|The Marauder Pistol Jim Chapman|
|HUNTING HAND GUNS (MY WORLD VIEW*)
There are many aspects of airgun hunting that are near and dear to my heart; I love hunting with all the new multi-shot pcps with excellent triggers and shrouded barrels and never tire of getting out to the woods with one of my work horse springers, but Iíve been jonesing for a new air powered handgun to hunt with.
Let me first say that I think there are some great (albeit few and far between) hunting air pistols out there; the Brocock Grand Prix, the Evanix Renegade six shooter, and the custom 2240 based pcp conversions are all guns Iíve used and think highly of. But what I really wanted to get is a hand gun that combined a few of the features of each of these with a couple not seen on any of them.
While the Grand Prix is dead accurate and moderately powerful, compact, and has an excellent trigger, it is a single shot. Nothing wrong with that, but I often hunt in the cold of winter and like a multi-shot so that my frost numbed fingers donít have to fumble with pellets between shots. I also think highly of the Renegade, it is multi-shot, accurate and powerful, but it is big and pretty loud. I have had a great time building up custom air pistols on the 2240 platform having built some very powerful and compact guns in a range of calibers (.177 Ė 9 mm). However, they require finding parts, taking the time to build, and all the guns Iíve built have been single shots. I am restricting this discussion to small game air pistols, there have been other custom and small run production guns ranging from small calibers all the way up to the big bore pistols that Quackenbush has built.
What I wanted in a pistol was pretty straight forward, although not available anywhere that I knew of; a compact design, multi-shot, high shot capacity, adjustable power, a serviceable trigger, and here is a big one, a shrouded barrel. Iíve had a good relationship with Crosman for a few years and have gotten to do some testing and give feedback to them on projects such as the Discovery and Marauder. A couple of years ago Iíd sent them one of my PCP builds on the 2240 and we had some discussions on the pros and cons of the gun. Now donít get me wrong, I donít mean to imply any direct involvement in the design of the gun other than to list what Iíd like to see in a hunting hand gun, chief Crosman engineer and visionary Ed Schultz is the guy that specifies and does the requirements engineering on these products, I just get to sound off and test earlyÖ the fun stuff!
I (FINALLY) GET TO SHOOT IT!!!
Before the SHOT Show in 2010 Ed called to tell me theyíd have a pistol based on the Marauder design along for Media day at the SHOW and that I could get my hands on it and shoot it there Ö. I was excited! Media day at the SHOT Show is an event where manufacturers of products set up booths at the shooting range outside of Las Vegas for outdoors writers, broadcast, and other media types to get some experience with the products weíll write about and present through various media outlets after the show.
When I showed up, the Crosman guys had the Discoveries and Marauders out and shooting away, but I went straight to the table on which I saw a mutant 2240 sitting. On inspection it turned out to be the new Marauder pistol, and get this, it had an eight shot magazine, it was shrouded, it was long but light weight and ergonomic, and it had an onboard manometer. The trigger was an update to the 2240 and had been cleaned up a lot and turned out to be fairly smooth when I got down to shooting. I spent as much time as possible shooting the spinners out at 25 yards, and was positively impressed with the accuracy, the authority in which it impacted the spinners, and moreover just how quiet this pistol was.
We talked about the gun, the delivery schedule..... and when I could get a test gun. I left the range that day thinking that Iíd be shooting and hunting with it inside a few weeks. That few weeks turned out to be several months. Itís a good news / bad news thing, Crosman did very well with their other products; the Nitro Piston guns and the Discovery and Marauder sales and concurrent support requirements exploded and ate up engineering and production resources which is the good news for Crosman, but that didnít leave a lot of time to work on the (arguably) niche oriented pistol. But finally the gun came and I had a chance to use it extensively on the range and for hunting.
In this two part introductory piece Iíll first look at the gun, shooting characteristics, and my results on the range. This will be followed by a second part focusing on the field / hunting experience Iíve had over the last couple of months. A few quick remarks before we get down to it; what I present is based on my personal experience and opinions and comes replete with my biases, preferences, and my requirements for a hunting air pistol. My evaluation is based on the intended use of the gun as a hunting tool not a 10 meter target pistol, so should be taken in context. The gun I used is a prototype and not the final production gun, though it is anticipated to be very close to what rolls off the production line. And finally, I always suggest that you donít take one personís views as gospel: look around, do your homework, and make an informed decision. OK, house keeping done, let get going!
THE MARAUDER PISTOL
The marauder pistol I received is a .22 caliber that looks like its daddy was a Marauder and its mother was a 2240. The 11 inch barrel shroud and eight shot magazine are linked to the Mrod side of the family, and the grip assembly and trigger hearken back to the 2240.... with an air reservoir of a design that speaks to a bit of Discovery in the gene pool.
