Product Review: The Kral Puncher NP02
It's that time of year again, the bells are ringing, the birds are singing, the mistletoe is stuck to the ceiling, and mince pies are everywhere. I for one don’t like mince pies, but I do look forward to a nicely prepared Turkey with all the trimmings.
The Turkey I’m going to talk about today, isn't a fat bird of any kind, nor does it need plucking and stuffing in anyway shape or form, and it doesn’t need to be dressed then carved or served up on a plate. This Turkey is special. This is the Puncher NP02, manufactured and exported from the Turkish gun manufacturer Kral Arms.
Some would say Kral Arms produce good entry level air weapons, but I beg to differ. Kral Arms recent offerings are not entry level at all. Kral Arms is one of Turkey’s leading manufacturers of hunting, shooting and sporting products. The company employs more than 250 people in their 18,000 square meter production facility. The facility is capable of manufacturing every part needed to build unique and affordable sporting hardware, in fact, the NP02 is completely assembled in their factory.
I’ve been contemplating the purchase of a Kral air rifle for some time now and had seriously considered purchasing one of their sportier or bullpup variants until by chance I stumbled across a Gunstar advert of the Kral Puncher NP02. I immediately liked the look of the rifle so I decided to contact the trader advertising on the site to have one ordered, this particular trader offered a to the door delivery service at a small cost, which was cheaper than me having to travel to my nearest RFD to source one, an offer I couldn’t refuse. After filling out the purchase forms on the dealer’s website and paying for the rifle by credit card, all I had to do was sit back and wait for the knock at the door.
The package arrived in a nice cardboard box, with a lovely illustration of the rifle on the box. I cut the tape securing the box and opened it to find a nice Kral Arms plastic lockable gun case inside. The case seemed sturdy and well built, inside it was lined with the egg carton shape foam most gun cases come with and the rifle along with its accessories was neatly nestled inside. The gun case was a nice touch and would be great to store the rifle un-scoped, I noted it wasn’t quite wide enough to hold the rifle with a scope fixed to it. None the less this was the first time I had been impressed at receiving a plastic case with a rifle I paid so little for, but we will get to the price later.
I removed the instruction manual and a small grey cardboard box from the case. Opening the grey box, I found 2 magazines, a single shot loading tray, some spare O rings and a fill probe. I flicked through the instruction manual before getting started with the rifle itself and was impressed to find the instruction manual was like no other that I had seen before, it is printed on glossy paper and contains high definition colour images of the rifle and accessories. The manual was also printed in many other languages and is a testament to Kral Arms commitment to export 99.5% of its products worldwide, shipping to over 40 countries. The manual also had exploded diagrams of the inner components of the rifle and accessories, including the magazines. The manual appeared to be very informative and would allow even the novice amongst us the opportunity to service their own NP02.
The two magazines supplied by Kral Arms are not dissimilar to the old standard Theoben magazine, I would suspect the patent on the magazines has run out and the magazine is now being copied by other manufacturers, its simple design yet easy operation lends itself to be quickly replicated and why not? The cover of the magazine is rotated clockwise allowing the user to load the magazine starting with the highest number first, repeating the process by manual rotation and working back to the number one. The magazine is clearly numbered, and the numbers are easy to read through the transparent cover. The rifle is made available in .177, .22, and .25 variants and the magazines hold 14, 12 and 10 rounds in sequential order. The magazine is slid into the action by releasing the bolt and then sliding the magazine in from the right-hand side of the action. There is no retaining pin or locking mechanism, so the magazine is held in by friction and appears to be quite effective. Having two magazines is also an added bonus, and some so-called top end manufacturers should take note, unfortunately, there isn't a holding position for this on the rifle, something Kral Arms could consider going forward.
The single shot tray appears to have been either created using a 3D printer or within an injection mould and may well have been an afterthought, as I don’t see this rifle being used in many field target or bench rest type competitions. The tray slots into the action from the right-hand side and just like the magazine is not reversible. The single shot tray is not the easiest of devices to use, the pellet cannot be placed directly into the tray instead has to be placed on the edge and allowed to roll into position. Occasionally the pellet sits upright or back to front, resulting in the user having to tilt the rifle to remove the pellet and try again. The 15mm width of the loading port doesn't provide the required room to manoeuvre a pellet correctly every time and if you have bigger fingers the whole process will be difficult. After hours of testing the magazines and single shot tray, I have opted to continue using the magazines. Using the magazines does in no way improve accuracy but does remove the frustration caused by the single shot tray.
