The Benjamin Trail XL 1100 Nitro Piston
                                                                        Jim Chapman
Last year Crosman released their first Gas
Piston spring piston technology which they call
the Nitro Piston. It is a Nitrogen filled piston that
replaces the conventional coiled mainspring used
to generate the energy required to drive a
projectile down and out of the barrel.

There are several advantages to this technology;
and from the hunters perspective.  I think the
main ones are; that the guns firing cycle is
stabalized so you don't get the jarring
bidirectional recoil which makes these guns
much easier to shoot accurately compared to
traditional out of the box springers. They are
significantly more quiet, and they can be left in a
cocked position for a long period of time.

At the SHOT Show this year Crosman unvieled
several new guns in the Nitro line, named the
Nitro Trail, which are magnum springers that will
be available in .177, .22, and .25.

I recently got my hands on the Nitro Trail.22
and have been putting a lot of pellets through the
rifle, though I haven't had the opportunity to hunt
with it yet.

Before conveying my initial impressions of this
gun, let's take a quick look at what the
manufacturer claims about the guns performance.
In my gun the JSB Jumbo Exacts and the Crosman Premiers were the most accurate pellets often giving
a single ragged hole at 20 yards. The targets shown above illustrate that several pellets shot well through
this gun, I used three shot groups for large scale comparisons, the few random five shot groups fired
were consistent.

The Graph below shows the avarage velocity (over 5 shots) obtained with several brands and styles of
pellets that are appropriate for hunting applications ranging from 28 grain Eu Jins down to 13 grain
Beeman lasers. The highest velocity I got was a bit over 900 fps for the 13 grain laser and the highest
energy was 27.5 fpe with the H&N Baracuda. The advertised specs from Crosman was up to 1100 fps
with alloy pellets (which I didn't have on hand) and up to 30 fpe, so I'd say they were pretty close to the
mark. Any way you look at it, the rifle hits like a hammer while handling in a well behaved manner. I
don't like going out on a limb to recommend a gun until I've had a lot more field time with it, but thus far I
am well impressed with the Nitro Trail. While I find myself shooting pcps more often these days, these
are the kinds of guns that keep pulling me back to my springer roots!
The box that the gun came packaged in, contained the rifle, a 3-9x40 scope with mounts, a sling, and had
the swivels installed. It also had much of the marketing and positioning material printed on it. It stated that
the gun could generate 1100 fps (with alloy pellets) and 30 fpe. That's a pretty tall order for any .22
caliber spring piston airgun, and I was curious to see what it could do. It also stated that an independent
testing facility had found that the gun was 70% quieter than other "quiet" springers on the market.

The Trail XL was dressed in a hardwood thumbhole stock that had machine cut checkering on the pistol
grip and forestock, not beautiful but functional, and provided a good purchase. A nice touch is the cap on
the pistol grip and the ventilated butt pad with white spacers, which does contribute to the overall good
looks of the gun..A bull barrel adds to both the looks (in my opinion), and a little to the weight which
seems to balance out the gun during shooting. The gun is substantial, weighing in at 8.8 lb and an overall
length of 48.2", but is a very manageable package.

I spent a couple days shooting several different pellets off the bench, for groups and to measure
velocities. I also did a fair amount of casual plinking just to get a feel for the gun. The first thing you notice
is the solid firing cycle and stability, which I think is a function of both the guns action, the bull barrel, and
the stock. The recoil is less than you'd experience with a conventional spring, and it is possible to shoot
this gun off a rest. There is a substantial cocking effort, but not difficult to manage, I shot a couple
hundred pellets in a single session without a problem. Sometimes when shooting a springer over a long
session, your head can take a jarring from the bidirectional recoil, but that was not an issue for me.
Another thing I liked was that the safety, while not in my favorite location, did not auto deploy when the
gun was cocked. This a feature that many new springers incorporate which I don't much care for ...... but
I'm probably just set in my ways.
The rifle I am shooting
has a harwood
thumbhole stock with
very ergonomic
handling
characteristics. I like
the fact that it uses a
Weaver style base
rather than a dovetail
for mounting a scope.
It allows for a wider
selection of rings to be
used, and negates the
need for a scope
stop.There is also a
cleverly designed front
sling mount, which
addresses the problem
of how to carry the gun
in the field. As a matter
of fact, a sling also
comes packaged with
the gun
These Gas Piston powered airguns offer several
advantages, they are easy to shoot accurately,
they are quiet, and they can be left cocked for
long periods without damage to the gun
The Nitro Trail XL has an adjustable two stage trigger, that allows the second stage to be reduced or
lengthened according to the shooters preference, though I found the out of box set up worked fine, there
is a little creep but it breaks crisply. I am playing around with it to see if I can get it optimized to my  
preference, i.e. set up with very little creep, and a crisp break at about 2.5 lb.

I've had a lot of fun shooting this rifle so far, it is accurate, has a smooth shot cycle, it's quiet, and pretty
easy to cock. Speaking of cocking effort, I would guesstimate the effort at 30 or so lbs, equivelent to
many other magnum springers, lighter than many. The most energy efficient way to cock the gas piston
guns is a smooth and even motion through the cycle..