I'd like to pick up an air-rifle, primarily for hunting squirrels. Based on various criteria, I've narrowed my selection down to a Crosman Phantom 1000X (info here) and a Benjamin 397 (info here). I'll be purchasing these locally, the links are just for information.
Here are my thoughts between them.
The Crosman fits me better. It's closer to a full-size rifle, and I find it very comfortable to hold. The Benjamin's stock is pretty small for me. Might make a nice pack-gun, but I don't know how it'll be for extended shooting.
The Crosman is a spring-piston, which in theory is supposed to be a simpler mechanism which therefore leads to a longer life. I've heard very good things about the Benjamin's longevity, though, and I've heard that the high-power spring-pistons wear out quickly due to the high pressures and temperatures involved.
The Benjamin is supposed to work with a wider variety of pellets. The Crosman is reported to be fairly picky about its pellets.
The Benjamin is supposed to have very little recoil. The double-recoil of a spring-piston is supposed to require a hold which is different from a traditional firearm, which the pump-pneumatic Benjamin shouldn't require.
I don't think the Benjamin name stands for much anymore, since they're now owned by Crosman. I imagine the power-plants and construction are of pretty equal quality.
I like the range of powers available on the pneumatic, and I like that the Benjamin supposedly works with a wide variety of pellets. I like the simplicity of the spring-piston and the fit of the Crosman.
So... what are your thoughts? If I was looking at a 30 year old Benjamin, I'd get that, but since they're both new production... I dunno.
I'm going with .177s due to the huge and inexpensive variety of locally-available pellets. The only store locally that sells .22s sells them at $20 for 500 pellets (no thanks!). Sure, I can get them online, but I like to shop locally.