The Semi-Auto Benjamin Marauder is the Gun Nut’s Air Rifle

With ammo shortages expected to last another 24 months (and maybe longer), gun owners have been forced to get creative to stay behind the trigger. Some are waking up at 3 a.m. to wait in line at sporting goods stores to claim their rationed ammunition. Others are branching out to less common calibers or dusting off the reloading bench.

Some folks are trading in their smoke-and-powder firearms for air guns. While most air rifles can’t replicate the long-range performance of firearms, modern .22-caliber products have more than enough juice to hunt small game, and they offer all the fun and flexibility of a .22LR. Most importantly, air pellets are (still) cheap and can (still) be found online and at local sporting goods stores.

The Semi-Auto (SA) Benjamin Marauder might be the nearest stand-in for the .22-caliber firearms we used to know and love (to shoot). The Marauder can push a 14.3-grain pellet 900 feet-per-second (fps) at the muzzle, making it powerful enough to take small game and accurate enough to hit a one-inch target at 50 yards. Plus, the semi-auto action and 10-round rotary magazine means more time shooting and less time reloading. 

It ain’t cheap. At $729.99, the SA Marauder rivals a mid-level firearm in terms of cost. But the rifle you can afford to shoot is better than the rifle in the safe, and these days, that’s enough to justify an even more spendy purchase.

Click here to check out the Semi-Auto Benjamin Marauder.

Specifications

Caliber: .22

Powerplant: Regulated Pre-Charged Pneumatic

Action: Semi-Auto

Weight: 8.2 lbs

Barrel: Rifled/Shrouded

Overall Length: 43 in.

Barrel Length: 20 in.

Magazine Capacity: 10

Air Tank: 3000 psi

Air Tank Fitting: Male quick-disconnect Foster fitting

Get Pumped

I should say at the outset that I’m reviewing the SA Marauder as a gun guy moving into the air gun world—not as an air gun expert. If you’re an air rifle nut, feel free to sound off in the comments. But since I know many gun owners are buying air guns as a stand-in for their usual firearms, I hope GunsAmerica readers will benefit from my perspective.

As an air rifle newbie, I first had to figure out how to charge the air tank. The tank is the black cylinder under the barrel, and it should be loaded to 3000 psi. Your garage shop compressor won’t get the job done. This tank needs a special air compressor, the cheapest of which (from what I can tell) costs about $300.

The air tank should be pumped up to 3000 psi.

Adding $300 to a $729 gun isn’t something most gun owners are willing to do. The ammo shortage won’t last forever, and $1,000 can buy a nice hunting rifle or 50 rounds of 9mm.

Fortunately, users can also purchase a hand pump for $70. That’ll save you about $250 and give you a great triceps workout in the process. I will admit, hand-pumping this tank isn’t for the faint of heart (especially at first). Going from 1000 psi to 3000 psi usually takes me 5-10 minutes (with a break or two) and 180 pumps.

I bought this hand pump on Amazon for about $70. It takes some work, but I could get the tank filled in about 10 minutes.

If this sounds difficult, there is some good news. The tank can power about 50 regulated shots and, based on my experience, an additional 50 un-regulated shots before it fails to cycle reliably. Also, if you’re shooting with friends or family, you can take turns at the pump, which makes the process relatively painless.

First Impressions

The SA Marauder is a beautiful gun. The hardwood stock is gorgeous, and the comb height can be adjusted by loosening two set screws. The stock also features some nice texturing on the grip and swelling around the cheek rest.

The gun is a bit on the large side, especially for young shooters. The 20-inch barrel is longer than most rimfire rifles, for example, and the 8.2-pound weight is much heavier.

The stock is beautiful, but it’s large. This isn’t a gun for small kids.

The SA Marauder must accommodate an air tank, which partially explains its weight, and its overall size isn’t unmanageable in the squirrel woods. But I wouldn’t recommend the Marauder for small kids.

If you’re accustomed to the glass-clean triggers of modern firearms, the Marauder’s trigger will take some getting used to. The Marauder’s trigger is long and there isn’t much of a “wall.” You can get a sense of what it’s like from the video below:

Even though the pull is long, the trigger isn’t very heavy. The weight can be adjusted using a small screw in the fire control group, and I adjusted it from four pounds to just under two. This improved the overall experience, and no one who shot the rifle had any trouble with the trigger.

