First Impressions: Benjamin Bulldog .357 Air Rifle from Pyramyd Air
Jon Stokes 10.24.17
I haven’t had time to do a full review, but I did want to get some thoughts down on a rifle I recently got in the mail: the Benjamin Bulldog, a bullpup, bolt action, pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifled in .357 caliber. The rifle came my way courtesy of Pyramyd Air, along with some ammo and the most Gucci-looking air compressor I’ve ever seen. (Even my wife was checking out the air compressor.)
Now, you’re probably thinking, “why is an air rifle bored as large as .357?” The answer is so you can kill larger critters, like hogs and deer, with it. That’s right, the Bulldog is an airgun that’s big enough to take most North American game with proper shot placement.
It’s also one of the few guns you can buy online and have shipped directly to your front door, at least that’s the case if you don’t live in one of the handful of states that regulate these like firearms. No FFL fees, just plain old UPS.
Ever since putting some rounds through this thing at SHOT Media Day a few years back, I’ve had a keen interest in this rifle. So far, after a brief range session I have to say it doesn’t disappoint.
Why I Like This Gun
First up is accuracy. I’ve not measured my groups with it, but I had no problem keeping a ~7-inch steel spinner in motion with it at 40 yards right out of the box from a sitting position with some iron sights I pulled off my AR-15 and didn’t even try to sight in. When I do a full review, look for more on this, but so far I’m pleased. I just dropped the irons on and started pinging that spinner from across the lawn.
Apart from accuracy and zero recoil, another big advantage to this gun is the lack of noise. It’s quieter than a suppressed AR, and for hunting I wouldn’t even worry about ear protection with it. But for a range session where I’m shooting it repeatedly, it’s just loud enough that I’d want to have something in my ears.
Finally, we get to the main thing that’s great about this gun: it’s cheap and easy to stockpile a nearly-unlimited ammo supply that will never go bad, because you don’t need propellant. No primers and no powder, just air. In other words, this is a pretty amazing survival gun option.
You may be thinking you need an electricity-powered, high-dollar compressor to run this gun, but you’re wrong. There are multiple models of hand pumps now that will fill this gun up to 3,000 PSI, so you don’t actually need anything more than a hand pump to make it work.
You can buy a few .357 caliber bullet molds and stock up on bullet casting alloy, and you’re set for life on ammo. You can also recover spent bullets and recast them. So between the low noise, accuracy, and near-infinite reusability of this rifle, it’s pretty close to being the ultimate prepper gun. There is a catch, though — but more on that in a moment.
The gun’s weight is reasonable 7.7 pounds, which is about in line with an AR. As with a typical bullpup, much of the weight is toward the back (where the air chamber is), so it feels lighter and is easy to point.
The two-stage trigger is adequate — it’s pretty light, and I didn’t really notice it one way or another, so nothing to complain about there. I’ll try to pay more attention to it when I do the full review.
The Picatinny rail across the top makes it easy to mount AR accessories. And get this — on most airguns, the recoil impulse is such that you can’t use regular firearm optics without ruining them, but not so on the Bulldog. Benjamin claims it’s safe to mount your regular rifle optic on there. I’m going to take their word only so far, though — my Leupold Mark 8 will never see the top of an airgun, no matter what the manufacturer says.
Now for the main downside to this gun, especially as a prepper gun: it is just not user-serviceable. If you disassemble it, you void the warranty… and from what I’ve read online, pulling it apart is likely to cause it to leak. This is all related to the fact that it’s a PCP gun, and not something simpler like a piston design.
The lack of user-serviceability may be a deal-breaker for some, but I’m willing to take my chances. For as long as this gun runs, you’ve got basically an unlimited supply of ammo if you have a mold and some soft metal. To me, that’s worth taking a chance on, and possibly even buying a second one for backup.
I also plan to check out the Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30 cal, which may be even better as a prepper rifle. It’s not going to have the knockdown and speed of followup shots that the Bulldog has, so it’s definitely limited to hunting applications. But gas pistons can run for decades without wearing out, and replacement pistons are cheap to stock up on. So this could be a solid backup option to the Bulldog.
I’ve been traveling so I haven’t been able to do a full review of this gun yet, so the above are just my initial thoughts based on a few hours of plinking around with it. I let some friends shoot it, and everyone had a smile on their faces. But more on that in the full review.