It’s a three-way battle atop the mid-range PCP market and we are gonna see which one you should spend your money on. We will be putting the Benjamin Marauder vs. Air Venturi Avenger vs. the Umarex Gauntlet 2 and see which one comes out on top. All compete in the same price bracket, and all are exceptionally good airguns, albeit they have very different feature sets.
Some years ago, Benjamin entered the PCP market with an all-in-one solution called the Benjamin Discovery. It introduced PCP airgunning to the blue-collar masses, and the rest was history. Shortly after the Discovery, Benjamin released the Marauder, and it has dominated the “affordable” PCP space for over a decade. But their reign may be coming to an end. With more and more affordable, high-quality PCP airguns hitting the market, will the M-Rod stay king?
The King – Marauder
The Benjamin Marauder is available in multiple calibers and configurations, including a semi-automatic variant and even a tactical AR variant called the Armada. It continues to be a favorite amongst airgun hobbyists because of the broad third party upgrades and modifications that are readily available.
The Marauder air rifle comes in both regulated and unregulated versions, with the unregulated models more for hunting and the regulated models more for target shooting or field target competitions. You can get it with an adjustable synthetic or wood stock, standard or match Lother Walther barrel (through the Crosman Custom Shop), and in multiple calibers from .177 through to .25.
The key performance features include an adjustable hammer spring and striker, a fully adjustable match trigger, and a shrouded barrel with internal baffles, making the Marauder the standard for “quiet” airgunning.
While you have all these options with the M-Rod platform, that’s also where you hit your first negative. There’s not just one M-Rod variant that can do it all. You can certainly turn a factory Marauder into whatever you want, sometimes at great expense, but then you have just that gun. This may be fine for most shooters, but more and more airgunners are looking for more flexibility.
The Main Contender – Avenger
Here’s where the Air Venturi Avenger strikes its first blow versus the Marauder. The Avenger provided you have a chronograph and either a hand pump or a personal compressor like the Hil EC-3000, is fully tunable and re-tunable to another task, all without needing to take it apart.
The Avenger air rifle brings to the table most of the same features like; a shrouded barrel that’s easily upgraded for 3rd party moderators, adjustable trigger, synthetic or wood stock, multiple calibers from .177 through to .25, and more. The Avenger exceeds the Marauder with the addition of a side lever vs. a rear bolt. The side lever makes the Avenger easier to operate and less prone to jams and double feeding. Accuracy and power are on par with the M-Rod, if not a little better.
With all that going for it, why doesn’t the Avenger just wipe the mat with the M-rod? It comes down to build quality. Regardless of brand loyalty, the Marauder is just built better with better materials. The Avenger has many great features, but look under the hood, and you’ll see that the platform was built to a price point. There’s no disputing the performance, power, accuracy, and user adjustability that the Avenger brings to the table. Still, some folks may prefer what’s under the hood to match what’s shown on the outside.
The Dark Horse – Gauntlet 2
The last airgun we are going to consider is the Umarex Gauntlet 2. Like the Avenger, the original Gauntlet was a market disrupter. It delivered a powerful, bottle-fed, regulated PCP to the masses for a minuscule street price compared to competitors. Available in .177 through .25, there was a Gauntlet for every application. The G2 takes things further.
Where the M-Rod and Avenger cater to the “DIY” airgunner that likes to tinker, the Gauntlet 2 air rifle just turns things up to 11. The .25 caliber G2 delivers nearly 100 shots in .25 caliber before dropping off the reg. Additionally, the .25 chronographs numbers from the 96 shots out of the G2 are a fraction better than a tuned Avenger’s 30 shots. Power output is close to 60 foot-pounds at the muzzle, more than the Avenger or M-Rod can produce without 3rd party modifications, and the noise level sits between the M-Rod and stock Avenger.
Where the Gauntlet 2 may have some trouble starts with the operation. It uses a side bolt, and while it’s easier to cock than the Gen 1 Gauntlet, it’s certainly not as user-friendly as the side lever on the Avenger. There’s also only one stock option. It’s a nice synthetic stock, but that’s the only choice you’ll get. Where the Avenger and M-Rod will appeal to a wider audience, the G2 is poised to deliver maximum shot count and power to airgun hunters.
So there you go. The Benjamin Marauder vs. Air Venturi Avenger, Benjamin Marauder vs. Umarex Gauntlet 2, Air Venturi Avenger vs. Umarex Gauntlet 2 debate is just getting started. All battling it out for your mid-range PCP dollar. Each have specific strengths and weaknesses, and can be customized based off what you need from your individual rifle.
If you have more questions about which airgun would be more suited for your personal needs, just reach out, and we’ll be happy to help you make the right choice.