by B.B. Pelletier
I’m home! I dictated this blog to Edith on my last afternoon in the hospital.
A special note from Edith: Thank you to everyone for your unending support, kindness, caring and love. Tom and I are very deeply touched. Tom’s return home was delayed, but we finally got back around 6:30 pm. The cats ran around in excitement as he moved around the house. Tom had a small dinner (per his specific request–half a low-fat beef hotdog and 3 fresh strawberries), and he told me it was the best meal he’s eaten since he left 16 days ago. Well, that was easy. While I’m a pretty good cook, it looks like I won’t have to try so hard from now on!
Now, on to today’s blog.
The title alone must come as a surprise to some of you. All along I’ve been referring to this pellet as the .25 cal. Premier. Indeed, it IS based on the Crosman Premier but will be marketed as a Benjamin pellet only. So, in the great line of Crosman Premiers, we must make a parenthetical note that the .25 caliber is called a Benjamin.
This makes sense because all the guns Crosman makes in that caliber are the Benjamin brand. It’s not a big deal, but you need to get your terms straight, as do I.
The .25 cal. pellet is as old as the .177 and .22. Perhaps, the .22 is a little older than the others, but you have to get into esoteric shapes, such as cat slugs (solid lead bullets with felt bottoms), before that even takes effect. So, for all intents and purposes, the .25 is just as old. But, it was only as popular as the other two in the early 1900s. After about 1914, .22 and .177 calibers took off, leaving the .25 cal. in the dust…until now.
From the beginning, the .25 cal. pellet was always viewed as a bulldozer. It never had the precision of the other two smaller calibers, and there was no real reason to give it that precision. Velocities of the early .25 guns, and I’m speaking mainly about BSA rifles, were never high. Three hundred feet per second was considered adequate. Of course, at the same time, .177 might be doing only 550. The need for precision and accuracy at great range was not there. Consequently, you can view early .25 cal. pellets as lead slugs with very little precision. I may get criticism from some advanced collectors for saying that–and I welcome it if they will just provide the substantiation for their assertions.
Twenty-five-caliber rifles continued to be made after 1914, but they were always an appendage to something greater. For example, the Webley Mark II service rifle came with all 3 calibers. When you look at the pellets you could buy for the .25, it probably wasn’t worth installing the barrel. Twenty-five caliber pistols came along later with the same ammunition problems.
In the 1970s, the airgun horsepower races began; and, before long, .177 surged ahead of .22. It wasn’t due just to speed that this happened. It also was impacted by the much finer target guns being produced in Europe for .177 caliber only. By the end of the 1970s, there were no formal target matches being shot anywhere with anything but .177.
The .25 cal. soldiered on, but with vastly inferior sales of the .22 and completely out of the running compared to the .177. This must be one of the heartbreaks that Dr. Robert Beeman suffered when he tried to promote the .20 caliber by himself. There just simply were no adequate pellets to go with the fine guns he was having built.
Down to today
What I’ve given you in the few paragraphs above is a very condensed outline of the history of the development of pellets. There’s certainly far more that could be said about all of this, but I don’t feel that this report is the right place for it.
We’re here to examine the performance of a new .25 cal. pellet, and one that I have high hopes will change the future of .25 cal. airgunning. Behind my desk stands a storage cabinet filled with different pellets, including those made in .25 cal. A recent gift from derrick38 and Frank B., both readers of this blog, has expanded my selection greatly. And, in all of that, I can tell you that there isn’t one true premium .25 cal. pellet. We’re faced, instead, with using the best we can find, which I have found to be the H&N Baracuda/Beeman Kodiak (the manufacturers list them at different weights, and I can’t explain that). Ten years ago, when RWS USA was importing .25 cal. airguns, they brought in a beautiful 20.1-grain pellet called the Diana Magnum. While this pellet was available, it was celebrated by .25 cal. shooters around the world. When RWS USA stopped buying Diana guns in that caliber, they saw no future need for the pellet.
This brings us to the here and now. I’m going to test the new Benjamin .25 in as many ways as I can think of. If I had gold-standard pellets against which I could test them, I would do so, but you understand why that isn’t the case.
The new .25 caliber pellets from Crosman will bear the Benjamin brand name.
Let’s look at the pellet
The Benjamin pellet is, without a doubt, a Crosman Premier by another name. I didn’t make that up; Ed Schultz at Crosman told me that he took their best ballistic coefficient Premier, which ironically turned out to be the .20 cal., and stretched it out to .25. But is it a .25?
The new pellet has a nominal diameter of 6.4mm. Since .25 cal. pellets have varied so widely over the years, I can’t really fit this fact into the broader lexicon of .25 pellets. But, around the world, .25 cal. is accepted as 6.35mm. So, this one should be bigger.
The reason I say “should be” is because companies like Milbro put out many types of .25 pellets that may have all said 6.35mm on the tin but may have been anything but that. See how hard it is to discuss this pellet? I’ll give you exact measurements in part 2.
We weighed 10 pellets to determine their average weight.
I weighed 10 sample pellets and came up with an average of 27.77 grains. The range was from 27.5 to 28.0. Before you start criticizing, do some math and extrapolate back to .177 caliber. You’ll find the best pellets falling into similar weight ranges when the size is properly scaled down.
The new pellets come 200 to a very large tin with a screw top. That screw top is a feature all by itself. Nothing worse than an open tin of pellets in your range bag, and these tins will prevent that.
My plan is to test the heck out of this pellet, because it’s more important than any new airgun. This is a radial bias ply tire that can take your existing automobile and change its performance. I have a .25 Marauder with which I’ll conduct comparative testing. I also have a Whiscombe, and I doubt that there are any better .25 springers on the market!
One final thing is that I don’t mean to denigrate the other new .25 cal. pellets by gushing over this one. This is just where I started. I know there’s already a new.25 RWS Superdome as well as three new .25 pellets coming from Gamo…and I may have forgotten one or two. Keeping things together in a tidy package, this report is only about the Benjamin .25 caliber pellet.