Benjamin Trail NP2
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Well, one thing’s for sure, I think we can safely say that the gas-ram system is here to stay! The rush of manufacturers eager to launch their own take on the theme has continued unabated. Theoben came up with the idea, of course, but with their original patents now having well and truly expired, the door has been open for some time, for manufacturers across the board to benefit. I’ve tested plenty, and they vary enormously, but one manufacturer that I felt really got it right from the word go, was Benjamin, with their Trail NPSS.
On test here is the latest incarnation, of their ‘Nitro Piston’ (NP) system, and it’s a slick-looking gun that comes as a package deal. For included in the price is a Centerpoint branded 3-9x40 AO scope and twin Picatinny style ring mounts; which all helps offset the initial asking price.
The Benjamin has been part of the Crosman Corporation in the States, for some years now, but has managed to keep its own identity up to a point. The Trail NP range has certainly given them something to shout about, so I was eager to see how this latest version would shape up.
The new Trail NP2 is available with either a hardwood stock (on test), or a synthetic version, both being almost identical configurations. The new furniture, whilst still sporting that attractive light brown matt lacquer, has a beefier forend, with not such a fine taper as the original. The thumbhole grip is less raked back too, which is a good thing in my book, whilst fully ambidextrous credentials can only score more points for many potential purchasers. QD sling studs even come as standard, so there’s a level of detail to impress for sure! An upgraded, 2-stage trigger, full-length silencer, and revised power plant, complete the spec list.
First things first, and locking that 3-9x40 scope into place using the mounts provided is a simple exercise. A Picatinny rail may be overkill on an airgun, but with the correct mounts, offers a positive recoil stop, so scope-creep is not something to lose sleep over! The clarity and functionality of the Center Point scope provided, was certainly up to scratch; its relatively low-profile target-style turrets move with a satisfying click. Whilst the Mil Dot style reticule offers the advantage of multiple aim points and a good crisp image too. All-inall then, a nice inclusion!
Apologies to regular readers, but a quick explanation may be in order, for those unfamiliar with the whole gas-ram concept. A gas ram, or gas strut, as it’s sometimes known, is a power plant which completely replaces a conventional main spring. Instead of the spring, an internal chamber/cylinder contains air or gas of some sort, (in this case Nitrogen) which is compressed when the rifle is cocked. On firing, the compressed air/gas is allowed to expand rapidly, (but not escape) so powering the piston, which compresses the air ahead of it, to propel the pellet, in the usual way. The internal chamber is a selfcontained unit, and as such, shouldn’t need topping-up.
In the case of the NP2, Crosman have made a technical change over their original design, which effectively reverses the internal configuration. The nitrogenfilled chamber is now housed inside the piston body, (instead of being behind it as in the original NPSS design. Whilst this might not sound radical, apparently, the extra mass of the piston moving forwards helps improve overall efficiency. Additional synthetic guides help the cause too, but what we’re really talking about is more energy for less cocking effort, as we shall see.
As for the newly revised front end, Crosman/Benjamin calls it an integrated sound suppression system. A 16- inch barrel screws into a reflex-style mounting inside the shroud casing, at a point five-inches down from the muzzle. Spent air dissipates through a series of baffles at the front, and back down the shroud, so the NP2 has clearly had plenty of thought applied throughout its development.
Trigger-wise, I remember being somewhat disappointed with the original Trail NPSS, as the release mechanism was one of its real weak points in an otherwise satisfying airgun. Well, I’m please to say that this newly revised model gets an upgrade in that department too, with the inclusion of Crosman’s CBT design, standing for ‘Clean Break Trigger’, and it’s definitely an improvement on what went before!
To recap then, I was more than impressed when I tested the original Trail NPSS, but the firing cycle of this NP2 doesn’t disappoint. You still require a quick jolt of the barrel to break the breech open, but the subsequent cocking stroke is super easy and incredibly smooth, and yes, I would say a tad easier than the original. Take a look at the arc of that cocking stroke, and it looks to be longer, and the firing cycle is super smooth and free from twang and resonance. There is recoil of sorts, but it is more of a bounce than a harsh jolt!
The new hardwood stock handles nicely too, with that flared forend feeling spot-on in the aim. Add to that the perfectly angled and slimmed down thumb hole area, and the NP2 scores well overall. One minor observation, concerns the sling clip fixed to the breech, which due to its arc of movement, is likely to rub at the varnish under the forend.
As for the trigger, I made some adjustment, to reduce the pull, and whilst I could still feel some creep before the release point, the end-result was perfectly fair. The nice broad surface of the blade plays its part, and with a manual safety catch tucked neatly away at the front of the guard, for those who want one, the NP2 is nothing if not well appointed.
Over the chronograph, using Crosman’s Premier Ultra Magnum pellets, 10-shot strings showed 21fps of extreme spread (ES). Totally acceptable of course, but switching to Air Arms Diabolo Field’s saw consistency drop to an incredible 4fps ES. As it panned out, accuracy tests over 30-yards were just a little disappointing, and over an extended period, using a variety of ammunition, my best efforts remained at around 1.5-inches achieved with AA Diabolos, Premier Ultra Magnums, and RWS Superfields. Try before you buy though, as my original NPSS clearly had a better barrel when previously tested, so I suspect some variation in this area.
PRICE: £380 guide inc. Center Point 3-9x40 and mounts
CONTACT: ASI www.a-s-i.co.uk
10-shot string: Using Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum/
Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets:
High 606fps High 577fps
Low 585 Low 573
Ave 594 Ave 575
ES 21fps ES 4fps
Energy 11.3ft/lbs Energy 11.7ft/lbs
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