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Education / Training Benjamin 397 – Part 11

Benjamin 397 – Part 11

397 finished
Benjamin 397 with curly maple stock and Williams peep sight.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

This report covers:

  • Some have said…
  • The test
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • The trigger
  • The sight
  • JSB Exact 8.44-grain domes
  • Adjusted the rear sight
  • H&N Sniper Magnum
  • Crosman Premier 7.9-grains
  • Premier Heavies
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today is a day many of you have waited for. Today I shoot the Benjamin 397 with the Williams 64 peep sight I just installed.

Some have said…

I have read reports that the Williams sight cannot be adjusted low enough to work with this rifle. These remarks are not just on the Pyramyd AIR website — they are many places on the internet. Obviously this was something that concerned me. So today’s test is shot close up.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 10 meters. I pumped the rifle 5 times for each shot. That slowed the test down, but somebody suggested I should pump it more — so I did.

I wore reading glasses with a + 1.25 diopter to see the front sight blade as sharp as possible. Note to self — try regular glasses next time.

Air Arms Falcons

First up were Falcons from Air Arms. Notice that I didn’t sight in the rifle. Do you remember that I said the peep sight looked through the factory rear sight notch when I installed it? The sight should be pretty close. If Falcon pellets really surprise me I will adjust the sight for them, if need be.

The first shot hit just below the bull at 6:30, so I left the sight as it was and shot 4 more times. Five shots went into 0.588-inches at 10 meters, with three of the shots going more to the left. The group looks like 4 shots but I counted each pellet as I shot. 

Benjamin 397 peep Falcon
Five Falcon pellets made this 0.588-inch group at 10 meters. It’s not terrible, but I had hoped to do better.

The trigger

The trigger on this rifle is just too heavy. I said in Part 2 that it breaks cleanly, and it does. But for a rifle that’s this light, an almost 5-pound pull is too much. I want to reduce it  by 50 percent, if possible. I usually don’t complain about triggers! But the trigger on this 397 just doesn’t do the rifle justice.

Stock up on Air Gun Ammo

The sight

The peep hole in this sight is huge! It reminds me of shooting an M1 Carbine. That may be a problem because I’m not wearing my everyday glasses.

I did not adjust the rear sight after this group, in case the next pellet hit somewhere else. It didn’t, but I didn’t know that yet.

JSB Exact 8.44-grain domes

Next to be tested were five JSB Exact domes that weigh 8.44-grains. Up to this point this has been the most accurate pellet in this 397.

Five of them gave me a tantalizing group with three in the same place and two off to the right. This group measures 0.756-inches between centers with three pellets in 0.211-inches

Benjamin 397 peep JSB 844
The 397 put 5 JSB Exact 8.44-grain domes into this 0.756-inch group at 10 meters.

Adjusted the rear sight

It was time to adjust the rear sight, so I adjusted it up and to the right. This sight doesn’t have click adjustments. You loosen jam screws and slide it where you want it to go in both directions. The next pellet in the lineup was heavy so I put a lot of elevation in. I also slid it to the right just a little. This was the only time in today’s test that the sight was adjusted.

H&N Sniper Magnum

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Sniper Magnum that has been reasonably accurate sometimes.  It didn’t do so well at 25 yards when the rifle was scoped but at 25 yards and using the open sights, it did very well.

But in today’s test five Sniper Magnums gave the worst results. They landed in a group that measures 0.891-inches between centers of the two widest shots. That’s the largest group so far. I think it may be time to stop testing this pellet in this rifle.

Benjamin 397 peep Sniper Mag
Five Sniper Magnums didn’t do so well in the 397 when the peep was used.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grains

The next pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. Five went into 0.519-inches at 10 meters. This is the smallest group of today’s test. As you can see, three pellets are ever closer, in 0.278-inches.

Benjamin 397 peep Premier Lites
The 397 put five Premier Light pellets into a 0.519-inch group at 10 meters.

Premier Heavies

The last pellet I tried today was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. I hoped that it would be the most accurate, but, alas, it was the worst. Five of them made a group that measures 1.082-inches between centers. Four are 0.629-inches apart, but even that isn’t that good. 

Benjamin 397 peep Premier Heavies
Five Premier Heavies went into 1.082-inches at 10 meters. Four are in 0.629-inches.

Discussion

Well, this Williams peep sight does not thrill me yet. Maybe I used the wrong glasses or maybe the peephole is too large or something, but I am quite disappointed with today’s results.

In fact, today’s results have unsettled me quite a bit. I am getting older and it’s entirely possible that I am the weak link, so tomorrow I will attempt to find that out by shooting another multi-pump whose accuracy I have baselined.

In looking over all the tests I’ve done with this 397 it seems that JSB Exact Heavys are the very best. I make that note to myself for next time.

I also make a note to lighten the trigger before I advance with this 397. It’s something that has to be done.

