Benjamin’s Rogue ePCP — a new way of making airguns: Part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
Where’s the On switch?
Today, we’ll learn more about the general operating functions of the new Benjamin Rogue big bore air rifle. I think the first question I had was where is the On switch? I learned that there isn’t one. Turning the rifle on is embedded in how you make the gun ready to fire, and it’s handled by the position of the bolt. In fact, the bolt position is a large part of how this gun operates, so let’s look at it now.
The bolt is key to the Rogue’s functions
The Rogue bolt does what every bolt does on a bolt-action rifle. It opens to allow loading a single bullet if the rifle is set up for single-loading, or it withdraws to allow the spring-loaded magazine to advance to the next round that will then be pushed into the breech when the bolt goes forward. That much is like every other bolt-action rifle, except that this is the only big bore I know of with the facility for both single-loading and magazine-loading.
The bolt moves along the track as seen here. The lower track is where the bolt operates the firing mechanism and activates the trigger. Notice the large bolt probe, which pushes the bullet into the breech. Also note that the single-shot loading tray is installed in the gun. It appears as a dark black rectangle below the bolt probe.
But the functions of the bolt don’t end there. The Rogue bolt is also one part of the “switch” that activates the electronics that control the gun. Where the bolt is positioned determines if the gun fires or not, and the breech is marked to indicate that. With the bolt pushed down into the short lower track in the receiver, forward is safe and back makes the rifle ready to fire. After the shot, push the bolt forward and the rifle cannot fire again — but the bolt doesn’t work by itself.
Behind the bolt is a lever called the bolt valve lock with the words Disabled and Active underneath. When you can read the word Disabled, the bolt is physically prevented from being pulled back to the Ready to Fire position. In fact, the bolt is locked in position and cannot be moved in any direction. The lever is a mechanical cam that prevents bolt movement, and it has enough resistance that you will not make the rifle Active without deliberate intentions. When the lever is in the Active position, the bolt can be pulled back to the Ready to Fire position.
In this photo, the bolt is in the forward position of the lower track. The bolt valve lock lever is switched to the Disabled position, indicating that the rifle cannot be fired. The bolt is physically blocked from moving with the valve lever lock in this position.
In this photo, the bolt has been pulled back to the rear of the lower track, the valve lock lever has been switched to Active, but the safety is still on (see above the trigger). When the safety is pushed off, the rifle is ready to fire.
The safety operates independently of the bolt but is also employed when making the rifle safe. It is a familiar mechanical crossbolt safety that most shooters will recognize from past experience with other guns. Push to the right to make safe and to the left to take the safety off. When handling the Rogue, use all safeties and safety measures at all times, not only because the rifle is extremely powerful, but also because it’s electronically controlled and uses mechanical inputs to determine the firing status.
A safe field operating method
Perhaps a safe field carry arrangement would be with a bullet loaded, the bolt forward, the safety on and the bolt valve lock in the Disabled position. When you want to make the rifle ready to fire, swing the bolt valve lock forward to the Active position and pull the bolt back to the Ready to Fire position. Then, take the safety off and fire.
The status display
The status display can be turned on any time by pressing the Mode button once. The display remains on for 30 seconds and then turns off automatically. There’s no manual way to turn off the display. If you’re in bright sunlight and have a difficult time reading the display, pressing the up and down buttons simultaneously turns on the backlight that brightens the display.
The display tells you the status of the rifle. If you overfill the reservoir, for example, the onboard pressure sensor will detect it and give you two error messages that will read:
VERY HIGH PSI
It also lets you change the programming that makes the rifle perform differently. In the current model, you have three grain-weights of bullets to select from –100 gr., 145 gr. and 170 gr. Choose the one closest to the actual weight of bullet being used. There’s also a low, medium and high power setting to select. That will have an affect on the number of shots the gun can provide at the fill pressure in the reservoir when the selection is made. The software will not let you choose a performance mode that the rifle cannot deliver. For example, if you have only 1,500 psi in the rifle and indicate that you will be shooting a 170-grain bullet, which is the heaviest choice, and want to get high power, the display will inform you that combination isn’t possible with the air onboard. The messages would read:
PRESSURE TOO LOW
FOR POWER SELECTD
Of course, the status display tells you much more. It also gives you the current reservoir pressure reading, the number of shots that remain (if the gun remains at the current settings) and the battery life. But wait, there’s more!
The Discharge mode holds the valve open for twice the time that the gun would normally use. You can use the Discharge mode to bleed down the tank rapidly, but Crosman also sees it as the number 11 on a rock-band amplifier that only goes to 10. In other words, it’s using all the air available to launch the bullet. Maybe you have a bullet stuck in the barrel or perhaps you want a final coupe de grace shot for your quarry. This is a hunting rifle, after all. At any rate, when the ship hits the sand, put her in the Discharge mode and let fly!
And, finally, there’s the Solenoid Time mode. It doesn’t display the time that the solenoid remains open for shots that are part of the programmed possibilities (weight of bullet and desired power, given the remaining air pressure), but it gives you the ability to control the solenoid time directly. You do that by entering a certain amount of time you desire the valve to remain open (expressed in ten-thousandths of a second). Then, all the other programming is suspended and YOU are in full control of the gun. Experimenters could connect to a carbon fiber tank and develop ideal dwell times for specific bullets, for instance.
The 6-shot magazine is an exact replica of a Marauder mag, only larger to support the .357 caliber. First load it, then install it in the action. Just slide the single-shot tray out of the action and replace with a loaded magazine, sliding it in from the left side of the rifle.
I’ll show how to load the magazine in the next report. I’ll also discuss the range of bullets Crosman is providing for the gun and what are your other options. That’s all for today, but I figure we’ll have one more report about the general gun before we head out to the range.