Benjamin Nitro

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Benjamin Nitro
067-AGN-SEPT-BENJAMIN:AG
20/07/2011
12:37
Page 67
REVIEW
ON THE TRAIL
Keith Warburton is impressed by the new Nitro piston
Benjamin Trail and takes it head-to-head with a Theoben Evo
he Theoben Evolution was a revolution in
airgun technology when it was
introduced decades ago, but now similar
gas piston technology is available in much
cheaper guns coming from the Far East, does
the British airgun still have a lead? I recently
had the opportunity to find out.
T
Twin Trails
I was in the fortunate position of being able
to test both the wood and synthetic stock
versions of the Benjamin Trail .22 imported
by ASI. Not needing two identical rifles to
add to my recently purchased second-hand
.177 Theoben Evolution, but happy to
supplement the flatter trajectory of the
older gun with a heavier hitting .22, my
initial thought was that I’d keep the
synthetic stock version for vermin control.
So the all-weather variant of the Benjamin
Trial was what I initially used and I kept the
wood stock one unpacked in the meantime.
The gun was well-enough packed in a
box that also had the Centre Point 3-9 x 40
AO scope and the
Benjamin
branded sling
(‘worth $19.99’), together with simple but
comprehensive instructions for all items,
including the supplied trigger lock, which
came in black to match the stock.
This was my first experience of an
airgun with a Weaver rail and it is
potentially a better option than standard
machined rails for use on a recoiling rifle. As
I mounted the sights, I noticed what
seemed at first sight to be a rusty crust, or
poor finishing on the body of the rifle,
immediately to the rear of the rail, but
happily, it turned out not to be rust, and
brisk rubbing with a cloth soon removed it.
excessive pull was a fault with this
particular rifle. I will say right now that ASI,
the importers, had no delay in rectifying
matters and sending me another one. Their
customer care was excellent.
I can only think that it was surplus flux or
something similar left over from the rail
mounting process.
The Benjamin was balanced nicely, came
well to the shoulder and the supplied
CentrePoint 3-9 x 40 scope lined up
reasonably well with my eye/head position.
The sight itself has a fine mil-dot reticle and
delivers a sharp bright image. Parallax is
adjustable down to 30 feet. The dense
Stock Fit
“The hardwood stocked Benjamin Trail feels
absolutely delightful,and that’s not just compared to
its twin; it stands up very well beside my Theoben”
material of the stock means it feels very
solid at aim and upon firing, the synthetic
weighing more than the wooden version,
but hand position was, for me, something
else entirely. More of that later.
I initially tried it at 10 metres in my
back garden, just to set the sights, and the
next day tried it over various
distances at a nearby FT club.
Initially, I had a slight problem
with the trigger. The trigger
action on this gun
was
reasonably smooth, and not
rough at all. There’s a short and quite light
first stage and then smoothly but noticeably
into the second stage; and into it, and into
it, and into it - forever! The length of pull
seemed interminable, and the further I
pulled, the more and more tense I became,
waiting for it to operate, and of course that
did absolutely nothing for my accuracy.
I tried to adjust the length of second
stage pull, but the adjustment screw made
no difference, and I finally concluded that
the trigger assembly was faulty. I had to
pull it so far back before it fired that my
finger was touching the pistol grip (the
trigger guard, as it were). I believe this
The shrouded bull barrel
adds to the Trail’s good
looks
SPECS
Manufacturer:
Crosman Corporation
Importer: ASI
Tel: 01728 688555
Web: www.a-s-i.co.uk
Action: Nitro piston
Stock: Beech, ambidextrous
Length: 43inches (109cm)
Wooden Stock
Weight: 6.65 lbs. (3kg) wooden Stock version
Stock: Hardwood or synthetic
Trigger: Two stage adjustable
Calibre: .22 (tested) .177
Safety: Manual re-settable
Cost £349.00
inc. scope, mounts,
swivels and sling
It was only when I compared the wooden
and synthetic versions that I was able to
identify where the other problem lay: it was
with stock fit. I’ll just reiterate that I’m
absolutely delighted - bowled over in fact with the operation and feel of the hardwood
stocked version of this rifle, but more of
that later. My criticism is specifically to do
with the synthetic stock version and fit of
the rifle for me.
The length of the stock combined with the
positioning of the thumbhole and size of the
pistol grip meant that my hand, and thus my
finger, was pushed notably further forward
than was comfortable. Furthermore, the angle
of the pistol grip tilted my hand and wrist in a
way that was for me, less than ideal.
This might not be a problem for other
people, and perhaps some of the issues come
with the stiffer joints associated with
‘maturity’ and arthritis. However, it is
significant that I did not have this problem
with the wooden stocked Trail, which
seemed to have a larger stock. The
synthetic stock might suit you perfectly well,
but if you are an average to large-sized bloke,
I strongly suggest that you try before you
buy.
