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Definitive Guide to Benjamin Steel Eagle

Jim and Eva Shockey are two of the most acclaimed hunters on television today. While known for their expertise with a bow or rifle, both Jim and Eva are avid airgunners as well. Benjamin worked with the Shockey's to create a pair of signature rifles worthy of their names. Benjamin's Nitro Piston 2 technology and new Clean Break Trigger™ really shine, however, what sets the Benjamin Steel Eagle and the smaller caliber Golden Eagle apart is the quick shouldering Monte Carlo stock featuring soft touch grips and a durable all-weather finish. These rifles are ready for hard use and geared towards those who like to hunt. Read our full definitive guide to the Eagle's.
Detailed Review
At the heart of the Steel Eagle lies Crosman's NP2 gas piston technology. The Steel Eagle (and it's .177 cal version, the Golden Eagle) combine the NP2 Power Plant in a stock that previously was not available. The NP2 powerplant was beforehand only available in a thumbhole style stock. For some, especially those of us with larger hands, a thumbhole stock can be a bit uncomfortable. The Jim Shockey Steel Eagle air rifle now adds one more option for those who prefer a more traditional style stock while still keeping with the modern lines, powerplant and new trigger of the NP2 lineup.

The Basic Anatomy of the Benjamin Steel Eagle

Power is what counts, and the Steel Eagle has plenty of it. The NP2 power plant uses gas ram technology to create consistent shot power with minimal vibration and noise. The Steel Eagle NP2 is perfect for small game from rats to raccoons. Due to the revamped gas-piston power plant which results in less friction, the speed has increased according to Crosman by 15%. The result is around 22 ft-lbs of energy, which means you don't need to buy a Trail NP XL if you're looking for more power to take larger critters. That's great since the Benjamin Trail NP XL is a beast to cock, is a longer gun, and weighs over 10 lbs. The Eagle's on the other hand weight just 8.6 lbs scoped and take 30 lbs of cocking force. Much easier for a gun that shoots as fast as it does.
The new Clean Break Trigger is much improved over the old NP models. While the first stage is still long and somewhat heavy it has been smoothed out and gone is the mushy break of the NP1 style triggers. The result is a crisp trigger that should aid your accuracy.
What sets the Jim Shockey Steel Eagle apart is the quick shouldering Monte Carlo stock. It features soft touch grips and a durable all-weather finish. The Monte Carlo stock on both the Steel and Golden Eagle features a comfortable pistol grip and a wide beavertail style forend making shooting from different positions comfortable.
The rifled steel barrel is fully shrouded and has integrated sound suppression to keep the guns quiet. Crosman uses a K-Baffle suppression system which really quietens down the gun. The decibel reader measures at just 66 dbl. That's the equivalent of a cough or a normal conversation between friends.

Shot Groupings and Velocity

Primarily we chose more hunting oriented pellets to test these guns with, not necessarily lighter alloy pellets to obtain the type of FPS numbers that the manufacturer claim. Since the guns are geared towards hunting, it's not likely you'll be using the lighter pellets.
The Golden Eagle groups were fairly loose and not very impressive. Most likely due to a limited number of pellets being tested. We didn't test other pellets as our main focus was on the Steel Eagle. From a hunting standpoint, the .22 cal is needed in order to humanely hunt in our opinion.
For the Benjamin Steel Eagle we tested two of our best selling .22 cal hunting pellets: the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme, & Predator Polymag. We also tested the hefty JSB Exact Jumbo Monster Diabolo and the newer H&N Hornet which seems to be H&N's version of the Predator Polymag. Only with a brass tip instead of polymer. Both the Polymag and Hornet weigh in at 16gr, so it was interesting to see the grouping results.
So not only did the Hornet achieve a higher FPS than the Polymag but the Hornet grouped tighter as well. The H&N Barracuda's were grouping well also, but with some bad luck as we had two fliers out of our 5 shots. The JSB Monsters were too heavy and slow to leave the barrel, I think this is why they only achieved marginal accuracy. Overall we would recommend selecting the H&N Hornets for hunting due to accuracy and the higher hitting power. Taking the recommended Hornet, we thought we'd see what kind of group we could get at 50 yards.
Not too bad for a break barrel. With more rounds to fully break in the Steel Eagle, and some practice with our grip (admittedly we've been shooting mainly PCPs lately so our double recoil skills are a bit rusty) we're confident this can be an effective gun at 50 yards. Overall we're impressed with the Benjamin Steel Eagle and would recommend it.

Accessories & Maintenance

These guns were designed by hunters (Jim & Eva Shockey) for hunters. So naturally both the Benjamin Steel Eagle and the Golden Eagle come with installed sling mounts. Note that only Airgun Depot's exclusive premium combo comes with a sling, so pick up a sling if you're buying the standard Eagle.
The Eagles are both clean shooting guns, treat them right and they will last you a long time. We recommend using cleaning pellets or running a dry patch down the barrel every few hundred shots to avoid too much lead build up. As with all break barrel guns, avoid using any type of solvents or oils in the barrel as this can cause dieseling which may damage your rifle.
Since the Eagle's are break barrels, we highly recommend picking up a pellet pen. Especially if you're out hunting, this will allow you to quickly and quietly load without having to take off your gloves and fumble about with a pellet tin. A must for all break barrels.
The Eagle vs Trail NP2 Both the Benjamin Jim Shockey Steel Eagle Air Rifle and the Golden Eagle (which is really just the .177 cal version of the Steel Eagle) have the same internal powerplant, shrouded barrel and trigger as the Trail NP2. But what sets the two guns apart is the stocks. Many don't like the thumbhole stock and sharp edges of the Trail NP2. The Eagle features a synthetic Monte Carlo stock with soft touch grips, and in our opinion feels more natural and less cumbersome than the NP2's stock. Both the Trail NP2 & the Eagle weigh in at 7.1 lbs without scopes.
Steel Eagle Video Coming soon...
Power, Accuracy & Pellet Recommendation Since we're mainly interested in how the Eagle's could be used to hunt with, we avoided testing lighter alloy pellets. So the chrony numbers aren't even close to the fps listed by the manufacturer. While we couldn't find the right pellet to obtain great accuracy with the Golden Eagle, the H&N Hornet really impressed us for the Steel Eagle and would be our recommended pellet to hunt with.
Steel Eagle Premium Combo We found that the stock scope that came with the Steel Eagle NP2 Air Rifle needed a quick upgrade. If you're shooting game past 25 yards, the Steel Eagle's included 3-9x32 scope has clarity issues. Instead you'll need to pick up our upgraded combo that comes with a Centerpoint 4-16x40 AO scope. This is the same scope we pair with the Benjamin Marauder and you can then use the stock scope on a lesser airgun that you won't be pushing out past 25 yards. Our premium combo also comes with a Benjamin sling. Much needed it you're taking your gun into the woods rather than just the backyard.
Clean Break Trigger One of the biggest complaints with the first generation Nitro Pistons had less to do with the piston, but rather the trigger. It was a heavy trigger with a long second stage which could easily pull you off your target if you weren't careful. And the best way to describe the break: mushy. The new Clean Break Trigger is much improved over the old NP models. While the first stage is still long and somewhat heavy, it has been smoothed out and gone is the mushy break of the NP1 style triggers. The result is a crisp trigger that will aid your accuracy.