Posts Tagged ‘Big bore airguns’

Benjamin Rogue ePCP: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle
The new Rogue is simpler, more tractable.

Think of this report as a bonus. I thought I was finished with the Rogue after Part 4, but then Seth Rowland — the man who organizes the Malvern, AR, airgun show and also provides big bore airgunners with swaged and cast lead bullets — contacted me, saying that he had been following the series. He told me he had a couple different bullet designs, some that he swages and can control the weight and length of the bullet. He wondered if I wanted to test the rifle with some more bullets — this time from a source other than Crosman/Benjamin. He had no idea whether any of the bullets would work in the rifle, but he did know they were large enough to fit the bore well.

I thought, what the heck — let’s give them a try. I contacted Crosman to get an extension to the loan of the new Rogue. Since this gives me one more day at the range with the rifle, who am I to complain?

Seth sent me 5 bullets in all. They range from 89 grains to 137 grain, so the spectrum is covered pretty well. You may remember that I found the Rogue to shoot best with lighter-weight bullets, which is why Seth sent me these particular ones.

Benjamin Rogue ePCP big bore precharged pneumatic air rifle bullets
From the left, we have an 89-grain swaged bullet, 119-grain swaged bullet, 128-grain cast bullet, 130-grain cast bullet and a 137-grain swaged bullet.

At the range
The day was perfect. The wind was a light breeze that caused no problems at the 50-yard range. I took each bullet in succession, starting with the lightest weight and progressing to the heaviest. Each bullet shot a 5-shot group at 50 yards. The electronic valve setting was on Light for the bullet and Medium for the power. I figured that if any bullets showed promise, I could return and test them on High power later.

The 89-grain bullet had only fair accuracy and strung its shots vertically in a group measuring just under 4 inches. It was too early in the test to know very much, so I moved on to the 119-grain swaged bullet. It opened up to just over 5 inches, telling me this also was not a bullet for the Rogue. Since it was also swaged, I wondered if that was causing some kind of problem.

The next bullet was the 128-grain cast bullet. Five of those landed in 1.483 inches, looking very nice, indeed. That’s certainly minute-of-coyote or fox at 50 yards…and on out to, perhaps, 75 yards. The cast bullet looks like a design for either a black powder cartridge or a pistol. It was the best group I got so far.

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle 128 grain cast bullet Medium power
Five shots with the 128-grain cast bullet on Medium power produced this group, which is under 1.5 inches.

Next came the 130-grain cast lead bullet, and it didn’t even land on the target paper. Since I back my targets with a 2-foot by 4-foot target paper to catch strays like this, and since I failed to catch this bullet anywhere, I stopped trying after three shots. Let’s call the 130-grain bullet a non-starter for the Rogue.

The last bullet was a 137-grain swaged design that also failed to make a hole on the large backer paper after 3 shots. It was out, as well.

So far
To this point, it looks like the 128-grain cast lead bullet is the one to spend time with. I chronographed it and found it averaged 699 f.p.s. on Medium power (138.91 foot-pounds) and 731 f.p.s. on High power (151.91 foot-pounds). On Medium power with a fresh 3,000 psi fill, the gun’s status panel tells me there are 11 shots at the beginning. But the status panel number of shots that remain decreases faster than the actual number of shots. Although it says there are 11 shots, there are really 6 or 7 shots before it’s time to fill again.

On High power, the gun starts out with 3 shots on the panel — but I found that I got only 2 shots before the gun wanted to be refilled. A third shot was possible, and I took one just to see where the bullet went. It stayed within the group, though on High power the group is larger than on Medium.

Benjamin Rugue epcp big bore air rifle 128 grain cast bullet High power
Five 128-grain bullets on High power opened up to 2.847 inches. The shot at the right is after a refill of air.

What do we know?
First, we know that cast bullets with grease grooves seem to shoot better in our Rogue than swaged bullets. At least, there’s an inclination in that direction.

Next, we know that the 128-grain bullet did best in this rifle. If further testing was to be done, that’s the bullet I would concentrate on. I went back and reviewed the performance with all the other bullets that were tested in the past, and this one looks quite similar to the Benjamin Pursuit 127-grain flat-nosed bullet. What that means is that it’s possible to cast your own bullets or to buy them from a source that casts them, as they’re going to perform similarly to the best bullets in this rifle. Both these bullets out-shot the 145-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips that are also good in the Rogue.

We also know that shooting on Medium power conserves air longer than High power, and the slight loss of velocity is inconsequential. Of course, I’d like to play with this bullet even more, shooting it with the control panel set to Heavy weight and shooting it on Discharge, as well as directly controlling the valve dwell time. From just what we have seen in today’s test, I would say this is a bullet to beat.

Remember — this was a test of unknown bullets to see if any were worth testing further. If I owned a Rogue, I would stock up on this 128-grain bullet and play with it more because I think this may be the best overall design for the rifle.

Thanks to Seth Rowland ( for providing these bullets to test. He makes other calibers and will work with you to find the best bullet for your rifle.

Bottom line for the Rogue
The Rogue has its detractors — those who feel that it’s to advanced and expensive to be practical in the field. But those people disregard the fact that this rifle shoots as well as almost all other big bores of quality.

All I’ve done in this 5-part test is show you how it performs. The rest is up to you.

Benjamin Rogue ePCP: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle
The new Rogue is simpler, more tractable.

