Posts Tagged ‘shroud’

Benjamin Marauder, .25 caliber – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would B.B. do? Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

I’m on the 50-yard range with my Talon SS.

If you guessed that this was what I was going to write about today, good for you. I certainly left enough clues. And by “clues,” I mean hitting you over the head until you were bloodied by all the obvious references to what I am about to show.

The Talon SS stock DOES NOT have to be modified
But before we get to that, I told you back in Part 1 that I would be showing you things about the .22 caliber AirForce Talon SS that have never been seen before. Here’s one of them now. You know how people are always inventing things to “fix” AirForce airguns because the factory isn’t smart enough to do it right to begin with? Well, I used to stand in their booth at both the SHOT Show and at the NRA Annual Meetings; and whenever someone would come up and complain about how they couldn’t get their head down far enough on the stock of one of these rifles, they didn’t want to run into me! But some of them did, to their misfortune.

When I asked them to demonstrate the problem they shouldered the rifle with the buttplate squarely in their shoulder joint, like they would hold Winchester 1894. But the AirForce rifles are not Winchester 1894s, and they don’t respond to being held like one. If you try to hold one of them that way, the scope doesn’t come up high enough and you have to lean your head way over to the side to see the scope picture. The only time holding like that works is when you’re seated at a bench.

But if you hold it the way I’m going to show you today, you can mount the scope as low as possible and still have plenty of elevation for your sighting eye when shooting in the offhand position. It’s all in how you plant the butt on your shoulder.

Just above your collarbone, there’s a small pocket of meat that will hold the toe of the AirForce buttplate very nicely. If you learn to plant it there instead of holding it like a recoiling deer rifle, the scope then comes up to your eye naturally.

I’m pointing to the pocket above the collarbone where the toe of the buttplate will rest. (I should put a no-nudity clause in my contract!)

This is the proper hold for an AirForce air rifle when shooting off-hand. It’s sitting on the top of my collarbone. Notice that my head is erect and the scope is easily in line with my eye.

“But that’s so unnatural!” comes the complaint from the now-backpedaling shooter.

“What?” I ask in mock amusement. “You never shot a Light Antitank Weapon (LAW) or a Redeye missile?”

The funny thing is — most of them never did. These are the same guys who will try to use the sights on an M3 grease gun and then complain loudly that they don’t work. Of course they don’t! Nobody in their right mind would try to use them to begin with. You want to use sights on an SMG? Get an H&K MP5. The M3 is like a very nasty garden hose, on which, coincidentally, there are also no sights. Yet, somehow, people manage to get the hang of using a hose without taking extension courses or watching a video, and the same can be said for the M3 grease gun. All it takes is some time and enough ammo to waste to find out how the bleeping thing works.

So it is with the AirForce air rifles. When a serious shooter is shown the correct positioning of the butt, he grouses about it for a moment, then proceeds to shoot the lights out of all the targets. After that, there’s no more discussion. That’s one of the tips about these rifles you’ll never see anywhere else. Since I no longer work in the AirForce booth, you’re not in danger of being exposed to my shenanigans if you do go to a show.

How accurate can the Talon SS be?
I have already shown my unclothed body in today’s report, so I think I’ve stepped boldly over the line. Nothing else I say today will damage my reputation any further. So, here it goes. The Talon SS will out-shoot a customized Ruger 10-22 upon which a lot of time, talent and money have been expended. It doesn’t just out-shoot it by a small margin, either. It buries it! There! (Let the letters and emails start to fly!)

Several years ago, I wrote a series of four or five feature articles for Shotgun News about the Ruger 10-22. Each article was 4,500-5,000 words long and had about 20 photos, so they were pretty detailed. The title of the series was, What can you do with a 10-22? The goal I was working toward was to find out how hard it is to obtain a legal silencer and also how a silenced .22 rimfire rifle compares to a quiet air rifle. I haven’t finished that series yet, and perhaps I never will, because the reader reaction seemed to be, “Who cares?”

