Benjamin Bulldog big bore air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Bulldog
Benjamin’s new Bulldog bullpup big bore air rifle is a .357-caliber 5-shot repeater.

This report covers:

• Bullpup
• Shrouded
• Bolt action with sidelever
• Detailed specifications
• Bullets
• Sling swivel studs
• Sights
• The trigger
• Barrel cleaning
• Rotary magazine

Today’s report should start some discussions! I’m starting the review of the Benjamin Bulldog big bore air rifle. Big bores are very popular these days, and we have a number of them to review this year.

Bullpup
If you read Part 1 of the Ft. Worth airgun show last September or Part 1 of the 2015 SHOT Show report in January of this year, you’re aware that the Benjamin Bulldog is a .357-caliber big bore from Crosman, and it’s built in the bullpup style.

A bullpup rifle is one where the receiver has been moved to the back of the butt by certain clever tricks with the receiver and trigger. That shortens the overall length by a large amount, making the resulting gun more compact and easy to carry afield. The Bulldog is a bolt-action repeater that holds 5 bullets in a spring-loaded rotary magazine. The spring advances the magazine every time a bullet is shot — it does not assist in the feeding of the bullet into the breech.

Shrouded
One key feature that a lot of you are interested in is the shrouded barrel. The Bulldog is a quiet big bore! When I was at Media Day, I was always wearing hearing protection because there were hundreds of shots being fired each minute, so I couldn’t really evaluate how loud the gun is. Now I can!

Bolt-action with sidelever
The bolt is operated by a lever located on the right side of the gun. It’s back by your cheek when the rifle is shouldered, but the rifle cocks easily and doesn’t have to be taken off the shoulder to cock and reload. This is a common complaint of the Bullpup design, so it’s important to note that the Bulldog is different.

Detailed specifications
I will say that Crosman put a lot more specifications into this rifle’s owner’s manual than I usually find. I know, for example, that the Bulldog’s air reservoir has an internal volume of 340 cc. I also know the gun will produce velocities up to 900 f.p.s. when 95-grain bullets are used. And, it’ll produce up to 200 foot-pounds when a 170-grain bullet is fired. I think a 170-grain bullet is too long for good accuracy with this airgun, but I’ll test it with some shorter 158-grain bullets I have, just to see. I would guess the rifle will like lighter bullets better, but only testing will show us.

Bullets
The specs also say I can expect 10 shots with 145-grain bullets that produce an average 170 foot-pounds. Crosman sent me 100 145-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets to test in the gun, so I’ll try this exact test. This was the bullet I tried on Media Day at the SHOT Show, and I was hitting 4-inch spinners at 65 yards with every shot. I know they do work well in the rifle.

Benjamin Bulldog bullets
The Nosler Ballistic Tip is a 145-grain pointed bullet from Crosman (left). On the right is a 105-grain semi-wadcutter pure-lead bullet made by Tin Starr Bullets of Weatherford, Texas.

Johnny Hill of Tin Starr Bullets cast several .357 bullets in pure lead for this test. I’m quite excited to try his 105-grain semi-wadcutter, because I think it might prove to be very accurate. I learned while testing the .458 AirForce Texan that Johnny’s pure lead bullets are more accurate than similar harder bullets that have antimony in them, so this will be an interesting test!

Sling swivel studs
The Bulldog is for hunting and comes with a pair of sling swivel studs (anchors for quick-disconnect sling swivels) attached permanently at the bottom of the tip of the forearm and beneath the butt. The rifle weighs 7.7 lbs without a scope, so add another pound for the scope. That’s enough weight that you’re going to want a sling if you stay in the field for any amount of time.

Benjamin Bulldog sling stud
Front and rear sling swivel studs are permanent.

Crosman included a set of 2-piece Weaver rings in the shipment, and the manual says that 37mm tall “Absolute Co-Witness rings” are strongly suggested for this airgun for optimum use (the manual says they’re mandatory, but I checked with Crosman and they said it they were best for optimum use). I don’t see these rings listed on the Pyramyd Air website, so I assume some will be forthcoming. I verified that the rings I have are the ones they recommend.

Also included in the shipment was a CenterPoint 4-16X56 scope that has parallax adjustment down to 10 yards. This is a powerful scope that I am looking forward to evaluating along with the Bulldog.

The gun has a fill pressure of 3,000 psi (207 bar), so no surprises there. The standard Foster male fill nipple is located on the bottom of the gun, in front of the butt and just below the air gauge. It’s protected from dirt by a plastic cover. The manual tells you that to fill the rifle from empty you first must cock the gun (and apply the safety) to keep the air from flowing out of the valve at low pressure. But once the gun’s in use, you always leave pressure inside, and the reservoir will then accept a fill without cocking the gun. This is common to many powerful air rifles.

