The Idea Matures
by Tom Gaylord
As I thought about how to present my idea to the management at Crosman, the idea itself began taking on substance. I knew I would be talking to men and women who understand the airgun market quite well, but who do not know the PCP sector of that market as thoroughly as the sectors in which they currently make airguns. They are not without some experience, having marketed Logun PCPs for a brief period several years back, but they have never developed the technology in-house.
My idea, however, was a bridge from the CO2 and even multi-pump pneumatic guns they already make, because the operating pressure I wanted would be substantially lower than other PCPs. I knew it would work because I have seen other modern PCPs operate at lower pressures. The remarkable UFST rifle from Mac-1 operates between 1650 psi and 1800 psi and gets over 50 powerful shots on one fill of air. And custom airgun maker Gary Barnes made a .25 caliber PCP for me that got 27 foot-pounds of energy and ten shots on a fill of just 800 psi. So the idea for a lower-pressure sporting PCP was not hard to imagine. The pressure I envisioned was not that much greater than the pressure in the existing line of Benjamin CO2 guns. So the amount of work required to modify the firing valve for higher-pressure air would not be that daunting.
Another benefit to using air is you get about a 25 percent boost in velocity. The thinner atoms in air flow through firing valves much faster than the larger molecules of carbon dioxide. With such a boost, I knew the gun they developed would be in the same ballpark as the rest of the PCPs, in terms of velocity and power.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was the perfect time to do more than just invent a new type of PCP. With a little more effort, we could also solve the entire shooting solution, by selling a complete shooting system instead of just an airgun. Don’t just sell the gun and make the customer wonder how to get it filled like all the other airgun manufacturers do. Sell the entire system – airgun, hand pump, pellets and technical instructions – all in the same package! That way there could be no confusion for the customer. They couldn’t forget to buy something if it all came in the same package! And, because I was dealing with the Crosman Corporation, I figured the price could be kept on the unbelievable side of affordable!
I put my presentation together and used the Benjamin AS 392T as the gun to be converted. It was easy for me to PhotoShop that rifle into a good-looking sporting PCP, though I hoped the engineers would stock it with a longer forearm. To overcome any objections to using the hand pump to fill the rifle, I recommended that we show a video of a teenaged girl filling it. I have demonstrated hand pumps at numerous public events over the years and I know that most healthy 18-year-old women can fill a gun to 2,000 psi without problems.
Crosman and I entered into discussions of the gun project, which is when I learned that they were actively seeking to enter into the precharged market, and had been discussing various options at the time I made my approach. They liked my idea of the complete package and we began development of what would become the Benjamin PCP 2000. It should be easy to see where the model designation came from.
Our preliminary discussions were conducted on the phone and through the internet, but then they brought me to Rochester to discuss some concrete details. Their production manager had put together a working prototype that he surprised me with at that meeting, and it turned out that everyone was astounded by the performance potential of 2,000 psi air. Instead of the AS392T, he based his work on the popular Crosman 2260 rifle, which in retrospect made more sense, since it was already built with a very PCP-like profile. And, because this rifle exists in both .177 and .22 calibers, he built two prototypes.
At that meeting we discussed details of the new gun. Making a .177 made a lot of sense, since there are more .177 shooters out there. I felt that a longer steel breech was necessary to hold the large scope that shooters would undoubtedly want to put on the rifle. But they surprised me by including a manometer (pressure gauge) built into the rifle. Expensive European PCPs have such gauges, but a lot of the lower-cost PCPs do not. This was a real step towards quality.
When I hefted the prototypes and looked over the velocity figures they got, I knew this was the gun we wanted. There were still many details to work out, but the basic gun was there. However, they had one more surprise for me. There was a second spreadsheet of velocities for each caliber that represented the output of the rifles on CO2! The engineer who designed the gun had even labeled the spreadsheet Dual Fuel – thus coming up with what will perhaps become a household name in airgunning.
Something incredible had happened when he ran the guns on CO2. They were actually more powerful than they had been when they were standard CO2 models. The new valve that was created for air was also more efficient with carbon dioxide gas, and it gave over a hundred shots before needing a refill!