The rifle is made up of five essential components, these are, the barrel, the air cylinder, the action, the stock and the rear bottle which also doubles up as a cheek piece and butt pad.
The rifle has a precision 12.6inch or 32cm rifled barrel and this comes complete with a nice machined muzzle break, although the muzzle break does very little to reduce muzzle flip or increase accuracy, it is most likely added to the barrel to protect the half inch UNF threaded end, where the owner of the rifle can attach an aftermarket silencer. The rifle does not come with a silencer. I would not recommend shooting this rifle without a silencer, either in a confined space or gun club because the report from the muzzle will leave the ears of anyone in close proximity ringing for quite some time afterwards. The finish of the barrel is well done, deep and almost gloss black.
The small 110cc air reservoir under the barrel has an easy to read manometer otherwise known as a pressure gauge. This operates on a traffic light system, where yellow indicates the pressure is too low for use, green illustrating the optimal air pressure for shooting and red reminding the user not to fill to this pressure with the risk of catastrophic failure of key components of the rifle. The fill port sits comfortably in behind the pressure gauge and the two together operate as an all in one unit, very common on modern Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) airguns. The fill port can be accessed by either pulling off the dust cover protector entirely or by turning the cover by the knurled threads to reveal the fill port hole. The rifle has a maximum fill pressure of 200bar or 2900PSI.
Filling the rifle is as simple as pie, and I mean the eating variety, not the theorem. The included fill valve with its 1/8 BSP thread can be screwed onto the whip of an air bottle or air pump. I would, however, advise not to attempt to fill this rifle with a pump, the large air capacity of the rifle would require a considerable amount of pumping and would likely cause muscle fatigue or injury.
The barrel and reservoir are held together at the muzzle end by a figure eight barrel clamp, the barrel is not free floating. The air cylinder is screwed into the action and the barrel is secured into the action via grub screws that are visible on the scope rail.
The action of the rifle is machined from a single piece of aluminium and anodised in a nice gloss black, with subtle white etched lettering on both sides of the action, illustrating the name of the rifle, the brand, the fill capacity, its origins, serial number and most importantly the calibre I've opted for the better .22, just kidding. The action block also houses a small power wheel, this can be turned from the right-hand side of the action, interestingly enough the power adjuster runs right through the action to the left-hand side where the plus or minus power readout can be seen, suggesting the power wheel restricts the air flow through the transfer port. The power can be adjusted from virtually nothing up to just under 12ft/lbs. FAC versions of the rifle are also available, capable of muzzle energy in access of 30ft/lbs.
The action also houses the side cocking lever, the cocking lever is not the smoothest of actions, it’s heavy to pull back and just as heavy when pushed forward. I would say it requires ten times the cocking effort of the popular Weihrauch HW100. Apart from the cocking effort required to prime this rifle, the mechanism appears to be quite smooth. When cocking the rifle, the brass pellet probe can clearly be seen being drawn back through the opening in the action behind the lever. The power adjuster does nothing to reduce the amount of air released by the hammer strike, which suggests the whole valving system is poorly designed and wasteful. The hammer and hammer spring can be seen via a cut out in the action block, revealed when removing the stock. The rifle is not regulated although the field tests proved it to be very consistent.
I tested the power of the rifle over the chronograph and recorded an average muzzle energy of 11.85ft/lbs, a little high for my liking yet legal and an average spread of 11.4ft/s, through a ten shot string. The results are of a new out of the box rifle and I feel will change as the rifle is broken in. The side cocking lever is anodised in silver, and the contrasting colour goes well with its matching power wheel, manual safety catch and trigger blade. Unfortunately, the cocking lever is not transposable and remains fixed to one side of the action.
The scope rail is also machined into the top of the action block, and this combines a lower wider 20mm rail and an upper narrower 11mm rail. Allowing the UK owner to use the traditional 11mm mounts and the international market to use their favoured 20mm mounts. The upper 11mm rail is notched limiting the positions available for the scope mounts. A one-piece mount, however, will resolve this issue. Kral Arms have definitely put some thought into creating a rifle for the global marketplace.