Benjamin Bulldog fill nipple
Fill nipple is a standard Foster male fitting that’s under a cover.

Safety
The safety is manual, which I appreciate because it means the second shot is ready as soon as the gun’s cocked. Pull back on the safety lever to make the gun safe and push forward to take it off.

The trigger
The trigger is 2-stage and non-adjustable. I’ll have to wait until I get this rifle to the range, because I’m certainly not going to fire this one in the house! But I do remember on Media Day, thinking that the trigger is very nice. Bullpups have a reputation for a heavy creepy pull, so we want to know how nice this one is.

Sights
There are no sights on the Bulldog. You are expected to mount an optical sight and most will want to mount a scope. The top of the airgun has a Picatinny rail that’s 26-1/4 inches long, so scope placement shouldn’t be a problem. There is a concern about the height of the scope, as there is on any bullpup, but the rings Crosman sent are high rings and, as I recall, the Bulldog I shot at Media Day was easy enough to sight through.

Another rail runs under the forearm at the front of the gun. This one is shaped differently, but Weaver accessories will still attach to it.

The rifled steel barrel is 28 inches long. Long-time blog readers know that barrel length is important to the power potential of any pneumatic airgun. Because the air pressure is so low compared to gunpowder and even to black powder (50,000 psi and 15,000 psi, respectively), the barrel needs to be as long as possible for the air  to push on the base of the bullet. That’s where the velocity comes from. Of course, barrel length flies in the face of the bullpup design that favors compactness, but I think Crosman has done a pretty good job of balancing those two factors.

Barrel cleaning
The instructions include a separate half-sheet that deals extensively with barrel cleaning. Crosman included Swab-It bore tips for cleaning and lubricating the barrel when they sent my gun. They also included a small bottle of Pellgunoil, which they recommend using to oil the bore after it’s clean. Of course, you never want to get this oil into the air reservoir. Just use it for the barrel. They also included a solid synthetic cleaning rod to hold the Swab-It tips.

Rotary magazine
The gun comes with one 5-shot rotary magazine, but extra mags are available. The mag is easy to load and rotate; and when the last shot has been fired, the mag blocks the bolt from going forward, alerting the shooter that it’s time to reload.

Benjamin Bulldog rotary mag
The Bulldog comes with one rotary magazine.

That’s as far as I’m going today. Next, I’ll test velocity, but I need to get to the range for that. I’ll also give you an appraisal of the sound made by the Bulldog.

75 thoughts on “Benjamin Bulldog big bore air rifle: Part 1



  1. All these big bore airguns is cool stuff.

    I’m excited that it seems like you think its going to be pretty quiet.

    And I do like the bullpup design and the trigger is always a question. And the trigger pull to me is very important.

    And I think I like the rotary magazine better that comes with the bullpup verses the Marauder magazines.

    Its nice that they did go the little extra with the manual and the cleaning equipment.

    I still can’t get use to the look of the Bulldog but I think it will grow on me.

    But I’m definatly interested in how this gun does along with the other big bores out there.


  2. I like how they allowed the sidelever to be forward enough that you don’t have to break your cheekweld so much to manipulate the bolt. The bullpup design works for the long barrel allowing this to packaged within a normal sized rifle case. I do wonder where is the point of balance of this airgun is though in this configuration?


  3. Color me intrigued. Ten available shots at 170 foot pounds a crack would seem to be nicely field-worthy. It sounds heavy, somewhow, but I’ll admit I do like ’em light as well as short. And a 28″ barrel with a 36″ overall length is certainly an acceptable balance!

    One specific question: what is the length of pull on this beastie?

    If the trigger is amenable, the baffling effective and of course if it shoots, this would seem to be a seriously interesting option. Looking forward to the series!



      • Thanks for the answer, B.B. Fifteen? Ouch. And here I go out of my way to get pulls down to between 12 and 12-1/2″. This design doesn’t look all that promising in that regard, either, as it appears the action comes all the way out to the buttplate.


  4. I will be interested to see you put it through the paces, but I just cannot imagine purchasing one myself. This thing is just plain ugly. I also do not care for where the cocking lever is. I have noticed that most air rifle bullpups are that way, but there are some out on the market now that have finally addressed this issue.


    • RR,

      Yeah, they “addressed” the cocking situation alright. You must mean the Hummingbird from Kalibrgun. It’s a failed semiautomatic that partially cocks itself — then requires the shooter to go through several unnatural steps to finish the job. I shot one at the Pyramyd Air Cup last October. Not very impressive.

