Monthly Archives: August 2009
Writer / Contributor www.AirGunWeb.com
First of all, I’ve got to give a big shout out to Rick at www.airgunweb.com and Eric Munson at www.compasseco.com. Without the two of them, I wouldn’t be holding this Benjamin Marauder in my hands at this moment. Rick wasn’t sure he wanted to review the big M yet, but I felt it was a significant watershed moment. I’m happy to report that I was right.
The Marauder by the specs has everything a hunter/sport shooter could possibly want in a repeating PCP air rifle. There’s quality metal construction, a decent-looking piece of wood with a tough finish, a pressure gauge, an ambidextrous stock with laser-cut checkering, and a match-grade choked, shrouded, and silenced barrel. The trigger is a semi-weirdly shaped flattish blade, with no checkering or ribbing on its face. When combined with the long stretch from the wide grip, it can easily cause hand fatigue. What typically worked best for me was draping my thumb over the top of the stock and allowing just the fingertips of your second, third, and fourth fingers to lightly touch the face of the grip (rather than trying to wrap them around the grip). This allows a sufficient first finger reach to get to that trigger. Someone will surely make a curved “hunting trigger” which will retrofit the Marauder trigger assembly before long though. I’ll take one in brass please. Likewise, someone will probably make a lighter, pistol-grip stock of AAA-grade Walnut or Beech. Trust us; this is going to be a very popular rifle for the modders.
We have no qualms with the FEEL of the unit. Crosman calls it “match-grade two-stage trigger” and it surely is. As it comes right out of the box, it’s wonderful. Just a light pull with a crisp break releases the hammer at the exact same point every time. It’s so good you might come to hate the triggers in your other air rifles. Yup, that’s no exaggeration. It’s fully adjustable too, though we can’t really see a need to fuss with it at this point. Other fine details include the nice shoulder pad on the end of the stock, the thread-on aluminum cap over the Schrader fill valve, and smooth-cocking bolt action. Loading the magazine is quite easy, though the tension of the wind-up spring in mine tends to squash the soft JSB pellet skirts a little bit. I have to admit that I’m eager to try a manual loading adapter, if Crosman ever makes one available, just to see if there’s any difference in the groups.
If you’re reading this review and you’re like me, you’ve already read every other review you could find on the internet, so let me attempt to describe just how quiet it really is. The “ping” of the hammer and spring releasing the valve is LOUDER than the discharge. Or to put it another way, you’ll be able to HEAR the vibration in the hammer spring as it makes a cute “ting” sound. I accidentally blank-fired a BSA Sportsman HV .22 in a sporting goods store in Phoenix, AZ the other day and the report’s echo slapping off a nearby wall made my ears ring. The BSA wasn’t fully charged. Popping off the Marauder the same way, at 2500 PSI, in the much closer confines of my garage won’t make enough noise to frighten my 4 year old daughter! The blast of air will effectively eliminate a black widow spider! Yes, you WILL wonder if the rifle isn’t working right… until you shoot through your pellet trap, as I did! Mind you, I’m using this just as it came from the box, with the recommended valve, spring tension, and hammer-length adjustments. I’m not firing it remotely close to its maximum velocity! My pellet trap is (was) rated for .22 rimfire rifles. I’m going to need a sheet of battleship armor plating very soon. That’s no exaggeration. If you’ve got a pigeon or squirrel problem, you’ll be dropping them so fast, and so quietly, the live ones will be walking around wondering what happened to their buddies.
Partly why the Marauder seems so strong is because it repeatedly hammers the same spot. The best accuracy was observed with JSB 10.2 gr Exact Diabolo pellets. I’ve twice fired all 10 pellets from a magazine into one tiny hole. How tiny? Try .25” at 20 yards! That’s right, I put ten .177 pellets into a hole measuring .25” edge to edge from a sitting position at my bench. Twice! This rifle is better than I am, by far. It does not always do this though. My Marauder still suffers from the occasional “flyer” and I’m currently working with Crosman to narrow down the reason why. Perhaps it’s just me? Rick’s going to loan me a Leapers 6x24x50 AO scope to try on a pair of 1” UK Sportmatch mounts because I want to get out and try some really long range shooting soon. I truthfully think the only way to determine this rifle’s accuracy will be to mount it on some sand bags and try to remove the “human factor” as completely as possible. Suffice it to say that hunters will love it. Sighted in with one particular pellet, where you put the crosshairs is where you can expect all 10 pellets to group. My personal obsession is trying to get all of the pellets into one crisp hole without any flyers. Beeman Kodiak Heavies (at 10.6 gr) also showed some promise, though they’re not as perfectly formed as the JSBs. They produced a similar-sized “average” group as the JSB Exact Diabolos did.
