Home Blog  
Education / Training Benjamin 397 – Part 13

Benjamin 397 – Part 13

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
Part 11
Part 12

This report covers:

  • Trigger
  • Hank and Chris,
  • Assembly
  • Cannot decock the gun
  • How is the trigger now?
  • Surprise!
  • Accuracy test
  • The test
  • Crosman Premier Lights — 3 pumps
  • Crosman Premier Lights — 4 pumps
  • Crosman Premier Lights — 5 pumps
  • Crosman Premier Lights — 6 pumps
  • JSB Exact 8.44-grains
  • Vintage Crosman pellets from Halfstep
  • Where we are
  • Peep sights
  • Summary

Today I tell the rest of the story about the Benjamin 397 trigger. And there is a small surprise waiting for you. Let’s go!


Reader Hank noticed that the trigger looked dry. Here is what he said.

“Thanks for this BB! How is the trigger now that you removed the spring? Lighter? Is it loose or wobbly at all? The trigger assembly looks dry – any grease or oil at all?”

Reader Chris USA asked, “Take a stab at why that coil spring is there. It obliviously supplies added trigger pull resistance,… but does it do anything else?”

Hank and Chris,

That coil spring was there to give the trigger a stage one pull and also to make the trigger-pull harder. Before I removed it the pull measured 4 pounds, 15 ounces and the first stage measured 12 ounces. After I removed it there was no first stage (the trigger blade just flopped loosely a short way) and stage two measured between 3 pounds 12 ounces and 4 pounds 6 ounces. So the reduction is not as much as I was hoping for, but it is lighter.

Hank, there is a small amount of wobble in the trigger, both when uncocked and when cocked. It comes from the trigger pivot pin being smaller than the hole through the trigger that fits around the pin. I don’t see any advantage to removing it.


The 397 trigger went back together the reverse of how it came apart, but I will note some things for you. First, I applied white lithium grease to all parts of the trigger mechanism and to the bolt. The grease had melted into an oily substance and that oil is all I put on the hammer. I didn’t want to slow it down, which heavier grease could have done.

I did not use moly grease anywhere in this trigger. As I noted yesterday, the sear doesn’t work by direct contact, so there is no point in making it frictionless. White lithium grease was all I used and I used it sparingly.

Next, when the rifle was assembled the bolt wouldn’t raise high enough to cock the hammer. I disassembled the trigger again and discovered that I had installed the hammer backward, with the mainspring hole facing the valve stem. That let the hammer go too far forward and one of the rings around the hammer blocked the stud on the bolt from lifting high enough to cock the gun. It was easily fixed.

Had that not happened this assembly took under 5 minutes. It was much faster than the disassembly.

Cannot decock the gun

And I discovered another way this new 397 differs from the older one. That round projection on the top rear of the trigger prevents you from de-cocking the gun. So, unless you cut that projection off, the rifle can’t be decocked.

397 trigger inside assembled
That projection (arrow) keeps the rifle from being decocked. It must be fired.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

How is the trigger now?

I have already told you about the trigger pull weight, but how is it for smoothness? I reported in Part 2 that it was crisp, if heavy. Well,  now that it’s lighter I can feel some slight trigger movement as I squeeze the trigger. There is no start-and-stop creep, just some movement that can be felt as the trigger is squeezed. It’s not distracting and I plan to leave it the way that it is.


Since I was into the rifle anyway, I decided to remove the paint overspray from the inside of the barrel at the muzzle. That’s my surprise. I used paint stripper on a hand made cotton swab and it took about 6 applications, with me shooting a pellet out in-between. But the barrel is now clean inside the muzzle. Will that affect accuracy? Let’s see.

Accuracy test

Someone, and I can’t remember who, said I should test this rifle on varying numbers of pumps, so that is the first thing I did today. For no special reason I selected 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers to test this.

The test

I shot from 10 meters and rested the gun directly on the sandbag. I shot 5-shot groups because I was pumping, however, if any of those groups were really small, I would shoot a 10-shot group with the same pellet and number of pumps.

