|I was waiting to see how Crosman would follow up on their opening act, the Discovery. I had scheduled meetings with the company’s representatives at the SHOT show and while in Orlando got my first glimpse of the Marauder. And there it was, a beautiful rifle with ….. a match grade trigger, a ten shot rotary magazine, and OH YEA …. A fully shrouded barrel!|
|The Discovery (below) and the new Marauder (above) represents a great beginning to Crosmans PCP stable.|
|The Crosman Marauder
I am a lucky airgunner, because of my writing projects I am sent a lot of guns to shoot and hunt with. Some I like, some I don’t, some surpassing expectations and some falling short. But as a rule I try to approach each gun with an open mind and without the baggage of preconceived opinions or expectations. However I must admit to breaking my own rules, and have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Crosman’s new precharged pneumatic rifle expecting to see something exciting coming out of their development program.
It was just a couple of years ago that I was driving home from a deer hunt when a call came in from the well known airgun writer Tom Gaylord, asking if I’d like to test a new pcp rifle being developed by an American airgun company. When I replied with a heck yes ! (or something like it) , he promptly put me in touch with the guys at Crosman. The gun they were developing was the Benjamin Discovery, which became an instant hit in the North American market. The Discovery had several things going for it; accurate and moderately powerful, compact and light weight, the dual fuel feature that allows the gun to be filled from either a high pressure air source or CO2 (depending on power requirements). The rifle provided efficient operation at a low charging pressure, was feature rich with a lot of bells and whistle you’d expect on a more expensive product, and to top it off, made in the USA and the lowest priced prercharged pneumatic on the market. Of course nothing is perfect, and at the end of my initial evaluation I wrapped up my review by saying that as much as I liked the rifle I would like to see a premium model with a better trigger, a multi-shot capability, and a shrouded barrel, with the shroud being the most important feature. As guns got into the hands of more airguuners, many made the same observations. This was not surprising as my insight is not unique … I just got the gun first. Like I said, I am a lucky arigunner! And while the Disco is great for what it is, there was room for another level of rifle in the Crosman product portfolio. In fact, they had told me early on that this was their strategy and the Discovery was their entry into the PCP market.
OK, so like the rest of the airgun world I was waiting to see how Crosman would follow up on their opening act. I had scheduled meetings with the company’s representatives at the SHOT show and while in Orlando got my first glimpse of the Marauder. And there it was, a beautiful rifle with ….. a match grade trigger, a ten shot rotary magazine, and OH YEA …. A fully shrouded barrel! But it was more than just these features built on a Discovery, this was a brand new design. The gun I found myself inspecting on the exhibition floor was more substantial and dressed in a very handsome walnut stock with crisply cut checkering. It had a rear mounted bolt action, and I was told it could be readily adjusted to operate at a range of fill pressures up to 3000 psi depending on what the shooters requirements were. It appeared to me that these guys had a pretty clear picture of what we airgunners want and need in our hunting, plinking, and target rifles. But of course, determining if they had really gotten it right could only happen with pellets flying over the chrony and printing tight little groups off the bench…… and a step further for me at least, in the field hunting! I’ve now had the chance to shoot several hundred pellets through the gun and to get it out on a couple hunts, and would like to share some preliminary observations.
|The Marauder is a well balanced gun that has stylish good looks. Nice checkering on the grip and forestock, cap on the pistol grip and a ventilated butt pad arenot common on a gun at this price.|
|The action of the Marauder attaches to the stock with a single screw positioned at a juncture between the trigger assembly and pressure gauge.|
|The gauge on this gun was a Discovery part, but will be replaced with one calibrated to 3000 psi. The hex screw that attaches the action to the stock is seen just ahead of the trigger gaurd,|
|The shroud, the cap covering the fill nipple, and barrel band are seen in this close up (left). The cap off fior filling (right)|
|The Marauder; Initial Impressions
The gun I was sent to work with was a pre production gun that had some differences from the production guns, mostly but not all cosmetic; the magazine removal was to the left rather than the right, the pressure gauge on the production gun will be calibrated to 3000 psi but my gun used the Discovery gauge calibrated to 2000 ps. But mostly it was things like provisional graphics or slight differences in checkering. Having said this, the gun I pulled out of the shipping case was very attractive and looked like a purposeful hunting gun.
