Benjamin Gunnar Test Review .22 Caliber
March 17, 2022
Supplied by Velocity Outdoor.
Best AR-type buttstock we've seen
No hammer spring adjustment
VALUE FOR MONEY
Working through this Benjamin Gunnar test review, we spent the most time discussing value for money.
Let’s be clear, the HAM testers liked the Gunnar. It’s powerful, accurate and good-looking.
But a Thousand Dollar, .22 caliber Benjamin? Does the Benjamin Brand Promise support this?
That’s a very big ($350) jump compared to the price of a HAM Gold Award-winning regulated Marauder Field and Target model.
In addition, the HAM Team’s opinion is that many buyers who will drop one thousand Dollars on an air rifle are likely also to look at guns in the $1,100 – $1,200 range too. In other words, price alone is not their primary purchasing criterion.
And at up to $1,200 there are some very sophisticated and compelling air rifles available from a number of high-end brands without the minor disadvantages and limitations you’ll see with the Gunnar.
Yes, the Gunnar includes a very nice hard plastic gun case. That probably represents $100 in value. And, yes, the Gunnar benefits from Velocity Outdoors’ 5-year warranty.
So the Gunnar probably appeals most to the Benjamin enthusiast who wants a basic, powerful hunting PCP and wants to shoot it “out of the box”. At least in .22 and .25 calibers.
The rumoured, forthcoming .45 caliber Big Bore version could be an entirely different proposition, if at the same price however…
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Benjamin Gunnar PCP Air Rifle 0.22
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The sample used for this Benjamin Gunnar test review achieved a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 1,059 FPS using light, H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets. The maximum with lead ammo was 990.74 FPS achieved with 11.75 Grain RWS Hobby pellets.
More importantly, the Gunnar showed its ability to generate a maximum of 33.73 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy when using the heavy, 25.39 Grain, JSB Jumbo Monster pellets.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain||1,059.07 FPS||24.98 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Predator GTO 11.75 Grain||1,003.08 FPS||26.25 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain||990.74 FPS||25.94 Ft/Lbs||Good.|
|Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain||942.43 FPS||28.20 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain||943.62 FPS||28.37 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain||934.83 FPS||28.45 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain||825.78 FPS||32.01 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|JSB Jumbo Monster 25.39 Grain||773.73 FPS||33.75 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
Accuracy was generally excellent with the majority of the standard HAM test pellets. However best accuracy was achieved – as expected – with heavy pellets. In this case the 21.14 Grain H&N Baracuda Match pellets.
As is often the case, the light Predator GTO alloy pellets gave excellent accuracy at close range. However experience proves that the groups open-up at range due largely to the effects of variable wind.
The Gunnar is fitted with a four-position power adjustment lever. This works by restricting the transfer port area and thus provides combinations of lower velocity combined with increased shot count.
However, there’s no hammer spring adjustment capability (such as is fitted to the Marauder) for those who would prefer to reach for more power.
This leaves adjusting the regulator set pressure as the other way to provide more power. With a corresponding reduction in shots per fill, of course. However – unlike some other PCPs – this is a somewhat complicated procedure.
First, it’s necessary to drain and remove the HPA bottle. Then the bottle connection block must be removed to gain access to the regulator adjustment screw.
After guesstimating an appropriate screw position to re-set the regulator, the whole assembly must be re-assembled and re-pressurized before testing. The process is repeated, if necessary, until the desired result is achieved.
Now, of course, adjusting the regulator pressure is not an everyday change. However the Gunnar’s system is cumbersome and changes in regulator pressure should be matched by alterations to hammer spring tension for best efficiency in any PCP. As mentioned above, this is not possible with the Gunnar.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
Averaging the trigger pull weight measurements generated during this Benjamin Gunnar test review gave an average of 3 Lb 0.7 Oz. The trigger is thus set for a reasonable hunting weight. However benchrest and target shooters will want a lighter pull.
Although HAM invariably tests airguns with the trigger “as set” when we receive it, there’s an expectation that adjustments can be made with air rifles at the $1K price point.
Out of the box, the Gunnar’s trigger felt like a single-stage unit to the HAM testers. There was just about no separation between the first and second stages. A call to Velocity Outdoors confirmed that the sear engagement can be adjusted by inserting a 2 mm Allen wrench (supplied with the gun) in the hole in front of the trigger guard, making small angular adjustments.
This is where a limitation of the Gunnar appears. Yes, the trigger has an adjustable shoe and sear engagement. But there’s no way to alter the other trigger characteristics such as pull weight, length or overtravel.
