Options for entry level PCPs have increased by leaps and bounds in the last few years. As the sport of airgunning finally makes a shift to the mainstream shooting community we are seeing more and more economical PCPs come to the table. The formula for an entry level PCP seems simple enough, a barrel, a stock, a bolt action, and an air tube. But are all entry level PCPs created equal? In this week’s Head to Head, we are going to look at two rifles that from the outside are nearly identical, and are probably the closest matched rifles that we have ever compared in a Head to Head to be honest. Lets take a look at each of our competitors in this Entry Level PCP Flyweight Division fight.
In the Red corner, hailing from the good ol U.S. of A. is a tried and true rifle that has really gained a foothold in the entry level PCP market. Of course, we are talking about the Benjamin Maximus. With its parentage coming from the much revered Benjamin Discovery, the Maximus brings updated styling and a synthetic stock to a classic rifle design. The Maximus, along with the Benjamin Discovery, have probably brought more shooters to the sport of PCP airgunning than any other rifles. So does the Maximus still make the cut, or is it time for our competitor to take the reigns? Lets see who we are up against.
In the Blue corner, coming to us by way of far-off China we have the new Beeman QB Chief. The QB Chief is the new big brother to the classic QB series of CO2 rifles. The Chief gives you the same Beeman QB reliability and function as the CO2 models but is now available in a factory PCP configuration. Does this combination of old and new have what it takes to unseat the champion of the entry level PCP market? QBs have had a soft spot in the hearts of airgunners the world over for some time, but can this new version rest on the laurels of its predecessors? Theres only one way to find out, lets get them in the ring!
Round One: Overall Construction and Build Quality
The Maximus at first glance is definitely utilitarian. There is nothing flashy about it all. You can tell that this is a gun that is meant to accomplish two things: 1- to shoot well and 2- to stand up to whatever is thrown at it. The synthetic stock is lightweight (the whole gun weighs in under 5 lbs) as well as rugged with a non-slip finish and comes with pre-installed swivel studs for a sling. The barrel, breech, bolt, and air tube are all steel and finished in what appears to be a black oxide or very dark bluing. The fitment and finish of the stock and the metal seem to be solid and are what one would expect from a mass-produced, US made rifle. Very little frills and a lot of practicality.
There are however a couple of negatives that we ran into with the construction of the Benjamin Maximus. The first being the liberal use of plastics. We understand that in order to keep the cost down for the end user that the use of plastics is a necessity, but even just a metal trigger blade would take the quality level up a notch. The trigger, trigger guard, as well as the front and rear sight housing are all plastic. Will they work, yes. Will they stand up to the test of time? Most likely. But we would still like to see more metal on this gun. Another negative that we ran into on the Maximus was the front sight being jettisoned from the rifle on the first shot. The front sight is pressed onto the barrel and it would appear that the sight on our test model was not properly seated. After our first shot, we noticed that it was no longer on the rifle. It was found, undamaged, lying about halfway down the range. With just a quick tap from a mallet, the sight was back on and stayed put for the rest of our testing but worth noting. Hopefully, this is just an outlier problem and not indicative of all shipped rifles.
Overall our judges rated the Maximus an 8/10 on build quality. It is a simple gun with a simple purpose, to get people out shooting. Its no frills approach is really part of what makes it so attractive. Only a few small things stand out in what is by and large a well built, solid air rifle.
Out of the box, the QB Chief has a little bit more of a traditional look with a wood stock and its blued metal finishes. The stock is pretty similar to what has been found on Beeman QB rifles in the past but has been re-profiled slightly. The forend is definitely wider which, in our opinion make this rifle a little easier to hold while aiming. The stock also feels fatter around the wrist/pistol grip area. The stock appears to be Beach that has been finished in a dark stain. QB stock factory finishes have been notoriously soft, meaning they ding and scratch easily. The QB Chief seems to be no exception as we noticed a fairly large ding on the side of the stock most likely caused in shipping.
Like the Maximus, the barrel, breech, bolt, and air tube are all steel. The Beeman QB Chief also uses the same Foster style fill configuration as the Maximus at the forend of the air cylinder. When we charged both guns with air to test for leakage we noticed that the fill cap that covers the foster valve would, from time to time, randomly pop off the rifle. Upon further inspection, we found a small, barely noticeable leak coming from the threads around where the foster fitting screwed into the air tube on the QB Chief. This was fixed by torquing down the foster fitting with a wrench. So far, out of the box, the Chief had two strikes against it, all be it they were small, quick fixes.
