|A New Big Bore in Town
The Crosman ePCP Rogue .357!
|Direct from the SHOT Show!|
|Crosman has released their first big bore airgun at the 2011 SHOT Show, and it is something special. With an electronic trigger, electronic and programable shot regulation, a six shot rotary magazine, and a shrouded barrel, this will be something that many predator hunters have been waiting for!!!|
|Monday: I got up early and headed out to Media Day at the Boulder City shooting range. This event is put on for media and the companies set up at the range to give the attendees a chance to shoot their guns and try out the other gear weíll be looking at on the exhibition floor over the next few days.
The first stop I had was at the Crosman tent, Iíve been talking to them about a new gun for months now, which I think will have a profound impact on airgun adoption by hunters, and this was the first opportunity Iíd have to shoot it. The rumors and guess work as to what this gun would be have been flying around, and it can now be talked about. The gun is in a new series called ePCP and the model is the .357 Rogue Big Bore rifle. This gun features an electronically controlled regulator, which can be programmed on the fly to optimize the gun for power or air conservation, and further can be optimized for the projectile being used. It generates between 100 Ė 250 fpe. This makes it an ideal gun for use in hunting everything from predators to hog sized game. The gun fills to an operating pressure of 3000 psi and yields 3-8 shots per fill depending on settings.
Iíve been hunting with big bore airguns for several years and have taken a lot of predators, deer, hogs, exotics, and African game with many different guns. And Iíve got some favorite in the fairly small offering of big bore gunsÖ. but there are some features Iíve missed in all these guns, such as; a reliable mulitshot version, a shrouded barrel, and a regulated gun. The Rogue has all of the features, and the idea I can go out on a coyote set without having to pack my buddy bottle, and get several shots with the same point of impact, and be able to do a fast follow up shot if needed Ö and by the way do it relatively quietly Ö.. well it doesnít get much better!
The gun has more of a tactical look than other big bores, with a pistol grip and an AR type buttstock. The buttstock and length of pull is fully adjustable. The gun is pretty big, with an over all length of 48 inches, a 25 inch barrel, and a 30 inch shroud, and a weight of 9.5 lbs.
The e in the ePCP denotes a couple interesting feature of the gun. The left side of the action has a display that presents the user interface for setting up the rifles firing characteristics. The shooter selects the weight/type of projectile, the power desire (low, medium, or high used to simplify operation), and the gun uses a pressure sensor that senses the pressure available, calculates the time the valve requires to expand the volume of air at that pressure, to drive the bullet at the desired velocity. This means that the gun will fire to the same POI over a number of shots. It also means that there is no excess air blowing out the barrel which further decreases the sound level, but Iíll cover that later.
The trigger is a pleasure, it is set up to break at 1.5 lb, and breaks crisp and clean. It is fully adjustable two stage, that is one of the better triggers Iíve used on a big bore airgun. But thatís the second part of the ďeĒ designation, the trigger is electronic as well and the pull weight is programmable. While the guys tell me itís a two stage, the first stage, at least in the gun I was shooting, was hardly discernable.
Shooting the gun: I shot the gun off the bench using bipod, and found it pretty comfortable to shoot. There was more interest in this gun by the mainstream media than any airgun Iíve seen in the past. I had to muscle my way in amongst mainstream writers and broadcast type to shoot the thing, but through the course of the day managed to get a fair amount of shooting time in. I found that the gun offered a good sight alignment with the scvope in medium profile rings. I was knocking the 75 yard steel plate over a 75 yards with every shot, using the 125 grain Hunter supply bullets and the 145 grain Nosler polymer tipped bullets. Shooting offhand the gun balances well, and even though it is a large gun weighing in at 9.5 lb, was not at all unwieldy. I liked the pistol grip, finding it had the ergonomics and feel of the typical tactical style rifle.
Accuracy: I didnít have the chance to do any real testing of the gun as we were shooting knockdown targets on the line. But I can say this, I hit the 4 inch diameter head section of the steel target five shots in a row without appreciable shift in the POI.
Sound: This was really one of the most impressive aspects of the gun in my opinion, the barrel shroud does its job. The discharge is slightly louder than a Marauder, but considering the output is a 145 grain slug moving around 8oo fps, this is pretty impressive. This gun was as quiet as some of my shrouded small bores.