But while doing the series, I had the opportunity to have my own 10-22 gunsmithed in several important ways. I had the trigger lightened to 1.5 lbs. with a crisp letoff and an adjustable overtravel stop. The barrel was rechambered with a target chamber, which is much tighter than the rifle comes with, and the headspace was made tighter and more precise. I also had a bolt hold-open device installed and the magazine release made simpler to use. Then, I created a custom rifle on that customized action by adding a custom stock and a 20-inch bull barrel from Butler Creek.

The Ruger 10-22 is a very popular rimfire rifle that can be modified in many different ways.

Replace the factory barrel with a 20-inch bull barrel from Butler Creek and drop the whole thing into a custom laminated stock and this is what you get.

I tested the rifle out of the box, the same rifle after modification and the all-out custom rifle with about 100 10-shot 50-yard groups shot by about a dozen different .22 rimfire cartridges. I wanted to see how accurate my factory barrel was, then the same barrel with a target chamber and custom headspacing, then the same rifle with the Butler Creek barrel and the custom stock…and, finally, I conducted a two-gun shootout between my now-$800 custom rifle and a Ruger 10-22 Target model straight from the box.

Ruger also sells the 10-22 in this Target model. It has a hammer-forged barrel and many of the modifications that had to be done to the factory rifle, and the cost is about half of what a custom job costs.

A lot of different ammo was used in the test.

Please bear in mind that I was shooting 10-shot groups — not the five-shot fluff groups that many gun writers get away with today. Well, the absolute best 10-shot 50-yard group of that entire multi-part series was fired by my customized rifle and measures 0.537 inches between centers at 50 yards. To get it, I used Aguila Standard Speed ammunition. And, yes, I bought plenty of the expensive ammo for this test, as well. It simply did not measure up to what the Aguila standard speed rounds could do in the three rifles I was testing.

The best group of the entire 10-22 series was made by Aguila standard speed ammo in my highly customized 10-22. It measures 0.537 inches between centers and is 10 shots at 50 yards.

That group represents the best of dozens of similar groups under the best of conditions. There were many 10-shot groups under seven-tenths of an inch extreme spread and several that were under six-tenths, but none were better than the one mentioned above.

And, now, the Talon SS
But last week, when I sighted-in the Talon SS at the range with 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets for this report, the sight-in group measured 0.734 inches between centers. It was just the sight-in group that I fired in haste to see where the scope was shooting! I have so many pellet guns that scopes are mounted and dismounted all the time for tests, so practically nothing is ever sighted-in when I begin a test. Six of the ten shots in this hasty group went into a smaller group measuring just 0.275 inches, or just larger than a quarter-inch!

This group was fired at 50 yards as fast as I could shoot, without waiting for the wind gusts to die. The large hole on the right is where six pellets passed through.

I was bucking the wind during sight-in and several of the stray shots were taken when I shot before I should have. I was just anxious to get the rifle sighted-in and didn’t think this first group would amount to anything. After seeing where the center of the group was, I made the appropriate adjustments to the scope and moved the point of impact closer to the point of aim, but still far enough away that I didn’t shoot out the aim point.

This is getting to be a very long report, so I won’t keep the results from you any longer. The best 10-shot group I obtained with my Talon SS shooting JSB heavies measures 0.431 inches between centers and puts the entire Ruger 10-22 test to shame! Yes, the day was perfect; and, yes, I did everything right to get that group, but that was also true for the 10-22s on every one of the 10 range sessions I had with the three different rifles.

The best group of this session and a killer group, to boot! Ten JSB Exact Jumbo 18.1-grain pellets went into a group that measured 0.431 inches between centers.

This may be the best group I’ve ever shot with this air rifle, but I simply don’t know because I don’t keep such records. What I do know is that I can sit down on any calm day and do something very similar. Now that I’ve discovered the best pellet for this rifle, I have even greater confidence in the gun.

I shot two other groups with the Heavy JSBs. They measured 0.476 inches and 0.494 inches, so all three beat the very best my 10-22 custom rifle was able to do.

Then, I tried 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domes. I shot only a single group with them because they measured 0.559 inches for 10 shots at 50 yards. For most air rifles, that would be a screamer for a 10-shot 50-yard group, but not for my SS.

Ten Crosman Premiers went into this group measuring 0.559 inches between centers.

