Big, bold and beautiful: Mike Morton gets his hands on the Kral Puncher Jumbo – a sidelever-operated multi-shot PCP that promises to punch above its weight
We’re living in an airgun age when many manufacturers seem to be downsizing their products, as witnessed by the plethora of bullpups that are currently available. But any shooter who’s willing to buck the trend is in for a treat thanks to the sidelever-operated multi-shot Puncher Jumbo from Kral.
At 105cm long it’s a fairly sizeable rifle, although with a scope mounted its centre of balance is near perfect, being just forward of the trigger guard. The barrel is also encased in a fat shroud, adding to the Jumbo’s purposeful looks.
It really does come across as being big and bold, yet somehow still beautiful. But the name ‘Jumbo’ actually refers to the size of its elephantine buddy bottle rather than its overall dimensions.
Gun supplied by: Range Right (www.range-right.co.uk)
Manufacturer: Kral Arms
Model: Puncher Jumbo
Price: £575; FAC models cost an additional £40
Calibre: .177 (on test), .22 and .25
Buddy bottle capacity: 425cc
Shots per fill: Approximately 90
Magazine: 14 shots in .177, 12 in .22 and 10 in .25
Sights: Dovetail or Picatinny scope mounting
Safety: Manual safety catch
Stock: Thumbhole in Turkish walnut
One of the first things that will strike you about this rifle is the ambidextrous thumbhole stock, made of Turkish walnut. It’s capped at the rear end by a semi-ventilated butt pad made of a type of rubber that’s grippy without being too squishy.
The butt also features a semi-Monte Carlo cheekpiece with a relatively high sloped comb, which helps no end with head and eye alignment.
Moving forward, the drop-down pistol grip features plenty of palmswell and some very aggressive stippling. There’s even a little stippled indent into which the fleshy part of your hand can fit. While there’s no dedicated thumb shelf, it’s nevertheless easy to adopt the thumb-up grip if you prefer this to the conventional thumb-through type of hold.
There’s more of that stippling on either side of the forend, as well as a gloriously long panel underneath that features the word ‘Puncher’ and Kral’s crown logo. The forend also comes pre-drilled, with a threaded brass insert into which you can fit the supplied Picatinny rail, which is great for attaching a bipod.
Depending on your build and the way you hold the rifle, the rail, although short, may interfere with your leading hand. If this is the case, the rail is quick enough to remove and then reinstall the next time it’s needed with a hex key.
While the stock has been very nicely formed, two areas may need your attention. There’s a cut-out under the forend for the air pressure gauge and fill probe, but this is surrounded by more of that aggressive stippling, which is quite sharp where the inlet’s been cut out. If the review gun was mine I’d gently sand the rim of the cut-out to knock down those sharp edges.
Another task I’d do straight away would be to remove the action from the stock and treat the woodwork to some stock conditioning oil. The stock has been nicely manufactured, but it really does need a few light coats of oil to ensure that it stays looking its best when it’s taken into the hunting field, which is where this gun belongs.
Features and function
Although the stock is ambidextrous, the Jumbo’s sidelever action is right-hand operation only. The lever does rattle a bit in use, but nevertheless still functions well. The action also contains a power adjuster that’s controlled using a dial on the right-hand side, with a corresponding display on the left.
There are no pre-set levels built into it, it’s just a case of making adjustments from ‘plus’ to ‘minus’ and everything in between, although most non-FAC shooters will probably set it to maximum and leave it there.
The barrel, which is threaded to accept a moderator, is encased by a shroud that’s also threaded ½” UNF for silencer use. You’ll probably want to fit one too, because although the beefy shroud looks cool, there’s no sound-deadening material inside.
If you’re not bothered by the way the shroud looks (and in my opinion it does enhance the aesthetics of the Jumbo), then you can remove it altogether, which increases the clearance between the barrel and the scope, meaning you could use lower mounts and drop the height of the optic.
Kral’s choice of scope rail is ingenious, giving the shooter the choice of either regular dovetail or Picatinny mounts with no modifications necessary. The action block has been machined to accept both systems, with the regular rail sitting slightly higher than the Picatinny. This is the first time I’ve seen a dual system like this, and was impressed.
