My love affair with Crosman started with a .22 caliber Pumpmaster pellet gun delivering near rimfire rifle power without the attached parental oversight.
I wielded that power unmercifully; harvesting junk birds for hours each night after school. This parental-encouraged endeavor was to assure the house and deck were free from the mulberry throughput dropped from the villainous birds.
The power was great, but the reload was painful. Pump, pump, pump… still pumping…. argh 10+ pumps later, load the pellet and take the next shot. Though rusted and abused, that Pumpmaster still works today—however, back then, I would have traded my bike for a precision Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 that loaded in just one charging break-action stroke.
When break-action air rifles open, the barrel is used as a handle to compress the spring that powers the air piston. Once fully cocked, a pellet is loaded directly into the breach, and the barrel returns to position. At that time, the air rifle is ready to fire. Although the XL 1100 is based on the same technology as any spring-powered air rifle, the NP in the name stands for Nitro Piston, which means instead of a spring, a sealed nitrogen cartridge piston is compressed.
Press the trigger, the nitrogen cartridge decompresses and pushes the piston forward, which compresses air and powers the pellet on down the barrel. The advantages of the Nitro Piston are that it will maintain power maintenance-free exponentially longer than a mechanical spring, will not develop a memory or loose compression if left charged, and is unaffected by temperature or altitude changes. In theory, the Nitro-piston will last indefinitely.
Some may say pre-charged multi-shot pneumatics are the obvious choice, however what will you do if you cannot carry around an air tank or separate external pumping accessory. The top-break single-stroke air rifles deliver big power with just one stroke—reliably without the need for extra apparatus.
Caliber selection is another consideration for airgun hunting. The blistering velocities at the muzzle of .177 airguns theoretically come close to the foot pounds of muzzle energy of heavy .22 pellets. However, down range, .22 pellets pack more punch. The .22 pellets are also usually subsonic, which means a quieter air rifle without the loud supersonic crack. Add in the nice optic, and the NP XL 1100 combines all the best elements of a hunting air rifle in one beautiful platform while achieving up to a blistering 1100 fps with up to 28 ft/lbs of energy.
After the acquisition of Benjamin, Crosman maintained the Benjamin line as its premium lineup marketed to select retailers. Of course, there are air rifles and then there is the Trail NP XL 1100, which is Crosman’s top of the line air rifle. The fit and feel is excellent from the laser engraved logo, hardwood checkering, thumbhole Monte Carlo-style stock to the perfectly blued steel. The included CenterPoint 3-9x40mm scope is of high clear quality and plenty to deliver precision shots.
Everything on the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 (.22) seems to be a cut above other rifles in the premium break-barrel class. The XL 1100 cocks smoothly; the scope and parallax adjustment work well. The initial factory trigger setting is two-stage with a little adjustment for an improved feel. The little details are thought through—including a rubber O-ring around the chamber to maximize compression, and a real 1913 Picatinny rail for the scope mount, which will make things much easier should you want to select another optic.
The 8.8-pound Trail NP XL 1100 is not particularly light, but the weight does provide good off-hand stability, helps counteract the piston recoil, and contributes to the outstanding accuracy.
The Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 is very accurate with a broad range of ammo. I set up a set of targets at 20 yards and found most quality flat head or doomed ammo delivered accuracy of under 1-inch groups.
Crosman has also paid a lot of attention by providing an expansive line of premium pellet offerings including the lead 14.3-grain Benjamin Discovery Hollow points. With the artillery hold and the Discovery pellets, I managed more than a few ⅝-inch groups, and at least one ½-inch group. With the Premier Doomed pellets and hollow points, there were plenty of ¾-inch groups. The net of my shooting experience is that this airgun is a tack driver.
As I live outside of the city limits, I have loads of nuisance critters and was provided with ample opportunities to test the power and accuracy of the NP XL 1100. The wallop of the Trail NP XL 1100 with .22 pellets delivers some serious impact downrange. With it, I was able to humanely remove critters—small ground squirrels to raccoon-sized varmints and pests with just one pellet.
In a survival situation, an airgun is handy for a variety of reasons. The .22 caliber packs a heck of a punch. Comparatively, the .22 airgun delivers around 25% of the knockdown power of the .22 LR, which at 28 ft/lbs, is more than enough to take game up to 10 pounds with accurate shot placement. From my experience, even a lower-power .22 caliber pellet rifle is a perfect squirrel and rabbit hunter. However, the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 will fill your hunting limits quickly and easily even on larger critter-sized game.
|Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 .22|
|Alloy Pellet Velocity||Up to 1100 fps|
|Power Source||Nitro Piston|
|Approx Energy||25-26 ft-lb|
Another survival plus is that ammo/pellets are super cheap at around $10 for 500 premium pellets—about half the price of quality .22LR ammo. For a paltry $100, you can have 5000 rounds of premium pellets tucked away should the need arise. For preparedness, this means you can remove pests and hunt all manner of critter quietly—even out to 50-yard ranges without the noise of a .22 LR and without burning any higher power primer fired ammo.
Airguns are a whole lot of fun, a great option to teach gun handling and safety, and to hone your skills during the off season. On an everyday basis, a fine-quality pellet gun can be a handy item with the proper hunting permits to remove the moronic woodpecker drilling away on your downspouts or the errant rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon which decides to overstay its welcome. The Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 is a fine airgun that delivers big power—and can also pay for itself quickly from a practice perspective. All around this is a top-shelf airgun for any need.
Do you have an airgun for survival or fun? Which model and caliber? How many pellets? Share your answers in the comment section.
Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. www.MajorPandemic.com