Crosman Premier Lights — 3 pumps

On three pumps the 397 put 5 Crosman Premier Lights into a 0.468-inch group at 10 meters. That’s okay, but not great.

397 Premier Light 3 pumpos

On three pumps the 397 put five Premier Lights into 0.468-inches at 10 meters.

Crosman Premier Lights — 4 pumps

Wow! On 4 pumps the group measures 1.774-inches between centers. I did not call a wild shot in the bunch, but I’m sure something I did was wrong. Let’s see what the next groups look like before any decisions are made.

397 Premier Light 4 pumps
Golly, the 4-pump group at 10 meters is huge — 1.774-inches between centers. I don’t think the rifle is responsible for most of this.

Crosman Premier Lights — 5 pumps

On five pumps the 397 put 5 Premier Lights into 1.078-inches at 10 meters. Three of them are so tight that it’s impossible to measure them. I had hoped to see five shots like that.

397 Premier Light 5 pumps
On five pumps the 397 put 5 Premier Lights into 1.078-inches at 10 meters. The three near the center of the bull are too tight to measure.

Crosman Premier Lights — 6 pumps

How about one more pump? Are the groups growing smaller as the pumps increase? Not really. These five shots measure 1.069-inches between centers, with another three close together in the center of the bull.

397 Premier Light 6 pumps
On 6 pumps the 397 put 5 Premier Lights into this 1.069-inch group at 10 meters. It’s practically identical in size to the 5-pump group above.

At this point it seemed to me that three pumps at 10 meters was giving the best results — with Premier Lights, anyhow. Time to try some other pellets.

JSB Exact 8.44-grains

I tried five 8.44-grain JSB Exact pellets next. On three pumps five of them went into 0.945-inches at 10 meters. While it’s a little better than the Premiers on 5 and 6 pumps, it’s twice what they did on three pumps. I expected better from this pellet.

397 JSB 844  three pumps
Five JSB Exact 8.44 domes made this 0.945-inch group at 10 meters.

Vintage Crosman pellets from Halfstep

Reader Halfstep sent BB some vintage pellets he was no longer using. Among them was a Crosman wadcutter that weighs about 8.5 grains (they vary a lot). For the last test BB tried 5 of them. Reader Siraniko asked BB to try a wadcutter and this is the one he picked.

397 Crosman pellets
These Crosman wadcutters are vintage.

On three pumps the 397 put five wadcutters into 0.537-inches at 10 meters. It’s the second-smallest group of today’s test.

397 Crosman 3 pumps
Five Crosman wadcutters went into 0.537-inches at 10 meters.

Where we are

Well, I did reduce the trigger pull, but only by a small amount. And, by eliminating the coiled spring, I turned it into a single-stage trigger.

Accuracy doesn’t seem to have improved, so the business about the paint overspray in the barrel doesn’t seem to hold water. However …

However, I note that in the past few tests a lot of the 5-shots groups have had three and even four of the five pellets in a much tighter group. That suggests an aiming error to me. If the 397 had a silencer that is where I’d be looking, but it doesn’t, so I’m wondering if the large peephole is to blame. I have proven that I can still shoot with my Sheridan Supergrade, so it must be something other than me.

Peep sights

I looked through my collection of peep sights and found a peephole that’s smaller than the one that came on the Williams 64 I recently installed on the 397. I have switched it with the one I have been shooting and I plan to shoot another accuracy test.

397 peepholes
The peephole on the right came on the Williams sight I have been using. I swapped it for the smaller peephole on the left.


I normally don’t run back-to-back reports like this, but I was really into this project and I wanted to finish it before I started forgetting some of the details. Now that I know where things are with the rifle, I can let some time pass.

I’m still not satisfied with the accuracy, or should I say the lack thereof. If I didn’t have several Sheridans to remind me I might think this one was okay, but it’s up against stiff competition. My hope is that it eventually wears in or I find the solution and start driving tacks with it.

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.

53 thoughts on “Benjamin 397 – Part 13”

  1. Thanks BB!

    Except for removing the paint out of the muzzle and changing the stock I’ve just been shooting the 392 as is.