This lack of adjustment capability is particularly marked compared to the (much) cheaper Benjamin Marauder. The Marauder’s excellent trigger has simple setscrew adjustment for trigger pull weight, trigger blade position and changes to the first and second stages.
HAM Tester Doug Rogers is pretty pick when it comes to triggers. His test notes summarize his opinion: “I’m not a big fan of this trigger,” he wrote. “I like the Marauder trigger a lot more”.
The Gunnar’s manual safety is effective and easy-to-use. However it would be improved if it were ambidextrous, with an operating lever on both sides of the receiver.
The sidelever cocking system is simple, light and easy-to-use. The perforated hexagonal knob is a practical shape and size. It’s well-placed too, falling easily to hand for operation.
In contrast to the trigger, Doug liked the sidelever’s operation, rating it as good for the price range.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
As is common with up-market PCPs, Velocity Outdoor makes a minimum of performance claims for the Gunnar. The main one is that the .22 caliber version has a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 1,000 FPS.
The subject of this Benjamin Gunnar test review delivered a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 1,059 FPS using 10.03 Grain alloy pellets. With lead, the maximum was 990 FPS with 11.9 Grain RWS Hobbys.
So there’s no doubt that the Gunnar meets the manufacturer’s claim here.
In this Benjamin Gunnar test review, the HAM Team found very consistent performance. The Standard Deviation across the complete suite of standard HAM test pellets averaged just 2.67 FPS. That’s an outstandingly low figure!
Likewise the trigger pull weight was very consistent. It varied by just plus or minus 3 Ounces either side of its 3 Lbs 0.7 Oz average. That’s a pretty-well imperceptible difference for any shooter to feel…
The shootdown test demonstrated good consistency too, as can be seen in the chart below. From a full 3,000 PSI fill of HPA, 72 shots were consistently between 730 and 750 FPS. The chart clearly shows that the regulator pressure (set to about 1,900 PSI) was reached at shot 72. The Muzzle Velocity fell rapidly after this, of course.
So the regulator works consistently and well. The flat line of the regulated shots shows that the Gunnar has been well set-up at the factory, too.
However, it has to be said that the HAM Team expected more than 72 consistent shots at around 28 Ft/Lbs from that large 500 cc HPA bottle. By comparison, previous testing of a regulated Marauder Field And Target (when it was branded a Crosman Custom Shop model) produced 74 shots at 22 Ft/Lbs from the 215 cc HPA tube – less than half the size – both with a maximum fill pressure of 3,000 PSI.
With it’s fully-shrouded barrel and integrated sound suppression, the Gunnar delivers a low report for its power level. It’s also supplied with an interchangeable muzzle cap. This can be swapped with the bundled adapter so that a dedicated airgun silencer can be fitted if required, as shown below.
However, even in standard configuration – as used for this Benjamin Gunnar test review, HAM tester Doug Rogers noted that the spring noise in the butt stock was louder than the shot itself.
Obviously the .25 caliber version will be somewhat louder. However, the .22 caliber gun on test would definitely qualify as “backyard friendly” for most shooters.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
For this Benjamin Gunnar test review, the HAM Team mounted a Hawke Sidewinder 30 RF 4-16×50 scope using Hawke Tactical Ring Mounts. This scope fitted well to the top Picatinny rails of the Gunnar and provided a good image and comfortable balance. This is a recommended combination.
As you can see from the photograph below, the Gunnar’s magazine does not project above the top of the Picatinny rail. This is an useful benefit as it allows the scope to be mounted low above the breech, giving a low sight line. This is a big advantage for the Gunnar!
The long-necked HAM shooters were expecting to have to raise the stock’s adjustable cheekpiece to gain a good cheek weld for this Benjamin Gunnar test review. However it proved not to be necessary – a positive surprise for the testers.
A downside is that the magazine design does make it difficult or impossible to fit a big sidewheel to the scope’s parallax correction turret. We had to remove the sidewheel from the Sidewinder to allow the magazine to be installed.
Of course, this may not be an issue if you don’t use a sidewheel. But – if you do – that could be a deal breaker for the Gunnar.
Including the mounted Hawke scope, the all-up weight of the gun used in this test Benjamin Gunnar test review was 10 Lb 11 Oz. It balanced well and HAM Tester Doug Rogers felt that it was not a heavy gun for the type and performance delivered.
The front lower Picatinny rail is useful for attaching a bipod to the Gunnar
The HAM testers felt that the Gunnar’s AR-style stock was about the best of its type they have ever used. It looked good and operated well.
The multiple pull length feature functioned well, with positive locking. The cheekpiece was elevation-adjustable as expected. But an additional bonus is that the cheekpiece can also be adjusted longitudinally as well. That’s a distinct bonus!
