Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Nitro Piston Technology’

My new Benjamin NP Limited Edition

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader RifledDNA, a.k.a Stephen Larson. He wants to give us his impressions of a new Benjamin NP Limited Edition he recently received.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. 

Over to you, RifledDNA!

Benjamin NP Limited Edition
Benjamin NP Limited Edition.

Good-day everybody. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Benjamin NP Limited Edition. These are my impressions of this airgun as I’ve unboxed it. Others may have different results, as no two airguns are the same.

To start, let’s look at what the NP Limited Edition is. This is a .22-caliber breakbarrel air rifle powered by Crosman’s Nitro Piston, hence the NP designation. The Nitro Piston is a nitrogen gas-filled piston that has many advantages over the traditional coiled steel spring powerplant. First, a gas piston is less affected by temperature. The nitrogen gas continues to compress and expand consistently even when the temperature drops. A steel spring is coated with lubricants that stiffen and do not want to move as fast in cold temperatures.

Another advantage of the Nitro Piston is less wear and tear. The gas piston has straight forward and back motion, so there’s no torque on parts. A coiled steel mainspring doesn’t just expand when it decompresses — it also twists because it’s coiled. That twisting is transmitted to the parts like the piston and spring guide, causing them to bear against other parts as they move.

Finally, the gas in the piston always has the same amount of mass. That means the gas will have the same expansion characteristics, providing long-lasting consistency.

The consistency of a gas piston is shown by the 10-for-$10 test I ordered with the gun. With 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets, the velocities were as follows:

Shot   f.p.s.
1       816
2      820
3      817
4      799
5      808
6      799
7      802
8      804
9      797
10    798

After the first three shots, which was burning off the oil, this gun has very tight velocities right out of the box. If we exclude the first three, we get a high of 808, a low of 797, a spread of 11 f.p.s. and a standard deviation of only 5.16. I think that’s pretty impressive!

Another thing that impresses me is the cocking effort. It is SMOOTH! I don’t have a bathroom scale, but I would estimate it’s somewhere close to 28 lbs. My wife can cock it without much of a struggle! That’s not something commonly found in a magnum .22 springer.

The downside
Now that we’ve talked about the pros of this air rifle, lets look at the things that weren’t so impressive. When I bought it, the gun cost $179.99. That’s extremely affordable for a gun of this quality; but this great gun has to rest somewhere, and that’s in the stock. The stock used for this air rifle is the same synthetic stock that carries the Crosman Fury and Phantom. It’s an extremely lightweight stock that has a modified Monte Carlo cheekpiece and a long, curved pistol grip. This isn’t the right stock for the NP Limited Edition.

The Benjamin NP Limited Edition is really just the Benjamin NPS in a cheaper stock. The problem is that the NPS stock has a very pronounced pistol grip, and the metal parts of the gun are configured for it.

With the Fury’s stock, the trigger is noticeably too far forward. The curved pistol grip is also fat; and with the trigger further forward, you are literally reaching for the trigger, which is also boxy and fat. You cannot get a solid purchase on the trigger. All you get is the side of the square trigger blade. So, I decided to do some trigger modification.

Do trigger work at your own risk! That being said, the first thing I did to modify anything on this gun was to shape and thin the trigger blade on a grinding wheel. With that done, and my elbow up above my ear, I can finally get a solid wrap on it.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition on Ruger Blackhawk Elite
Here is the NP Limited Edition laying on top of my Ruger Blackhawk Elite. Notice the trigger placement when the grips are lined up.

In a nutshell, the NP Limited Edition is a great , but the price you pay — or rather the money you save — is felt in the stock. I contacted Crosman about options for different stock. The gun is worth finding a new stock that compliments it better.