The “power curve” of a PCP gun does take a bit of acclimation. There is a slight rise in velocity, followed by a relatively stable area, and then as the pressure falls below 2000 PSI in the reservoir, the pellets dramatically slow down. From a 2500 PSI fill, easily accomplished with the Benjamin pump, there are 50 accurate shots available. I’ve gone as far as to shoot 70-80 shots though, with the final pressure ending around 1700-1800 PSI. If you’re out hunting, that’s probably an entire day’s worth right there. With the heavy pellets (JSBs or Kodiaks) the .177 rifle’s producing around 25 foot/lbs of force at the muzzle at close, or just over 900 FPS. Tom Gaylord’s wonderful blog reports the capability of producing over 1100 FPS with the adjustments set to their maximum. For all of you speed freaks, that’s smoking fast, though not in the range of the super-magnum springers currently on the market. Nothing shooting that fast will produce a .25” group at 20 yards. As the pellets slowed down, below 1800 PSI, where I could watch them in flight (probably 800 FPS and below) even my notoriously-inconsistent box of Crosman Premier 10.5 gr domed field target pellets started producing one-hole groups with greater consistency. At that point though, velocity continues to trend downward as there’s not enough pressure left in the reservoir to produce a full air charge.
And there’s the rub with this PCP rifle; it’s so good it practically begs for a regulated valve for the utmost in consistency. Ninety-five percent of most Marauder owners won’t care. As I stated before, its consistency is better than yours, right out of the box. Period. Quit whining about it, stock up on JSB Exacts or Beeman Kodiaks, and get to practicing your technique! If you’ve cut your PCP teeth with a Benjamin Discovery, stop waffling and go buy the Marauder. You can thank me later by sending me your unused and unloved Benjis. I’ll gladly accept donations. The arrival of the Marauder will ultimately crush the resale value of the single-shot, loud-as-a-.22 Discovery rifles already floating around the market.
On a side note, Rick probably won’t be able to stop talking about the .22 Marauder. I like making very tiny holes. Rick likes hunting. If the Marauder in .22 is as good, and as quiet, as the .177 version then 50-plus yard kills will become commonplace in your huntin’ yarns. I’ll leave that side of the story to Rick.
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Copyright 2008 www.airgunweb.com & Dog River Design, LLC.
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It seems today everyone is looking for power, power, power, which is achieved often times at the expense of accuracy. In this article however, we are going to talk about a rifle that delivers both. The Walther Falcon Hunter is a break barrel rifle that comes in .22 or .25 caliber. Talking about power for a moment, the .22 version we are testing, sends pellets down range at speeds similar to .177 rifles that use much lighter pellets. For example, the Falcon Hunter sends 21.1 gr. Beeman Extra Heavy pellets to the target at 690 FPS. This translates into 22.31 foot pounds at the muzzle. Even more impressive are the Gamo Hunters at 15.3 gn. Which scream down range at 860 FPS generating an amazing 25.13 foot pounds. But before we get too ahead of ourselves let’s take a look at the rifle in detail.
Our test rifle from PyramydAir.com, complete with the AirVenturi Gas Ram.
On paper the Falcon Hunter weighs a shade under 8 pounds. My guess is more like 9 pounds with the scope as it feels pretty heavy to me. It comes in a unique Mossy Oak Break-Up composite stock, includes front and rear (fully adjustable) fiber optic sights and even ships with a decent 3-9×44 scope equipped with an adjustable objective and illuminated mil-dot reticule. Our test model came direct from PyramydAir.com with the AirVenturi Gas Ram upgrade installed. The gas ram replaces the stock spring and provides a smoother, more enjoyable and consistent shooting experience. It also allows you to leave the rifle cocked without the fear of wearing out the spring prematurely.
Front Fiber Optic Sight
Fully adjustable rear fiber optic sight
Walther’s 3-9×44 AO, IR, MD Scope
Walther’s 3-9×44 AO, IR, MD Scope
Walther makes a pretty big deal about the grooved dovetail stating that the groves allow accessories to “lock” into place like on a Weaver style mount. Unfortunately, Walther did not utilize them with the included scope rings, but rather relied on a fixed scope stop to prevent scope slippage. This sets the scope too far forward for me to shoot comfortably. If I could find some rings that would allow me to move the scope back to the last groove, it would be just about perfect.
The stock, as mentioned before, is made from a composite material and comes in Mossy Oak Break-Up. I was not thrilled with this stock because it feels hollow and not very sturdy. I’ve heard grumblings that the recoil from the factory spring causes breaks in the stock along with other issues such as screws coming loose. I’m pleased to report that I’ve not had any issues with the gas ram version. The stock just feels a bit weak to me. Other features include forearm and grip checkering along with a raised cheek piece for all the right-handed shooters out there. Lefties will have to live without the raised cheek piece. One last feature is that the stock comes with inserts to lengthen the stock for those that want to adjust the length of the pull.
