Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gear lust.

Quite by accident today, I got to meet a Benjamin Marauder air pistol.

Ow.  Now I want one.

I've done some research on the Marauder previously, and expectations were high based on the opinions of the cognoscenti of airgun-fu, including Tom Gaylord.  The promise is of an actual (meaning: not just advertised) 15-foot-pound air pistol in .22 caliber, which actually qualifies it as a "serious" hunting airgun for small game even larger than the size of our snowshoe hares at distance, and in addition to its impressive power, its reputation includes an excellent trigger, outstanding accuracy (under half-an-inch at 25 yards--with hunting pellets--is damn good for an airgun), exquisitely quiet report, consistent build quality and it's even an 8-round repeater.

As the picture shows, the "pistol" is pretty large, and out-of-box comes set up with a carbine buttstock, which I think is a great match both aesthetically and functionally.  Given the precision inherent in the design, either a buttstock or a bipod seem like good ideas. 

For me at least, the gun had that je ne sais quoi, as well, that speaks instantly upon contact with your hands:  "There are no frills here, and no gimmicks;  I am made to work."  Everything felt smooth and solid, overall weight was luxuriously light (I'm still getting used to airguns), and the design just felt right--immediately.  Yeah, I have a feeling that this piece is going to be just exactly what Gaylord and others have said it is.  And that means I want one pretty badly.

The only downside to the encounter was the counter-jockey, who pretty clearly had no idea about the Marauder, and probably no clue about airguns in general.  When I spied the little carbine behind a row of .22 rimfires in the rifle rack, he wanted me to be sure to know that the airgun behind me, on the shelf in blister-pack, was the "fastest" one they carried.  I glanced at it, recognized it, and as politely as possible said that they were in no way comparable, yet he insisted on telling me that the other gun gave "five hundred eighty FPS".

I'm still new to airguns, but I've learned a lot in a short time, and I can recognize both the BS signature of airgun marketers, and the related but separate BS of the people who are swayed by it.  To put it in terms that firearm folks can recognize, this fella basically told me the equivalent of the following list, all at the same time:

  • Dude, don't get the 12-gauge...get the 20.  It's, like, 8 more.
  • You should use Remington Accelerators in your '06 on bigger game because they, like, "have more FPS".
  • Dude, don't bother with that IMR 4064 stuff, just use Pyrodex, it's all gunpowder man.
  • Why you wanna look at that five-screw Smith?  Check out this shiny new RG...

And jeez, he apparently didn't realize that the Marauder itself is advertised at "700 fps"...using the same super-light, lead-free pellets that nobody actually hunts with but all the "FPS" numbers are based on.  (The airgun world seems to suffer from its own version of "magnum mania";  so much so that even the high-end guns have to advertise using the same unrealistic methods just in order to compete.)  Also, the Marauder is a .22 (standard pellet weight ~15gr), whereas the "faster" gun was a .177 (standard pellet weight ~8gr).  Finally, all knowledge of hardware aside, I'd at least have expected him to understand as a salesman that there would probably be a reason the Marauder was locked up with the firearms on the rack, while the other piece was in a box freely available on the shelf with accessories.

It was some pretty impressive merde, extruded into such a short time, and I recognized the classic flash of hesitation of the guy who realizes his bluff is being called...but when offered an honorable out and an opportunity to engage in conversation (hell, I'm still new, and there's a lot about airgunnery that a firearm guy just might not know) he chose to double down on it, so I just left it alone, made my mental notes and cooing noises over the Marauder, and left.  When the time comes, I'll order from Pyramyd Air

Sigh.  See, this is why I just can't patronize gun shops in my own town. 

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