I followed that with the heavy Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes, which produced almost 42 foot-pounds in the velocity test. Again, I shot only one group and it measured 0.935 inches at 50 yards. That’s good, but nothing to write home about. It seems that the 18.1-grain JSB Exact is the pellet of choice for this rifle.

Ten 28.4-grain Eun Jin pellets went into this group, which measures 0.935 inches. While not as tight as the others, this pellet generates almost 42 foot-pounds in this rifle and retains that energy better than any other pellet.

While many of you might be surprised by what this rifle can do, I was not. I’ve grown accustomed to results like this from my long-barrel Talon SS. That’s why I don’t bother to save the targets. I know I can always do it again on any calm day.

So, my statement remains — the AirForce Talon SS out-shot the Ruger 10-22 customized rifle and a factory Target model. And, I shot all of the guns in all of the tests.

One of our readers said in the comments of an earlier part of this report that a CZ 451 American was cheaper in the long run than a Talon SS when all the support equipment gets tossed in. I won’t argue that point until it comes to buying the ammunition. But can the CZ keep up with my Talon SS downrange? Maybe it can. I know CZ makes a great barrel, but there’s still the difficulty of finding the rimfire ammunition that really works well in your particular gun. Having done an exhaustive test with the Rugers, I don’t know if I have the energy to do another one equally as exhaustive. Especially not when I know that all I have to do is pick up my Talon SS with its optional 24-inch barrel and start shooting.

I believe today’s blog is the longest one I’ve written to-date. It had to be this long, because I had to tell you everything at the same time so you could appreciate what I have known for years. I guess I became very accustomed to the high accuracy of AirForce rifles when I tested so many of them years ago. I don’t think about it very often, but we have enough new readers who need to know what I know about these airguns, so it was high time to speak up.

This isn’t the end of our look at the Talon SS. Oh no! This is just the beginning. Now I have a baselined PCP air rifle against which I can test .22 rimfires. I’m looking into such things when shooters make the statement, “I don’t need an air rifle to eliminate pests. My 10-22 with CB caps is just as quiet and just as accurate and whole lot cheaper in the long run.”

What do you think?

What would B.B. do? Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

My rifle is a lot longer than the standard Talon SS. It has a 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and an aftermarket silencer tube that extends the frame of the gun past the muzzle. I’ll tell you about the scope in part 3 of this report.

Today, I’ll sample the velocity of my .22-caliber AirForce Talon SS with its optional 24-inch barrel. I cannot do a complete velocity test on this rifle, and neither can you. There aren’t that many years in any of our lives. This rifle has adjustable power and can therefore be “tuned” to do a remarkable number of things. And, with the 24-inch optional barrel, it becomes even more powerful and flexible.

This will just be a sampling to demonstrate the broad flexibility of this air rifle. I started with my favorite setting, which I cannot tell with any precision because my frame has no power scale. That drives airgunners nuts, because they like to trade “favorite” power settings for AirForce airguns like kids with baseball cards. You read on the forums that so-and-so shot well with the power set to 10.12. What that means is the gross power setting was at power level 10 and the power wheel scale was on the number 12. Too bad that information is next to meaningless!

My power adjustment has no scale. It’s the slot on the right with the Allen screw showing. The center of the screw head is the power setting, and this is about on the number 4, if the scale was there. The numbers on the wheel at the left are for smaller adjustments and there would be an index line at the left of the power window.

Here is the regular Talon SS power adjuster, so you can compare the numbers in the report.

It’s almost meaningless because these guns are all individuals. They develop vastly different power when set to the same settings. But my gun is a very early one that never had the power scale engraved on the side of the frame, so I simply guess where the gun is. I’ve gotten to know this rifle so well over the years that my guess ends up within about 20 f.p.s. because I know how my particular rifle performs.

Therefore, what I’ll now tell you will relate to a gun that does have a power scale, because I’ve memorized the positions of those numbers over the years. I just don’t use them.

When the 12-inch barrel is installed, I like to leave the power setting at around the number 4. That gives me about 750 f.p.s with 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domes that I shoot a lot. If I were to increase the setting to the number 10 with the same short barrel, my rifle would get around 830 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 21.88 foot-pounds.

