Sometimes the prettiest looking rifles are not the most technically sound. Then in the case of the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel, the looks are so cosmetically appealing that it’s hard not to buy on attraction alone. The Trail NP has a very old-school look, almost resembling an air rifle from the 70’s.
The quality in the design itself is only a precursor to the attributes of the rifle itself, a general tribute to the brand name Crosman. The Trail NP Hardwood hasn’t had the Nitro 2 upgrade treatment as of yet, but does not suffer in terms of shooting or accuracy even though being from the original.
Nitro family. A great rifle for target practice, and an even better rifle for hunting, the Trail NP is 43 inches and 7 lbs. of power and precision that won’t disappoint any user’s hands it touches. Below are some of the key features and points of the Trail NP, some well-known, and some to a lesser extent.
Type of Air Rifle
The Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel is a generation 1 Nitro powered air rifle. What this means is that although it enjoys the benefits of Nitro Gas Piston technology, it does not have the benefits of the generation 2 set which removes all metal to metal contact thus reducing vibration, and an overall improvement on the amount of strength required to cock an air rifle. This may sound like a lot is missing, but in comparison the generation 1 Nitro is still a vast improvement over a traditional break barrel.
Some of the better air rifles that use break barrel technology requires cocking effort of up to 50 lbs., a number that can be very difficult for younger shooters, and even adult shooters with disabilities. NP generation 1 reduces cocking effort significantly, especially in heavier rifles.
With reduced cocking effort comes greater focus, as trying to focus in the heat of hunting after struggling to ready an air rifle can lead to a bad experience, and overall frustration. The aim of NP to reduce cocking effort goes hand and hand with the reduced vibration and noise, two major factors when hunting game. This affords the air rifle a very smooth transition from cocking, readying, and firing.
The technology behind the reduced vibration and noise suppression takes place when the rifle is cocked and moves the piston to the rear, and in place of the usual spring a gas cylinder is compressed. This compressed cylinder then pushes the piston forward, with much less effort and inconsistency associated with spring equipped air rifles.
The overall effect is one of professionalism, and success which is why the original NP was built upon to make generation 2, the successor. For a first time user of this type of air rifle, the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel could easily become the standard at which they make future purchases within the air rifle community.
An interesting tidbit about the scope associated with the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel is that it is an upgrade from the cheap scopes normally associated with stock air rifles, even sporting a Picatinny mounting rail system. It includes a 3-9×40 mm AO optic from CenterPoint, featuring an adjustable objective and range estimating reticle.
This is not a major step up from the normal scope, but big enough to make a difference in everyday use of the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel and possibly coerce a permanent purchase. It’s not the most advanced scope on the market to be pushed out with a stock rifle, but it is impressive enough to not have that hanging feeling of needing to replace the scope and upgrade to a more useful model.
There are some notable instructions provided in the description of the Trail NP concerning the scope, claiming that it is common practice to shim a scope for sighting in. There is also a mention of using the artillery hold, for best practice and comfort. On the subject of shimming a scope for sighting in, though, it is partly true that shimming a scope is common practice. It is nothing more than realignment of the scope by placing a thin piece of material at the critical point, in order to improve accuracy.
There are dangers in damaging your air rifle from too much shimming, and to be honest it is just a band aid fix in the long run. If major adjustment is needed then look into purchasing adjustable mounts to counteract the problem. If this is a problem right out of the box and not from prolonged use, then it could possibly be a defect, and is covered under the warranty. Either way great care should be used when making any type of modifications to the air rifle or the air scope.
When first installing the scope to the Trail NP rail, be sure all screws are tightened to their max. The crosshairs should be easy to center, and if not as mentioned before shimming or a DOA air rifle is a possibility. The optics on the Trail NP are top notch, and in some cases doesn’t need adjusting at all. The dead on accuracy is a thing of beauty, and has to be used to be appreciated.
