Benjamin Fortitude precharged rifle: Part 2
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Point one
- Crosman Premier lites
- JSB Exact Heavy
- Why such a large velocity spread?
- Air Arms Falcons
- RWS Superdomes
- Shot count
- Cocking effort
- Trigger pull
- Inlet valve failed
- Evaluation so far
Today we look at the velocity of the Benjamin Fortitude. As this is one of the new price point PCPs, this test should be interesting.
My test rifle leaked down from the initial fill in three hours. I had filled it to 3,000 psi, then set it aside to do other work. When I returned three hours later nearly all the air had leaked out. However when I refilled it, I couldn’t hear a leak. It was apparently slow enough to allow testing, so I proceeded.
Crosman Premier lites
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome. They averaged 885 f.p.s. over 10 shots. The low was 872 and the high was 900 f.p.s. That’s an 18 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity this pellet produced 13.74 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I began that string with the onboard gauge showing 3,000 psi in the reservoir. There was 2,500 psi remaining after the string.
JSB Exact Heavy
Next to be tested was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy dome. These averaged 817 f.p.s. with a 30 f.p.s. spread from 810 to 840 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 15.33 foot pounds at the muzzle. At the end of this string there was an indicated 2,200 psi of air remaining in the gun.
Why such a large velocity spread?
At this point I wondered why the velocity spread was so large. Thirty f.p.s. is a large spread for an unbalanced PCP valve, let alone a gun with a regulator. I continued to watch as the test progressed.
Air Arms Falcons
Next up were Falcon pellets from Air Arms. They only weigh 7.33-grains, so they averaged 898 f.p.s. The spread went from 889 to 926 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 37 f.p.s. — another large velocity spread. The Falcon generated 13.13 foot pounds at the muzzle. Falcons loaded hard into the magazine, due to large skirts. I had to seat several of them with a pen to get them in deep enough.
But I finally noticed something after this string. It was the first shot in the JSB and Falcon string that went the fastest. Throw out those first shots and the JSB spread was only 7 f.p.s. and the Falcon spread was 8 f.p.s. In fact, as the gun shot it was shooting slower on almost every shot in both strings. I have seen this in regulated PCPs before, but it isn’t common.
When the air passage between the reservoir and the firing chamber (that’s the space the regulator fills with pressurized air) is very small, air flows slower and the velocity will drop if you shoot too fast. There is not enough time for all the air to enter the firing chamber. It’s a lot like the cooling effect in a CO2 gun. So, on the next string I decided to experiment. I will show you each shot, with comments about the times I waited between them. And by the way, at the end of the Falcon string there was 1,800 psi remaining in the gun.
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Superdome. They also loaded harder into the magazine because their skirts were on the large side.
1………….882 then I waited about 10 seconds
2………….895 then waited only 2 seconds
3………….853 10 seconds
4………….854 10 seconds
5………….853 then waited 30 seconds
6………….863 then waited 60 seconds
7………….867 then waited 10 seconds
8………….850 10 seconds
9………….847 10 seconds
The average for this string is 862 f.p.s. and the spread is 48 f.p.s. But do you see how I affected the velocity by the length of time I waited between shots? I think the same thing was happening in the earlier strings, because between each string I paused for about two minutes to load the magazine. That made those first shots faster. The first string is the only one I didn’t watch carefully. There was 1,400 psi remaining in the gun at this point.
I also believe the gun fell off the regulator at some point during this string. Maybe it was loosing air faster than I thought. I think shot number 6 should have been faster than it was.
To get the shot count I reloaded the magazine with Crosman Premier lites. I will show you the entire string, because this time I know the gun fell off the reg. Given the claim of 70 shots on a fill I expected to see an average close to 885 f.p.s. on this string, which was shots 41-50, lets see how it went.
1………….866 then about 10 seconds
2………….860 then about 2 seconds
3………….857 60 seconds
4………….856 60 seconds
5………….851 10 seconds
6………….850 10 seconds
7………….846 10 seconds
8………….841 10 seconds
9………….845 10 seconds
It’s clear to me the rifle is now off the regulator, because pausing doesn’t increase velocity. But I did shoot one final string of Premier lites. All shots were about 10 seconds apart. The air is at 1400 psi at the start of this string and these are shots 51-60 since filling the rifle.
We are clearly off the reg at this point. The shots are still powerful, but they have dropped more than 90 f.p.s. from the start of all the tests to the end of this string. So, yes you can still shoot, but don’t expect tight groups at long distance. For plinking tin cans at 20 yards it will be fine. At the end of this test the rifle’s gauge reads exactly 1000 psi remaining. That’s where the yellow area of the dial begins, so without question the Fortitude needs to be filled.
I don’t find the Fortitude difficult to cock. It is on the hard side, but no more than a Marauder or a Discovery. However I did learn one thing. If you pull the bolt back slowly, it will hang up just before the sear catches and the effort will rise incredibly. On my bathroom scale the cocking effort measured 40 pounds when the bolt was cocked slowly and about 20 lbs. when it was pulled back with authority. If you own a Fortitude, Marauder or Discovery, try this technique and see if it works for you.
The two-stage trigger (yes, it really does have two distinct stages) requires 2 lbs. to pull through stage one and 5 lbs. 7 oz. to break the sear at stage two. The release is fairly crisp and I think it is a fine trigger for a rifle in this price range.
Inlet valve failed
I wanted to test the velocity one more time and experiment with times between firing, but the inlet valve on the test rifle locked up and dumped all the air when I tried to bleed the line. It did this 4 times over a period of two days. So, this rifle will be sent back to Pyramyd Air and I will request another one to complete this test series.
Evaluation so far
Some readers will ask why I published this report, when things didn’t go so well. I did so because I learned some valuable things about the rifle (pause between shots and the way to cock the bolt) that I can use on the next one. I also did because there are still some people who think this blog is just a big sales pitch and I will only say good things about every airgun. Long-time readers know differently, but we are gaining new readers so fast that I have to qualify myself all the time.
I like the Fortitude, thus far. Yes, it is more like a Maximus than a Marauder, but it is a repeater and it does have a regulator. As far as the problems go, things happen to me just like they happen to everyone. I am requesting another .177 rifle to test, so we can pick up right here.
I find the Fortitude light, quiet, and I think it has an okay trigger. The cocking is on the hard side, but I have explained how to work around that. I can’t comment on the accuracy until I see it for myself. And the velocity and shot count will be tested again when I know the rifle I’m testing is sound. My plan is to run another velocity test as the first report with the next rifle.