Interesting gun designs — Benjamin Legacy: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Something special from the back room!
  • Easy to cock
  • Smooth shooting
  • Testus interruptus
  • No more Legacy
  • Something’s coming — maybe
  • The rifle
  • Cocking effort 16 lbs.
  • A modern Diana 27?

Today’s report is the reason I wrote the whole report about interesting designs. Today, I’m going to address what I’ve wanted to show you for the past 5 years. This is an interesting story, so fill your cup, sit back and enjoy.

It began in 2009, when Paul Capello and I started the television show American Airgunner. We needed content for the show, and the Crosman Corporation in East Bloomfield, New York, invited us to come in and film their operation. I had toured parts of their plant before, and I knew there was a lot to see.

Something special from the back room!

During the tour, their head engineer, Ed Schultz, asked if we would like to see something special. Naturally, we were excited! He took us out a back door next to the bulk CO2 tank that fills all the cartridges they make. Then, he told us about a secret project of his.

He’d taken one of their breakbarrel rifles and installed a gas spring in it. But this wasn’t your typical gas spring — oh, no! This unit had way less pressure inside, and Ed told me the breakbarrel would cock with about 16 lbs. of effort! One-finger cocking for a gas spring! I looked at him like he was crazy. No one had ever made a gas spring rifle that was easy to cock.

Easy to cock

Ed and I had talked about this at a SHOT Show a year earlier, and he decided to see if what I told him was right — that a gas spring that was easy to cock would also be wonderfully smooth to shoot. I told him about the Theoben Fenman that cocked with just 40 lbs. of effort. That sounds high today; but when it was new, the Fenman was the lightest-cocking gas-spring rifle on the market. It was a delight to shoot!

Several years later, Theoben made another gas spring rifle that RWS USA imported. It was even easier to cock than the Fenman — getting down into the 30-lb. region. I think it was called the Classic. Not only was it the easiest gas-spring rifle to cock, it was also very accurate. Gas-spring guns were very hard to shoot well in those days, so when one came along that was a tackdriver, I paid attention. Ed wanted to know if what I told him was fact, so he experimented.

He handed me the new rifle and told be to try it. It really was easy to cock! I didn’t have any way of measuring the effort that day, but it felt like his 16 lb. claim was spot-on.

Smooth shooting

When I shot the rifle, I got the next surprise. There was almost no vibration, very little recoil and almost no noise. I was able to hit a small mark several times on a dirt bank about 15 yards away.

The rifle I shot that day was a .22-caliber breakbarrel that Ed said wasn’t shooting very fast. It was definitely under 12 foot-pounds. And it was a real delight to shoot. I begged Ed for a sample to test, and he assured me that when the rifle got to production I would get one to test for you.

Five months passed before I saw the rifle again; and when I did, it had a name — the Benjamin Legacy SE. The first part of the name was borrowed from an earlier rifle that I tested several years before, and many people think that gun is what I’m referencing when I mention it. But the Legacy SE I received was the delightful secret gas-spring gun I’d seen too briefly at East Bloomfield.

Benjamin Legacy SE
The Benjamin Legacy SE was a gas-spring rifle that had a very short run.

Benjamin Legacy SE name
Although few have ever seen one, the Benjamin Legacy SE was a production gun for a very short while.

Testus interruptus

I started testing the rifle in late March 2010, but was interrupted by stomach cramps and a bout of nausea that sent me to the emergency room at the local hospital. To make a very long and unpleasant story short, it took a total of 4 hospitals over the next 7 months before I got back out of the woods. Over 2-1/2 months straight were spent in 2 different hospitals — much of it in intensive care.

No more Legacy

When I returned home in June that year, one of the first things I wanted to do was get back to the Legacy test. Unfortunately, the rifle was no longer available. In just the few months I’d been laid up, the finest gas-spring rifle I ever saw had been launched — and then taken off the market. That was sad because I could have sold thousands of them if I just had a chance to test one for you!