After the last report, I spoke to Dennis Quackenbush about how the new Rogue I was testing. I explained that while it shot well with Benjamin bullets, it didn’t seem to group with cast bullets obtained from other sources. He first suggested that I try the old .38-caliber 200-grain lead bullet that we know as a police round here in the U.S.; but in the UK it was their substitute for the old .455 round. When they downsized their WWI service revolver to reduce the recoil, they substituted the 200-grain .38-cal. bullet for the much larger .455-caliber man-stopper they had in WWI. Unfortunately, they also knocked about 9 oz. off the weight of the revolver at the same time, with the result that the new cartridge and revolver kicked just about the same as the one it replaced. It was easier to carry, of course, and that’s always a consideration, but it wasn’t the man-stopper the older bullet had been.

I told Dennis that the heavier I went, the more the Rogue didn’t like the bullet, so he then came up with a different idea. He suggested I try a bullet with a different balance. He asked me if I had tried the rifle with a 148-grain .357-caliber wadcutter, which of course I hadn’t. Some wadcutter bullets have a hollow base that obturates when the cartridge explodes, thus filling the bore and sealing all gasses behind.

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle wadcutter bullets
The .357 wadcutter bullet weighs 148 grains and has a hollow base similar to a diabolo pellet. That pushes the weight forward and helps stabilize the bullet in flight. This lead isn’t oxidizing. That white powder is the dry lubricant that has been applied to the bullet after casting or swaging. Notice the lack of conventional grease grooves.

The wadcutters were the first non-Benjamin bullets to perform well in the Rogue. They fed well, and they also shot to the same point of aim as both of the Benjamin bullets. This proves that a Rogue owner can cast his own bullets for the rifle and save a lot of money. In fact, with a Shoebox Compressor and casting your own bullets, the Rogue would be cheaper to shoot than a smallbore pellet rifle!

Low on air: What can I do?
When I shot the wadcutter bullets for accuracy, I knew my carbon fiber tank was running low. I still had to chronograph all the bullets at both power settings and wanted to save some air for that, so I decided to try something different during this group. Five bullets were fired with the rifle set to heavy bullets and medium power. That ran the gun out of a charge of air. The display panel said there were no shots remaining at that setting. I changed the power setting to discharge, which holds the valve open twice as long as normal. I then fired two more shots on the discharge setting just to see what would happen. I labeled each hole on the target, so you can see where every shot went.

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle wadcutter bullet target
The five bullets fired on medium power grouped in about 2-3/4 inches at 50 yards. Each shot is numbered. Then the two discharge shots hit lower and to the left. Interesting that you can actually get more shots on a fill than the status panel indicates!

Now, it was time to test the velocity of all the bullets that were accurate in the Rogue. This exercise used up the remaining air in my tank, thus ending the day at the range.

Nosler 145-grain Ballistic Tip
The first bullet we’ll test is the 145-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet that’s the best general bullet for the Rogue. On high power, the bullet averaged 774 f.p.s., with a range from 766 to 781 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle generated 192.92 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

On medium power, this bullet averaged 751 f.p.s. and ranged from 741 to 760 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the bullet generates 181.64 foot-pounds of energy. That’s pretty remarkable, because that’s also a good place to keep the power for the extra shots it provides.

Benjamin Pursuit 158-grain bullet
The Benjamin Pursuit 158-grain round nose bullet was tested next. It was tested in the last accuracy test and proved to be acceptable at 50 yards. On high power, this bullet averaged 741 f.p.s., with a velocity spread that ranged from 735 to 752 f.p.s. At the average velocity, it generates 192.69 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. The Nosler Ballistic Tip reigns supreme for power in the Rogue by a razor-thin margin.

On medium power, this bullet averaged 711 f.p.s. and ranged from 704 to 714 f.p.s. At the average velocity, it’s pumping out 177.4 foot-pounds of ebergy.

Benjamin Pursuit 127-grain flat-nosed bullet
The Benjamin Pursuit 127-grain flat nose bullet was the speed champ in the Rogue. On high power, it launched that accurate little bullet at an average 796 f.p.s., with a spread from 786 to 809 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this little pill produces 178.73 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

It’s the medium power setting that I’m interested in for this bullet, however, because I believe I would have a bullet mold made to cast this bullet if I owned a Rogue. At this setting, the bullet averaged 747 f.p.s., with a spread from 740 to 751 f.p.s. That’s 157.4 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, on average. That’s more muzzle energy than you get from a 40-grain high-speed .22 long rifle cartridge; and, of course, the larger .357-caliber bullet does far more damage. At that power level, the Rogue would be a good fox and coyote gun out to about 100 yards.

148-grain wadcutter
Finally, I did test the 148-grain wadcutters that Dennis Quackenbush sent me. I had only a total of 10 on hand, so I tested just one shot at each setting. On high power, the bullet went 757 f.p.s., which translates to 188.37 foot-pounds. On medium power, it went 732 f.p.s., which is 176.13 foot-pounds. It might interest you to know that the Rogue is propelling this bullet at very close to the same velocity that a .38 Special midrange wadcutter cartridge produces. If you turn the bullet around when you load it — so the hollow base faces forward — you’ve created a monster hollowpoint bullet. At close range, such a bullet has few equals for destructive capability.

General observations on the new Benjamin Rogue
In case you aren’t aware, I played a small part in the Rogue’s developement, so some will think I’m biased in favor of the gun. I assure you I’m not. But this test surprised me in a number of ways. The first was the velocity stablity the Crosman engineers have been able to build into the gun. No other big bore airgun comes anywhere close to what the Rogue can do, as far as maintaining velocity with a specific bullet.

The magazine feeding problem is now gone. As long as the bullet is sized to enter the bore, it will feed fluidly through the redesigned magazine.

Accuracy has been improved. The 145-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip is still the best bullet overall, but the 127-grain Benjamin Pursuit is more accurate and more fun to shoot. If you own a Rogue, you might think about having a bullet mold made up to cast this bullet in soft lead. I hear that Mr. Hollowpoint also has some bullets that do well in the Rogue. After testing some in my .308 Quackenbush, I believe it.

The trigger is greatly improved. That was the part that Lloyd Sykes and I were worried about with the original Rogue. Well, Crosman has done it right, and I know hunters will like this one.

As far as worrying about whether a new Rogue you buy is a real new one or just one that’s left over I will say this. Crosman went to extreme lengths to remove all unsold Rogues from their dealers long before they released this new model. I’m sure those guns were reworked to the new standard. So, unless you’re buying from a hobby dealer (someone who isn’t really doing it as a business) or out the back of a car trunk, I would say you’re going to get the newer design.

I would like to thank the Crosman Corporation for providing the new Rogue for this extensive test.

Benjamin Rogue ePCP: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle
The new Rogue is simpler, more tractable.

Thank you for being so patient with me on this report! I was testing the Benjamin Rogue .357-caliber big bore rifle all month long, but I had nothing to report until now.

I go to the rifle range almost every week these days. I often have at least one airgun to test, and I also find that shooting firearms keeps my mind fresh so I can address airgun questions better. Plus, I just like to shoot and since this is my job — why not?

The first time I took the Rogue to the range I was trying three different styles of cast lead bullets that had been supplied to me when I reviewed it for you earlier. Crosman had sent two of them, and Mac gave me the third when he heard what I was testing. I never lubricate lead bullets that I shoot in big bore air rifles, so I took all three of these bullets to the range as they were cast. You need to know that, when a bullet is cast, it comes from the mold not perfectly cylindrical. In black powder arms, where I also shoot lead bullets as-cast but lubricated, the bore will make them round; and in so doing, they seal the bore better. The guns I shoot are all vintage arms with bores much larger than today’s guns of the same caliber — so it’s become a habit of mine to shoot bullets as-cast.

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle three cast lead bullets
I first tried these three cast bullets in the Rogue. On the left is a 150-grain flat-point. The middle is a 156-grain semi-wadcutter. The dark bullet on the right is Remington’s 158-grain swaged bullet that’s been tumble-lubed in graphite. None of these worked well in the Rogue.

But I couldn’t get any of these bullets to feed into the Rogue at the range! They were all too big. So, that day was a bust. I did shoot a few Nosler Ballistic Tips, but we already know how accurate they are, so I didn’t bother reporting on that trip to the range.

When I returned home, I called Crosman and spoke to Ed Schultz — their head engineer. I told him that I thought they needed to cut a leade (a tapered entrance) into the breech so these larger bullets would fit. Ed told me that, in fact, they had cut a leade in the rifling — and they’re cutting what amounts to a bullet-sized chamber in the breech. The bullets I was feeding the rifle must have been larger than 0.359 inches in diameter. Well, of course they are, because cast lead bullets are never perfectly cylindrical until you size them. I hadn’t sized these bullets, so of course they were causing feeding problems. Problem solved!

The next time I went to the range, I took the same three bullets, and all were sized to 0.359 inches. That made all the difference! Now, they fed perfectly through the magazine and into the breech. But none of them were accurate. The best I was able to do was one 5-shot group of about 7 inches. But the average group was closer to 12 inches. And that’s at 50 yards off a rest. There was still nothing good to report.

I returned home and called Ed Schultz, again, to ask if the Rogue could handle any bullet other than the Nosler. The first time I tested the gun, I had success with a light bullet of less than 100 grains, but I was out of those and didn’t know where to get more. I hoped Ed would have an answer, and he did. He said they’d been having success with their Benjamin Pursuit 158-grain round-nosed bullet and their Benjamin Pursuit 127-grain flat-nosed bullet, and he said he would send me samples of each to test.

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle two lead Benjamin Pursuit bullets
Two Benjamin Pursuit lead bullets for the Rogue. On the left is the 127-grain flat point, and on the right is the 158-grain round-nose.

Last week I went to the range with both new bullets and tested the Rogue with each. The results were very encouraging, and that’s what we’ll look at today! Let’s look at the 158-grain bullet first. This is a blunt-nosed lead bullet that mimics the old .38 Special 200-grain police revolver round, but is shorter. It comes unlubricated in a box of 50 and is a cast bullet with a beveled base for easier reloading. So somewhere there is a mold for this, or one can be made, if you cast your own as I do.

The bullet fed without a fault through the magazine, and I was surprised that it shot to the same general point of aim as the Nosler. Only a few clicks of elevation were required to get it printing where I wanted it. I selected the heavy bullet weight and the medium power level on the gun’s control panel to conserve air more than anything. The readout said that with 3,000 psi I had 7 good shots in the gun; but when I fired, that number dropped to 4…and then to 2. Instead of 7 shots, I got just 3 — but at least I knew exactly where the reservoir was at all times.