The stock is walnut with laser cut checkering on the pistol grip and forestock, and is ambidextrous with a raised comb that yielded a good sight alignment through a Centerpoint 3-9x40 30 mm scope with medium profile mounts. The Benjamin name is carved into the bottom of the forestock, and the logo on the pistol grip. The pistol grip has a black cap and the buttstock a ventilated buttpad with a white spacer that adds a touch of classy good looks to the package.
The Marauder is a larger rifle than the Discovery weighing in at a bit over 7 ½ lb (7lb 8 oz to be exact) with an overall length of 43”. It is well balanced and comes quickly and naturally into shooting position. The gun I was sent was set up to my specification and I told the guys that I’d like to get 30-35 shots using Crosman Premier pellets at around 850 fps. It was also equipped with swivel studs, as I intended to use a sling and a bipod when out hunting.
The metal work on the guns was quite nice, well proportioned and well crafted. The aluminum receiver has a high profile, with the bolt mounted to the rear where it is easy to reach and cycle. The receiver is grooved to accept 11 mm scope rings and open sights are not included on the guns (which in my opinion aren’t needed on a gun like this).
The Marauder uses a proprietary ten shot rotary magazine, which is indexed as the bolt is pushed forward after cycling. The first thing to mention is that my prototype gun dismounts the magazine to the left hand side of the gun, whereas in the production gun the magazine will be removed from the right. When the bolt is pulled all the way rearward, the magazine is simply pushed out. After loading the process is reversed, and again the bolt has to be positioned fully to the rear. The magazine is fairly easy to load once you get used to it, though it does take a little practice being neither the easiest or most difficult I’ve come across. What I did like is that I’ve shot more than a couple thousand pellets without a malfunction. The magazine loaded and fed almost every pellet I tried, with the exception of extremely long bodied pellets such as Eu Jins and the Predator XPs. I was able to handload individual pellets with some difficulty, though I was told that there is an insert to convert to singleshot, which is a great backup in a hunting rifle.
The Marauder has an adjustable two stage trigger that was set up at the factory with 0.144” travel to actuate, 0.127” of initial take-up, 0.011” over travel and 2.5 lb pull. The trigger was smooth, tactile, broke crisply, and didn’t require any adjustment from me (of course they asked me how I liked my trigger before shipping the gun). I think this is a very good trigger, especially on a gun at the mid level price tag the gun carries.
The choked barrel is 20” in length and the shroud extends it to 23 ¾ “. The shroud is one of (if not the) key feature on this gun. It is very effective in quieting it down, and is integrated into the guns design so that it cannot be opened or removed from the gun.
As with the Disco, the Marauder fills using a quick connect Foster type fitting. It does however differ in that on the Marauder the fill probe is covered by a screw-on cap. I filled the reservoir to the recommended 3000 psi pressure using my carbon fiber tanks. As mentioned, though I opted for a fill pressure of 3000 psi, others may opt to optimize theirs for lower fill pressures. One afternoon I used the Crosman hand pump to recharge the gun between twenty shot strings, and found it easy to charge the gun up from 2400 psi back up to 3000 psi in a couple minutes of pumping. The gun features an on-board manometer to monitor pressure that will be calibrated to 3000 psi in the production gun.
|The magazine on my gun is removed from the left, though this will be switched to the right on production guns so as to not interfere with a AO wheel. The magazine functioned flawlessly over several hundred shot.|
|The action is seen removed from the stock.|
|Randomly selected shot strings|
|For the purposes of this test I shot Crosman Premiers, JSB Exacts, Beeman FTs, Beeman Kodiaks, RWS Superdomes, Crow Magnums, and Eu Jins.
The chronograph was positioned five feet back from the muzzle of the gun
The gun yielded 35 shot per fill, but I opted for 20 shot strings on a fresh fill .
|NOTE: Best groups shot from a solid benchrest|
|NOTE: These groups represent the best out of ten shot with each pellet, produced in tightly controled indoor environment.. I use my airguns for hunting, and my point is that this gun will easily outshoot me.|
To start off my shooting session I filled the gun to 3000 psi and sat down at the bench to sight in with a box of Crosman Premiers pellets. After I had the gun zeroed, I set up a number of the 2”x2” steel plates I use as casual targets, and fired off a few hundred shots getting used to the feel of the gun. I shot standing, sitting, prone, kneeling, both rested and offhand, having just an all around fun plinking session. I found that the gun cycled smoothly and the magazine fed flawlessly. I was able to keep the gun mounted while chambering a pellet from all shooting positions, and found I could get a follow up shot off pretty quickly from the start. The stock fit me well coming quickly to the shoulder yielding an excellent sight alignment. The forestock is well proportioned and rest comfortably in my hand, I liked the feeling of the deeply cut checkering.
