Benjamin HB22 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

This is a report that’s been on the list for more than a year. Something always pops up at the last minute to take its place, but today is reserved for the Benjamin HB22, an air pistol whose roots are fixed in the 1930s. When I write about Benjamin airguns, I refer to them as heirloom guns, because they’re built well enough to be handed down through many generations and also because they’re among the very few things that are still made the way they were in the beginning. If you get one of these, you’ll be linked to airgunning’s rich past.

History
The .22 caliber HB22 and its .177 sibling, the Benjamin HB17, are the direct descendants of the model 242/247 that are themselves the offspring of the ubiquitous 130 series. Right there, we’ve gone back to 1946. To go back farther, we have to accept the troublesome transitional pump mechanism of the 110 series, which was the child of the famous 100-series with its front pump rod that dates to 1935. Benjamin rifles date back to 1898 (in their former incarnation as the St. Louis Air Rifle), but the pistols lagged behind by more than three decades.

The gun
The pistol weighs 2.5 lbs. and measures slightly less than 12″ overall, with a barrel length of 9.25″. The barrel is brass, just as it has always been, and so is the pump tube and receiver. The frame is cast metal, no doubt a zinc alloy, and the functional powerplant parts are mainly steel. The metal is painted with a tough matte charcoal gray paint, and the grips and forearm that look like wood are, in fact, oil-finished wood!

Operation
This is a multi-pump pneumatic that shoots with 3-8 pump strokes – BUT, the manual online says at least two pumps and doesn’t give a top number. The numbers I give you here are from the printed owner’s manual that came with the gun. This subject is so misunderstood by airgunners that I plan to do a separate report on it tomorrow.


Pump handle is extended as far as it goes.


Bolt withdrawn two clicks cocks the gun and opens the breech trough to accept as pellet. You can see the adjustable rear sight.

The gun is cocked by rotating the bolt knob to the left (counterclockwise) and retracting the bolt until two clicks are heard. I made the mistake of only pulling back to the first click and was rewarded by a weak-sounding discharge. The pellet is laid in the trough that’s revealed with the bolt pulled back. When you push the bolt back home after loading, which seats the pellet in the barrel, be sure to rotate it to the right (clockwise) until it stops. That locks it in position. Failure to lock it results in the bolt being blown back at the shot, robbing the pellet of most of its power.

How hard is it to pump?
This is a question that readers ask, so I thought I’d answer it today. I’ll give you both a subjective and a quantitative answer. First the subjective. Pumping starts out easy, but with a fair amount of resistance to the pump lever being pushed home. After 3 pumps, the effort required to pull the lever away from the pump tube increases, and it becomes very difficult after 5 pumps. Some of the resistance is due to the newness of the gun, but most of it will remain throughout the gun’s life.

When pushing the pump lever home, it has to go all the way flush to the gun, so keep your fingers out from between the pump lever and gun. Push home with the flat of your pumping hand, which is opposed by your other hand that holds the gun. Please do not ask about scoping this pistol. Pump it before you ask and you’ll understand why scoping is impractical.

Now, the quantitative. Pumps 1 through 4 peak at about 22 lbs. of force, at a point when the pump lever is still 1.5″-2″ from home. Pump 5 increases to 25 lbs. Pump 6 climbs to 28 lbs. and pumps 7 and 8 each hit 32 lbs. of force. The effort to close the pump handle is negligible compared to the effort needed to open it after 5 pumps have been put in. This is not a pistol for those with arthritic hands!

The front sight is a ramp, and the rear is an adjustable notch. It adjusts with simple jam screws, so you have to be careful when you work.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at velocity, accuracy and a test of how a multi-pump REALLY works!

53 thoughts on “Benjamin HB22 – Part 1

  1. BB

    so, can these guns take a scope?
    lol, only kidding :))

    My father has one of this family (must be 25 years old) and while it shoots as good as new, when you compare these pump guns (i can only talk about hand guns as ive never used a rifle) i really am amazed they still make them. They are no fun at all target shooting, as it takes SOOO long to get 10 shots of, not to mention the fatigue and possibly very pinched skin!!! CO2, PcP and single pump guns are the way forward. I really couldnt recomend any multi pump gun, at least not with my experience of them anyway



  2. Scope,

    I didn’t mention it, but the slowness of these multi-pump guns is considered one of their better aspects. It allows the shooter to relax while “preparing” his gun to shoot. While is it absurd to shoot a 10-shot group on paper this way, plinking is a different thing. The tin cans and army men will wait patiently for the shooter.

