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In 1992, The Crosman Corporation, a manufacturer of air guns and air gun accessories, brought Benjamin Sheridan in its entirety. Crosman closed the operation in Racine in 1944 and moved the production line to its home location in East Bloomfield, New York. Consequently, the manufacturing of Benjamin Model 397 has also taken place here since that time. Although this rifle has been made for decades, Crosman continues to put extra nice features here and there to keep the classic living up to its name. You can find out all about them in this detailed review.
Table of Contents
The Benjamin 397 is a multi-pump pneumatic air gun. The variable pump rifle has a piston and a cylinder inside the chamber. When you cock it, the piston creates high pressure. The high pressure is forced past the cylinder valve and is stored in the cylinder. When you shoot, the pressure is directed around the valve and up into the chamber . As a result, a pellet is discharged out of the barrel. You can read more about pump pneumatic guns in this post.
The Benjamin 397 has a caliber of .177 (4.5 millimeters). It is a break barrel rifle meaning that you have to cock the gun each time you want to shoot. It has a single-shot action so you can shoot only once at a time. Single-shot action guns give you control over the type of pellet you shoot. This makes you a better shooter as you get used to having to make your first shot count.
The barrel is rifled which means that it has helical grooves inside the bore to make the bullet spin. Spin stabilizes pellets, improves accuracy and enhances shooting range. Moreover, the barrel is made of brass (an alloy made of copper and zinc). Brass barrels give you lots of advantages: first it is pretty much non –corrosive and doesn’t rust easily. Second, it is self-healing; as small scratches form inside the barrel, subsequent firing will smooth out these imperfections and give you much better accuracy. In summary, having a brass barrel is a huge advantage that can make your gun last for years.
This gun is made of beautiful hardwood which stands against impact, stress and abrasion in daily life. Moreover, hardwood can be easily refinished at any time so it has a very long lifespan. Plus, the stock has a swelling part in the forearm to make pumping easier for most shooters. Besides, the Benjamin 397 has a Monte Carlo stock with raised comb and low heel. Monte Carlo stock has lots of advantages including: improved accuracy (because the shooter’s eyes are lined up more naturally with the sight), minor recoil absorption and therefore faster follow-up shots.
The Benjamin 397 uses .177 pellets as its only source of ammunition. A .177 pellet is cheaper than other type of pellet. If you look at the pellet count box, you will see that you’ll get exactly twice as many .177 as .22 for the same price. Thus, .177 is your best bet if you plan on doing lots of target shooting and plinking.
Cocking and loading
Cocking the gun: First put the gun ON SAFE. With one hand holding the receiver, use the other hand to grasp the forearm firmly and open it all the way up. Then close it to the original position and you just perform one pumping action. Pump the gun at least 3 times to prevent pellets jamming in the barrel, but no more than 8 times for optimum performance.
Loading the pellet: Put the gun ON SAFE, push the bolt handle up and pull it rearward to open the bolt. After that, put one pellet (with pellet’s nose lying forward) into the loading port. Move the bolt forward into its position, push it down to lock and you are ready to fire.
The Benjamin 397 features an open sight with fixed front sight. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage adjustment (left and right) and elevation adjustment (up and down). The iron sight is decent if you have good vision and have no need for the scope.
The Benjamin 397 doesn’t have a scope rail to mount the scope, so if you insist on using one, you will need either a Crosman 3/8 Intermount or the AirVenturi Weaver/Picatinny Intermount. One thing to remember here is that you have to mount the ring in the center of the base to keep it solid, and if the scope were any further back, it would interfere with the bolt handle so you should get a forward mounted scope to be able to pump the rifle in the normal way.
Even when you do mount the scope this way, the long eye relief will make the scope too hard to see through so do yourself a favor and get the William peep sight instead because “pumper and peep are a match made in air gun heaven”, ya know.
Velocity, accuracy and power
The maximum velocity of this gun is 800 FPS. This is a medium velocity compared to other .177 pellet guns on the market and makes this gun safe for kids to use without strict supervision from adults.
And how about accuracy? Chrony tests give us the results as follows:
For 3 pumps, it generates 570 FPS with 7.4 grains pellet, 540 FPS with 7.9 gr pellet, 475 FPS with 10.5 gr pellets.
