“Perfect”

squirrelzilla

Steve Scaramastro is a former Marine and now works in the financial sector. He is a longtime shooter / hunter and enjoys the benefits of reloading for his firearms. 

“I only recently discovered the joys of the airgun world while considering buying a new .22 LR rifle. When I saw what these PCP guns were capable of it made all the sense in the world. They are quiet, powerful, fun, accurate, you don’t have to drive to the gun range to use them, and ammo is cheap and plentiful. Why would I ever want the headache of driving to five stores a week trying to find .22 LR ammunition when I can get pellets all day every day?”

Be sure to follow Steve on his Southern Outdoors blog.

Below is my review of the new version of the Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber air rifle. Many reviews on air rifles exist, and many are rich in analytical detail regarding such things a feet-per-second and how many shots you can get before your FPS deviates by some amount.

Thats all well and good, and I’m glad those reviews exist. However, this review is going to be a practical application review. I hope to show potential buyers what to expect from this rifle in terms of accuracy and effectiveness. I won’t use a chronograph at all…my main concerns are how it hits the paper, and how it performs on squirrels.

Lets start with Looks and Feel

When you open the box you’ll probably be surprised by how nice the gun looks. The old Marauder looked like a Walmart toy due to it’s cheap stock…I’m not kidding you…my wife thought the old one was a toy.

It also feels good. The gun has some heft to it, which I like. I’ve heard some complain about the weight but my view is this…if you are a grown man and you can’t handle a 9 pound rifle…then you should be ashamed of yourself…your girlfriend should dump you and your wife should be having second thoughts. Kids on the other hand…this might not be the rifle for them to tromp around with. Older folks and those with a physical limitation should also note that the weight might be a factor.

The match grade metal trigger is perfect. Did you hear me? I said it was “perfect”. I didn’t have to do a thing to it…right out of the box it was perfect. If you happen to not like the way it feels you can adjust it…which brings it back to perfect. Case closed.

The pistol grip stock is well suited for a variety of users. My 14 year old son says it fits great…and it fits me too.

Next up…Function

This is a bolt action air rifle with a rotary magazine. The .177 version holds 10 pellets. The magazines are a bit small for big hands, but if you pay attention you should start to drop fewer of them as you go.

I found it a bit tricky at first because I’m used to centerfire rifles. The challenge for me is to remember if I have a pellet in the chamber or not. Being new to the rifle I had a few instances where I had a double-feed and sent two pellets downrange rather than one. I can tell you that it’s not optimal for accuracy.

Without using a chronograph I simply counted the number of shots on paper until my groups opened up. With H&N Barracudas I was cutting 10-shot groups of 0.40 inches or less at 26 yards. After 57 shots my group began to drop below the line.

I fill the gun with a pump…because I got a deal from Pyramyd Air. I hear a lot of bad things about the pump…while there are some challenges to pumping by hand…it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be.

Here again I’ll say that the old and the young may have issues. My 14 year old doesn’t weigh enough to pump it past approximately 2,000 PSI. I looked over at him and he was balancing on top of the handle…feet off the floor with the pump not able to finish the downstroke.

I weigh 200 lbs so it’s not a problem at all for me to complete the stroke even at 3,000 PSI. My mind might change on the pump if I were to be shooting/pumping outdoors. So far I’ve been shooting from the laundry room window and pumping the air tank in the living room. If I didn’t have the air conditioner I imagine I’d be a sweaty mess. Keep that in mind.

Finally…Performance

This is what everyone wants to hear about right? After shooting a variety of pellets I determined that H&N Barracuda’s shoot very tight groups from my gun. I’m talking “squirrel head” tight.

Once I was comfortable that I could hit very small targets…I put the gun to work. So far I’ve been presented with several squirrels at 26 yards…as luck would have it…it’s the exact distance at which I zero’d the gun. Bad luck is all I can chalk it up to for the squirrels.

Head shots are my preferred method for a quick and humane kill…and the Marauder excels at it. At 26 yards these .177 pellets completely pass through the squirrels head and make a heavy impact with the fence another 5 to 15 yards beyond. That’s as much of a penetration test as I need to run on a pellet.

In the past week I’ve shot at 11 squirrels, and dropped all 11 with head shots at distances from 15 to 26 yards. This is a highly effective rifle on this type of pest.

Take this as a testament to the guns capabilities. One morning before work I killed three squirrels in under 15 seconds, all with head shots. What does that tell you? It tells you the gun is accurate, the gun is quick to cycle to the next shot, and it is so quiet that two squirrels weren’t spooked by it and they hung around long enough to be shot.

In closing

My closing thoughts are that this is one heckuva rifle. It’s powerful, accurate, deadly on squirrels, and easy to refill with a hand pump (if you’re not too light, too young, too old, or too broke down). On top of all that performance…it looks great too!

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