The air reservoir is the same dimensions as that used on the Discovery, and uses the same quick release valve and cover as the Disco. A barrel band securely affixes the reservoir and the barrel, with the forestock screwed into the band. The pressure gauge is housed in an opening in the forestock just in front of the trigger guard.
The rotary magazine cassette holds eight .22 pellets, and in every way looks like a scaled down Marauder magazine (to achieve a low profile). The design seems to hold up, I have shot several hundred pellets through this gun and not had one hang-up or glitch with any of the pellets I tested. Likewise, the bolt action and cycling of the pistol is analogous to that of the rifle. It could be a little smoother, but is not at all difficult to cock and bring into action. Pulling the cocking bolt back cocks the gun, pushing it forward indexes the magazine and loads the pellet for firing.
As a matter of fact the grip assembly of the gun has many similarities to the standard 2240. But actually the grip and trigger are improvements to the 2240 and are compatible with the accessories (i.e the carbine stock) that fit the current 2240. I have been told that this grip assembly (but not the trigger components) will be used in future 2240 guns.
The trigger on the Marauder pistol is a two stage with a reworked sear, which is much smoother than that of the 2240. There is an over travel adjustment screw incorporated into the trigger guard and the trigger blade has a better tactile feel. The safety is the same cross bolt affair used on the 2240. The guns receiver is a scaled down version of the one used on the Marauder rifle.
The shroud is very effective in quieting the sound signature, making this the quietist air pistol Iíve ever shot. My preference is for a quiet airgun, and this is especially true with a pistol which is ideal for slipping into areas where you donít want to draw attention to yourself. Understand that I am not suggesting you hunt where not allowed, but there are a lot of hunting and pest control opportunities that will open up if the landowner or facility manager is assured you can get in and out without disturbing the non-shooting / hunting members of the public that might be in the area.
I decided to zero the gun at 25 yards as this is the range I like to try to get into, but will stretch out further if everything is right. Before I got started with shooting groups, I selected a few pellets that I wanted to use for hunting and ran them over the chrony to see what theyíd do. The pellets selected were the Predator Polymags, Crosman Premiers, Crosman Field Points, and Beeman Long Range.
To get started I filled the gun to the recommended 3000 psi and loaded up with the Polymags with the intention of shooting two clips (16 pellets) then refilling and shooting the next pellet on the list. The first thing I noticed was that the velocities were lower than expected, and the second was that as I shot the velocity continued to climb. I wanted to conserve the Polymags I had on hand so I refilled and started shooting the Crosman Premiers, as I had boxes of these pellets and could shoot several string without depleting my on-hand supply.
Again I stared to shoot from a 3000 psi fill, and again the velocity was lower than expected but continued to climb. As a matter of fact the velocities didnít start to peak until I was well in to the forth magazine (where the fill pressure was about 2300 psi). I shot multiple strings and achieved the same results, which indicated the sweet spot for this gun was an operating pressure approximately 2300 Ė 1900 psi.
After determining the sweet spot I went back and shot 16 shot strings with the Polymags and the other afore mentioned pellets to see what they would do. These groups were much more in line with my expectations, but moreover the long shot strings demonstrated to me that I could expect over 40 usable hunting shots if I was willing to fill to 3000 psi and deal with lower velocity shots at the high and low pressure states at the low ends of the velocity curve. Having said this, I reckoned that if I filled to 2400 PSI it would produce 3 Ė 4 clips (24-32) shots in the sweet spot for hunting, which is more than enough for a day of hunting squirrels.
|After months of waiting the Marauder Pistol I've been talking about for over a year, and only got to shoot a couple of times, showed up on my doorstep. I've had about six weeks of intensive shooting time and have put in some meaningful range and field time with it.
Crosman is getting ready to release the gun next week!! The first shipment ( a limited number at first) is ready to roll off the production lines, so I thought it would be a good time to share some initial impressions
Specifications at a Glance
Grips: Black Plastic (2240 custom grips not interchangeable without additional fitting)
Action: Bolt (Ambidextous)
Magazine: eight shot
Barrel Length; 8"
Shroud Length; 11"
Length Overall; 18"
Trigger; Two Stage
Trigger Weight; 3.5 lb
Sights: Scope ramp, no sights incl.
Safety: Cross Bar Type
Max Fill Pressure: 3000 psi
Optimal Fill Pressure: 2400-1800 psi (on my test gun)
|I've been waiting for this pistol to reach me for over 10 months, ever since shooting it at media day at the SHOT Show last January.|
|This graph demonstrates the velocity profiles of the aforementioned pellets and the concurrent fill pressures. The blue box shows the intial velocities obtained with Polymags (blue diamond) and CPs at a 3000 psi fill. The red box shows the 16 shot strings captured at optimal fill pressures.|
|As far as accuracy, I spent a bunch of range time shooting groups at 20 -30 yards rested on a sand bag. Hereís my usual disclaimer, I am an adequate but not a great shot. Simply put, the gun out shoots me. I produced several groups with the Polymags, Premiers, and Field Points, which are the three types I decided to use for hunting. The Polymags and Premiers because I like these two pellets and use them in many of my guns and know they provide a good terminal performance on small game. The Field Point I used because I had been asked to test them, to be honest this is not a design that I typically like or use. But to be fair, both the velocity and 20 yards groups they produced were pretty good. After a lot of shooting I selected a good eight shot group with each pellet ( shown in the attached figure) and believe them to be representative for that pellet. I also shot some thirty yard groups to show what the gun was capable at my maximum pistol hunting range, with a representative example shown.
