The Benjamin Bulldog big bore: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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

This report covers:

  • Pellets
  • H&N Grizzly pellets
  • JSB Exact King 35 pellets
  • Velocity for the King
  • Air Venturi round nose bullets
  • Velocity for the round nose
  • One more trip to the range?

Benjamin Bulldog Tom on bench
This was a good day to test the new Benjamin Bulldog.

I spent another day at the range with the Benjamin Bulldog .357 air rifle. The day was calm, but that doesn’t matter as much when you’re shooting a big bore.

I think I’ve decided what the Bulldog is best suited to do. Besides being a very handy rifle for medium-sized critters like coyotes and javelinas, the Bulldog is a wonderful big bore for general plinking. I know that a lot of airgunners buy big bores without thinking of the use they’ll put them to, and plinking seems to be the top choice; but most guns are not suited to a lot of shooting. They use too much air and constantly have to be topped off. The Bulldog will give you 10 good shots on a filll and with the right ammo, it seems like the ideal big bore to plink with.

Pellets

I already know the rifle was good with Tin Starr semi-wadcutters, so on this day I tried to find other ammo that also worked well. Among the bullets I took were 2 pellets — one a diabolo and the other a cylindrical. Let’s look at the cylindrical first.

H&N Grizzly pellets

The H&N Grizzly is a hollowpoint bullet with a hollow base. I’ve listed it with the pellets because it has no grease grooves, so it’s not useful as a bullet in a firearm. They are listed as 0.356-inch caliber, and I measured several at a very uniform 0.3565 inches. That makes them 9mm and not .357 caliber, so they’re really not right for the Bulldog. They weigh 82 grains.

I ordered Grizzlys to test the Air Ordnance Modoc, which is a 9mm big bore, but production problems have delayed the shipping of that rifle. So, they were on hand, and I gave them a try.

As expected, these pellets did not do well in the Bulldog. Five went into 8-1/4 inches at 50 yards. That’s not the fault of the rifle nor of the pellet. It was just an experiment I decided to try.

JSB Exact King 35 pellets

The other pellet I tried this day was the 81-grain JSB Exact King 35. This is a diabolo pellet that I’d seen perform on the set of American Airgunner last month. It surprised me then, and it surprised me on this day, as well. The King is a diabolo pellet whose skirt is larger than the Bulldog’s bore. The nose measures 0.3565, which means it probably rides on top of the lands.

JSB Exact King 35
Grizzlys on the left and JSB Exact Kings on the right. The Kings are a great pellet for the Bulldog.

Out of the first five Kings I shot, 4 went into 0.679 inches, with the fifth shot opening the group to 1.554 inches at 50 yards. That was stunning and a real eye-opener. So, I shot several more groups at 50 yards. They were larger, but nothing more than 2 inches for 5 shots. So, I put up a target at 100 yards and shot 5 pellets into 4.238 inches.

JSB Exact King group 50
Four JSB Exact Kings are in 0.679 inches at 50 yards. Five are in 1.554 inches

The interesting thing about this pellet, aside from its accuracy, was the uncanny tendency to go very straight. All my groups were well-centered — even at 100 yards. If I overlaid all the 50-yard groups, they’d be 20 shots in about 4 inches. This is the pellet for this rifle!

JSB Exact King group 100
At 100 yards the JSB Kings dropped by 12 inches and grouped 5 in 4.238 inches.

Velocity for the King

I quickly chronographed the King pellet, because I knew it was a winner. Here’s what 10 shots looked like.

Shot……Velocity
1…………890
2…………897
3…………904
4…………904
5…………891
6…………891
7…………891
8……did not register
9……did not register
10……….835

At the highest velocity the King pellet produced 147.02 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. At the lowest recorded velocity, it still produced 125.43 foot-pounds. Not only is the King an accurate pellet that the Bulldog loves, it also has respectable power.

Air Venturi round nose bullet

Another stunning bullet in the Bulldog was a 70-grain round nose from Air Venturi. Pyramyd Air doesn’t list this bullet anymore, but the Bulldog loves it. Best 50-yard group was 1.25 inches between centers. And, 15 bullets overlaid went into about 3 inches at 50 yards. These bullets also went very straight.