      B.B.


      • BB,

        I had wondered about the semi function. The issue has apparently been addressed and it operates with a pull back, push forward action now. From what I am hearing about it, it is a real nice ‘pup now.

        There is also the Viking. It has a forward bolt action that can be changed from right to left, depending on your preference. I am also hearing some real good reports on it from owners.


      • BB,
        You say the Hummingbird partially cocks itself, that comment is incorrect. In no way does the production/stateside version firing cycle assist in cocking. Also you say the shooter has to go through several unnatural steps to finish the job, I’m curious if you even shot a Hummingbird because the Bird is a left side mid bolt where all the shooter does is pull the side bolt back and push it forward for each shot.


        • Matthew,

          Yes, I did shoot a Hummingbird and the action was described as an attempt at semiautomatic operation that didn’t quite work out. That’s why the parts move when the gun fires.

          And, yes again, the Hummingbird has an unnatural multi-step cocking process. You have to learn it, which is why there was someone with the gun to explain it to everyone.

          Like the Hummingbird all you want, but don’t pretend it’s something that it clearly isn’t!

          B.B.


    • I know that beauty (or lack thereof) is very subjective, but I have to agree with RR’s assessment of the Bulldog’s looks. I have no issues against either bullpups or big bores, but this is just a big plastic monstrosity.

      It may very well be a great shooting gun. And for all the future owners, I hope it is. But, … I won’t be one.

      David H




    • Tim,

      They did receive your email, and an automated email response was sent to you regarding it. I understand that your email was forwarded to the returns department. They will be the ones getting in touch with you (and maybe they already have).

      Please keep me updated on this issue.

      Thanks,
      Edith


      • Well you must have lit a fire under someone. Right around the time you wrote up that I got the first of two emails, and I also got two phone calls. (I sleep days, work nights, so I got the voice mail.)

        My problem is that sometimes when I pull back on the marauder bolt it advances the magazine but does not cock the gun. It happened to me about 5-6 times out of 30 shots. After the first time it happened I was being very careful to make sure to retract the bolt all the way back, but a few times it still didn’t cock the gun

        One of the emails said that many people have that problem at first, and if the bolt is dry it can be oiled lightly. The second email just basically explained that that could happen, which I already know.

        The phone call said they would take the gun back, now I have an email from Fedex with a return authorization shipping label.

        I guess this weekend I’ll try to shoot it a little more, see if the problem goes away or if it’s a problem with the way I’m cocking it, if not I’ll pull the scope and pack up the gun to send it back.

        Thanks for checking on that with them.



          • Yes, the fedex email gives me the exact date I need to complete that by. I will be running it through the paces this weekend to see if it’s me or not. I really don’t want to have to send it back, I just wish I knew more of if this was a normal part of the break in on these guns. I’ll know more this saturday. Thank you for your help.


            • Tim
              This is something to try.

              The spring adjustment may be to far out. Take a 1/4″ Allen wrench and stick it in the end plug that is under the cocking bolt.

              Turn the adjustment 2 full turns counter clockwise.

              I believe it is adjusted to far in and the coils of the springs are contacting each other and its not allowing you to pull the bolt back far enough all the time for your trigger to latch.

              If it still does it turn the spring adjustment two turns back in to where it was.

              Then there could be other problems. And without having the gun in front of me it would be hard to say. But I do believe that’s the problem.

              Let me know if does or does not work.


              • That sounds logical. I will certainly try that.

                I shot 30 shots, and at the end it did seem that the pellets were dropping a little bit, and I was only shooting 20 yards or so. I didn’t have a chrony to check what it was doing but I’m wondering if it was running a little hot and slowing down already.

                If I understand everything correctly, the adjustment you describe should slow things down a little bit, right?


                • Tim
                  Yes it should slow it down if I’m remembering right the way the screw adjuster works. Its been a while since I messed with tuning my Marauder. And 2 won’t drop the velocity to much. Maybe 75 fps.

                  And in the owner manual it should say wich way to turn the spring adjustment for lower power.

                  Let me know how it goes.


                  • I seem to have it working ok now. I think it may just have been a break in issue, because I tried your adjustment, but it still worked ok when I adjusted it back.

                    Now I need to work on the accuracy. Seems to be giving me around an inch at 20 yards, but I’ve only tried one pellet, and that’s cheap CPHPs. I’ve got some JSBs that I’m going to have to try to run through it. I think I have three different weights of those. I have a few others as well.


  5. Morning B.B.,
    The bullpup seems to be the natural design for a big bore–long barrel for horsepower in a short portable rifle. What’s not to like! Looking forward to the rest of this review.

