by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Benjamin Katana.

Well! There has been a lot of emotion over this latest PCP release from Crosman. The first report of the Benjamin Katana attracted more comments than a normal Friday, plus we lit up the Yellow Forum, as well. They say no publicity is bad publicity, so we’ll see how things turn out.

But underneath all the gossip, there’s a real air rifle to be evaluated. Forgetting all the trash that surrounds it, how does the Katana perform on its own merits? We will start looking at that today, as we delve into the issue of velocity and energy potential. Since the rifle is available in .22 caliber only, the job is somewhat simplified.

The barrel IS choked
I confirmed the choked barrel with Ed Schultz, Crosman’s production manager and head engineer. So, this rifle should deliver stunning accuracy. For those who are not aware, there’s a simple test that can often confirm whether a barrel is choked or not. Simply push a pellet all the way through the barrel with a cleaning rod. If you start at the breech and the barrel is choked, you will feel some slight resistance about two inches from the muzzle. If you start from the muzzle, as the Katana requires because its bolt is not readily removable, the resistance is at the start of the push and becomes easier after the initial few inches. Checking from the muzzle is harder to do and takes an experienced hand, which is why I wasn’t 100 percent certain about the choke in part 1.

Why no shroud?
Several of you asked why there is no shroud around the barrel. The answer lies with the Discovery receiver upon which the Katana is based. It is lower than the Marauder receiver, which means the Katana barrel has to be closer to the receiver. There isn’t enough room between the receiver and barrel for a decent-sized shroud to fit.

On to velocity
The first test will measure the potential total shot string. After that, I’ll know where the power band is in relation to the fill pressure. This isn’t exact, because as you change pellets the power curve expands and contracts. As a rule of thumb for a non-regulated system like the Katana’s, though, heavier pellets will get a couple more shots in the zone than lighter ones, probably because they hold the valve open longer. But I’ll check that, too.

Crosman Premiers
A little bird named Paul Capello told me the Katana loves Crosman Premier pellets. Paul is also testing the Katana and finds the Premiers very accurate in his test gun. When I say Crosman Premiers, I mean the ones in the brown cardboard box, not the ones you can buy in tins. The “Premiers” in tins are not sorted by the die they were made on, but I think the boxed Premiers still are, so the pellet-to-pellet variation should be less.

I filled to exactly 2,000 psi on my carbon fiber tank gauge, which seemed to agree very well with the gauge on the rifle. I’ll show you the entire shot string now, and then interpret what I think it means.

1 / 776
2 / 776
3 / 807
4 / 806
5 / 810
6 / 818
7 / 814
8 / 815
9 / 815
10 / 819*
11 / 808
12 / 815
13 / 814
14 / 817
15 / 811
16 / 807
17 / 809
18 / 806
19 / 804
20 / 801
21 / 793
22 / 789
23 / 784
24 / 772

* Fastest shot

Well, this is a good velocity curve. I see 20 good shots that are within 30 f.p.s. of each other. That would be shots 3 through 22. If I wanted to keep them all within 20 f.p.s., then I’d stop after shot 20, which gives a total of 18 good shots. The average for that spread would be 811 f.p.s. (rounded up), which works out to a muzzle energy of 20.89 foot-pounds.

The indicated reservoir pressure after shot 21 was 1,200 psi. Keep that in mind as I move to a heavier pellet.


Indicated air pressure after shot 21.

Beeman Kodiaks
It has been difficult to buy Beeman Kodiak pellets for many months, but now that Pyramyd Air distributes the entire line of H&N Pellets, you can substitute with H&N Baracudas, which are the same pellet. I checked and Baracudas were out of stock as of this writing, but Pyramyd Air will have a standing order for them, and they should always be available in the future. I have a few Kodiaks remaining and will continue to use them until they’re gone.

Kodiaks gave an average velocity of 681 f.p.s. for 10 shots. I had filled to just shy of 2,000 psi to shave off those first two slower shots seen in the first string. It worked, too, because here are the numbers for this string.

1 / 678
2 / 681
3 / 682
4 / 681
5 / 686
6 / 687
7 / 674
8 / 687
9 / 677
10 / 677

So Kodiaks generated 21.63 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, on average. That’s about the same as a tuned .22-caliber Beeman R1.

Gamo TS-22
Next, I decided to test a new pellet–the Gamo TS-22 Long Distance pellet. This is a .22-grain domed pellet that resembles an H&N Baracuda more than a little. I’ll be trying them in the accuracy test, so I thought we should get some velocity data, as well.

I did not refill the reservoir after testing the Kodiaks, so, given my 18-shot spread that I mentioned in the Premier test, I shot only eight pellets for velocity in this test. That way the total number of shots on this fill would be 18, and you could see if my initial assessment of usable shots held up.

The average for eight shots was 669 f.p.s., for an average energy of 21.87 foot-pounds. So you can see how they went, I will give you all the velocities now.

1 / 674
2 / 667
3 / 673
4 / 671
5 / 663
6 / 674
7 / 668
8 / 664

That was the string that generated the average I gave you. As you can see, it varied by only 11 f.p.s. However, I continued to fire to see what the next few shots would do.

9 / 658
10 / 654
11 / 655
12 / 653
13 / 653
14 / 648
15 / 646
16 / 643

Shot 16 is also the 26th shot fired on this fill. That includes the 10 Kodiaks I shot previously. As you can see, heavier pellets give more shots at a closer velocity, because the final 16 shots in the fill varied by only 31 f.p.s. Since the first 10 Kodiaks varied by only 13 f.p.s., I think it’s safe to interpolate across the two different but similar pellet types and assume that heavier pellets give longer shots strings with the Katana. At the end of all this testing (both Kodiaks and Gamo TS-022s), the pressure gauge on the rifle registered 900 psi.

Other things noted during the test
I noticed that the trigger has a definite first and second stage. The second stage is not a crisp break the way it is adjusted right now. I can feel it pull through a long but creepless pull before letoff. I will do a separate report on adjusting the trigger, because there’s a lot to it and I want to do it justice.

The bolt handle is about a half-inch too short for comfort. With this fatter stock, the handle should stick out a little more to give you something to grab hold of when cocking the rifle.


Bolt handle is too short. It needs another half-inch.

That’s it to this point. The Katana is very consistent at just over 20 foot-pounds of energy. And 18-26 good shots are possible with every fill.