Magazine performance; The magazine was a prototype and wasnít being used on the range. We were feeding single shot so Iíll have to save comment until after I get the gun for long term testing
Projectiles: An interesting aspect of this gun is the selection of bullets that has been developed along side of it. Crosman turned to both the smaller niche bullet makers but also used their clout to bring Nosler and Hornady onboard to develop bullets for the gun. The bullets we used for shooting at Media day included the 125 and 178 grain Hunter Supply bullets, and the 140 grain Nosler polymer tipped bullet fired at three different velocity settings.
With respect to velocity and power, we did not have a chronograph available at the shoot , but I fired several consecutive shots at various settings and did not note an appreciable shift in the POI. What impressed me was that two 2Ē planks (4Ē total) that had been nailed together were set up for me to shoot, and the Nosler polymer tip bullet penetrated with the tip poking through on the offsideÖÖ lots of penetration!
I have had several discussions with Crosman about this gun over the last several months, and believe their ideas on how to position their first big bore makes a lot of sense. They wanted a gun that was suitable first and foremost as a predator hunting gun. Something that would allow hunters to reach out and kill predators in a suburban setting, efficiently and quietly.
Where I think this gun is a game changer is not with air gunners per se, moreover it provides a much needed tool for mainstream predator hunters. These are guys that are not going to switch over to airguns as their main passion, but rather to use them as a tool where they donít have a good alternative right now.
It is interesting, that any time there is a new gun out there are naysayers predicting it wonít work before they (or anybody else) has had a chance to thoroughly evaluate it and generate some empirical data. And any time there is a larger bore or more powerful gun there are those predicting it will mean the end of airguns as we know them Ö.. Draconian regulations are around the bend. To this end Iíd point to muzzle loaders and say, they are more powerful and it hasnít happened there, why should airguns be different. In fact, when you have a legitimate use for a tool, I would argue you are taking steps to legitimaize itís availability.
I predict that this gun will be a big seller for Crosman, but not necessarily in traditional airgun circles. It will be driven by those identifying themselves as hunters rather than air gunners. I also think that itís going to get more visibility for airguns than weíve seen in the past, and help drive changes in hunting regulations to allow the use of airguns more widely as legitimate hunting tools.
Weíll have to wait and see, but I canít wait to get this gun into the field!
|The Rogue .357 is a big gun, but it balances nicecly, comes to the shoulder well, and offers a good sight alignment.
The fact that Crosman is working with bullet manufacturers to optiumize hunting performance is a great step forward!
|The easy to use user interface is key to making this design work. This is where the shooter programs the gun.
NOTE IN THIS PROTOTYPE GUN THE PARAMETERS STATED ON THIS DISPLAY PHOTO ARE INCORRECT:. You don't get 45 low power shots with 100 gr bullets and a 1510 psi fill ..This caused a lot of concern for one reader.. Sorry if this confusad anyone else, as stated in the text, the shot count you shoiuld expect is 3-8 shots. (I'll leave this photo up for historical context).
|The rifle is cocked with the bolt seen in this photo, the second lever is an additional safety that both mechanically blocks the gun from shooting but also disables the electronics.|
|The magazine is six shots and looks like a Marauder magazine on steroids. I'll test this as soon as I get the gun into the field.|
|My Two Cents Worth.....
.....as to why the ePCP and Rogue offer a potential solution for hunters (for whom it was designed) which I have not seen in any rifle to date;
1) very consistent POI over several shots at a high velocity (flat trajectory) setting,
2) that the ePCP controls air in a very efficient manner which not only allows velocity optimization, but does so at a lower fill pressure,
3) that this efficient use of air further facilitates a reduced sound signature,
4) that there are characteristics of the ePCP air release that can be applied to maintain a higher projectile
velocity even in a shorter barrel,
5) that with a UI permitting on the fly changes it is possible to optimize not only desired performance for a given bullet, but also different bullets without changing springs or playing with fill pressures,
6) it will be delivered in a multi-shot platform (yes, still to be field proven), and
7) this same valve has been demonstrated to have the ability to deliver very high energy levels.