    Mr. B.


    • When bb first announced these big bores at the shot show, my first thought was that air force should consider making a bull pup design. Considering the length of the Texan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the guys who go crazy with mods and custom work figuring out a way to make the thing a bull pup anyway. I understand the difficulties with the trigger but this is 2015, there’s nothing a good engineer can’t solve, and with a hunting rifle, shorter means easier to carry.


  6. Hello B.B.,
    In other testing I have read about elsewhere, 82gr bullets and 82gr JSB pellets seemed to group quite well. I’m looking forward to the rest of your evaluation.


  7. BB: The SWC bullet you show in the picture with the Noslers, looks a lot like the ones I cast with my Lee double cavity bullet mould for the 38S&W. They weigh 105 grs as well, and cast out at .358 dia. The only difference is that there is a crimping groove and the base on the bullet you have looks like it could accept a gas check, or is beveled. The Lee has a plain base.


    • Robert,

      That’s actually a shaved base. It started life as a longer bullet that Johnny shaved the bottom groove off. He is doing that to prototype a new bullet.

      When he buys a mold, he has to buy 8, because his casting machine takes 8 molds. So he prototypes various shapes and weights this way before making the larger investment.

      B.B.



    • Carel,

      If it wasn’t for the Ipad and Apple’s software I wouldn’t do this. Edith and I can take a short clip like this in seconds, compared to the hours I used to spend in a Final Cut Pro suite to edit a one-minute film!

      B.B.


  8. Why did they put the side lever so far back, close to the shooters ear??

    It should have been placed close to the trigger unit for a faster follow-up shot if needed, so that the shooter don’t need to remove his hand from the pistol grip to cycle the rifle.


    • Johnny,

      Welcome to the blog.

      This is a bullpup and that’s how they are made. The action is all the way back at the butt. To put the cocking lever anywhere else would mean that it would flex from being too long and that wouldn’t be pleasant. As bullpups go, the Bulldog is easy to operate.

      B.B.


      • Thank you.

        Neither the Impact or the Wildcat have their side levers close to the shooters ears and you wont experience any flex at all there, at least not on the prototypes/preproductions from IWA….

        If a new design, as the Bulldog, choose to put the side lever there, it must fill some kind of function…?

        Cant just figure out witch…?


  9. Johnny,

    Let’s keep on the page. The FX Impact isn’t a bullpup, so of course its lever isn’t at the rear.

    Now the Wildcat is a bullpup, but it’s smallbore. I don’t know whether that makes any difference in the required cocking effort, but it may. The Bullpup is a 170 foot-pound rifle, so its striker spring is stronger.

    That said, you are right, the FX Wildcat cocking lever is farther forward. It looks like the linkage is there and they have a sliding connecting rod back to the action. Flex — I don’t know? But probably not.

    B.B.


    • How come you don’t define Impact as a bull pup?

      The barrel begins far back, just in front of the guns butt pad, the receiver with the mag system is also located there, app 4 inches from the butt pad. The only thing forward is the trigger unit and the air intake valve together with the guns air tube.

      How else would one define a bull pup, the Wildcat have the same principal layout, besides the Impact is a take down?



        • Yes?

          The rectangle with three stripes and two spots behind the mag on the Impact is the rifles legal receiver.

          Slide the butt pad down and you will have access to the receiver to change barrel or carry out service of the valve or other parts – except the air intake valve and its trigger system – everything mechanical is located just in front of the butt pad (hammer housing, hammer, hammer spring and so on).


          • Johnny,

            I don’t care about the rifles “legal” action (where did that term come from?). I understand what you said, but the fact that it has a butt makes it not a bullpup.

            Now, if the gun can be operated without that butt installed, then it is a bullpup. But look at where that puts the sidelever! Right were the Bulldog’s lever is.

            So, put a butt extension on the Bulldog and you have the same thing.

            I don’t consider the FX Impact to be a true bullpup. You don’t have to agree.

            B.B.


            • Not trying to argue, I was just curious about definitions.

              A “legal action” is the part that carry the guns serial number, required by law on firearms (IE airguns with more then 8.00 fpe ME) here. There is also a legal barrel but since most guns only have barrels for launching projectiles, its more self evident so to speak…

              The action however can be legal or non legal, its like the upper and lower receivers on a AR-rifle, one is “legal” (you in the US would call it a FFL-item) and the other one is not (and can be sold free).

              Back to the Impact..

              Since the butt pad acts like a lid on the action/receiver, the guns cant be used without it, just as a normal PCP cant be used without the back end of its hammer housing.




    • Kevin,

      just watched the video and tracked down the website for HubEn – hubenairguns.com.

