Friday, February 25, 2011

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle Review

The Benjamin Marauder with the CenterPoint 8-32X56 scope is an impressive air rifle!

When I first saw the Benjamin Marauder air rifle I remember being very impressed by just the appearance of the rifle. This is no Discovery II. It’s a full-fledged sporting rifle that makes no excuses to any European PCP. In fact, it has design features that are ahead of many of the most popular and expensive European guns.

The Marauder is a 10-shot repeating air rifle that comes in either .177, .22 and .25 caliber. I tested the .177. The gun operates on a fill of 2,000 psi air or CO2, using the same Dual Fuel approach that made the Discovery famous. But the Marauder has a special additional feature. You can CHANGE the fill level yourself–from the outside of the gun! Why you would want to do this and how it’s done I will get to in a moment.

A second remarkable feature is the ability to adjust pellet velocity, but once again the Marauder does it differently. This feature isn’t the power adjustment wheel or switch found on the side of many sporting PCPs today. No, it is a much more precise means of EXACTLY adjusting the velocity of a particular type of pellet. You adjust and leave the gun set that way. More on this later.

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle by Benjamin

You will have to scope the rifle because it doesn’t have open sights. As accurate as it is, it’s doubtful whether anyone would ever use open sights even if they had them.

Other features you will like are the Foster quick-disconect fill adaptor, the micron-sized particle filter that prevents dirt from entering the gun, the built-in pressure gauge that tells you the status of the charge, and the barrel.

What about the barrel?

Well, for starters, the 19.5-inch barrel is made by Crosman in New York. And it is CHOKED, my friends! Yes, Crosman is CHOKING this barrel to give you the same advantages as the respected Lothar Walther barrels from Europe. A choked barrel has a constriction in the bore near the muzzle so the pellet skirt squeezes down to a uniform size before exiting. Choked barrels are more accurate, as a rule, and Crosman wanted to make sure the Marauder was as accurate as it could be. I have tested the rifle out to 50 yards and I will show you just how good it is, but for this first report please trust me that few European PCPs are able to do any better.

And this barrel is free-floated. So when the pressure changes in the reservoir, there is no effect on the barrel, because it isn’t touching the reservoir in any way.

With the shroud removed you can see the floated barrel clearly.

The final comment I will make about the barrel is the one everyone has been waiting for. It’s quiet.



How quiet?

Shooting a Crosman 10.5-grain pellet at 920 f.p.s., the rifle sounds about like a ballpoint pen dropped on a deep-pile carpet! That’s how quiet! This rifle is so quiet that you hear the sound of the hammer spring, but not the sound of the report. It is so quiet that a person shooting 50 feet away will likely never be heard. This is the answer to you dreams for a quiet, powerful, accurate pellet rifle, because…

Drum Roll

This one will cost under $500! Yep, you heard that right. You are getting all the features of a thousand-dollar European pellet rifle for under $500, and on top of that you get some very important features that none of the expensive guns even have! More on that in a moment, but for now let me describe the wood and metal parts.

The stock and metal

The stock is fully ambidextrous, with a palm swell on both sides of the pistol grip. The high comb rolls over to both sides of the butt, so lefties will feel quite comfortable holding this rifle. And the extra-long bolt that cocks it and feeds the next pellet is quite smooth–something else those European rifles don’t always give you.

The checkering on the pre-production rifle is extremely generous, but the production gun is slightly different. The wood is a beech, stained medium brown with a subdued shine to the finish. It is attractive and conveys the look of elegance.

The metal wears a charcoal matte finish that I inadvertently put to the test at the range. The day was misting heavily and all the blued firearms I took rusted by the time I got home. They all had to be sprayed with Ballistol and wiped down carefully. And then I came to the Marauder. It hadn’t a mark on it! It looked like it had never left the house. So, after two hours of saving rifle finishes, it was nice to finally have one that didn’t need a thing. I wasn’t prepared for that. Hunters will love the tough finish.

Adjusting the fill pressure

You adjust the fill pressure for how you want to rifle to operate. If you want to use both air and CO2 (but not at the same time) you need the fill pressure to stop at 2,000 psi. If you want to run on air exclusively and you want a few extra shots in the useful string, you adjust the rifle to a 3,000 psi fill. The fill pressure determines the amount of air in the rifle–not the velocity, which is adjusted separately.

