When I first saw a friend of mine break out his Benjamin Discovery PCP air rifle, I have to admit that I got excited. Regular readers know that my go-to PCP and all around favorite rifle is my Benjamin Maurader, so I was eager to see how the Discovery would match up. Now that I have it I won’t say that I’m disappointed, but I don’t envision myself making this my new go-to rifle. Rather, the improvements and the disappointments balance one another out.
I opted for the .22 for the best comparison to my Marauder, and the first thing that I noticed was that it was a lot lighter and had a more streamlined design. As much as I like the Marauder, it does look boxy, almost like somebody mounted a barrel on a piece of wood that they found. The Discovery has the sleek appearance of a well-designed weapon, with a nicely striated stock that felt good in the hand and clearly had the strength to take a lot of pressure. There is a touch of modern flair with the Williams fiber optic front and rear sights, but I like the blending of classic and modern looks, so this was actually a bonus for me.
I can say that I was disappointed by how little else came with the Discovery. While a decent scope would have been unreasonable to expect, I certainly don’t think a cheap one for people who are just getting into the sport would have been out of line. The fiber optic sights are good, but this seemed like it would have been nice. While the base unit doesn’t come with a number of accessories that make operation a lot easier, there are at least package deals that comes with these. Finally, from the perspective of safety, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to include a degasser so that people aren’t dry firing, wasting pellets, or keeping pressured air in the reservoir where it can damage the rifle or worse.
One thing that I was aware of was Benjamin’s desire to buck trends and, instead of increasing the size of the air reservoir, they have decreased it to 135cc and reduced the air pressure to around 2000 psi. This is an interesting approach to the powerhouse problem that so many air rifles have these days: finding the right blend of power and convenience. In the case of PCP rifles, this means making it as easy as possible to fill without sacrificing the ability to fire a pellet with sufficient force to kill a critter or hit a target. In this case, the Discovery opts to make it easier to hand pump so that you don’t have to carry pressurized tanks for refills. Even though I have a fill station, I opted to see how much easier it would be to hand pump to 2000 psi and if it was worth the effort.
Almost Too Much Power
To start, pumping it by hand was not difficult at all. Unlike with the Marauder, it only took a few minutes and didn’t leave me worn out by the end. The drop to 2000 psi was definitely an advantage in this case. For somebody who doesn’t have SCUBA gear or is just starting out with PCP rifles, this can be a huge advantage. For somebody new to PCP air rifles that won’t be used to filling yet, this can actually provide a good learning curve.
When I started firing, however, I was genuinely surprised. Another tradeoff that the company makes is that of shots for power. This rifle can throw a pellet up to 900 FPS with very little effort on the part of the shooter. I had started with a UTG 4-16 x 44 scope (may seem like overkill, but it was laying around) just to get a general idea of how far this weapon would shoot, and the pellet had hit the target before I was aware of having finished pulling the trigger. I was getting some pretty amazing power throughout, but this came with some problems.
A little background on pellet choice first. After doing some research I settled on 2 choices, the trusty old Crosman Premier domed, and the RWS superdomes. From everything I was able to read both these pellets seemed to shoot pretty well in this rifle. We’ll see.
So back to the problems. The first was that I noticed that the first couple of shots after a fillup had a decently high probability of being thrown. I sent a couple of flyers going every time that I started fresh, and I think that it’s because the pressure is just too high, even at 2000 psi, for the design. When I dropped back even further to 1500 that seemed to help, but the Discovery loves to push air hard. I noticed this more with the Crosman pellets than the RWS, so some of it was obviously due to pellet design, but not all.
That actually leads to the other concern. I was only getting about 10 to 15 shots off before I had to refill the air reservoir as compared to the 20 or so I get on a bad day with my Marauder. This isn’t to say it’s not a respectable amount of shots, but if you’re buying this to make hand pumping easier, you’re going to end up doing a lot more of it over time. You’re exchanging a long bout of pumping for shorter bursts with shooting in between.
That being said, once I figured out the sweet spot in terms of pressure, I was able to get some remarkable accuracy with this. The power remained mostly consistent between having to pump, so while it’s an air hog, at least it’s a proportional air hog. I was able to get some really good groupings at 50 and 75 yards out without too much trouble and it became easier as I broke it in. I found the best groupings at 50 yards with the RWS superdomes. I could consistently keep 5 shots in a dime sized group, while the Crosman Premiers were closer to quarter sized (still not bad).
For a real test I took it out hunting behind my house. Obviously, this wasn’t a very long trip, but I just wanted to see what it could do with fairly standard animals. Overall, I was impressed. The Discovery easily bagged a raccoon that was hanging out back there and an opossum that I think had been trying to attack my dog if the scratches were any indication.
The shots were quick and accurate, hitting exactly where I was aiming each time. The power comes into play here again, but this time I’m really happy with it. The pellets went right through the animals without retaining enough momentum to kill anything behind them. The kills were quick and painless. Just to check for accuracy I targeted some larger squirrels and can say that I was happy with the performance there, too.
One thing I did particularly like is that the Benjamin Discovery is a very light rifle. At five and a half pounds I could carry this around all day if needs be without getting tired, doubly so because I could carry a hand pump rather than compressed air tanks. If I was planning on spending several hours out hunting, I would certainly consider this rifle instead of my Marauder for that reason alone.
For something like plinking, however, this just doesn’t fit the bill. There are too few shots for the effort that’s put into it, and you’re not going to want to spend hours firing off rounds at targets if you have to pump it for a few minutes or even refill from a tank every 15 rounds at the outside.
There is plenty of power and accuracy behind this rifle. The look is classic and much smoother than the Marauder, incorporating the fiber optic sights well and adding a much better looking stock. The rifle is incredibly light and should pose no problem providing the power necessary for small game hunting or limited target shooting from pretty far away.
Crosman has yet to really work out the right balance between power and convenience. While the reduced pressure does make it easier to hand pump, it also only provides somewhere between 10 and 15 shots per fill. They then over correct by making it an air hog, pushing pellets at up to 900 FPS so that they end up flying off in random directions at times. The lack of accessories with the rifle is also a disappointment, but considering the price they’re clearly cutting out anything unnecessary to make this accessible to people new to the sport. Perhaps the biggest and yet most hidden problem is that there are a number of ways in which it’s clear that they cut some corners in order to reduce the price, and those can get irritating over time.
The Bottom Line
In making the Benjamin Discovery, Crosman has made an entry-level rifle that can help those just entering into the sport, specifically with PCP rifles. It’s an important type of rifle to have, but for old hands the compromises that they made from the Marauder in order to keep the price low can grate on the nerves a bit. That being the case, it’s still a decent rifle, and an excellent choice to help ease people into a relatively expensive and complex hobby like PCP air rifle shooting.
If you enjoyed this review of the Crosman Benjamin Discovery PCP air rifle make sure and check out my other air rifle reviews HERE!