I don’t have the space to do an accuracy test, but the gun is accurate, powerful, quiet and smooth. Overall, I’m satisfied. Based on the reviews of this gun, I knew the money I was saving was in the stock. I’ll look into a custom wood stock. It’s really worth it.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle
Crosman MTR77NP air rifle

Today, I’m testing the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle for accuracy at 25 yards. This is going to be a very different accuracy report, for I have no targets to show you. Well, there is one target, but it wasn’t shot with the test rifle.

What gives?
In the last report, I mentioned that I wanted to mount a different scope on the test rifle and test it at 25 yards. I thought the Bug Buster 3-9x scope would be a good one, and I also shimmed under the rear ring because the rifle was shooting low in the 10-meter test.

I thought the rifle would group about 3 times larger at 25 yards than it had at 10 meters, but I also hoped some pellets might remain tighter than that. What happened, however, was just the reverse. Instead of 3-inch groups I got 5- to 6-inch “patterns.” I won’t call them groups because not all pellets fired even hit the target trap. And when that happens, I stop shooting that particular pellet immediately.

Crosman Premier lites
First up was the pellet I thought had the best chance to do well — the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. They had done well at 10 meters with just 2 pellets outside the main group. Had they held to my 3X size increase, they would have grouped into about 2.2 inches; but when the third shot landed 6 inches away from shots 1 and 2, and then shot 4 landed 5 inches from that pellet, I stopped shooting.

I checked the scope mount to see that it was still tight. It was, and I’m pretty sure this scope is a good one because it has done well in other tests on other airguns. So, Premier lites are out.

H&N Baracuda Match
Next, I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets. But they were no better. They hit the target lower than the Premiers, and 3 shots landed in about a 5-inch pattern. Then, one pellet missed the target trap altogether. I stopped shooting after that shot, but I wasn’t done with this pellet.

I got the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater and deep-seated a couple Premier lites to see what affect that would have. The point of impact changed, but the accuracy didn’t improve. And when the third shot missed the trap, I stopped shooting Baracudas.

RWS Hobby
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which gave such a nice, round group at 10 meters. Two shots landed together, and I thought we were on the right road; then the next shot hit about 6 inches away from them. The 4th shot missed the trap altogether, and I stopped shooting that pellet.

RWS Superdome
By now, I was in a quandary. Was it me or the gun or the scope? I went back to 12 feet from the target and confirmed that the scope was still shooting to the same point, then I went back to 25 yards and tried an RWS Superdome. I had confirmed at 12 feet that the Superdome would be on paper at 25 yards and the first shot was. It landed high, but in good enough position to keep shooting. The next shot missed the paper altogether and I don’t know where it went. That was it for Superdomes.

What to do?
By this point I was really shaken. My confidence was ebbing fast and I needed to end this session on a high note. So I grabbed my Beeman R8 Tyrolean and a tin of Air Arms Falcon pellets and shot a final group of 10 at 25 yards. This one turned out good, as I expected it would. That’s where today’s target comes from. It isn’t the best group I’ve shot with the R8, but it’s a darn sight better than I did with the MTR77NP. Ten shots went into 0.41 inches.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle Beeman R8 group Falcon pellets 25 yards
I shot this 10-shot group of Air Arms Falcons with my Beeman R8 Tyrolean, just to confirm that I still knew how to shoot. It measures 0.41 inches between the 2 centers farthest apart.

What’s next?
I need some time to think about why this rifle might be performing like it is. If one of you made a report like this to me, I would tell you to check the scope because that sure seems like what it is. But I did check the scope and found no problems. The one thing left to do is to crank the elevation down all the way and all the way to the left and shoot a group. If it tightens up, then it was the scope. If not, it’s either the mounts or the rifle.

A little tip
What I did with the R8 today is a handy tip to remember. Sometimes the problem is you — or you wonder if it might be. Shooting a good group with a rifle of known accuracy is the best way to rule that out.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle
Crosman MTR77NP air rifle

Today, we’ll look at the first of 2 accuracy tests planned for the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. As you know, this rifle has no open sights; so, the first thing I did was mount the Centerpoint 4X32 scope that’s included with the gun. That went quick because the scope caps have 2 screws each, but there was no slippage of the scope in the rings during this test.

