Crosman Nitro Review
Over the past couple of years, the Crosman Corporation has been under going a sweeping change of their airgun offerings. They have come out of the realm of lower end airguns and entered the world of high quality/medium priced airguns - now competing with the European makers. All made in the USA.
First was the Discovery Air Rifle , a very successful PCP rifle designed from the ground up. Followed a year later by the Marauder PCP, as a completely new rifle with many innovations and refinements - yet, still affordable.
Now comes a gas-piston break-barrel rifle that Crosman is producing as an outgrowth of the existing Remington Genesis air rifle frame. The Genesis is built by Crosman for Remington. Currently, Gamo offers their version of a gas-piston power system as the Air Venturi. More expensive gas-piston offerings come from Theoben of the UK and Weihrauch of Germany (selling as Beeman in the USA).
The Box Arrives The brown truck pulls away and I am holding a large box containing a new Crosman Nitro Piston Short Stroke (NPSS) air rifle, which I will refer to as the Nitro for the remainder of this article.
The product package within the brown box.
Inside of the product box is the Nitro, the Center Point 3 - 9 x 40mm Center Point scope, a one-piece scope mount,
I removed the trigger lock and carefully turned the rifle to examine it for anything amiss. The action mounts to the stock with three screws - neither it, nor the trigger guard was loose. There is no extra oil or other lubricants smeared on anything. Bluing appears even and deep, and the finish on the metal barrel shroud looks fine.
The scope mount uses Allen screws to tighten the clamps against the dove tail scope rail. Note that the mount has a stop pin which is screwed down and into the receiver using the smaller of the two Allen wrenches supplied. The inside of scope rings are covered with a strip of grip-coated rubbery tape, to assist in holding the scope. The tape should also help protect the scope from mount rash.
Unwrapping the scope (a 3x9x40mm w/mil-dot reticle), I make a quick viewing check through it. It is clear and bright. Then I remove the mount ring tops, set the scope into place, and slightly tightened the ring tops, adjusting the tube fore and aft for proper scope position to suit your individual sighting/vision needs, and setting the crosshairs to vertical and horizontal. Lastly, I tightened the scope ring tops down (do not over tighten).
The All Together Feel After mounting the scope, the Nitro is ready for the “how does it feel” test. I bring the rifle up into the shooting position:
The first thing I notice is that the Nitro is not a small rifle. When you pick up the Nitro, you’ll know you are holding onto a “real” rifle. It has a solid feel and good fit.
The stock is rather oddly shaped, however, suits me well and acts very much like a thumb-hole stock. The gripping (rubbery in feel and texture) over-coating that Crosman applies to their stock serves a couple of functions. First, it assures that the gun isn’t going to move around while you are shooting it, and second it will dampen vibration and internal noises from the action. I like it - it feels very good - very firm.
The cheek piece feels slightly soft and is comfortable - it is ambidextrous. The butt pad is made of the same material as the cheek pad, however, it is ventilated and somewhat crushable - which aids in recoil reduction.
As a further comment about the stock: The synthetic stock makes the Nitro a real outdoor gun - weather resistant, accident resistant, and abuse resistant. Although some wood stocks are beautiful, this synthetic stock will stand up to heavy use much better than a highly finished wood stock. The stock is available in black or camo.
Holding the Nitro as any other break-barrel, I cocked it - then held the action open. The movement felt good, very smooth - obviously machined and lubricated well.
I ran a dry patch through the bore a couple of times to see what came out. It was somewhat dirty, so I ran another dry patch through it - this time coming back pretty clean. On a visual inspection, the bore looks good. Time to start firing.
The First Shots I inserted a pellet into the breech and closed the action. The lockup is positive.
The trigger has two clearly defined stages and is quite smooth - no bump or creep. Although the first stage is a little heavier and longer than I expected, the second stage fired very nicely. After a few shots it was very predictable.
The safety is a tang that is inside the trigger guard and to the front of the trigger. It snaps on and off nicely, using the trigger finger and is NOT automatic.
The first shot, and the following couple of shots were quite loud, along with some noted diesel smell. After a few more shots, this was never experienced again.
No spring noise! What a treat that is. The recoil is minor and not what I would expect from a spring powered air rifle of a similar power. Before any real testing of the new gun was done, I fired a hundred pellets through it to get a feel for the gun and to break it in a little (recommended in the rifle's instructions). During that initial hundred pellet break-in, I took the opportunity to sight in the scope.