Pellets and Caliber
This air rifle packs a nice punch, and is a very stable .22 caliber shooting 950 FPS with alloy pellets and 800 FPS with lead pellets. The type of pellets used are strictly user preference, and in some cases can be interchangeable depending on the hunting or target situation. The Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel promises 70% noise reduction when compared to spring powered air rifles, but mileage may vary until after the air rifle is fully broken in. The honeymoon period is always going to be the hardest until after 50-200 shots, then a good measure of how loud the Trail NP is can be measured. Less noise means greater chance of having a wonderful hunting day, which the Trail NP is fully capable of delivering.
As for the difference between using the lead pellets and alloy pellets, well the main difference is not the actual makeup of the pellet but the type. The most favorable pellet for the hunter would be the pointed pellet for its ability to maintain velocity and accuracy at long ranges while penetrating prey. For target practice where accuracy and target marking is most important, wadcutter pellets are most popular. Even with these minor differences a good ol’ classic diablo shaped pellet is good for just about anything. The important thing is for the shooter to try many types of pellets, in all shapes and sizes, but never cheap pellets as that can damage any good air rifle.
As mentioned before the look of the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel is a very eye catching, well made, and sturdy piece of equipment. The classic look of the Trail NP with the all-weather woodstock during a hunting session is like bringing a mint condition 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra to a car show. By the time users get to the installed sling mounts and the ventilated rubber recoil pad, it’s already a done deal as far as looks and features. The finish of the wood online does not do justice to how it looks in person, and the grade of materials used beyond that are all of high quality. Little touches like the thumbhole design go a long way in making usability and comfort a top priority.
The butt pad of the Trail NP is not a slippery rubber and should help with long term use, notably when hunting. The pistol grip is also worth mentioning, and has been mentioned by many as a feature of this air rifle that should continue into later models. Overall, this is one of the most beautiful air rifles on the market.
As mentioned before, the scope may need to be shimmed. This is once again not an abnormal thing, but for shooters who are not seasoned and familiar with that technique it may throw them for a loop, and end up costing them extra cash. There has also been reports of loose screws, but again, whenever an air rifle is purchased the break in period should always include fully cleaning the air rifle, installing and adjusting the scope and reading the directions. The loose screws however can easily be tightened, and may remedy issues with sighting, accuracy, and even cocking in some weird cases. For taller adults, the length of the stock could possibly be a bit short for them to be comfortable using it for long periods of time. The length of the air rifle entirely is a full 43 inches, so practice makes perfect to determine a user’s comfort level.
The trigger is oft complained about, and the most touted replacement is a GRT III. The idea of replacing what could be an uncomfortable trigger is a great idea, unfortunately there will be user that are not capable of doing the installs themselves, and may have to stick to the stock trigger. The stock trigger has been described as soulless, or basically lacking an accurate point of click. The lack of smoothness in the trigger may put some off, and if a modification isn’t technically possible, the user may opt to find a comfortable release point through practice. The only other minor complaint is the initial cocking of the air rifle, which may take a little effort to break in.
There are very many wrong choices that can be made when buying an air rifle, but by purchasing the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel there are more right choices to be made than bad ones. Besides being one of the few air rifles that can turn heads, the actual product if cared for properly will age beautifully, and provide hours of target practice and game hunting. An above average scope saves money on the backend, as a mod isn’t needed on purchase. On last look, the Trail NP is still supported and one of the more popular Nitro Powered air rifles on the market, even more popular than many Nitro 2 rifles. There is a large following with reviews, videos, and help forums. So if any modding or ammunition questions arise, users are a click away from a 24 hour updated database.
The Trail NP also includes a shoulder sling, a very ‘duh’ feature but one that surprisingly isn’t as common as it should be. This helps on long hunting sessions and during breaks with target practice. And finally, once again the Trail NP is a Crosman officially nitro powered air rifle, that cuts down on extra noise, recoil, and cocking effort. After the first initial break in, the Trail NP is well worth the money.