The trigger takes some getting used to. The front lever is the safety (here pictured in the “safe” position), and the screw just in front is used to adjust the trigger weight.

The trigger can also be adjusted for “position at rest.” The user’s manual says that this adjustment can affect sear engagement, which “could allow the gun to fire when dropped or jarred.” I didn’t mess with it.

Ready… Aim…

Most people associate air rifles with kids. This makes sense. Air rifles aren’t usually as powerful as firearms, and they can be loaded and fired without much adult supervision. The SA Marauder is a little different.

First, loading the magazine is, as one of my relatives put it, “like solving a math problem.” Users must put tension on the spring by rotating the clear cover, flip the magazine over, insert a pellet backward, flip the magazine back over, and then load the pellets one at a time into the slots. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that bad. But you might have difficulty teaching the process to your kids.

The plastic magazine isn’t what I’d call intuitive, but it’s easy to load once you get the hang of it.

Once the magazine is loaded and the rifle is charged, each pull of the trigger will shoot one pellet down range until the magazine is empty. This is great for kids—as long as they’re supervised. My five-year-old absolutely loves shooting the Marauder at our little backyard range, even though the gun is waaay too big for him.

I’d be nervous giving this gun to a preteen without supervision. It shoots pellets fast enough to seriously injure or kill something, and it’s tough to tell whether it’s loaded. The magazine has a shot counter printed on the side, but I can imagine a user forgetting about the final shot in the chamber and walking down range of a loaded gun. (To mitigate storing the rifle with a loaded pellet, the SA Marauder can be de-cocked, which keeps the trigger from releasing any air when it is pulled. Crosman recommends always storing the rifle de-cocked.)

As with all semi-autos, the SA Marauder should be used only under adult supervision. The button above the charging handle serves as the forward assist.

It’s also not always clear when a pellet has cleared the barrel. In several instances, whether because the air pressure was too low or some other reason, the gun didn’t clear the pellet from the barrel. The only way to tell is by listening for the sound of the pellet downrange, but if an inexperienced kid is shooting quickly, they may not notice until several pellets have stacked up.

The SA Marauder is a blast to shoot, no matter your age. Between myself, my friends, and my family, we’ve put about 1,800 pellets down the barrel, and everyone has loved it, especially the kids. But if you’re looking for your 10-year-old’s first pellet gun, I’d go with something more user-friendly. (Benjamin’s bolt action Marauder is a great choice!)

Fire!

At first glance, the Marauder’s power potential doesn’t stand up well to a standard velocity .22LR. The old double-deuce launches a 40-grain bullet at 1,070 fps, resulting in about 102 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The Benjamin Marauder pushes a 14.3-grain projectile about 900 fps, resulting in 25 foot-pounds of energy.

While underpowered compared to a .22LR, a 14.3g pellet from the SA Marauder still has enough juice to do most things you’d do with a .22LR.

One-quarter the energy may not seem like a close comparison, but it’s important to consider the likely applications before making a firm judgment. The Marauder has plenty of power to target shoot at 50 yards, for example, and it has enough energy to hunt small game like squirrels, cottontails, and even raccoons. The projectile isn’t heavy enough to go after coyotes and other varmints, but it’s at least in the same ballpark as the 10/22 from an application perspective.

Don’t underestimate it. The SA Marauder is a terror in the squirrel woods.

Accuracy is pretty close, too. The folks I spoke with at Benjamin insist that the SA Marauder will put together 0.5-1” groups at 50 yards. That’s good enough for the vast majority of .22LR rifles.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to replicate these results in my testing. The Benjamin product manager I spoke with said they’d been getting the best results with basic domed Crosman pellets, which I tried. I got better results from the hollow point pellets and the Copper Magnum pellets. Crosman told me other users had been shooting small groups with FX and JSB pellets. I didn’t have a chance to test these, but if you purchase the Marauder, it’s worth a shot.

These results were shot from 50 yards using a 3-9x scope from a sled.

Crossman Copper Magnum 14.4g: Small Group: 1.1″, Average Group: 1.125″, Velocity: 880 fps

Crossman Hollow Point 14.3g: Small Group: 1.25″, Average Group: 1.4″, Velocity: 900 fps

A flier would occasionally mess up a 10-shot string, but this is a good representation of the accuracy I achieved with the SA Marauder. This was shot from 50 yards.