Raised cheek piece for right handed shooters. Notice the checkering on the grip.
Right side of the stock.
Checkering on the forearm
Shooting the Walther Falcon Hunter takes a great deal of strength and patience. The cocking force of the rifle is at or close to 60 pounds from my estimation and the trigger pull is not far behind. Of course I’m exaggerating about the trigger, but not by much. If there is a real weak point in this rifle, it is with the trigger. The trigger is made of a similar composite material and does not seem to have any real adjustment to speak of. While shooting the rifle you will have to pay very close attention to your trigger pull so that it does not turn into trigger yank. There is an automatic safety that will please some and annoy others. I’ve grown accustom to rifles that set the safety automatically so it did not bother me.
Walther’s trigger.. back to the drawing board… this thing is terribly hard to pull.
Walther’s automatic safety. You can reset it even after you’ve pulled it out to shoot.
As mentioned above this rifle came equipped with the AirVenturi Gas Ram and as you can see below, it completely replaces the factory spring. I’m not sure what is involved in the upgrade, but I know it should only be done by those experienced in working with high powered spring guns. You need special equipment to safely perform the upgrade. For this reason, PyramydAir.com offers the upgrade as an option direct from their warehouse. It adds a little more than $90 to the overall cost of the rifle, and as I’ve mentioned in my other articles, it is money well spent. The gas spring delivers smoother cocking, reduced recoil, and often times more powerful and more consistent velocity.
The sliver tube is the gas ram. Notice the absence of any spring.
The Falcon Hunter performed very well right out of the box and the shooting characteristics are similar to other break barrel rifles. It is somewhat hold sensitive and requires good shooting technique if you want predictable results. The cards below show typical results while shooting from 20 yards. I found that resting the rifle on the palm of my hand with my thumb and fore finger at the stock screw in front of the trigger guard yielded the most consistent results. All of these groups are between .5” and .8” CTC. At only 20 yards I’d like to see tighter groups than .5” but I’m not going to get them with this trigger so I’ll settle for what I can get. With a lighter trigger I know the groups will improve.
Predator “Poly-Mag” Polymer Tipped Hunting Pellets, Average Velocity, 838 FPS, 16 gr., 24.96 foot pounds.
Gamo Hunter Pellets (best group at just under .5” CTC), Average Velocity 860 FPS, 15.3 gr., 25.13 foot pounds
Beeman Field Target Specials, Average Velocity 880 FPS, 14.6 gr., 25.11 foot pounds.
Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy Pellets, Average Velocity 690 FPS, 21.1 gr., 22.31 foot pounds.
What is interesting about the above cards is that the size of the groups varied very little between pellets. The point ofimpact varied significantly however, especially with the Beeman Kodiaks. This rifle shoots many different pellets well and allows you can pick the best pellet for your application, zero your scope to that pellet, and feel confident that you will hit the mark.
The Falcon Hunter does pose a bit of a quandary. The above shot cards don’t really show what this rifle is capable of. For example, when you are looking at .5” groups at 20 yards, you can expect that to open up greatly at 30 and 40 yards. This is just not the case as I get fairly similar groups out to 35 yards. The rifle itself is quite accurate. Holding the proper sight picture throughout the trigger pull, recoil, and follow through is where the patience and practice comes into play.
To prove this point, I decided to give the Falcon Hunter one last chance to shine. This time, taking in all I had learned from yesterday’s session. I settled in at the bench and began running pellets through the rifle. Amazingly enough, things started to tighten up and I ended the day with the following group. Turns out that you need to really take your time and really control your body during the trigger pull AND the follow through after the shot. If Walther could just lighten up that trigger, this would be an unbeatable combo. The following group was shot with the Crosman Pointed pellets.
Crosman Pointed Hunting Pellets. Average Velocity 880 FPS, 14.3 gr., 24.6 foot pounds.
All in all, the Walther Falcon Hunter has proven to be an accurate and powerful addition to my airgun arsenal. Two areas of improvement that I would suggest to Walther would be to drastically improve the trigger and strengthen the stock. With those to two changes, this would be an almost unbeatable combination of power and accuracy. I want to give a special thanks to PyramydAir.com for providing this rifle and all the supplies. This version, with the gas ram, retails for $358.99.
Editor / Owner www.AirGunWeb.com
Copyright 2009, Dog River Design, LLC – All Rights Reserved.