I decided to shoot 10-shot groups this time, so I shot 3 and refilled, and so on. For the final 4 shots, I shot past the low-air warning because I’d been told by Crosman that the gun was now keeping even the first couple of those shots within 30 f.p.s. of the average. The new software doesn’t allow as much variety of choices for bullet weight and power, but it controls the shot-to-shot consistency much closer. You give up some shots per fill, but you gain accuracy, as you will see.

benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle Benjamin Pursuit 158 grain bullet target
Ten 158-grain Benjamin Pursuit round-nosed bullets made this 2.587-inch group at 50 yards. That’s minute of coyote out at 80 yards.

Next, I tried the 127-grain flat-nosed bullet. For this one, I set the control at light for the bullet weight and medium for the power. The panel told me there were 11 shots at 3,000 psi, and I actually got 9. This time, the bullets all seemed to got to the same place on the target. What a wonderful little bullet this is for the Rogue!

Benjamin Rogue epcp big bore air rifle Benjamin Pursuit 127 grain bullet target
Ten 127-grain Benjamin Pursuit flat-pointsd went into this 1.835-inch group. This is the bullet for this rifle! There are four bullets in what looks like a string of three at the top right of the group and two in the X-ring.

Benjamin Rugue epcp big bore air rifle control panel during firing
The readout on the last two shots with the 127-grain bullet. Notice the air pressure remaining. The readout disagreed with the gauge on my tank by 300 psi, but it was very accurate for controlling the gun.

I noticed while shooting the lighter bullet that the gun readout didn’t agree with the gauge on my air tank. It was off by 300 psi, yet it worked perfectly for the gun. So, I just paid attention to the gun readout, but filled using the gauge on my tank.

The trigger
I’d forgotten just how nice the new trigger is, but I have to say — Crosman got it right. It’s light, crisp and releases with no undue movement to the rifle. It feels like a mechanical trigger though I know it’s electronic. I do hope Crosman will put this trigger on other air rifles in the future, as I know you would all enjoy it.

Where we are
This test turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for me. After those times at the range when nothing went right, it was a surprise to learn that the new Rogue is a better shooter than it was in the first iteration. True, it doesn’t get as many shots per fill, but those shots it does get are all so stable that I don’t see how you could complain.

I still need to chrongraph the rifle with the two new bullets, plus I would like to see how it performs at high power. The reason I didn’t do that on this trip is because I know there isn’t that great a velocity difference between the two settings. But I still want to test it. So, we’re not done with the Rogue just yet.

Benjamin Rogue ePCP: Part 2

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

Part 1

The new Rogue is simpler, more tractable.

Today is my first report on taking the Benjamin Rogue .357-caliber big bore rifle to the range. Instead of just running it over the chronograph, I thought I would first get used to how it shoots. I’d talked to Ed Schultz of Crosman about the main changes, and he told me they had simplified the programs. Instead of 9 possible choices (low, medium and high power…plus light, medium and heavy bullets), they abbreviated it to just medium and high power and light and heavy bullet weights.

Ed said the gun would give more shots on these settings because the valving had been trying to do too much before. So that was what I was looking for at the range — a gun with tractable power and simpler options.

Crosman sent some Nosler Ballistic Tips with the rifle, and I knew they were designed specifically for it and that’s where I began.

Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets are made for the Rogue.

Ed told me to consider the 145-grain Noslers to be the starting point for the heavy bullets — and bullets weighing 135-grains and less as light — so I programmed the rifle for heavy bullets and medium power. Of course, you can program the gun any way you like, but these are the guidelines. Because there was such a furor from the field about the magazine feeding, I decided to use it, exclusively. It holds 6 bullets, and I wanted to see if there were 6 good shots with this medium power setting and heavy bullet weight setting. The distance was 50 yards, and I took three shots to zero the scope, which is a new CenterPoint 4-16×40 that I’ll mention later.

The trigger is quite a bit lighter and crisper than the trigger I tested last time. I have to say that this one is a positive winner, as it releases the same every time. The first shot went before I was ready, but the crosshairs were on target and the bullet went where I intended.

After sight-in, I rapped off two quick magazines of Nosler Ballistic Tips.

Six Nosler Ballistic Tips made this 2.5-inch group at 50 yards. That was as many as the gun wanted to shoot at this power level, and notice how well-centered they are.

The readout said the pressure had dropped from 3,000 psi to 2,150 psi, so I refilled the gun to shoot again. The next time, I programmed the rifle to shoot the same 145-grain bullet on high power. As before, I loaded 6 bullets into the magazine.

The first 5 bullets went into 2.378 inches at 50 yards. The sixth shot was lower, as you can see. So 5 shots is the magic number on high power with heavy bullets. After 6 shots on high power, the pressure remaining was 1,350 psi, so the gun uses a lot more air at this setting.

Ed told me that Crosman rated the gun on high power to get 3 good shots, with very close velocity. Shots 4 and 5 will also be close, but not as close as the first 3. I discovered that when I shot this target.

Magazine feed
The Nosler bullets feds through the magazine easily and without hesitation. They’re perfect for the rifle.

Next, I tried some 158-grain semi-wadcutter cast bullets. These were the bullets shooters had difficulty with in the old magazine. The new magazine fed them flawlessly, however, they stopped when the front driving band encountered the rifling in the breech. At that point, they were not fully seated in the barrel. So I had to force the bolt forward to get it closed, and you probably recall that the bolt controls the electronic firing system; so until it’s closed and in the right position, the gun will not fire.

These semi-wadcutters had a body that was too long for the Rogue’s breech. They were difficult to load, though they functioned in the magazine flawlessly.