I was curious to see how velocity changed as the tank pressure dropped. Crosman told me the regulator keeps velocities consistent for the first 50 shots and then the velocity should stay within a 20-fps spread for 10 shots after that. I verified this in my testing. After the first 50-60 shots, I started to see a significant drop in velocity.

Crosman doesn’t recommend shooting much past 60 shots. The gun can stop cycling reliably, which can lead to jams and stuck pellets.

Even though Crosman doesn’t recommend it, the gun remains usable even below 1500 psi.

But I was curious: what happens if you shoot all the way down to 1000 psi? The gauge on the bottom of the gun shows green all the way down to 1000 psi, and I figured some users would shoot that low.

Surprisingly, the gun remains fairly accurate. I saw the point of impact shifting to the right (for whatever reason), but the groups remained about the same size. Reliability suffered, but only on the final 10 shots before hitting 1000 psi.

I did notice that, even at full pressure, the point of impact shifts vertically quite a bit between 35 and 50 yards, something most .22LR rifles don’t have trouble with. If you’re going hunting, be sure you sight in for the distance from which you expect to target animals.

The gun should also be oiled for consistent reliability. But don’t use gun oil! The SA Marauder should be oiled with silicon oil, and only on the rubber O-ring just inside the breach of the gun.   

Last Shot

Along with all its other good qualities, the SA Marauder has one advantage over every other firearm on the market right now: ammo is cheap and readily available. Even during the shortage, I’ve been able to find 500-pellet tins of Crosman Premier for about $6 at my local Walmart. Just over $0.01 per round is better than the cheapest .22LR in the best of times, and I’ve been able to keep shooting throughout the last two months.

More importantly, the SA Marauder is a blast to shoot. It’s my go-to activity when company comes for dinner, and it’s a low-recoil, low-volume way to introduce people to shooting.

For me, that makes the SA Marauder worth every penny.

Click here to check out the Semi-Auto Benjamin Marauder.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Matt May 31, 2021, 11:49 am

    Buy a Kral NP03 in 22 or 25 caliber for half the price.

  • Bumper May 21, 2021, 12:56 pm

    Thirty-five years ago I bought a used Webley Vulcan for 60 bucks. It’s a break action, spring-piston powered rifle in .177. New, the Vulcan pushed pellets at about 900 FPS. It is crazy accurate to this day though one shouldn’t expect to see bore erosion. Disadvantage is the manual cocking which is far less than pumping and a very slow rate of fire. This is fine as I seek accuracy. Advantages are no seals under pressure while the rifle is idle. As well, I dislike buying co2 cartridges for gas guns. Again, pressure against seals seems to be asking for failure. I understand what the Marauder is and the quality, comprehensive review makes no attempt to sell it. I present my views only for discussion and to hopefully help others.
    Break action, spring-piston rifles must be available today. If so, some shooters may find that they too have a place.

  • flak May 17, 2021, 8:16 pm

    ” … $1,000 can buy a nice hunting rifle or 50 rounds of 9mm.”
    ha ha … or a 2×4 ….

  • Mark Miller May 17, 2021, 9:40 am

    Air Guns are the new .22. Great write up of an interesting gun. Looks fun.

  • Steven L Waskow May 17, 2021, 9:08 am

    I’ve always been interested in the .25 caliber version of that gun. I worked with a guy who said a friend of his had one. He didn’t say much about the accuracy of the gun, but he said they could punch a hole through 1/4″ plywood at around 100 yards with it.

  • Brad May 17, 2021, 8:56 am

    Strap in for a good read! I just bought a semi-auto .22 Marauder with all the considerations covered by the author. I set out for a dead nuts accurate 30yd pellet gun. I topped it with a Leupold 3-9X33 EFR in Warne Maxima QD rings. (30mm medium rings with 1″ ring insert adapters. Think Burris signature ring inserts) I bought a new aluminum 3000psi scuba tank and a K valve adapter hose that attaches to the gun QD female plug to mate with the male plug installed on the gun. I discovered the 3000psi tank gets the pressure in the gun to 2600psi. I intend to get a hand pump mentioned in the article to fill that last 400psi. (I still came in cheaper than buying a 4500PSI carbon fiber setup)

    I got to the range with my new setup on 5/15/2021. I shot H&N, Air Arms, and JSB pellets at 30yds. I could get 30 shots from 2600psi-1900psi. (I did put a few cranks on the hammer spring to increase the velocity for hunting purposes) My gun was most accurate with 14.35gr-15.89 gr JSB Exact Diabolo and the 15.89gr (16gr) Air Arms Field Diabolo. The AA pellet took a slight lead in accuracy over the JSB pellets, but only slightly. I tried 6 different H&N pellets with various grain weights. The most accurate of the H&N were the 12.96gr Green pellet, 18.21gr Crow Magnum, and 18.21gr Barracuda Hunter. None of the H&N pellets rivaled the JSB or AA. They’re gonna be good enough for a 20yd starling hit probably 90% of the time I would guess. 1-1.5″ 10 shot groups was as accurate as I could get them all to shoot.

