noticeable. The .25 has a first stage that’s too short and a stage 2 that’s too long. There’s some creep in the second stage, so I do need to address that. I may not mention it again, but I’m doing so now to let you know there’s a difference between a factory trigger, which the .25 has, and one that has been adjusted.

My personal feelings
I don’t often mention how I feel about airguns, but I think I have to here. I do not care for .25-caliber airguns. I’ve found them inaccurate; wasteful of air; requiring expensive pellets; and, in general, I find they’re not able to keep up with a good .22. The TalonP pistol was an exception to that except for the cost of the pellets, but it was the exception that proved the rule.

I’m rooting for this .25 Marauder, though, because I know many readers prefer .25 caliber for hunting. I have to note that during chronograph testing the pellet trap was rocking the table it sits on because the impact of the pellets was so great. So, if this Marauder turns out to be a tack-driver, it may change my opinion of the quarter-inch bore just a little.

Picking a good pellet

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

This comment came in last week from our new blog reader Jim H, and I wanted to address it right away. It’s a good question for a new airgunner to ask, and it deserves a good answer.

“I’m new to the airgun side of things, so I have a lot of questions but here’s one that is really bugging me. I have read all of the reviews here by Tom and also the blogs over at that “other airgun retailer” written by Jack Elliot. One message that has come through loud and clear is that each gun will tend to like specific pellets and only experience will tell the shooter which one is best. What is the best approach for testing various pellets? Do you pick a velocity that you want to shoot at and then try all the pellets that will get you to that velocity range or do you simply have favorite pellet brands and types that you’ve come to love over the years and that’s what you go with? With the hundreds of pellets available out there, what is the ‘short list’ of pellets that a newbie needs to start with?”

Several of you started to answer Jim in the comments section, so my answer comes a little late; but from what I’ve read, I’m telling him things that are pretty different from what all of you told him. He actually asked 2 different questions: 1. What is the best way to test a pellet? and 2. What is a short list of pellets to choose to test airguns? I took my direction for this report from his request for a “short list” for a newbie.

This will not be a very technical report. I’m not going to discuss pellet head sizes or skirt thicknesses, except where it affects the pellets I name. I have a short list for most of the airguns I shoot, and it’s not rigid. But it’s caliber-specific, and there’s also a small powerplant component to it.

Money is no object
I used to focus on the cost of pellets, but that was before discovering that hitting the target is far more important than saving money. If saving money is your principal goal, get a piggybank. I shoot for fun, and hitting the target is where the fun is. It costs no more to be accurate than it does to experiment by chasing the illusion of economy.

I must also say that I have more experience with pellets for rifles than for pistols. So, today we’re just looking at pellets for rifles. Let’s take a look at them.

.177-caliber rifles
For .177 rifles my short list is the following pellets:

Crosman Premier lites (brown box) springers and CO2
Crosman Premier heavies (brown box) pneumatics and CO2
JSB Exact RS (up to 12 foot-pounds)
JSB Exact Heavy 10.3-grains
H&N Baracuda and Baracuda Match
Beeman Kodiak and Kodiak Match
RWS Superdome
RWS Hobby

That is my short list. There are other pellets that are very accurate, but I find them to be more specific to certain guns. Please remember that this is not a popularity contest. If your favorite pellet didn’t make my list, don’t fret. I try other pellets all the time — these are just the ones I count on.

If you ask me why these pellets are on the list, it’s because they’re the ones that are the most reliably accurate. That’s my only criteria because if you can’t hit the target, nothing else matters.

.20-caliber rifles
The .20-caliber list is very short because there aren’t as many reliable pellets made in that caliber. The most reliable one is the Crosman Premier.

Other than that, I would try anything JSB makes, and that’s about it.

.22-caliber rifles
Crosman Premier
JSB Exact Jumbo 15.9-grain
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy 18.1 grain (good in powerful PCPs)
RWS Superdome
RWS Hobby
H&N Baracuda and Baracuda Match
Beeman Kodiak

.25-caliber rifles
The quarter-inch caliber is another one with few good pellets. The two on my list have demonstrated they will deliver in all cases.
Benjamin domed (these have no name, but they are essentially a .25 caliber Premier)
JSB Exact King

Pellet shapes
I prefer domed pellets to all other shapes. They’re more accurate at long range and penetrate well. Wadcutters are good for distances under 25 yards but not for farther than that.

