Climbing into the ring today we have something a little different. With fall rolling in and many of us taking time off to head into the woods for hunting season, the topic of lightweight, compact, easy to carry air rifles has been hot on our minds. The question basically is “What airgun would be easiest to carry, in addition to our powderburner hunting rifles?” You know, something that we could break down and throw in our packs so that as we’re out chasing trophy deer or elk we could do some small game hunting or plinking around camp. Today we pit two lightweight, compact carbines that are perfect pack rifles against each other, the classic Benjamin Marauder Pistol versus the new Hatsan ATP2-QE. Let’s get em’ in the ring!
In the blue corner is an old favorite, the Benjamin Marauder pistol in .22 caliber. The Marauder Pistol, or P-Rod as some call it, is basically the same trigger and grip frame used on the classic 1300 and 2200 series Crosman pistols, topped with a Marauder action and with a shortened air tube and barrel. These little guns can be configured as either a carbine or a pistol and with a multi-shot rotary magazine and smooth bolt they make for a quick shooting lightweight package. Weighing in at just 3.7 lbs without scope, the Marauder pistol has become a very popular lightweight small game gun.
In the red corner, straight out of Kemalpa?a, Turkey, is a fresh take on an already popular design. The Hatsan AT-P2QE is a hard hitting, multi shot carbine equipped with Hatsan’s proven QE sound suppression system. The AT-P2 also features a collapsible stock and a very smooth side lever action, as well as removable air cylinders. All these features are packed into a compact 6.5 lb package, but can the sum of all these parts knock the Marauder Pistol out of the running?
Round 1: Build Quality & Construction
The Benjamin Marauder pistol features a rugged, and no frills kind of design. The stock and foregrips are made of durable hard plastic, making them lightweight but still strong. The trigger and trigger guard are both cast metal and add to the solid feel. The rifled steel barrel is shrouded and does features a fairly basic sound suppression system to help quiet some of the report of the gun. On the underside of the foregrip is an easy to read gauge which makes monitoring your fill pressure a snap. The Marauder pistol fills directly from a foster style fill valve located at the end of the air cylinder with a snap on plastic dust cover to keep it free of any debris. The receiver is solid aluminum and has a milled 11mm dovetail rail for mounting optics as well as an ambidextrous bolt that can easily be switched to either the left or right handed position. While the P-rod is fairly spartan when it comes to the bells and whistles, the simplicity and squared away design has made it very popular among shooters.
The Hatsan AT-P2-QE air pistol features all the same great features as the full size Hatsan rifles, but in a much smaller package. You still get the fully adjustable quattro trigger, the quick change air cylinders (although they are smaller) with built in gauge, and you still get the same QE sound suppression system from the bigger guns. What makes the AT-P2 stand out from the Marauder the most is the factory standard adjustable stock. The 6 position stock with adjustable cheek rest means that the gun can be fit to shooters of any size, which makes it a great solution for families that enjoy shooting together or smaller shooters who may have a hard time finding guns that fit them well. The AT-P2 also comes with a molded, target style grip, which is a great option if you’re a right handed shooter, however for southpaws, such as out test shooter, the grip leaves much to be desired. Our contacts at Hatsan have said that the AT-P2 can be configured with a left hand grip from the factory or if you send your gun in for a retrofit, however the lack of true ambidexterity is in our eyes a big let down, especially since the AT-P2 features a left side charging handle which is perfect for lefties. Speaking of the charging handle, the action of the AT-P2 is extremely smooth, and easy to operate, it’s very reminiscent of its big brother, the AT-44. Overall, while almost twice as heavy as the Marauder, the AT-P2 is very well built and extremely solid.
Winner: Though we love the action and the adjustability of the Hatsan, the fact that it’s stock only appeals to right handed shooters is a big factor for this round. Also, since we are looking at guns from the perspective of lightweight pack rifles, the 3.7 lbs of the Marauder makes a huge difference when ounces make pounds, and pounds means pain. The Marauder edges the AT-P2 to take this round.
Round 2: Magazine Capacity & Loading
The Benjamin magazine really has become standard fare in the airgunning world. They have proven to be reliable and the Marauder Pistol magazine is no exception. The Marauder Pistol uses a scaled down version of the standard Marauder mags (and in case you are wondering the two are not interchangeable) that holds only 8 rounds of .22 ammo opposed to 10 in the standard model. Loading the magazines is the same two handed process as with the standard mags requiring you to wind the spring by rotating the top cover before loading the first pellet, after that the pellets can be dropped fairly quickly into the remaining holes. Again, the theme of no frills simplicity holds, after all why mess with proven design? The AT-P2 magazine, like all other Hatsan magazines is so simple it’s almost a work of perfection. Holding a full 10 rounds of .22 caliber pellets, plus the ability to load with one hand, and being able to reload the magazine on the fly while still in the gun is a huge plus. If you own other Hatsan AT rifles, you can share magazines, it’s reliable as it is simple and with Hatsan’s added anti-double feed system you won’t have to worry about double loading. Needless to say, we are fans.