    However, not all shooters want to slow down like this. That’s why Umarex puts an 8-round clip in their guns.

    Speaking for myself, I have always been a primitive black powder kind of guy, who takes his time between shots. I’m not saying that’s the right way to shoot, or even the best way – but it’s the way I like best.

    However, I must agree that the pistols are more difficult to pump than the rifles, which is probably why I don’t own any. That said, I’m thinking of buying this one.

    B.B.



  3. I own an HB22, bought a year ago because I wanted something NOT made of plastic. And, I have owned earlier pump pistols. As with the earlier ones, it’s not required that you pump the gun full power. At close range I find it shoots fine with 2-3 pumps.
    I’ve taken many rabbits and small critters with these pump pistols. All you need for a days shooting is a few tins of pellets and strong arms. Shooting these guns are a good way to strengthen arms.
    Or, buy some foreign plastic co2 gun and stay on your sofa.


  4. I think there is a lot more to health and fitness than simply shooting a HB22 🙂
    Also, many CO2 handguns are made from metal (S&W 586 to name 1).
    I think the multi pump handguns are fine if you want a very inexpensive handgun that ismt used too often, but personally, when compared to the slightly more expensive comeptition thats out now, its like comparing a car to a horse and carriage. Both will get you there (eventually) but one does it a lot easier.
    I must stress that this is only my opinion, and and not saying that it should apply to anyone else.


  5. Hi bb,

    I have a question about Benjamin 397:
    to remove original rear sight, do I simply remove adjustment screw and tap off dovetail with hammer?

    Thanks,
    jj

    I am a huge fan, by the way.


  6. jj.

    The 397 rear sight isn’t fastened that way. It’s clamped around the barrel and pinched into the solder groove between the barrel and pump tube. Getting it off means spreading the legs of the sight base to pull it off the barrel. This can be tricky, and the application of too much force can crack the solder joint, making the barrel loose.

    I don’t recommend doing it.

    B.B.


  7. B.B.

    It sounds like you probably like the HB17/HB22 better than the Crosman 1377C. If so, what are the things you like better?

    I have a 1377C and considered buying an HB22, but after upgrading the 1377 to a .22, I figure I probably have a gun that is better than an HB22 (steel breech, steel barrel, click adj. rear sight, adj. trigger, walnut grips). I spent about $180 total (including gun cost). I haven’t measured the pump effort, but it sounds like the 1377 is easier to pump also.

    With plinking, I have to agree with you, I don’t mind the time it takes for a multi-pump. For pest elimination I prefer something different.

    Thanks,
    .22 multi-shot


  8. .22 multi-shot,

    What you have done is Benjamin-ified your 1377. And I agree that in that configuration, you have quite a gun.

    I still like the 1377 and it, too, is a classic in it’s own right. But it has a lot of plastic, where the Crosman 105/106 from which it is derived is mostly metal (with plastic grips).

    This is what keeps the subject of airguns interesting.

    B.B.


  9. B.B.

    I have both the EB22 and the HB22 and I love both guns. I don’t shoot either one of them as much as I do my other pistols – particularly my P1. Still, like you said, there is something inherently satisfying in their simplicity and history. They aren’t nearly as accurate as some of my pistols, but my son and I certainy have a fine time taking out old action figures with them from 20 yards or so.

    I have an off-topic question for you, though. I recenly purchased a .177 TX200 from Pyramid, and I’m really, really liking this gun.

    On my second attempt to fire the gun, I was unable to bring the cocking arm back up or depress the anti-beartrap release button. I left the gun lay there for an hour or more, mentally troubleshooting, until it dawned on me that I hadn’t cocked the underlever to the last ratchet (yes, I felt silly). My question is, do you think I did any damage to the mainspring or anything. I’ve read all of your mainspring/springer-related posts, as well as the tests on the R1, but I guess I was hoping that you could put my mind at ease, especially after how much money I put into the gun.

    On a similar note, I once accidentally left my RWS 52 cocked for a few hours due to an interruption. I don’t have a chrony, and haven’t noticed a drop-off in performance. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that.