Something’s coming — maybe

The worst thing I can do is tell my readers about a wonderful airgun they can’t buy. So why am I telling you this now? Why am I going to finally test the gas-spring rifle that I believe was the best one ever designed? Because I have hopes that it will be resurrected! Or something similar. Maybe Crosman won’t bring the Legacy SE back — though I would be its champion if they did — but others are now looking at the design and thinking this could be a wonderful way to go. It isn’t powerful, so it won’t displace other gas-spring guns that are already successful, but it’s a very pleasant gun to shoot.

The rifle

Enough history. Now I’ll tell you about the gun. As you can see in the picture, the Legacy SE looks a lot like Benjamin Trail rifles. There’s no Weaver scope base because the Legacy SE was made years before Crosman began putting Weaver bases on their Trail rifles. What it does have is a set of conventional 11mm dovetail grooves with a single hole at the back for a vertical scope stop pin. Given the extreme smoothness and lack of recoil, that will be more than enough. There are no open sights on the rifle.

The trigger appears to be the same one that’s found in the Trail guns; since it isn’t holding back as much force, it breaks very crisply on stage 2. The safety is manual, so the shooter is in control, which is how I like it.

Cocking effort 16 lbs.

The cocking effort is exactly 16 lbs. I know because I’ve now measured it for this report. That is the first time in almost 6 years that I have actually measured the effort!

The rifle is normal-sized, at 44 inches overall. What looks like the barrel is just under 20 inches long, but the actual barrel is hidden deep inside a shroud. The actual barrel is about 1-1/2 inches shorter, and there are no baffles in front of it. The muzzlebrake is just a nice solid cap that completes the look of the rifle.The pull is 14 inches.

The stock is synthetic with a dipped woodlands camo pattern in deep woods green and gray. There’s a stylized thumbhole, and the stock makes the rifle completely ambidextrous. A dark rubber cheekpiece is pinned to the top of the straight comb. The buttpad is a ventilated black rubber pad that prevents the rifle from slipping when stood in the corner. The forearm is thin in cross section and flat on the bottom for a good hand rest.

The metal parts are not polished and present a matte surface for the black oxide. The metal barrel jacket is even duller than the spring tube. There are a few plastic parts on the gun, like the triggerguard and end cap, but even the trigger blade is metal.

The barrel pivot is a screw that can be tightened. That means the rifle can be very accurate.

The trigger has one adjusting screw, and in the next part I’ll find out what it does. The gun came to me without a manual, so I’m winging it. I’ll also tell you the velocity for certain .22-caliber pellets, though I don’t want you to expect too much.

A modern Diana 27?

This rifle is as close as any modern air rifle gets to the legendary Diana 27. It’s light, has a great trigger and cocks even easier than the 27. I think it’s a little more powerful, as well, but don’t expect too much.

Crosman took Ed’s idea and created the Benjamin Trail Lower Velocity rifle that was made for a short time and the Benjamin NPSS that also had a short life. Lower velocity doesn’t seem to sell well for some reason — yet, every time I put one of these airguns into a shooter’s hands, they smile and say they wish they could buy one just like it. The Nitro Piston 2 is the modern airgun that comes closest to matching this performance, but it’s still too powerful — and the barrel pivot is a pin instead of a screw that can be tightened.

There’s a lot to like about this air rifle. Maybe not in the power department, but a smooth-shooting, easy cocking gun that’s accurate? Heck — I always want one of those! We’ll see!

55 thoughts on “Interesting gun designs — Benjamin Legacy: Part 2

  1. Maybe an ad campaign concentrating on the advantages of a low velocity pellet can redirect manufacturers away from the velocity races. Such pellets will not reach very far nor will they cause great destruction when they get there. Add to that the increased accuracy and the suitability for backyard bonding for the whole family. Just a thought.


    • Siraniko,

      You’re right, it will take education, and a lot of it. The problem is, most people in the airgun industry are not shooters. They are not very interested in what their airguns do. But they know the basics of marketing, and speed sells.

      B.B.


      • If they can build this cheap enough and package it with a high velocity pellet gun as a backyard practice rifle this might be a backdoor for that marketing campaign. They have a high power version for field use and a low power version for backyard practice. On that thought which of the two would you think would get more use out of the buyer?


        • Siraniko,

          Of course the lower-powered gun will be used more. That’s just because it is easier to shoot.

          But marketeers don’t think that way. They don’t care about use or the utility of their products. They only care about the sales, and speed sells.