The scope is very bright as you would expect a 4X scope to be, but at the 10-meter distance I shot in this test, it was fuzzy. The parallax is fixed for a further distance that isn’t indicated on the scope. I can tell from examination that it’s set farther than 25 yards.

I’m testing at 10 meters today and will take the best pellets into the next test, which will be at 25 yards. The first pellet up was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. You will remember from the velocity test that the test rifle shoots considerably slower than its advertised velocity of 1,000 f.p.s. with lead pellets. It went an average of 866 f.p.s. with 7-grain RWS Hobbys.

I discovered that the rifle is shooting low, even with the scope adjusted up high. For the next test, I’ll shim the rear scope ring. That should raise the pellet up far enough.

Crosman Premier lites
At 10 meters, 10 Premier lite pellets made a group that measures 0.721 inches between centers. The group has a main group of 8 pellets within it and 2 flyers, though there were no shots that were pulled. This is a case where a better scope might do better on target because the image was so fuzzy that I might have been off the aim point by 1/8 inch at times.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle Premier lite group
Ten Premier lites went into 0.721 inches at 10 meters. The 2 flyers were not called.

Firing behavior
The MTR77NP fires with a solid thump. There’s no vibration, and the shot cycle is very quick. The recoil through the butt isn’t sharp the way it is on many gas-spring air rifles. And the A2 stock seems to be ideal for handling the recoil of this rifle without stinging your cheek.

Trigger-pull
Now that I’ve shot the gun for accuracy, I can tell you the trigger-pull is very long in stage 2. The pull length of stage 2 is supposed to be adjustable, but I turned in the screw about 7 full turns and nothing changed. It feels like a placebo screw; or if it does adjust anything, the effect is very small.

H&N Baracuda Match
The next pellet I tested was the heavy H&N Baracuda Match. This pellet showed some promise in the velocity test, and I thought it might do well in this rifle. Ten of them went into a group that measured 0.982 inches between centers. Like the Premier lite, there were flyers outside the main group, though I did not see them when shooting. I’m beginning to think that the next test needs to be conducted with a different scope.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle H&N Baracuda Match group
Ten Baracuda Match went into 0.982 inches at 10 meters. Two flyers in this group, as well.

The scope mounts had loosened by this point in the test. The rings remained tight, but the screws that attach the rings to the base on the rifle loosened up. I tightened them and also checked them after every 5 shots from this point on.

RWS Hobby
Next, I tried 10 RWS Hobby pellets. They went much lower and also to the left. They actually missed the target paper. The group was round and measured 0.826 inches between centers.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle RWS Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobby pellets went into 0.826 inches at 10 meters. This group is quite round, which is a good thing. It dropped below the target paper.

Crosman SSP Hollowpoint
I did check the Crosman SSP hollowpoint that was the lead-free pellet I tested in the velocity test, but after 2 pellets missed the target backer altogether, I stopped shooting. Not the pellet for this rifle.

JSB Exact Express
The last pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain JSB Exact Express dome. I haven’t had much luck with this pellet in the past, but I keep trying it just in case. Alas, the MTR77NP doesn’t like it, either. Ten pellets went into a vertical 1.661 inches at 10 meters. Another pellet to not use in this rifle.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle JSB Exact Express group
Ten JSB Exact Express pellets went into 1.661 inches at 10 meters. Obviously, not a pellet for the MTR77NP.

Evaluation so far
I like the way the rifle feels when it fires. It has good power and a solid thump when it fires. The trigger-pull is long but not too creepy.

The scope leaves a lot to be desired. I think I’ll replace it with a Bug Buster 3-9X scope for the next test, and I’ll shim the rear scope ring before mounting it on the rifle. That should give the rifle the best chance to do well at 25 yards.

Obviously, the pellets to try are the Crosman Premier lite, the H&N Baracuda and the RWS Hobby. The Hobbys will be at their maximum recommended distance, but they may surprise us.

If you like black rifles and have been considering the MTR77NP, I think it’s worth a look. We’ll know better after the next test.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle
Crosman MTR77NP air rifle

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the .177-caliber Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. This rifle has a Nitro Piston, which is Crosman’s gas spring, so it should be interesting. The advertised velocity is 1,200 f.p.s., which we must assume is with a lightweight, lead-free pellet.

Blog reader John asked me if the front sight base is on tight or does if it rotates around the barrel. The one on this rifle is firmly in place, but I thought it would be good to show you how the front sight base is attached to the rifle. It’s part of a synthetic sleeve that goes over the end of the barrel, and I assume it’s held in place by epoxy. That would be the most cost-effective method of doing it. John mentioned the possibility of a splined barrel and jacket, but that has a number of problems. It involves extra manufacturing steps (the cutting of the splines); plus, it runs the risk of being installed in a not-perfectly-straight orientation that would cause a lot of problems with sales and returns. Epoxy has none of those problems and costs very little.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle barrel jacket
With the barrel broken open, you can see the front sight base on the barrel sleeve. This is what John wondered about.

Cocking effort
The advertised cocking effort is 45 lbs. The test rifle cocks with 42 lbs. of effort as measured on my bathroom scale.

Crosman Premier heavy
The first pellet I tested was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. Because this rifle comes in .177 caliber, I had a choice between these and the lighter 7.9-grain Premier lites. I chose the heavier pellets because of the rifle’s power potential; but as you’ll now see, that wasn’t necessary.

Premier heavys averaged 675 f.p.s. through this rifle. The first measured shot from the gun went 705 f.p.s.; but after that, nothing went faster than 681 f.p.s. with this pellet. I threw out the first shot and ran the string from the second shot forward. The high was 681 f.p.s., which happened at the beginning and near the end of the string. The low was 665 f.p.s on the final shot. The spread of shots in this string is 16 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 10.63 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

RWS Hobby
Next, I tested the RWS Hobby pellet that’s used for all legitimate velocity comparisons. It’s not a super-lightweight pellet and is made of pure lead, so the lubricity in the bore is what you want in a diabolo pellet. In the test rifle, Hobbys averaged 866 f.p.s., which is a good velocity for accuracy but a little slow for a rifle that hopes to see 1,200 f.p.s. with super-lightweight pellets.

The spread for this pellet ranged from a low of 856 to a high of 872 f.p.s., for a spread of 16 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 11.66 foot-pounds of energy.

H&N Baracuda
I tested the H&N Baracuda Match next. Normally, a rifle shooting this slow would be considered too weak for Baracudas, but I thought their all-lead content might speed them ahead of the Premier Heavys that are hardened with antimony. And it did! In spite of being 1.15 grains heavier than the Premiers, Baracuda Match pellets averaged 685 f.p.s., which is 10 f.p.s. faster. The range went from 677 to 692 f.p.s., for a total spread of 14 f.p.s.

I think this pellet might surprise us with its accuracy. I certainly intend to include it in the test.

Crosman SSP hollowpoint
The final pellet I tested was the lead-free, super-lightweight Crosman SSP hollowpoint. If anything is going to go 1,200 f.p.s in this rifle, it’s this 4-grain pellet.

They averaged 1094 f.p.s. in the test rifle, but the velocity spread was huge! The slowest pellet went 1018 f.p.s., while the fastest went 1142 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 124 f.p.s. After seeing how this pellet did for accuracy in the Fusion, I’m temped not to test it in the MTR77NP; but if I do a 10-meter test to start with, I could risk it.

