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The Benjamin 392 Air Rifle, A Great Survival Tool

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:01 pm
by Wood Steel & Leather
This summer, I started taking a serious look at air guns for the first time in about 20 years. I had an itch to start shooting again, but I can't shoot firearms in my back yard anymore like I used to. And even .22 rimfire ammo isn't cheap anymore. I figured that air guns are the best way to get some inexpensive trigger time, without bothering the neighbors.

An air rifle can also be a great survival tool. The main advantages of an air rifle over a firearm are quietness and low cost of both the gun and ammo. In an extended "SHTF" situation where people are hunting to stay alive, large game like deer are likely to be depleted pretty quickly, making small game your likely quarry. A $60 pellet gun will handily kill squirrels and rabbits. Two or three hundred will buy one with more power and range, that potentially could kill a deer with a well-placed head shot. Fire a .22 long rifle, and everyone for a mile around knows that you have a gun, ammo, and something to eat, and just might try to come take it from you. An air rifle is practically silent by comparison. Compared to the price of firearm ammunition, the cost of air gun ammo is negligible, and you can carry 1000 rounds on you and hardly notice it. Another advantage of air guns is that there is no burning powder to corrode the barrel, and generally little or no cleaning is required. The Benjamin 392 even has a brass barrel, which will never rust. These are potentially useful qualities in a survival situation, although to be perfectly honest, I just think air guns are neat and fun to shoot.

I've been shooting some of my old air guns that I've had since I was a kid, but I've also been looking around at new ones all summer. I settled on the Benjamin 392 as a good, solid rifle with excellent qualities for hunting, survival, and just general plinking. I just bought one, and shot it for the first time today. I'm quite happy with it so far, and decided to do a little write-up on it here because this is a great air rifle that probably will not be available much longer, for reasons I'll get into in a bit. Image

The 392 is a .22 caliber, single shot, multi-pump pneumatic. It takes 3-8 pumps per shot. The manufacturer claims that it will shoot 800 feet per second, although this is with light-weight pellets that virtually all air rifles are rated with. The ability to vary the power of each shot by the number of pumps is one advantage of this type of rifle. Three to five pumps is plenty of power for plinking. Eight pumps is a workout for the arms, but gives you a powerful shot for hunting. It's an adult-sized rifle, but still light and handy. When I first took it out of the box, I didn't want to put it down.

The most common complaint that I see of this rifle in reviews are the sights. I have seen them called useless several times, with at least one person claiming that the design of the stock made it impossible for him to get his head low enough to use the sights. I don't know what's wrong with these people, as there is certainly nothing wrong with the sights on this rifle. It has a blade front and notch rear sight. As far as basic notch sights go, this one is as good as any and better than some. I had no trouble using them, and no complaints about the stock design. I suspect that the negative reviews on the sights are from people who have no experience with iron sights. My only criticism is that there is no windage adjustment, but mine didn't need any windage adjustment. The receiver is drilled and tapped for a Williams peep sight, which I have ordered but haven't received yet. Mounting a scope on this rifle can be tricky. The most common type of scope mounts for it, the Benjamin Intermount, clamps to the barrel and might require a scope with longer than normal eye relief. Other aftermarket scope mounts are available which mount farther back on the receiver and make it easier to use a normal scope, but I think that I will eventually try a "scout" setup with a long eye relief scope.

This rifle is known for its excellent accuracy, although when I shot mine it became apparent that a break-in period is needed. My first shots on paper produced groups that were okay, but not up to the rifle's reputation. In the course of about 50 shots, I noticed the accuracy improving. By the end of my session, I was using empty Co2 cartridges for targets and nailing them every time from about 20 yards. That's accurate enough for any kind of air gun hunting. After it breaks in more, I'll do more groups on paper with different pellets to see what it can really do. The bolt, and pump arm are breaking in as well. Out of the box, both were a bit gritty feeling, but smoothed out some after shooting for a while. The trigger on this rifle is the best that I have seen on any air gun. Not exactly light, but not excessively heavy and breaks cleanly without a long take-up.

When I first started looking at these guns, the lowest price online for a 392 was $155 shipped, from Amazon. While I anxiously saved my pennies, biding my time until I could buy one, the price suddenly jumped to $190. A few other sellers had them for around $175, plus shipping. After a couple of lucky knife sales filled my coffers, I managed to find a seller on Ebay who still had them for $155 and snagged one. I think that this sudden spike in price reflects the fact that this rifle is just too good for the market. The barrel and air tube are made of solid brass. The stock is solid hardwood (beech, I think). The only plastic I can find on the gun is the butt plate and the safety button. It's even made in the USA (or at least "assembled in the USA from globally sourced components," according to the manufacturer). All this considered, Crosman is probably losing money on the 392. My prediction is that they will become even more expensive, and soon become unavailable. If you have any inclination to get one of these for yourself, better do it soon.

No doubt this is partly due to the fact that multi-pump pneumatic rifles have been totally eclipsed by break-barrel guns in terms of popularity, due to their higher rate of fire and lower cost for the same velocity. But along with these advantages comes the weight, bulk, and nasty recoil of a piston-driven air rifle. The problem isn't the "kick," it's the effect that it has on accuracy because, unlike a firearm, the recoil occurs while the pellet is still in the barrel. Break barrel guns can be very accurate, but shooting them well is a skill unto itself. The key is what is known as the "artillery hold," which I have yet to master. Pneumatic guns don't have this issue, and I don't mind the slow rate of fire caused by all that pumping. It gives you an incentive to really focus and make every shot count. I like shooting muzzle loaders for the same reason. As far as I know, the 392 is the highest-quality and most powerful multi-pump rifle available, but unfortunately the qualities of this type of gun probably don't appeal to enough people to be economically viable in a world dominated by springers. Get yours while you can!

Re: The Benjamin 392 Air Rifle, A Great Survival Tool

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:16 pm
by Cpt. Blackbeard
Nice review. I've always preferred the .22 caliber air rifles over the far more common .177 but good ones are hard to find.

Re: The Benjamin 392 Air Rifle, A Great Survival Tool

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:47 am
by Wood Steel & Leather
Thanks, as far as I know the 392 is the only .22 pumper out there. Daisy used to make a good one but not anymore.