Air Venturi group 50

The Air Venturi 70-grain round nosed pellet put 5 into 1.25 inches at 50 yards. I see they’re no longer available, and I’ve been told they’re not coming back in stock.

Velocity for the Air Venturi round nose bullet

I ran 10 of these bullets through the chronograph and got this:

Shot…………Velocity
1………………889
2………………903
3………………900
4………………900
5………………880
6………………908
7………………915
8………………870
9………………857
10…………….829

At the top velocity, this bullet produces 130.17 foot-pounds of energy; and at the lowest velocity, it makes 106.85 foot-pounds. So, it’s another small- and medium-sized game round that’s also a good plinker. This one didn’t group well at 100 yards — although I fully expected it to. But it opened to more than 12 inches at 100 yards, so it obviously isn’t stable past about 50 yards. That’s okay because 98 percent of my shots are at 50 yards or less.

One more trip to the range?

I’m hoping to get one more trip to the range, where I’ll test the 145-grain Benjamin Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets, the Tin Starr 101-grain semi-wadcutters, the 70-grain Air Venturi hollowpoints and the JSB King pellets one last time.

25 thoughts on “The Benjamin Bulldog big bore: Part 5

  1. BB,

    I shot the Bulldog this weekend. I did not much care for it. It came to point OK, but with having to take it off your shoulder to cock it and that twangy sound, I just did not like it.

    I shot Lloyd’s Rogue also and I found it did pretty good with the 170 grain Benjamin Pursuit Flat Nose, but with only 3 shots per fill it is definitely not a good plinking bullet.

    I bought a tin of the Grizzlies and found the Rogue did not care for them either. I knew I should have bought the JSBs. Lloyd let me borrow it for a while. I guess I will have to try to get a tin and give them a try. I wish I could program this thing.


  2. B.B.,

    Going a little OT here but just entered the “Big Boys” club with a Benjamin Marauder synthetic .22. The detailed 20+ part blog series is a gold mine of information! (Never would have figured out loading that magazine with just the Crosman instructions!) Not to mention the added nuggets of observations, advice, and wisdom in the reader comments. Best example I’ve found yet of this blog at work.

    Just had to interrupt with a big “Thank you!” Carry on!




      • Thanks RPM and B.B.,

        it’s performed flawlessly so far, a tack driver at the 10 yards I’ve shot it at so far but know it should do the same much farther out. I know the Talon SS is another fave, but I didn’t like the styling and it just didn’t look like it would be comfortable to hold. Haven’t started tweaking the Mrod yet but looking forward to it–though it’s not bad at all straight out of the box.


        • HS
          Now you have something truly putting you in the dark side and there is no coming back just like the Hotel California as once you check in you cannot check out.

          Congrads on the 22 Mrod and just wait till you start tuning on it and letting it stretch its legs as you can get it to shoot those same groups at 50 yards with some fine tuning and a steady rest.

          My next one is going to be the new Camo realtree 25 cal Mrod very soon .

          BD


        • Good to hear confirmation of a modern classic. I was amazed to hear that the Talon series is more accurate, but I guess the Marauder is plenty accurate enough.

          Matt61



  3. Hey Edith,

    On the Godfather site under shows, the next Gateway Fun Shoot & Show is scheduled for 13 – 15 May, 2016 at the same place. The grounds will actually be open to airgun shooters to arrive, camp and begin early set up on the 10th. They have water and electric hook up sites.


  4. BB,
    “You said ‘The interesting thing about this pellet, aside from its accuracy, was the uncanny tendency to go very straight.”
    Could you please elaborate what you mean by “tendency to go very straight”? I thought if those pellets are accurate, it must have the tendency to go very straight.


  5. BB,
    Looking at the pictures above why did the 5th shot of the JSB King dropped so much? You chrony 10-shot string and the velocity of the 5th shot is about the same as the first four shot, so why the big drop below the first 4 shots?