All in all, my first impressions are that the Nitro is quiet, docile, and a pleasant gun to shoot.
The Testing Begins The Nitro I reviewed was in .177 caliber and I used several diverse pellet styles and weights for the testing: Crosman Premier - domed 10.5 g RWS Super Dome - domed 8.3 g Benjamin - hollow points 10.5 g RWS R10 - wadcutter 7.7 g JSB Diablo - domed 8.44 g
Accuracy To show my groups well, I selected the Gamo card target and to shoot groups of five (5) shots each. Test groups were shot rested from a distance of 10 meters and 25 meters.
Conditions: 72 degrees, south wind at 10 - gusting to 23 MPH
The Nitro didn't seem to care what pellets it shot at ten meters, however, when the range was moved up to 25 yards - things were different. The JSB Exacts did the best in this gun. Of course, your mileage may vary.
I have a bell at 125 feet (about 4 inches in diameter) that I was able to hit consistently shooting off-hand using any of the pellets - even in the wind.
Chronograph Table of chronograph muzzle measurements in FPS (feet per second) and calculated for FPE (foot pounds energy) (at muzzle): Crosman Premier - 10 shot average speed 771 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 752/786 FPS - calculated FPE of 13.9 RWS Super Dome - 10 shot average speed 898 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 886/909 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.9 Benjamin HP - 10 shot average speed 785 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 756/789 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.4 RWS R10 - 10 shot average speed 933 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 930/935 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.9 JSB Diablo - 10 shot average speed 931FPS - high to low velocity spread of 927/938 FPS - calculated FPE of 16.2
Table of chronograph muzzle measurements in FPS (feet per second) and calculated for FPE (foot pounds energy) (at 10 feet): Crosman Premier - 10 shot average speed 767 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 755/772 FPS - calculated FPE of 13.7 RWS Super Dome - 10 shot average speed 880 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 875/884 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.3 Benjamin HP - 10 shot average speed 780 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 766/784 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.2 RWS R10 - 10 shot average speed 932 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 927/938 FPS - calculated FPE of 14.9 JSB Diablo - 10 shot average speed 927 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 922/935 FPS - calculated FPE of 16.1
Table of chronograph muzzle measurements in FPS (feet per second) and calculated for FPE (foot pounds energy) (at 50 feet): Crosman Premier - 10 shot average speed 720 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 709/733 FPS - calculated FPE of 12.1 RWS Super Dome - 10 shot average speed 755 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 747/761 FPS - calculated FPE of 10.5 Benjamin HP - 10 shot average speed 738 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 727/749 FPS - calculated FPE of 12.7 RWS R10 - 10 shot average speed 768 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 763/772 FPS - calculated FPE of 10.1 JSB Diablo - 10 shot average speed 751 FPS - high to low velocity spread of 746/759 FPS - calculated FPE of 10.5
I noticed that some pellets were a tight fit going into the breech, indicating some size variances among the pellets. The most consistent for good fit were the JSB Diablo pellets and the RWS R10 pellets. The most variable in fit were the Crosman Premiers (also the dirtiest to handle).
Comments About the Nitro’s Engine The energy source of the Nitro is a nitrogen filled compression piston (also known as a gas-piston or gas ram) scheme. A gas-piston is not unlike shock absorbers on an automobile. Although the operation of the Nitro's piston is physically very similar to a spring rifle - the gun has no main spring. The spring has been replaced with a gas-piston. Gas-pistons are claimed to easily outlive springs by many times.
The advantages of the gas-piston powered airgun include being able to remain cocked for long periods of time (such as an entire hunt), yet causing no spring damage or spring stress (remember, there is no spring used to power this type of airgun). Further, there are no spring noises, either when cocking or when firing. Note, however, that the instructions do caution against storing your gun cocked or loaded.
Cocking is smooth without any noted grinding or binding. This gun does require a little extra cocking effort over the famous Beeman R7 (the Nitro is a much more powerful rifle). The Nitro is advertised at 27 pounds cocking force and the R7 claims 18 pounds. Of interest, published numbers indicate that the Beeman R9 (spring powered) requires 40 pounds force and the Beeman RX2 (gas-piston powered) requires 46 pounds.
The secret of the Nitro’s comparatively reduced cocking effort is the “short stroke” design. In other words, using a long lever and travel (the barrell) and a piston that only requires a small amount of movement to provide firing power. The actual cocking stroke is a little harder at the mid-point then when first breaking the barrel open or when at the finish point of the cocking stroke.