I shot the one bullet that was so difficult to feed and decided not to try any more of them. In consultation with Crosman, I discovered that they actually cut a chamber in the back portion of the barrel, and these semi-wadcutters now feed perfectly. We believe that I was shooting as-cast bullets that are just slightly out of round and jammed up in the chamber. I’ll size all future bullets to 0.358 inches before I go to the range. No more as-cast bullets for me.

My only other bullet was a second semi-wadcutter whose body was so similar to the first bullet that I didn’t try them in the rifle. I had brought some round-nosed bullets in my range box, but when I broke into the package I discovered they were .308 and not .357.

Well, I got what I had come for, which was a good first look at the new Rogue in action. It has a much better trigger than the one I tested earlier, and it seems to be very stable for a magazine full of shots, so that’s how I will gauge my shooting in future sessions. I’ll bring some properly sized .357 bullets next time, and I’ll break out the chronograph to see how things stack up.

CenterPoint scope
Just one final word about the scope on the test rifle. Crosman sent a new 4-16×40 AO CenterPoint Optics scope with the Rogue, and this was the first chance I had to try it out. It zeroed quickly and was bright enough, though it was sunny at the range and relative brightness was difficult to estimate. The scope was very clear and has an illuminated reticle and adjustable objective for parallax correction. I did look at the reticle in my office and see that it reflects well off the wire crosshairs, but it was unnecessary on this bright day.

One final word about the adjustable stock. This one REALLY adjusts — as in — I can make the pull too long for me, and I like a long pull. So, I think the Rogue will fit almost any adult, regardless of their reach.

Benjamin Rogue ePCP update: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

This is the new Rogue. It came Crosman, so a bipod was included. I’ll show it to you when I shoot the rifle.

It’s been two years since the release of the Benjamin Rogue .357-caliber ePCP big bore rifle. Back then, the rifle was so revolutionary that, when I reviewed it for you, I had to spend a lot of time explaining its operation.

I’m going to review that operation for you, again, because there have been a few significant changes…plus some that won’t be visible to the user but which should make the operation even better. I won’t dive into the guts of the gun like I did in the last report, because things there haven’t changed enough to be noticeable; but when it comes to something that affects the gun’s performance, I’ll address it.

What is the Rogue?
The Benjamin Rogue is a big bore precharged air rifle that can be fired either single-shot or with a 6-shot rotating magazine. The 6-shot magazine is unusual because most big bores do not have sufficient air capacity to fire 6 shots without refilling the gun. Those that do will often taper off too much, with lower velocities after their initial 2-3 shots.

The Rogue is unique because it has a computer-controlled valve that opens and closes by electronic command. That’s what the lowercase “e” in ePCP stands for. A pressure sensor inside the air reservoir reads the pressure at all times. The computer contains software that tells the air valve how long it needs to stay open to maintain velocity at the settings the user has programmed into the gun. This is something that airgunners have long talked about; but one of them, namely Lloyd Sykes, wrote the programs and built the hardware that actually allowed it to work for the first time. He then demonstrated his idea to Crosman who bought it and developed both the hardware and the software into the Rogue that we see today.

The Rogue has a shrouded barrel that reduces the report significantly. It doesn’t turn it into a suburban backyard air rifle, but you don’t want that in a rifle this powerful anyway. The hunter in the field will thank the designers for a powerful gun that’s easier on their eardrums.

The gun is .357 caliber, and that requires some explanation. There are a number of air rifles on the market that are 9mm, and .357 is very close to 9mm. However, and this is very significant, 9mm is a European pistol caliber that uses bullets ranging from 90 grains to 125 grains in weight. That’s perfect for pocket pistols, but not for a hunting handgun unless the quarry is smaller game like rabbits and raccoons. Coyotes would be at the top of this list, and your marksmanship would have to be precise. Most significantly, 9mm bullets are either 0.355 or 0.356 inches in diameter.

On the other hand .357-caliber bullets have been developed for both the .38 Special and the powerful .357 Magnum handguns and have been used for medium-sized game like whitetail deer. The bullets for .357 guns do go as light as 90 grains, but they more commonly start out at around 110 grains and go all the way up to 200 grains. This weight is important for a big bore airgun that’s not going to drive these bullets as fast as a firearm handgun. We want weight because it equals penetration, which — to a big bore airgunner — gets the job done.

These bullets have a diameter of 0.357 to 0.359 inches. While that doesn’t sound like too much larger than 0.355 to 0.356 inches, the difference allows the soft lead bullet to fill the bore, take the rifling well and seal all the high-pressure air behind it. People who shoot black powder arms understand this very well, and all big bore airgunners need to take it to heart.

Load lead!
The other important reason to focus on .357 over 9mm is because the majority of 9mm bullets are jacketed, and big bore airguns do not shoot jacketed slugs. There are just a pitiful few lead bullets available in 9mm, while there are hundreds of different styles and weights in .357. And you don’t have to cast your own bullets, either. There are numerous bullet makers making all sorts of lead bullets to order these days. You can get everything from hard-cast bullets, which I don’t recommend, to dead-soft lead-tin alloys that are perfect in big bores, to cowboy action bullets that don’t hurt your budget too much. You can buy these bullets either sized and lubricated or as-cast, which is unsized and unlubricated. I recommend the latter for a big bore airgun.