          B.B.


  2. You’re not going to have hospitalization required again to get this back in production are you?
    Maybe for that 2000 fps, made in america, .50 caliber, 10 shooter, with the “one-15-pound-pump-gives-me-20-shots” that we keep waiting for…
    Well, at least stay out of slam or the hospital…not really much difference anyway…


  3. Hi Bb and Everyone. I need your help.

    I need to buy A BB gun for someone who doesn’t understand that pellet guns are superior in almost every way. A BB gun is what he wants. It must be a repeater and NOT require C02.and, of course, he wants it to be accurate and powerful. I would settle for a modicum of accuracy. I don’t follow the BB guns too closely, so any ideas? Can be a pistol or rifle…and it could also shoot pellets as long as it also is a BB repeater.

    Here is the kicker. I’m buying it, so I would like it to be less than a $100. Again, any ideas? I was planning on getting him a 2100b, but I went back and read the report. It shoots BBs poorly.

    Thanks for your help.
    Rob


    • Rob,

      You are going to have to hunt around to find one, but I would recommend a Daisy 99. I picked up one a few weeks ago for half of what you are willing to pay, and that included shipping.

      What I got was a BB gun that was in pretty good shape and though it is not quite as accurate (yet) as the “legendary” 499, it will easily produce quarter size groups at five meters all day long. With the fancy smancy Avanti BBs it will probably shoot much better. I am going to have to get me some of those and see.

      It has a replaceable front globe sight and an adjustable rear peep sight that makes it real easy to bring on target quickly. I can dump a few hundred BBs in it and blast away at carpenter bees for hours.



    • Rob, B.B. tested this one in the fall of last year. I am posting the link to part 4 for easy access to the entire testing. The bb test is in part 3. It may be worth consideration. I is a bb repeater that also shoots pellets. The test report and the product page have quite a bit of information. And, oh, the price is right. ~ken

      /blog/2014/12/umarex-nxg-apx-multi-pump-air-rifle-kit-part-4/

      https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Umarex_NXG_APX_Air_Rifle_Combo/3524


  4. BB,

    I remember when you started raving about this rifle and then when Crosman was having their clearance sale of them. I really wanted one of them, but I hesitated because I do not think I could stand to look at that stock for more than a few seconds, much less hold it and shoot it for hours. When I decided I could have a stock made for it and pitch that one over the hill, it was too late.

    After this blog I am sure a few of them will pop up for sale. They always do. 😉


    • RR,

      There is more than just one of these. As the story unfolds I will tell you of the other guns that did make it to market for a longer period.

      None of them lasted too long, but it should be possible to find at least one rifle. And, yes, they all do tend to look alike, other than one of them that has a wood stock.

      B.B.


      • BB,

        It isn’t so much what the stock is made of or the coloration, but the shape. I prefer a more classic stock. As StevenG pointed out, the Hatsan has potential and a much nicer stock.


  5. Ridge runner— The daisy m 99 uses a 25 round magazine . The m 25 uses the same magazine. When you shoot paper targets, it is easy to keep track of the number of rounds that you have shot. When you shoot at tin cans or other similar plinking targets, you can expect to get a lot of dry fires. Ed



    • Z Ed,

      Not the early ones apparently. I too thought so when I purchased it, but when it arrived, I learned differently. Mine you twist the muzzle end and a round loading port opens and you pour in as many as you want. I prefer this version. I can load up and shoot all day.


  6. BB,
    great article…

    I know my Diana 31 is nicer to shoot at low power when I shoot indoors.

    I wonder how you’re going to like the HW35 you just bought. I shoot a 1980 one with a 7.5 joule spring and it’s amazingly smooth. Yours probably has the powerful spring…



  7. Your article got me to thinking, if cocking is such a hurdle on springers, and I agree it is, why not use a CO2 cart. to assist in cocking a springer? Kinda like a 2 stage rocket. While the CO2 would still be sensitive to temperature, the results would not affect fps. It seems to me there is an entire spectrum to explore. We know about all 100% CO2 to provide fps to the pellet with blowback for gun behavior realism. There could also be normal springer function, break barrel, side lever, under lever, with gas assist to lower the cocking effort, but pure spring to propel the pellet. And then, of course, all the way to 100% CO2 to cock the spring. Your thoughts?