Range Right, Kral’s official UK importer, supplied a KonusPro Evo 3-12×50 scope with the review gun. It retails for £175 and is well proportioned for this rifle. As expected, it was a breeze to fit to the dovetail section of the rail.
The magazine – two of which are supplied with the Jumbo – has a capacity of 14 shots in .177, 12 in .22 and 10 in .25 calibre – the test rifle was .177. The magazine is made of a tough polymer case with a clear faceplate so you can easily see whether it’s been loaded.
Not only that, but it features a little cut-out through which you can see an ammo counter on the internal rotor, so even when you’re in the aim, you can still tell at a glance how may pellets you have remaining.
Loading the magazine requires you to rotate the spring-loaded faceplate clockwise one whole turn, then insert the first pellet nose-first. Take care to block the hole in the rear of the magazine with your finger, as it’s possible for that first pellet to fall all the way through. When it’s seated, you can then turn the faceplate anti-clockwise, filling each chamber as you go.
The curved magazine looks as if it should be inserted into the rifle from the left, but in fact it’s loaded from the right-hand side, with the flat area of the mag ending up flush with the action. A rib has been moulded on the rear of the magazine that slots into a corresponding groove in the breech area, ensuring everything lines up properly.
As with the majority of other multi-shot magazine designs, it does stand proud of the action, in this case by about 12mm, so be mindful of this when choosing a scope.
A polymer single-shot tray is included in the package, and this also features the moulded rib to assure positive alignment. When you want to swap back to a magazine, just push out the single-shot tray from the left, but make sure you control it with your right hand as it has a tendency to ping across the field if you’re not expecting it.
Performance and precision
Cocking and indexing the Jumbo is easy thanks to the biathlon-style handle that’s fitted to the end of the lever, making it quick to locate with your hand. The lever is also spring-assisted on the rearward stroke.
Another very welcome feature is the fact that this magazine and sidelever system offers a last round hold-open function. The fact that you can’t close the lever on an empty chamber doesn’t just alert you to the fact that you’re out of ammo, but also stops you from potentially wasting air.
The safety catch operation on the Jumbo is very good indeed, really adding to the experience. It’s located at the rear of the action, and I found it easiest to apply it with the forefinger of my shooting hand and disengage it with my thumb, both operations requiring me to remove my hand from the trigger area, boosting safety. It’s positive and quiet in operation.
A good trigger can really help a shooter extract optimum accuracy from a rifle, and the Jumbo’s trigger didn’t disappoint in this area.
Out of the box, first-stage travel was short, and second-stage let-off was fairly crisp, breaking at a hunting-friendly 1lb 12oz. The trigger also includes a match-style blade – which is very welcome on a rifle costing £575 – and is mounted on a post that can be angled left and right, as well as being raised up and down.
As previously mentioned, the Jumbo has a longer than normal 425cc buddy bottle with a claimed shot count of 150 pellets.
While I’m sure the rifle will happily spit out 150 shots or more, I wasn’t able to get more than 90 truly accurate shots from the maximum starting fill pressure of 200 bar during my test period. But the shots that the rifle did deliver for me were very consistent.
Shooting a 10-shot string of Air Arms Diabolo Field over the chrono returned an average velocity of 765.9 feet per second, and an extremely pleasing spread of just seven feet per second.
Muzzle energy with these pellets was 10.94 foot pounds, which is plenty. I’d always prefer consistent velocity at a slightly lower power rather than a higher muzzle energy that might deliver wayward shots.
Accuracy was similarly good, with the rifle turning in repeatable sub-five pence piece-sized groups at both 30 yards and 40 yards using Air Arms Diabolo Field, Weihrauch F&T Special and QYS Domed, with the Diabolo Fields being slightly more accurate at 30 yards, and the Specials performing marginally better at 40 yards.
With this rifle offering plenty of features and accuracy potential at an attractive price, the Kral Jumbo does indeed ‘Puncher’ above its weight. Just make sure to keep a bottle of stock conditioning oil to hand!