The rifle doesn’t come with open sights, Kral Arms do however provide these at an extra cost if you should choose not to equip the rifle with a scope.
The trigger is two-stage adjustable, however, cannot be adjusted in a conventional way. The stock must be removed to access the trigger linkages on the underside of the action block. I opted to leave the trigger as it had been set at the factory, this provided me with a small first stage travel and a crisp second stage break, much like what I am used to on most other PCPs I’ve shot.
The stock is a single piece affair and shaped to represent a pistol, with its upright pistol grip it’s ergonomically shaped to fit snuggly into the palm and thumb ball of the hand, totally ambidextrous for both left and right-handed shooters. The stock also has some stippled chequering, both on the grip and the fore-end which remind me of an early 2009 Prestige Kub. The Kral Arms logo is also laser etched into the stock. Oh! and guess what? the stock is made from Walnut, Turkish Walnut no doubt, and I didn't have to pay extra for this, although the grain pattern is pretty basic. When I visited Turkey I asked a local resident to take me to a Turkish Walnut stock manufacturer and he told me the locals didn’t call them Turkish Walnut stock manufacturers, instead just referred to them as stock manufacturers, and the stocks are just referred to as walnut stocks, it makes perfect sense and that’s why in Brazil they don’t call the nuts Brazil nuts, over there they’re just nuts.
The final component of this rifle is made up of two parts. Neatly attached to the back of the action block is a 420cc bottle with a plastic cover and an integrated adjustable butt pad. The air from the bottle isn’t fed into the action block but is instead fed to the front air cylinder via a 2.5mm copper pipe linkage. The science and engineering behind this ensure both air cylinder and the bottle maintain the same pressure throughout the whole shooting experience, and neither have to be filled independently. Since owning the rifle, I’ve shot almost a tin of pellets through it, I've only filled this rifle twice and I must say the system works very well.
The plastic bottle cover is designed to be an ambidextrous cheek piece and is comfortable on the face, unfortunately, the added cover and butt pad assembly only add unnecessary length to the rifle. The pull length is a massive 16.5 inches, when measured from the back of the stock to the front of the trigger. Was this compact rifle designed for giants? I don’t think so, when I was in Turkey, I didn’t come across many people as big as me and I'm an average build 6ft man. This leads me to believe the adjustable butt pad must have been another afterthought, hence the extra length. The buttpad can only be adjusted vertically, via a small button positioned in the side and centre of the buttpad. It adds almost two and a half inches of unrequired and uncomfortable length to the rifle and without the available adjustments on the scope rail, being unable to push the scope back far enough, I have found I’ll push my head forward a great deal instead in compensation to obtain the correct scope eye relief. Another annoying thing is, the hammer strike is reported back through the rear bottle as an exploding firecracker, not surprising at all, considering my ear is resting on a large diameter hollow tube.
I attached a Weihrauch moderator to the barrel and asked my son to accompany me on the field test. It was hard pulling him away from his games console. I had recently bought him an online version of Call of Duty 4 and he had been glued to the television screen ever since, in between his studies of course. We made our way up to our own private sanctuary deep in the woods, where I’ve previously installed target spinners at ranges starting from ten yards and then at increasing ten-yard intervals up to one hundred yards and a three foot square steel plate, set out at two hundred yards for those who are feeling lucky, or the Dirty Harry days; I had a sneaky suspicion this wouldn’t be one of those days.
Upon arriving we walked the tall grass path to our chosen destination and were greeted by two Muntjac Deer we disturbed foraging in the thick bramble. Both of the Deer nipped out of the bush for a moment to greet us and then calmly hopped back in. We continued on our way, talking about how it was nice to have Deer around in the months of Autumn. We also disturbed a couple of hares whilst walking, and commented on how the hare numbers had been dwindling recently.
We set ourselves up in our familiar shooting spot, it had been raining the night before so the grass was damp, but not too wet to lay down on, we would be shooting from a prone position.
I had packed two tins of JSB pellets with me. Some .22 (5.51) JSB Exact Jumbo 15.89grn pellets for me whilst I would be testing the Kral Puncher NP02, and .177 (4.52) JSB Exact 8.44grns for my son who would be using the Air Arms EV2 MK4 he had chosen to take with him. JSB has long been my control testing pellet, the quality and manufacturing tolerances of this brand of pellets have proven reliable time and time again.
