The Theoben Crusader is a beautifully made, high power, gas spring air rifle. The fit and finish are excellent. It is most definitely a man sized rifle. I'm guessing that it takes between 40 and 50 pounds of cocking effort to break the barrel open to load a pellet.
I have several medium power spring powered air rifles, and wanted to try something that was rated as "high power". After doing some research I decided to buy a Theoben Crusader in .20 caliber. The idea of a gas spring, instead of a standard metal wound spring, was also an interesting concept to me.
I had heard that the firing cycle sensation was quite different from regular spring powered guns, and I wanted to experience that. The stock on mine is nicely checkered walnut. The trigger pull took a bit of getting used to, but after a dozen or so shots, I was very comfortable with using it as it came from the factory. It has a bit of take-up, and then breaks cleanly. If you are fussy about trigger pull, I'm sure it can be improved.
The firing cycle is interesting, in that it is kind of an inert "thunk". Sort of a very quick punch against your shoulder. It definitely sounds and feels different from any of my regular springers. I like it. The balance is excellent, and it's an easy rifle to carry in the field for long periods of time.
Initially, I put a Bushnell 3200, 7X21X40MM mildot scope on it but then realized that, because it's a break barrel, the breech end of the barrel would hit the sunshade, so I removed the 3200 and mounted a Bushnell 5X15X40MM Legend with mildots instead. It has worked out just great on this rifle. I used the Dampa Mount that came with the rifle.
I tried several different pellets in it, and the definite winner is the Beeman .20 caliber 13.3 grain Kodiaks. When I did my part, I could keep them in a half, to three quarters of an inch group at 50 yards.
This is definitely a hunting rifle, not a plinker. It's powerful and I use both arms to cock it. An afternoon of just plinking with it will give you some sore muscles for sure, and in the end, not that much fun. It has a lot going for it as a hunter though. Accurate, powerful, with automatic safety, and because it uses a gas spring, you can leave it cocked while hunting without worry about weakening the main spring.
This is an expensive rifle, but very well made, and well worth the money. The next obvious thing for me to do with it was to get out and hunt some ground squirrels.
I'm the sort that always wonders what the heck is around the next bend, or over the next hill. I had one of those questions about a canyon I came across while hunting with the Crusader this past Spring. I had been hunting along a cow path that meandered easily through the oaks, when it suddenly headed down into a canyon I had never hunted before.
Since I was already a good distance from my truck, and it was late in the day, I decided that canyon would have to wait for another time to be explored.
A few weeks later I had the time to hunt that canyon for the first time. I got to the area early to give myself time to hike through the original area, and into the new canyon. I have found that following cow paths through the woods is a pretty good way to go. They may be big, stupid, and taste good, but they seem to know the least strenuous route to take through steep, hilly terrain.
As I'm following the cow path down into the new canyon, I start seeing squirrels sitting on limbs, stumps, and running through the grass. I think I saw the Crusader smile.
Man, this was virgin territory. There was a large pile of deadfall from an old oak that had toppled many decades ago, and sitting among the limbs were three adult ground squirrels. The range to the farthest one was 48 yards. I was sighted in at 50 yards so I simply rested the rifle on my bipod, put the crosshairs on his chest, and squeezed the trigger.
When the shot broke, there was a loud "THWACK" as the pellet connected, and the squirrel dropped down into the deadfall and out of sight. A second squirrel at about 39 yards simply looked around to see what the noise was about, but didn't run off. I loaded up another pellet and tried a shot at squirrel number two. This time I aimed at his head, but didn't hold under enough, and the pellet sailed right between it's ears. It could not have missed by more than a quarter of an inch but it might as well have been a mile.
Once again, he just sits there while I load up another round. This time I held on his throat and the pellet caught him right between the eyes. Not so much as a twitch. Instant lights out. The third squirrel decided he had better things to do and disappeared into the pile of deadfall.
This was definitely virgin territory. I was picking squirrels off from about 30 yards on out to my longest shot of 51 yards. The Crusader makes it almost too easy. At a muzzle energy of 19 foot pounds, she was dropping the furballs with resounding authority.
I'm very pleased with the hunting performance of this rifle. She is definitely shooting half minute of squirrel out to fifty yards and beyond. When I do my part, there is no missing with this rifle. One shot kills are the norm.
It turns out that this canyon was well worth coming back to and checking out. I'm glad I took the time to hike in for a day hunt. I will be back.
AIRGUN VARMINT HUNTING VIDEO: "Airgun Hunting the California Ground Squirrel" is 70+ minutes of nonstop fair chase airgun varmint hunting action and information. Over 260 video clips of California Ground Squirrels being taken with modern adult airguns from 30 to 90 yards and beyond. $19.95 + $3.95 S/H Order at: Link to VarmintAir.com