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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • The test
  • 25 yards
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • Adjust scope for Sniper Magnums
  • Scope positioning problems
  • Zero the scope
  • Good news for a peep sight test!
  • Summary

Today we shoot the Benjamin 397 scoped at 25 yards. Many of you have said this is the way you want to shoot it, so here we go!

Setup

I used the Air Venturi intermount that attaches to the receiver and has a Picatinney rail. I mounted a Bug Buster 3-12X32 scope to the rifle and it turned out to be ideal.

The test

I shot off a sandbag rest with the rifle rested directly on the bag. I shot 5-shot groups because I was pumping the gun for every shot. And I pumped 4 times per shot. I had to hold the rifle at the pistol grip to pump because the scope was in the way.

Since I just mounted the scope, I had to sight-in first of all. I did that at 10 meters and it took three shots to get into the bull. I sighted-in with JSB Exact 8.44-grain domes.

After sight-in I shot a five-shot group at 10 meters with the same pellet. Five went into a group that measures 0.488-inches between centers.

397 JSB 844 10 meters
From 10 meters the scoped 397 put 5 JSB 8.44-grain pellets into 0.488-inches.

That was good enough for me. I knew the pellets would hit high at 25 yards, but they would be close enough for safety (i.e. still on the target paper).

25 yards

I then backed up to 25 yards and fired 5 more of the same JSB pellet. The first shot landed just above the bull, then the next 5 clustered together higher and a little left. I decided since they all went to the same place except for the first shot to record them as a group. That’s 5 shots in 0.573-inches at 25 yards. If I include the first shot the group grows to 0.998-inches.

397 JSB 844 25 yards
When I moved back to 25 yards the 397 put five JSB pellets into this 0.573-inch group. The dime covers the first shot that opens this group to 0.998-inches.

JSB Exact Heavy

I shot five JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain domes next. I figured they would land lower so I didn’t adjust the scope. They did land lower, but are still above the bullseye. Five of them went into 1.112-inches at 25 yards.

397 JSB 1034 25 yards
Five JSB Exact Heavy went into 1.112-inches at 25 yards.

Find a Hawke Scope

Adjust scope for Sniper Magnums

The next pellet was the H&N Sniper Magnum. It was time to adjust the scope down. I did and shot two shots below the bull, with one on the edge of the paper. Then I adjusted the scope up by several clicks. Unfortunately 5 Sniper Magnums went into a vertical group with one of them landing in the same hole as one of the sight-in pellets.

The five-shot group measures 1.529-inches between centers. It is very vertical. The bottom hole that is completely on the paper has two pellets through it. It’s easier to see up close than in the picture. The hole on the right is the 5th pellet in this group.

397 Sniper Magnum 25 yards
Five H&N Sniper Magnums went into 1.529-inches at 25 yards. The fifth shot is on the right side of the two holes that are fully on the paper below the bull.

Scope positioning problems

Several readers picked up on the Bug Buster being too far forward. Halfstep said it best.

“BB,

Could that Pic rail be turned around so the long part faces the butt of the gun? I could see it providing a better chance of getting the ocular closer to the eye, if one required it. I also see that some of the extra rail might need to be cut off to avoid interference with the bolt. Would it interfere if left uncut?

You could have found out about PA’s customer service by asking anyone reading this blog. I don’t remember ever reading of a bad experience with them. I know they have always gone above and beyond what was required for me.

Half”

And this was my answer.

“Half,

Yes, I believe it could be turned around. You might have to cut off some of the end to keep from poking your eye out.

BB”

When I shoulder the rifle the scope is positioned fine, but on a sandbag the eyepiece is too far forward. The image I can see is about half as big as it should be. For those who were worried about my head coming up high enough to see through the eyepiece, there is no problem.

So I removed the scope from the rail base then unscrewed the rail and turned it around backwards. It was quick and easy to do and it solved the problem! Thanks, Halfstep!

397 scope rail turned around
With the scope rail mounted backwards on the two anchors the scope moves back perfectly. No problems with being back too far. Isn’t that stock gorgeous? What a lucky boy am I!

This also made it possible for me to hold the rifle in the normal place, which is now just ahead of the front of the scope. Thank goodness for the Bug Buster!

Zero the scope

With the rail turned around the scope had to be re-zeroed and that took four shots. Then I shot the final group of five Sniper Magnums. I pumped the rifle five times for each shot in this final group.

The first shot almost touches the black at one o’clock, so I thought the scope was adjusted, but the other four shots went higher. This time the rifle put five Sniper Magnums into 1.249-inches at 25 yards. The rifle is easier to pump this way because my other hand can now hold it where it’s supposed to if I crowd the front of the scope.

397 Sniper Magnum last 5
With the scope set back the 397 put five Sniper Magnum pellets into a 1.249-inch group at 25 yards.

Good news for a peep sight test!

I have some very good news. Crosman has put a special mounting plate under the legs of the open rear sight. It looks like it reinforces the barrel solder joint at that place, so removing the rear sight may not be quite as dangerous as it used to be. I will show that plate in the next report.

I ordered a peep sight many weeks ago and it has now shipped. So we have that test coming. And maybe a dot sight test, too?

Summary

So far the Benjamin 397 is performing well, though I don’t think I have yet found its best pellet. The JSB 8.44 seems best so far. Oh, well, there is more testing yet to come