One area the Beeman Chief stood out from the Maximus was its metal trigger blade as well as the trigger guard and safety lever. The trigger is steel but the trigger guard is a casting of a zinc alloy. This not only had an effect on the looks of the gun but also the way that the trigger pulled but more on that later. Overall the QB Chief is a nice looking gun and it definitely had more of a hefty, traditional feel to it. But between the small leak and the dings in the stock right out of the box we rated this gun a 6.5 out of 10 on the quality scale. Much like the Maximus, hopefully, these QC issues are not representative of most shipped QB Chiefs.
Winner: The Benjamin Maximus takes this round. It may not be as pretty to look at as the QB but the rifle is solid in its construction and ready for action with minimal setbacks. The Maximus is on its way to an early lead.
Round Two: Triggers
As stated previously, the Maximus trigger is plastic and it definitely affects how the trigger feels. The trigger is actually a single stage trigger, but due to a large amount of pre-travel creep, it pulls like a 2 stage. On our test gun, the trigger pulled at an average of 5 lbs 14 oz. While it may take some getting used to, with some practice it is still very shootable and in my personal testing, I didnt have any major issues with the heavy pull.
The QB Chiefs trigger being all metal had a much smoother feel to it although it was a little on the mushy side. Also a single stage, the QB trigger had a good bit of creep as well but was not as stiff as the Benjamin. The break came at 4 lbs 9 oz and had a somewhat soft, carrot-like break. Like the Maximus, the QB trigger needs a little bit of getting used to in order to be accurate with it, but with a little practice, it is very shootable.
Winner: The QB Chief takes this round pretty easily and ties it back up!
Round Three: Power
This test is simple enough, grab both guns, a chronograph and a tin of ammo and start shooting. For this test, both guns were aired up to 2,000 PSI (their max fill) and a series of 20 shots are fired across the chronograph. We used JSB 18.13 grain pellets as they are the standard for our .22 caliber tests. Let’s take a look at the results.
Winner: Looks like the QB comes out on top here. Though the Maximus was more consistent with its power numbers the QBs max FPS of 798 and max Ft/Lbs of 25 beats out the Maximus at a max FPS of 775 and a max Ft/Lbs of 24. Not a huge difference, but its like the little extra reach one boxer has over another that can make all the difference.
Round Four: Accuracy
For this test, we mounted up one of our favorite budget scopes, the Hawke Vantage 2-7×32 AO scope. This little optic is perfect for smaller guns like these and at only $99.99 you aren’t breaking the bank, but still getting a decent piece of glass. We sighted the gun in at 25 yards and then pushed it back to 50 yards to fire a 5 shot group to see how the rifle performed. Once again we are using the JSB 18.13 grain pellets that we used in the previous test. All shots are taken on an indoor range from a bench rest to eliminate environmental and human factors.
Winner: Both these guns performed well but the Maximus just edges out the QB in the accuracy department. The Maximus shot a nice group of .92 in, center to center while the best the QB could muster was 1.28 in center to center. Though the difference may seem small, that could be the difference between a game kill and a miss so that extra 3rd of an inch or so really counts.
Round 5: Shot Count
Probably the least scientific of our tests, but it was necessary to break this tie we have going between the Beeman QB Chief and Benjamin Maximus. For this test, we filled both guns to 2000 psi and fired pellets till we got down to 1000 psi. It’s important to note that the max fill pressure of 2,000 psi was done by design on both rifles. The idea being that it would be easy to hand pump the gun with a high capacity hand pump, which is a much more economical option for newbies to PCP airguns then more expensive carbon fiber tanks, air compressors or power booster. Then we counted up to shots and whoever had the most wins, so without further ado, the winner is
Winner: The Maximus! The Maximus pulls this one out of the bag with 28 shots before needing to be re-filed. The QB was close with 21 shots but it just fell short as it seems to be not quite as efficient with air as the Maximus.
Well, folks that about wraps it up here. The Maximus has been able to retain its title but it was a very close matchup. Really these two guns are so similar in every way. We know that for many shooters it will ultimately come down to pricing and availability to ultimately decide which of these guns is best suited for each individual use. We really think that you cant go wrong with either and with a little work these guns could be practically identical. What do you guys think? Is the Maximus still king or does the new QB offer a better bang for the buck option (especially with its wood stock)? Be sure to leave any questions or comments in the comment section below as we love to hear from our readers.