In terms of the shooting characteristics of the Marauder Pistol; the grips felt like those of a standard 2240, so the most useful statement is that if you like the 2240 grips youíll like this pistol and if you donít the like the 2240 youíll probably feel the same way about this pcp. I like them with respect to the angle, dimensions, and ergonomics of the grips, but will replace with a set of exotic wood grips on the basis of aesthetics. Likewise the position and function of the safety is the same as the 2240 and sits just forward of the trigger and is easy to access. As with most air pistols Iíve used for hunting, the over all length is fairly long (xxxx inches), which is required to get a higher volume air reservoir on the gun. However, it is fairly light and balances well. A note to Crosman; Iíd give up a few shots for a 3-4 inch reduction in the barrel / reservoir lengthÖÖ maybe someday a compact version?
At any rate I have had a great time shooting this gun, and think itís a winner. Itís generating about 11-13 fpe in the configuration I received, which is fine for small game inside of thirty yards (though as stated 20-25 is typical for me). I have to leave this gun in stock trim for the testing and it will have to go back to Crosman at some point. It has done very well on the range and for hunting, but when the gun is released to market and I have an ďout of the boxĒ pistol of my very own the fun will begin! I am going to work on tweaking it up for maximum power and get some custom grips on it, even though it is just about perfect as it ships from the factory you can always put your personal stamp on it, right? Weíve been waiting a long time for this gun, but I think it has been worth waiting for!
|Part II The Marauder Pistol on the Hunt!
I'm very busy with hunting as were right into the season, but in the coming weeks I'll post more wtie ups and videos showing the gun in usde.
|A CLOSER LOOK
The shroud on the pistol is easily removed; the muzzle cap can be unscrewed first, then the shroud unscrews from the threaded front of the receiver and is pulled off the barrel. The shroud itself is quite simple and yet very effective, there is not a baffle per se, but rather a single ventilated tube that fits over the muzzle of the barrel with a distal flange that keeps it centered in the shroud tube. There are three O rings, one at the base of the receiver where the shroud screws in, one in a ridge in the mid section of the ventilated tube, and one between the flange and the muzzle cap.
|The graphs demonstrates a typical 60 shot string with CPs, with 16 shot strings from CPs, Fieled Points, Polymags, and Beeman Long Range pellets at the optimum fill. I believe this gun can be tuned up for substantially more power and maintain an adaquate shot count.|
|In the context of hunting, this Marauder Pistol outshoots me. I feel very confident hunting small game with this gun insiode of 30 yards.|
|The grip and trigger assembly do bear a resemblance to that of the 2240, and as mentioned I've been told that this will be the grip used on the 224o in future as well. The carbine stock from the 2240 will still fit on the Marauder pistol. However when I looked to see if my beloved RB grips would fit, I found that I'd have to remove some material and do a little reshaping to get a perfect fit.
The trigger is unquestionably better than the 2240, it is fairly light and crisp on break, it has an adjustable overtravel, and to my way of thinking a much more ergonomic trigger blade.
|While the forestock and the grips are plastic, the whole gun has a solid feel and just comes across as a well engineered and solid piece of hardware. From a design point of view, I think everything from the action and mnagazine, to the shroud, to the trigger, to the onboard pressure gauge works well in the design. As is always the case when I get a pre-released gun to work with, I can't wait for the production pieces to get out and in the hands of the intended group of shooters to see what they think, that's the real acid test But my thoughts on using this gun was that Crosman is continuing in the right direction.... again!|
The pistol makes a very handy carbine that is an excellent choice for pest control around the property. During the winter months we get waves of starlings coming though, and this fast cycling eight shot gun shooting at 13 fpe is just right for knocking them off the bird feeder.
|The Marauder Pistol as a Carbine
The stock that ships with the production pistol turns it into a compact little carbine that is well suited for backpackers, for use as an urban hunter, or anywhere a medium power hunting rifle is needed. It can handle anything up to squirrels and rabbits.
On a recent squirrel hunt I used the gun to take a limit of fox squirrels, and found that both the accuracy and power were just right for anchoring these big tree climbing rodents inside of 35 yards with a well place head shot.
I like hunting with pistols, but the stock does let me shoot with a much higher degree of accuracy. I think this is going to make a great shooting rig for taking on road trips. It's pretty easy to charge with a handpump,