    Thanks for the fantastic blog, and I apologize that my post was so long.

    Mike


  10. My Ideal Air Pistol – Will It Be Made Again?

    BB,

    I am a very casual airgunner who enjoys your blog and have learned a lot from it – thanks! I do little more than very occasional plinking in the back yard with my Bluestreak. Reading your blog entry on the HB22 immediately puts me in mind of the air pistol I’ve desired for some time now but currently IS NOT OFFERED to the best of my knowledge. It is however the intersection or union of many models that do, including todays HB22. Appreciate your comments BB…

    My ideal air pistol…

    1) This air pistol would LOOK LIKE AN AIR PISTOL! It would not pretend to look like something it is not. It would not try to appear to be a Colt 45 or a Walther PPK or whatever. It would not look like an existing firearm. An example of this is of course the HB22. The Crosman 2240 is another. They look like, well, pure airguns.

    2) It would be a repeater. Not a semi-auto, but a repeater. Further I would prefer the trigger not be used to cock it in a double action – but rather some sort of lever or other cocking method, leaving the trigger to be just a trigger. Actually I’m not aware of any current pistols designed this way. A perfect example of this is the defunct Daisy Powerline 1200 CO2 BB pistol (not the best made airgun but you get the idea). It had a little thumb slide under the forearm that cocked the hammer and deposited a BB into the chamber. Perfect for the thumb to push it with the non-shooting hand.

    3) CO2 powered – if that wasn’t obvious from #2 above.

    4) Pellets in .22 .177. Perhaps a 5 shot minimum ‘clip’, ‘tube’, loading mechanism or whatever. I guess a BB/Pellet combo shooter might be OK but I’d prefer a strictly pellet shooter.

    Not much else, just reasonably well made in the general quality neighborhood of many of today’s mainstream CO2 pellet pistols, say a Crosman 2240 for example. Maybe it would land somewhere in the $50-$120-ish price range depending on material quality used.

    Virtually all the components for this gun exist in many different current production models from Crosman, Daisy and others to the best of my knowledge. But as far as I know my ‘ideal’ air pistol simply does not exist. If it did I would buy one in a second and it would be my constant plinking companion. Not looking for a world class target gun or a high powered hunter – rather a reasonably serious yet fun, easy to use plinker with the functionality of a repeater and the proper looks of a classic air pistol.

    Did it ever exist? I think so: The Crosman 600 you wrote about pretty much nailed it once upon a time in my opinion.

    Is there a market? I’d like to think so. Perhaps I’m in the minority but I have a bit of an aversion to airguns that try to look like famous firearms. Likewise when it comes to an air pistol I mostly think of fun plinking and informal target shooting and little more.

    Appreciate your thoughts. I’m not holding my breath but maybe someday I’ll be pleasantly suprised. Or one of these years I’ll break down and get either a 2240 or EB22 or even some look-alike or other repeater…

    My $0.02



  11. Mike,

    You did no damage in either case. In the R1 book, Tom Gaylord did a long-term test of four mainsprings, during which he left them cocked for a month. In the end, the worst one still had 94 percent of its original power.

    An hour or two is nothing compared to over 700 hours.


  12. loadhawg,

    I was going to recommend the 600, but you already know about it.

    Light triggers like the one you want are something corporate lawyers are not going to permit. Their job is to protect the company they work for, and with all the lawsuits today, you won’t find a large company willing to stick their neck out.

    That’s why all the fine triggers (other than target triggers) come from small airgun manufacturers.

    My advice is to get a nice 600 and use it. It has everything you want.

    B.B.


  13. Did not know about the repeater breach – most interesting – thanks!

    Yes as I was posting I was thinking the same thing – go for an older 600 and consider it may need reconditioning.

    I do hope someday someone such as Crosman re-introduces a new version of the 600. It’s a niche not being filled and Crosman basically has all the parts to make it ‘come together’.

    thanks!


  14. BB –
    Does the ‘match’ in the kodiak match pellets mean they are ‘better / more uniform’ than the standard version? I think that’s the implication, but the price is much cheaper for the match version, which seems counter-intuitive.
    Ozark



  15. I know this is completely off topic, but i was wondering if you could tell me where to find screws for a Gamo Shadow 1000. My screws are slightly stripped and I was wondering if I could replace them. The particular screws are the ones that hold the stock to the receiver and the trigger guard in place. Thanks.

