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Benjamin Franklin Model 317

Benjamin Franklin Model 317

I’ve always had a penchant for self contained airguns; be they single, or multi stroke pumps. The second hand gem in the spotlight here is the classic Benjamin Franklin model 317, and this one comes into the latter category.

Visually neat with the outward profile more akin to a pump-action shotgun than an airgun, but the streamlined, rather simple profile holds great appeal. Manufactured in St.Louis, in the USA around 1965, this model hails from the original Benjamin factory, founded by Walter Benjamin in 1899. In 1977 Benjamin acquired the Sheridan airgun company; then in 1991, both Benjamin and Sheridan operations were acquired by the Crosman Corporation, who to this day remain big players where airguns are concerned Stateside.

DESIRABLE

Benjamin’s long history of manufacture gives this model added desirability, and it’s certainly a rifle that would look good on display. Construction of both the barrel and main compression cylinder are of brass, and this really gives the 317 a distinctive look.

Apparently, all the metalwork would have originally been treated with a black nickel process, but this coating seems to have rarely stood the test of time, considering the few examples of this rifle I have come across over the years. That said, I reckon the visible brass surface looks really attractive, begging the question why Benjamin chose to cover it up in the first place?

This particular specimen seems in great condition, with no real marks to speak of. Thankfully, no one has tried to refinish the metal surfaces, which would not only ruin the aesthetics, but mark down any residual value into the bargain - the kiss of death to many a vintage gem! Given its age of course some natural wear shows on the bolt handle and cylinder end

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  • Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - image {image:count}

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  • Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

PUMP IT UP!

As mentioned, this model is a multi pump pneumatic, which means that an integral pumping system sits at its heart. With no heavy mainspring and piston to worry about, unsurprisingly, the model 317 is a super lightweight, and that to many, can be a selling point.

Where it falls down is the ‘energy in for energy out’ routine, often meaning a healthy physical input is required to generate a decent level of power! In this case, five pumps produces around 490 fps with Accupell pellets, but the system can take up to ten cycles apparently, with correspondingly greater effort and higher velocities the reward.

One thing to bear in mind is the pump handle needs to be drawn forward to its full extent each time, to ensure that a consistent amount of air is compressed on each stroke. Consistent velocities and therefore better accuracy should, in theory, result from such careful operation.

In the case of the integral pump, some resistance on the operating stroke at least proves the seals are all in order too, which is another possible area to consider when buying this type of gun second hand.

As for the firing cycle, a characteristically quick snap of the recoilless action, and a pleasantly light trigger, all add to the civilized feel of this neat little Benjamin. Indeed another gun that would look good in my collection! For the record, the asking price for this piece of airgun history, is £375.

Many thanks to Andrew and Craig at MGR Guns.

11 Comments

  • To Gildrado Vega on Benjamin Air Guns; Gildrado look up www.airgunshop.net or Precision Pellets - owned and operated by Rick Willnecker a service station for Crosman and Benjamin Sheridan. He has parts and knowlwdge for most Benjamin's [right now the site is down for maintenance]. Also try Mike Baker 503-706-9512 at peter-built@hotmail for fitting new parts to older guns - and knowledgable advice on old parts. Hope this help you.

    Default profile image
    John Brewer
    29 Aug 2016 at 08:22 PM
  • HI GILDARDO,

    I'M AFRAID THAT GUN MART DO NOT STOCK OR SELL ANY PARTS.

    Default profile image
    Troll Hunter
    25 Aug 2016 at 06:59 PM
  • GOOD MORNING, EXCUSE ME DO YOU SELL PARTS FOR RIFLE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN???

    Default profile image
    GILDARDO VEGA
    25 Aug 2016 at 06:48 PM
  • Oops,Re Benjamin Franklin Model 317 - clutch slave cylinder to fit #310, 312 and 317 should have read Toyota, 1969 [or similar years] Corolla or pickup [same part] NOT Volkswagen. Sorry for the typo.

    Default profile image
    John Brewer
    27 Dec 2015 at 10:21 PM
  • -Re Benjamin Franklin Model 317: You can find the Hycar pump rod seal on ebay or here http://www.jgairguns - under Benjamin 310-312-317 parts. For felt seals I plan to use strips of felt furniture glides [self stick] just peel off the self stick, cut to size, bevel the ends so they over lap, fit in the groove and glue with 3M Black Weatherstrip Adhesive. Hints: lightly coat the felt with glue on both sides and let dry - then recoat, fit and wrap with rubber bands to dry, then oil [the oil can take days to soak in but will work immediately. If you are careful the seal will turn but if it is glued down just use it that way. Make sure you need the rod seal with a hole in it - if your seal is solid with a square base look at the seal for the Sheridan blue/Silver streak. Hope this answers your question - if not I've used a Volkswagen 1969 [or so] clutch slave cylinder pump cup for the pump rod seal - it's a bit too large so I just put it on a 1/4" rod and sanded [running it like a car tire but a bit sideways to scrub off rubber] removed perhaps 0.15" off trying to match the size and shape of the old pump cup.

    Default profile image
    John Brewer
    27 Dec 2015 at 10:11 PM
  • I have a model 317 ben franklin air rifle that will not pump up looks like the felt is worn out in the action can I purchase the needed parts anywhere

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    roland l daigneault
    27 Dec 2015 at 08:27 PM
  • Hi Gary,

    You've got a Benjamin 317 from 1962, so a real classic!

    Check out

    http://www.crosman.com/discover/crosman/benjamin-product-dates

    All the best.

    Troll Hunter

    Default profile image
    Troll Hunter
    23 Nov 2015 at 08:07 AM
  • I have a Benjamin mod 317. It is in 70% or better and still pumps and shoots. The peculiarity of it is the fact that the name on the side at the back side of the receiver is stamped upside down. I would like to find the approximate date of manufacture of this Air rife. The only serial# is hand etched 514122210 with an OK etched beside it. That number is below the air inlet hole.

    Default profile image
    Gary
    23 Nov 2015 at 04:19 AM
  • I have one with 99% of the original barrel/receiver finish. It needs a good home. Can you suggest a good direction? It's also 100% mechanically sound, but no box.

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    Dave Coffield
    18 Sep 2015 at 05:38 AM
  • Good review, I own three Benjamin pumpers, #317 [pre 1957 - .177] - #312 [bought new in 1963 - .22] and a #310 [1964 - marked BB - smooth bore shoots .177 pellets]. These guns were advertised at 750 FPS [.177/BB] in the 1960's. I've replaced the hard to find Hycar pump cup with a Toyota clutch slave cylinder cup [1969 model Carolla ] - direct swap about $3. The vibrations from break barrels and the high cost of PCP's make these old guns really desirable. The #310 [BB smoothbore] likes long heavy pellets - the rifled barrels like cheap Daisy flat nose Precision Max. My smoothbore will outshoot any springer because the springer hold [artillery hold] is so unpredictable.The rifled barrels group 1" or less at 60 feet - using the cheapest pellets made. Thanks and safe shooting.

    Default profile image
    John Brewer
    08 Jun 2015 at 08:01 AM
  • I'v e had my 317 sense 1950, my dad bought it for me when i was 10 years old and the gun still shoots fine it still set in my gun cabinet and will forever, LOL...

    Default profile image
    bill hamer
    06 Jan 2015 at 03:45 PM


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