Pete Wadeson tests the Benjamin Trail, a ‘Nitro Piston’ break-barrel action rifle from Crosman that comes bundled with everything you need
Following the success of the synthetic stocked Remington Nitro break barrel rifle, Crosman have introduced another model using the Nitro Piston (NP) power source – by the way, that’s known as a gas-ram piston to us in the UK.
Crosman’s UK distributors ASI have said customer feedback requested this type of rifle in a wooden stock – so here it is, the Benjamin Trail, although you can still it have a synthetic stock option if you prefer.
The Trail is a minimal yet modern looking rifle and offers some useful practical features including a sound moderated barrel, a 6” Weaver rail for scope mounting and a rifle sling bearing the Benjamin name complete with swivels. Best of all is the fact that a Centerpoint 3 X 9 X 40A0 scope is included in the price along with two-piece 1” scope mounts.
The chequered ‘hardwood’ thumbhole stock is of a very light colour with no protective lacquering, so it won’t shine but the wood will thank you for a periodic thorough cleaning and oiling.
The butt section has a large thumbhole ‘cut out’ and a swept back ambidextrous cheekpiece which is finished with a ventilated black rubber butt pad and stylish white spacer. The drop down pistol grip is quite a handful and finger recesses are set either side running to the trigger. These are nicely cut in from the almost ‘handgun’ styled grip which has two panels of very frugal chequering, leading up to the nicely rounded out and shaped thumbhole. The forend, though being very slim, is in proportion lengthwise to the butt section. It tapers upwards slightly until it reaches the lower cut out for the linkage arms and then rises up slightly more positively to end in a small rounded off tip.
A standard swivel stud is already fitted to the butt section, there’s also a clever articulating front sling swivel attachment. This has been integrated into the build so it - and the supplied rifle sling - moves with the rifle as you cock it.
The break barrel action is smooth to cock and the lengthy aluminium barrel shroud is a handy lever for drawing it back for direct barrel loading. The ‘Trail’ locks back very positively were you can clearly see the large wedge shape detente lock that keeps all secure in the closed position. The Trail has a 17 ½” steel rifled tube and when thumbing in a pellet you can’t fail to notice the large and strong looking breech seal.
On cocking you obviously compress the Nitro Piston, and there’s very little sound, just the feel of the progressive compression of the nitrogen gas common to this type of power source (hence the expression gas-ram). The advantages of a NP system over a spring/piston layout are that it is generally quieter with a faster lock-time and requires much less maintenance.
Scope and mounts included
Scoping up is easier, due to the longer run of Weaver rail and due to the fact you have more room to manoeuvre as you get a pair of two-piece mounts, so take care on setting the scope and you’ll have enough room on the body tube should you want to add a tactical light, compact lamp or laser.
The Centerpoint scope that comes bundled with the rifle features an adjustable objective, positive ¼” MOA un-covered tactical style turret adjusters, a smooth zoom ring, fast focus ocular and lenses that give a bright sight image even in low light. These qualities add even more value to this new rifle and optic package.
A competent hunter
The trigger blade and manual safety lever both sit within the guard. The 2-stage adjustable trigger lets shots off predictably and relatively crisply. On zeroing the .22 test rifle for 25-yds I was pleased to note the very dominant barrel shroud does act as a silencer and a very efficient one at that. Crosman say the Nitro Piston minimises shock and vibration during the firing cycle – again a statement I can’t dispute due to the very low recoil.
I removed the shroud end cap again, to see if the same ‘sound moderating’ unit is used as on the Remington Nitro. It does, as when removed from the threaded barrel (ensuring no loss of alignment from the bore rather than screwing into the inside of the shroud) I saw the effective removable 6 ported ‘plug’ that extends 3” into the barrel shroud itself. The ports divert excess air following the pellet as it exits the rifle into the void between barrel and shroud very effectively deadening sound heard on discharge.
Both Daystate Rangemaster and Crosman’s own brand pellets gave good results with consistent groupings of ¾” c-c at 25 yards. If your gun handling is up to the mark this is easily a 40-yd+ lightweight hunter. If I had to choose, though I like the synthetic stocked Remington Nitro, the woodwork on the Trail elevates the rifle in handling and feel - and so does the more sensible scope fitting arrangement. By comparison, the Benjamin Trail is almost £100 less than its Remington stable-mate and you get even more for your money.
The Benjamin Trail is accurate, superb value for money, handles much better and like its close relative will easily fulfil any general airgun hunters’ requirements. After shooting a good few rounds with the Trail you really do appreciate the ergonomic stock, as it seems to suit the power source and the overall layout far better.
With scope, mounts, swivels and a fully adjustable padded rifle sling thrown in for good measure, this has to be considered a bargain buy.
|Type||Single-shot, break-barrel, Nitro Piston (gas ram) power|
|Stock||Hardwood sporter on test Synthetic available|
|Sights||No open sights but Weaver rail included for scope mounting|
|Price||£295 including scope, mounts and sling|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates