Posts Tagged ‘Crosman SSP pellets’

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

• Rifle was set up
• The hold
• Accuracy
• A hunter’s rifle
• Comparison with the first rifle

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

This is accuracy day with the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 rifle — the one Crosman sent especially for this test. We’ve already seen how this second rifle exceeds the power of the first one, so today we’ll see what impact that has on accuracy. As with the first rifle, I’ll shoot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets exclusively in this test.

Rifle was set up
When I unboxed the scope, I found the rings already installed in the correct location, meaning I could install them directly on the rifle. That proves this rifle has been tested and set up before I received it. The scope went on quickly, and I found it was very close to being sighted-in; but the inability to focus the target as close as 25 yards was a hinderance to aiming. I estimate my groups were a quarter-inch larger than they needed to be because I couldn’t see well enough to put the crosshairs on an exact spot. The scope arrived set at 4X, which indicates the rifle was tested at 10 meters or yards before it was sent. At 25 yards, I wanted to see the bull more clearly, so I adjusted it to 9X. But as I said, the focus was off because the scope is parallax-adjusted for a longer distance.

The hold
I refined the sight setting and proceeded to test the hold I thought would do best — based on results from the first rifle’s test. I also tried several other holds and hand placements, establishing one thing for certain. The NP2 wants to be held firmly. Do not use the artillery hold. Instead, I found it best to slide my off hand out to almost the end of the stock and grip the forearm firmly. I can feel the forearm screw holds on the tips of my thumb and fingers, so I know my hand is in the same place every time. Any hold that wasn’t firm allowed pellets to rise vertically. I fired probably 30 shots testing just the different holds and pressures.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Artillery hold group
When I used the classic artillery hold, this is what I got at 25 yards — every time! They’re all in line but off vertically. The NP2 wants to be held firmly.

Accuracy
I then shot three 10-shot groups using the factory scope. The best of them measures 1.104 inches between centers, and the worst measures 1.168 inches. I really tried to do well, but the blurriness of the target did cause my aim to be off.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best factory scope group
The best 25-yard group using the factory scope and the best hold measures 1.104 inches between centers. No, I didn’t get the images mixed up. This group is slightly smaller than the one below.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst factory scope group
The worst group with the factory scope isn’t much different than the best. Ten Premiers went into 1.168 inches at 25 yards.

I felt the factory scope was hindering my best efforts, so I swapped it for an older CenterPoint 3-9X40 with an adjustable objective. This scope is one CenterPoint no longer carries. It’s a simple scope without an illuminated reticle; and other than the larger objective lens and the AO, it’s close to the scope that came with the rifle.

I allowed a day to pass between the first shooting session and the second because too much concentration makes me lose my edge. The next day, I shot another four 10-shot groups, plus some more sighters to get the scope shooting where I wanted. On this second day, my groups ranged from 0.895 inches between centers to 1.483 inches. I learned as I went, refining the hold that seems to be critical with the NP2. The worst group, for example, came when I experimented with the firmness of the offhand grip.

By the end of the session, I knew what this rifle wants — a firm hold of the off hand as far out on the forearm as you can comfortably hold and a firm hold of the pistol grip. Pull the butt into your shoulder firmly. This is not a death grip — just a firm hold, and it seems to be what the NP2 wants.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best new scope group
The best group with the second scope measures 0.895 inches between centers at 25 yards. The second-best group was almost the same size as this.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst new scope group
The worst group with the second scope measures 1.483 inches between centers at 25 yards. I was experimenting with the firmness of my grasp during this group.

I’m not through with this rifle, yet. Each one of my second-session groups contains a large cluster of shots that are very close, then some strays that wander off — usually down, but not always. I think I’m close to understanding what this rifle wants, but I’m not there yet. I think it needs a very repeatable offhand grasping pressure. I’ll give it one more session and also shoot some different pellets next time — to see if I have been missing anything by shooting Crosman Premiers exclusively.

A hunter’s rifle
I have seen rifles like the NP2 before. They take some getting used to, but they reward the shooter with incredible accuracy once their secrets are learned. They’re rifles for hunters who use only a single rifle for all their needs. For the price this air rifle costs, I don’t think you can get one that’s any better.

Comparison with the first rifle
The first NP2 also took getting used to; but when I did, it gave me a best 25-yard group of 0.704 inches at 25 yards. So far, this rifle has given a best of 0.895 inches. Both rifles seem to want to do better, but I haven’t discovered quite how, just yet.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

• Here we go, again
• Out of the box
• Cocking
• Barrel bushings
• Scope base welds
• Pillar bedding!
• Good to go
• Crosman Premiers
• Beeman Kodiaks
• Crosman SSP
• Trigger
• Evaluation thus far
• Reminder from PyramydAir.com

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Here we go, again
Today, I’m starting our look at the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. This rifle was sent from Crosman to Pyramyd Air especially for me to test, so we know that it’s the absolute best that they can do with the NP2 design. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that. I’m telling all the Crosman ankle-biters that I do acknowledge that this rifle has been thoroughly examined by Crosman before sending it to me — just to stop them from saying it. This is the same thing I recently did with the Daisy 880.

The first NP2 I tested came straight from the factory and was completely random. And you saw how well it turned out. You also saw that it needed a little time to break in before the cocking effort dropped to where we thought it should be. You also saw how I had to learn to hold the rifle for best accuracy. That shouldn’t happen with this one because I know how to hold it now.

