I’ve had the opportunity to take the Benjamin Bulldog out on a few hunting trips, so what do I think? Well first, the performance is quite good. The Bulldog is accurate, and while at the lower end of the spectrum and caliber for big game, it is a potent predator gun. And this is where I like the gun, coyote and the Bulldog are made for each other! And this isn’t to say the Bulldog won’t do the job on feral hogs and whitetail if you need a multi-application gun..
There are two undeniable trends in the world of airgunning, at least as it applies to the US market. The first is the move by many manufacturers to include a big bore offering in their product portfolio, this was clearly demonstrated at the SHOT with a half dozen new guns in the .30 and up calibers. Secondly is the trend to offer at least one bullpup configuration. The gun I’m looking at in this short review hit both marks, it is both a big bore and a bullpup. Now I’m going to be up front, I have a few bullpups and I use them for hunting. For me it’s very much a case of form following function, to my eye there is no beauty in the design…. but rather they are a utilitarian tool and in this respect I view them as I do a hammer. I’ve never been entranced by the beauty of a hammer (though I’m sure there are those that are), but when you need to hammer a nail, its the right tool for the job. So in that respect, you’ll understand my lack of enthusiasm for the aesthetics. At the same time, I acknowledge that it brings something of interest to me and I think most hunters. It is a compact, moderately powerful rifle that is trending towards a high degree of accuracy in my initial experience. It’s generating about 180 fpe, at 20 yards dump most projectiles into a large ragged hole, and some quick shooting at 50 and 100 at reactive targets indicates that this accuracy holds up as you start to stretch out.
When you look at the rifle, the first thing you notice is that the over all length is compact, the gun weighs in at 7.7 lb and measures 36″ length over all with a 28″ barrel. You’ll next note that the gun is a side lever action, which I think is the best option for a bullpup configuration, as it allows the gun to be cycled quickly without demounting it. Next you see that the gun is one big Picatinny mount, running the length of the barrel housing above and below. And what is really visible is all the synthetic material, it is everywhere…. the stock, the trigger, the magazine. Speaking of the magazine, Crosman has done a good job of designing the 5 shot rotary magazine, in that the housing integrates seamlessly into the cheek piece. I find that the sight alignment is pretty good with medium profile mounts. With the somewhat blocky overall design of the gun, using this mount height precludes the gun being unbalanced while preserving the sight alignment.
The BULLDOG fills to 3000 psi, and is connected to the 340 cc tank with a Foster type quick release. The fill nipple is protected by a synthetic cover …. I’m probably going to leave this off and use one of my Ninja magnetic covers to provide easier access. I like the positioning of the pressure gauge, it’s easy to see while filling the gun. I thought I’d hate the trigger when I looked at it, it also a synthetic material and it felt a little “plasticy” . However I can’t fault the function. No creep, no over travel, it breaks crisply, and the blade has a good tactile feel. I am also not a huge fan of inside the trigger guard safeties, especially because I do so much of my hunting in very cold weather and am often wearing thick gloves. In some guns this can be a pretty tight fit, though the trigger guard is pretty generous. The safety is easy to deploy and easy to switch off ….. and I am happy that Crosmans attorneys did not talk them into an automatically deployed safety.
I found the overall package, while in no way sleek, fairly ergonomic. All the controls were easy to reach and easy to use, The gun shot well offhand, all the common field positions and off the rest. I’ll be shooting off sticks when I take it out predator hunting tonight, and plan to mount one of my lights under the barrel assembly/shroud. The BULLDOG is compact and moderately light, considering the amount of gun you’re getting into the package.
The projectiles I started out with, included the Benjamin branded Nosler eXtreme, the JSB exacts, the prototype H&N Grizzley and a middleweight cast hollowpoint. I’ve got nine guns in .357 in my collection, so also have lots of ammo to work through. Before talking about intial results, I’ll provide my typical winter time disclaimer. These groups were shot on my 20 yard indoor range. I am a Californian living in Minnesota, if I go out and try to shoot in this weather I end up shivering so much I’m lucky to hit the target, forget about groups! After sighting in, I drove out in a pasture near my house, and after ranging a 50 and 100 yard landmark, jumped out of my car, ran out and set up spinners as fast as I could. Then I jumped back in the car, blasted the heat, and shot at the spinners through my partially opened window. I shot through a tank of air and several magazines, and all I’ll say at this point is the accuracy is very respectable. Punching paper I found that the Noslers, JSB’s and H&N’s all functioned very well (the groups in the targets are 10 shot on a single fill for each group). The Noslers especially provided outstanding results, which they haven’t done in many of my .357 rifles. Any of these three projectiles are viable hunting options, depending on the quarry and the situation. On the other hand the cast bullet was a disappointment, and even at 20 yards I could not get a respectable group. On the plus side, I have probably 4-5 dozen bullet weight and configurations in .357 to try out, and am sure I’ll find something that works. However these three would probably cover me in any hunting situation I envision.
For shooting over the chrony, I filled the gun to 3000 psi and shot two boxes of the Noslers, but never got above the 750 mark, which equates to a still respectable power of 180 fpe. I’ve got about 300 rounds through the gun right now, and will run it over the chrony again after a few weeks of shooting. I want to use this gun for coyote and feral hogs over the next couple months and will report back as I gain more field experience.
So at this point, my feelings about the rifle are generally positive, but I want to get a lot more practical experience before telling you what I think. I don’t think I’m ever going to love the BULLDOG for it’s beauty, but I’ll remain open to seeing what’s on the inside!! If it works well in the field…. I’m going to use it!