      • BB,
        What you just said is good news, meaning that when air pressure dropped which causes the velocity to dropped significantly, one NEED NOT worry that the pellet will land low below all the previous shots because it won’t land low.


        • Joe,

          You’re making assumptions that don’t hold true. Sometimes when air pressure drops, velocity increases. It all depends on the valve. If you look at my shot strings you will see that.

          Now, as it happens, the velocity does drop with the BT65 as the pressure drops, so perhaps you were confining your remarks to just that one rifle. But I can’t do that, because a thousand other readers will read this comment and not know what we are talking about.

          B.B.


  6. I never thought of big bores in terms of plinking. You must mean because of the relatively higher shot count. Still you need to bring your scuba tank to the range with you, right? Surely you must have received comments about a rifle that looks like that.

    I have equipped my Saiga with a BugBuster scope and it is awesome. Between that, it’s synthetic stock, and its resemblance to my IZH 61, it feels like an airgun. Now I understand what all the hours of airgun training were for! With this set-up, I’m wondering what separates me from the best possible assault rifle set up in the world. I suppose a pistol grip to control rapid fire and maybe a muzzle brake or flash hider not to mention selective fire. Even so, this rifle is great. I imagine that if they were supplied en masse to the besieged garrison on the Bataan Peninsula in WWII, the outcome might have been different. Apparently, the first use of the original assault rifle, the Stg 44, was when they were parachuted to a pocket of surrounded soldiers who were able to shoot their way clear with the additional firepower. The BugBuster scope could have done some real damage in the jungle.

    Incidentally, Leapers with this scope has continued to evolve and is not sitting on its considerable laurels. The turrets are now locked by a rotating ring that is easy to manipulate rather than the old system of Allen wrenches. Optics seem to be brighter if possible. There is even a little 2 inch sun shade. The scope also comes with quick detachable levers that, as far as I can tell, keep the scope rock solid. These remind me of the movie trope about the sniper who can break down his rifle in a matter of seconds; one of the recent Jason Bourne films had an example of that. The Adustable Objective is very nice and allowed me to measure that my range is more like 4.5 yards than 5. Never were so many rounds shot into a distance that is so small, and I can say that 9X at that distance is definitely overglassed.

    And there is yet another historical connection. After feeling the effects of the outstanding Russian sniper program on the Eastern Front, the Germans went into high gear with their own sniper program. Apparently, the first stage of this was target practice with .22 rifles on little models of terrain, sometimes with little built up towns. The BugBuster would have been perfect. Except for the final deployment to the Eastern Front, this sounds like pure fun.

    Matt61


    • I love my saiga. Mine has an ultimak with trs25 on it.

      I really like shooting the 154gr ammo out of it, but have it zeroed (25-200) with 123gr barnes/doule tap ammo. Even though it shoots the 154 so well, it makes sense if 90% of 7.62×39 weighs between 122 and 125 to zero for that weight range.

      That leaves it open to close to the same poa/poi for all the differant rounds out to 75 yards.

      It’s a good rifle. If you can- shoot the hornady SST for groups with glass and tell us how it goes. Thanks.


    • Matt61,

      The UTG scopes are excellent; I’m up to 4 and counting. Just be aware that the yardage indication on the adjustable objective will vary for the same distance, depending on the zoom. I don’t recall which zoom power is supposed to be yardage accurate (was it 12x??), and that may vary between scopes–keep meaning to research that but haven’t got around to it. If anyone here knows, I’m all ears!


  7. B.B.,

    Please excuse my ignorance but I am not a hunter and despite the fact that I have read much about it I do not remember the answer to this question. You mention several smaller to mid size animals as game for this rifle but I would have thought that 145 ft/lbs at the muzzle would be enough for small deer out to 50 yards. Obviously I’m wrong?

    G&G



    • G&G,

      Okay — define a small deer. I know of whitetails in east Texas that barely hit 90 lbs. on the hoof. They are small in my eyes. Is that what you mean when you say small?

      What caliber is the Bulldog? It’s a .357. The hole it punches is that size. Most states require a minimum of .40 caliber for deer-sized game. That dates back to muzzleloaders that didn’t produce a lot of energy, but did punch a certain-sized hole. The game dies through bleedout.

