A couple of months ago I picked up a Hatsan 95 in .22 caliber to play with. What initially drew me to the rifle was that it had a real walnut stock for a price point of less than $200. I had read mixed reviews on the rifle, and wanted to find out for myself if there was anything more to it than just a nice stock. At the same time, I also had a Benjamin Trail NP already in my stable that I had planned on reviewing as well. Both rifles are spec’d similarly so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and do a comparison test.
Now, seeing as how I’ve been shooting the Benjamin Trail NP for a while I started thinking it may be a little hard for me to remain objective and unbiased in my comparison of these rifles. After all, I’ve already taken a few squirrels with the Benjamin, and I’m comfortable with how it shoots. No fear though, I came up with a brilliant solution! My friend and avid airgunner, David, offered to test both rifles for me. Great, I thought! I’ll get an excellent, unbiased review of the rifles, I won’t have to write a thing, and David will get to play with two new rifles for free. It’s a win-win.
So let me introduce you to David. He’s an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and air rifle enthusiast. He is also an engineer who is detail oriented and thorough so I was confident that he would provide a comprehensive and informative review. Enough of the back story, let’s talk about air rifles!
Two of the more popular affordable air rifles on the market today are the Benjamin Trail NP and the Hatsan Model 95. Both offer advantages and disadvantages when compared to one another. Within this review, I will point out some of the strengths and weaknesses of each, plus some modifications to make each a superb starting air gun that will provide years of shooting enjoyment. The main differences are the stocks (thumbhole vs. traditional) and nitrogen gas piston (Benjamin) vs traditional spring power (Hatsan).
Benjamin Trail NP
The Benjamin Trail NP comes with a nice Center Point 3-9×40 scope with clear scope lens covers using a pair of elastic bands to retain them to the scope. The rifle features a thru-thumb, checkered wood stock. The wood has a light finish and with the exception of a stain smear on the upper forward portion of the stock looks very nice. Honestly, the smear went unnoticed for the first two weeks of testing and is not significant to discount the rifle for consideration. The stock also features a rubber recoil pad and integrated sling mounts, both a nice touch for a rifle in this price range. The instruction manual is a single page, folded. The instructions are straight forward and in both English and Spanish. A separate small scope manual as well as a hex key that fit the scope mounting rings are included. The Benjamin with the scope weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces and has an overall length of 43.5”.
Since this rifle came to me with the scope already mounted I went right to work zeroing it in. I used Premier Ultra Magnum pellets to zero the rifle then tested a variety of pellets to determine which provided the best accuracy from the Trail NP.
I found RWS Superpoint Extra, Premier Ultra Magnum, and Benjamin Discovery pellets to provide good accuracy out of this rifle. I would expect groups to tighten even more after the first 500 or so shots. Be sure and test a variety in your gun to make sure you chose one that works best in your rifle.
Cocking effort is pretty hefty. It has lessened somewhat during the testing period (approximately 100 shots).
The safety is located within the trigger guard (see picture). Safety operation is okay. Note this gun does NOT reset the safety when you break the barrel to cock the gun.
Loudness is reasonable enough to shoot in my back yard in an urban environment. The sound is similar to a pneumatic nail gun. Recoil is the same as any break barrel, although there appeared to be less secondary kick with the nitrogen piston mechanism.
Trigger pull is light enough, but the pull length is insane!
The good: The thru hole stock is superb and fit me well. The included Center Point scope is pretty good.
The Bad: The trigger is horrible, pull, and pull, and pull some more, come on, keep pulling, thump. Wow, I never thought it would fire! Honestly, I’ve never had a trigger with so much travel!
Now the good news! If you get this gun, go to Charliedetuna.com and get their excellent, made in America GRT-III replacement trigger! I changed the trigger, did some minor adjustments and WOW! The replacement trigger has a crisp, light pull without the creep of the factory trigger. If you get the rifle, GET THIS TRIGGER! It completely changes the gun.