Summary

I have now tested this Benjamin 397 with the sights it came with, with a scope and with a peep sight. And it seems the rifle did as well with the factory sights as it did with a scope and better than with a peep sight. That’s not the way I thought it would go, but I did the testing.

For the record, I do like shooting this rifle with a peep sight because of how easy it is to sight. My plan is to continue with the peep from this point forward. More to come, for sure!

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.

29 thoughts on “Benjamin 397 – Part 11”

  1. B.B.

    I think that those groups are more indicative of an extremely heavy trigger. Your hand muscles are pulling so hard it has to mess up your sight picture and follow through. 3lbs MAX. and 2-2.5 even better. That is why they have trigger guards…

    -Y

    PS If you can’t see it how are you going to hit it?

  2. B.B.,

    Doesn’t the lack of a front sight hood paired to the peep sight count as an additional factor, along with the trigger, for the difficulty in sighting in the rifle?

    Siraniko

  3. BB
    It looks like the trigger is probably not making things better.

    And I don’t know hard it would be but I would like to see a test with your old Tasco red dot sight on your gun.

      • BB
        Ok so that makes me ask. When you shot with open sights and the scope did you use your prescription glasses. I’m betting you didn’t use readers.

        Read my comment at the bottom about your glasses.

          • BB
            Ok will read tomorrow.

            And I need to try readers with a scope. I’m guessing the scope focuses the target and you use your readers to focus on the round circle of the scope picture.

            Probably not explaining it right. But I think as far as target shooting goes with a scope readers just might be better. At what distance though. Maybe all distances if the readers are focusing on the scope picture.

            I’m going to try readers with my scope here in a second with my 2 guns I shoot everyday normally with my prescription glasses to see if what I think happens will happen.

          • BB
            A no go for me with readers and the scope. I had to adjust the occular lens on my scope pretty much all the way in with readers compared to almost all the way out with the prescription glasses. Then I was forced to keep my off eye closed or covered with my off hand if I kept both eyes open with the readers.

            Not at all good using readers for me with a scope. Plus lost that wide field of view I get with both eyes open with my prescription glasses and the scope.

            Waiting to see what you have to say tomorrow.

  4. BB,

    Between the reading glasses and that trigger, it is amazing you can hit the target at all.

    Now as to the performance of the Crosman 7.9. This is why I always try to keep a tin of them around in .177 and .22. As a matter of fact, the .177 that I have are what is left of a boxed lot. In some airguns the Crosman will do surprisingly well.

    Fix that trigger.

    P.S. Which pumper will you be using, the Sheridan?

  5. I know this is disappointing. 4.5 MOA with the best pellet. And a couple of years ago, Tom shot his old Blue Streak .20 cal and got 1.2 MOA with open sights. If it stops raining, I am going to shoot my Sheridans to see what they do, I believe mine have given me 2 MOA with a Williams peeper. /blog/2019/07/sheridan-blue-streak-part-4-2/

  6. BB-

    Some clarification about the Williams sight, please. Pyramyd is selling these as the Air Venturi Williams 64 peep sight. I noticed when you installed the base of the sight that it was stamped SH (for Sheridan) in the recess for the elevation stalk. It is clearly one of Williams’s 5D series sights due to the slide-to-adjust windage and elevation. Their FP series utilizes screw adjustments.

    My question- is this AV Williams 64 peep sight any different than the Williams 5D-SH that has been on the market for years? Did the hole spacing on the Benjamin/Sheridan guns change in the last 5 (or whenever) years?

    Oh, and what does the ‘64’ have to do with anything? I seem to remember that Williams had an FP series ‘64’ sight for the Savage/Anschutz model 64 of the 60’s- 80’s. It fit the grooved receiver.

    On a related note- do you have a Merit (or other brand) adjustable iris available to use with this sight? They work wonders for our older eyes.

    Thanks.

  7. BB,

    I haven’t looked at adjusting the trigger on my 392 as I have just been plinking with it. Fun gun to shoot!

    Mine seems to like the JSB Exact (15.89 grain) @ 5 pumps just fine. I’ve been pretty lax – still need to do a pellet/pump/velocity table to base-line the rifle.

    It’s past time for me to do some testing of the 392 and a lighter trigger would be a good thing.

    Would you include your trigger adjustment details in the next blog? Think that might be of general interest.

    Hank

  8. BB
    I was going to say last night but got busy at work.

    I think you will have better luck with your regular prescription glasses than with the readers with the peeps. I can see the front sight and target with my regular prescription just fine with my peep sights. If I try my readers I can’t see the target clear at all but I can see the front sight.

  9. BB, Maybe just do some speed work with an old Webley srvice revolver, beef up that trigger finger,
    and dont worry about the trigger adjustment. The sniper magnums shot better than some of the other ammo. Would a Crosman 101 do any better? Comes with a peep on it.
    Rob

  10. B.B.,
    I’m on the side that says your reading glasses and that heavy trigger messed you up. With your regular glasses, and a lighter trigger, I think this rifle will shine with that peep sight…which would be nice, as it looks so cool that way. =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave

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