      I don’t know where they are located and their only contact is a skype number and e-mail address. I guess this is a Chinese or even Japanese manufacturer? Have you any more information on them?

      Fred DPRoNJ


      • Fred,

        Apparently these are going to be available in the USA since at least one retailer has agreed to carry them. That retailer has this new Huban enroute and will be testing it soon. Larger shipments to the USA are expected in about 3 months.

        That’s about all I know.

        kevin


        • OK, then we’ll have to wait and see. As someone remarked on the “Yellow” and the video showed, this rifle starts with 5,000 psi. I get bored pumping my Marauder to 3,000 psi and use a SCUBA tank so it should be interesting how things transpire. I liked the accuracy at 50 yards, though, if it was 50 yards….

          Fred DPRoNJ


  10. I am very excited for this report! Also cant wait for the next report in the Talon SS vs 1022. I wanted to ask about the cast bullets from Johnny Hill, I have searched for Tin Starr Bullets online but have not found anything.Does he have a website that I can find more info on his bullets. I am interested in learning more about what he offers.


  11. B.B.,

    Is the cocking lever movable to the left side or the rifle available left handed? I dislike repeaters that require one to lower the thing from the cheek weld.

    Michael


  12. I have been waiting for this report! This should get a better life than the Benjamin Rogue, I suppose. At least it has a mechanical operating system and will not drive shooters away.
    I just can’t get used to the looks of the barrel shroud on the Bulldog. To my eyes the square end of the barrel seem odd looking. I don’t know, maybe it is just me and I will get used in time.
    One question: when you mention .357 148 grain bullets it reminds me of those 140 ~ 148 grain lead wadcutter bullets used to load .38 Special target ammo. These usually have hollow bases. Do you think they would be ok for this rifle? The ones I find around here usually are .357 or .358 in diameter. If this rifle is a .355 (9mm) it may not fit.


  13. I’ve never really warmed up to bullpup designs for a couple reasons. The first is that the design seems to require an extra linkage to the trigger that degrades its feel. The second reason is that for firearms, it places the action right next to your face, so there is nothing to protect you if things go wrong. Maybe that is not such a concern with airgun powerplants. Still, I’ll be interested to see how this rifle performs.

    Matt61


  14. PCP development seems to be progressing fast and furious. Pretty exciting. The whole plastic gun thing does not appeal to my taste. I think our hobby is safe as long as there is no criminal activity with the lethal energy these guns achieve. I used to think PCP was something Adam 12 or Jim Rockford was always chasing down!


    • Rob,

      Imagine robbing a 7-11, armed with a flintlock. Using an airgun iust about as practical.

      However, when I was assigned in Germany in the 1970s, the Neo-Nazis were carrying black powder revolvers because they could get them under the law.

      So I guess we have to think about such things.

      B.B.


  15. Excellent start B.B. and I have been waiting for this review as well as the Texan you recently reviewed. I probably am not in the market for this gun due to the price, at least for now, and the looks are growing on me a bit. I just really want to see what it can do, the videos I have seen show it to be quite but how’s the down range report? Thanks B. B.


  16. BB and Fellow Airgunners
    This Benjamin 357 Bulldog seems to offer a lot of features found in Bullpups costing hundreds of dollars more. You have hinted the rifle to be quite accurate from your first impressions during your time with the gun at the Shot Show. Bullpups seem to be very popular these days, and just Googling airgun bullpups gets you an impressive list as compared to 6 years ago when I first started shooting adult airguns. Then, if you wanted a bullpup it seemed you had to modify, or pay someone to modify a full sized airgun to suit your bullpup shooting desires. I consider myself primarily a paper target shooter, and a secondary starling eradicator and a full sized airgun seems more aligned to my shooting styles and Canadian law. However, if our politicians decided to educate themselves by asking someone who knows the difference between airguns, and actual fire arms, I just may get to try one someday.
    I do find it difficult to like the packaging Benjamin chose to wrap their gun in, but I believe this gun is their first ever try at making a bullpup. This airgun looks to be something from a Star Wars movie. However, if it can deliver on accuracy, thats what counts most. Have to remind myself to be open to knew, and other persons ideas. After all, it all benefits our growing sport of shooting airguns.
    Ciao
    Titus




  17. I’m not convinced that a end to end injection molded plastic gun is worth dropping $1000 on. Especially when crosman’s reputation for quality is really in the toilet behind even the worst chinese guns. Not only that but this is the ugliest space gun I have ever seen. Couple that with the fact I can get more power and better quality from a Airforce Texan and I just can’t see a plastic gun being worth this much.



Leave a Reply