Trigger-pull
Now that I’ve had some more time to assess it, I can make a better report on the MTR77NP’s trigger. It’s a 2-stage pull that feels more like a single-stage pull that has some slack before it engages. Stage 2 is very long and has some creep, but not a lot. For you newer readers, trigger travel is when you can feel the blade move and creep is when it stops and starts (is gritty or jerky) throughout the movement. Movement by itself isn’t bad; but with too much creep, you never know what’s happening. The MTR77NP trigger is not too creepy for good trigger control.

Evaluation thus far
I remain optimistic about the MTR77NP. I like the fact that the velocity is not over the top. Perhaps that explains the slightly easier cocking effort of the test rifle. Whatever it is, it fits my idea of what an air rifle should be.

I’m not a fan of gas springs, but there have been a couple I really liked. The Benjamin Legacy and the Benjamin Trail NP with lower velocity are 2 rifles that satisfied my criterion for what a decent air rifle should have and be able to do. Will the NTR77NP follow in their footsteps? We shall see.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle: Part 1

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

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle
Crosman MTR77NP air rifle

With the Christmas season approaching, I’m on the fast track to test several new airguns this month. Today, I want to begin our look at the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. It’s a .177-caliber -only copy of the M16. When I saw this one at the 2013 SHOT Show, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I actually had to break it down to prove it was a breakbarrel spring rifle because the M16 look is so authentic. But for a couple small clues, you would say the same thing.

And now that I own an AR-15, I’m no longer the barnyard Bubba whose last recollection of a military rifle is a Garand or a Mauser. I know what a black rifle looks and feels like, and I tell you — Crosman has nailed it with this one. And, when the barrel is closed, it’s just as solid as the firearm it copies. But the one thing I could not do at the show was cock the gun because the SHOT Show doesn’t allow firearms or airguns that are capable of firing to be displayed. So, the spring unit was out of the gun on display. I’ve been waiting all year for the opportunity that is now before us.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle barrel broken
And here it is, broken open during cocking.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle breech access
The top of the handguard has a slot that gives access to the breech when the barrel’s broken open.

Before I continue, let me tell you this rifle comes in 2 versions — one is the flattop scoped version that I’m now testing, and the other is a version with a carry handle and conventional M16 sights (peep and post). That one is just $10 less than the scoped model, and both of them have Crosman’s Nitro Piston (gas spring) for their powerplant.

This rifle is most like the M16A1 that I remember from my days of “owning” several in Germany. The stock is the triangular A2 that I prefer over all others. Crosman missed an opportunity by not putting a storage compartment in the butt like a real A2 stock has — this one has a solid checkered plate. The handguard is the web-reinforced, tapered cylinder that grips your hand so well — even when wearing gloves! Naturally it has a cocking slot on the bottom and a slot on the top to allow access to the breech when the barrel is broken open. But you can’t see either one from more than 10 feet when looking at the profile.

Not only is the look right on, but the weight is, too. The rifle weighs 7 lbs. on the money without the scope, so you can’t tell it from the firearm. Most of the controls such as the selector switch, charging handle, ejection port cover and bolt release are simply cast into the synthetic receiver, but these days that doesn’t detract much. They still look very realistic. The forward assist is more of a hint than an actual copy, but you don’t pick up on it because of the rifle’s non-reflective finish.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle receiver
The controls are mostly cast in, but look realistic.

The one thing that’s different is the safety switch that’s located ahead of the trigger. It’s a MANUAL safety — thank you very much, Crosman! You decide when to put it on and take it off.

They advertise the cocking effort at 45 lbs., which seems pretty close to what I’m experiencing. This is a gas spring, so you can expect that resistance from the moment the barrel is broken open. That makes the MTR77NP an adult’s rifle, for sure, and the adult had better be ready to work!

One thing I admire about Crosman that hasn’t changed over the years is their institutional memory. They have a morgue of airguns. It’s really a large closet filled with many of their old models, prototypes and some other guns, as well. But it allows them to look at the past and choose what was good for their future endeavors. On this rifle, it was the magazine. They copied the M1 Carbine BB gun magazine that was a removable container for BBs; only on the MTR77NP, it’s for pellets and it’s much larger. Of course, the rifle’s magazine release button is fully functional.

Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle magazine
The magazine provides storage for pellets.

The rifle comes with sling swivels built in, which is probably good, for many hunters may reach for this rifle. Given its potential power, which is rated to 1,200 f.p.s., I think it could be a great hunting gun if the gun is also accurate. Remember, you can leave a gas spring cocked for hours without degradation.

Scope
This rifle has no sights, so of course it comes with a Centerpoint 4X32 scope and mounts. The scope appears clear and bright upon initial examination, but I’ll give you a more detailed report when I test the gun for accuracy. It has a duplex reticle with mil-dots.

It also comes with scope rings. But unlike the photo that’s lithographed on the box, the rings have 2 screws per cap instead of 4. And everything clamps to a 1913 Picatinny rail that will accept Weaver mounts, as well.

Initial reaction
Of course, I tried the gun. I cocked and fired it a couple times just to familiarize myself with its operation. The Nitro Piston causes a heavy lunge forward on firing, but there’s very little vibration. The report is a bit louder than many powerful spring rifles. That may be due to the gas spring that always sounds a little snappier than rifles that have coiled steel springs.

The 2-stage trigger is crisper than most, though stage 2 does have some travel. But there’s very little creep in the movement. I believe I can do good work with this rifle.

This should be a fun gun to test because it’s so different from the rest of them. It’s a blend of the good old days of lookalike airguns and modern magnums. Let’s hope they chose the best of both worlds!

Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4a
Part 4b
Part 5

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

We’re certainly getting a good look at the Benjamin Trail NP pistol! While the title says this is Part 6, it’s actually the 7th report because Part 4 was so large it had to be broken into two parts.

Let’s look at the performance of the pistol after break-in. This test pistol has been shot so much that it’s now broken in, so today we’ll look at the velocity. Crosman says in the owner’s manual that the pistol needs several hundred shots before it’s fully broken-in, and this gun certainly has that many shots through it.

They also say the gun will become quieter after a break-in, and the test pistol is certainly quiet now. Apparently, some guns have detonated and surprised their owners, so Crosman is being conservative in its explanation. The test Trail NP pistol has never been very noisy.

I’ll report the velocity of each pellet before and after the break-in period, so you can compare them.

RWS Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. It’s normally the fastest lead pellet in almost any airgun.

RWS Hobby pellets

Crosman SSP hollowpoint
The Crosman SSP hollowpoint is a 4-grain, lead-free pellet that’s shaped like a wadcutter but with a deep hollow point. Being so light, it’s a real speed demon.

Crosman SSP hollowpoint pellets

Crosman Powershot Penetrators
Crosman Powershot Penetrators are synthetic-jacketed pellets that have a metal core. They weigh 5.4 grains and loosely fit the bore of the Trail NP pistol.

Crosman Powershot Penetrator pellets

Crosman SSP pointed
Crosman’s SSP pointed pellet is another 4-grain, lead-free pellet. You’d expect it to have about the same performance as the SSP hollowpoints, but this pellet isn’t sized as well as the hollowpoint. Consequently, they fit the bore variably, which affects the velocity.

Crosman SSP pointed pellets

JSB Exact RS dome
The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. It weighs 7.3 grains and fits the bore loosely.

JSB Exact RS domed pellets

So there you have it. All 5 of the pellets shot slower after the break-in, and all but one had more consistent velocity spreads. Clearly the Benjamin Trail NP pistol does break in as the company states in the owner’s manual.

This report has been a look into the performance of a spring-piston air pistol as it breaks in. We’ve seen the way to maximize the accuracy of the airgun, and we’ve learned how to overcome the too-tall front sight post. I hope this experience has been of benefit to the new shooters and perhaps provides a template of how a spring gun breaks in.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swiss Arms P92 replica pistol
Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

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New .22-cal. Sheridan!
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