Overall Impressions of the Nitro My airgun experience began with competition grade rifles and pistols - hence, I am quite picky when it comes to quality. Since becoming interested in facets of airgunning other than competition, I have developed a keen interest in sporting airguns. Prior to the past few years, I had never shot a break-barrel air rifle. Hence, ease of a gun's use, portability, stability, consistency, and ruggedness are all high value points for me. So, with those factors in mind, how did the Nitro fair?
This new gun is fun to shoot. It feels good in my hands, looks good, and does not tire me out after an hour of cocking and shooting. I keep going back to shoot it some more.
The Nitro does require the "artillery hold" and has to be allowed to do its own thing. I found the best method was to let the forearm of the rifle rest in my hand (rest only) and be on target before shooting. If you force hold it, you will be rewarded with a miss - not unlike other springer-type powered rifles. To get the most from the Nitro, you must become a disciplined shooter.
In the power department, the Nitro is in the 14 Ft. Lbs. class. Yet, is it a versatile air rifle that will be quite at home as a plinker, informal target shooter, or small game hunter. A real “one gun" that does it all. What I like about break barrel air rifles, is the shooter's independence from anything high pressure - whether it is HPA, Co2, Scuba, etc. All you need is a tin of pellets and something to shoot at.
I don't think this is a gun for use by kids, as it might be too difficult to cock. Although the recoil would not be too great for them.
I like the synthetic stock. It has a good feel to it and it is very rugged. When you hang onto this rifle, it is not going to slip around - it grips right back. My personal choice for stock material on a working gun is synthetic - rainproof, scuff resistant, and ready for hard use. No worries about scratches and dents.
The trigger mechanism is an all metal, two-stage affair, which provides a long first stage and nice shot from the quite solid second stage. It is adjustable, although I did not make any adjustments to the review gun. The trigger compares to the Weihrauch Rekord unit in general operation, however, is lacking the full adjustment features of the Rekord and is not a true target style trigger. The trigger blade itself is somewhat on the "bulk built" side - it looks clunky and could due to have lengthwise grooves machined into it to prevent finger slippage. A trigger shoe might be preferred by some shooters, although I do not really see a need for one.
The safety is completely manual - thank you Crosman.
The Nitro has a shroud installed as an integral part of the rifle. Although the shrouded barrel resembles a bull barrel in appearance, the Nitro does not have a true bull barrel. This is a good thing, as an air rifle with a true bull barrel would be undesirable due to its weight.
The noise level from the Nitro is quite low. You do get some direct noise from the mechanism while shooting the gun, but it isn't heard by anyone except the shooter and is not as loud as a spring powered gun. The shot itself is quiet - nothing more than a snap sound. Considering the power of this air rifle, the shroud does a good job.
The 3 - 9 x 40mm Center Point scope that comes with the rifle is very adequate for plinking and hunting. Having a 40mm objective, the scope gathered enough light at dusk to still be quite useful - so it is no slouch. I do not care for the uncovered turrets - as they can be accidently bumped and moved a couple of clicks. That said, I am not in a rush to replace the scope with anything else. The scope dust caps are clear and can be left on in lousy weather to keep rain/snow spatter off the lenses.
The Nitro is not going to be competition against the high class European guns. The refinements of fit and finish are not there and the stock is not a fine grade of wood, shaped and finished to collector quality. However, for those of us wanting a good quality airgun to shoot and enjoy - the Nitro is a perfect fit.
And having said all that On about shot number 200 the rifle started to grind slightly when being cocked. On shot 255, the gun failed to cock. It would open and close, but it would not cock.
So .... I called Crosman Customer Service. The telephone number they provide on their website resulted in a recorded message telling me what I could find on their website - including a customer service email form and that I should email them concerning any problem with their product and that they would quickly get back to me. No mention was made about what to do if you don't have email, though.
The email was sent at about 1:30 PM on Friday the 3rd of July. I could not have picked a worse day for the gun to fail. I received an automated email indicating they had received my message and "Your message has been relayed to the proper person for handling. You should be hearing from us very soon."
First thing Monday morning I did hear from Crosman with instructions to return the defective gun to them for replacement. I did this and had the replacement in my hands on Friday. I am very pleased with their no-quibble approach to customer service - a rarity in retail these days.
I ran a new set of chrony numbers with the replacement gun and found them to be a few FPS faster. Other than that, the gun was the same as the original - except that after 575 shots, it was still operating fine.