It’s about time the air rifle world caught up with powder-charged rifles. For too long, the only compatible accessory interfaces were the scope rails. Enter the Benjamin Armada (a division of Crosman), which took a few pages from the firearms world and has introduced a level of modularity not seen before in air rifles.
Introduction and Overview
The new Benjamin Armada is the world’s premier AR-compatible air rifle and officially licensed for the Magpul® M-LOK modular accessory system.
The Armada is the first commercially available PCP rifle that allows shooters the same breadth of modularity and user configurability as enjoyed by the AR community. By implementing the M-LOK interface system and designing the rifle to mil-spec dimensions for the grip and stock interfaces, the Armada ensures shooters will be able to use the same AR parts and accessories they know and love.
The Armada is built in America and delivers velocities of 1000 FPS with 32 foot pounds of energy, making it an ideal small game rifle and target shooter. It includes a 10-shot magazine, full suppression and gets over 30 shots per fill. The receiver features a machined picatinny rail and the bolt is reversible for left-handed shooters. An on-board gauge for monitoring air pressure and a crisp two-stage trigger make this a worthy addition to your gun collection.
The Magpul Edition includes an M-LOK licensed aluminum handrail with picatinny rails and:
- Magpul MOE grip
- Magpul MOE 6-position stock with cheek riser
- CenterPoint 4-16x56mm scope with co-witness rings and sunshade
- Bipod adjustable from 6″-9″
In short, Benjamin took all the good things of the powder-charged world and applied them to their reputable Marauder platform. Basically, the Armada is the Marauder action dropped into a modular chassis. Instead of just a scope rail, the Armada is a bevy of mounting points. Picatinny rails run down the top of the rifle and M-LOK attachment points adorn the 3’, 6’, & 9’ o’clock positions.
From there, Benjamin opted to use the constantly growing aftermarket of AR parts to compliment the M-LOK. A MagPul MOE pistol grip provides a constant interface and the MOE stock, with cheek riser festoons the air rifle for adjustable length of pull.
Completing the packing is the addition of M-LOK rail covers, an adjustable height-only bipod, and a 4-16×56 monster of an air rifle optic from CenterPoint. The optic arrives ready-to-mount with rings, covers, and a very extended sun-shade.
The Armada comes with a single 10 pellet rotary magazine, a direct carry-over from the Marauder. The magazine allows the shooter to see how many shots remain, without having to take their cheek of the rest, a thoughtful design, but I do not prefer it reloads from the right hand side of the air rifle. Those used to off-hand magazine changes will find it annoying (but I don’t expect any air rifle user to be speed-reloading, unless the zombie apocalypse includes squirrels).
Specifications & Handling
|LEAD PELLET VELOCITY||Up to 1000 fps|
|PRODUCT WEIGHT||8.2 lbs|
|INCLUDED OPTICS||4-16×56 mm AO|
|PRIMARY USE||Varmint Hunting, Small Game Hunting, Pest Control, Target Shooting|
|PRIMARY CAPABILITIES||Pest Control, Small Game Hunting, Target Shooting, Varmint Hunting|
The Armada arrived packaged well, using the now common layout of shaped cardboard boxes to protect the contents while saving a bit on cost. It’s completely utilitarian, sparse, bit appropriate for the rifle. In the main box, but packaged in their own protection are the 4-16×56 optic, scope rings, bipod, and instruction manual.
Unpackaging the Armada, I noticed two things off the bat, it’s a loooooong air rifle and it’s surprisingly light for the relative size. Without the optic, my arm-o-meter pegged it at around 4 – 4.5 lbs. While I could have admired the weight, I can’t stand a bare weapon platform. Mounting the scope was a breeze with the provided tools and the bipod went on in a cinch. The optic and bipod added about a pound, bringing it to approximately 5.5 lbs.
Shooting the Armada
Fully kitted up, the air rifle balances forward with the center-of-gravity in the middle of the slant near the pressure gauge. Its farther forward than I would prefer, but for the intended usage of the rifle (never shot standing), it’s actually quite nice. It would be difficult to move it back further, as the air tank and all operating components are forward of the grip. It’s basically a reverse-bullpup.
The Armada includes a 10-shot pellet magazine. As mentioned earlier, it’s got a wonderful feature of a remaining shot counter, which I thoroughly appreciate. Loading it is a bit counter-intuitive, as you have to rotate it around, load a pellet to hold it in place, and then load the remaining pellets, but I got the hang of it.
The magazine is inserted by lining up the bottom of it with the top of the receiver cut and pushing in to the receiver until you hear a light click. The magazine is held in place by a shaped plastic detent and will not move under normal circumstances.
The bolt cycle smoothly and there is no significant slop in it. Pulling the handle to the rear cocks the main spring, which is used to hit the valve to release the air thus firing the shot. Cocking can require some effort, but is easily accomplished while in position behind the rifle. According to Benjamin, the bolt can be rotated to either side, but the process requires some significant disassembly of the action. Those unfamiliar with firearms and wanting it moved to the left should let a gunsmith or purchase it from a shop, like Pyramid Air, who can do it for you upon order.
