Kral Champion Air Rifle
- 12 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
The Kral range of air rifles hail from Turkey, and have been available in the UK for several years now, being imported by Range Right Ltd. I tested a pair of their spring rifles awhile back – the Devil break barrel, and Demon under lever models - and whilst I remember those being fair performers, especially for the money, the brand just seems to get better. One recent Kral release is the new ‘Champion’, on test here, and as we shall see, it’s an interesting addition to this popular range.
Kral as a brand are firmly routed in the budget end of the market, but I’ve been impressed so far, with the level of design and features that come as standard with their guns. Take a look at what’s on offer here, all for a sub £130 RRP, and the word ‘bargain’ really does spring to mind. Having now spent some time with this gun, I’d place it firmly in the serious adult sporter class, well up to hunting duties. So let’s see just what the Champion has to offer the airgun enthusiast, and why it gets the thumbs up overall.
For starters, it’s another conventional break barrel design, but with full power output up to the UK limit. That rather flashy skeletonized thumbhole stock, certainly means it stands out from the crowd; but of course it’s performance that really matters, and we’ll come to that in due course.
As I’d always state, synthetic/compound stocks are simply not to everyone’s taste, yet for sheer practicality there’s no woodwork to warp, wear, or need re-finishing. Take this gun out in a downpour, and apart from making sure that the action is thoroughly dried out, as with any gun, (leaving in a warm room normally does the trick) the stock itself will require zero maintenance. The down side of course, is the lack of any nice grain pattern, much loved by us fans of traditional woodwork.
The thumbhole configuration of the Champion, coupled with that oversized barrel/ fore-sight assembly, makes for some bold styling indeed, fairly pleasing to the eye; though the finish to the synthetics is overtly plasticky, lending a slightly garish feel to an otherwise impressive piece of kit. Get past that flashy exterior though, and this gun really does have much to offer. The stock moulding incorporates a thumbhole cut-out, that’s actually very comfortable in the aim. As for the cheek piece (part of the fully ambidextrous configuration), I found I still managed good alignment with the scope, despite it looking too low.
I’m pleased to see that so many rifles still offer open sights as standard these days, and this Champion comes fitted with the fibre optic variety, where small fluorescent filaments are fitted- to create the fore sight bead, and the rear ‘notch’. These give the impression of illuminating the sight picture, and with the rear sight fully adjustable via finger wheels for windage and elevation too, the basics for good solid fun shooting are well in place.
This gun is frankly too good not to fit a scope to, so when that time comes, the ample stretch of dovetail scope rails should make the job fairly straightforward. In fact, the overall dimensions of this model are such that the full length compression cylinder allows for quite large scopes to be fitted. This is a point worth making, since break barrel designs can so often be the limiting factor in themselves. Any prospective scope needs to be compact enough so as not to foul the opening breech area; yet I managed to lock an MTC Viper in place, which is a fairly sizeable piece of glassware.
Energy In For Energy Out
As a full length springer, this Kral benefits from mechanical advantage (i.e. barrel length), and the foresight/silencer assembly improves leverage even more. However, the stroke is best achieved with a gentle jolt of the breech to break open the barrel, then adopting a positive downwards sweeping motion; since resistance grows towards the end of the stroke. From that aspect, cocking this gun feels more like a gas ram than a springer, save for some audible spring ‘graunch’ mid stroke. Gripping the top bar of the thumbhole can give a firm hold whilst cocking too. The main point of note here though, and one of the real features on Kral’s in general seems to be that wonderfully positive final lock-up of the barrel - accompanied by a satisfying click. Handle one of these rifles, and you’ll know what I mean.
One of the weakest points of this rifle has to be the trigger, since the blade is rather too curved, with plenty of creep in the pull. The ultimate release pressure reduces as the creep is taken up, but it’s still a bit heavy. The safety catch, (that tab just forward of the trigger) is a manual affair, and the action can’t be de-cocked.
On the range, the Champion’s character soon came to the fore, with that thin raked-back grip playing its part. Not only does it feel good in the aim, but the thin bar at the top of the thumbhole proved the perfect carry handle, on more than one occasion.
If we’re talking build quality, these Turkish made rifles aren’t quite a match for the likes of Weihrauch just yet, but then they dont command anywhere near the asking price. The Kral looks well made in most respects, and certainly has a nice feel to it. As is so often the case, the metalwork sports blueing which is just a little dull when compared to the German fare, having probably received a simpler preparatory finish at the factory. Maybe I’m nitpicking here though. What did disappoint and warrants a highlight, is the sloppy engineering around the inside of the breech face. Unlikely to be a regular occurrence of course, and importantly, it certainly had no affect performance.
Talking of which, despite some spring twang and resonance, and having to fight against that less than sophisticated trigger, accuracy over 25yds, was excellent; with sub half inch groups the norm, using Air Arms Diabolo pellets.
I remember thoroughly enjoying shooting those two Kral models some while back,yet neither were any great shakes where final accuracy was concerned. This Champion is different again, with some serious down range groups that could shame guns costing much more.
OK, it’s a much worn-out cliché I know, but the Kral Champion really is a steal at the price. Balance, handling and finish are all up to the mark, but as far as the test gun was concerned, the sheer accuracy of the damn thing, just had to grab the attention, elevating the Champion into a class well above its asking price.
Quite a list of plus points then, and reason enough to check out your local Range Right stockists, if your in the market for a great value, adult sporter, for informal target shooting or hunting. GM