THE EDITOR’S TEST: THE KRAL JUMBO HI-CAP

PUBLISHED: 10:12 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 09 July 2020

So good to be back in full action, and all the better with a rifle that shoots like this one does.

So good to be back in full action, and all the better with a rifle that shoots like this one does.

Archant

The editor is back on the test range alongside a rifle built for maximum performance

First, it’s great to be back on the range, albeit one of my ‘unofficial’ ones, and testing rifles again. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed this essential part of my editorial duties, and I’m determined to make the most of every session, in the hope that we won’t be subjected to a second lockdown. Actually, my range-testing accessories bag already has two empty pellet tins in it as I write, so yes, I’m making up for those lost testing opportunities. Right, that’s enough of the pandemic stuff, let’s see what’s on the test bench this month.

THE KRAL HI-CAP

You’re looking at the new Jumbo Hi-Cap pre-charged pneumatic multi-shot from Kral Airguns of Turkey, and it comes via sole UK agents, Range Right. The Range Right association is more than that of an importer and agent, though, because the British connection works alongside Kral to give UK customers what they need, and that relationship is yielding genuine results. In short, Range Right speaks and Kral listens, then acts. Range Right’s renowned gunsmith, Dave, is at the heart of technical negotiations, and I’ve seen for myself the upgrades his shared expertise has brought about. More of this later; for now let’s do the overview.

The adjustable two-stage trigger has been improved through collaboration with Range Right, and that's not the only product of the companies working together.The adjustable two-stage trigger has been improved through collaboration with Range Right, and that's not the only product of the companies working together.

IN THE BOX

As you can see, the Hi-Cap is a distinctive rifle, with its cammo finish and adjustable, folding, AR15 butt, although the rifle is available in black, should you prefer. Whichever finish you go for, the Hi-Cap will be presented with TWO, 425cc air tanks, two multi-shot magazines, 14-shot in .177, 12-shot in .22, plus a single-shot adaptor and a push-fit charging connector, all presented on a fully-padded hard case. For a recommended retail price of £650 for the cammo version shown, or £625 for the black model, I already know that this package is going to appeal to a great many airgunners. Let’s home in on the Hi-Cap’s features and see what else Range Right and Kral are offering.

Swapping bottles takes seconds. Note the on-board pressure gauge and 'protective' Picatinny accessory rail.Swapping bottles takes seconds. Note the on-board pressure gauge and 'protective' Picatinny accessory rail.

FEATURES AND FIXTURES

The Hi-Cap is a sidelever rifle and above the action block that houses the lever can be found Kral’s Dual Mount system, which is something I can’t believe isn’t universal. It offers standard dovetails AND a Picatinny system in a single sight mounting platform. It lacks the chunky, crossbolt solidity of standard Picatinny rails, but these aren’t required on a recoilless PCP, at least nowhere near as much as a mount that allows the use of the two most popular systems out there.

AGREEABLE TRIGGER

The AR15-style butt is not only adjustable, it folds for convenient storage.The AR15-style butt is not only adjustable, it folds for convenient storage.

Below the block sits a major example of Range Right/Kral cooperation, in the form of the rifle’s two-stage adjustable trigger. The polished post and shoe configuration hints at a precision set-up, and with adjustment from the hex wrench supplied, that’s what you get. As always, take your time with tweaking any trigger, and if you’re torn between ultra-precise and dependable, always opt for the safer setting. There is no place for ‘hair’ triggers on a sporting rifle.

BARREL MATTERS

Moving up front, the 58 centimetre (22.8-inch) barrel is fully shrouded and threaded for a silencer, with the threads guarded by a chunky collar. My initial tests show that a silencer would be handy, although it needs to be a short one to avoid stretching the Hi-Cap’s length too far beyond its 105 cm, (41.3-inch) unmoderated length.

The barrel assembly is threaded for a silencer, and the Hi-Cap needs a compact one.The barrel assembly is threaded for a silencer, and the Hi-Cap needs a compact one.

STOCK TAKE

Moving to the rear of the rifle, that polymer AR15-style butt announces itself and adds to the distinctive overall look of this rifle. The more I stare at the Hi-Cap, the more I accept that it’s likely to be a bit ‘Marmite’, but there’s definitely no denying its practicality, which is perfectly represented by that butt section.

First, it folds at the touch of a button, which could be useful if you prefer to stow the rifle in an abbreviated bag, but far more useful are the adjustments it offers. Length of pull can be shifted through a four-stop range from 34.2cms (13.5 inches), right out to an orangutan-esque 43.1 (17 inches), which is too much gun, even for 6-foot-four me.

No one wants to see this. That inlet valve cover is too snug and too slippery for sweaty fingers.No one wants to see this. That inlet valve cover is too snug and too slippery for sweaty fingers.

CHEEK PEACE

The cheek piece also offers the peace of mind that comes with perfect eye-alignment, from four stages of height adjustment, again activated by a push-button system, and between the two they accommodate just about every permutation of head, eye and neck. Of course I want more, and a sliding butt pad would have completed the deal, but the squishy, grippy chevrons moulded into the pad still provide pleasing shoulder contact and I experienced no issues during the 1100 or so shots I put through the test rifle.

The drop-down grip offers good control and sets up the trigger finger a treat.The drop-down grip offers good control and sets up the trigger finger a treat.

