Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, February 27, 2006

Benjamin Sheridan 392/397

by Tex Force

Back on January 16, I did a posting about the Benjamin Sheridan SHB 17 & SHB 22. I said those pistols are timeless classics, direct descendants of airguns made in 1946. Today, I want to talk about the Benjamin Sheridan 392 and 397 pneumatic rifles (third and fourth guns down) that are descendants of Benjamin rifles going back to 1940! People say they don't make them like they used to, but these air rifles are a notable exception to that statement.

The Benjamin 392 and 397 are made as well as the Benjamin rifles of decades ago.

Brass, steel and wood!
It's hard to find products made from real materials today, but these Benjamin rifles certainly are! Their barrels and pump tubes are made from brass the way they were more than 60 years ago, and the action parts are made from solid steel. The stocks are made of American walnut. That's right - walnut! While other companies have gone to injection-molded plastic stocks, these fine rifles are still stocked in the traditional way, with hardwood that is an American tradition. The one thing that's changed over the years is the metal finish.

The old Benjamins were nickelplated and had a dark coating on top of that called black nickel. The black was very fragile and flaked off as time passed. The bright nickel also wore away, and now some people think the old guns were originally shiny brass! Today's guns are electrostaticaly painted with a durable paint that wears about as well as nickelplating.

Variable power!
The nice thing about a multi-pump pneumatic airgun is that you can vary the power to suit your shooting simply by the number of pumps you put into the gun. For target shooting, three pumps is plenty. For hunting, you may want six to eight pumps for greater power. The nice thing is that all you need to do is vary the number of strokes, which is really easy.

Both rifles come with fully adjustable rear sights that many owners use just as they are. But there are other options. A Williams peep sight can be easily mounted to the receiver. The rifle is already drilled and tapped with the holes for it. This sight increases your sighting precision by about 50 percent, which is why the U.S. Army has used peep sights on their main battle rifles since 1884. They are easier and faster to use than conventional open sights and much more accurate.

If you want to mount a dot sight or scope on the rifle, it is possible with the special four-piece scope base (second item down) that clamps directly to the barrel. And 11mm scope ring clamps to this base, allowing the use of scopes and dot sights. If you mount a scope on the barrel, you may have to hold the gun differently when you pump it. You do not want to grab the scope when pumping!

Another option that works well with compact scopes is the B-Square Weaver base (fourth item down) that attaches to the receiver of the rifle. This mount brings the eyepiece of the scope back to your eye. It's just a base, so you'll still need to buy scope rings (for a Weaver base) and the scope or dot sight, itself.

Which pellets to use?
For starters, try the Benjamin Sheridan pellets (last item on the page) in the correct caliber for your gun. These seem to work the best in these rifles. Another great pellet in either caliber is the Crosman Copperhead domed pellet (third item down on page). And, the Crosman Premier on the same page is another great pellet for either of these air rifles.

What else?
Really that's about all you need to start shooting - a rifle, pellets and sights, if you choose not to use the excellent open sights that come on the gun. There is one more maintenance item, however, and that's a tube of Crosman Pellgunoil. Put a couple drops of oil on the pump head about every six months and your gun will keep its compression for decades.

One maintenance tip.
This is extremely important. Be sure to keep one or two pumps of air in your rifle at all times when you are not shooting it. That air keeps both the inlet valve and exhaust valve closed against airborne dirt and contamination. I have multi-pump pneumatics that are 30 years old and still function as good as the day they were new because I have done this faithfully.


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