Big bore airguns do not shoot jacketed slugs

A bullet that’s been cast but not sized is not perfectly concentric. Sizing fixes this. But so does passing through a barrel that’s either the same size as the bullet or a thousandth smaller. Your barrel sizes the bullets as they’re fired, so sizing is not necessary. And because there’s no heat of combustion, the bullets don’t need to be lubricated with grease, either. The natural lubricity of soft lead is sufficient to allow the bullet to go through the bore without undue leading (lead loss by scraping off on the inside of the bore).

Nosler bullet
Crosman teamed with Nosler to create the perfect bullet for the Rogue. This is a 145-grain round-nosed bullet with a Ballistic Tip called the eXTREME Air Rifle Bullet. They come packed 25 to a box and are definitely premium ammunition. Yes, they’re costly, but if you take advantage of Pyramyd Air’s “Get the 4th tin free” offer, 100 bullets will cost about $60, plus shipping. That’s 60 cents apiece, which isn’t too bad for hunting ammunition. I would plink with something cheaper and save these for serious work, as I discovered in my first test that this bullet outshot all the others.

The Nosler eXTREME bullets with Ballistic Tips are made especially for the Rogue.

The magazine
One of the issues with the Rogue when it first came out was it didn’t like to feed many different bullets from the magazine. I didn’t catch this in my testing, because I never used the magazine. I tend to shoot any big bore as a single-shot because that’s what most of them are and also because I’m invariably testing something when I’m shooting, and a magazine just gets in the way.

I did test the original mag with the 145-grain Nosler bullets that were made especially for it, and of course it worked fine; but when shooters tried feeding 158-grain Keith-type bullets through it, they ran into problems. The magazine has been extensively redesigned to be more flexible in this respect, and that will be an important part of this test.

The holes for each bullet are more oval than round, allowing the bullets to move around more as they are being moved into the breech by the bolt.

The new magazine has an oval hole for the bullets, which is apparently necessary for improved feeding with various bullet shapes. I’ll put it to the test.

The electronic programs
I had a long discussion with Ed Schultz of Crosman prior to writing this report. I wanted to know what was different about the Rogue, and why was I testing it, again, after only two years. He told me about the magazine and also about the programming options. That’s what I want to discuss now, so I don’t have to explain it again when I test the rifle.

Programming the Rogue is simplicity, itself. This three-button keypad does everything. And the status screen tells you things…like when it’s time for more air.

The original Rogue allowed the shooter to select one of three bullet-weight ranges (light, medium and heavy), which corresponded to a given range of actual bullet weights. The shooter also programmed the rifle for one of three power ranges — low, medium and high. The two options, each with three choices, allowed a matrix of nine possible programming possibilities. When I tested the rifle for Shotgun News, I said that I didn’t think a lot of shooters would use the light bullet/low power option for anything beyond plinking to conserve air.

Crosman watched the forums discuss these settings and listened to feedback from their customers, and they finally came to the conclusion that the initial choices were too many — to the point of confusion. Also, it’s technically very difficult to control high pressure air when it’s compressed to its limit and then to try to meter it to only allow a very small amount to escape with each shot — such as the light bullet/low power selection. In plain terms, while the electronic controls did work, there were conditions in which they didn’t work at the optimum.

In the time since the first Rogues were sold, Crosman has been refining the software and even some of the hardware to get a smoother power curve from the gun. Their goal was more shots at the same velocity, but perhaps giving up a few shots on the lower end to get there. This new Rogue has the new software that allows just two bullet ranges — MEDIUM, which goes up to the 145-grain weight of the Nosler bullet made for the gun, and HEAVY, which starts at 145 grains and goes up.

There are also just two power settings — MEDIUM and HIGH. Combining the bullet weight settings and the power settings, the user now has just four selections to make instead of nine. But tinkerers don’t have to despair. They have wisely retained both the DISCHARGE setting, which allows the gun to dump a huge amount of air with one shot, as well as the full manual control over the computer that allows you to control the discharge time to within 5 microseconds. If you absolutely need all the air the gun can give, put it on DISCHARGE and the valve will remain open twice as long as for the highest power setting.

Can an existing gun be upgraded?
If you already own a Rogue and want these new features, your gun can use the new magazine, so the feeding situation should get better. But the new electronics are unfortunately linked to new hardware and no upgrade is offered. However, you can operate your older Rogue like the new one by using the upper two bullet weights and power levels, only. You’ll get much of what the new gun offers, but not the same level of stability, which I’ll explore for you at the range.

Not only will I shoot for accuracy and test the feeding of the new magazine, I’ll also be looking at the kind of strings we get from this rifle. I’ll test accuracy with both the Noslers as well as several lead bullets of different shapes.

The first thing I’m going to do is read all four of my previous reports to refresh myself on how the gun operates. Then, I’ll be ready to put it through the wringer for you.

Quackenbush .308: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Quackenbush .308 big bore is an attractive airgun.

The last time we looked at this Quackenbush .308 big bore was when I discovered that my rifle really likes Mr. Hollowpoint’s 68-grain hollowpoint bullet. I also tested a 150-grain Loverin-design bullet that was just a bit too heavy for the gun. It didn’t want to stabilize and was tearing elongated holes in the target at 50 yards.

If you’ll recall, I was running low on air that day, so I could fill the rifle to only 3,000 psi. That gave a stunning group that was smaller than one inch at 50 yards with the 68-grain hollowpoint, but I wondered whether it would do any better if I filled the rifle to higher pressure. I also wondered if going just a trifle faster would have stabilized the 150-grain bullet. There were a lot of unanswered questions after the last test.