I do plan on installing the scope that comes packed with the rifle for my test. We had one negative reader comment about me switching the scope on the other rifle, and doing it this way should end that complaint.

Out of the box
Several of you asked me to go over the second rifle thoroughly to see how it differs from the first rifle I tested. This rifle is also a .22-caliber model in a wood stock; so from the outside, it appears very much the same. But one curious thing I noted is that this rifle does have a wood screw holding the front of the triggerguard to the stock. You may remember I showed you the other rifle didn’t have the screw, even though the triggerguard has a hole for it.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 triggerguard
This photo shows both screws in the triggerguard.

I went over the entire rifle, looking for differences, but none came to light. I shined a tactical flashlight down the muzzle and noted that the baffles are not obstructing the muzzle. So, the rifle seems good to go.

Cocking
I cocked it, just to see how that felt, and I was transported back to the SHOT Show! This rifle cocks with between 25-27 lbs. of effort. I found the barrel pivot joint was too loose for the barrel to remain in place after the rifle has been cocked. You normally want it to stay in one place, but I say that advisedly, because this NP2 might teach us a thing of two. Crosman designed this rifle with a pivot bolt instead of just a plain pin, so the pivot joint can be tightened whenever necessary. I took the action out of the stock to do this, and that’s when I noticed a number of things.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 pivot bolt
The NP2 barrel pivot bolt is slotted so it can be tightened. That wasn’t necessary on the rifle I’m testing.

Barrel bushings
First, the barrel does indeed have a screw, but it was already tight on this gun. Then, I shined a flashlight through the action forks and the breech joint and noticed that there are probably bearings (what some would call shims) at the pivot joint. So, the barrel can be tight and yet still flop up and down after it’s cocked. We need to learn from this; because if this rifle is accurate, Crosman has done something new. Their barrel may be looser than other breakbarrels of the past and yet still be accurate.

Scope base welds
The welds on the scope base are much more visible on this second test rifle. I know that Crosman did take action on this issue right away after the first guns were launched.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 scope base welds
The scope base welds are much more visible on this new rifle. They’re the bright lines under each foot on the base.

Pillar bedding!
Second, I found a u-shaped piece of steel on the floor after removing the stock. When I examined the stock, I found out what it is — pillar bedding! We’ve recently discussed this on this blog, and Crosman has apparently gone and done it. The interesting thing is that they didn’t mention it in their advertising! How could they have missed announcing an important feature like this? Shooters are paying hundreds of dollars to have their rifles pillar bedded, and Crosman has gone and done it for free and kept it a secret!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing
This u-shaped bushing or spacer serves as a pillar to separate the triggerguard screw from the action. This is pillar bedding on an airgun!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing in stock
When the steel bushing is in the stock, it’s impossible to over-tighten the rear stock screw. This is how pillar bedding works. It keeps the wood from being crushed.

The 2 forward stock screw heads bear directly against the wood of the stock, so they’ll need washers to spread their load; but the NP2 is bedded better than 80 percent of the top-end spring rifles on the market.

Good to go
I assembled the rifle and found the barrel does not wobble side to side, yet it still flops after it’s cocked. This means the barrel pivot joint is adding very little resistance to the cocking effort. Now, it was time to start the velocity test.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that I believe will be one of the most accurate pellets for this rifle. Ten of them averaged 823 f.p.s. — a whopping 78 f.p.s. gain over the broken-in velocity of the first test rifle. And the cocking effort is still 5-7 lbs. lighter!

Best of all, Premiers varied by only 5 f.p.s. over the 10-shot spread — from 821 to 826 f.p.s. That’s phenomenal! It’s in PCP territory, and I’m talking about a regulated gun. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 21.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Beeman Kodiaks
Next, I tried 21.1-grain Beeman Kodiaks. As powerful as this rifle is, it should handle them okay. They averaged 646 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 19.46 foot-pounds. The spread for this heavyweight pellet was 12 f.p.s., ranging from 639 to 651 f.p.s.

You might wonder why I didn’t test the JSB Exact RS dome in this rifle since I did test it in the first rifle. The reason was the poor performance we saw in that first velocity test. I decided to switch to the Kodiaks rather than test a pellet that might not be suited to this powerplant.

Crosman SSP
The last pellet I tested was the 9.5-grain lead-free Crosman SSP pointed pellet. They averaged 1023 f.p.s. from the NP2, with a 55 f.p.s. spread that ranged from 992 f.p.s. to 1047 f.p.s. This is getting up close to the 1100 f.p.s. velocity that’s printed on the outside of the NP2 box. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 22.08 foot-pounds of energy.

Trigger
The trigger on this new test rifle feels very similar to the one I tested on the first rifle. The first stage is long and heavy, measuring 3 lbs., 6 oz. to stage 2. Stage 2 was breaking at over 6 lbs. out of the box, but I adjusted it to 4 lbs., 4 oz., which is exactly the same as the first trigger. This is a very good trigger for a sporting airgun — especially considering the price!

Evaluation thus far
This is more like the rifle I shot back in January. I think anyone would be happy with this one; and if they aren’t, then they should reconsider getting a gas-spring air rifle altogether. I sure hope this rifle is at least as accurate as the first one turned out to be.

Reminder from PyramydAir.com
Pyramyd Air’s marketing department wants to remind our blog readers that today (Mon. 6/30/14) is the last day you can enter their Son of a Gun Giveaway for the June prize, which is the Benjamin NP Limited rifle!