When the 24-inch barrel is on the gun at the same power setting, the velocity of the same Premier pellet averages 840 f.p.s. and the velocity spread spans from 833 to 845 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 22.41 foot-pounds at this level. So, right there the gun is slightly more powerful on the low number 4 setting with the 24-inch barrel than it is on the high number 10 power setting with the 12-inch barrel. I’m saving a lot of air by making better use of it with the long barrel.

That’s about as fast as I like to go with Premiers because of barrel leading. Next, I boosted the power setting up to 10 to shoot the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy dome that could prove to be the most accurate pellet in this rifle. I’ve never tried them at distance in this rifle, so I’m learning right along with you as we go. The velocity at this power setting averaged 968 f.p.s. with a spread from 965 to 970 f.p.s. That means the rifle is now putting out 37.59 foot-pounds of energy on average. That could prove to be a very good place for this rifle, but I’ll need to get out to the range to see for sure.

The best it can do
Everybody wants to know how absolutely powerful this rifle can be with this longer barrel, and I’m sorry to say I don’t have the right pellets to test it. Eun Jin makes a 32.4-grain pointed pellet that would produce more muzzle energy than the Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes I have on hand. But even they averaged 822 f.p.s. with the rifle set as high as it would go. That’s an average of 42.62 foot-pounds. So, I think there’s little doubt that with the heaviest pellets this rifle will just top 45 foot-pounds. That’s what it did about six years ago when I tested it for AirForce. The velocity spread with the gun running wide open went from 812 to 832 f.p.s.

So what?
This is where those who’ve never owned an AirForce rifle get confused. They wonder what they should do or could do with a rifle that can go from very low to very high power. And, by the way, I didn’t show you how low this rifle can go, did I? With Crosman Premiers again on the lowest possible power setting, I get an average velocity of 474 f.p.s., ranging from 465 to 489 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 7.14 foot-pounds. In my opinion, that’s not a valuable number because I’d never shoot this rifle that slow. It isn’t as consistent down there and what’s the point? I have Diana 27 rifles that will do the same thing. I just tell you because people want to know.

In the upper velocities, however, there’s a real benefit to my rifle. First, when set to deliver 23 foot-pounds, this rifle is quieter than a Beeman R7. Boost the power up to 37 foot-pounds, and the rifle sounds like a Sheridan Blue Streak on five pumps. When it’s running all-out, it’s still quieter than a Blue Streak on 8 pumps. So, this is a quiet air rifle. How quiet? Well, it’s noticeably quieter than most .22 rimfires shooting CB caps. That’s pretty quiet.

How many shots per fill?
This is another question whose answer depends on what you’re doing with the rifle. But for 37 foot-pound shots, I would get about 30-35 good ones before things tapered off. On 23 foot-pounds, I get about 45 good shots per fill.

How I operate the rifle is to leave it set on one power level that’s sighted-in. That way I know when I pick up the gun it’s ready to go. Based on the outcome of this particular test, I may change the power setting in the future because I may find a more accurate pellet. We shall see!

And, here’s the really good news. All this testing I’m doing here is simply in preparation for a much larger test I have been planning for several years. Had I not gotten sick last year, I would be deep into that bigger test right now; but as it is, I’m just getting started.

What would B.B. do? Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Sometimes, I just need to blow off steam by writing about the things that interest me, and today is one of those days. There were a lot of oddball guns I could have written about, like my 1860s gallery dart gun that I showed you a while back. I took it to the airgun show at Malvern, Arkansas, this April and airgun collector/writer Larry Hannusch disassembled it as fast as I might field-strip a Garand. And almost as easily. I watched so I could do it again on my own, and I discovered that the gun is lacking its volute springs — the very things I was worrying about breaking if I shot the gun. So, I can now fix it with a coiled spring and a new cocking arm from Dennis Quackenbush. But that will be a future report.

David Lurch Primary New York City gallery gun.

Today, I want to talk about something that’s both very contemporary and yet wonderful at the same time. It’s one of those airguns that people either love or hate, though I’m about to show you some things you never saw before that might make you like it a little better.

The rifle is an AirForce Talon SS (cheers from our reader, twotalon), but it’s a look at the SS in a way that’s never been seen in print. I’m going to take you inside the walls of the AirForce company and show you what I was playing with when I was their Technical Director several years ago. This isn’t just any SS. It’s my SS.

What’s new?
After the Condor came out and most of the launch hooplah died down a bit, I realized that we now had a 24-inch barrel that would also fit the Talon SS. You get a 12-inch barrel with the gun when it’s new, and that barrel is totally enclosed inside the tubular frame of the rifle in the same way that a shroud fits other PCP airguns. Only, when the SS was designed, it was built that way on purpose, for those were the days before barrel shrouds became the rage. The Talon SS was the first production PCP to intentionally use a shrouded barrel to quiet the muzzle report.

But, I want to talk about the 24-inch optional barrel, because that was what was new to me in 2004. I knew that the Talon, with its 18-inch barrel was quite a bit more powerful than the Talon SS, by virtue of the extra six inches of barrel, so the question was: How much more powerful would it get if we added another six inches?

About that time, the phones started ringing at AirForce, asking the same question and I was tasked with finding out. We know that a .22-caliber Talon SS can pretty easily pull 25 foot-pounds with accurate pellets. I’m not claiming that to be the maximum power the gun can generate, but back in 2004 that was about the best we could do with accurate pellets. And, I plan to show you what “accurate” means in a future report.

Move to the longer-barreled Talon, and the same powerplant will generate about 32 foot-pounds under the same conditions. That gave me some hope that the 24-inch optional barrel might boost the SS up to 36 or possibly even 38 foot-pounds. But that estimate turned out to be conservative.

I did the testing and discovered that the SS with a 24-inch barrel could easily generate 39-41 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with good accuracy; and, if I used the heaviest pellets then available, it got up over 45 foot-pounds! Because it was capable of launching them so much faster with the longer barrel, the rifle became a good platform for the heaviest pellets. Whatever accuracy they were able to deliver that was decent — but not the absolute best — was a realistic thing for the modified rifle.

I’ll do a velocity test for you in the next part, but for now let’s just leave things there. I now had a 40-45 foot-pound air rifle that also got 35-40 good shots on a fill because I was still using the conservative SS valve. This was no Condor that blasts out all its air in 20 powerful shots. This was an air-sipper that also got great power (with the longer barrel) as well as a high number of shots per fill. It was difficult for me to justify putting the 12-inch barrel back on the rifle. Except for the noise.

My rifle is a lot longer than the standard Talon SS. It has a 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and an aftermarket silencer tube that extends the frame of the gun past the muzzle. I’ll tell you about the scope in part 3 of this report.

Because the 24-inch barrel sticks out past the frame, the SS is no longer quiet when the longer barrel is installed. But fast-forward a couple more years and that problem was solved. A device that at the time I bought it was called a “frame extender” became available. It was now possible to again enclose the barrel. When installed it, I discovered that this rifle is even quieter than the stock Talon SS, while producing about 10 foot-pounds greater muzzle energy.

I had my cake and was able to eat it, too! Except for one thing. The modified rifle is now very long. Many people said it was too long in this configuration. Well, excuse me, but I am the guy who also shoots a Trapdoor Springfield and a Remington Rolling Block rifle. Don’t tell me how a long a rifle should be!

My favorite firearm rifles are long single-shots, like this Trapdoor Springfield .45/70 (top) and Remington Rolling Block in .43 Spanish. Next to them my Talon SS is not a long gun.

The rest of my Talon SS is absolutely stock — most of it the way it came from the factory back in 2001. You would think that working at AirForce, where I had access to all the very best parts, I would have built up a special rifle for myself, but that wasn’t necessary. The parts they produce are all so uniform that I never had to do anything to my rifle in thousands of shots. I did replace the striker and its two bushing/bearings with a newer version, but that was only so I could test it extensively before AirForce started shipping it in guns. After the test was finished, I was too lazy to change back, so my rifle has a striker from 2004. The valve is untouched, just the way I got it back in 2001, and I used to build the valves when I worked at AirForce. If there was something better, I would have had one.

The trigger in my rifle has never been apart, let alone worked on. I learned very early that AirForce triggers are best left just as they come from the factory. One of my jobs was to spray the various trigger and safety parts with a dry-film moly that lubricates them for life. If you put oil or grease on an AirForce trigger, it will attract dirt — and that’s the quickest way I know to foul it. Trigger parts inside the frame channel have to be able to move as the gun is cocked and thus they need to be left absolutely dry.

So, my rifle is stock except for the addition of a long silencer on the end. Does the silencer work? Yes, it does! When my SS is generating over 25 foot-pounds, it makes the same noise discharging as a relatively weak breakbarrel like a Bronco.

What makes me like this air rifle so much? Well, I hope to demonstrate that to you in the coming reports. You’ve heard of a busman’s holiday? Well my Talon SS is the rifle I built for myself when I could have had anything I wanted, and I want to show you how well it works. The cool thing is that you can have one just like it, because my gun is entirely off-the-shelf!

Benjamin Marauder, .25 caliber – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The last time I looked at the Marauder was when I was out of the hospital for 4 days in April. Today, thanks to the help of Mac, I’ll look at velocity. Mac tested several pellets you’re likely to use in the rifle. Because pellets have been coming up with odd weights lately, Mac weighed them to see what they really weigh. He tested Sam Yang, H&N Baracudas, Benjamin domes and Eun Jins.

The H&N Baracudas ranged from 29.8 grains to 30.3 grains. That’s a very tight spread, but not as heavy as advertised (which is 31.02). The average weight for Baracudas was 30.0 grains. We’ve weighed the Benjamin domes before, but Mac did it again. This group ranged from 27.3 to 27.9 grains. An EXTREMELY tight spread. The average was 27.6 grains. Beeman Crow Magnums ranged from 26.2 to 26.4 grains. Again, an extremely tight spread. The average was 26.3 grains. Eun Jins ranged from 35.1 to 36.0 grains. Also, not bad for such a heavyweight pellet. The average was 35.4 grains. Sam Yang was the heaviest pellet of all, ranging from 42.1 to 42.4 grains. That was also the tightest spread. The average weight was 42.3 grains. The longest pellet Mac tested in the Marauder magazine was the Sam Yang, which measured 0.456 inches long. That indicates you can use very beefy pellets in this gun, if you want.

Sam Yang: Velocity ranged from a low of 663 to a high of 676. Average was 671 fps. That equates to an average muzzle energy of 30 ft-lbs.

Eun Jin Domes: Velocity ranged from a low of 712 fps to a high of 732 fps. Average was 724 fps. Which equates to an average muzzle energy of 41.21 ft-lbs.

Benjamin domes: Ranged from a low of 791 fps to a high of 802 fps. The average was 797 fps. The average muzzle energy was 38.94 ft-lbs.

H&N Baracudas: Ranged from a low of 774 fps to a high of 782 fps. The average for this pellet was 779 fps. Average muzzle energy was 40.43 ft-lbs.

The Beeman Crow Magnums: Ranged from a low of 814 fps to a high of 825 fps. The average was 819 fps. Average muzzle energy was 39.18 ft-lbs.

While Mac was testing the gun, all strings were fired starting at 3000 psi. In other words, he topped off the gun between each string. In doing so, he noted that the initial shots were lower in velocity, meaning that this particular rifle needs a fill of somewhat less than 3000 for optimal performance.

Shroud straightened
Mac noticed that the barrel shroud seemed to be pulling to one side when he examined it. Since accuracy testing was next, he decided to straighten it. He loosened the Allen screws that hold the shroud to its bracket, and immediately the shroud centered itself. Perhaps, when it was assembled, it got bumped during assembly. This is something you’ll want to look at when you get your own rifle.

Does your Marauder shroud touch the bracket, as shown above?

If the shroud on your Marauder is touching the bracket on one side, loosen the two Allen screws shown above to center the shroud.

Loosening the Allen screws will send your shroud straight toward the center of the bracket.

That’s it for velocity and power. Next, we’ll look at accuracy.

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