Today, I’ll address those questions. I had a full air tank and a reasonably good day at the range. Certainly for testing something as stable as a .308, the light breeze was no challenge.

Shooting the 68-grain hollowpoints
I decided to fill the rifle to 3,500 psi, to see what kind of velocity that might give. The 68-grain bullet averaged 1051 f.p.s, on that much air and left about 3,100 psi in the tank for the second shot. That’s a muzzle energy of 167.15 foot-pounds.

Shot two averaged 1,010 f.p.s. with the same 68-grain bullet and generated 154.07 foot-pounds of energy. You might think that’s close enough to the first velocity that the bullets will print in the same place. They might if this was a firearm — but it’s an air rifle, and we have to take the flexing of the horizontal air reservoir into account. As the pressure inside the air reservoir changes, the reservoir — which is a long tube — flexes a tiny bit. Since it’s connected to the barrel, this flexing can cause movement in the muzzle.

The first shots printed about two inches higher on the target than the second shots. I knew they would from past experience shooting other big bores, so this came as no surprise to me. I actually shot one group of first shots (after a 3,500 psi fill) at one target and a separate group of second shots at a second target.

After seeing where the shots landed relative to the aim point, it’s possible to use the mil-dot reticle in my scope to shoot both shots into the same group by using two different aim points. This is a technique I learned several years ago with my .458 Outlaw; and with it, I can put five bullets into one inch at 50 yards. I didn’t try that on this day, however, because I was too busy learning the gun.

Neither group obtained this day was as good as the group I shot last time on just 3,000 psi of air. The first group that was shot on 3,500 psi measured 2.72 inches between centers for five shots, though four of those shots landed in a group measuring 1.219 inches.

Four of the five bullets were close at 50 yards on 3,500 psi. Two landed in the same hole.

The group that was fired on 3,100 psi measured 1.953 inches between centers. That’s twice the size of the best group that was shot several weeks ago on 3,000 psi, so I think this bullet is going too fast for best results. It looks to me like this 68-grain hollowpoint wants no more than 3,000 psi as a max charge. That would put the velocity at around 970-980 f.p.s.

Lower starting pressure gave a tighter group. This one was made with 3,100 psi.

Did the 150-grain bullets stabilize?
Again, the 150-grain bullets failed to completely stabilize — even when driven to 825 f.p.s (on 3,600 psi air) and generating 226.75 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Both bullet holes show evidence of tipping. The bullet is not stabilized.

Clearly, this Loverin bullet is too long to stabilize at the velocity this rifle generates. What’s needed is a 120- to 130-grain bullet that’s short, which means it must have either a round or a flat nose.

Some observations
I’m seeing a relationship between soft pure lead bullets and better accuracy. Any hardening alloy seems to open up the group.

Ditto for lubricated bullets. So far, the best, most accurate bullets are those that are completely dry. I see now that I need to cast some more 130-grain bullets in lead that is as pure as I can make it, and shoot them absolutely dry. I’ve seen the performance of pure lead bullets on game, and they hold together far better than hard alloy bullets do. Lead hardened with antimony breaks apart in large chunks, while soft lead mashes up like a wad of bubble gum when it hits game.

I’ve always questioned using a .308 for game as large as a deer. I know hunters who are better shots than I am do it all the time and have great success, but for me the .308 is more of a coyote and bobcat round. I’ll leave the deer and wild hogs to the .458 and keep this .308 for smaller game. It probably has a useful range of 125 yards in my hands. For an air rifle, that’s pretty far!

Quackenbush .308: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Tyrone Nerdin’ Daye is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Tyrone Nerdin’ Day says this about his winning photo: Me and my IZH-DROZD MP-661k Blackbird with Wild Mod Chip, Walther PS 22 red dot sight, quad rails and a UTG Tactical Op bipod. Black SWAT vest with the Walther CP99 Compact, police belt with Winchester Model 11.

Part 1
Part 2

Quackenbush .308 big bore is an attractive air rifle.

It’s been a long time since Part 2 because I was searching for a better bullet for this rifle. Oh, the groups shown in Part 2 aren’t that bad; but when you see what I have to show today, you’ll be glad I stuck with it.

Most of my experience has been with Quackenbush’s larger calibers. My Quackenbush .458 Long Action rifle is so accurate that I was pretty sure I could get better performance out of this .308.

The .308 is the big bore gun everyone talks about these days. Guys are taking deer and goats with them out to incredible distances. At the 2012 LASSO big bore shoot, they were hitting half-sized sheep silhouettes out to 300 yards and making it look easy. But the bullets I had didn’t seem to want to perform like what I saw from other guns. So, I kept searching and trying different bullets.

Blog reader Robert from Arcade even sent me a batch of 150-grain Loverin-style lead bullets he cast himself. They were big and heavy, and my rifle wasn’t doing that well with lighter lead bullets, so I didn’t have a lot of hope for these. But I took them along to the range yesterday, where I tried them along with a remarkable new bullet that I picked up at the Arkansas airgun show this year.

Mr. Hollowpoint saves the day!
At that show, I asked Robert Vogel, who’s Mr. Hollowpoint, for a good bullet for my rifle. He recommended a new hollowpoint he’s casting that has had some good reports. At 68 grains, it’s a featherweight compared to the 115 to 130-grain bullets I’ve been shooting, and I thought maybe the additional velocity I’d get might make the difference. So, I bought a bag to try.

