by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- $100 PCP
- What is the Maximus?
- Dual fuel?
- 2,000 psi
- Yet to come
Okay — this is the report you have been waiting for. Today we begin looking at the Benjamin Maximus precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle. The rifle I’m testing is in .177 caliber, but they also come in .22 at the same price. They are available for sale, too, so the game is on.
Two years ago Dennis Quackenbush and I experimented with the most inexpensive PCP we could envision. I called it the hundred-dollar PCP, and you might remember the series, Building the $100 precharged pneumatic air rifle. It was an experiment that we hoped would get people both thinking and talking. Well, it certainly did! One dealer was already selling a PCP for $100 that he was converting from a CO2 rifle. When he ran out of the initial supply of rifles, though, the price jumped to around $180, I believe.
Crosman representative, Chip Hunnicutt told me at the 2015 SHOT Show that his company was looking very hard at what could be done in this arena. But I must admit I was surprised to see the Benjamin Maximus announced at the 2016 SHOT Show. That’s fast! Now let’s look at what it is.
What is the Maximus?
The Maximus is not the $100 PCP. Crosman took their own Benjamin Discovery as the starting point and shaved cost, rather than following the route Dennis and I took, which involved starting with a $60 rifle and building it up. I think they did that for liability reasons. The rifle Dennis made was just a proof-of-concept gun that no company would ever produce. Dennis knew that the rifle would be in my hands for the test and I would never do anything to it that he didn’t approve of. The same cannot be said for something sold over the counter.
At least two CO2 rifles that were converted to precharged air operation have already exploded. So Crosman’s approach was to take a rifle of proven quality and see how much cost could be eliminated. Even at a retail of $200 they cannot be making very much money on the Maximus. The Discovery is already a budget PCP, so how much more can be saved?
The Maximus has a synthetic sporter stock with a schnabel at the tip of the firearm. The stock sounds hollow at the butt, so when the gurus on the forums prepare a list of all the things Crosman did wrong, that will be near the top. Actually, Crosman is giving you a PCP you can restock, and they aren’t charging you a lot for what comes on the rifle. I like both the shape of this stock and the feel as I hold the rifle. It feels svelte at the place where I hold my off hand. It’s very light, which helps the rifle’s overall weight of just 5 pounds.
The buttpad is also hard synthetic instead of rubber. So be careful when you stand the rifle on its butt!
The metal parts are finished matte as expected on a rifle in this price range. Wipe them down ocassionally with Ballistol and they will remain rust-free for a long time. The stock is also matte black, so you have the perfect non-reflective finish for a hunting rifle.
Both front and rear sights are fiberoptic, and I don’t mean the common dark fiberoptics found on Asian guns these days. These tubes are bright, and they gather light well. I’d say you had better either get used to fiberoptics or color the tubes with a black marker.
The rear sight adjusts for both elevation and windage. The adjustments are basic, but they work. I do plan to test the rifle with the open sights first.
Naturally an 11mm dovetail for mounting a scope is cut into the top of the steel receiver. I do plan on testing the Maximus with a scope, as that will be the most likely sight shooters will choose. I just like the fact that Crosman gives you the open sights because of the low price point of the rifle (some buyers may not be able to afford a scope) and also because there is a small but passionate group of shooters who only use non-optical sights.
The trigger certainly feels like a Discovery trigger to me. It’s single-stage, but there is slack in the linkage that feels like a short first stage. It’s non-adjustable and will be another platform for the forum airgun engineers to redesign/fix. For real shooters, it does work, though it is by no means in the same class as the trigger found on a Benjamin Marauder. I will measure the pull force for you in Part 2.
The gauge/manometer that is built into the gun at the bottom of the stock (yes, they did put a pressure gauge on the Maximus) has a scale for both CO2 and air. But the owner’s manual makes no mention of CO2. I think Crosman has given up that idea because it caused a little confusion among first-time users of the Discovery and Marauder. I imagine they are using up the supply of dual-fuel gauges, but think air, only, when you buy a Maximus. Will it operate on CO2? I’m sure it will because of the low operating pressure, but you’ll have to find your own coupling to fill the gun.
The rifle is filled to 2,000 psi (yea, Crosman!) and it operates down to around 1,000 psi. I will find out how many useful shots you get in Part 2, but I’m guessing the valve is a lot like the one in the Disco, and the number will be 20-25. And of course I will test the velocity with several pellets.
What are the differences between the Maximus and the Discovery? Well, the stocks are the big ones. The Disco has a wood stock that adds a couple ounces of weight to the rifle. And the Disco barrel is 24.25-inches long, while the Maximus barrel is 2 inches longer. That may make a small difference in performance, but I’m going to wait to see what it is. There are probably some other differences, but I don’t know what they are. I hope the Maximus barrel is as accurate as a Discovery barrel. And that’s what we will find out together.
Both airguns are loud by today’s standards, because there is no attempt to moderate the muzzle blast. I’m sure most readers know there are aftermarket products to do that, but just as the BATF knows exactly what a “solvent catcher” is (a silencer for a firearm), they are also not fooled by the term lead dust collector. Airgunners completely encrypt that term, though, by using just the initials, LDC. Fly Silencer Airways at your own risk.
Yet to come
I will test the velocity and shot count next. I plan to use the Air Venturi G6 hand pump to fill the gun because of the low fill pressure and the small reservoir (135cc). Then I plan to shoot the rifle at 25 yards with both the open sights and a scope. If the accuracy seems good enough I will also do a 50-yard test.
Let’s try to keep our perspective in this test. Yes, the Maximus is a PCP, but it’s being built to the lowest possible price. I can forgive less accuracy from a rifle in this category, though it still has to be okay.