by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by B.B. Pelletier
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: Here’s this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 gift card.
When we last left the Rogue, it was shooting groups on the range. Let’s return there today and learn some more of the rifle’s features.
We’ve discussed how the shooter can program the rifle for three bullet weight ranges (100, 145 and 170 grains) and three power levels (low, medium and high). Let’s look at some other things the shooter can do with the power of the gun. For example, if high power just isn’t enough, you can program the Discharge power setting. It’s above the High power setting and was explained to me by Ed Schultz of Crosman as the number 11 on a rock-band amplifier that tops out at 10.
The Discharge setting tells the valve to remain open twice as long as the High power setting for that bullet. Think of it as the analog setting that takes the Rogue back into the world of big bore airguns with mechanical valves. It wastes some air, but it gives you the absolute last word in power, considering the air pressure that remains in the reservoir. So, of course, I tried it!
It turned out to be not as dramatic as it sounded, though I may not have tried it at the place in the pressure curve where it works the best. I had just fired three shots on high power with the Nosler 145-grain bullet, and I had a very nice group starting to form downrange. With the air pressure dropping off, I thought I would boost the power to the discharge setting and shoot the fourth shot at that level to stay in the same group. Here’s what happened:
After these three shots, there was 2,447 psi remaining in the reservoir, so I boosted the power to the Discharge setting and fired the next shot.
Following that shot, 2,197 psi remained in the reservoir. That one shot on the Discharge setting used 250 psi and gave a slightly higher velocity (767, compared to 756 f.p.s.) than the previous high-power shot that had used 99 psi (2546 – 2447).
Complete user manual valve control
You also have the option of controlling the valve yourself. In that case, all programming is suspended. The valve simply remains open as long as you tell it to. Let me differentiate this from how the gun normally works.
The Rogue usually operates by sensing the air pressure remaining in the reservoir and calculating how long the valve needs to remain open, given the bullet weight you’ve selected and the power level you’re trying to achieve. As the air pressure decreases, the valve dwell time (the amount of time the valve remains open) increases to accommodate your selected performance.
When you override the programming by telling the valve how long to remain open, everything else goes out the window. The valve simply remains open that long. You might do this because you’re testing the gun’s performance with a certain bullet and think you can get a better result than the one automatically selected by the software. The dwell time can be manually controlled in increments of five microseconds. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second. It takes 1,000 microseconds to equal one millisecond. If the display reads 2000 microseconds, it means the valve will remain open for exactly 2 milliseconds.
The heart of the beast
Your next choices for time from 2000 microseconds (either longer or shorter) would be 2005 microseconds or 1995 microseconds. These are incredibly short time intervals that give you a lot of control over the valve. For those with a scientific or engineering bent, you’re now looking into the very reason why the Rogue is such a different air rifle. Other big bore valves, when they close, flutter in time increments greater than the intervals at which you can control in this rifle. That is to say — when they close, they can bounce open and closed rapidly several times before the valve closes completely. The Rogue doesn’t do that. It’s either open or it’s closed, and either you or the software controls how long it remains open to a very exacting degree.
There’s simply too much for me to tell you about the Rogue, even in a series of reports, but I know that everyone is interested in its accuracy. Remember the group I mentioned above, where I was shooting a Nosler 145-grain bullet and wanted to keep the velocity in the same place? That was the one where I set shot four to the Discharge setting to keep the velocity stable. Please look at the group I got with that approach.
Three tight shots at 50 yards with the Nosler 145-grain lead bullet. Shot four was with the rifle in the Discharge setting. Though it traveled just as fast as shot three, it strayed outside the tight group.
I also did very well with a 95-grain hollowpoint lead bullet Crosman sent me to test. On Low and Medium power, this bullet was a real tackdriver at 50 yards.
I said before that there’s not enough time left in my life to test this rifle thoroughly. But it’s proven interesting for the approximately 150 shots I’ve been able to shoot thus far. As far as conserving air, I started this test with a full 88-cubic-foot carbon fiber air tank, and it’s still able to fill the rifle to 3,000 psi, so this gun is getting far more shots per fill than any other big bore I’ve ever tested.
However, the progress on the Rogue has not ceased. The engineers at Crosman are still refining the algorithms in the software for even better air conservation. While the gun I’m now testing uses about 90 psi per shot, Crosman now has their testbed rifle using only 50 psi per shot. They’re getting 26 shots at a nominal 100 foot-pounds of muzzle energy (actually 84 to 112 foot-pounds) from 2,360 psi down to 1,098 psi. And they didn’t stop with just that.