    • StevenG,

      Yes, that can be done, but when you let out 9/10 of the air, the gas spring unit doesn’t operate as designed. I did depressurize my Crow Magnum to drop the cocking effort from 60 lbs. to 46 lbs., but that was as far as Theoben said I should go.

      These gas springs are designed differently than the powerful ones.

      B.B.



        • Joe,

          You know, when I wrote that comment I wondered the same thing. It’s been 15-18 years since I did that.

          The gun was a .20 caliber and I think it dropped from around 27 foot-pounds to 23 foot-pounds, or something like that. I will have to research it, because it was documented in The Airgun Letter — my old newsletter of many years ago.

          B.B.


    • StevenG,

      That is exactly why I am considering one of them. They also have a decent looking walnut stock. By reducing the power, very likely the accuracy will go up and the trigger may also improve.


  8. BB:

    I’m have just a few months of owning airguns. You Sir are an expert and I enjoy reading your current and old blogs. I also enjoy reading the input from other airgun owners.

    When I first got into airguns, I went to Cabelas to look at their airguns. The companies were marketing these super high velocity airguns. I almost fell into the trap of buying an airgun with the highest velocity. Then I went and looked in Cabelas bargain cave. It was packed with all these high velocity airguns. That raised a red flag.

    I researched the internet and found articles written by you and educated myself. Three airguns later, here I am. My favorite airgun is my Talon SS in 22 cal with a 24″ barrel. I bought a micro meter tank and can shoot hundreds of accurate shots per fill. I learned that one doesn’t need 1500 fps to have an accurate and good shooting airgun. I also fill my airtanks with a handpump and it is no big deal.

    I’m big into target shooting. I have the thinking of don’t shoot it if you don’t eat it. However, next month I’m going to Littlefield Arizona to my stepdads farm. He invited me to come down and shoot sparrows that eat the seeds on his farm. I’m going with my Talon and am going to experiment with both tanks. My guess is the mm tank will work fine at less than 30 meters.

    I like how you point out in this current article that the gun will probably be a low velocity but very accurate shooter. I’m looking forward to part 2. It’s my observation that many people get too hooked on owning the highest velocity and ft-lbs airguns. I’ve found just the opposite.


  9. “The cocking effort is exactly 16 lbs.”

    Wow, BB, that’s really cool; the older (and weaker =>) I get, the more I appreciate air rifles that don’t require me trying to find a 20-year-old body builder to cock them for me! We can only pray that your evaluation will cause such a slew of emails to Crosman that they resurrect this gun…or one very close to it; thank you.

    Peace & Blessings,
    dave


  10. Hi BB,

    You are always looking for that air rifle that replaces the Diana 27. I have noticed, and I agree the old small Diana rifles like the 27 but also the 25 and 23 are a joy to shoot. They have great triggers outstanding accuracy and up to and above 600 FPS for the 27 they are quite powerful for their size.

    However I would urge you to give the Diana panther 21 a try or the Diana 240 classic, which I believe uses the same action.

    I had a panther 21 a while ago and had to sell it.. Because it was too good.. that sounds weird. I know.
    But I have way to many air rifles, and this rifle out shot all of my favourite air rifles like a HW30 into which I have put a nice vortek kit etc…
    I basically had to sell the Diana 21 because otherwise I would have lost my interest in all the rest of them…lol

    The panther 21 is a really ugly rifle in my opinion. The 240 classic is quite nice though. But if you are looking for the modern equivalent of the 27, you should give it a try sometime!



      • Actually, the problem is called cognitive dissonance. It is according to wikipedia:

        ”the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

        I could not deal with the fact that my new cheap and cheap looking air rifle shot better and more accurately than fine vintage air rifles I had accumulated over many years. And tuned to perfection..I wanted to keep thinking my airguns were the best, so that is why the Diana 21 had to go. Not to upset my held beliefs.

        Cognitive dissonance is something very often encountered, also in the airgun world and may be something to write about in a blog.

        I remember another blog you wrote not very long ago that also involved some psychological theory I thoroughly enjoyed!



          • Yeah, Carel is right. Cognitive dissonance is very common. Although it is well studied in retail purchases (think cars), ive often thought someone should make a study of airgun purchases.

            In short, it happens anytime someone puts a lot of effort (commonly measured in money) into something that really isn’t as great as they make it or to be. It’s a defense mechanism that helps them avoid acknowledging their own failure.

            BB, think of all of those positive airgun reviews that you can guess are not entirely accurate. No one wants to think they threw away hard-earned dollars–so they focus only on the positives of their purchase. Even to the point of delusion.

            This is also common in people’s defense of their significant others and political candidates.
            Rob


            • Rob,

              Tom and I have seen this first-hand. I recall when Tom had written a negative report about an expensive British airgun (when we were publishing “The Airgun Letter” newsletter in the 1990s). We received a letter from someone who owned the same gun, and he said Tom’s assessment was wrong. Then, the kicker: This was the only airgun he’d ever owned. He also mentioned that he could buy just one gun since that’s all the money he had for a gun. The last thing you want to hear is that it’s not good or not what it’s cracked up to be.

              Edith


  11. I am also one of those who prefer the lower velocity air rifles. I really like my Umarex NXG APX. In fact, I was out shooting it yesterday. Easy to pump, accurate enough for my taste at 3 or 4 pumps.

    Having said that, I would be extremely interested in a springer as mentioned here. I’ll be awaiting part 2 much as
    I anticipated later parts of the review of the APX rifle.


  12. BB,

    Thanks for reminding me about this airgun. I had planned on buying one but I waited too long and they were gone. While I like my “magnum” springers I also enjoy shooting low powered ones, especially in .22 cal. One of my favorites is a Winchester 425 (aka Diana 25) that I bought from Mac in Roanoke. For backyard plinking it is perfect.

    I hope that there will be enough demand to get the Benjamin back into production. While it has a similar power level to multi-pump pneumatics it takes much less effort to shoot and is very quiet. We need more airguns like this.

    Paul in Liberty County


  13. The Rutten Electric Cocking Spring Piston Rifle was a interesting concept. Used a radio control rechargeable battery & charger to power the cocking motor, so no physical cocking effort. Was marketed by Browning for a time. Only thing was it was too heavy. Maybe if fhe stock was synthetic, it could have been lightened enough?

    And how come only Weirauch makes stainless steel air guns? With all the sweaty contact with blued finishes, you would think airgun makers would shift to this material. And what about titanium? Very light and corrosion free?
    And finally, what about brass? Benjamin and Sheridan used that for decades. For CO2 and pneumatics, high-tensile brass has all the strength you need.


    • Lioniii,

      Titanium is too difficult to machine and also too expensive. And brass is also too expensive.

      I have been told that the Modoc big bore rifle from Air Ordnance has an all-aluminum barrel, which would be a first.

      B.B.


  14. This is why, as a mainly spring airgunner…oh ok, mainly a German and British spring gunner, erm…well a German and British spring gunner made between 1965 and 1990 🙂 , when I hear sympathy from my unrestricted power cousins…….I smile wryly….
    A 12ft/lb HW77 is a finer thing than a 15 ft/lb one trust me
    And I know which I’d reach for when hunting…….


    • In defense of low power rifles I also enjoy them. Especially my HW30, Crosman 1720T in a wood stock, my Crosman 1077’s (I recently bought the wood stocked one), the Umarex Fusion and I only recently received the RAW BM500 LW in 12 ft/lbs. specifically for Light Varmint bench rest shooting. Except for longer range shooting my more powerful rifles do not have anything on the ones I just mentioned as far as pleasurable shooting is concerned.

      G&G


  15. I agree, easy to cock is nice. That is one of the reasons I like to shoot my old FWB 124 and the new to me Walther LGM 2 pneumatic match rifle. The other reason is accuracy!

    Mike


    • Mike,

      Are you referring to the new Walther LGV Master? I believe this rifle was only recently released. I’m not sure what about this gun differs from the other LGVs. I hope B.B. gets to a review of this rifle.

