Monday, July 14, 2014

Benjamin Marauder Shoot Off

Marauder Shoot Off

Arimo Dave and I showed up at the range confused about what we were going to shoot on the evening of the first Wednesday in July. I thought we were shooting benchrest outdoors, and he thought we were shooting indoors at 10 meters. We each brought rifles for our supposed competition. You might think it would be hard to find a common ground of competition for those two extremes. You would be right. 

Gen 1 on the left with a tin of Beeman Kodiaks and Gen 2 synthetic on the right with a tin of Benjamin Domes

I had brought two .25 Benjamin Marauders: my one year old Generation 1 with a wooden stock, and my new Generation 2 with a black synthetic stock. “Let's shoot 50 yard benchrest,” I said. “We'll shoot my .25 Marauders and switch guns after the first target”. We had 10 meter pistol targets with four bulls on each target. One bull for sighters and three for five record shots each.

“So we'll be evenly matched. I like that idea,” Dave responded.

This was working out better than I had hoped when I packed to go to the range. I am prepping my two Marauders for Extreme Benchrest. If I shot them against each other, the more accurate rifle would be used for the 75 yard benchrest match and I would shoot the other Marauder in rapid fire silhouette. The last two times I planned to shoot my Marauders, the match was either rained out or subjected to gale force winds where pellet guns are a lost cause at any distance. Today, the wind was light, and I was ready to see how they would do from a benchrest.

Two posts back, I put up a picture of a target from a 50 yard Sporting Rifle match, and said that I would get to it in a later post. I planned to shoot another match, but it was canceled due to bad weather. We will get back to that target after the next Sporting Rifle match.

Why 50 Yards?

You might ask, “If Ron is going to shoot at 75 yards in Extreme Benchrest, why are they now going to shoot at 50 yards?” Well, both rifles were already sighted in for 50 yards, but the answer is that it is more difficult to shoot good groups at 75 than at 50. In a test to see which rifle shoots better, 50 is better than 75 because the pellets are not subject to that last 25 yards of shifting winds and the havoc those winds play on the pellet's velocity and stability. I will have to practice at 75, but that is after I see what kind of groups my two Marauders can shoot at 50 yards.

First Targets

By the time we set up, the wind had risen and was coming from 9 o’clock. Dave and I found our zeros early and the fun started. Dave moaned and groaned through his first bull with the shots stringing horizontally He shot the tar out of the seven and eight rings on both sides of the target! I tend to suffer in silence. My shots strung vertically with no rhyme or reason. Sevens followed tens no matter how I tried to dope the wind. Take a look at our first targets and you will see the stringing. These targets were shot at the same time, but the string is opposite. I guess that Dave was better at elevation while I was better at windage. If we each shot half our shots into the other guy's target, our scores might have been better. With all the tears in our beers, we still managed to hold on to the black. We traded benches and I was shooting the Gen 1 rifle while Dave was shooting the Gen 2 with its slender black stock. 

Dave's first target. Shot with the Gen 1 .25 Marauder. Take a look at the upper right bull. You can see how the wind ate him up. This is a common occurrence at our range. The diagonal stripe in the upper left denotes that bull as the sighter target. 

My first target. Shot with my Gen 2 black synthetic Marauder. The vertical stringing was random.

Second Targets

As soon as we started our second targets, Dave announced that he liked the Gen 2 Marauder better than the Gen 1. Sleek is not a word I would apply to either gun, but the synthetic stock feels more graceful than its wooden stocked forebear. The wind had slackened and shifted around to 4 o'clock and maybe this is why he liked the second rifle better.

My old wooden favorite immediately pitched a sighter shot low and right, so far out that it was outside of the scoring rings. The ten meter pistol target is a generous target; the outer ring is 6 inches inches across, so a miss is a big deal. A start like this often leads to a disastrous run of record shots. I checked the rifle's pressure gauge. It read 3300 psi. I am not sure how this happened, but I knew how to fix it. I had to shoot it down to 3000 or until the hits rose into the ten ring. That and windage adjustments took 8 shots. I usually try to shoot a sighting shot for the first shot after refilling a PCP air rifle.

Dave's second target. This one was shot with my Gen 2 Marauder.

My second target. Shot with my Gen 1.Take a look at those eight sighting shots. This was due to the gun being over filled.

But, things did go well when I went on to shoot my record shots. All the positive grunts from Dave told me that he was doing well too. A look at our second targets tells the story.


Marauder Gen 1
Marauder Gen 2
136 1X
137 2X
131 2X

Defining Point

Our second targets were a defining point for my two Marauders. Not only were our scores only one point apart, but both rifles grouped around 2 minutes of an angle, which is what I expected to shoot with both rifles.

One Fill

Both of the two higher scoring targets, including all the sighting shots, were fired on one fill. This was not a surprise for the wood stock, but it was for black plastic. I had pronounced the black Gen 2 a “One Clip Wonder” when I first got it. Now I may have to change my opinion. It could be that this gun is “wearing in”, and that goes along with my thinking that you should shoot a gun for a year before starting to mess with it.

Point of Impact

On the web, Marauder owners talk about shifting point of impact, and my Gen 1 Marauder has done this, stringing hits in a rough line running from 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock. You can see a hint of that in a few targets, but these groups are as round as any I have shot with this rifle.

Two Minutes Of Angle

There it is, seven 5 shot groups shot at 2 MOA. No clear winner. Gen 1 shot Beeman Kodiaks, and Gen 2 Benjamin Domes. Both triggers have been adjusted, but otherwise the guns' settings are factory stock. That is going to change. I hope you will be here to read about it.