They’ve now started their 4th of July countdown of deals! There’s a special coupon that lets you combine a discount with their free shipping promotion and you’ll get double Bullseye Bucks. Plus, more deals are going to coming via email. If you’re not signed up to receive their email promos, go to Pyramyd Air’s home page and enter your email address in the space to the left of the word SUBSCRIBE.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

• Accuracy day…part 2
• Things that were done
• Sight-in
• Ten meters
• The hold
• 25 yards
• Velocity with Premiers
• Overall evaluation

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Accuracy day…part 2
Today, we return to the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 air rifle. I think I’ve solved all the mysteries and finally got the rifle to shoot the way it should. You be the judge.

Things that were done
Several things were done to make the rifle ready for today’s test. First, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a bronze bore brush. To do that, I removed the barrel shroud and the baffles, so access to the barrel was easy. I cleaned from the breech. Since the NP2 has a gas spring, I could leave it cocked as long as I wanted without hurting the spring.

Next, I replaced the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope that comes with the rifle for an older CenterPoint 3-12X40 scope that has an adjustable objective. Now, I was able to focus the scope on the target at 25 yards. CenterPoint no longer carries this scope that was made by Leapers, but it’s equivalent to this 3-12X40 UTG scope with AO, except that my scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle.

I shimmed the replacement scope with one thin slice of plastic under the scope tube at the rear ring; because when I removed the factory scope, I noticed that it was adjusted toward the top of its range. I just wanted to make sure the reticle wasn’t floating in the replacement scope because the NP2 has a healthy jolt when it fires. No vibration, but there’s definite movement.

I tightened all the stock screws but found they were mostly tight already. That was when I noticed there’s no front triggerguard screw. The rear screw is the one that holds the action to the stock, and the front has no screw at all — yet there’s a hole in the guard for one. Some companies might be tempted to put a wood screw there to fool you, but that would just invite stripping the hole in the wood stock since the front screw is nearly always the one that gets tightened. Crosman made it foolproof.

06-25-14-02-Benjamin-Trail-Nitro-Piston-2-triggerguard
The front triggerguard screw doesn’t exist. The rear screw holds the action in the stock, and the front hole is blank.

Sight-in
I sighted-in at 12 feet and was on paper with the first shot. In all, I fired four shots to get where I wanted to be at 10 meters. I continue to shoot .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellets in this rifle for this whole test. Once I was sighted-in, I backed up to 10 meters and shot a 5-shot group.

Ten meters
I was still experimenting with holds at this point. I had already spent a whole day shooting the rifle with the factory scope and trying different holds (I didn’t tell you about that day or bother to report it), but a comment from a reader got me thinking. Reader Ben told me to hold the rifle more firmly and also to slide my off hand farther out under the forearm. He reminded me of what I knew but had temporarily forgotten — namely that gas spring guns need a different hold. So, I followed Ben’s suggestions, and they resulted in a 0.319-inch 5-shot group at 10 meters!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 10 meter group
Five Premiers at 10 meters went into 0.319 inches.

Okay, that’s just at 10 meters. I know a lot of you do shoot at that distance, and I also know that many people shoot 5-shot groups. This is what the NP2 can do at that distance with 5 Premier pellets.

But you really want to see what it can do at 25 yards. And you want to see 10-shot groups. I adjusted the scope reticle down for 25 yards and started shooting.

The hold
Before I continue, let me describe the hold I’m using today. It’s not an artillery hold. I’m grasping the pistol grip firmly, but not with a death grip. And my off hand is slid out far enough that it’s touching the sling swivel on the forearm. I don’t grasp the forearm tightly, but I do grasp it with my fingers. Having my hand out that far, the rifle doesn’t want to move left or right. So, when the off hand gets settled, the crosshairs stay on target as I relax.

Relaxation is very important with the NP2. Every time I became anxious about where the next shot was going, I threw it wide. But when I relaxed, the shot went to the aim point, as you’ll soon see.

25 yards
The first group of 10 went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group fired in the last test, which tells me that something I did helped out. Cleaning the barrel, tightening the screws, changing the scope or changing the way the rifle is held seems to have made the difference. But I thought the rifle could do even better.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 1
The first group of 10 Premiers from 25 yards went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group from the previous test!

The second group is larger than the first, but the 3 pellets that missed the main group were all from my tension. When I relaxed, all the pellets went into the central group. Ten shots went into 1.333 inches, but the central 7 are in 0.656 inches. I think they represent the true accuracy of the NP2. This is the importance of relaxing when shooting this particular air rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 2
This group was the most revealing. When I shot totally relaxed, the pellets went to the central group. When I tensed up for any reason, they went wide. Ten shots in 1.333 inches and 7 in 0.656 inches. I believe the NP2 can shoot as well as the central group indicates.

But you’re skeptical, and I would be, too. The concentration needed for every shot (making certain I was relaxed) was tiring me, but this rifle deserved the best I could give, so I shot one more 10-shot group at 25 yards. This time, I relaxed for each shot — the way I would tell someone else to do. You know — do as I say! This time, 10 pellets went into 0.704 inches. This, I believe, represents the level of accuracy of which this particular Benjamin Trail NP2 is capable.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 3
This time, I concentrated on the hold and relaxed for every shot. Ten pellets went into 0.704 inches at 25 yards.

