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.
Benjamin 397 – Guntype
This is a multi-pump pneumatic air gun.
For more on the 5 types of air rifles you need to know before buying, see this post.
The Benjamin 397 has a caliber of .177 (4.5 millimeters).
(For more on how to choose the right air gun caliber for your game, see this post)
It has a single-shot action so you can shoot only once at a time.
The barrel is rifled which means that it has helical grooves inside the bore to make the bullet spin.
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 from 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 .
For more on things you should know about air rifle barrels before buying, see this post.
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.
For more on the in-depth comparison between synthetic and wood stock, see this post.
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 a 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 types 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.
For more on the differences between .177 & .22 and which jobs they do best, see this post.
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 from 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 the 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 a 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.
For more on how many types of air gun sights are out there and which one is suitable for you, see this post.
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 Air Venturi 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 (shown below) 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 how about accuracy?
Chrony tests give us the results as follows:
|.177 Pellets||Number of pumps||FPS||FPE|
|7.4 grains pellet||3||570||5.34|
|7.9 gr pellet||3||540||5.12|
|10.5 gr pellets||3||475||5.26|
|7.9 gr pellet||4||600||6.32|
|10.5 gr pellet||4||535||6.68|
|7.4 gr pellet||6||725||8.64|
|7.9 gr pellet||6||680||8.11|
|10.5 gr pellets||6||610||8.68|
|7.4 gr pellet||8||775||9.87|
|7.9 gr pellet||8||740||9.61|
|10.5 gr pellet||8||635||9.4|
|Crosman Premier Hollowpoint 7.9 gr||8||699||8.57|
|Dynamit Nobel Gecko 7 gr pellet||8||740.4||8.52|
|Crosman SSP 4.0 gr||8||894.8||7.11|
|Gamo PBA Raptor 5.4 gr||8||789.8||7.48|
|10.5 gr CP Ultra Magnum||8||643.4||9.65|
|Crosman Premier Hollow Point||10||752||9.92|
|Crosman Premiere 7.9 gr||10||741||9.63|
As you can see, the actual velocities are so close to the advertised numbers. That’s a good sign for buyers.
See the video below for more numbers:
Next, let’s take a look at the performance of this rifle – The common shooting groups achieved with Benjamin 397 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 with 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
Many owners report that the Benjamin 397 is relatively loud.
You can try using a heavier pellet, more of the energy will be absorbed launching the pellet and it should be a little quieter
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.
Pros and Cons
The price for this rifle is about 150 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.
The Benjamin 397 is a solid gun for the money.
It’s built to last for years with the simple but effective operation, classic design, great power, and amazing accuracy.
=> Check out its brother – Benjamin 392 review here
Just bought a Benjamin 397 for my granson’s 9th birthday! I had a Benjamin when I was a kid. I injoyed your review! Thanks’