Pointed pellets, hollowpoints and lead balls
I have no use for pointed pellets of any kind. I’ve never found them to be accurate, and the slight advantage they have in penetration isn’t good if they can’t hit the target. Hollowpoints are a subject that need a blog report of their own. Lead balls are specialized for certain airguns and are not for most air rifles.

Pellets and power
As power goes up, the pellets should generally get heavier. And PCPs tend to do best with heavier pellets. CO2 guns are a lot like PCPs when it comes to pellets, so I consider them to be the same.

Other selection criteria
There are other selection criteria, of course. I’ve found certain pellets to sometimes be surprisingly accurate in certain guns, and that’s enough to keep me trying them in other guns — searching for more miracles. But the lists above are the tried-and-true performers that almost never let me down. That’s why they made my list.

The second question
The other question Jim asked was how to test pellets. I do it by choosing the most accurate rifle I have and shooting 10-shot groups with each pellet in which I’m interested. Do it that way, and pellet testing is easy.

I usually don’t express my opinions this strongly; but when it comes to picking a good pellet, I think it’s too important to let it slide.

Quackenbush .25 pistol: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Test data and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Nobody played!
First of all, we got no answers on last Friday’s question at the bottom of the blog. The answer is: it’s a catapult gun, and it shoots steel BBs. It was offered by the same company that built the Johnson semiautomatic rifle that was used as an alternative by the Marines in World War II, but at the price of $15 in 1948, it never stood a chance.

Today, we’ll shoot the Quackenbush .25 pistol for velocity and accuracy. There was a surprising amount of interest in this pistol, though much of the talk took place on Pyramyd Air’s social network sites. But even here, many readers know about this airgun. Just as a reminder, this isn’t a fire-breathing PCP. It’s a CO2 gun that uses the same stock valve as a Crosman 2240.

This pistol bloops them out at less than 400 f.p.s. because it’s a .25 and shooting pellets far heavier than the valve was designed to handle. Mac says he loves watching them arc out through the scope and drop through the aim point at the last instant. When the sun is behind you, it can be quite a show.

We’ll start with the velocity first. A couple of readers guessed that this pistol would shoot under 400 f.p.s. and they were right. The fastest average velocity Mac recorded came from Diana Magnum pellets — an obsolete brand that used to be the best .25 caliber pellet on the market. Until now, Mac has found that it shot best in this pistol. Although Diana Magnums came in both 20- and 21-grain weights (they varied over time), Mac says these weigh an average 19.90 grains, so these are the lighter ones.

Because this is a CO2 gun, Mac had to allow for cooling — so he waited 15 seconds between each shot. That allows the gun to warm up. He also replaced the CO2 cartridge after 24 shots, even though he says the gun gets up to 40 shots per cartridge. That gave every pellet the best chance to perform.

Mac recorded an average 378 f.p.s. with this pellet. The total spread was 7 f.p.s., which is pretty tight for such an inexpensive airgun . At the average velocity, this pellet generates an average 6.32 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Because this is a gas gun, it’s probably going to get more energy from heavier pellets.

Next up was the Beeman H&N Match wadcutter pellet. Weighing 21.6 grains, they averaged 370 f.p.s., with just a three foot-second spread. The muzzle energy was 6.57 foot-pounds.

Mac upped the ante with one of the two new .25-caliber pellets. The Benjamin dome weighs 27.8 grains, so it’s a heavier pellet in this caliber. It averaged 323 f.p.s. with a 7 f.p.s. total spread. The muzzle energy was 6.44 foot-pounds, so less than you would predict; but because it’s a Benjamin pellet, there’s antimony in the alloy, and that may slow it down just a little.

I told Mac that this pellet and the next one are the two most accurate .25-caliber pellets on the market. I expected both of them to beat the Diana Magnum in his pistol.

The final pellet he tried was the new JSB Exact Kings that weigh 25.4 grains. This is the other very accurate pellet that Mac tested. It averaged 346 f.p.s. and generated an average 6.75 foot-pounds. The total velocity spread was 9 f.p.s.

Okay, now the velocity testing is out of the way, and what do we have? The pistol averages under 400 f.p.s. but over 6 foot-pounds of energy. So, it isn’t a weak air pistol. Slow, perhaps, but not weak. So, how does it shoot?