Velocity with Premiers
One last thing to do. I told you that the cocking effort had dropped to 32 lbs. after the last accuracy report. With all the shooting I’ve done the rifle now has over 150 shots on the powerplant. I tested it again today, and it still cocks right at 32 lbs. The last velocity test had Premier pellets averaging 793 f.p.s. with a 40 f.p.s. spread. This time 10 Premiers averaged 745 f.p.s. and the spread was only 8 f.p.s.!

I know the gun shoots slower now; but given the wide variation before, I think it’s now settled into what it’s going to do. At 745 f.p.s., the Premier cranks out 17.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Overall evaluation
I think Crosman has made a nice new breakbarrel rifle with the NP2. It doesn’t vibrate, it cocks easier than other gas-spring guns in its power range, the trigger is crisp, the report is quiet and the rifle is accurate. For $250, this is about as nice a spring gun as you can find.

Yes, the power is not at the level Crosman advertises; and yes, the gun does kick — but it still gives you a lot of value for the money spent. The bad press at launch time is going to keep some shooters from giving the NP2 a try. That’s too bad because this is a rifle many of them would like.

I’ve tested this rifle openly and allowed you to see exactly what happened, as it happened. Crosman has sent another NP2 for me to test and I plan on testing that one for you as well. So, it ain’t over yet.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Lots of interest
• Mounted the scope
• The scope
• Initial accuracy
• Examine the baffles
• Back to Premiers
• Conventional artillery hold not right
• Found the secret
• Cocking effort
• Trigger
• Firing behavior
• Summary

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Today is like one of those pregnant pauses in a movie. You know what you want the hero (that’s either me or the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2) to say, but he just won’t say it. The poorer the actor, the longer you wait. Not today.

The Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 works!

Oh, there’s a lot to tell, and I’m far from finished with my evaluation, but that’s how the story will end. I want to tell you about the rough and rocky road it took to get to that point — and we aren’t quite there yet.

Mounted the scope
I’m going to start shooting for accuracy, so first I mounted the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope on the rifle. Mounting was easy, and the scope aligned very well. Then, it was time to sight in the rifle. I always start at 12 feet from the target, so I know I’m on paper. I would start at 10 feet, but I have a door jamb at 12 feet, so there you go. The object is to get the pellet to hit in line with the center of the target and as far below the aim point as the center of the bore is below the center of the scope.

It took 3 shots to adjust the scope to the point that I knew the rifle would be close at 10 meters. Next, I set up a bench at 10 meters and proceeded to shoot several more shots — refining the zero. At 10 meters, I want to hit one inch below the aim point so the pellet will be on target at 20 yards. I’m going to shoot from 25 yards today; but as fast as this rifle shoots, it will be on the aim point between 20 and 30 yards, approximately, if I sight-in this way.

A couple more shots, and I was sighted-in. I went back to 25 yards and started shooting seriously.

The scope
Before we move on, I’ll comment on the scope. While it does have clear optics, the parallax isn’t adjusted for 25 yards; so, on 9x the bull was out of focus. One reader asked me for my observation and there it is. I think a scope for a rifle like this should have its parallax adjusted for 20-25 yards if the scope is going to have fixed parallax.

Initial accuracy
I began shooting with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers, as those are the pellets I felt might do the best in this rifle. The first couple shots went to my exact aim point, then they started dropping several inches below. I ended up with a nice group of 6 shots about 2 inches below the aim point and 4 more shots that ranged up to the aim point. All in all, not a very good group. I switched pellets.

I tried JSB Exact Jumbos next; but when the first 3 shots went into 1.50 inches, I stopped shooting. Next were Beeman Kodiak pellets. By shot 3, the group was already larger than an inch and a half, so I stopped. Finally, I tried some RWS Superdomes, and this time I stuck it out for 6 shots. They landed in 2-1/4 inches, and that stopped the whole show. Something was wrong!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Kodiak group
Three Beeman Kodiaks made this group that’s larger than 1.50 inches. The shot at the bottom center is from another pellet shot at a different target.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Superdome group
Six RWS Superdomes landed in 2-1/4 inches. Something was wrong!

Examine the baffles
Whenever I get wild or open groups like these from a gun that has baffles, I suspect the pellets are hitting the baffles or the end cap as they leave the gun. So, I shined a strong light down the muzzle and looked around all the baffles — looking for places where a pellet might have ripped off some of the plastic or left a gray streak. On aluminum baffles, a gray streak is what to look for, but these baffles are plastic, so I thought they might have been cut slightly.

But they looked perfect. They were completely round and there were no marks of any kind. I could see all the way down to the true muzzle of the gun, so I looked at the crown, to see if it was rough or out of round. And that’s when I saw it. Or, rather, I didn’t see it. I was unable to see the whole muzzle! Part of it was obscured by the last baffle! It was not in line with the bore!

The baffles are one cast piece of synthetic, and they’re separate from the shroud tube. I showed them to you in Part 1. They have rubber o-rings on each end of the baffle tube to center the baffles inside the shroud tube. But here’s the rub. The baffles, and not the shroud tube itself, thread onto the end of the barrel. The baffle tube has an end cap that holds tension against the shroud tube. Once the baffles are tight, everything is tight; but it’s still possible for the shroud tube to rotate. If that happens, it’s possible for the baffles to be misaligned with the muzzle of the barrel — or at least it is on my test rifle! All I had to do was rotate the shroud tube about 90 degrees, and then I could see the entire muzzle! It was time to shoot another group.