I then turned my attention to the
wooden stocked Trail. The hardwood stocked
Benjamin Trail feels absolutely delightful,
and that’s not just compared to its (nonidentical) twin; it stands up very well beside
my Theoben.
I’m not aiming to make an objective
comparison between a .177 of indeterminate
age and a new .22, I’m merely giving a
subjective view as to the look and feel of
the two guns.
AIR GUNNER 67
067-AGN-SEPT-BENJAMIN:AG
20/07/2011
16:22
Page 68
REVIEW
Evolutionary Trail
The first visual difference between the
Evolution and the Trail is that the latter has
a thumbhole – an impressively and
somewhat futuristically hewn one - and my
Evolution does not, being a standard sporter.
They both fit my hand and trigger finger
very well and comfortably. The fore end of
the Theoben is thicker, at about 2” (50mm)
while the Chinese gun is a mere ¾ of that.
However, at the cheek the situation is
reversed, with the ambidextrous Trail being
thicker than my ‘handed’ Theoben. The stock
on the English-made gun is about 1” longer,
but the Chinese gun is longer overall; at 44”
it’s nearly 2” longer than the Theoben.
The woodwork of both is good. My
Theoben is walnut and has the polished warm
look that comes with care and maturity. A bit
like myself. The Benjamin’s wood is
unspecified, but looks like beech, and the
silk finish and laser cut chequering and
lettering make it look very nice and sleek –
lean and purposeful is an apt description.
The next noticeable difference is that the
Benjamin has a shrouded ‘bull’ barrel,
adding to its smooth looks whereas the
Theoben features a standard design barrel
plus the Vortex silencer. Both look good in
their own way.
The point of balance for the .177 Evo is
about 5” ahead of the trigger whilst the .22
is closer, at about 3 ½”. I guess that the
longer, thicker fore end probably accounts
for a lot of this difference and I have to say
that the nearer point of balance suits my
standing position a lot better
There’s a substantial difference in weight
between the two. I didn’t measure exactly
and they had different scopes on them, but
the walnut stocked Theoben at approximately
3.4 kilos is nearly 10% heavier than the
Benjamin, a significant amount.
This difference in mass makes quite a
difference in using the guns, never mind
carrying them. But bear in mind that I am
slightly arthritic – my joints ache and burn
when tasked – as well as being unfit, so
somebody else might find the Evolution
perfectly comfortable in the field.
To me the Benjamin Trail feels slick and
neat, more manoeuvrable despite its greater
length, against the Evolution’s stolidity. It is
potentially a great ratter.
In terms of overall build quality my
Evolution has been so well used that a
comparison is difficult. However, I
can say that cocking the
68 AIR GUNNER
Benjamin Trail took substantially less effort
than the Theoben, but out of the box the
Trail’s action felt quite rough, but this was
cured with a small application of oil.
Pellet performance
Being to all intents and purposes a new
airgunner I discovered for myself just how
significant choice of pellet can be. The
original Bisleys I used in the new gun were a
very tight fit and difficult to push fully
home far enough to ensure that they weren’t
nicked by the closing action, but once I’d
changed to FX pellets, equivalent to JSB
Exact, this became less of a problem, as they
slipped in a lot easier. I’m sure that once I’ve
sent 500 pellets on their way things will
Above left: I love my
Theoben and know its
performance well
Top centre: The Weaver
rail is unusual on an
airgun, but handy all the
same
Bottom centre: The barrel
lock-up was strong and
secure
Top right: There’s a smart
Benjamin logo laser cut in
the fore end
Bottom right: Fitting sling
swivels as standard is
always a good idea
“My Theoben is walnut and has the polished
warm look that comes with care and maturity.
A bit like myself”
start to ease up quite a lot. However I’m a
little bit disturbed to see a slight black
shadow developing to one side of the breech
O-ring, perhaps indicating the seal isn’t
100% perfect. But it can’t be far off, when I
chrono’d it, it was outputting 11.68 ft.lbs.
It’s early days to make comparisons
between the two rifles, and of course the
calibre difference doesn’t help. However I
will make just a few observations and let
you draw your own conclusions, while
remembering that the new rifle is not
properly shot-in yet. But down on the
range both guns were capable of enlarging
the same hole at 35 yards.
My view at this
stage, influenced by
the trigger and metal
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finishing, is that the Chinese are probably
utilising their end-users for quality control –
it’s so much cheaper than factory level QC!
But notwithstanding that, they are capable
of making a gun that in no way needs to
hide its face when standing next to its older
and somewhat more polished European
cousin.
The Benjamin Trail looks and feels really
good, is comfortable to use, and I look
forward to getting to know it a lot better. ■

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