The fill pressure is adjusted by two Allen screws accessible from outside the gun. They are located in the rear of the receiver. One adjusts the striker length and the other adjusts the tension on the hammer spring. The hammer/striker is an assembly and they work together to open the firing valve. The owner’s manual will have detailed instructions on how the adjustments are to be made.

The two Allen screws for the fill pressure adjuster are inside a small hole at the back of the receiver.

Adjusting the velocity

The velocity is adjusted by a screw that intrudes into the air transfer port. The more it intrudes the less airflow there can be and the slower the rifle will shoot. To adjust the screw the action is removed from the stock, and then the locking screw is removed from the adjustment hole. This adjustment isn’t some sloppy setting that gives you “whatever” velocity it happens to give. It is a precise way of arriving at exactly the velocity you desire, within the limits of the rifle’s capabilities.

The small Allen screw inside the hole is removed, giving access to the velocity adjustment screw behind it. Screw it in to slow the pellet; out to speed it up.

To use this adjustment you should find the most accurate pellet for the rifle, and then shoot only that pellet. You will be like a buffalo runner of 1872 who used just one bullet and powder charge for all his shooting.

The Marauder is for beginners and advanced shooters, alike!

You can just start shooting the rifle right out of the box and never suffer one bit. It is a lovely beginner’s airgun. But–for those who want to experiment to find out just how far an air rifle can go, there has never been a more flexible rifle than this one. You need a chronograph to do this and you need to understand that, as the fill pressure changes, it DOES affect the velocity, though there isn’t room in this report to discuss that relationship properly.

Tell me about the trigger
Well, in this case, it’s true. This trigger on this rifle is sublime. It’s the same unit they put in the Challenger PCP target rifle, and when I tried that one on a sample rifle at the 2009 SHOT Show, they had it set to break at way less than a pound.

The trigger is an adjustable unit with a two-stage pull.

This is a trigger you can warm up to and with practice it will become an extension of your will. The accuracy of the rifle needs a good trigger like this, and this one should please most shooters.

The safety is manual (Yes!) and butter-smooth to engage/disengage. You do it with your trigger finger. Back towards the trigger blade to put on and forward to take off. You can put it on regardless of whether the rifle is cocked or not.

The magazine

Here’s how it works in a nutshell. You first wind the magazine spring, then you advance a little bit more and insert the first pellet–which is actually the last one. The clear cover can then be rotated around the mag and you drop in pellets every time the cover aligns with a pellet chamber. It’s quick to load, very positive (as in it doesn’t spill pellets all over the place) and it advances to the next pellet positively every time. As in it NEVER jammed in hundreds of shots! Best of all, after shot 10 the mag blocks the bolt from going forward, so there is no chance of shooting a blank–the great fear of every field target competitor who shoots a repeater.

The scope and base

The Marauder comes without sights, as any good PCP does, so plan on scoping yours immediately. I purchased a CenterPoint 8-32 scope, which is ideal for the accuracy potential of the rifle. The scope adjusts for parallax from 10 yards to infinity and goes from 8 power for general shooting all the way to 32 power for precise rangefinding ability out to 40-45 yards.

The scope base on the receiver is a standard 11mm dovetail, but because of the magazine that intrudes from the side, you must use two-piece scope rings. I found that the barrel drooped a bit, so I also had to mount the scope in B-Square adjustable rings, so the rear ring could be positioned higher than the front.

A CenterPoint 8-32X56 scope is the perfect sight for an accurate rifle like the Marauder. This one has sideweel focus that runs down as close at 10 yards, and an illuminated mil-dot reticle to help you on both ends of the hunting day.

So, whether you are just starting out with airguns or you are ready for the big leagues, the Benjamin Marauder is the right air rifle for you. If you have been waiting for the best PCP, the wait is over.

To buy or get more information on the Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle in .177 calibre, .22 calibre or .25 calibre, click the link below.

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle

To buy or get more information on the Centerpoint 8-32x56 air rifle scope, click the link below.

CenterPoint Power Class 8-32x56AO Rifle Scope, Illuminated Mil-Dot Reticle, 1/8 MOA, 30mm Tube

All Comments are Welcome and Appreciated.

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