With the magazine inserted and the bolt forward, the bolt will hold the magazine firmly in place. Once cocked, the bolt moves freely, which I do not like. It makes it too easy to accidentally attempt to load another pellet. A detent to hold the bolt in would be a nice addition. Each time the rifle is fired, the bolt is cycled to the rear, the magazine rotates the next pellet into place and the bolt will chamber and close on the pellet sealing the chamber for the next shot.
The safety is a M-14/M-203 style toggle. Other than to keep the trigger from discharging it has no redeeming features. There is no tactile sensation to it other than its hard forward stop to disengage. It’s held in its position by tension only.
The trigger itself is an interesting affair. Its nearly straight like many competition AR triggers, but has a small bow with sharp-ish corners. Both the trigger and safety are bare metal, no coatings look to be on them at all. I noticed some discoloration when it arrived which came off with CLP and a brush. This is a disappointing detail on an otherwise tight fit and finish air rifle.
Benjamin touts in its description and specifications that the trigger is a two-stages with a “crisp” release. The pull is two stages, about 1.9 lbs for the take-up, and another 1.1 lbs for the final pull for 3 lbs total. The first stage is a clean but once you hit the wall of the second, it’s a creepy affair. While smooth, there is no indication of the impending break. I recommend pulling this trigger with a jerk, especially with only the single pound of additional force.
Shockingly, I did not have to zero the Armada. Through good fortune (I contend superior skill); the scope was nearly on target at 25 yards. The Cross Point optic is sufficient for the intended usage. It comes complete with a second-focal-plane wire mil-dot reticle and adjustable parallax from with gradients for 10, 15, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 500, and infinity. Turrets are ¼ MOA clicks; excellent considering the short-range, high-precision is shooting the Armada is intended for. Turrets are lockable and can set the zero.
Magnification is 4-16x with a whopping 56mm objective lens. It is adjustable with a twist ring at the rear and has a thoughtful extended knob in the middle to assist with easy turning. From 4-16x, it was approximately 250 degrees of rotation, all smooth but with some resistance.
Accuracy testing was completed indoors at a 50 yard range. Conditions were about 65 degrees with 50% humidity. Testing was conducted with Crosman .22 Premier Hunting Pellets (provided by Crosman). Shooting was off a bench with the shooter supporting shots from the bipod and a rear sandbag while seated. 5-shot groups were under ½” at 50 yards and shooting 30 shots had a maximum spread of about 1” at 50 yards. “Shooting the Box” drills showed the optic was accurate enough at 100 yards and groups were consistent across the drill. The optic returned to zero without issue.
Benjamin claims up to 30 shots per fill. Filled up to 3000 PSI, the 30 shot groups punched a larger hole through paper with one or two flyers. While I did not have a chronometer on me, the two shots thrown high and to the left are indicative of higher velocity. Groups on a later trip were consistent again, under similar conditions.
Recoil is nonexistent. If anything, it feels that the gun is almost trying to leap forward. Combined with the sound of the shot itself, it makes shooting a pleasant experience. The barrel shroud acts as a suppressor and combined with the sub-sonic pellets, no muffs are needed. In fact, its nearly silent with only the light puff of a report and the mechanics of the valve opening and closing.
- Solid Accuracy and consistency, shot-to-shot
- Magazine-fed action feed reliably and protects the pellets sufficiently.
- Pumping system was more efficient than other rifles tested. Still took some work
- It’s not a long-range scope, but it’s perfectly sufficient for the intended usage. Scope has parallax adjustment for the short-ranges commonly used for air rifles.
- Rifle, as tested, was a complete package. Includes covers, bipod, and scope.
- Uses common .22 size air rifle pellets. Easy to find ammunition
- Trigger and safety are dull affairs, but can easily get the accuracy needed with a good shooter.
- M-LOK on the rails makes it easy to add accessories. Personally, I am all about an IR laser for late night critter hunting.
- It’s a long gun. With the stock at its second position, the Armada is roughly the same length as a fully M16A4.
- Price is $999.99, retail. Not bad considering the scope, bipod, and other accessories, but very expensive for an air rifle.
- Free-floated barrel feels loose. The shroud can easily be moved over ¼” in all directions and stopping only limited by the handguards.
- Occasionally would throw a pellet. Likely velocity related.
- Looks like a mil-spec tube with a commercial spec stock. Lots of play.
- The “all metal trigger” is yes, metal, but someone forgot to coat it with anything. Mine arrived with discoloration.
Compared to a real rifle, A .22lr is the F-series truck. It will simply do more, go farther, and packs a bigger punch when it hits something, but it requires the support of self-contained ammunition. While there are plenty of regular rifles that will do the same varminting hunt easily, the Armada does it with a bit of svelte and swagger.
The Benjamin Armada is a Tesla. Without its pump (charging station), it will only get you so far before needing to refill the tank. But, it will get you there quietly in style. For those who cannot own a powder-charged rifle, who prefer the quiet report, or are looking to push the boundaries of what is possible with an air rifle, the Armada is just the ticket.
The Armada is just my kind of swagger. I need to see how I can keep this one.