Like many NRA members and readers of this publication, I have had air rifles for most of my life. For the first half of my life, the air gun was simply a fun gun for popping cans or going frog hunting. This month I obtained and have been using Beeman’s Chief II Plus S Model 1335 in .177 caliber. This is a pre-charged pneumatic air rifle.
Here are the company specs: The tank holds up to 2,900 pounds per square inch (psi);the rifle comes with two 12-shot magazines, a sound-suppressing muzzle, a built-in pressure gauge (which is a nice feature), fiber-optic sights, manual safety and a rifled steel barrel. Beeman promises velocities up to 1,100 feet per second (fps) with the .177, and 1,000 fps with the .22.
For the purposes of this review, I purchased a variety of .177 pellets and shot a number of them with the fiber optic sights at 12 yards to break in the gun and get a feel for the trigger and the basic operation of the air rifle. Right out of the box I was impressed with the accuracy.
As I did not have a scuba tank with which to charge the rifle, I purchased a hand pump and used that. It took a little effort, but the task was completely doable and purchasing the hand pump means that I have a way to charge the rifle anywhere I go. Once I was knowledgeable about the rifle and how to charge it, I began testing it. I found that with the hand pump I put in approximately 25-30 strokes to get it fully charged to 2,900 psi. As I stated above, it is quite manageable. Then I put a scope on the rifle and began doing some accuracy tests. As you can see from the photo, accuracy is quite good, particularly from an air rifle that retails right around $200.
I found that the heavier pellets seem to be the most accurate, with pressures in the built in gauge on the rifle between 2,100-2,900 fps. Once the pressure drops below that, the accuracy seems to decrease. In my opinion, there’s a real bonus in the fact that when the rifle runs out of power, it does so suddenly and without a long degradation in accuracy. For example, when the rifle needed refilling and I was not watching the gauge closely, accuracy would go from shooting very tight groups to shooting a few pellets noticeably low. In short, the rifle was consistent to the end.
The fiber-optic sights are very nice and adequate for backyard plinking. For hunting purposes I wanted to mount a scope on it, so I went with a Beeman 4x32. This scope’s adjustments are quite consistent as well. The Beeman scope walked my impacts just as I dictated by the adjustments. Although my tests were at 25 yards, I did do some plinking at longer ranges with great results. This gun, when properly charged and sighted-in, is adequate for squirrel and rabbit hunting or pest removal.
Pros: The rifle with heavier pellets (at least 9 grains) is very accurate, particularly so for the price point! PCP rifles are so much easier on people who do not have the strength to break the action on a break-barrel air gun to cock it. The Chief II 1335 is light enough for even young shooters to operate. The design is simple and the rifle seems to be rugged enough to last for years and use regularly. As stated above, the sights are great and with a quality scope, range is extended to at least 40 yards with good accuracy. There are two 12-round magazines in the box with the rifle. That is helpful, particularly if you are wanting to hunt or spend more time shooting vs loading.
Cons: I have three thoughts here. First, the trigger takes some getting used to. There is some roughness in the trigger, but with practice and breaking-in time, that smooths out somewhat. I have read that the trigger can be adjusted, but I have not found the need to do so now that I have put plenty of pellets downrange. Second, the bolt can be a little bit tough to pull back for younger shooters. Last, the operation of the safety takes some getting used to—but it does work well.
In summary, if you want a very accurate air rifle that you do not have to pump for each shot, this is a serious contender for your wish list. At $200, the light weight and shorter size of this rifle make it usable for a wide variety of people, particularly those who are shorter in stature or have smaller arms. Although heavier pellets worked the best, even the lighter, less expensive pellets provided good accuracy in the rifle I have. I really enjoy shooting this rifle and it now sits near the door ready to go on walks through the woods or for use taking out pests around our small farm. For more information, visit Beeman.com.