    So, what do I consider accurate? I like same hole multiple shot results from my guns. This Marauder sits in that club with the AA and JSB pellets. I might have skewed the JSB results due to chuckles and excitement from my 30yd 10 shot single hole results from the AA pellet. LOL. I got bored of the ragged hole groups out of the JSB and AA, so I switched to shooting the staples I put in the cardboard backing target holder. Thin little slivers I knocked them out shot for shot! Immediately afterwards I went 100% on some Starlings shooting offhand. They were perched in the trees surrounding me like an audience watching me shoot the bullseyes. Lol

    Considerations:

    The trigger is like an AK-47 trigger. It just rolls off the shot at some point. If you apply good follow through on your shots you will be accurate. I tuned the trigger placement adjuster to the furthest rearward setting and completely removed the spring under the trigger pull adjuster screw. I’d recommend doing this. The trigger was perfect for a roll off shooting type.

    The stock butt pad. The gun comes with a thick pad and with the scope set as far back as possible I still had to creep up on the gun to establish proper sight picture/eye relief. I took the pad off and all is perfect. I intend to glue a mouse pad cutout onto the butt stock. I don’t have much of a neck so your results will vary.

    I cleaned the bore with Ballistol before my shooting session and it was a little dirty. I cleaned it after the 100+ shots and wow was it dirty! I don’t know at this point weather cleaning it after every session is best, or let the barrel settle in dirty like a powder burning rifle will do. I shall find out! I would recommend Ballistol, WD40 since they don’t affect O rings. I’ll also try lubing the pellets with Ballistol or Hornady One shot case lube, or WD40 to see what accuracy results I obtain.

    Happy hunting/shooting!

    Brad

  • FrankS May 17, 2021, 6:42 am

    You mention the gun as being heavy and big for a kid. Well, it’s NOT a kid’s gun! Kid’s guns are usually small and lite for an adult. This doesn’t look or feel like a toy because it’s not. I think you fell into the “air rifles are for kids” trap yourself!

    • Jake May 21, 2021, 12:43 pm

      I advise caution with lubricants and air guns. I am not at all up to speed on air guns like this nifty contraption but it is possible to “diesel” some air guns. Perhaps that is just the lever cocking ones I have used but avoid anything that could get any oil into any part which is compressed.

  • daniel May 17, 2021, 4:23 am

    I will say I love my Rifle that is for sure. I shot my Marauder more then any other rifle I own these days. I have had mine for over 10 years an with the right ammo it will shot dime groups at 50 yards . The trick with an air rifle is to tune it correctly. one so you can get the most shots out of a fill but also accuracy. I have shot mine so much that I had to change the barrel once and replace parts that had worn out because of so many rounds. I use mine mostly for ratting and target shooting time so I can keep the basic shooting techniques fresh. I believe that my air rifle has made me a much better shooter because of all the trigger time at a very low price. I was told many years ago by a trained Navy SEAL that shooting a 22lr at 200 yrds will have close to the same ballistics to shooting a 308 175 gr out to 800 yrds. So i have used my small arms and air rifles to develop a better understanding use of my scope, wind and such. Now it is a perfect match? No it is not but it has made me a much better shooter that I do know. The only way you get better at shooting is to shoot and using all the things that make one a better shooter. Now back to the Marauder . It is a good air rifle for a reasonable cost ; for how accurate it is. One thing I will tell you is that it really does not like light pellets in the 14gr or less range I have found. You need to tune the rifle to shoot 18gr plus pellets and believe me you will be amazed how well the air rifle will shoot as long as all the shoot basics are followed. Try a heavier pellet and open up the transfer port and adjust the hammer and hammer spring using a crono and the results will be dine size 10 round groups out to 50 yrds with 3000psi-2500psi.

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