    Now it sounds like I have some work to do… a lighter compression spring to retain the two-stage trigger; a larger pin to eliminate slop in the trigger pivot and (maybe) bend the trigger spring (slightly) to lower the weight a tad.

    Thinking about adding a peep sight.


      • RR,

        Having spent so much time and pellets with my Crosman 101 when I was learning to shoot made appreciate peep sights. My old eyes like scopes but for sub 30 yards iron sights are fun for plinking.

        Thanks for the link to Williams sights – have the prices ever gone up in the couple of decades since I last bought one LOL! IIRC, the one I got for my 124 was under $25. Think I’ll make a custom peep for the 392.

        I’ll see about the pin, as you point out, shims are a good option.


    • Hank,

      Yes, a lighter coil spring to retain the first stage and perhaps lighten the other spring to lessen the trigger pull. The trigger slop isn’t that much of a problem. At least that’s what I think.


      • BB,

        To be truthful, I found the factory trigger on the 392 to be fine for plinking.

        I can get used to almost any trigger that isn’t really bad. I did notice that I had to take care for the first couple of shots when I switched from the 392 to one of my PCPs though as the triggers on them are quite a bit lighter.

        Agreed, the trigger slop isn’t a (real) problem it’s just that I’m fussy (anal?) about such things and feel compelled to improve it just because I can (and it is fun to do). Might polish the trigger blade while it is out of the rifle (just because) as well LOL!


    • Hey Hank,

      An addition to your list would be a Hammer/Striker Spring Guide. If they don’t already have one in yours. I believe some of the precision varrience B.B. is experiencing is from that spring’s operation. Check out the http://www.mac1airgunshop.com/mobile/Category.aspx?id=1838 site for the possibilities for your platform. Tim is a good guy to talk with too; just try to know a little of what you are talking (which you do most of the time ;^) LOL! ) about without BLOWING SMOKE and he will help you get it right!


      • Thanks for the link shootski!

        Looked at the spring guide, should be quick to make one. Don’t think I have any delrin left so I’ll use some brass.

        “Secret Sauce ” eh? LOL! I have some of the “Airgun Honey” flavored stuff (synthetic oil and STP) that works well. 🙂


  2. B.B.,

    Thanks for trying the wadcutters. Did you grind down the projection that was preventing you from decocking the rifle? Are you going to use pellet larvae to wear in this gun?


    PS: Section Where we are Second paragraph 1st sentence: “Accuracy doesn’t see (seem) to have improved, so the business about the paint overspray in the barrel doesn’t seem to hold water. However …

    3rd paragraph: “However, I note that is (in) the past few tests a lot of the 5-shots groups have had three and even four of the five pellets in a much tighter group.

    • Siraniko,

      I fixed both of them. Thanks.

      No, I didn’t remove that projection that prevents decocking the gun — yet. I will ponder it.


  3. B.B.

    That first group is not bad. Unfortunately, not bad does not cut it!
    With that pretty stock, it would become a wall hanger at my hacienda.

    You are thy one that preaches accuracy above all else.


    PS as Buck Henry once said, “give me accuracy or give it away…” lol

  4. B.B.,

    My bad on the grinding down the projection. Still catching up on the comments past two days as my RSS reader on the phone is not getting any comments.


    • Siraniko,

      IT told me they thought they had fixed the RSS problem. But then something makes me log in again every time I close the window. Oh, well! 😉


  5. BB
    What holds the bolt closed. Do you turn the handle down so it locks in place like most guns do.

    What I was wondering is when you removed that small coil spring behind the trigger will the bolt try to open when the gun fires. Or does rotating the bolt handle down hold the bolt closed.

    That’s what I was talking about on yesterday’s report on the gun.

    If that bolt is trying to open when the gun fires maybe that is causing you some inconsistency from shot to shot and affecting accuracy.

    • GF1,

      The bolt does raise up a little on the shot. But so does my Supergrade and my other 392 pump assist. so I’m not certain it’s a bad thing.


