The short view: Well-built with a good scope, a rifled steel barrel and solid stock; the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 Break Barrel Air Rifle (.22) packs the power and accuracy for small game up to 100 feet away. Much farther out and it’s a gamble shot. Will not match up to a regular .22, but it’s much quieter when using hunting weight rounds. Trigger action is stiff, and the trigger adjustment doesn’t reduce the range of pull enough to suit me, but I can live with it. The trigger adjustment port on mine doesn’t give access to the adjustment screw but a cheap offset screwdriver will work.
UPDATE: Read my latest report on this rifle’s exceptional accuracy here.
The long view: My garden has produced well for two years in a row and has not had any serious problems with pests, but this year I’m not depending on the rabbit fence and some old socks filled with used bars of soap. After two good years a garden either starts producing meat, or the meat eats the garden. So I decided to get a new varmint rifle, one of the new nitrogen-piston air rifles, in .22 caliber. I’ll keep my .22 Marlin for hunting in the woods, but for the problems on my own property I will use the Benjamin Trail NP.
Pellet rifles are a great deal better now than when I was a kid. One pump of the break barrel compresses the permanently filled cylinder of nitrogen in the firing chamber. Since there’s no leakage, you can cock the rifle and depend upon it to fire full force when you need it, and there’s no expensive nitrogen capsule to crack open and use a few times before storage leaks drain it. With a hunting-weight round the rifle fires at subsonic speeds, eliminating the crack! of the round as well as the bang! of an explosive cartridge. It’s not silent but it’s not very obvious, either.
Sighting in this rifle has been trickier than I expected. The scope is good quality but was so far off that I completely missed a square yard target at 100 feet and had to guess settings a few times to even see where my rounds fell at 50 feet. Once on the target I quickly got used to the system, but I do wish the rifle had open sights. Now I’m getting good patterns at 120 feet and I’m almost at the point where I feel the inaccuracy is more my fault than the fault of the sighting system. Instructions say that you don’t get the best accuracy until you’ve fired a hundred rounds, and I’m about there.
At 50 feet this rifle punches through 5/8 inch of phone book and I feel that up to 100 feet it’s accurate enough for small game. For the usual garden problems like ground squirrels, woodchucks and rabbits it’s plenty of rifle. Not completely silent, of course, but when using a hunting weight round it’s about the same noise level as a buck snorting in the woods and much less disturbing than a rifle shot.