The rubber buttpad was found to be very comfortable and grippy in this Benjamin Gunnar test review. It was not itself adjustable, but the HAM testers found no need for any adjustments.
As an additional bonus, there’s a short Picatinny rail built-in to the underside of the buttstock. This allows the fitment of a monopod, if required, for long range benchrest shooting. Good.
Below we can see the cheekpiece in one of its multiple raised positions. The HAM testers expected to make use of this feature. However – surprisingly – a good cheek weld was obtained even with the cheekpiece in its lowest position.
The rubber-finished, AR-compatible pistol grip was likewise comfortable and felt good in the hand. Like the buttstock, it gave every indication of being a high-quality item that enhanced the pleasure of shooting the Gunnar.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Gunnar has a typical “black gun” look to it. The HAM team thinks it looks good. However, there’s no Turkish walnut here – as looks so good on the Benjamin Akela, Cayden and Kratos. (And now on Marauders with Turkish Walnut stocks).
All visible machining and finishing of metal parts looks to be well done. Similar quality is apparent in the synthetic buttstock and pistol grip.
Finish is mostly matte – non-reflective – black. However the HPA bottle and bottle connection block are in black gloss.
While we’re mentioning the bottle connection block, this can be removed as indicated in the Owner’s Manual and then re-fitted the other way round. This is a good idea, should you wish to change the side of the gun from which the unregulated pressure gauge is visible.
BUYING AND OWNING
Velocity Outdoor’s wide distribution means that Crosman and Benjamin products are available almost everywhere that airguns can be purchased. Obviously the $1,000 price limits availability somewhat, however the Gunnar is available from most all of the major online airgun resellers where you might expect to buy an air rifle of this price. So, it’s easy to buy…
Being bundled with that hard-sided gun case is a big benefit for many potential owners. Even better is that this case will easily accept the Gunnar with just about any riflescope mounted to it.
Another benefit is that the Gunnar is supplied with a variety of accessories, as shown in the photo below. These include two magazines, the airgun silencer adapter and a 1/8-Inch quick disconnect. There’s also a small selection of O rings and a couple of HPA burst disks.
The owner’s manual contains instructions in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. It’s somewhat thin (just 4 pages of information) and is set in very small type that makes it challenging to read.
However, there’s no single shot tray. And the owner’s manual gives no instructions for how to install the O rings or burst disks that are supplied with the gun.
A big benefit of the Gunnar is that a degassing (depressurizing) facility is built-in, through a setscrew in the base of the receiver. Benjamin PCPs have long been noted for having simple, dedicated degassing capabilities: that’s an excellent safety feature yet it’s one that – surprisingly – is not shared by all airguns – even some expensive ones.
Likewise, Benjamin PCPs have always been noted for providing excellent protection for the male HPA fill nozzle. Think of the substantial end cap on the Marauder, for example. Yet here we see a completely exposed fill nozzle, pointing to the sky, just begging dirt and junk to find their way into it!
This fill nozzle does not even have a sintered filter element to hinder the ingress of small, bad things into the Gunner’s action. So the first thing the HAM Team did – before even starting this Benjamin Gunnar test review – was to find a fit a simple plastic cover over this fill nozzle. (Fortunately we had one to hand from some unremembered source).
The manufacturing cost of this cover would undoubtedly have been one or – at most – two cents. Sure, it’s not a sophisticated solution – and will easily be lost in the field – but it’s difficult to understand why this thousand Dollar air rifle isn’t supplied with one (or something better) given the open, exposed location of the fill nozzle.
Now let’s look at the magazine. In the photograph below, we see the Gunnar mag at left, compared to a Marauder magazine to the right. Yes, both magazines provide an easy-to-see indication of the number of shots remaining. And the Gunnar has a 12-shot capacity in .22 caliber, compared to the Marauder’s 10 shots. That’s good.
What is less good is that the Gunnar’s magazine is more difficult to load than that of the Marauder. In the good, old Marauder magazine, the transparent top cover clips easily into place for loading the first pellet. The Gunnar’s does not do this.
So, loading the first pellet in the Gunnar’s magazine definitely requires a knack. It’s necessary to hold the magazine, while at the same time holding the top plate open against spring tension (not necessary with the Mrod mag) and blocking the lower side of the pellet port, while dropping the pellet into place. (Other pellets are dropped into place easily).
Sure this can be learned – and we did. But magazines ended-up on the floor several times during loading while undertaking this Benjamin Gunnar test review.
As is the case with many Velocity Outdoor products, the Gunner is provided with a 5-year warranty. This is good coverage, with support from the Crosman factory in Bloomfield, NY.
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Benjamin Gunnar PCP Air Rifle 0.22
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