I got out to the range on Wednesday, and the day was very close to perfect. At 88 deg. F, it was a bit warm, but the wind was very low and never did pick up.

The 150-grain Loverin bullet on the left and the 68-grain hollowpoint at the center and right were both tried. Notice the uneven base on the hollowpoint. It seemed to make no difference on the target. That large hollow point lives up to its name!

My carbon fiber tank would soon need a refill, so I was only able to fill the rifle to 3,000 psi, and I held the number of shots per group to 5 instead of 10. The first shot was low and about three inches to the right of the bull, so I cranked up the elevation and put in some left clicks and then shot a 10. It was nothing but luck that the one adjustment put the bullet in the right spot.

It doesn’t get much better than that, so I refilled the rifle and shot again. I was filling after each shot, so every shot had the benefit of a 3,000 psi fill behind it. With the Quackenbush Long Action Outlaw, and to a large extent with all other big bore air rifles I’ve tested, the first and second shots group in different areas — but they do group tight. The trick is to use some extra elevation for the second shot so it goes to the same place as the first. But since I didn’t know exactly how much elevation to use with this new bullet, I refilled after each shot instead.

It was a slow, methodical process of settling into the rest, sighting, squeezing off the shot, then returning to the tailgate of my truck to top off the reservoir for the next shot. My shooting buddy, who witnessed all this, was impressed by how much recoil this .308 has. Of course, it recoils with or without the bullet, because the air that’s exhausting is giving the rifle a rocket push.

By the time the fifth shot had been fired, I could see the results through the scope. The group was tight and well-centered, and the last three shots were in the x-ring, which is in the center of the 10. They can be covered by a dime. So, this 68-grain hollowpoint from Mr. Hollowpoint is the bullet my .308 likes!

Five shots went into this 0.975-inch group at 50 yards. The 68-grain bullets from Mr. Hollowpoint are a real winner in my Quackenbush .308. The center three bullet holes can just be covered by the dime.

The base of the bullet has an uneven ridge extending past the base. It’s the result of sizing the bullet, because Robert Vogel sizes each and every one to .308. Normally, I would worry about anything on the base that isn’t perfectly uniform; but after looking at the target, I can see that this has little affect on how this particular bullet flies.

This bullet loads very easily in my rifle. There seems to be no resistance when the bolt is closed. They’re cast from pure lead, which leaves them soft and prone to deformation. Performance on game is enhanced through the combination of the soft lead and the hollowpoint design. A soft lead bullet holds together better than one that’s hardened with antimony, so these bullets still penetrate deeply in game. Elmer Keith wrote extensively about the performance of soft lead bullets on game with handguns, and the velocity of these big bore rifles is pretty close to what he obtained.

I wouldn’t use such a light hollowpoint on a whitetail deer-sized animal, but it ought to turn a coyote or a bobcat inside-out! And the rifle is now zeroed at 50 yards — huzzah!

From light to heavy
Next up was the Loverin-style 150-grainer from Robert of Arcade. Since the rifle was only so-so with the lighter bullets I’d tried, I didn’t think it would stabilize this long lead slug, but it wasn’t much trouble to try. Robert also casts these from lead as pure as he can get; so, like Mr. Hollowpoint bullets, they’re just right for airguns.

A Loverin bullet has many grease grooves along a relatively long body. It was greatly in favor in the early 20th century. When jacketed bullets came along, they sent the best lead bullet designs into relative obscurity. Only those who cast their own bullets are aware of the differences in designs like the Loverin, and this style bullet is no longer popular with mold-makers today. If I want to get a Loverin mold, I either have to buy a custom mold or I have to watch the auction sites for a vintage mold to come up for sale. This one is Lyman mold 311466.

In contrast to the easy loading of the 68-grain hollowpoint, these bullets were hard to load. They were not sized and measure up to 0.311 inches in diameter. I normally shoot unsized lead bullets in my big bores whenever I can to ensure the best sealing of the bore — a little resistance at loading is normal.

The bullets landed lower on the target, as expected, and they were about a half-inch to the right; but after 5 shots, I was impressed by the group they made.

By this point, the carbon fiber tank was definitely running out of air. On the final two shots, it filled the rifle to only 2,950 psi. Since the resulting group seems elongated up and down, I will attribute some of that to the uneven fill. I think that if I shot this bullet at a higher-pressure fill, the performance might improve.

Notice, also, that the bullet holes seem elongated. There was some tipping going on, and this bullet is probably at the ragged edge of stability at this velocity — whatever that is. A higher-pressure fill will probably boost velocity enough to correct this at 50 yards.

Five shots went into this 2.008-inch group at 50 yards. The Loverin-design bullet did remarkably well, considering its 150-grain weight. The last two fills were only 2,950 psi. I wonder what a higher, more uniform fill might do?

This longer, heavier bullet would be ideal for deer. While the velocity is probably down at the 700 f.p.s. mark, these bullets still shoot all the way through deer unless they’re stopped by heavy bone. I would restrict my shots to very close range with this bullet, but I think it might do the trick out to 80 yards, or so.

What’s next?
Now that I have one good bullet for sure and the possibility of another, it’s time to test both with higher fill levels. I also want to chronograph these bullets so we can see what sort of performance they give.

I also want to cast some of my 130-grain spitzers in pure lead and shoot them unsized and unlubricated. That might be the secret to success in this rifle.

We’re not quite done with the Quackenbush .308. My thanks to both Mr. Hollowpoint and to Robert from Arcade for providing me with these two bullets to test.

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