Benjamin Franklin Air Rifle

Here is my new toy. It is a Benjamin Franklin Air Rifle model 317. My mother in law's husband owned this gun when he was a kid. He told me that his dad bought it down the street from their house at a local gun shop in Falls City, NE.

According to the markings on the gun, it was made in the USA. I assume it was made in St. Louis because the end of the barrel says "Benjamin Air Rifle Co St. Louis U.S.A.". It seems from what I have found on the Internet, that the Benjamin Franklin Company was bought out by a company called Sheridan and became Benjamin Sheridan for a while. Then in the early 90's Benjamin Sheridan was purchased by Crossman. There is a serial number printed on the left side of the gun back under the bolt. It says "H 50157". According to Crossman's website (link below) serial number indicates my gun was manufactured in the late 50's. Apparently Benjamin didn't start putting serial numbers on guns until 1957 so it must be at least that old, but the Crossman website shows the lowest serial number for 317 rifles starting at "H59440" and my number is slightly below that so I am a little fuzzy on how to interpret that. If anyone knows what the letter "H" stands for, please let me know. I have been unable to find much information about Benjamin Franklin air rifles online. Message forums have proved the most useful.

It shoots standard .177 caliber pellets. It is charged by pumping the lever on the bottom of the barrel. I have never pumped it past 10 times. 5 times seems plenty sufficient for most circumstances-- and I haven't tried to kill anything with it yet. 10 pumps will go through a piece of tin metal at 15 feet.

When I obtained the gun, it was in working order, but needed a good oiling. I had it for about a week before I realized the barrel was constructed of brass. I had originally thought the barrel to be steel painted black with shiny worn parts. Apparently Benjamin air rifles shipped with all visible parts colored with Black Nickel or Black Oxide process. I have been told my gun was Black Nickel. The Black Nickel process works like this: the brass is first finished with nickel, then a coat of shiny black is applied, and after that clear coat added over the nickel. My gun wasn't too pretty, most of those layers had worn off and what was left was covered in a layer of black tarnish.

I took upon the cleaning project with a can of gun oil, some bearing grease (to lube the plunger), a can of Brasso and a healthy stack of rags. Disassembling the gun wasn't too hard. The solid wood stock came of with one screw. I wiped down the wooden stock and pump handle with bore oil to keep it from drying out and cracking. Next, I removed the bolt, spring-loaded hammer and cap from the back of the barrel, the trigger, sights, and the plunger/handle assembly. I did not attempt to take apart the inner chamber where the pumped air is stored. It all appeared to be in working order and I didn't want to mess it up. From what I have read on the Internet, it appears that the early models require a special tool to remove the valves.

Once I had it completely taken apart I wiped down all the parts of dirt and grease and began polishing the brass parts. The polishing took about 4 to 5 hours. I know I made it through a number of Any Griffith episodes. The parts which made it hard, were the hard to reach corners and crevasses down the muzzle. The only black metal parts left now are the trigger, trigger guard, rear sights, bolt, safety, and the tip of the larger bottom barrel where the plunger resides. I have seen web sites which advertise re-painting guns, but personally I like mine with the shiny brass visible.

Once she was shiny again, I spent the second night carefully executing the reassembly. I oiled the moving parts as I went and used the automotive bearing grease on the plunger setup inside of the barrel which pumps air into the chamber. I then set up a piece of wood with a target drawn on it with a magic marker, and fine tuned the sights by shooting across my living room. Needless to say, I locked up my rabbit in its cage. I couldn't have him hopping around in front of my target.

Below are some pictures of my gun before and after I cleaned it. If you have any questions or want me to add some links, please E-mail me. Better yet, if you know any thing about Benjamin Franklin air rifles, then you probably know more than me-- E-mail me and tell ME about my gun. :)


~Brad



Benjamin Air Rifle Links

Serial number information from crossman.com
http://www.crosman.com/site/date_manufactured_benjamin

Benjamin Franklin repair parts, and rebuild kits
http://www.bryanandac.com/
Most Benjamin models require the Benjamin tool to open and close the valve, $12.95
Most Benjamin kits are $28.75. All kits contain valve and pump parts that should be replaced
to insure service and effect, plus, a parts drawing, sample oiler and step by step work sheet.
The correct model number id needed to supply the correct kit.




E-mail me at brad@bradwood.com




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This page last updated on April 6, 2005.