Back to Premiers
I went back to Crosman Premiers now that the muzzle was clear. The inside of the baffle tube looks like it has more than enough room for even a .25-caliber pellet to pass through without touching, so I figured it would be okay. This time, I shot a much better group of 10, with 8 pellets in 0.915 inches. The last 2 pellets opened the group to 1.748 inches, and they just looked wrong as I watched them fly to a different spot through the scope. Something was wrong, but I didn’t think it was the pellets.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 1
This first 10-shot group of Crosman Premiers has 8 shots within 0.915 inches, and 2 that open the group to 1.748 inches. Something isn’t right.

Conventional artillery hold not right
I switched to H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. This time, they all landed in a nice 1.1357-inch group until the final 2 shots opened it to 1.704 inches. Clearly, something still wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was. However, I was starting to suspect that the conventional artillery hold isn’t right for the NP2.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 FTT group
Ten H&N Field Target Trophy pellets went into 1.704 inches, with 8 of them going into a much smaller 1.135 inches. That’s still not great, but it’s more uniform.

I tried both Kodiaks and Superdomes, again — this time with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag. The results were about what you would expect when resting any breakbarrel springer directly on a bag — 3 shots scattering wide in 2-1/2- to 3-inch groups. Obviously, that’s the wrong thing to do!

I found the secret
I shot another 10-shot group of Premiers and experimented with the hold as I shot. When I firmly held the pistol grip, the group tightened up. When I relaxed in a traditional artillery hold, the shots went wild. The group looks bad at 2.508 inches overall, but 7 of those shots are in 1.042 inches and 5 are in 0.802 inches.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 2
This group taught me what I needed to know. Hold the gun tight, and it groups. Hold it loose, and it scatters pellets everywhere.

Next, I shot another 10-shot group of Premiers, With the pistol grip held tight, 10 shots went into 1.207 inches, with 9 going into 0.835 inches. Eight shots went into 0.514 inches. It’s not a smaller group overall, but there are more shots in the main group. I’m learning how to hold the rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 3
Now, we’re cooking! 10 shots in 1.207 inches, 9 in 0.835 inches and 8 in 0.514 inches! This shows promise!

That was followed by another 10-shot group of Premiers. This time, 10 went into 1.178 inches, and 8 were in 0.721 inches. I was definitely learning how the NP2 wants to be held.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 4
Ten in 1.178 inches, and 8 in 0.721 inches. I am getting to know the NP2.

Cocking effort
I said in Part 1 that the effort to cock the rifle was heavier than I remembered from the SHOT Show, and in Part 2 I gave the effort as 38 lbs. as measured on my bathroom scale. I also said in Part 2 that the rifle seemed to get easier as I tested the velocity, but testing it on the scale once more didn’t bear that out. Well, after today’s shooting, which added more than 70 shots to what was already on the gun, the cocking effort has dropped to 32 lbs. The rifle is getting into the area where it’s worth taking notice! Do you remember that I said it probably needs to be broken in? I may have proven that in this test, but I need to test the velocity, again, just to show that lighter cocking doesn’t also mean a loss of velocity.

After over 70 shots, I found myself tiring from the session, so I stopped; but the rifle didn’t seem that hard to cock. This is a surprising and happy revelation.

Trigger
As I was shooting targets today, I found the trigger very heavy. I’ll try to adjust it lighter next time. It’s still smooth and crisp.

Firing behavior
The gun still shoots dead calm without vibration, but the two-way recoil is very noticeable. I had to tighten the ring caps after the scope slipped 3/8 inch from recoil in the first 15 shots. That was my fault for not tightening the screws enough to begin with.

Summary
These groups are not what I had hoped for, but they do show that there’s a right way to hold the gun. I don’t think I have that hold perfected, yet, but I’m closer than when I began. I actually believe the NP2 is capable of much better groups than those you see today because there are smaller groups that look wonderful in each of the final groups.

Crosman said they were able to get one-hole groups at 35 yards. I’m not there yet, but I’m certainly able to put 5 out of 10 into a single hole at 25 yards. Next time, I’ll shoot only Premiers and will begin the test knowing how to hold the rifle. It should get better from there.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 2

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

Part 1

This report covers:

• Lots of interest
• Crosman’s quality inspection
• Velocity testing
• Cocking effort
• Trigger pull. and adjustment
• Firing behavior
• Quiet
• Evaluation so far

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

There has been a lot of talk about the new Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 since it showed up three weeks ago. Some of that talk has been critical of certain faults. And some of it has been the pile-on of people who just wait to say bad things about a company.

After the first part of this report went live, I received the following email from Jennifer Lambert — Crosman’s vice-president of marketing.

“Tom, I have been reading and appreciating your reviews, the comments, and debate on NP2.  I just wanted to write and clarify some of your comments around the origin of NP2. In your review you imply that the NP2 guns are not made here and that is not accurate.

While it is true that we use a mix of domestically made and imported components in the gun, I can assure you that every gun is built and quality tested right here in the U.S. in our Bloomfield factory. I will snap and send you some photos of the line and would be happy to take you on a tour and personally introduce you to some of the workers on it. And as sales of the Trail ramp up and we bring out more new guns in the NP2 platform, the number of jobs based here will continue to grow

If you have any questions or would like to discuss further please let me know, and keep the analysis coming.”

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 wording
This is the wording that lead me to make my comment in Part 1.

