Benjamin 'tootsie roll' collection
Benjamin 'tootsie roll' collection
Tootsie roll refers to the shape of the cocking arm handle.
Models 310, 312, 317.
With thanks to Garey. He writes on the American Vintage Airguns forum:
Benjamin Air Rifle Company has been around since the very early 1900’S their MSP Air Rifles/ Pistols have been a staple in the Air Gun market more than a hundred years and still are today! The three Rifles I will review herein will be some early 50’s/ 60”s, nicknamed “Tootsie Roll” for their wood pump lever handles, parody of a well known candy bar called a Tootsie Roll, a round Chocolate bar with circular groove’s!!! These are some really compact units 34 inches OAL weight about 4 pounds.
I started looking for a complete set of the Tootsie Roll- Model 310 smoothbore-312 .22 caliber and a 317 .177 caliber Benjamin Air Rifles in the middle 80s, took a couple years to get them all rounded up. I really like their Classic look with the Tootsie Roll Walnut wood pump lever and stocks!! I rebuilt and refurbished all three, including replacing the rubber bumper in the pump arm, this really cuts down on the clack–clack noise when pumping!! . The 310 is a 1958, the 317 a 1963 (according to serial numbers) and the 312 had no serial number with a straight bolt handle screwdriver slotted, rather than curved, and from my limited research indicated about 1952-1953? It’s certainly pre 1957!!
I also have the remnants of a Benjamin model G/200 Single shot muzzle loading BB Rifle 1929-1930, missing the front pump assembly and the trigger assembly, it hangs over my machine shop entrance door, will include a photo.
I do have a couple of later Benjamin 342s both with the full wood pump lever handles; a 1986 and 1990, fine MSP.22 caliber. Air Rifles; I personally prefer .22 calibers in these units, just my preference. It’s just my opinion, but I have always felt that Benjamin’s forte was in the MSP units and Crosman conversely, was in the Co2 arena .Again just a personal opinion others may disagree!
As I recall it was about 2000 when I saw an ad for a series of 5 separate books on Air guns, in a publication (I forget which now) I ordered all 5, one of which was on “The St. Louis & Benjamin Air Rifle Co.s” I have found this book to be a valuable aid regarding info on the Benjamin Air Rifles. In Fact all the books are very helpful with info on both, Crosman/ Benjamin Air Rifles. Fellow by the name of, DT Fletcher authored all of them, a big effort on his part!!!!!He also autographed each for me!!!
The Benjamin Tootsie Roll M-310 smoothbore will be first up for review. All the early literature I have seen on units recommends 6-8 pumps max, and I will adhere to that. I know that some later model unit literature states a Max of 10 -12 pumps but that will not be used in these units!! Accuracy was stated in the literature as 1-2 inch at 15-20 yards, no velocity figures were stated .We shall see!
All three of these units used a side mounted safety located at the rear breech; after cocking, the safety would be pushed down thru a slot in the receiver and engage a notch in the hammer, preventing the release of the hammer, if the trigger is inadvertently pulled. To reset the safety, the bolt would have to be re-cocked.
The bolt on the M-310 is hollow, allowing a BB, lead or steel, to be inserted or a .117 pellet can be loaded, but care must be taken. The rear sight on this unit is a leaf type adjustable for wind age and elevation. Trigger pull measured at 3.5 lbs. An interesting side note; on some very early Benjamin Rifles literature; a “Hair Trigger” was emphasized!! Would not go over to well in today’s time!! Dylan was right “The Times they are a changing”!
One other thing I did for each of these units is machine; out of a piece of 1/2 inch round Black Nylon bar stock, a “Hand Guard” to fit over the barrel “ala” the Sheridan rubber Hand Guard, I found it worked very well to protect the barrel and a slightly larger more comfortable grip area was provided while pumping! Well anyway I like em!
All field range testing was done from a bench rest at 15 yards, as previously stated the Tootsie Roll M—310 smooth bore was first up; I used Daisy zinc plated steel BBs 5.1 grains, as I have found them to perform well, I also used some Benjamin 7.9 grain.177 pellets just for a comparison, didn’t expect much from a smoothbore, but wanted to see!! I might point out that loading “pellets” in the 310 can be a little fiddly, I found it best to lay the pellet in the trough and tip the barrel down letting the pellet move past the transfer port and then close the bolt, course the BBs were pushed in the open bolt end and then bolt closed .
I used 7 pumps for all testing (recommended 6-8) the Daisy BBs produced a high of 761 fps and a low of 739 fps for a 5 shot average of 750 fps. 6.3 ft. lbs- 5 shot group of 1.10” center to center! The Benjamin pellets had a high of 731 fps and a low of 706 fps for a 5 shot average of 718 fps.9 ft.lbs. -5 shot group of 2.20” center to center. Velocity seemed a little high, but it is a smoothbore no land and groove drag!!
Clearly the BBs were more accurate than the pellets but I expected as much with the smoothbore 310! Actually the 310 performed well with the BBs; I mean 1 inch groups at 15 yards met Benjamin’s specs of 1 -2 inch at 15 -20 yards and managed 6.3 ft. lbs. A REAL LITTLE THUMPER!!
Up next is the Tootsie Roll M-312 Rifled barrel, .22 cal. l; it came equipped with a dovetailed fixed rear sight, adjustable for windage only. I used Crosman PMHP 14.3 grains, again shooting from bench at 15 yds.
The Crosman 14.3 grains delivered a high of 554 fps and a low of 526 fps. For five shot average of 540 fps. 9.2 ft. lbs. These figures regarding velocity may seem a little anemic compared to later model 342s and they are.
My 1986/1990 MSP 342 Benjamin’s can easily break 600 + fps!! I have checked the 312 unit several times everything is in spec! I am getting some blow by at the bolt seat prolly loosing 10 -20 fps , could o-ring it but decided it just isn’t necessary; I believe it may also have to do with a better pump piston and possibly a slightly larger transfer port on the “342”s,and of course only 7 pumps; course I could be wrong!. In the end it doesn’t matter I will take 9.2 ft. lbs. in .22 caliber from this nearly 70 year old Benjamin on 7 pumps; no problem!! Trigger set @ 3.0 lbs.
Accuracy; the M-312 with 14.3 grain Crosman PMHP delivered a 5 shot group of .750” at 15 yards easily meeting Benjamin’s specs of 1-2 inches @ 15-20 yard. Accurate little rifle and right at 10 ft. lbs.!!
And finally the Tootsie Roll M-317 .177 Cal .Trigger set at 3.0 lbs. I used Benjamin 7.9 grain pellets, again shooting from bench at 15 yds. The Benjamin 7.9 grain pellets delivered a high of 624 fps and low of 610 fps for a 5 shot average of 617 fps and 6.7 ft. lbs.
Accuracy 5 shots equaled .535”center to center (4 in .290”) astounding accuracy from a nearly 50 year old Classic Tootsie Roll Benjamin!!!!! Again easily surpassing Benjamin’s claim of 1-2 inches at 15-20 yards!!!
I could not be more pleased with my collection of Classic Tootsie Roll Benjamin’s; compact lightweight, accurate and powerful ; I mean really what’s not to like!! This is the stuff dreams were made of for teenage boys in the 50s & 60s!!!!