Saturday, March 31, 2012

CROSMAN BENJAMIN TRAIL NP XL 1100 .22 REVIEW

CROSMAN BENJAMIN TRAIL NP XL 1100 .22 REVIEW

Even if you ask someone who is not a gun person, the name Crosman is a household name. For me, my love affair with Crosman started with a .22 caliber Pumpmaster and provided near rimfire rifle power without the parental oversight and I wielded that power to unmercifully slaughter junk birds for hours each night after school.  My parents rewarded my pump up marauding with more pellets and more time each night to assure the house and deck were free from mulberry tree stained poop.  Imagine your cars, house, and everything in your yard covered with blueberry stained bird crap and you understand why whittling down the blackbird and starling populationthis became a parental assigned job.  Pump, pump, pump....still pumping....  argh 10+ pumps later, I was finally ready to shoot. 

Though rusted and abused, that Pumpmaster still works after being rebuilt only once but I would have given away my bike for a single cocking Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100.





As we fly through time, Crosman has a storied past starting in 1923 manufacturing cutting edge airguns.  They were the manufacturer of airguns and accessories for Montgomery Wards, Sears and Western Auto until finally in 1966 they introduced their first Crosman branded products. 
From 1971 to 1990, Coleman actually owned Crosman until the company was sold to Pexco which again spurred growth with the acquisition of Visual Impact Targets and Benjamin Sheridan in 1992 including Sheridan’s high growth paintball manufacturing.  From then until now, the family of Crosman brands has continued to grow and innovate.

Sure the pre-charged pneumatics are getting all the attention these days with multi-shot capability, however I for one am a believer that the better common sense preparedness airgun purchase are the break barrel rifles simply because they do not require you to carry around an air tank or separate external pumping accessories.  

Although the blistering velocities of .177 airguns theoretically come close to the foot pounds of muzzle energy, down range the .22 caliber airguns still pack more punch all while typically pushing the pellet down the barrel sub-sonically without the loud supersonic crack.


Crosman has maintained the Benjamin line as their premium airgun line marketed to select retailers.  I picked up their top of the line Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 in .22 caliber as an all purpose critter getter for hunting and pest extermination. Unlike my old multi-pump Crosman Pumpmaster, the Trail NP XL 1100 requires only one break open cocking maneuver to achieve up to a blistering 1100 fps with up to 28 ft/lbs of energy to put down substantial sized critters.

FIT & FEEL
“Wow” would be the word I would use to describe the fit and finish of the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100.  The hardwood checkered thumbhole Monte Carlo style stock is beautiful.  The barrel finish is good and consistent on my sample and the laser engraved Benjamin logo’ed stock is all first rate.  The CenterPointscope is of high clear quality and the sling is as nice or nicer than most standard rifle slings I have used. 


Everything on the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 (.22) seems to be a cut above other rifles in this premium break barrel class. The XL 1100 cocks smoothly, the scope and parallax adjustment work well, however initially I had the same complaint which I find on most airguns... the trigger. 

The initial factory trigger setting is two stage, but the first stage is extraordinarily long and mushy with an undefined second stage which is still too long. Once it does break, it breaks crisply, however I found myself searching each time for the second stage and a definable trigger break.

The hidden feature noted lightly in the documentation, is that the trigger is singularly adjustable for a harder or softer first stage. I wanted a very light first stage and screwed the adjustment in as far as it would go which netted a lighter first stage and more defined second. For most this would be enough, but being a tuner I then went too far with an extra turn and stripped the nylon adjustment screw block. The slightly wider and 1/8" longer 3mm machine screw I substituted, resecured a tight fit in the nylon block and further reduced the first stage effort and allowed me to remove some of the second stage take up.  Certainly a warrantee voider, but sometimes you get lucky. My groups shrank instantly with the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100.


The 8.8lb Trail NP XL 1100 is not particularly light and in fact it is in the heavier range compared to most airguns but the weight does provide good off hand stability, helps counteract the piston recoil, and also contributes to the outstanding accuracy.

FEATURES
The Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 is the company’s top of the line hunting break barrel airgun. Some of those features are the hardwood checkered stock, sling, 3-9X power CenterPoint scope with adjustable objective, and scope covers.  


The trigger and safety is a design favorable to me on airguns which I have seen frequently.  The safety lever covers the trigger for safe and kicks forward for the fire position to provide unhindered finger access to the trigger. The little details are thought through including a rubber O-ring around the chamber to maximize compression and a real 1913 Picatinny rail for the scope mount which will make things easier should you want to select another optic.


The biggest feature is the Nitro Piston technology which powers the XL 1100 not with a spring but with a Nitrogen piston.  Advantages of the Nitro Piston are that it will maintain power maintenance-free exponentially longer than a mechanical spring, will not develop a memory or loose compression if left charged, and is unaffected by temperature or altitude changes.  
So instead of compressing a spring for the piston power as with a typical break action, the XL 1100 cocking stroke compresses the sealed nitrogen cartridge for the piston compression. Press the trigger, nitrogen cartridge decompresses and pushes the piston forward which compresses air and powers the pellet on down the barrel.