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GET A GRIP

The drop-down grip fitted to the Hi-Cap is pure AR15, and all the better for it. The scalloped front face, and grip inserts formed from the same material as the butt pad, combine well to rest and guide the trigger hand to consistent positioning, and I suspect that what looks like a fairly basic feature has had its share of design firepower contributed to it during development.

OTHER ITEMS

Ahead of the trigger guard runs a Picatinny rail which is extended to a third of the length of the removable buddy bottle. In addition to its role as a means of mounting accessories such as a bipod, lamp or laser, the forward section of the rail protects the union of bottle and action from knocks. Good thinking, Kral, or whoever came up with it.

The muzzle energy of the Hi-Cap can be varied at the turn of a knurled adjuster on the right-hand side of the action. As is standard with this feature, it really comes into its own on FAC-rated models, where the output can be dialled back from 30-plus ft.lbs. to sub-12 where required. On the .177 test model, it gave me 11.4 ft.lbs. down to 6.4. Handy for training in the garden, I guess, but in the field, the power dial will be wound right up, for sure.

A manual, resettable safety catch and an on-board pressure gauge completes the features inventory, and at last it’s time for some intensive shooting.

CHARGING OBSERVATIONS

Filling the Hi-Cap’s tank with 200 bar’s worth of compression is a simple matter of removing the rubberised cover from the inlet valve on the left of the action, connecting the hose, and injecting the air. Well, it’s a simple matter provided you don’t have sweaty fingers, or any trace of oil on your fingertips. If you have, that shiny, smooth, snug-fitting valve cover is an absolute sod to slide off. I was reduced to using my teeth on many occasions, until I swapped the rubber valve cover with a spare charging connector I had lying around. This rifle needs a purpose-designed valve cover from the likes of Best Fittings, unless the Kral/Range Right coalition can sort something, of course.

OUTPUT DATA

Each 200 bar charge gets the Hi-Cap owner over 190 shots in .177 and over 220 in .22, at the test rifle’s setting of 11.4 ft.lbs. The first 50 shots I sacrificed over the chronograph returned an average deviation of 14 f.p.s., and you can tell how much I’ve missed my testing, because I repeated the 50-shot sample over the chrono’, and the next batch dropped the variation to an average of 12 f.p.s. For an unregulated rifle, this is genuinely impressive, and it was reflected in the accuracy return.

Again, the entire valving system of this Kral has been developed to the requirements of Range Right, and not just for this latest rifle, but for entire range marketed in the UK. I’m aware that domestic importers can endure ‘testing’ relationships with their suppliers, so it’s good to see the spirit of cooperation flowing so freely between Harrogate and Turkey.

ACCURACY

Shooting off a makeshift bench, at targets from 25 to 50 yards, and using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets straight from the tin, I removed bullseyes from paper targets, almost like I’d never been away. My most impressive group came at 45 yards, when I crowded 10 pellets into a 16mm diameter huddle, but there were groups of that standardspoiled by a single flier, due to my range-rusty technique. I should have put in more back garden training whilst the full lockdown was on, that’s for sure.

This rifle is capable of genuine hunting standard performance, and more besides. By that, I mean its user will be the weakest link, and that’s how it should be, of course. Like any sporter, you’ll need to get to know its preferences, pellet-wise, and then shoot it until those regular recharges reveal the sweetest spot, where the widest band of consistent shots can be found. Individual rifles can vary on both preferences, so do your own homework, because this affordable rifle is entirely worth it. Now let’s see what the handling report says.

THE HI-CAP IN USE

At 3.3 kilos (7.2 lbs.), unscoped, the Jumbo Hi-Cap is weighty enough to promote stability, but not so hefty as to become a burden in the field. Cycling the sidelever is smooth and definite, and loading the magazines is just as uncomplicated. All you do to make ready 14 shots, is to rotate the magazine’s clear cover in the direction of the arrow, then drop pellets, nose first, into each empty chamber as the cover is returned to its closed position. I can reload a mag’ in under a minute, and have that magazine installed in the action five seconds later. Close the lever, snick off the safety, and you’re ready to go. Easy.

BOTTLE SWAPS

Having two air tanks can be really useful, especially if you’re running an FAC-rated rifle, and swapping them is, again, commendably straightforward. Simply unscrew the empty bottle, slide it out, and replace it with the full one. Grit and dirt are your mortal enemies, here, so pay special attention to cleanliness – we’ve surely learned all about that over the past few months – and keep the bottle valves spotless.

Another couple of accessory opportunities present themselves, here, in the form of a blanking device for the spare bottle to keep out contamination, and a filling adaptor that plugs into the supplied charging unit, which can be used to fill the bottles off-rifle. Neither should tax the clever folk who come up with such products and make our shooting lives so much easier. Oh, and while they’re at it, they can come up with a reflex-type silencer that slides over the barrel shroud and only increases the rifle’s overall length by three inches or so. Thanks.

VERDICT

As I close this first test of the Kral Jumbo Hi-Cap, I’ll soon be 1500 pellets closer to knowing its full potential. I already know that this rifle shoots precise holes in its price tag, and that Range Right has a best-seller on its hands. I’ll continue to feed the test rifle as many pellets as I possibly can, and next month the picture will be complete. It’s so good to be back, and better still when my first post-lockdown test rifle shoots as well as this one.

Take care, and I’ll see you next month.

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