I told Jennifer I would restate my initial report. You can see the wording on the side of the gun. When something is worded like that rather than saying Made in the U.S.A., it draws attention to itself. We know that the parts can be manufactured outside the U.S., then brought in and assembled here. Many airguns are made that way, and I was pointing out that apparently this is one of them. However, after rereading what I said in Part 1, I see that I did go over the line.

I stand by my statement that the phrasing on the rifle means that some of the parts are sourced from outside the U.S. I did not mean to imply that the NP2 was assembled in another country. If I gave that impression, then I want to set the record straight. I do believe that the NP2 rifle is being assembled in the U.S. from parts and assemblies that are sourced from a variety of places — some of which are in this country and others that are not.

Crosman’s quality inspection
What Jennifer told me that I did not know was that Crosman does a quality inspection after assembly on each gun in their plant. I remember when they were launching the very successful Benjamin Discovery in 2007, Ed Schultz set up an assembly line in their New York plant that included a 24-hour pressure test for every gun they built. He said he did that until he was certain they were sealing the guns perfectly.

No company can afford to spend that much time on every airgun they make — it would break them. But when you’re launching a brand new product that has the potential for huge sales and represents an important step forward for the company, you take such measures.

We did the same thing at AirForce Airguns when we launched the new Condor in 2004. I personally tested and recorded the velocity of the first 100 rifles until we were certain that what we produced would always exceed the performance parameters we advertised for the gun. When you’re betting the farm on something, you take extraordinary steps to ensure your bet is a safe one!

Velocity testing
The first pellet I tested in the NP2 was the .22-caliber Crosman Premier, a medium-weight pellet. Ten shots averaged 793 f.p.s. with a spread from 767 to 807 f.p.s. So, a spread of 40 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 19.97 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The second pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. Since it weighs 13.43 grains, you’d expect it to go faster than the 14.3-grain Premiers; but these pellets averaged 752 f.p.s. in the NP2. The spread went from 741 to 764 f.p.s., so 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity, these pellets generate 16.87 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

The third pellet I tested was Crosman’s own SSP lead-free alloy pellet. At 9.5 grains weight, these are the pellets you’d expect to go the fastest. Crosman advertises 1100 to 1200 f.p.s. with alloy pellets for this rifle, depending on where you look. [Note: The box states 950 f.p.s. with lead, 1100 f.p.s. with alloy pellets. The Crosman website states 900 f.p.s. with lead, 1200 f.p.s. with alloy pellets.] In the test rifle, they averaged 949 f.p.s. and spread from 939 to 964 f.p.s. A 25 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 19 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I know there will be a cry of “foul” on these numbers because of the advertised velocity, but in my opinion, this is exactly where I want this rifle to be. If it shoots this fast and is also accurate, the NP2 is definitely worth consideration. I’m on record as saying the same thing about the Walther LGV Challenger when I tested it back in 2013, so at least I’m consistent.

Cocking effort
I measured the cocking effort after publishing Part 1 and found it to be 38 lbs. But during this velocity test, it seemed like I was growing stronger. So I measured the effort again, and it still measures 38 lbs. What’s different now is much of the cocking friction has gone from the stroke. It actually does feel lighter now than it did before.

How does that compare to other gas-spring rifles? The powerful ones cock with between 40 and 60 lbs. of force, so the NP2 is definitely on the lighter side. To put it into perspective, it cocks about like a Beeman R1 after break-in.

Trigger-pull
I said in Part 1 that the trigger-pull was creepy. So, I adjusted the single screw located behind the trigger. I unscrewed it about 2 full turns and the trigger became exactly like the one I tested at the SHOT Show. It now has a long first-stage pull that measures 3 lbs., 4 oz., then a crisp second stage that releases at 4 lbs., 4 oz. You can take up the first stage and just wait at stage 2 until you’re ready to fire. Then, just one pound more fires the gun. I really like this trigger!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 trigger
Turn the screw behind the trigger blade counterclockwise, and the first stage gets longer, while stage two becomes crisper.

Firing behavior
Experienced airgunners won’t believe how smooth this rifle is. The pulse of the shot is strong (a strong two-way push), but there’s no vibration. It’s dead smooth! You would pay hundreds of dollars to get a coiled spring gun this smooth.

Quiet!
The test NP2 is very quiet! The shooter hears the noise through the stock against his face, but a bystander hears a much lower discharge sound. During velocity testing, I was also assaulted by the instant hit of the pellet in the trap in front of me. I suspect that when I shoot for accuracy, I’ll get a better feeling for the sound.

Evaluation so far
I’m no longer at the SHOT Show. I’m in my office where I can control the testing and the evaluation. People are not telling me things — I’m finding them out on my own. And the Nitro Piston 2 I have is testing very well.

Sure you can make a big deal out of the velocity being lower than advertised. But I never wanted that advertised velocity to begin with. I wanted what this gun has — solid numbers in the 750-800s with practical .22-caliber lead pellets that I’ll probably use.

The firing behavior and trigger are exactly as they were at SHOT, which is to say stunning for a gas-spring rifle of this power. Although the cocking effort measures higher than expected, it isn’t bad for a spring rifle that shoots this fast.

Yes, there have been some quality problems in the first batch of guns that went out. There were cracks in some plastic parts and some scope bases fell off the guns. If that happened to you, you have every right to be angry; but the rest of the public should know that Crosman is doing something about it. Everyone who experienced a problem with their rifle will be taken care of by Crosman, and you can be sure that they’re refining their in-house quality assurance program to correct future shipments. They want the NP2 to succeed because of how important it is to their business.