FUNCTIONS
As with any break open piston rifle, you need to learn the Artillery Hold. If you grip the stock and lock the buttstock into your shoulder tightly you will never have consistent accuracy from a piston gun. If you think of a big army artillery gun where the barrel recoils freely and the base stays stationary, this free recoil hold is what you need to achieve.

The generally accepted method is to hold the rifle with two or three open fingers with your support hand at or just behind the balance point of the rifle; usually just in front of the trigger guard. Gently hold the trigger hand just enough to pull the trigger with the buttstock lightly or not touching your shoulder for stability and watch your groups shrink dramatically.  The reason for this diversion from typical rifle shooting hold is that there is a whole bunch of stuff moving around violently with the piston slamming forward even before the pellet starts to move.  The more you try to manage that recoil the more variables you add which change how the gun reacts during the firing process and ultimately your accuracy.

As we live out of city limits we have loads of unwanted wildlife in the area and I was provided with ample opportunities to test out the hunting functions of the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100.  The Benjamin reliably and humanely removed critters from small ground squirrels to raccoon sized varmints and pests with just one pellet. For me this is key.  I never want to see an animal suffer, even one which is considered a pest.  I have been with people who hunt with lower power .177 airguns and it always pains me to see them occasionally need to place a second finishing shot. The wallop of the Trail NP XL 1100 with .22 pellets delivers some serious impact downrange.



ACCURACY
I found the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 very accurate with a broad range of ammo. I set up a set of targets at 20 yards and found most quality flat head or doomed ammo delivered accuracy within 1” groups. The reality though is that specialty pellets are tough to find.

One of the things I like about Crosman and their Benjamin category is that they have really paid a lot of attention to providing an expansive line of Premier and Discovery pellets I tested.  Along with the NP XL 1100 I picked up tins of the lead 14.3gr Benjamin Discovery Hollow points, Crosman Premier Doomed, hollow points, pointed pellets and 9.5grs of the SSP lead-free pellets. The Crosman Premier are very high quality pellets and readily available the Benjamin Discovery line are an even higher quality finished version of the Premier Hollowpoints. 

The SSP 9.5gr lead free pellets seemed really fast but not as precise as any of the lead pellets and required a substantial change in zero.  What I liked about all the 14.3gr lead pellets was that they all grouped pretty much to the same 20 yard zero so if you have to run down to pick up another tin or want to swap between pellets, you should not have to worry too much about re-zeroing between the hollow points, doomed or pointed pellets which provides a lot of pellet versatility.

So how good did the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 shoot? With the artillery hold and the Discovery pellets, I managed more than a few ⅝” groups and at least one ½” group and with the Premier Doomed pellets and hollow points plenty of ¾” groups.  The Pointed pellets managed a few ¾” groups as well. I credit many of these groups to the trigger tweaks and the overall quality of the Trail NP XL 1100. The net of my shooting experience is that this airgun is a tack driver.



FINAL THOUGHTS
In a survival situation an airgun is handy for a variety of reasons.  First is that the .22 caliber packs a heck of a punch and can provide more humane kills than the .177 caliber little brother.  Comparatively the .22 airgun delivers around 25% of the knockdown power of the .22LR which at 28 ft/lbs is more than substantial enough to take game up to 10lbs with accurate shot placement.  From my experience even a lower power .22 caliber pellet rifle is a perfect squirrel and rabbit hunter, however the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 will fill your hunting limits quickly and easily even on larger game.

Another survival plus is that ammo/pellets are super cheap at around $10 for 500 premium pellets can be had at about ½ the price of quality .22LR ammo. This means for a paltry $100 you have have 5000 rounds of premium pellets tucked away should the need arise. For preparedness this means you can remove pests and hunt all manner of critter quietly even at 50 yard ranges without the noise of a .22LR and without burning any higher power primer fired ammo.

Airguns are also a whole lot of fun, are a great option to teach gun handling and safety, and hone you skills off season. On an everyday basis a fine quality pellet gun can be a handy item with hunting permits to remove the moronic woodpecker drilling away on your downspouts and the errant rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon which decides to overstay their welcome.  The Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 is a very fine airgun which delivers big power which can also pay for itself quickly from a practice perspective.  All around this is a top shelf airgun for any need.


SPECS
  • Model Number   BT1122WNP
  • Alloy Pellet Velocity   Up to 1100 fps
  • Weight 8.8 lbs
  • Length 48.25 in
  • Mechanism Break Barrel
  • Power Source Nitro Piston
  • Caliber .22
  • Approx Energy 25-26 ft-lb
  • Capacity Single Shot
  • Barrel Rifled
  • Front Sight none
  • Rear Sight none
  • Optics Rail Weaver-style
  • Optics 3-9x40mm AO
  • Safety Lever
  • Material Hardwood





SOURCES
Crosman Benjamin Airguns
http://www.crosman.com

1 comment:

Ricky Yang said...

Any guns like this, nitro styled, as good as this gun that aren't single shot? Unless this is the best then single will have to do.