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Air Guns Benjamin 397 – Part 9

Benjamin 397 – Part 9

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!


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.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

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.


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.


And this was my answer.


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.


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?


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

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

27 thoughts on “Benjamin 397 – Part 9”

  1. B.B.,

    I’m glad that the positioning of the scope suggested by Half worked. The H&N Sniper Magnums appears to be too long and heavy to get decent accuracy from this power plant. They seem to be designed with PCPs in mind. Maybe you should include a wadcutter in your next test?


      • B.B.
        Before ditching the sniper magnums, it might be worth a try with a couple more pumps in the rifle. They may just need a little more speed to make them spin faster for stability. Every fps increases the rotation per minute of the pellet, after all.

        I don’t mean to open a whole can of worms, here. Testing each pellet at different velocities on a multi pump could end up being a life’s work.


  2. BB,

    Gotta like those BugBusters! They have become my favorite scope. I have the 3-12X32 on top of my Maximus. I really do wish that Leapers would go to a fine, glass etched reticle in them, but I have to admit that this reticle is very visible in the woods. I also like that this thing is not illuminated. I need to get a couple more before they turn the lights on.

    That is one gorgeous stock on that pumper. Yes, you are a lucky boy. I would pitch that malformed plastic thing in the recycle bin.

    I am really looking forward to the peep. That is what this gal should have on her. She has on a fine gown, now to adorn her with a diamond necklace.

  3. BB,

    I have a question. Theoretically, you should be able to pump this thing up and it should hold the air in it indefinitely, correct? This would be the ideal. It would allow you to hunt with it.

    Of course some would have to learn you only get one shot. If you miss Mr. Fuzzy Tail, he is not likely going to just sit there as you flap your arms around in some kind of ritualistic dance. Then again, he might be laughing so hard that he falls out of the tree where you can club him with the butt.

    • RR
      I don’t know about holding air indefinitely. But if it’s new it for sure should hold air for a hunting session and definitely for pesting.

      From what I have experienced with the Crosman and Benjamin pumpers that is not a issue at all for the scenarios I mentioned.

    • RidgeRunner,

      B.B. can answer your theoretical question…
      í’m going to give you my experience based observations. Go right ahead and pump it up to the level that you want (or even maximum recommended) and it can hold that pressure for hours; probably even all day.
      Then when done unload and DISCHARGE the air (IF loaded and unable to unload) shoot out the pellet in a SAFE direction. Then pump one or two pumps to keep the pump/valve healthy. I usually discharge that maintaining charge before the next pump up to check on the seal and ensure the new pumps give me the complete charge.



      • Shootski
        From what I have seen most pumpers benefit from leaving a couple pumps in the gun when its resting. And I don’t even shoot that last shot out. I found if I pump right back up to the velocity I shoot at the gun gets more consistent shots.

  4. I’m surprised you don’t need a neck extension to see through that scope it’s so high!
    You’d have to be wary of canting as accuracy would suffer badly

    • Ade C
      Yep my thoughts too.

      I think BB does so much testing and shooting that he just adapts and does not realize the potential problem that it could cause for another person that might not have that much exsperiance yet.

        • BB
          Don’t sweat it. I’m sure most of us has experienced that at some point in thier life. That’s what happens when you keep getting experience.

          It does get hard to take a few steps back sometimes to realize what is going on. Raising kids and all that other stuff that goes on in life tends to do that to a person. Realization is a hard thing sometimes. But once you been there it seems that you then know which way to go. Can’t count all them times in my life.

  5. For the IT folks: I was able see and read the blog this morning without logging in.

    iMac, osX 10.13.6, Safari browser.

    Logging in was as usual. Comments worked fine. (Obviously).


  6. B.B,
    Every time I look at the pic of that re-stocked rifle, I’m blown away by the awesomeness of that stock that Hank created for it. This scope test is nice to show the accuracy potential of the gun, but I’m looking forward to the peep sight test. I think rifles like this (especially this one with the Hank-special stock) beg to be shot with iron sights.
    Take care & God bless,

  7. With no offense meant to Mr. Hank’s beautiful handiwork and at the risk of drawing the ire of others, I am just wondering how the original stock’s too-high comb would fit with the scope. I recall you really criticized Crosman for the synthetic stock’s high comb. Perhaps the original configuration would lend itself to a scope? If so, the open rear sight would certainly be merely bad window dressing. If you test this, please put the wood stock back on right away, and never take it off again!

    Personally, I am very much looking forward to the peep sight test.

    Also, you don’t seem to be having much luck with the heavier pellets in this rifle. Would Air Arms domes in different head sizes be an option worth testing? Or, since this is a Crosman product, perhaps it was developed with Crosman domed pellets in mind? Now the the barrel has been somewhat broken in, would it be worth re-testing them?

    Just some random thoughts trying to be helpful.

  8. The stock is one to be desired and hopefully i’ll be making one in the near future. I modified the synthetic stock by cutting off the cheek piece with a band saw then shaping with rasp and such. I could not get the rear sight to work for me, so i used a williams peep sight. I bought 2 392’s just i case i messed up the stock. Using jsb hades pellets I enjoy the accuracy of these. The second rifle is scoped and am waiting on a one piece mount from bakers. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this article and share what i had to do.

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