The 170-grain bullet is delivering seven solid shots ranging from 196 foot-pounds down to 156 foot-pounds. No other big bore airgun in history has done that! Yes, the Asian 9mm rifles will give eight or nine powerful shots, but the spread of power is considerably greater than what the Rogue is now doing.
By the time they finally release the Rogue, it should be as bulletproof and exciting as it possibly can be. There’s one more thing I want you to think about.
The rifle I’m now testing is one of five pre-production prototype guns Crosman built. This gun has now been fired thousands of times. It has flown on numerous airplanes and has harvested game from around the U.S.A. ranging from 200-lb. wild pigs to gray foxes. It’s been in the hands of dozens of different shooters and, through it all, it still works. That’s as good a recommendation as I can give for any new air rifle.
I believe what Crosman should do is alter the software to allow the owner to program two different shooting programs of his own. This is similar to what can be done with a top-end metal detector or digital camera. The owners will test several bullets and valve dwell times and learn how many shots they can expect from their version of Custom 1 and Custom 2. Talk about making handloading popular!
by B.B. Pelletier
I spent the day at the range last Friday with the Benjamin Rogue. It was like a first date, as I had no idea of what to expect. With other new airguns, there’s always information from the developers or at least there are the physical specifications to go by. With the Rogue, I was starting from scratch.
Oh, the Crosman engineers had been very forthcoming with their testing anecdotes, and as for experience, there was a bundle of it already in the bag from gun writers who both saw and shot the rifle at the SHOT Show on Media Day. Unfortunately, the anecdotes were told to me in Martian — a language without a universal translator. Crosman engineers understood very well what they were saying, but without a common frame of reference, I had no clue. The little field experience there was came from gun writers, as in, “Golly, Jimbo! It’s a three fifty-seven BB gun! Whad’ja think of that?”
What we need, to make sense of this new rifle, is someone who’s shot other big bore air rifles and can compare them. And, in this case, that’s me. So, there I was, on a first date.
Here we go. First, I filled the gun in a very conventional way. The Rogue has a male Foster quick-disconnect fitting, so my standard female Foster fitting on my carbon fiber tank fit without a hitch. I filled to 3,000 psi, because that’s the maximum pressure for which the electronic valve is set. With a Quackenbush Outlaw Long Action rifle with a purely mechanical action, you know the nominal fill limit is 3,000 psi, but every rifle will accept a little more than that. So, your first trip to the range consists of filling to progressively higher levels until the actual fill pressure for your individual rifle is discovered. My Quackenbush .458, for example, takes a max fill of 3,500 psi and gives two powerful shots in the 500+ foot-pound region. Then, it’s time to refill. If you attempt shot three, as my buddy Mac did a couple weeks ago with his .458, you can stick a bullet in the barrel — like he did.
But the Rogue is completely different. The onboard computer controls the firing valve to release exactly the right amount of air, depending on how much air was in the reservoir, the weight of the bullet fired and what you want the gun to do. You control all this through commands that you input into the onboard controller. When they say the max fill is 3,000 psi, it really is!
Crosman sent me bags of several different lead bullets to try, plus Nosler shipped me a sufficient quantity of their new Benjamin eXTREME Bullet with Ballistic Tip. It’s a 145-grain lead bullet designed expressly for the Rogue. One look at it and you know that someone who knows big bore airguns had a hand in its design.
Nosler’s eXTREME bullet with ballistic tip for the Benjamin Rogue is designed to create minimum friction with the bore by touching the lands only at the driving bands. A hollow cavity in the base obturates when the rifle fires, sealing all the gas behind the bullet — just like a Minie ball — for maximum efficiency.
This is the round that shocked all the gun writers at the 2011 SHOT Show Media Day, when it outperformed a .223 AR-15 on a coyote silhouette at 75 yards. The fast-moving, lightweight centerfire bullets simply exploded on the steel target, while the big Nosler hammered down the silhouette every time. Of course, the smaller bullet was simply vaporizing too quickly to transfer its energy to the heavy steel target, even though it actually delivered many times the impact energy of the Rogue. But seeing the airgun flatten the steel silhouette was the mental impression the writers carried away.
This is the bullet I selected to begin testing. I know what you want right now is a chart of velocities with the bullet. Well, I can’t give that to you — yet. There’s more testing to be done, as you’ll see shortly.
What I can tell you is that, when the rifle was at 2,421 psi and the power was set to medium with a 145-grain bullet programmed, the Nosler bullets went 760 f.p.s. on the first shot and 700 f.p.s. on shot six. The pressure dropped from shot one (2,421 psi) to the end of shot six (1,773 psi). Each shot used just over 100 psi of air. Although I didn’t have to, I stopped after shot six and I’ll tell you why.
