Marauder Meaderings: First Look
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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