Gun test: Kral Arms Puncher Jumbo
PUBLISHED: 15:18 05 June 2018
Could the Kral Arms Puncher Jumbo be the rifle you're looking for?
What do you want from your next air rifle? If the answer to that seemingly simple question is, ‘something graceful, classically sporting, understated and elegant’, well you can look away now. If, however, your wish list reads, ‘a totally practical, affordable, top-performing, multi-shot, PCP sporter, with loads of shots per charge and great accuracy’, you’ve definitely landed on the right review. In fact, I’ll begin my study of the Turkish made, side-lever-activated, Kral Arms Puncher Jumbo with the kind of statement I usually save for the conclusion, and declare right now that this rifle has caused a few shocks for me, and everyone I’ve shown it to.
Those shocks, and I’m talking genuine, eyebrow-raising, head-shaking surprise, here, came from several directions, the first of these being the Jumbo’s weight and balance. Basically, it’s way lighter in the hand than it appears to the eye. The scales told me the .177 calibre test example weighs 7.8lbs, without a scope, but it feels significantly lighter, especially in the shoulder, and it looked a minimum of two pounds heavier when I first lifted the lid on the supplied padded hard case.
A closer look explained things, as I studied the amount of solid metalwork versus the Jumbo’s ‘relieved’ sections. The 18.5-inch barrel is shrouded and much of the walnut stock is hollow. Then, the weight of the alloy block and the solid sections of timber at the butt and grip are positioned directly behind the rifle’s natural balance point, propped comfortably in the shoulder, which makes it easier to hold the Kral on aim for those essential few seconds.
The next surprise came courtesy of the test targets. For once, I was blessed with near-still conditions and the .177 Jumbo took full advantage of them. I was a tad miffed when I couldn’t beat the ‘cut out and keep’ standard, 22mm diameter, five-shot group at 48 yards, put in by my mate, Steve, but every dog has its day … especially the flukey ones, it seems. When Steve had left, taking his ‘I beat Terry’ group with him, the saddo, I settled into a serious accuracy-testing session and stamped out group after group, using Air Arms Diabolo Field, straight from the tin. At 35 yards, I ‘Punchered’ those target cards, time after time, with the average group size an effortless 14mm. Others mirrored my results, and as I say, they were as pleasantly shocked as I was.
The price. Once the first couple of surprises had registered, the Jumbo’s £500 price tag provided the next one. Again came the head shaking, the arched eyebrows and the exclamations of ‘blimey’, and other, more robust, reactions. Just as the Kral looks heavier than it is, it looks far more expensive, too. The oil-finished, Turkish thumbhole walnut stock contributes to that, of course, but the overall quality of the Jumbo certainly plays its part, too.
That ambidextrous stock is a high-quality item in its own right, actually, with its array of finely stippled scoops and contours around the grip and fore end base, that scope-height cheek piece with its angled comb, and the thick, ventilated rubber butt pad. In an ideal world, perhaps the pad and cheek piece would be adjustable, but for this price, and considering the performance on offer, there may well be room for a post-production upgrade or two. I can already assure you that this rifle deserves every enhancement possible. That would include replacing the standard air reservoir bottle with a carbon-fibre version. I haven’t a clue if such an upgrade is even possible, but I think Kral should think seriously about offering this as an option.
Let’s get back to the basics of the Kral Puncher Jumbo, with a look at its shot capacity. The rifle’s charging pressure is a familiar 200 bar – there’s an on-board pressure gauge to help monitor your air reserves - and from its 425cc buddy bottle, you can expect around 300 shots in .22 and 260 in .177, courtesy of Kral’s time-served, unregulated action, which has so far returned an average variation of 16 f.p.s. over the first 50 shots.
In addition to offering standard 11mm scope mounting rails and the Picatinny option, the Jumbo has a power adjustment facility, albeit designed mainly for this rifle’s certificated, high-power option. At legal limit settings, the ‘power dial’ provides a muzzle energy range from 9 to 11.7 ft.lbs, which translates to 8 to 28 ft.lbs. in FAC .22. Definitely useful at on-ticket spec’, but not universally so at sub-12, it has to be said.
The push-fit charging adaptor can be a tad fiddly to connect, and the air inlet port should have a cover of some sort to prevent contamination. Grit and dust respect no PCP, regardless of price, so if you buy any airgun with an unprotected charging port, you’ll need to improvise, and as soon as possible. My latest contact with suppliers, Range Right, confirmed that valve cover options are already being produced, so resolution should be close at hand.
The Jumbo’s side-lever action isn’t as slick and effortless as something electronic, or the ‘mechanical’ top guns, but everything does what it should in a strain-free, spring-assisted style, and again, if you want more ‘slick’, I’m sure a specialist airgunsmith could smooth things out a treat, with no more than a bit of precision polishing and a re-lube. I’m in danger of portraying the Puncher Jumbo as a project gun, but that’s not the case at all. The fact is, every airgun out there can be a project gun, if its owner demands custom fit, furniture and performance, but the Jumbo will do a seriously credible job straight out of the box, have no doubt about that.
I’m not a trigger freak; never have been, never will be, but I do prefer a precise, creep-free trigger mechanism, and that’s what the Jumbo offers … eventually. The test rifle’s trigger arrived set a little too generously toward the ‘sturdy’ side, so I removed the Kral’s stock – one fixing bolt, no problem – and did the necessary according to the instructions provided. The result was a trigger that released each shot with practical precision, devoid of creep and satisfyingly safe. Yet again, if you need to lean more on match level performance, there will be trigger tuners who can provide the magic, but I’m perfectly happy with what my standard adjustments have delivered.
Things I don’t like
As with every rifle, there are features of the Kral Puncher Jumbo I believe could be improved upon, starting with the grip design. For me, although it should be said others disagreed, the cut-out at the rear of the grip panel does a job looks-wise, but nothing for the rifle’s handling. I’d prefer to see a thumb scoop, too, and there’s definitely enough timber available. If I owned this rifle, I’d get a clever person to rasp out a rest for my thumb as soon as possible. I shot it ‘thumb up’ for most of my testing and its performance was outstanding, so consolidating this would be a priority. As I said, others disagreed and preferred the grip exactly as it was, but this is my review and I’m reporting as I found.
Shrouded in mystery
The Jumbo’s barrel is a fine example of its kind, but the shroud system is a tad puzzling. The barrel proper extends the full length of the shroud, which means the shroud provides no reduction in muzzle noise, unless a silencer is threaded onto the muzzle. In use, the Jumbo isn’t actually that noisy, but the usual impressive suppression of a silenced PCP isn’t available as standard. Range Right is working on a moderator option right now, so watch this magazine for developments.
As I stated right at the start of this review, the Kral Arms Puncher Jumbo is a genuinely remarkable rifle, and the more so when its price is considered. The handling, specifically its on-aim stability, is commendable, due to the rifle’s workable compromise between stabilising heft and portability. There’s a threaded brass adaptor set flush into the fore end underside, which fixes a supplied section of Picatinny rail, so attaching a sling swivel won’t be a problem, leaving you to fix a screw-in rear one before a sling can help you carry this rifle.
I’m also impressed with the fact that two magazines are supplied with the Jumbo, plus a single-shot adaptor, hex wrenches, a comprehensive instruction booklet and the charging adaptor. There’s a padded hard case in that mix, too, so value for money is most definitely a feature.
Next month, I’ll be back with a more in-depth study of the Puncher Jumbo’s shooting performance, its ability to handle extreme weather, and some background info on the back-up you can expect if you buy one. As it stands, the Kral Arms Puncher Jumbo has already shocked me, and I’m keen to see if there are yet more pleasant surprises to come. If you’re in the market for something affordable that could genuinely amaze you, this rifle absolutely has to be on your shortlist.
Manufacturer: Kral Arms
Country of origin: Turkey
Price: £499.95, includes padded hard case, two magazines and a single-shot tray
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot sporter
Calibre: .22, .177, .25
Cocking/loading: Side-lever and supplied single-shot tray
Loading: Via removable, rotary magazine
Trigger: 2-stage, adjustable
Stock type: Oiled walnut, ambidextrous thumbhole
Weight: 3.6kg (7.8lbs)
Length: 1029mm (40.5ins)
Barrel: 470mm (18.5ins)
Fill pressure: Max 200 bar
Shots per charge: Claimed 320 in .22, 280 in .177
Variation over 50 shots: 16 fps for .177 on test
Average energy: 11.7 ft.lbs.
Contact: Range Right on www.range-right.co.uk