For 4 pumps, we have 600 FPS with 7.9 gr pellet, 535 FPS with 10.5 gr pellet. For 6 pumps, it gives 725 FPS with 7.4 gr pellet, 680 FPS with 7.9 gr pellet, and 610 FPS with 10.5 gr pellets.
For 8 pumps, it produces 775 FPS with 7.4 gr pellet, 740 FPS with 7.9 gr pellet, 635 FPS with 10.5 gr pellet, 699 FPS with Crosman Premiere Hollow point 7.9 gr, 740.4 FPS with Dynamit Nobel Gecko 7 gr pellet, 894.8 FPS with Crosman SSP 4gr, 789.8 FPS with Gamo PBA Raptor 5.4 gr, 708.1 FPS with Crosman Premiere 7.9 gr, 643.4 FPS with 10.5 gr Crosman Premiere Ultra Magnum.
For 10 pumps, it hits 752 FPS with Crosman Premiere Hollow Point, 741 FPS with Crosman Premiere 7.9 gr, 780 FPS with RWS Superdome.
As you can see, the actual velocities are so close to the advertised numbers. That’s a good sign for buyers.
Next, let’s take a look at the performance of this rifle: The common shooting groups achieved with this rifle are:
0.5” at 33 yardst, 3/4″ at 30 yards, 1” at 25 yards, 2” at 20 yards, 1 1/2” at 35 yards out of the box, 2” at 30 yards, 1/4″ at 40 yards, 1/4″ at 25 yards, 1/4″ at 15 meters with Crosman Premiere Hollow Point, 1/4″ and dime size at 30 – 40 yards.
Moreover, it can headshot a squirrel at 50 yards, kill moles, squirrels, hit a milk cap at 12-13 yards, shoot a dove at 20-30 yards, kill 2 birds with Crosman pointed 7.9 gr at 41 yards, penetrate 3/8” in a phone book 2” thick with RWS target at 10 feet for 5 pumps, penetrate 1/2″ phone book 2” thick at 10 feet for 5 pumps, penetrate 1/2” in a 2” phone book with RWS target at 10 feet for 8 pumps, penetrate 5/8” in a 2” phone book with Gamo gold pellet at 10 feet for 8 pumps. This gun packs one hell of a punch and if you have a problem of backyard varmint then this is a quiet, fast way to get rid of them and have some fun in the process.
The effective shooting range of the 397 is up to 50 yards. It is ideal for spinning paper targets, casual plinking or pest control
Being a pump pneumatic gun, the Benjamin 397 is very quiet. It has hundreds of customer reviews without a single complaint about noise so you can use it to plink in your backyard all day long without worrying about your neighbors.
To maintain the seal for a long time, always remember to put 1 pump of air into the gun when you are done shooting whether you plan to shoot again the next day or not again for another 2 years.
- Caliber: .177
- Velocity: 800 FPS
- Loudness: 4 – Medium – High
- Barrel Length: 19.25”
- Overall Length: 36.25”
- Shot Capacity: Single shot
- Cocking Effort: 3-8 pumps
- Barrel: Rifled
- Front Sight: Blade and Ramp
- Rear Sight: Adjustable for windage and elevation
- Scopeable: No
- Trigger : Two-stage non-adjustable
- Buttplate: plastic
- Suggested for: Small game hunting/plinking
- Trigger pull: 5.5 lbs
- Action: Bolt-Action
- Safety: Manual
- Powerplant: Multi-pump pneumatic
- Function: single-shot
- Weight: 5.5 lbs
Customers are generally satisfied with the quality of this gun. In positive reviews, they love this gun because of its classic design, ease of handling, superb accuracy and exciting knockdown power. Nothing arises as a serious issue. There are a few complaints here and there about mounting the scope on this gun but as I said earlier in this review, you’re better off getting the William peep sight for maximum performance.
The price for this rifle is about 140 dollars. It’s a good price if you consider all the pros and cons of this gun. Oh, and remember to save some bucks to get the Intermount if you insist on using the scope on this gun.
There are a couple of different listings online with different prices but the listing I found with the lowest price is the cheapest price among online e-commercial sites like Amazon, PyramydAir, Walmart,etc.
The Benjamin 397 is a solid gun for the money. It’s built to last for years with simple but effective operation, classic design, great power and amazing accuracy. This gun will get rid of pesky critters in your property that traps and poisoned bait provided by your local pest control could not do.