Winner: The Hatsan ATP2 QE comes out on top this round. Its quick to load, and has a bigger capacity. What more could you want?
Round 3: Accuracy
For accuracy we selected three very different pellets to see what these contenders could do. Our tests took place on a 35 yard indoor range and all shots were made from a prone position with both front and rear bags to stabilize the rifle. We used 3 different pellets: 15.89 gn. Polymag Shorts, 9.56 gn. H&N Field Target Trophy Green lead free pellets, and 18.13 JSB Diabolo Exact Heavy’s.
It’s well known that the full size Marauder is one of the most accurate entry level PCP’s on the market, but we wondered with the shorter barrel could the same results be expected with the Marauder Pistol. The Marauder Pistol met out expectations and more. Firing a 5 shot group with each pellet we were able to achieve sub-1 inch group sizes with the Marauder pistol (minus one flyer from a pulled shot). This is really quite outstanding considering that each group was fired with 3 different pellets from 3 different brands, rarely do we find a rifle to be that consistent with different pellet manufacturers.
The AT-P2 QE also surprised us, although not in the way that we were hoping. If you look back at some out our other head to heads, Hatsan has had a reputation for really great accuracy (especially with JSB pellets). It’s not un-common to expect 1 inch groups at 50 yards. That is precisely why we were so surprised at the results of our testing. With the H&N’s we scored a 5 shot group of about 1.20 inches, not bad at all (perfectly acceptable at 35 yards). The Polymag Shorts widened out a bit to about 1.63 inches center to center, and finally with the JSB’s a surprising 3.068 inch group. This was very odd considering that most of the Hatsan guns we have tested loved JSB pellets. We decided it was worth a re-test, just to be sure, but we got almost the same results.
Winner: With near hole on hole accuracy with every pellet fired the Marauder Pistol wins this round, we have to say that we expected the Hatsan to run away with this one so the outcome is a little unsuspected. Perhaps a bit of bad luck with the pellets with tested in the ATP2, but you have to praise the P-Rod for firing well everything we fed it.
Round 4: Power
Chronographing both guns we fired a total of 10 shots with each of the same 3 pellets we used for our accuracy testing. Each gun was topped off to 2,900 PSI prior to each shot string being fired. Shown in the table below we have our highest FPS shot, the average FPS across all shots, and finally, we show the highest power generated in Ft/lbs. Check out the results!
Winner: The Hatsan takes this one hands down, making on average 121.3 FPS more speed than the Marauder, all that power in such a small package makes for a great small game gun! Clearly if you need power the ATp2 will bring it. We were impressed
Round 5: Sound Suppression
If you’re in the woods hunting a quiet gun can be helpful for not scaring off one game animal while taking a shot at another. Since Both pistols feature a sound suppression system we figured we would take a few shots across our sound meter and get an idea of what noise levels these guns produce. Across a 5 shot string the high dB reading for the Marauder was 60 decibels and the low reading was 56. A very quiet gun to say the least, but how does it stack up to the Hatsan QE system? We have tested many of the Hatsan QE guns and they never disappoint. Firing 5 shots across the meter we got a high of 59 dB, 3 of the shots we took all came in at 57 dB, and one came in at a whisper quiet 52 dB. Both guns have given us some of the quietest PCP readings that we have ever got, very impressive.
Winner: In the end we decided to call this one a draw, when everything shook out both guns averaged close to the same level of sound suppression, and while the Hatsan did have one very quiet shot the results did not repeat so we are going to have to go for a tie on this one.
Round 6: Packability
For our final round, since we are talking about the concept of a pack rifle, we decided we should see which of these two rifles fits better in a pack. Now, obviously we realize that your mileage may vary on this one, not everyone’s hunting pack is the same, but we wanted to give an idea of what to expect when considering one of these two as a potential pack gun. We used a standard day pack style backpack and decided that we would use the main rear pocket as it was the biggest in the bag and provided the most space. Each rifle’s stock was removed to provide to most compact package. It should be noted that the Hatsan stock is removable without tools, while the Marauder requires a straight blade screwdriver.
Winner: In our eyes, the smaller size and narrower profile of the Marauder makes it the winner for this round. Sure you may need screw driver to throw the stock on, but what good woodsman doesn’t carry a multitool into the backcountry? (Better yet pick up an Air Venturi Tactical Stock adapter and a removable tactical stock and avoid the pain of the standard stock all together!)
Conclusion: After trading blows and going toe to toe it seems that the Marauder has come out on top, but only just barely. With some more testing and finding a pellet that shoots well the Hatsan could be a real winner for someone in the market for a compact gun with big power. We wholeheartedly realize that for most it comes down to user preference, what we think really separates these rifles is deciding if you are willing to sacrifice some of the features of a full size, quality airgun for the sake of simplicity and weight savings of the Marauder, or are you looking for a full feature, rock solid air pistol with all the features of a full size that happens to have the added ability of portability?
So the Marauder wins this round. But will face some serious competition within this division next round as we wait to see who wins between the division favorite AirForce TalonP and the new comer from Britain, the Air Arms S410 TDR.