I zeroed the scope on the NP02 out to 30 yards, I’d chosen to mount a Hawke Sidewinder 30 3-12x50 magnification scope for testing purposes, and we began shooting the spinners in turn. We’d decided to skip the more conventional paper group tests and opted to shoot ten pellets in turn at each 30mm spinner set out at ten yards and then repeat the ten shot process for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60-yard distances. I felt pitting the out of the box NP02 against a dedicated tuned field target rifle would be like putting a featherweight boxer in the ring with a heavyweight champion and we all know how that would end.
Unsurprisingly the NP02 kept up with the EV2 at distances of up to 40 yards and then the missed shots became more apparent, achieving more misses than hits at 60 yards as the rifle's performance was severely scrutinised. I swapped rifles with my son and he attempted to shoot the NP02, his 5-foot frame unable to comfortably shoulder the rifle correctly, even in the prone position he just couldn't get comfortable enough to shoot the rifle or maintain the correct eye relief. He decided to abandon all hope and handed the rifle back to me, and rightfully so, a day's shooting shouldn’t be ruined by the equipment you just don’t get on with.
I continued to shoot the NP02 setting out a paper target at 30 yards, my original zero point. I monitored the slight breeze in the short grass below my target from left to right and aimed 12 shots into the pellet trap holding the 14cm card when the wind would dissipate. The ten shots created a single 15mm hole from edge to edge, good enough for small game hunting for sure.
At the end of an afternoon’s shoot, we sat under the trees and weighed up the rifle. My son told me he just didn’t like the NP02, the looks, the feel, the weight, it was all wrong to him. On the flip side, I like the look, the feel, the weight and had gotten used to the pull length and the tough cocking lever. I’d familiarised myself with loading the magazines and welcomed the small respite they afforded me in between shooting, allowing me to take in the natural beauty of my surroundings. The whole shooting experience with the Kral NP02 became second nature to me as time went on. I had also not yet re-filled with air, unlike my son who had filled the EV2 three times already.
I was definitely enjoying the rifle, and it would surely be a keeper, the question on my mind now was, would I ever use it again, or would it sit in the gun safe in all its awkward quirky glory.
This is the first Kral Arms Puncher I've shot, having previously handled a few, and I have come to the conclusion that this is a nice fit for purpose tool, and would be more than suitable and reliable for small game hunting and plinking of ranges up to sixty yards and further in the right hands. I would also suggest trying a number of different pellets through the rifle as this may improve accuracy at longer ranges, something I also intend to do when I get more time.
Kral Arms have named all the air rifles they manufacture, Puncher. The very definition of the word puncher, it’s a tool designed to repeatedly make holes or indentations, the NP02 is definitely a Puncher that also packs into a small price a lot of air rifle. I can't wait to get my hands on a .177 NP02 - after all, we all want a nice Turkey for Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed this review, as always, shoot straight and shoot safe.
Twin scope mounting rail.
Built in monometer.
Ambidextrous Turkish Walnut pistol shaped stock as standard.
Barrel threaded for a ½ inch UNF thread moderator.
Supplied with two magazines and a single shot tray.
Large air capacity.
Pendulum manual safety located on the right-hand side of the action.
Comes with sturdy plastic carry case and detailed instruction manual.
Long length of pull at 16.5 inches resulting in the rifle being almost unusable to the smaller shooter.
Fiddly single shot tray.
Heavier than most other rifles available in its size range.
Very loud when shot without a silencer.
Wasteful air valving system
Kral Puncher NP02 – Specifications
Power Plant: Multishot Pre-Charged Pneumatic.
Available Calibre: .177, .22 and .25.
Cocking: Side Lever.
Magazine Capacity: 14 in .177, 12 in .22, 10 in .25.
Max Fill Pressure: 200BAR.
Shots Per Charge: 200.
Length: 76.5cm / 30 Inches.
Colour Variants Available In: Gloss Black or Anodised Aluminium.
Weight: 2.95KG (Un-scoped).
Orientation: Ambidextrous Turkish Walnut pistol-shaped stock
2 x Magazines as standard.
Single shot loader as standard.
Power: Sub 12 ft/lbs (FAC alternatives are available).