The trigger really was a pleasure and being light and responsive enough out of the box to facilitate accurate shooting. The checkered pistol grip provided a stable and consistent hold for my shooting hand. The long straight trigger blade is wide enough to offer comfortable contact with the pad of my trigger finger and has an excellent tactile feel overall.
The other thing I noticed right away was that the gun is very quiet with the integrated shroud doing its job. I think that this is a key element in a hunting airgun, because one of the practical reasons for buying a hunting airgun is to expand your hunting opportunitiesby allowing you to shoot in noise sensitive areas. The shroud increases the length of the rifle by a few inches, but is well proportioned and looks like a typical bull barrel. It is affixed to the receiver and by a barrel band at the muzzle end of the gun, and appears quite stable even though I detected a slight rattle if the gun was shaken.
On the Bench
I then took the gun to the bench down in my basement range, to shoot several brands and styles of pellets across the chronograph. These included the Crosman Premiers I’d asked the gun to be optimized for, in addition to JSB Exacts, Beeman FTs, Beeman Kodiaks, RWS Superdomes, Crow Magnums, and Eu Jins. The chronograph was positioned five feet back from the muzzle of the gun with several daylight bulbs mounted in adjustable spot lights arranged to provide consistent pick up and measurement of shots.
The highest average velocity, calculated from a 20 shot string after a fresh 3000 psi charge, came from the CPs, though the Superdomes, FTs, and Exacts were all very close. I opted for 20 shot groups after a fill as this closely approximates my usage when hunting. All of these pellets, which are similar in weight, had average velocities in the 870s or thereabout. The crow magnum and Kodiaks came next at 825 fps and 790 fps respectively, with the heavy Eu Jins not surprisingly coming in last in the low 700s. It is important to note that I had asked Crosman to set up the gun to generate velocities around 850 fps with Crosman Premiers, and they delivered exactly what I’d requested.
The most accurate pellets shot in this evaluation were Premiers and the least accurate were the Crow Mags, but any of the pellets tested would have been more than adequate for a day of small game hunting. The Premiers were the most accurate and went into a ragged one hole group, which I was happy to see as I find this a very effective small game pellet. Because if weather I had to shoot undercover where I am limited to 25 yards, but will provide results from25 to 75 yards in a later report.
So what did I think about my initial shooting experience with the Marauder? In a nutshell Crosman has done it again; accurate, powerful, quiet…… these attributes alone make this a gun worthy of consideration by serious airgun hunters. But a 10 shot magazine, excellent quality of wood and metal work, outstanding trigger, and features like an onboard manometer in a gun positioned at the mid price point is really impressive. I enjoyed shooting this rifle as much as any I’ve used in a long time, and will be taking along on several upcoming hunts. I am not only impressed by the gun, but by the fact that Crosman listened to what their customers were telling them and responded so quickly and effectively. This is the first of a three part series I’ll do on the Marauder, and next we’ll focus on the marauder in the field hunting a variety of small game and varmint.
Hunting the Marauder
I've had a chance to get out on a couple short hunts to date with ther Marauder. The set up for the gun when hunting; Scope is the CenterPoint 3-9x40 30mm tube. This glass has sharp bright images and is compact fitting the riflle well. I have a Rocksteady bipod mounted of the forward swivel stud, with the scope attached to the bipod. I was using the Premier pellets that the gun was tuned for.
On a trip out to a friends farm I set out to thin a few of the squirrels. I found the gun carried well as I hiked through the brush and woods. I had shots present from standing and kneeling positions, and I used the trees for support when taking shoots out to around 60 yards.
I shot the squirrel in this picture from a kneeling position as I leaned against a tree, hitting him spot on the noggin at about 50 yards. The bushtail dropped out of the upper limbs and was DOA when he hit the ground.
Where Does the Marauder Fit? My Opinion
The Marauder allows Crosman to compete in a market segment that is currently underserved by an American manufacturer. I think that this gun will compete favorably with many of the quality European guns and gives US buyers a choice at a lower price point. The Marauder is a different gun than the Disco, but why would they need another gun trying to do what the Disco does so well?
|Disclosure: Crosman Corp. has sent the Marauder to me without charge for evaluation. I have no other business with them; I am not paid for any work nor am I obligated to undertake any work for them. I am compensated for articles writen for various publications, and may or not include mention of any product as I choose.|