Benjamin Wildfire Air Rifle
11 February, 2017
Supplied by Crosman Corporation.
Ultra heavy trigger pull.
Cost of filling equipment more than that of the gun.
Plinker-grade accuracy only.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Benjamin Wildfire is – at the time of writing – the lowest-priced PCP air rifle that’s available. By far! First announced at the 2017 SHOT Show, the Wildfire is available for purchase just one month later. Well done Crosman!
In fact, the Benjamin Wildfire is actually a PCP development of the long-running Crosman 1077 air rifle. The 1077 has been in continuous production since 1994. There have been relatively few changes in the design during that time, too – at least until this new PCP version appeared. In itself, that’s an indication of the appeal of the 1077. It’s a great low-priced plinker. You can see the HAM test of the 1077 here.
The Benjamin Wildfire is also aimed at this target market. It aims to be the low-priced PCP plinker. And, like the 1077, the Benjamin Wildfire is manufactured in Crosman’s corporate HQ at Bloomfield, NY, USA.
By producing such a low-priced (the Street Price is $149.99) multi-shot PCP air rifle with the Wildfire, Crosman has, however, highlighted a basic issue with PCP propulsion. Filling the gun costs more than the Wildfire itself! At the time of writing, any high pressure air pump or HPA tank to fill it costs more – in many cases much more – than does the gun.
So, anyone considering the Benjamin Wildfire – and there will be many – needs also to budget for an HPA pump or tank-filling system (like a SCUBA tank). There will also be those who hope that the Wildfire can be charged from their workshop air compressor. The answer to this is, sadly, “no”. Shop compressors produces a couple of hundred PSI only, the Wildfire needs 2,000 PSI to fill, even though this is a low pressure for PCP airguns!
Filling with High Pressure Air is achieved by connecting to the standard quick disconnect at the front of the Wildfire’s air tube. Simple and easy.
This cost of filling is common to all PCP airguns. There’s nothing unique to the Wildfire about this at all. However, the Benjamin Wildfire will introduce the cost of filling PCPs to many people who previously had not needed to think much about it.
HAM tested the Benjamin Wildfire fitted with a Leapers 4 x 32 scope. The gun is supplied without a scope, but most shooters will add one. This brought the “as tested” price up to a total of $195.96 – without the above-mentioned charging equipment, of course.
|HAM Test Rating||66%|
|Value For Money||The cheapest PCP air rifle available, and it's a repeater!|
|Best For||Backyard plinking.|
|Best Pellet Tested||H&N Field Target Trophy|
|Street Price at Time of Test||$195.96 including scope.|
But note that HAM considers the Benjamin Maximus a much superior entry point for anyone considering the move to PCP air rifles. Yes, it’s $50 more expensive and you still need to add a scope, but it offers power, accuracy and a much better trigger. The Maximus rates a HAM Gold Award, the Wildfire Bronze. Check out the HAM review of the Maximus here.
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Benjamin Wildfire PCP Air Rifle
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM gave a maximum muzzle velocity of 774.39 FPS when shooting light Gamo Raptor Platinum pellets. Probably most owners will use 7.9 Grain Crosman Premier Hollow Point lead pellets, however. These gave an average of 661.79 FPS on test.
With this level of power – the maximum Muzzle Energy (or knock-down power) recorded in the HAM tests was just 7.86 Ft/Lbs – the Wildfire is not a hunting air rifle. But Crosman doesn’t claim that it is.
It’s clear that the relatively low muzzle velocities are partially due to the loss of gas at the breech every time the Benjamin Wildfire is fired. There’s no seal between the barrel and the clip – obviously to keep cost low – and high pressure air blows from this area, wasting energy and thus lowering muzzle velocity. That’s a shame, but “it is what it is” – it’s the way the 1077 action has always been and it certainly helps to keep the price down.
Compared to the CO2-powered Crosman 1077 previously tested by HAM, the Benjamin Wildfire PCP gave an average 28% higher muzzle velocity. But unfortunately the Wildfire tested by HAM delivered significantly poorer accuracy than the 1077.
The accuracy of the Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM was reasonably consistent across all the standard HAM suite of test pellets. It’s fine for plinking at tin cans in the back yard. But the accuracy level displayed in this test would not be considered good enough for any type of hunting or precision shooting. We suspect that it’s also marginal compared to most people’s expectation of accuracy for a $150 air rifle.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||774.39 FPS||6.26 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||746.45 FPS||6.88 Ft/Lbs||Poor|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||682.23 FPS||7.24 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||661.79 FPS||7.68 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||615.76 FPS||7.11 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||637.54 FPS||7.80 Ft/Lbs||OK. Best Tested.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||576.52 FPS||7.86 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
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H&N Field Target Trophy .177 Cal, 8.64 Grains, Domed, 500ct
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H&N Field Target Trophy Pellets .177 Cal 500 Ct
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Benjamin Wildfire air rifle does not have a semi-automatic action, as it might appear at first sight. In reality it’s a double-action revolver. This means that pulling the trigger first rotates the magazine to bring the next pellet into place. Further pressure on the trigger actually fires the gun.
