When people think of air rifles, they often don't take them seriously. However, the Benjamin Bulldog will change that perception as it's a serious hunting rifle. It is a .357 Pre-Charged Pneumatic repeater, classing it as a big bore air rifle and suitable for hunting large game, such as wild hog.
This air rifle packs a punch, especially when used with the right pellets, and can easily reach 900 fps. It's bullpup design means its action is located behind the trigger area, making it more compact and lighter then other similar sized air rifles. The lever action is smooth and effortless, giving it a clean and crisp feel when using, all good things.
As a PCP air rifle, it has a maximum fill capacity of 3000psi which will on average get you 10 shots before having to refill. To refill, it has a quick disconnect filler as opposed to a probe. minimizing the possibility of leaky o rings. However, the plastic cover for the charge quick disconnect is not permanently connected and seems flimsy in construction. It has the potential to fall off and get lost if out in the field. This seems like one of the little things that could have been done better, either by recessing further or having it remain securely connected to the rifle when it is opened.
The pressure gauge is easy to see so you can ensure it is refilled to the correct amount with no fuss. As with many big bore air rifles, they are air hogs, and this one is no different. Although it can be refilled with a high pressure hand pump, to hit the 3000psi limit it will take a lot of effort and may not be achievable for many who don't have the strength or body weight behind them. If you are unable to hit 3000psi, you may need to re-pump every 5 shots instead. We recommended getting an air tank to refill, it will make shooting this air rifle much more enjoyable in the long run.
As it's a big bore air rifle, it's going to be loud in comparison to smaller calibres. It comes with a SoundTrap baffle-less trapezoid-shaped sound suppression setup, however don't expect it to be silent! It will be quiet if using heavier ammo such as the Nosler 145 gr bullets.
There are two components to the loud sound of this air rifle, the barrel bark and the air tube ping. Although the barrel bark can be reduced, it makes the "ping" more noticeable. There is the option of installing a depinger, but one that is effective would end up reducing the air tube volume, and still won't make it that much quieter. As a big bore air rifle, it's still going to be louder, and there isn't much that can be done to completely remove this. The Bulldog will still hit approximately 100db and you should wear hearing protection whilst using it.
It has a 28" rifled barrel, but it's total length is only 36" due to its bullpup design. Without accessories it weighs 7.7lbs, though as you start adding scope it can easily increase up to over 12lbs. The sling mounts enable an easy carry, and due to its bullpup design, it sits flat across your back and is less likely to get caught up on branches or other items as you walk around with it.
It has a manual safety instead of an automatic one, so you don't have to worry about having to turn it off after each shot. The location of it though might get in the way a little for some users. The trigger is 2-stage, taking approximately 2lbs to reach stage 1 and 3lbs to reach stage 2, with a clean break. Unfortunately, it's non-adjustable, making it one of the few negatives for this air rifle. The trigger is plastic, so seems a bit flimsy in comparison to the rest of the rifle but is still smooth.
It's also made for accessorising, with several mount points. It's full length Picatinny rails make it more flexible with your accessories, and any optical accessory made for the AR platform can be fitted. When mounting a scope, the rail might seem a little low compared with the stock, but a spacer can easily fix that if required.
The grip is by far as plastic as the Bulldog gets, and should have had a rubber coat on the grip or some grooves added, however you can easily add a rubber sleeve to improve the grip if needed.
Don't despair if you are left-handed, this air rifle has a reversible bolt and is designed to enable the sidelever to be switched to the other side of the gun. With the ambidextrous synthetic stock, this is a great air rifle for those who are left-handed or like to shoot from both sides.
Make sure if your target shooting you have a solid strong backstop. When using lead slugs, it hits with real authority. Make sure when you are using this air rifle, you are aware of what's around you and where you are shooting as it can do some damage.
You will most likely attract a lot of attention when shooting it and have to deal with everyone wanting to try a couple of shots themselves. You will probably surprise a few on how powerful air rifles have become. And even if the look of it takes a while to grow on you, it's power and accuracy will have you falling in love with it in no time!
Best Bulldog Ammunition
As with most things, the better quality the gear the better the experience. The same when using the Benjamin Bulldog air rifle. Benjamin have produced the Benjamin Nosler ballistic tip .357 cal 145 gr bullets that specifically go with this air rifle. These are a favourite to shoot, but they are quite expensive in comparison to others on the market that are available!
Some other options are the domed JSB Match Diabolo Exact, .35 Cal, 81.02 Grains. These will be much louder in comparison to Nosler bullets due to being significantly lighter but they are a cheaper alternative and can still get great results with them.
If these don't suit you are you really want to try some other alternative, these are also available on the market:
Bulldog Auto Indexing Magazine - 5 shot
The Bulldog uses a 5-shot magazine which is a big plus as many big bore rifles are single shot, increasing the practicality of a follow-on shot. It's easy to load, smooth, and no jamming.
As the Bulldog air rifle is able to comfortably maintain 10 full shots before requiring a refill, but only comes with a single 5-shot magazine as standard, it's also a good idea to have an extra magazine on hand.
This magazine even tells you when you are out of pellets! It has a handy feature of a green and red indicator to show when it is full or empty, so it's quick and easy to tell what the status of the magazine is. If you forget to keep track of how many shots you've let off, this will save you from shooting air at something accidentally. It also has the ability to auto-rotate a fresh round into the breech with each cocking motion of the rifle.
Benjamin Bulldog Big Game Hunter's Pack
If you're looking to buy accessories for your bulldog air rifle, the big game hunter's pack is good value. It comes with a range of additional items, being a bipod, scope with a lens cover, 25 rounds of Nosler ballistic ammo ($25 value alone), sling, carry case, and cleaning items.
As with most packs or kits, the extra items are not going to be the highest quality available on the market. The scope which comes with the hunter's pack has some chromatic aberrations in the image at distance, though this is not as noticeable when looking at a black and white target. The bipod is reasonable and will get the job done. If you are after a top of the line bipod, this is not it, but for the price of it, it is still a good addition to your kit.