Accuracy testing
Mac shot the pistol at 25 yards. I asked him to shoot 10-shot groups instead of the five he used to shoot with this gun. That made a difference in the group sizes, of course. But another dynamic emerged during testing that I think you’ll find very interesting. I’ll explain it as we go.

Ten shots at 25 yards. Believe it or not, the first four shots are all strung apart from the main group, where the last six shots went. Group measures 2.16 inches between centers.

Do you see the dynamic? The group forms around the final shots. Mac did “season” the bore between targets with two shots from each new pellet; but, even so, the pellets walked into the group at the end of each 10-shot string. I suggested to Mac that this might be due to seasoning the barrel, but he thought it was because the gun cooling down as it was shot.

The heavy JSB Exact Kings were next up. Mac found them to also string vertically for the first three shots, then bunch together at the end, just like before.

Ten JSB Exact King domed pellets made this 1.09-inch group at 25 yards. The first three shots are vertical, then the final seven are bunched together below. There’s one straggler out to the right, but this is a much better group than the wadcutters produced.

Thus far we have seen an interesting dynamic of the pellets moving to a place, then grouping tightly. So how do the formerly most accurate Diana Magnums react? They’re next.

The Diana Magnum pellets didn’t act like the first two pellets. They all landed at the same height on target, without an vertical stringing. Group size was 1.09 inches between centers.

The Diana Magnums don’t seem to follow the same pattern as the first two pellets. I don’t know why that would be, but that’s what the target shows. As with all other pellets, Mac seasoned the bore with two shots before this group was fired. Let’s go to the final pellet and see what happens.

The Benjamin domes gave the smallest group of ten shots at 25 yards. Group measures 0.85 inches between centers. Again, we see a vertical orientation to the group; though, this time, Mac didn’t indicate that the final shots were all bunched together in the large hole.

The results
There you have it. That’s what this Quackenbush .25 can do.

In my opinion, Mac should pick just one pellet — the Benjamin dome — and shoot nothing else in this gun. I think the tighter groups at the end are due to seasoning the bore; because in my other testing, I’m starting to see very similar results. But even if that isn’t what’s happening here, the Benjamin dome is still the accuracy champ.

Is the Quackenbush conversion a good thing for a Crosman 2240? If you want a .25-caliber air pistol and you don’t want to get into high-pressure air, then I guess it is. You must accept the low velocity, while realizing that this pistol is still a good deal more powerful than a Beeman P1. And because it’s launching very heavy pellets, it retains more of that energy longer downrange, so things keep getting better the farther the target is from the muzzle — within reason.

This much is certain — people love tinkering with their Crosman airguns, and Dennis Quackenbush has provided the means to do that for over a decade and a half. This may not be the only game in town, but it’s certainly one of the very best.

The Quackenbush .25-caliber conversion is a neat way to customize your Crosman 2240.

Benjamin Marauder, .25 caliber – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

It’s powerful. It’s accurate. It’s quiet, and it performs just like a PCP costing twice the price. The Benjamin Marauder in .25 caliber is an American-made marvel!

You know that dream where you remember at the end of the semester that you signed up for a course that you forgot to attend, and the final exam is today? And you just walked out the front door without your keys and the door locked behind you? And you’re in your underwear? And you live on Main Street? Well, something similar really happened to me!

Two years ago, I spent some time in the hospital, and the best-laid plans….Actually, my buddy, Mac, drove out from Maryland and spent a week testing airguns and taking pictures to help Edith and me keep the blog going. When he left, Mac left me with a pile of targets and photos that I continued to use to write blogs for two weeks after I was finally discharged but still not back on my feet.

Mac did test the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder for accuracy and left me with the test targets, but in the post-hospital confusion I threw them out! Then, when I recovered enough to finish the report and discovered I’d disposed of the targets, I looked for the .25-caliber Marauder so I could finish the test. But couldn’t find it. I figured Edith might have returned it while I was out of action.

However, last week I was packaging some guns to return and found the .25-caliber Marauder standing just where Mac had left it. So, today, I am doing the accuracy test of the gun that was last reported nearly two years ago.

Actually, the rifle and you readers do benefit from my mistake, because there are now two great .25-caliber pellets available. When Mac tested it, there was only one — the .25-caliber Benjamin dome that I’m so tempted to call a Premier. It weighs 27.8 grains, and Mac got an average velocity of 797 f.p.s. with a tight spread from 791 to 802 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 38.94 foot pounds.

