by B.B. Pelletier
Testing and photos by Earl (Mac) McDonald
Before I begin, there’s an airgun show coming up this month in New York. The Baldwinsville Airgun Show and Shoot will be held at American Legion Post 113 in Baldwinsville on July 16 and 17. Email Larry Behling or call 315-695-7133 for info.
Mac has tested the .22 caliber Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston for you, and this is the beginning of his report. The rifle is the new-style Benjamin Trail series that features a thumbhole stock and a Weaver base attached to the spring tube. So, everyone who has been waiting for a Weaver base that isn’t an add-on — this is the rifle for you.
The Nitro Piston is a gas spring filled with nitrogen instead of air. That makes it easier to cock. A gas spring works like a coiled steel mainspring, except it does it with compressed gas. No gas is lost as the spring works, so it remains pressurized for the next shot. Also, since gas under pressure never “takes a set” (i.e., it never gets tired), you can leave a gas spring gun cocked for hours or even days without any loss of power. The gas springs in your car are under maximum compression 99.9 percent of the time, and they last for years. They’re also made more cheaply than the gas spring in an air rifle.
Gas springs are less affected by cold temperatures than steel springs because they don’t have heavy lubrication to stiffen up. They also cycle faster than coiled steel springs, which speeds up the shot cycle. And they reduce vibration, as long as you don’t hold the stock with a firm grip.
The downside of gas springs is that they come under full tension the moment they start working, so the guns that have them feel harder to cock. But that’s a low price to pay for all the advantages. They won’t make the gun more accurate, but they might make it easier to shoot accurately. We shall see as Mac tests this rifle. Mac says this rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, which is manageable.
There are no open sights. This rifle comes with a CenterPoint 3-9x40AO scope, and Mac reports an error in the scope manual. The manual says to adjust the fast focus eyepiece until both the reticle and the target are in focus. That is impossible and incorrect. You point the scope at a blank wall and adjust the focus ring until the reticle comes into sharp focus. The target is focused with the AO ring.
The rifle is 43-3/4″ long and has a 14″ pull. The barrel with shroud measures 18-3/4″, but the real barrel is recessed 1-3/8″ inside the end of the shroud. The rifle weighs 6.65 lbs. without the scope.
Mac liked the lazer checkering on the stock and the Benjamin name carved into the bottom of the forearm. He also liked the sling swivel stud attached to the butt that compliments the permanently attached sling loop attached to the barrel.
The two-stage trigger breaks at 4.2 lbs., but Mac reports that the let-off point is not very consistent. He tried to adjust it, following the instructions from the Crosman Nitro Piston test I did last year, but it never became crisp. The manual safety pulls back to engage and moves forward to fire.
Mac noted that the fit and finish of the hardwood stock is very good and even, and that the comb height is just right for a scope. The triggerguard and end cap are plastic.
Overall, Mac likes the look of this rifle. He likes the scope very much and will report on it separately. Next, he’ll look at velocity of this .22 caliber rifle.