Editor / Owner www.AirGunWeb.com
Review Product and Supplies provided by:
I’m often asked why I volunteer so much of my time to review these products. It is true that I’m a gun nut so just the opportunity to shoot so many different types of airguns is almost reason enough. Another reason is the sheer challenge of it all. Sometimes you just know that a rifle has the potential to be a real shooter. You just have to find the right combination to see it all come together. The Beeman Silver Sting has proven to be just such a project.
The Silver Sting is based on one of my favorite rifles, the TechForce® Contender 89. The major differences are that the Silver Sting has a composite stock and comes with a nickel plated barrel and receiver rather than a standard blued finish. This rifle represents the top end of Beeman’s Chinese imports.
I really like they way Beeman has designed the Silver Sting. The nickel finish really makes the rifle stand out in a crowd and the contrasting composite stock is simple but feels very solid. The shape of the stock feels a bit too square for me, but that is a really minor point. One other minor flaw was with the plastic covers that protect the stock screws. They quickly came loose and fell off while shooting.
The rifle ships with a Beeman 3-9×40 scope with an adjustable objective. The scope is a good match for this rifle with one small exception. It needs a mil-dot reticule to help with range estimating. The trajectory of a .22 pellet tends to drop significantly beyond 30 yards. Having a mil-dot equipped scope makes all the difference when you are in the field and need to hit targets at different ranges with confidence.
The Silver Sting ships with an upgraded trigger that is far superior to the standard Gamo, Crosman, and other Chinese triggers. It seems to be marginally adjustable via the two screws in the photo below. The safety is automatically set each time you cock the rifle. Taking the rifle off safety becomes second nature after just a few shooting sessions. The trigger does tend to be a little loose, but it is very predictable and easy to work with.
Now back to the challenge posed by the Silver Sting. Knowing that the Silver Sting and the Contender 89 come from the same Chinese factory, I knew that it should have a similar shooting potential. When I got to the range I was shocked to see that the velocity was off pace by about 70 to 80 FPS across the board and the accuracy was nowhere near what it should be, not even close. I was only getting 3” and 4” groups at 20 yards. For a rifle that boasts extraordinarily tight groups, this was absolutely unacceptable. As you can see below, the Crosman Premier Hollow Points, a favorite of the Contender 89, yielded horrible results.
Crosman Hollow Point Premier, 14.3 gr., Average Velocity 664 FPS, 14 foot pounds
With results like that, I nearly gave up, but it takes more than a few bad shot groups to knock me off a project. Working with different holds and pellets I found that the rifle, like most break barrels, is hold sensitive. In fact I found the Silver Sting to be very hold sensitive. The best hold turned out to be the standard “artillery” hold spoken of by Tom Gaylord. Simply rest the forearm, near the balance point of the rifle, in the palm of your hand and don’t grip it, just let it rest there. With your shooting hand, hold the rifle firmly, but not to the point of being ridged and gently squeeze the trigger. Make sure to maintain the proper sight picture and follow through on each shot. Follow through is what happens after you pull the trigger. Spring guns are not like firearms. The pellet travels down the barrel much more slowly than a bullet from a high powered rifle. You need to let the gun finish moving around before you move or change position. By using a proper follow through technique you will find your groups improve significantly.
The following photos are two more groups with increasing accuracy. The first group was shot with the Beeman Kodiak Pellets. They only managed to generate just over 600 FPS. The second, and more accurate group was shot with the Beeman Silver Bear pellet which is a lightweight pellet that has proven to be pretty accurate across several different rifles.
Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy Pellets, 21.1 gr., Average Velocity 606 FPS, 17.21 foot pounds
Beeman Silver Bear, 12.65 gr., Average Velocity 725 FPS, 14.77 foot pounds
Now that the groups were improving, yet nowhere near what they should be, I knew I was on to something. I only had to find the magic combination. And then, after several days of shooting, about a dozen different types of pellets, and about 100 shot cards, I found it. The Gamo Hunter pellets came out on top and yielded the following group.
Gamo Hunter Pellets, 15.3 gr., Average Velocity 650 FPS, 14.36 foot pounds
This was the satisfaction that I was waiting for. With the right hold and pellet, the Silver Sting shot these groups all day long. It was an amazing thing to go from 4” groups all the way down to groups the size of dime. Here’s the best part, it will consistently shoot dime sized groups as long as you do your part. What started as an utter disappointment turned out to be a really excellent shooting rifle.
The Beeman Silver Sting is a decent shooting rifle when you have the right pellet and use the right technique. It generates velocities that are a little on the low side for me, but adequate for 20 to 30 yards. I want to thank PyramydAir.com for providing this review item and all the supplies. The rifle, which seems to have had a small facelift since my sample product arrived, sells for $220.
Editor / Owner www.AirGunWeb.com
Copyright 2009, Dog River Design, LLC – All Rights Reserved.