    Screwed Gamo






  16. Hi BB,

    I have a 2nd generation Crosman 1322 that I have enjoyed for years. It finally needs some work after 20 years of shooting, since I can only get about 380- 400 fps out of it now. Even so, it still shoots under 1/2″- 5 shot group at 10 yards with Daisy Precision Max FP’s of all things. Box stock. Horrible trigger though…

    /Shooter


  17. bb,

    next week i plan on getting the air arms tx200 mkIII .22, and i wanted to know if it would be better in beech stock, or walnut, or does it not matter, since its not a magnum gun?

    DED





  18. J.D.,

    I have tested the Anschütz [email protected] At the time I thought the name was a joke, but Dieter Anschütz assured me it isn’t.

    Anschütz owns Steyr, and the @ is very similar to a Stey target pistol. The @ is a fine German-made 10-meter target pistol.

    I shoot a Chinese wadcutter that outshoots most target pellets I test, but it’s now unavailable. I bought 40 tins and am down to just a few, so that one is out. I usually have good luck with H&N Finale Match, and the Vogel is always good.

    B.B.




  19. DED,

    Beech is heavier, stronger and cheaper than walnut. Walnut is lighter, has more figure and to most people’s eyes looks more attractive than beech.

    I’ve had TX200s in both beech and walnut and there was no functional difference. The low recoil presents no problem for the softer walnut.

    B.B.



  20. B.B.

    This review very helpful. I liked the discussion of pumping force–including subjective info–and scope usage. Reader comments about multi-pumps also helpful.

    I haven’t fired an airgun in over 30 years, but recently took mine out of storage. Find this blog very helpful and have read most of it. Congratulation to you and Pyramydair.

    My questions are unrelated to the current topic; I don’t know whether you are notified about comments for very old topics or not.

    My airguns have not been fired in 30 years. The rifle is a HW 55-S. It appears to shoot fine, with no unusual noises. Maybe more spring twang, but I really do not remember. What lubrication does it need now? What type of seals does it use? I oiled the cocking linkage and two drops to spring, which looked lubed. How much chamber lube? What velocity can be expected from this model?

    The other guns are a HW 70 pistol and Crosman 600. I have not yet fired the Crosman. What lube and precautions do these require?

    Well, after not shooting for over thirty years–except for occasional shots at vermin with a .22 RF, my shooting is pitiful and offhand worse, but what fun.

    A question about scopes. I like the aperture sight on the HW 55 and want to use it. I would also like to try a scope–my experience with scopes is very limited. 40 years ago smallbore target shooters used one rifle and exchanged scopes and aperture sights with only minor sight-in needed. Can I expect to do this with the HW 55, or do I need to consider a separate scoped rifle?

    Thanks,

    Farmer


  21. Farmer,

    I see every comment posted to this blog, regardless of the date.

    Your 30 year old HW55S has synthetic seals. If it dates back to the 1960s, there is a chance of leather seals, in which case what I am about to tell you needs to be altered.

    Drop two drops of chamber lube down the air transfer port right now. The port is the hole in the spring tube behind the barrel. Chamber lube is a specially formulated silicone oil with a very high flash point.

    Drop 10 drops of mainspring oil on the mainspring. The two you already put there can count in the ten.

    Don’t forget to oil the barrel lock on the left side of the gun. Also drop a small drop of chamber oil on the white (probably yellowed with age) O-ring seal around the end of the breech.

    In good condition, your rifle produces about 640 f.p.s. with an 8-grain .177 pellet.

    Lube your HW 70 pistol the same way. Expect 425-440 f.p.s. with a 7.5-grain pellet.

    The Crosman 600 may be needing a seal overhaul if it was stored without being charged. If it was left charged, and if you used Crosman Pellgunoil with every powerlet, it’s probably okay.

    With a fresh powerlet, drop three drops of Pellgunoil on the flat tip of the powerlet and insert it. Put one drop of Pellgunoil on the O-ring that seals the powerlet chamber. The gun will probably leak for several seconds before sealing, if it ever does. If not, send it to this man:

    Rick Willnecker Contact him at [email protected] or call 717-382-1481.

    Don’t throw the 600 away – it is worth $125 in non-functioning condition and $200 when it works. Shoots best with Crosman Premiers or Benjamin Diabolo pellets (same thing).

