Regular readers know that I have a particular love for at least one Benjamin rifle, my PCP Marauder. I’m saying this so that you understand that I’m walking in with a bit of a bias, but also so you’ll understand the significance when I say that for certain situations I think I might like the 392 even better. One of the best things about being an avid hunter and collector is that I generally don’t have to choose between them, but when it comes to spending all day out in the woods I might actually be more inclined to take something with me that I can count on and not need to bring fill tanks.
One thing I can say, this is not only a solid rifle, it’s an easy one to start using right away.
The 392 has been around for decades and remains mostly unchanged. This is a testament to the quality of the materials and design, and as a result you can still find many of the older models out there performing just as they did when new. In fact, I have a friend that received one of these as a Christmas present over 20 years ago and he still uses it for pest control around the house. With that kind of track record I knew I couldn’t go wrong when I made the decision to purchase one for my own enjoyment.
The first thing I noticed when taking it out of the box was that it would need a good cleaning before I started to shoot. On one hand, I liked that the packaging was tight and was confident that it wouldn’t have gotten damaged in shipping. On the other hand, the Styrofoam seemed to be flaking pretty easily, so it had gotten everywhere. It was when I noticed it in the barrel that I thought better of just loading up and shooting.
After a thorough cleaning I went outside to the targets to try and get a sense of it. The 392 weighs in at roughly five and a half pounds, so not too heavy and pretty easy to carry around. More than anything, I liked the balance that fit my hand really well. This is a gun that wants to stay in place and the design is such that you don’t have to fight to keep the barrel up or down.
I also couldn’t help but admire the finish. The American Hardwood Monte Carlo design is a nice throwback to older looking rifles with a thoroughly modern feel to it. The rifled barrel is brass with a black coating that I notice scratches off fairly easily, but that’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Considering the weight, I was surprised to find so little plastic on it, just the trigger guard and the butt end of the stock, but that’s what a well-made rifle does: make the most out of its materials.
One of the few flaws I noticed right away was that the iron sights are almost useless on this rifle which I found incredibly disappointing. To exacerbate the problem there are no scope rails or dovetails for mounting a scope. However, after a little research I found there are actually a couple of different options available for mounting a scope. You can actually take the rifle to a competent machine shop and have them machine dovetails right into the barrel (thanks, but no thanks), or you can buy the B272 dovetail inter-mount that clamps to the barrel and allows you to mount any scope with a 3/8 dovetail. Obviously I chose to go with the inter-mount. The next issue to consider is whether you want to mount a normal rifle scope in the typical location, or go with a pistol scope mounted towards the front of the rifle making what is known as a scout type rifle.
The Scout Rifle Setup and Why I Chose It
I’ve never used this type of a setup before, and I’ve never bought a pistol scope, so I was hesitant to drop a bunch of money on something I wasn’t sure I would end up liking. For this reason I chose to go with a BSA 2X20 Edge Series Pistol Scope. It’s about a $50 scope and BSA has a decent reputation, so I didn’t feel like I was taking too big of a risk.
If you’ve never heard of a scout rifle setup here’s a good link that goes over the basic criteria. While it is geared toward firearms and not air rifles, you can see that the Benjamin 392 meets many of the criteria such as bolt action, lightweight, shorter length, and of course the forward mounted pistol scope.
Now for why I chose this setup. First, mounting the scope at the forward end of the barrel leaves plenty of room to place your hand in front of the breech for pumping, and I can say that this setup works very well. I have no difficulty pumping this rifle. Second, with a traditional rifle scope setup I have read that many people have issues with the scope interfering with the bolt lever. In order to clear it you have to raise the scope which can make it a bit difficult to get a good cheek weld. Finally, using the forward mounted rifle scope means you can sight with both eyes open. This allows you to easily acquire your target while also keeping an eye on your surroundings. I must say I have really fallen in love with this setup, and this has become my go to rifle for pest control around the house.
What if I Don’t Want a Scope?
As I mentioned earlier, the iron sights included on this rifle are mediocre at best. However, there is an option available to improve on them if you don’t want to mess with a scope. The Williams Peep Sight was designed as a bolt on replacement for the rear sight on the Benjamin 392. In theory it looks like a great sight, and appears to add a ton of adjustability along with more precision to the rifle. However, the reason I decided to forego this option is because of the mixed reviews I heard about it. I searched the forums for days looking for people that have tried this option to get a good feel for how well it functioned. What I found was people either loved it, or they fought it and had to modify it pretty heavily to get it to work. Without having actually tried one myself I will not give a recommendation for it either way, but for the price I wasn’t willing to take the risk. It was actually about the same price as the scope I chose.
It didn’t take much shooting to get the full measure of this rifle and I can say without a doubt that I am impressed overall.
In fact, once I started shooting, everything fell into place. The 392 can take up to eight pumps to charge fully, but you can get some decent shots with three to five pumps easily. Because of a 35 pound cocking effort, I wouldn’t recommend this for target shooting unless you want to give your arms a real workout, but for pest control or hunting you can’t get better than this.
While the cocking effort is unquestionably hard, you’re getting more than your investment back in sweat equity. In all actuality though, it is only the last couple of pumps where you really feel the effort. Once you do get to a full pump though you’ll be greeted with a decent amount of velocity, about 685 FPS, which is good for about 15 FPE with a standard 14.3 grain pellet. I was shooting with Crosman Premier domed pellets and was perfectly happy with the power.
As for accuracy, this was shooting really tight groupings right out of the box. I’m shocked by how easy it was to break in and honestly don’t know how the manufacturer did it. That being said, I was hitting dime-sized groups at 50 feet without even really trying and hitting the same hole after about 15 rounds. Another plus is that, unlike a break barrel rifle, there is almost no recoil, a nice feature to add to how quiet it is. I could hardly hear the shot, especially compared to a lot of other rifles.
While it is absolutely practical and useful, I have to admit that I would probably like the bolt action just because it’s fun to use. That it’s an easy way to chamber a new pellet and works like a charm is great, but even I sometimes just feel like a kid when I get to pull that back and load another round.
In more practical tests, I managed to bullseye a small raccoon that had been getting into the trash cans over by the shed without any problems at about 15-20 yards. I also took the 392 out for a day of hunting and managed to get quite a few larger critters. All shots were clean and precise from decent distances.
The Bottom Line
The Benjamin 392 is a bit hard to pump, it needs better coating on the barrel, and the iron sights are useless, but otherwise this is one of the finer rifles I have had the pleasure of owning. Usually for a review I shoot for a while then just add to my collection, but I can imagine using this rifle on a regular basis for hunting and pest control. It’s not suited to a long day of target shooting in the same way that a PCP wouldn’t be with a hand pump, but for easy power, accuracy, and a damn fine look, you can’t go wrong with the Benjamin 392. It’s found a permanent home by my back door for quick pest control.
Don’t feel like the Benjamin 392 fits your needs? Check out my reviews of some of my favorite air rifles HERE to see if one fits the bill!