      • BB
        Basically the question I’m asking is. Do you have to lift the bolt handle to cock the gun. Or can you pull the handle straight back to cock the gun without lifting the handle..

        If you can just pull straight back then that small coil spring is there to help the bolt stay forward when the gun shoots.

          • BB
            Ok then that coil spring works just like the coil spring behind the trigger blade in the Maximus, Discovery and 2260. I thought it might hold the bolt closed.

            And yep how you are tuning your trigger is pretty much how I do that type of Crosman trigger. I use the coil spring length to set my first stage travel. I have even used the spring from a ball point pen to replace the factory coil spring to make a light first stage with the length of pull I want by changing the coil length. Then the other spring I trace how its bent from the factory like Chris mentioned. Then I bend it to get my second stage pull pressure how I want.

            That’s what I was telling RidgeRunner to try when he got his Maximus. It actually works petty good for tuning that type of trigger.

  6. BB,

    I think I don’t entirely understand what the applications for lithium grease vs, moly grease are.

    I know both MoS2 and lithium greases seem to do well for metal-on-metal contacts. They both don’t seem to be harmful to rubber and plastic.
    My impression is that many “delicate” or “high-tech” applications seem to use the lithium stuff (for example rails for the read head on diskette or CD drives).

    So you used the lithium grease because the trigger doesn’t need to be “frictionless”. But reducing friction *was* the general idea, wasn’t it?
    Did your lithium grease just happen to be thinner than the moly grease you had at hand or is there a specific reason it does better with this trigger?

    Kind regards,

    • Stephan,

      No. Reducing froction was not the general idea. Reducing spring pressure was what I was after. This trigger doesn’t work like a direct-contact sear trigger, so friction isn’t a problem.


      • BB,

        I think I’m not really following. Lubrication couldn’t possibly lighten the spring pressure, could it? You already did that by removing a spring.

        So why lube it at all? Just so things don’t seize up?

        I’m genuinely wondering what the use cases for moly vs. lithium grease are. They seem to be good for pretty similar things (metal contacts at high pressures or high temperatures).


  7. BB,

    I like those Vintage Crosman Wadcutters. I may have to see if I can find some of those for these old gals around here to try out.

    On second thought, maybe not. They may work real well in one or two of these old gals and finding more may be next to impossible.

    I do like the looks though. They appear to have quite heavy heads.

    • RR,

      Those are just the old “trash can” style of pellet from back when it was ALL we had, if we wanted a domestic pellet. They come out of the box beat all to hell. I’m really surprised that they did that well.


  8. “I normally don’t run back-to-back reports like this…”
    …but I, for one, am glad that you did, B.B. To all of us old Sheridan and Benjamin pump-shooters, this is a valuable set of reports, a set to which I will keep referring in the future.
    Thanking you once again for all you do,

  9. BB, Thanks for the picture of the 397 trigger parts, the detail is very good. I wear high powered magnifying glasses w/ interchangable lenses for such close up work. My first impression of the Synergis trigger was mixed, but after some light honing, 1200 grit wet dry spray mounted to a flat piece of acrylic, alternate with other grits, I see what a good simple trigger looks like now. There’s no slop in the pivot pins either. The welds on the Umarex are nicer than the HW30s. This is the rifle that Benjamin needs to consider when thinking about giving customers value for their hard earned dollar. The Benjamin deserves a bit of a redesign, especially at this price point of $200. IMHO.
    I like the lines and look of this classic, but sentiment is not enough of a good reason.
    I added an extra inch of preload to the vortek spring, fixed the spring guide. 700 fps with AA heavys. I’m going to say under 20 lbs of cocking effort, but I’ll check. Detuning the springer was a great idea, it just drills them now, so easy. Maybe I can start on my old Sheridan EB co2 pistol now that I’ve seen what to expect in there. New seal kit and wrench too. Should be fun working on old the .20 cal.
    Thanks guys!

    • Rob
      Glad you tried detunning your springer. It really helps some guns. When it works you really know it. It’s like it just spits one pellet on top of another. It’s like it is a totally different gun.