    B.B.



  22. JD,

    I shot the [email protected] with Chinese pellets that had 4.51mm heads. But I didn’t own that gun, so I didn’t do an exhaustive test.

    Generally I start with a 4.51mm head pellet and work from there.

    As for grip size, start with what size gloves you wear. I wear medium gloves and a medium size grip fits me well. I still have to cut wood and use wood filler to get the fit perfect, though these come with Cesare Morini grips and those are generally acknowledged to be the best in the world.

    B.B.




  23. Hi BB,

    jj here.

    I think, in time, this report and one on the EB22, and eventually reports on the EB17 and HB17, all combined, may rival the comments on the 397/392, which is/are now OVER 300 comments, and still going.

    Now if Crosman would bring back the 2200, add a 2177 in pellet only, and bring back the 1322, along with the 1377, they’d have the 10 finest airguns on the market.

    jj


  24. I’ve used the mounts Benjamin provides for this pistol and mounted a 22 red dot scope without any problems. No problems pumping or loading and definitely helps the accuracy. Hope this helps.



  25. Is the purpose of a Leapers offset scope mount so you can mount a Bug Buster far enough back for good eye relief?

    Will a Nikko Gold scope handle the recoil of an R1, and how good is the quality?

    THANKS GARY


  26. Gary,

    Does Leapers have an 11mm offset mpount? All I see is the Weaver mount that doesn’t fit most airguns. The purpose of an offset or canrtilever mount is to change the position of the scope, relative to the receiver.

    I have no experience with the Nikko brand, though the Sterling line has been sold for airguns for years.

    B.B.


  27. BB,

    Purchased and received the EB22 (CO2 counterpart to the HB22), and am enjoying it thus far. One question…

    Regarding the bolt: Pulled the bolt back (along with the counter-clockwise turn), hear the two audible clicks, load pellet, return the bolt to its “locked” position.

    When the bolt is “locked” by turning it clockwise 1/4 turn or so, is there supposed to be some type of audible or physical click/lock sound? I experience no such sound, and the bolt can and does have a tendency to “un-lock” (turn counter-clockwise a bit) by virtue of gravity and/or tolerances.

    Is this normal?

    -jp





  28. On the subject of mounting a scope on the hb22 it is possible to pump the gun quite easily by bringing it down and placing the back of the grip against your upper leg. gripping the forward portion of the barrel with your right hand and pumping with the left. This explanation may be a little bit hard to understand but the method has worked for me. I have also found with the hb22 that keeping the pump well oiled really helps to reduce pumping effort.


  29. Removing the rear sight from the Sheridan C9 or either of the Benjamins [397 or 392]:

    1.) With the gun unloaded, place the butt on the floor with the gun between your knees and the rear sight facing away from you.
    2.) Use a 1/2″ diameter wooden dowel about 10″ long [or any other suitable wooden “punch”] and a soft-faced hammer to drive the OEM sight to the rear. The sight is an interference fit to two small retainers on either side of the barrel, so when the sight comes off, the retainers will drop off, too.
    3.) NOTE: The process may remove a small amount of black paint from the barrel and compression tube, but will not damage the rifle. It removed a bit of paint from my Sheridan C9 5mm, but not from my Benjamin 392.
    4.) ALSO NOTE: If you drive the rear sight from the front (muzzle side), you will not damage it. If you drive it from the rear, you will have the muzzle down, and will probably damage the sight.

    –Witt


  30. Have a problem. I have a model 247 Benjamin pistol that has “0” compression when you pump it. Is this a busted seal or something worse?? Where is the best site to find oem and aftermarket parts for this gun??


  31. Anonymous,

    Hi. You left your post on a blog that was started in 2007.
    try some Crosman Pellgun oil on the pump head and see if that helps. There is a daily blog which is a good place to ask questions, share concerns, and just talk with other air gun folks. Try posting you question here for more options concerning your gun. Hope to see you there tonight or tomorrow. Mr B.


  32. Anonymous with the Benjamin Model 247 pump up pistol with a problem,

    Parts for your gun are not readily available to the public. In addition, many of the tools necessary to work on these gun’s are handmade by the repairmen themselves that specialize in repairing guns like yours. I would suggest you contact this excellent repairman:

    Rick Willnecker in PA. Contact him at http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481.

    kevin


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