I want it to succeed for my own reasons. This is a $250 air rifle, and there aren’t many of them around that have what this rifle has. We need a good gun in this price range, and I’m hoping the NP2 is it.

What remains to be seen is the accuracy. If this rifle is accurate, I will buy the one I’m testing because this is too important an airgun for me not to own.

Daisy 880: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Daisy 880
The Daisy 880 multi-pump is a classic.

This report addresses:

• Mounting the scope.
• Sighting in.
• Accuracy testing.
• Loading problems.
• Summary.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Daisy 880S at 25 yards. As you may recall, Daisy sent this rifle to me to test after I had problems with the velocity of my old Daisy 880, and also with a brand-new one that Pyramyd Air supplied. We tested the velocity of this rifle in Part 4, and it was right where it should be, so we moved on to accuracy 10 meters. That was in Part 5. I showed you the targets Daisy sent, and then targets I shot. I managed to do a little better than Daisy, but on the whole my best targets were comparable to what they sent.

The rifle they sent is an 880S that has a 4X15 scope and rings included. I thought it was identical to the 880, but a sharp reader pointed out the 880S rifle doesn’t have fiberoptic sights. If you want plain sights, this is the model to get. And the first step for today’s test was to mount the scope.

Mounting the scope
I’ve had other scopes that were difficult to mount, but this one ranks right there with the worst of them! The small, thin clamping jaws gave me fits when I tried to attach them to the scope rail. It took me 15 minutes of repeated tries to get the scope to clamp to the rifle, and even then the scope was pointed off to the right. I remounted it and had the same problem. Up to this point the scope, was still clamped tight in the rings, which may have been the problem.

I loosened the scope tube in the rings and found that it really helped with positioning. Finally, after about 25 minutes, I managed to get the scope mounted reasonably straight. Loosening the rings was the key. However, even at its best, the scope was still pointed to the right.

Sight-in
I looked back at the velocity data for this rifle from Part 4 and decided that 6 pumps per shot would be best. That’s a compromise between velocity and the time it takes to pump the rifle. When you shoot 10-shot groups, each group takes 60 pumps to complete. I was going to be shooting pellets that were mostly lighter than those used in the velocity test, so the rifle would probably be shooting just over 600 f.p.s.

Beeman H&N Match
I sighted-in with Beeman H&N Match pellets. No particular reason for this. From the 10-meter test, I knew that only RWS Hobbys were accurate enough (of those pellets that were used in the 10-meter test) for shooting at 25 yards, and they would be included — but I was almost out of them.

As most of you know, I sight in most airguns at close range, then back up to the target distance I want to shoot when I’m on paper. The first shot from 12 feet landed low and about 3 inches to the left. That’s how far to the right the scope was pointed. If it was off that far at 12 feet, it would be several feet off the target at 75 feet (25 yards). I cranked in a lot of right adjustment; and by the third shot, the pellet hit below the bull at 6 o’clock.

Then, I cranked in a bunch of up elevation. The scope that comes with the rifle doesn’t have click detents, so it was several turns of the adjustment screw. I knew I should now be on target, so I backed up to 25 yards before shooting again. Time to shoot the first target.

The first shot hit the target in the bull but very high up. That was okay, though, because in an accuracy test we don’t care about hitting the center of the target — only in how close the pellets group. When the second shot went to the same place, I stopped checking the target with the spotting scope and just finished the first 10-shot group.

The first 10 shots landed in a group that measures 1.958 inches between centers. That’s not what I was hoping for. I tried my hardest to shoot well; I shot off a rest and with a scope. This was the best I could do with this pellet.

Daisy 880 Beeman H&N Match target
Ten Beeman H&N Match pellets went into 1.958 inches between centers at 25 yards.

RWS Hobby
Next up were the RWS Hobbys. These were by far the most accurate pellets at 10 meters, so they earned a spot in this test. Nine of them went into 1.154 inches at 25 yards, but the tenth shot opened the group up to 2.216 inches. It certainly wasn’t a called flier; but given where the other 9 landed, I think Hobbys showed fair accuracy, overall.

Daisy 880 RWS Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobbys made this 2.216-inch group at 25 yards, but 9 of them went into 1.154 inches, which is fairly good.

So far, the groups were only average or worse. Since I was pumping 6 times for each shot, this test wasn’t going to continue much longer, but I felt the rifle deserved at least one more chance. This time it would be with a domed pellet of known quality — the Falcon from Air Arms.

Air Arms Falcons
The Falcon pellet has shown real promise in some airguns I’ve tested. I hoped that it would also shine in the 880. Since it was the only domed pellet I tried, and since 25 yards is about the maximum distance at which accuracy can be expected with wadcutter pellets, I hoped to see a real star.

Ten Falcons went into 1.482 inches at 25 yards. The group is reasonably round with no fliers, which tells me the Falcon is very stable in the 880. The group is actually the best of this test, though not as good as I’d hoped based on what people had said about their 880 rifles. But, I was shooting 10-shot groups, and they really point out the accuracy potential of an airgun in a way that 5-shot groups often can’t.

Daisy 880 Falcon target
The Falcon group was the smallest of the session at 1.482 inches between centers. Of course, the holes are harder to see because this is a domed pellet.