  10. GF1,

    That is the direction I am heading. I will bend the spring leg to lessen the tension on the sear and lighten the trigger pull more. And I will find a lighter replacement for the coil spring to get a first stage back.


    • BB
      I thought from the beginning that’s what you was trying finally. That’s been brought up so many times it ain’t funny. It works. No need to add the setcrews like everybody does with the Discovery, Maximus and 2260 type triggers (which I know this trigger your modding doesnt have). If you try how we are talking about doing it makes for a very nice trigger.

  11. The evolution of this series seems to keep shoving the new 397 into the category of a plinker. Nothing wrong with that. It was also interesting to me how well B.B.’s Super Grade shot in comparison. My other take away is that the older pumpers, i.e., silver streaks, blue streaks, Super Grades, etc., are still worthy guns because of their accuracy and because parts are available to keep them running. There are also qualified repair stations like Baker to keep these old pumpers in tip top shape. Speaking of Baker, he’s got a long list of used guns for sale. On page 5 he even has a Sheridan Model B Sporter for sale:


  12. BB, If they could make the 397 have fill port for a hand pump, they could maybe keep the look of this rifle, what I like most about it, that, and its recoiless. The Umarex Origin uses a two part pressure chamber to give the user a nice flat shot string string with no regulator. Use that on the 397, and just top up with a few strokes in the field. It could have power, and accuracy with few pumps. But, you will probably get it done with just the smaller aperture, no doubt.
    Good shooting!

    • BB
      It sure would be nice if we could go back in time and buy one of the guns you and Kevin been talking about.

      Definitely would be nice to own one that somebody hasn’t lubed up to get it to seal. But hey now days I guess you just have to do what you got to do to those old guns to keep them running regardless of what they are worth.

  13. Tom, if your bolt is jumping on the 397 that maybe the cause of your ‘flyers’. Perhaps you could tighten where the bolt comes into battery. Loosen the 2 screws (part# 397-059) that hold it in place, remove cover (397-058), open the bolt slightly, push (397-060) against the screw that cocks the hammer (397-044), replace the cover and screws. Tighten the screws and return the bolt into battery. If the bolt won’t close completly, open the bolt slightly, loosen the screws and put a little less pressure on (397-060).
    If your bolt is jumping you may not be getting a good seal everytime.

  14. B.B. and Readership,

    Well Pyramid IT’s newest INSULT is requiring me to go through the I’m Human test by the DUNCES @ CAPTCHA! REALLY they don’t know how to spell capture nor do they know it is a Fire Engine not a truck and I always thought truck was another name for boggie and Lorry was also known as a truck! Then there are the mangled Aeroplanes and Locomotive posing as TRAINS…I remember trains as a different thing that Locomotives didn’t pull….WHAT A PAIN!


  15. BB, I think what you have there is a 4 MOA gun. A very good looking, upgraded, “classic”, but inaccurate as compared to expectations (compare to, say – a Blue Streak). I applaud your efforts here, and am interested in what it may take to get (a lot) better accuracy for it. Exchange the entire action? Maybe some 397’s just have bad barrels? I have talked to several expert airgunsmiths, they all seem to agree that there are variances in the barrels within specific models that are generally good, wherein some just perform badly, and some are amazing. I think your 397 needs some fundamental overhaul, myself. Get another 397, swap your amazing stock, install a peep sight, and sell the first 397 with the donor stock to someone who will be happy shooting at cans in their back yard?

