The Benjamin Bulldog big bore: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Scoped rifle
- Feel of the rifle
- Tin Starr bullets
- Pellets are next
- Degassing the Bulldog
- What comes next
Today, I’ll take the Benjamin Bulldog to the range to try it on targets for the first time. Crosman sent me a Centerpoint 4-16X56 scope and rings for the rifle, so they were mounted before I went to the range.
This is the first time I have seen this particular Centerpoint scope. Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry it because it’s brand new and won’t be commercially available until later this year. I like 4-16x scopes anyway, and this one’s bright. The duplex reticle has mil-dots on both lines and appears to be etched glass. The crosshair is fine, but the mil-dots make it easy to find. The parallax focus is on the left side, where it is handy for adjustment. All in all, a nice scope!
I can’t sight-in the Bulldog in my house, so the first time I shot it at a target was on the 50-yard range. When I don’t know where the bullet is going, I always mount a larger 2-foot by 4-foot piece of paper behind the target to catch any stray shots. The bulldog was shooting about 12 inches low and to the right, but that was corrected with adjustments to the scope.
The first bullet I tried was the one I know does well in this rifle — the 145-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. And, you’ll recall from Part 2 (velocity test) that I learned the first 5 shots are the Bulldog’s best. The second 5 shots lose a lot of velocity, and today I wanted to see what effect that has on the point of impact at 50 yards.
Feel of the rifle
Being a bullpup, the Bulldog’s sight line and comb are very straight, and I found it necessary to tilt my head over the action to see the image in the scope. Even with high rings, the scope is too low for me.
When the rifle fires, there’s a definite recoil. It’s not sharp — more of a rocket push to the rear, but it’s stronger than the recoil of a .22 long rifle in a medium-weight rifle.
Once I got the Noslers adjusted up to the bull (took about 4 shots), I settled down to shoot some groups. I filled the gun to 3,000 psi, again, and shot 5, then reloaded and shot a second 5. The first 6 bullets landed in 3.327 inches between centers, but bullet 7 hit several inches below the main group. The final 3 bullets were below the target altogether. So, the first 5 after the fill are the best with this bullet.
The first 6 Nosler bullets grouped in 3.327 inches at 50 yards, but shots 7 through 10 dropped lower. Only shot 7 is on the target paper (arrow). The shot next to it is one of the sighter shots and is not part of this group.
I adjusted the scope a little higher after the first group. Then, I refilled and shot again. The second group of 5 Noslers landed in 2.337 inches between centers. They’re nicely centered but still a tad low.
Tin Starr bullets
Following the Noslers, I had 6 different Tin Starr bullets to test. All were sized 0.356 inches, which is undersized for the Bulldog’s 0.357 bore. Airgunners are going to have to pay attention to these sizes just as they now pay attention to pellet head sizes, because they really do make a difference.
I had bullets ranging from 103 grains to 158 grains, so the gambit of bullet weights was tried. I don’t think the Bulldog can stabilize bullets longer than 158 grains; but when I shoot some more groups, I’ll know better.
All the Tin Starr bullets are pure lead — as soft as they can possibly be. My testing shows that soft bullets do best in big bore rifles. Most of the bullets landed in 5-inch or larger groups, but a 103-grain semiwadcutter did show some promise. While the 5 bullets made a 5.1-inch group, 4 of those are clustered in 2.092 inches. That gives me hope that the same bullet sized correctly may be a winner in this rifle. Remember that the AirForce Texan put five 215-grain semiwadcutters into 0.762 inches at 50 yards and 6 into 1.506 inches at 100 yards. So, we know these Tin Starr bullets work — and work well.
Tin Starr has already cast and sized the same bullets in 0.357 inches for the next test. I hope to get back to the range this week.
Pellets are next
I also want to test this Bulldog with 9mm diabolo pellets. I have some on hand already, and the rest are on order. This test will continue for several more range days, because I am also writing a feature article on the Bulldog for Shotgun News.
Degassing the Bulldog
Blog reader Tim asked if there wasn’t a degassing tool to let the air out of the Bulldog’s reservoir. There isn’t, but Crosman did design a way of releasing the air.
Ed Schultz called me after reading Part 2 and told me there’s a 3/32-inch Allen screw next to the fill nipple. Loosen that and the air comes out. I checked the manual and sure enough, it’s in there!
Well, wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take my trigger-pull gauge to the range this time. So, I did need to let the air out of the gun at home after all. Dry-firing a big bore in the house — even one with a shroud like the Bulldog — will definitely disturb the domestic tranquility.
The screw is right where Ed said it is, and it works by simply loosening it. I released 2500 psi from the gun; and at the end of the release, the rifle’s valve popped once, weakly. Then, I could test the trigger-pull all I wanted.
I told you before that I thought the Bulldog’s 2-stage trigger-pull is good. Now, I have the numbers! It releases at 2 lbs., 5 oz. and is very crisp. I know bullpup triggers are supposed to be awful, and the dozen or so I’ve tested in my lifetime all have been. This is the first one that was not. You should have no complaints about this trigger.
What comes next?
I plan on spending a lot of time with the Bulldog. This was just a quick first look. There are many more bullets and pellets to be tested, and perhaps even a 100-yard test if the accuracy of one or more bullets proves good enough. So, settle back — we’re in for a long ride.