So there’s no separate cocking action, trigger pull and cocking effort are all felt through the trigger pull.
This is the reason for the very high trigger pull weight. The Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM recorded an average trigger pull weight of 11 lbs 11 oz. Ouch! I have to tell you that after firing the Benjamin Wildfire for around 250 shots over 6 hours for this test review, my trigger finger really ached.
In spite of this heavy pull weight, the trigger is quite predictable in use. The cocking effort feels like a first stage and there’s two clicks that can be heard pulling through. Then comes the “firing stage” – it’s fairly easy to identify.
Overall, it feels something like a very heavy two-stage trigger. But nearly 12 Lbs pull weight is waaaaay too high for any type of accurate or sustained shooting, in HAM’s opinion.
There’s a positive, trigger block, manual safety located in the front of the trigger guard. That’s good. Push right for safe, left to fire.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
Crosman claims that the Benjamin Wildfire is “fast, fun and easy to use” and that you can “shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger”. These claims are all correct, as is that of there being no recoil. At least, it’s easy to use if you can stand the nearly 12 Lb trigger pull weight.
But let’s make one thing clear. The Benjamin Wildfire is NOT, technically, a “Semi Automatic” air rifle as the manufacturer also claims.
Yes, it does go bang every time the trigger is pulled. But that alone does not make a gun semi-automatic. As pulling the trigger first rotates the pellet into battery and then fires it, the action, technically, is that of a double action revolver. In a semi-automatic action, pulling the trigger simply fires the pellet (or bullet) that was brought into battery as a result of firing the previous round.
It’s true that such a subtle distinction may be unimportant to Crosman’s target market for the Wildfire. However, it does mean that the Semi Automatic claim is not strictly correct – at least in HAM’s opinion.
Crosman also claims that the Benjamin Wildfire provides up to 60 shots per fill. This is true, as shown in the Consistency section of this review, although Wildfire owners will soon come to understand that this does not mean 60 consistent shots per fill, as the muzzle velocity drops fairly steeply as the gun is fired. (And with it, the point of impact on the target).
Maximum muzzle velocity for the Benjamin Wildfire is claimed to be up to 800 FPS. Using the HAM standard test suite of pellets, the highest muzzle velocity recorded was an average of 774.39 FPS over 10 shots, using the light Gamo Raptor platinum PBA pellets.
However, Crosman undoubtedly makes the 800 FPS claim based on using their own, ultra-light SSP alloy pellets. With a weight of just 4.0 Grains, these pellets should shoot faster. And they do. The Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM achieved an average of 807.41 FPS over 5 shots when using these Crosman SSP pellets. And so the Wildfire meets its muzzle velocity claim.
As an unregulated PCP air rifle, muzzle velocity for the Benjamin Wildfire falls as further shots are fired. Such a “shot curve” is a common trait to many unregulated PCP airguns, of course.
The rate of muzzle velocity decline is fairly predictable, however, as is shown in the following chart. Theses results were achieved using 8.44 Grain JSB Exact pellets. As you can see, the muzzle velocity for the first 10 shots averaged 636 FPS. The average was 597.8 FPS for the second ten shots, 552.9 FPS for the third batch of ten etc.
We fired 10 shot strings fairly fast (about every 2 – 3 seconds) and then re-loaded the clip. (Hey, you’re supposed to fire this gun as fast as you can pull the trigger!). It’s clear that the Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM tended to “recover” some muzzle velocity during the time taken for the re-loading process. You can see that the muzzle velocity rose at shots 11, 21 and 31, for example.
This tends to indicate that somewhat more consistent muzzle velocities would be achieved with a slower rate of fire. But the general trend to shoot slower as the pressure drops will, of course, be unchanged.
As we said, this type of “shot curve”, with FPS falling the more the gun is shot before re-filling, is common to unregulated PCPs and CO2-powered airguns also. But it may be unexpected by some new PCP shooters who move to the Wildfire with a background only in break barrel, spring/piston or gas ram airguns.
The trigger pull weight of the Benjamin Wildfire tested by HAM averaged an incredible 11 Lbs 11 Oz. However, the individual trigger pull weights were pretty consistent around that value, varying between 11 Lbs 4 Oz and 11 Lbs 14 Oz.
The Benjamin Wildfire is not a powerful air rifle and so noise level is pretty low. There’s no silencer fitted, nor will there a need for one, in the HAM team’s opinion.
Noise level is definitely “backyard friendly” for most people, although nowhere near as quiet as the class-leading Benjamin Marauder.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Benjamin Wildfire is fitted with somewhat primitive open sights. These comprise a notched rear sight that’s adjustable for elevation only, together with a fiber optic front sight. There’s limited windage adjustment capability by loosening the fixing screws and sliding the sight leaf across. But don’t consider this a precision method of windage adjustment!
These open sights may be OK for shooting soda cans, but most users will choose to mount a scope to their Wildfire.
Fortunately the receiver is grooved to accept scope rings. So, for this HAM test, we installed a scope to improve the practical accuracy of the gun. This was a 4 x 32 UTG scope from Leapers. This is a relatively low cost optic, representative of the type of scope that many users will fit to their Benjamin Wildfire, and it is bundled with suitable rings.
The UTG 4 x 32 scope is also relatively small and light. This compliments the small, light weight of the Benjamin Wildfire itself and means that the combination does not become top heavy and difficult to handle.
Note that the HAM test score for this section is based on using the scope.
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UTG 4×32 Rifle Scope, Mil-Dot Reticle, 1/4 MOA, 1″ Tube, 3/8″ Rings
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UTG 4 x 32 Scope and Rings
Despite the heavy trigger pull, plinking with the Benjamin Wildfire air rifle was fun for HAM in short shooting sessions. It probably would be for the gun’s target market, too. Shooting for accuracy is less enjoyable, however, as that’s tough to achieve. And shooting for an extended period leads to an aching trigger finger!
Loading pellets into the 12-shot clip is easy, then the clip is inserted into the fake box magazine, the locking catch engaged and the magazine and pushed up into the gun. No jams or mis-feeds were experienced during HAM testing of the Benjamin Wildfire.
Shootability is aided by the short length and very light weight of the Wildfire. The gun tested by HAM weighed-in at just 3 Lbs 10 Oz. This makes it easy to hold for even youths of quite small stature – supervised by an adult, of course – if they can manage the trigger pull, that is.
There’s no doubt that the heavy trigger pull is likely to be the major cause of inaccuracy with the Benjamin Wildfire. It’s very difficult even for experienced shooters not to be pulled off-aim by such a heavy trigger pull. But we need to remember that the Benjamin Wildfire is being positioned as a fun backyard plinker, not as a precision Field Target air rifle.
The Wildfire’s pressure gauge is located just forward of the magazine box, so it’s easy and safe to read. And there’s also a degassing screw located in the hole just to the rear of the gauge. Inserting and turning a 2mm Allen Key (hex wrench) allows the air pressure in the Wildfire to be lowered or exhausted – following the instructions provided in the Wildfire’s Owner’s Manual.
The provision of a degassing function is unexpected in such a low cost PCP air rifle as the Benjamin Wildfire and Crosman are to be commended for offering this capability. It allows the gun to be depressurized after used – if required – or pressure to be removed to attend to a jam. Both of these are good for safety!
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Being based on the Crosman 1077, it’s no surprise that the Benjamin Wildfire looks very much like a Ruger 10/22 firearm. And it’s none the worse for that. The Benjamin Wildfire has a traditional, sporter design that has a distinctive look compared to the numerous, tactical “black rifles” that are so common nowadays.
The black synthetic stock is very plain, but it’s well finished with good fit to the action and is comfortable to hold.
The breech, magazine and trigger assembly are obviously plastic but the finish is certainly OK for the price, with crisp, clear molding.
Bluing on the barrel – actually the barrel shroud – and the HPA tube is uniformly executed and matches the plastic parts well.
BUYING AND OWNING
Initially, at least, the Benjamin Wildfire is to be available through specialist “broad line” airgun dealers such as Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot. This makes a lot of sense. So it’s easy to find online.
Even at this low price, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll find the Wildfire for sale at general big box sporting goods retailers, unless these outlets choose to train their staff in the issues related to charging PCP air rifles and the costs involved. But as the cost of PCP airguns continues to fall, you can expect to see that changing and the Wildfire’s price makes it a leading contended to be one of the first PCPs to break into mass market sales locations.
The Benjamin Wildfire uses the same rotary pellet clips as the Crosman 1077. That means that these are already widely-available at low cost. Buy a load of clips to enjoy the Wildfire to its fullest! The magazine box is also identical to that for the 1077, while the end cap for the air tube is the same as that used on the Benjamin Maximus and Discovery air rifles.
Doubtless many other 1077 parts are to be found elsewhere in the Benjamin Wildfire. This makes a lot of sense. Using existing parts wherever possible reduces the cost of the new gun and allows it to be based on parts with known good reliability.
The Benjamin Wildfire carries a standard 12-month warranty from the manufacturer. Crosman typically makes spare parts readily available some time after a product’s introduction – a policy much to be applauded. But, be aware that the Benjamin Wildfire is quite complex internally and HAM certainly does NOT advise DIY repairs on this gun without much prior knowledge.
The owner’s manual is of the regular Crosman “broadsheet style”. Multiple languages are covered, including English, Spanish and French. Instructions are simple, but adequate and well illustrated.
The biggest issue for buying and owning the Benjamin Wildfire is sure to be the requirement for charging the gun with High Pressure Air (HPA). Yes, I know that we’ve mentioned this already many times in this review, but HAM makes no apologies for this, given the experience and expectations of many who are likely to be attracted to the Wildfire for its revolutionary price.
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Benjamin Wildfire PCP Air Rifle
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This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.