If you talk to “normal” folk that are into airguns, you’ll find that just about all of them have heard of the Benjamin Marauder. In just a few short years, this airgun has basically taken over the entry level PCP market. Some would even argue (and I’m one of them) that it created its own segment of the market (entry level PCP) and then declared itself as the undisputed champion. Argue if you like, but the facts are hard to dispute.
There are some new contenders coming up the ranks right now. The new AT44 Quiet Energy from Hatsan is perhaps the first that can actually compete toe to toe and duke it out the Marauder. We’ll definitely be serving up a blow-by-blow for that title fight, but for now, let’s take a look and the reigning champ.
Who’s the boss? You’re the boss…
The Marauder’s appeal may start at its price point, but there’s a lot more going on. When the Marauder came on the scene, it was on the heels of the really successful Benjamin Discovery (one of my all-time favorite airguns). The Benjamin Discovery proved there was a market for a $500 PCP. Most other PCPs were in the $1000 range, putting them out of the reach of most of the average USA airgunners. When Crosman got the price down well under $1000 for a turnkey PCP airugn package, they started getting the attention of airgunners that would normally never pull the trigger otherwise.
What the early adopters found out was pretty amazing. The Marauder was not a cookie-cutter airgun, but rather it was a platform that was tunable to the individual shooter. The adjustable hammer spring, hammer throw, and flow valve, allowed each owner to setup their Marauder to their personal preferences. And, it was easy to adjust and setup. All you needed was some time, a couple of allen wrenches and a chronograph. If you wanted more power, you could get it. If you wanted more shots, you could get that too. To top it off, Crosman created a nearly match grade, fully adjustable trigger assembly for the Marauder. While most guns boasting this kind of flexibility were tickling the $800 to $1000 mark, the Marauder was sitting very comfortably under $500.
Leap forward to the present
The Marauder of yesterday has been retired and we have the New Marauder sitting as “king of the hill.” This version is lighter, quieter, and friendlier to shoot via the improved ergonomics of the stock. I had the privilege of reviewing the .25 cal version earlier this year. It was much quieter than the original, yet maintained great accuracy out to 50 yards. It took a bit of tweaking, but once dialed in, it was a real shooter.
I’ve moved on to what is now my personal Marauder. It’s a new synthetic in .22 caliber. The .22 caliber model offers more shots and even less noise. Since most of my shooting is at paper out to 50 yards, this is certainly the right model for me.
While on my recent trip out east (5700 driving miles in 23 days) I found myself having forgotten my scope back at the shop. I called up Airgun Depot and ordered the Leapers/UTG 3-12×44 SWAT Scope. While I normally opt for Hawke Scopes, I wanted to give this UTG a chance based on the price point and, it’s what I had on my original .22 cal Marauder. Maybe I was feeling a bit nostalgic? Setup was a breeze and while visiting some family in Georgia I got her dialed in at 25 yards. Stacking pellets in the same hole at that range is what you will come to expect from a dialed in M-Rod.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times about adjusting or “dialing-in” my Marauders. I’ve spoken about this a little bit in some other articles but I want to touch on it again as I wrap things up here. No two Marauders, that I’ve ever adjusted or setup, have ever been exactly the same. There are some that are close, but there are always subtle differences. My .22 cal came in shooting mid 900 FPS with 14.3 Premiers, getting only 10 to 15 shots with no power curve, and producing a miserable shot string. It took some time, but after adjusting the hammer tension and hammer throw, I’m averaging 840 FPS across 30 to 40 shots, producing an average of about 22.41 foot pounds which is perfect for small game out to 40 and 50 yards. While hunting in TX I stretched the shot count and managed to get 50 shots before I REALLY needed to top off the gun. I was close to 1200 psi by that time.
This says two things to me. First, it tells me that that whatever I get out of the box is going to eventually, with some work, be able to shoot the way I want it to. Second, it tells me that whatever I get out of the box is probably going to NEED me to spend some time getting it set it up for what I really want it to do. Every good fighter spends time in the gym getting ready for the big fight. I guess that’s what you have to do with the M-Rod too. Consider the setup time “training” and then when you are ready, head into the ring. Or, in this case, the range.
Well it seems we have a reigning camp and a contender that wants the title. I guess we’ll take a few weeks and put these guys through their paces and see who comes out as the winner. Stay tuned guys.. this one could get ugly…