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Ammo Benjamin 397 – Part 7

Benjamin 397 – Part 7

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.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

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!

22 thoughts on “Benjamin 397 – Part 7”

  1. Everyone,

    I’m sorry about this. It was scheduled to publish this morning, but it failed to do so. Must have been a server hiccup.

    BB

    • Yogi,

      Looking at the stock the grip area looks a little fatter than it ought to be while the area where your thumb ought to be seems thinner.

      Siraniko

      • Siraniko,

        The factory synthetic stock is kinda thin for the average hand and definitely small for my big hands so I made the grip (nominally) about 3/16 larger.

        The grip “looks” a lot larger but because it is sculptured to fit it and the “high spots” are more noticeable. The grip doesn’t “feel” big and the trigger is easily accessible.

        You really have to hold it to know what I mean 🙂

        Hank

    • BB, Yogi,

      Sorry to jump in here but I think that the laminated stock will show the “contours lines” of the grip a bit clearer than the stippled grip on BB’s stock.

      Attached is a picture for reference.

      Hank

        • Yogi,

          Yup, there are four scallops.

          In the top image there is one at the bottom of the grip below the “triangle” to support the bottom edge of the hand and one above the triangle to make room for the base of the thumb. These two scallops form the “palm swell”.

          In the bottom image you can see the scallops for the thumb and fingers. These scallops control the overall size of the grip and how comfortable it is to hold. Too big or too small causes tension in the hand that can affect accuracy.

          The angle and depth of the scallops controls how the hand lays on the grip and forces a consistent hold.

          You can see the height in the palm swell in the middle image. For reference, each lamination of wood is 1/32 inch (.031 inch or .7 mm) thick.

          Hope this helps.

          Hank

  2. BB,

    I sure am glad I resisted the urge to get one of these “new” 397/392 pumpers. Although that plastic stock looks nice, “it just ain’t right”. I am so glad there are some folks out there doing this stuff who are honest about it. I have noticed that some who make their living reviewing airguns would “gloss over” the poor stock design. Likely all we would “see” is shooting with a dot or scope “to best highlight the accuracy of this fine air rifle”.

  3. Which is why this has become FM’s “go to” source for knowledge and guidance about air gunnery; not only coming from B.B., but also from the expert audience. No Fake-Breaking-or-Irrelevant News here!

  4. B.B.,

    Not surprised that the POI (Point Of Impact) changed using Hanks Custom Stock. Your cheek weld has shifted from the near impossible to repeat one on the plastic stock and if you were wearing your Readers the lens angle to the Sight Line also shifted. That lens angle/cheek weld will take some time to stabilize as your proprioception* becomes solidified.

    * “Proprioception, also referred to as kinaesthesia, is the sense of self-movement and body position. It is sometimes described as the “sixth sense”. Proprioception is mediated by proprioceptors, mechanosensory neurons located within muscles, tendons, and joints.”

    In the 2nd paragraph last sentence of: H&N Sniper Magnums
    “The (they) also landed a little right of where I was aiming.”

    shootski

    PS: Two NitPicks from Part 4:

    NO Fair changing up things to make Apple & Orange test comparison or maybe just applesauce…LOL!

    1st, “..but I did shoot one 10-shot group at the end with what I felt was the best pellet. I pumped six times per shot.”. You only pumped 5 per shot this time…you need a Continuity Girl on the Test Set!

    2nd, you had lost your regular eyeglasses and had used your Readers to print that very nice 0.689″ group! What eyewear did you use for this test?

    • Shootski
      Yep when you test something you need to keep consistent from one test to the next and only change one variable that you can at a time. Otherwise your waisting alot of everybody’s time.

      • Gunfun1,

        I am always surprised how well B.B. manages to keep errors at bay being a one person testing and report writing shop! I did a few years in RDT&E (Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and remember getting into it with the OT& E Operational Test & Evaluation types regularly over test continuity methodology. They had loads of personnel in their test shops. I had a great deal of respect for their efforts to provide good systems for the War Fighters but when they would try to Showboat for personal promotion points by rigging the Testplans that is where I would draw a Line in the Sand!

        My pencil has an erraser on it too; I worry only if it wears out before the pencil is a stub. If that ever happens I know I’m making all too many mistakes…time for retraining.

        shootski

        • Shootski
          I have delt with that promotion bull and other stuff for going on 38 years now.

          I’m training a young’n to take my spot when I retire in about 2 more years. He thinks like me. He works like me and even gets disgusted with the bull that goes on. Like me.

          He has asked why I don’t get upset with everything going on.

          I told him am I really that good? And just winked. Told him he better learn to deal with that real quick if he wants to be the best. Isn’t it amazing what time teaches. 🙂

  5. Great article on a new old classic. My 392’s pump stopped pumping and it needs to go to P/A for a reseal as soon as I can get them to understand that it isn’t an RWS Diana? Someone there had a bad day….

    I think that H&N have dropped the cylindrical SNIPER line. I don’t see it on their web (last I looked) and that is disconcerting since a number of my pieces like those pellets. It will give me something to do in the fall when cycling turns into basement range time; selecting the successor pellets in a number of air rifles.

    I shot (can’t say “shoot” until repairs are made) my 392 at six pumps at 10 meters. It was a tad bit more accurate than at four and a LOT less work than eight – the max recommended. I usually shoot my old-school pumper at the beginning of a session as well as the horrid triggered Trevox pistol because they are a work out.

    This coming Memorial Day, I’ll remember William Weller, a 10-year US Army veteran and combat vet of the Viet Nam War. I knew him as a floor sergeant at the Ohio Veterans Home and a friend. I introduced him to air gunning and he shot in his basement in Cincy after he departed the OVH for happier surroundings in his home town. Might have to punch a few holes in paper on Monday in remembrance of my old friend and fellow air gunner.

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