The other pellet wasn’t available when Mac tested the rifle. But I discovered during the test of the TalonP pistol that the .25-caliber JSB Exact King is another superior .25-caliber pellet. Weighing 25.4 grains, it should be a trifle faster than the Benjamin dome but produce slightly less energy.

Long time, no shoot!
When I set about to test the Marauder for today’s report, I was reminded how long it’s been since I shot one. There was a guy at the recent LASSO shoot who was shooting a .177 Marauder, and I remember being surprised by how quiet it was. But his rifle was the only one keeping up with my Talon SS on the smallbore range! And he was shooting out to 75 yards! So I admit there was a lot of anticipation at getting to shoot a Benjamin Marauder once again.

So, here’s a quick impression of the rifle before we get to the accuracy report. The Marauder is a big gun. I’d forgotten how large the stock feels. It isn’t heavy, but it fills your hands. The trigger is one of the best on the market, but the trigger in the rifle I tested has not been adjusted. It’s exactly as the factory sent it. The first stage was surprisingly heavy, but stage two was light and very crisp. Once I figured out where stage two was, I found the trigger very crisp and responsive; and of course, it would be no trouble to dial off some of the first-stage pull weight.

The rifle was set to operate on a 3.000 psi fill from the factory. I say that because the Marauder will function with any fill pressure from 2,000 to 3,000 psi — it’s adjustable by the owner. But the .25 screams to be set up for the full 3,000 psi. That’s because this big .25 is a real thumper that uses a lot of air for each shot. I got three good 8-shot magazines from each fill, but after that the pellets started falling lower on the target. So, 24 shots to a fill.

I mounted two-piece medium-height rings on the rifle, and that was when I discovered that the receiver of the Marauder is not very high. Usually, the receiver on a precharged rifle is much higher than the barrel, but the Marauder is different. The barrel is shrouded for quiet shooting, which makes it fatter, and the low receiver means mounting a scope takes some thought. You can’t just slap on a scope with a 50mm objective lens, because it will hit the shroud. So, I used an old Bushnell 6-18x44AO Trophy that I used to use in field target competition. It provided plenty of magnification and a very clear image.

If I wanted to use a scope with a larger objective, I could have used high mounts, of course. But the medium mounts were much better for natural eye placement.

Okay. What will she do? Quite a lot, actually. This big quarter-inch bore is accurate! At 25 yards, it managed an 8-shot group that measures just 0.287 inches between the centers that are farthest apart. That was with the Benjamin domes. Why 8 shots and not 10? Because that’s the magazine’s capacity in this caliber. I actually shot a couple such groups, and they were all pretty much the same, much to my surprise. This big Marauder wants to lay them into the same hole, shot after shot.

Eight Benjamin domed pellets made this nice 0.287-inch group at 25 yards.

Next, I tried the JSB Exact King pellet. It’s a little lighter than the Benjamin dome, but also has a wider skirt — and I could feel the pellet entering the breech every time the bolt was pushed home. This time, I went to the trouble of loading a partial magazine to get the full 10 rounds in the target.

Ten JSB Exact Kings made this 0.751-inch group at 25 yards. It’s both larger and also not round, so this pellet may not be right for this rifle.

From just this evidence, I would have to say the JSB pellet isn’t right for the Marauder; but because I took such a long break in the report, I’m not going to let it end here. I want to mount a better scope on the rifle and try it again. And I want to adjust the trigger next time. I think the Marauder has more to show us.

One more thing
The pellets for this big .25 cost as much or more than .22 long rifle ammo. That’s correct — they run $20 to 25 for 500. So why shoot an air rifle? First, because it’s more accurate than the average .22 rimfire shooting budget ammo. Second, because this rifle has a better trigger than all but the more expensive target rimfires. Third, although this air rifle produces pretty close to 40 foot-pounds at the muzzle, it’s still shooting diabolo pellets that are safer at distance than a .22 bullet. Fourth, because unless you spend $400 and more, you aren’t going to get a .22 rimfire that’s this quiet.

Scale is why you shoot a Marauder. You can drop woodchucks at 50 yards and not bother the cattle in the next pasture. Make no mistake, the .177 and to a lesser extent the .22 Marauder are both well-suited to plinking and general shooting. The .25 is not, unless you don’t mind the additional cost of the pellets. The .25 is a hunting airgun, plain and simple. But it’s a hunting airgun that can hit the target without weighing 12 lbs. or requiring 50 lbs. of effort to cock.

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