      If you understand all of that then, yes, 145 foot-pounds is enough to kill a deer and no, a .357 caliber bullet is not legal to take deer in most states. Do you understand the dichotomy of the discussion? Are we talking about what is possible, what is humane or what is legal?

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        We are definitely talking about what is humane. That’s why I opened with excuse my ignorance. So the simple answer is no. A .357 is not adequate. Thanks.

        G&G


  8. I’m still waiting to see some straight up accuracy test like every other air gun tested per a video, you-tube, seems the Texan and Bulldog are missing such a test, my guess is they haven’t perfected these guns well enough to allow published results yet, and the purpose of an air gun is that it should be quite and it seems the Texan makes no claims to quietness and the Bulldog does, but seems it’s still loud, suppressing these will be a must for most purchasers.


  9. G&G – You are not wrong regarding the 145 ft-lbs. of energy, but your conclusion regarding humane killing was made without consideration for the most important of the two basic airgun hunting elements – accuracy. Hunting with airguns is all about precise shot placement with enough terminal kinetic energy to kill the particular animal hunted. If you shoot an elephant in the brain with a .30-06 (illegal in most countries because it doesn’t have enough power for dangerous game) it will die… instantly. If you shoot a deer in the brain with a .357 caliber airgun slug (not a pellet) with enough terminal kinetic energy so it will penetrate the skull, the deer will die, instantly. Lung shots on deer are for the archers and long range powder burners, not airgun hunters IMO. BTW, the .357 cal. is legal for deer in Arizona, where we did (and continue to do) more research regarding airgun lethality than probably any other state, prior to adopting the current hunting regulations for big game, predators, furbearers and small game 2-1/2 years ago. The .357 is also legal in AZ for pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, javelina and even bighorn sheep in addition to Coues and mule deer.

    Aclay: There are issues with the Bulldog that affect both velocity consistency and accuracy. After nearly 1000 rounds, and contrary to what BB posted, we find that the first two shots on a full 3000 lb. fill are ALWAYS lower in velocity (by 8-10% and 4-5%, respectively) than the peak velocity of shots #3-7, then dropping off so shot #10 is usually within 1% of shot #1. The lower velocity DOES change the POI, with shots #1 and #10 typically 2 to 2-3/4 in. lower than shots #3-7. In doing bullet development work for this gun (for the new “HHS” by Precision Rifle described later) most 8-shot groups are 1-1/2″ at 50 yards for shots #2-8, and 1/2″ (or less) for the 3 consecutive shots with the most consistent velocity (usually #4-6). Three shot groups open up only slightly at 75 yards (to about 3/4 in. with nearly 150 ft-lbs. of terminal kinetic energy — easily enough to punch through the skull cap of a deer. I’m not crazy about the design, but agree that this airgun is a really fun plinker. It is also a legitimate hunting weapon, but there are a couple of design issues which limit accuracy (like the angle at which the air charge is introduced and positioning of the bullet in the breech to name just two) and are undoubtedly responsible for the inconsistent accuracy some have reported.

    BB – If you haven’t completed your next shooting test, I would recommend you try the 142 grain “HHS” pure lead cold swaged bullet by Precision Rifle (www.prbullet.com). Cecil Epp has been making low velocity muzzleloader bullets for more than 20 years, and these airgun bullets were designed specifically for the Bulldog. The 145 gr. Noslers are cast and crude by comparison to the HHS, with a non-functional “ballistic” tip to make them look sexy. They are also packaged poorly, jumbled together in a plastic bag. As many as half the bullets in each boxed bag have damaged bases that affect accuracy, as base integrity is critically important for virtually all low-velocity conicals. The “HHS” .357 bullets are also about 1/3 the price of the Noslers. And finally, the current inventory of e-Xtreme’s from the last run of 10,000 that Nosler did last year will be the last (sales volume too low to continue making them).

    Well, that’s my two cents worth… well, maybe a little bit more than two cents!
    TM in AZ


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