Hatsan Model 95
The Hatsan Model 95 weighs in at an even 8 pounds and is 45” in length. Note this is without a scope mounted. An Optima 3-9×32 scope is included. The Model 95 is an entry priced spring piston rifle featuring Hastan’s Quatrotrigger and SAS Shock Absorbing System. The Turkish walnut stock has a traditional look with a rich dark finish and very sharp checkering. Upon close examination, I could not see any noticeable fit or finish problems with the stock. The rifle features open sights and Hatsan’s fully adjustable Quattro two stage trigger system. The gold platted trigger is a nice touch.
Open sights on the Hatsan feature a micro adjustable rear sight for both windage and elevation with Truglo fiber optics along with open front sight with Truglo fiber optics. The sights have green Truglow dots on either side of the bridge and the muzzle blade has a contrasting red Truglow dot. This arrangement makes for easy sighting. The rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage.
One drawback with the Hatsan is the break barrel pivot screw head protruding on the left side of the fore stock – right where I like to place my left thumb. A minor annoyance, but until I got used to the feel of that screw, it really messed with my aim and concentration.
I then mounted and sighted in the Optima 3-9×32 scope included with the gun, assuring the scope mounting was level with the rifle, sighted it in, then shot the same 5 pellet groupings as used with the open sights. Note that you do not have to remove the open sights, there is no interference with the scope sight picture.
A word of caution about the scope – it is a piece of junk! I could not get it to focus on anything higher than 5x and even then it was a struggle to steady on the target. Additionally, sighting in required what I consider a lot of shots. It appeared the scope creeped throughout the process, and getting consistent patterns was a struggle.
Cocking effort is about the same as the Trail NP. It also lessened somewhat during the testing period (approximately 100 shots).
Safety operation resets upon breaking the barrel to cock the gun. Location is on top of the stock and requires only thumb pressure to set into the firing position.
Loudness is reasonable enough to shoot in my back yard in an urban environment. Sounds about like a pneumatic nail gun.
Recoil is the same as any break barrel with the traditional push-pull. Not severe at all.
Trigger pull and creep were acceptable out of the box.
Discounting the shooting with the scope, accuracy is great using the RWS Superpoint Extra and Meisterkugeln pellets. Again, be sure and test a variety in your gun to make sure you chose one that works best in your rifle.
The good: Overall shooting this gun provided great accuracy without a lot of adjustments. Adjustability of the trigger is a plus, especially when compared to the Trail NP.
The Bad: The scope. Throw it away and find a decent one to mount on this rifle – you won’t regret it! Note from Bill – Check out my article on air rifle scopes for how to choose the right scope, and a few of my recommendations.
Comparisons and Final Verdict
So which is the better rifle? I’m going to break it down by feature:
Nitrogen piston in Benjamin vs. traditional spring loaded piston in Hatsan
Safety location and operation
Toss-up. Maybe a slight nod to the Hatsan for resetting the safety each time the gun is cocked.
Benjamin wins with the thru thumb stock.
Scopes included with both guns
Hands down, the Center Point on the Benjamin wins.
Tie, with the right pellet testing and choice, both guns are accurate and provide plenty of power for killing small game.
Tie, both are initially hard to break completely over, but with usage they both loosened up somewhat.
I’ll give the nod to the Benjamin Trail. The nitro piston is just a hair quieter than the “twang” of the Hatsan springer.
When purchasing an air rifle within this price range, there are always going to be compromises. With my testing, I have tried to point out both the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.
Overall for a gun straight out of the box, I tip my hat to the Benjamin Trail NP. Both the thru hole stock design and the excellent (for this price range) Center Point scope tipped the scales for me.
Although the Hatsan 95 is a fine air rifle that proved to be an accurate shooter and has an excellent adjustable trigger, the poor scope included with the rifle was a letdown.
If I got the Hatsan 95, I would buy a quality scope and use the included one as a target for practice.
If I went with the Benjamin Trail NP, retrofitting the trigger with a GRT III is a must.
Don’t feel like either of these rifles are right for you? Check out my other air rifle reviews here.