Loading problems
I had two loading accidents with the Falcons that didn’t occur with any other pellets. Two pellets fell back through the BB loading port and disappeared. They didn’t tie up the gun, but it was disconcerting. Daisy warns about this possibility in the manual, and it happened to me twice in a row. If it happened just once, I’d say, “Shame on me.” But two times in a row is the rifle’s fault.

Daisy 880 hole in breech
The BB feed hole at the back of the 880′s breech is so large that it swallowed 2 Falcon pellets.

Summary
No one can say this rifle didn’t get a fair test! It turns out to be an okay plinker that’s easy to pump and reasonably accurate at close range. I would not choose the scoped model, nor would I mount a scope on any 880 unless my eyes demanded it. A dot sight might be best for those who can’t use the open sights.

The loading of pellets is a real problem area. It isn’t easy under any circumstances, and it’s all too easy to lose a pellet in the action because of the large BB feeding hole. Perhaps the 880 is a better BB gun than a pellet rifle for this shortcoming.

Given all the problems I had, I would have to put the 880 lower on the list of inexpensive multi-pumps than some other brands and models. I think it’s a fine gun for those who appreciate it for what it is, but it’s not a diamond in the rough. Taken for what it is, the 880 will satisfy a purpose and will be a good plinker and informal target rifle.

Daisy 880: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Daisy 880
The Daisy 880 multi-pump is a classic.

This report addresses:

• Examining test targets sent from Daisy with this rifle.
• Accuracy with 3 different pellets.
• Accuracy with BBs.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the brand-new Daisy 880 that Daisy sent for this test. Before we begin, I’ll show the test targets Daisy sent with the rifle. Then, I’ll shoot the rifle at 10 meters with 3 different pellets. Finally, I’ll move up to 5 meters and shoot steel BBs.

Daisy targets
When Daisy sent me the rifle, they included the results of their testing. So, I have 2 targets for the rifle. They did not indicate which target was shot with BBs; but since they used a 10-meter target for the one test and a 5-meter target for the other, I’ll assume the first was shot with pellets and the second with BBs.

The target they shot with BBs was enlarged before they copied it, so it looks larger than its actual size. The black bull is supposed to measure 18.415mm across, but the target they sent measures 25.07mm from side to side. So, it’s approximately 137 percent the size it should be. I’m telling you that because I can’t put a dime next to that target and make any sense out of it.

They also shot just 5 shots per target, where I normally shoot 10. So, my groups should be 40 percent larger than theirs. They did give me the center-to-center measurements for each group, however, so we’ll be able to make some comparisons.

Daisy 880 Daisy BB target
Daisy shot 5 BBs into 0.65 inches at 5 meters with the test 880. Remember, this target appears larger than it really is.

They also sent a 10-meter target they shot with pellets. They didn’t indicate which pellets were used for this test, but I would think they would use Daisy Precision Max pellets — that only makes sense. This 5-shot group measures 0.60 inches between centers.

Daisy 880 Daisy BB target 2
Daisy shot 5 pellets into 0.60 inches at 10 meters with the test 880.

There was no indication of how many pumps were used for either target. I will therefore use my best judgement when I shoot my own groups.

Pellets first
I shot the 880 rested at 10 meters using 3 different pellets. The first was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier dome that was used for the velocity test. I used 6 pumps for each shot with pellets. The rifle was rested in a sandbag rest.

Sight-in took 2 shots because the rifle was shooting low for a 6 o’clock hold. It was also shooting a little to the right, but I didn’t bother correcting that on the first group. Ten Premiers went into 1.037 inches. While not bad, I hope to find another pellet that does better.

Daisy 880 Premier target
Ten Crosman Premier lite pellets went into 1.037 inches at 10 meters. Not a very great group, but there’s the silver dime several of you obsessed over.

Daisy wadcutters
After the first group, I adjusted the rear sight down one notch and over to the left. Next, I tried some old Daisy Superior Match Grade wadcutter pellets. How close they are to the current pellets Daisy sells, I have no idea. Ten of them went into 0.713 inches, which is better than the Premiers and, accounting for my 5 additional shots, also better than what Daisy got.

Daisy 880 Daisy wadcutter target
Ten Daisy Superior Match Grade wadcutters made this 0.713-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Hobby pellets
I felt the rifle had redeemed itself with the Daisy pellets, but I wanted to try just one additional pellet. This next one was an RWS Hobby. When you see what it did, I think you’ll agree with me this was a fortunate choice.

Daisy 880 RWS Hobby target
Ten Hobbys made this 0.458-inch group at 10 meters. Now THIS is a group!

So, the 880 I’m testing can definitely shoot. Both Daisy and I got good results from the rifle with pellets. Let’s see what it can do with steel BBs.

Daisy with BBs
I moved the shooting table up to 5 meters from the target and started shooting with Daisy Premium Grade BBs. At this distance I used 3 pumps for each shot. They were hitting the target right where the top of the front sight was, so I decided to hold for the center of the bull instead of at 6 o’clock. They did hit a little to the left, but it was nothing to be concerned about. Ten BBs went into 0.624 inches.

Daisy 880 Daisy BB target
Ten Daisy BBs went into this 0.624-inch group at 5 meters.

If you check my other BB-gun targets (other than those made by the 499), you’ll see that this gun really groups tight with BBs. I’m surprised it did so well.

Summary
This Daisy 880 can certainly shoot! Next, I’ll mount the scope and back up to 25 yards.

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