397 with new stock
Benjamin 397 with my new curly maple stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This report covers:

  • The test
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • Stock fit
  • Trigger
  • H&N Sniper Magnums
  • Adjusted the sights
  • Last five shots
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we shoot the new Benjamin 397 with its new curly maple stock, to see how well it works for me.

The test

I decided not to sight in today. I adjusted the sights in Part 4 and felt that the new stock wasn’t going to change the point of impact that much, if at all.

I shot from 25 yards off a sandbag rest with the rifle rested directly on the bag. I pumped five times for each shot. And I’m still using the open sights that came on the airgun.

I selected the two best pellets from the Part 4 test. I figured why fool around with other pellets when I have a couple I know will do well? And I shot 10-shot groups. That’s a lot of pumping, so I went slow and steady.

JSB Exact Heavy

First to be tested were the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domed pellets. They did well in the Part 4 test at 25 yards. I looked at the target through the spotting scope after the first shot was fired and noted that it hit to the right of the bull, but I didn’t adjust the sights.

As I pumped the rifle for the first three shots I noticed that the barreled action was slightly loose in the stock. After shot three I tightened the lone stock screw and the rifle became solid again. I don’t believe this had anything to do with the size of the group, but the next time I shoot I will try this pellet again.

Ten shots made a group that measures 1.144-inches between centers. It’s not terrible, but I had hoped for better, since five of the same pellets went into 0.689-inches in Part 4. I had expected 10 in 0.9-inches or so. And, as I said, I don’t believe the stock being loose contributed to the size of the group.

JSB Heavy group
The Benjamin 397 put 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets into a 1.144-inch group at 25 yards.

Stock fit

The fit of this new stock that Hank made is fabulous! He gave me a palm swell for my shooting hand, but he also scalloped out some of where the heel of that hand rests, making the fit much better. The back of the hand goes into the stock, accenting the small palm swell. This fit of this stock is as good as the looks!

Trigger

As nice as the fit of the stock is, it makes the trigger stand out for heaviness and stiffness. It makes me want to do something about it.

H&N Sniper Magnums

The other pellet I tested was the H&N Sniper Magnum. It seems that Pyramyd Air no longer carries this pellet in .177 caliber and that’s a shame, since it does so well in this rifle. I did not adjust the sights since the start of the test, so these hit where they wanted to.

Ten Sniper Magnums made a group that measures 1.284-inches between centers. Nine pellets are in 0.664-inches, which is pretty phenomenal. I think I have found the best pellet for this rifle until I shoot them all up! They also landed a little right of where I was aiming.

Sniper Magnum group
The 397 put 10 H&N Sniper Magnum pellets into 1.284-inches at 25 yards. Nine of them are in 0.664-inches, which is great!

Adjusted the sights

I was getting tired from all the pumping, but I thought I should adjust the sights for the Sniper Magnums and shoot five more shots. Fortunately in Part 4 I wrote how to adjust them, so it was no problem. Loosened the right screw then tighten the left one. It draws the sight over to the left.

Last five shots

Alas, I didn’t do as well on my last five shots. After seeing them group previously I know that five Sniper Magnums in 1.628-inches at 25 yards isn’t as good as they can do — not when I just put 10 in 1.284-inches.

Sniper Magnum group
Five H&N Sniper Magnums went into 1.628-inches at 25 yards. I think we can all agree this was me and not the rifle.

Discussion

I was quite pleased with how well the 397 fits me with Hank’s curly maple stock. Apparently I was right about the 397 needing a new stock with a lower comb.

The rifle itself shoots as well as can be expected. But the trigger now stands out as stiff and heavy. I have to address that before we move on. I had planned to try a scope and a dot sight next, but I think that trigger has to be addressed first. 

Summary

Crosman has made some good updates to the venerable Benjamin 397, in terms of the greater power and longer pump stroke. The new synthetic stock is the only thing that puts me off, but Hank from Canada has solved that for me.

I have a lot more in store for this rifle, so watch and see!