I’d chosen this pressure and power setting with the Nosler bullet to shoot a group at 50 yards. But like I said, this was a first date and you sometimes don’t find out what you need to know until you go too far, so I kept shooting at the target until shot six strayed way over to the right, opening the group from about 1.5 inches to 3.2 inches, effectively doubling the group size. This wasn’t the first group I had shot, and by this time I knew that when the bullets went to the right, they were not coming back.
The first three shots can almost be covered by a quarter or a Euro. Shots four and five moved to the left, while shot six moves way to the right. Had I continued to shoot the shots would probably have continued to the right or started dropping lower on the paper.
Let’s take a closer look at that target. Within the group listed and shown above, the first three shots clustered in 0.736 inches between centers. In fact, two of those three shots took out the exact center of the target. In this group, which began at 2,421 psi on medium power using the 145-grain Nosler, I got a superb three-shot group, a good five-shot group and indications that shot six and all that followed were going to open the group much larger. For the record, the first shot produced 186.02 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, while shot six produced 157.8 foot-pounds. Shot five, which was where I would stop in the future with these settings and bullet, went 724 f.p.s. and produced 168.81 foot-pounds. All of that was on medium power with a starting pressure of 2,421 psi.
Is this a bit confusing? It was to me at the beginning of the test. When you think about all the possibilities this system offers, you’ll see that you could spend the rest of your life exploring the possibilities and never test them all. After shooting over 50 rounds, it began to sink in what I was doing and how this gun really works.
You could spend the rest of your life exploring the possibilities and never test them all.
How the Rogue works
You tell the gun what weight bullet you’re using, from a choice (with the current software) of 100 grains, 145 grains or 170 grains. Set the number as close as you can to the actual weight bullet used. Then, you tell the gun to shoot on low, medium or high power. The rifle knows how much air is in the reservoir, so it factors that into the equation to determine how long to leave open the firing valve to give as consistent a velocity as possible for as many shots as possible — all things considered.
However, you don’t just set these controls without thinking. For example, if it’s power you want, use the heaviest bullet available, set the gun for 170 grains and high power. If you want lots of shots, select a lighter bullet, a lighter grain setting, and a medium or even low power.
Let’s set the numbers and settings aside for a moment. There’s also the target to consider. If you can generate big numbers but have an open group downrange, it doesn’t help you very much. What you’re looking for is the right bullet at the right power, given the right pressure in the gun for the best results downrange, and that takes some time to figure out. What I’ve shown you to this point is one of about ten such test targets that I shot and tracked last Friday. When I can make more sense out of the rifle’s performance curves, I will report it.
Yeah, but how many shots does it get?
Some folks don’t want to see behind the curtain. They just want results. Right now! For them, I offer the following. Here are the first 13 shots I fired with 145-grain Noslers on medium power before the rifle was sighted-in. I started from a 3,000 psi fill and just kept shooting shot after shot. I think the picture will explain itself.
Here are 13 shots in rapid succession at 50 yards. All are the 145-grain Nosler bullets. Note the tight central group, then the two shots above that group and the two below. The four outlying holes were the last four shots fired, with the bottom two being shots 12 and 13. As the reservoir pressure declines below a certain point for each bullet, the group starts to open up. Although I was chronographing these shots, the chrono was misbehaving, so I didn’t get any of the velocities until shot six, which was 705 f.p.s.
On this same day, I also tried bullets weighing 90 grains, 127 grains, 167 grains and 178 grains. I’ll report on their performance in the future, but as you can see, there’s a lot of detail to the testing I’m doing. I don’t want to report anything until I can make sense of it for you.
The longest string
The longest string I shot all day without topping off was 16 rounds. But I changed bullets and power settings in that string, so it can’t be taken as a whole. It’s really three tests rolled into a single fill. But 16 shots on a fill is more than I’ve ever gotten on a big bore of any kind, even from those older lower-powered guns — like the Farco — that use CO2.
The range session ended when I attempted to shoot a hard-cast .357 bullet in the rifle. It would not enter the bore, stopping at the beginning of the rifling. Hard-cast bullets are used by those who wish to handload .357 Magnum pistol rounds to higher velocities because they don’t melt and deform at the base like softer bullets do. But they also take far more energy to engrave the rifling into the bullet, and that was why I couldn’t load this one. It got stuck in the bore. Since I didn’t have a steel rod to push it out, that ended the session for the day. Note to self — always carry a GI sectional cleaning rod in case this happens again, and DON’T use hard-cast bullets in the Rogue!
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