by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Well, the replacement Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 I now have is up to spec. And it doesn’t cock easily, like I said last week. It cocks with 47 lb.. of effort. Now, that’s on the low side of heavy, and if the power is anywhere near the claimed 30 foot-pounds, then this is still a great hunting rifle, but by no means should it be thought of as a plinker.

I want to warn you new airgunners about something. Some new shooters will read the specs only and pick the cheapest, most powerful air rifle they can find. Then they get it and are overwhelmed by the size and the effort required to cock the rifle. I see the same thing in the world of firearms, where someone buys an S&W .500 Magnum and then resells it after only 6 shots. They never imagined the tremendous recoil such a gun generates. New England Firearms (NEF) chambers their little Handi-Rifle for the S&W .500 magnum and that’s another one I see for sale all the time, along with a lot of Marlin Guide Guns in .45-70.

Folks, the Benjamin Trail XL 1100 is a large air rifle that takes a lot of effort to cock. Buy it for hunting–not as a general-purpose plinking rifle. I don’t know how much plainer I can make it.

Shooting behavior
The rifle lunges forward with the shot, just like any super magnum air rifle. Thankfully, it has a Weaver base, so scope mounting shouldn’t be a problem. The noise still seems very low, especially given the power.

And it dieseled with every shot during this test. Please understand the terminology I’m using. Dieseling is present in all powerful spring guns on every shot. It is NOT the loud explosion you hear with the shot. That is called a detonation. The Benjamin Trail did not detonate even once during this test. We expect a gun like this to diesel, and it does. It also exhausts a lot of smoke because it is new. That should diminish in a couple hundred shots.

The trigger-pull is long because I haven’t yet adjusted it. Once adjusted, it should be very short and crisp. I’ll adjust it and report the results to you.

Crosman Premiers
The standard test pellet for this rifle must be the .22-caliber Crosman Premier. At 14.3 grains, a Premier must travel at 972 f.p.s. to develop 30 foot-pounds. In the test rifle, Premiers averaged 882 f.p.s., which is a muzzle energy of 24.71 foot-pounds. The spread went from 864 f.p.s. to 901 f.p.s., so a total spread of 37 f.p.s. That may stabilize a little as the rifle breaks in.

RWS Hobbys
Spring-piston airguns usually perform best with lighter pellets, so I tested the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellet next. The average velocity was 940 f.p.s., which works out to a muzzle energy of 23.35 foot-pounds. The spread went from 928 f.p.s. to 948 f.p.s., so a tighter spread of just 20 f.p.s. This result was a surprise. I expected energy to rise with Hobbys, so perhaps the rifle likes heavier pellets.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys
Finally, I tried JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys. At 18.1 grains, they’re an ideal weight for long-range shooting and hunting. They averaged 783 f.p.s., with a spread from 777 to 792–at 15 f.p.s., it was the tightest of the session. The average muzzle energy worked out to 24.65 foot-pounds, or very close to the Premiers.

So, this test rifle develops nowhere near 30 foot-pounds of power, or even the 26 foot-pound lower limit I was offering as an acceptable margin of error. This is a 25 foot-pound airgun at best.

Setting the claim aside, 25 foot-pounds is respectable for a breakbarrel springer. Because this is a gas-spring gun, hunters should love it. And the price is extremely low for all that you get. Don’t take it off your list for missing the claim, just know what to expect so you won’t be disappointed.

Other Benjamin Trail XL 1100s may exhibit greater energy than this test rifle, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some hot ones making as much as 27 foot-pounds. And the test gun may speed up a bit as it breaks in. I will check it after the accuracy test to see if there’s any trend in that direction.