      G&G


      • No, it’s not that Rifle. The Walther LGM 2 is an Olympic quality single stroke pneumatic from the mid to late 1990’s. It was popular prior to the general change to the PCP rifles used today. I didn’t even know this rifle existed until last month when I bought it at a gun show. It took me a while to pin down just what it was. So far it’s a great shooter and very, very accurate.

        Mike


  16. Accuracy is all!
    Missing or wounding at high velocity is meaningless
    The second Tom tests a rifle that prints inch groups at 50 yards, that gun is dead to me, I have a 12ft/lb 1985 HW77 that will halve that leaning the back of my hand on my shed


  17. So, how does this magic work? I thought that what goes in must come out. My IZH 61 cocks at I think 14 lb. and shoots at something like 475 fps. So, does this other light cocking gun have a power out put that is comparably small? If so, I wonder what advantage if offers over the IZH 61.

    Mike, thanks for the info about tactical lights, but it raises questions I’ve always had about them. Apparently, you do not want to keep your light on all the time because it will make you a sitting duck for someone waiting for you in the dark. The novel All Quiet on the Western Front describes how African colonial soldiers were fighting the Germans at night while smoking cigarettes. Pretty cool, but it was easy to pick them off. Apparently, with the tactical light, you only want to shine it when you are on top of your target. But if you are that close, you have probably already identified your target anyway. If you’re wrong, you have exposed yourself to the hidden enemy, and you’ve wiped out your night vision for future targets. They must have some use since they’ve been around for so long, but I haven’t figured out what. The helmet light offers some advantages in following your vision, but it creates the additional problem of turning it on and off. At least a weapon light can be operated with a pressure switch without moving your hands. You wouldn’t want to tie your head to your weapon with a pressure switch, but you don’t want to have to rap a switch on your helmet every time you want to turn the light on. I suppose I will have to read a training book about this. In the meanwhile, I’m having a lot of fun just with my red dot sight. It makes it much easier to whip the gun onto my various action figures in comparison to the iron sights. I’m sold on the red dot.

    I also pulled out my Crosman 1077 for the first time in awhile, and indeed the snap shooting drills feel very similar to my Saiga.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      The magic is called swept volume. The larger piston has a longer travel and develops greater power as a result. Also, the barrel is the cocking lever and is about double the length of the sidelever on the 61, so greater leverage.

      B.B.


    • Your concerns about a head mounted light are correct. There is no free lunch as the saying goes. There often comes a point where you must ID the target, then you must have some light unless you have night vision equipment. (Get out your wallet, credit card, check book, and you your first born!) Now for other situations such as varmints at night or following up a deer after dark the head mounted light works very very well. It is a option that may work for you in some situations.

      Mike


  18. Another vote for medium-powered springers. I think this is really the sweet spot in design for spring power. 400-500 fps is fine for short range target shooting, 10 meters or so, which makes it a specialty rifle. But you get more versatility with say, 550-800 fps or so. Still good at 10 meters, but more range, and the possibility of pest hunting, while still being all-day shootable. Above that power lever, it starts to be a specialty rifle again, good for hunting only. For versatility, the mid level power is best.

    So the R7 (why did I ever sell mine?), HW30, HW 50S all seem ideal to me. My most-shot springers are a Diana 24 and an Industry Brand QB57, which I was prepared to dislike, but which is turning out to be very shootable and accurate (not carried by Pyramyd, sorry). My Diana 34 languishes for the occasional day when I need its power.

    When I shoot my Benjamin 392 or my 1966 Sheridan, it is with 3-5 pumps, the same power range as the medium springer.

    I wiah more manufacturers would get off the high velocity bandwagon, and focus on handling and shootability.


    • Mike U,

      I have to agree. Why did you ever sell your R7? But it looks like you still have a HW30 so your ok. By the way, I think that Beeman is now selling one of the QB rifles. I was very surprised.

      G&G


  19. bb, I don’t know if my rifle (BSA Polaris .177) is a medium or low power springer. The main reasons I searched for a year for this rifle (besides your great review) is because it is Easy to cock, shoots straight, and is fun to shoot. I’m a target shooter, this rifle is everything I want or need.
    thanks, Bill


  20. BB, I wonder with the velocity range discussed perhaps a single stroke pneumatic might be a better way to go. Maybe a system somewhat like my Walther LGM 2 has?

    Mike


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