  16. Dear B.B.,
    Your passion for pumpers is positively contagious! Got myself a Benji 392 PA around 10 years ago (earlier had possessed both C1377 and 2289G). Religiously lubed with pellgunoil, always kept with 1-2 pumps, low shot count, but recently she started to misbehave. All of a sudden the pressure was not building while pumping, no effort whatsoever (the air for sure wasn’t escaping through the barrel). Unable to remove the valve tried the “alcohol flush” method – it helped to some degree. The pressure/effort is back, she can achieve standard velocities, but only while pumping quickly; if slowly there is no pressure/effort again, the air probably moves past the cup. Could you please advise what – if anything – can be done without the access to spare parts (living in Eastern Europe). Disassembly starting from the muzzle side and thorough cleaning ? These rolled/spring pins are probably PITA to remove, but even harder to reinstall properly. Anyway, would it improve things? Probably there is something wrong with the cup/piston seal, never thought it can fail before e.g. the valve, frankly. Would appreciate a bit of your pumper wisdom.
    All the best,

    • Tom,

      Have you tried lubing the pump cup with automatic transmission stop leak? That usually works for me.



      • B.B.,
        No, I haven’t but will do so. After the alcohol flush I only applied a small amount of pellgunoil to the cup.
        Thank you for your tip! Just one thing – can Benji be over-oiled? Could it cause such erratic pump arm behavior?

      • Dear B.B.,

        Just wanted to share experience, maybe someone finds it useful: After the first alcohol flush, when another portion of pellgunoil didn’t help, I did the second one but this time – afterwards – I applied the oil for piston compressors I had at hand and voila – it cured the gun! She shoots like new, firm pressure is there from the very first pump, holds 1-2 pumps indefinitely.

        Thank you for your encouragement to experiment! If this oil fails (it’s a mineral one) then it will be time for the AT stop leak you mentioned. So far so good, though I’m surprised pellgunoil was a no go.

        Kind regards,


Leave a Comment

Buy With Confidence

  • Free Shipping

    Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

    Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

    View Shipping Info

  • Shipping Time Frame

    We work hard to get all orders placed by 12 pm EST out the door within 24 hours on weekdays because we know how excited you are to receive your order. Weekends and holiday shipping times will vary.

    During busy holidays, we step our efforts to ship all orders as fast as possible, but you may experience an additional 1-2 day delay before your order ships. This may also happen if you change your order during processing.

    View Shipping Times

  • Shipping Restrictions

    It's important to know that due to state and local laws, there are certain restrictions for various products. It's up to you to research and comply with the laws in your state, county, and city. If you live in a state or city where air guns are treated as firearms you may be able to take advantage of our FFL special program.

    U.S. federal law requires that all airsoft guns are sold with a 1/4-inch blaze orange muzzle or an orange flash hider to avoid the guns being mistaken for firearms.

    View Shipping Restrictions

  • Expert Service and Repair

    Get the most out of your equipment when you work with the expert technicians at Pyramyd AIR. With over 25 years of combined experience, we offer a range of comprehensive in-house services tailored to kickstart your next adventure.

    If you're picking up a new air gun, our team can test and tune the equipment before it leaves the warehouse. We can even set up an optic or other equipment so you can get out shooting without the hassle. For bowhunters, our certified master bow technicians provide services such as assembly, optics zeroing, and full equipment setup, which can maximize the potential of your purchase.

    By leveraging our expertise and precision, we ensure that your equipment is finely tuned to meet your specific needs and get you ready for your outdoor pursuits. So look out for our services when shopping for something new, and let our experts help you get the most from your outdoor adventures.

    View Service Info

  • Warranty Info

    Shop and purchase with confidence knowing that all of our air guns (except airsoft) are protected by a minimum 1-year manufacturer's warranty from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted on the product page.

    A warranty is provided by each manufacturer to ensure that your product is free of defect in both materials and workmanship.

    View Warranty Details

  • Exchanges / Refunds

    Didn't get what you wanted or have a problem? We understand that sometimes things aren't right and our team is serious about resolving these issues quickly. We can often help you fix small to medium issues over the phone or email.

    If you need to return an item please read our return policy.

    Learn About Returns

Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

View Shipping Info

Text JOIN to 91256 and get $10 OFF Your Next $50+ Order!

* By providing your number above, you agree to receive recurring autodialed marketing text msgs (e.g. cart reminders) to the mobile number used at opt-in from Pyramyd AIR on 91256. Reply with birthday MM/DD/YYYY to verify legal age of 18+ in order to receive texts. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Msg frequency may vary. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel. See Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy.