Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
DAVE BARHAM explores the range of Krait rifles available from Czech Republic manufacturer AirMaks Arms.
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I first became aware of AirMaks Arms just over a year ago, but at the time it was just a passing glance and I wasn’t really aware of what the company was producing. Fast forward a few months to the British Shooting Show and I was amazed to see just how many rifles and variations they were producing, and I managed to have a brief chat with UK agent, Chris Roberts, about the brand and the history.
Swiftly after that encounter, our very own Russ Douglas managed to lay his hands on a couple of Krait rifles, and duly tested them for us, which gained rave reviews.
Then, at the Northern Shooting Show, I bumped into Chris Roberts again and this time we had a proper chat about all things AirMaks, ≠≠he very kindly offered to lend me his personal rifle for review – and here we are!
At this point, I feel I must stress something that’s VERY important. I know there will be some of you sitting there thinking ‘Oh yeah, he’s got a fully-tuned, top-of-the-range rifle there to test, not one that has come off the shelf of a shop’. Well yeah, it’s Chris’ own rifle that he uses day in day out for hunting, but here’s where you need to calm down for a second. One thing that I learned from Chris whilst talking to him at the Northern Show, is that he personally tunes every single AirMaks rifle that comes into the UK before they go out to the shops. He’s very proud of what he does, and it shows – there are very few, if any, returns of AirMaks rilfes due to this very process.
Chris knows that “he personally tunes every single AirMaks rifle that comes into the UK before they go out to the shops. He’s very proud of what he does, and it shows – there are very few returns of AirMaks rifles due to this very process.
Chris knows that each and every rifle sold in the UK has been through his hands first, virtually eliminating any future problems that the end user could possibly have. Now that’s what I call service!
The Krait family of rifles is available in three sizes, in either Bottle or Tube cylinder versions. I’ll concentrate on the carbon-bottle models here because that’s what I’m testing. The Standard Krait has a 400mm barrel and 300cc carbon bottle; the Krait L (on test) has a longer 520mm barrel and larger 480cc carbon bottle. The Krait X extends the barrel all the way to 700mm, which is ideally suited to the FAC variations.nAll the barrel lengths are available choked or unchoked, and have a 1:17 twist. All models feature a modular shroud CZ barrel system, which at sub-12 gives the rifle a very quiet report from the muzzle, even when used without a 1/2” UNF threaded moderator.
You’ll notice that I’m testing a Krait L with a rather snazzy laminate stock here. This particular stock is one of six available options in the UK. At present you can get Orange, Grey, Red, Brown/ Grey, and Forest options of laminate, or the ever-faithful Walnut option. These optional stocks retail for around £340 each.
Of course, you don’t have to opt for a laminate stock, but the option is there for those who like to customise their rifles. The original black alloy stock supplied is perfectly good enough, and I think it gives the rifle more of a tactical look and feel.
One of things that really impressed me when I first picked up a Krait is the sheer quality of craftmanship. Everything has been beautifully engineered to an extremely high standard, and the machined components are produced to ridiculously high tolerances. All the thought and engineering that has gone into the design of the Krait makes the rifle very user-friendly.
Yes, it may be a bullpup design, but it’s so much more than that. The length of pull can be adjusted a whopping 65mm, simply by turning the thumb scew at the base of the rifle to extend the length of the buttpad. Then there is the buttpad itself, which again is fully adjustable by unscrewing the Allen screw and sliding it up or down to suit. Last, but not least, the cheekpiece is fully adjustable for both height and slant – not something you see on many rifles these days. This is achieved by using two flathead Allen bolts spaced 25mm apart on a single bracket with two channels in the stock. Adjusting both screws to the same height allows the cheekpiece to be raised up or down, but if you loosen just one of them you can tilt the cheekpiece up from the font or from the rear. It’s a totally customisable rifle and will fit anyone and everyone. Add to this the 180mm-long Picatinny scope rail that has a 20 MOA gradient integrated into it, and you have the perfect match.
On the underside of the fore end of the stock there is an accessory rail, and the test rifle had the AirMaks bipod attachment already in place. I’m not going to talk too much about that here, because I’ll be going fully in-depth on it next month – it really is a work of art and an incredibly efficient system. Oh how I have longed for a magnetically attached bipod that I can simply pull off and put in my pocket – yes, it folds up flat in the blink of an eye and will fit into any pocket, even the front pocket of your jeans – but more on that next month.
I know a lot of airgunners out there who are going to love this next bit of information. Not only is the Krait adjustable externally, it’s also fully adjustable internally too - even the UK sub-12 versions can be tuned! Chris has got his regulator set to around 70 bar on his rifle, but this can be adjusted from 50 to 110 bar, or 170 bar on the FAC models. There’s no need to drain the rifle if you want to increase the reg’ pressure, but it is essential that you drain it in order to decrease the pressure. This is easily achieved by draining the 60cc plenum via the grub screw next to the fill gauge. AirMaks also produce an optional extra tool that is designed to do the job for you.
You can also adjust the hammer spring yourself via an adjuster hidden behind the butt pad. Simply pull the adjustable length of pull butt pad all the way back to expose it. Tuning air rifles is not something I’ve ever done, purely because I’m not that technically minded and I only shoot sub-12. However, I can see the appeal of tuning a rifle to suit the pellets that you intend to use, to get as near to perfection as possible.
Whilst I’m nattering about tuning, now’s a good time to talk about actually filling the rifle. There are two types of probe available; one that connects to a Foster Fitting, and another that is threaded at one end so you can attach it to your whip. Either way, it’s a simple case of plugging the probe into the fill port located on the left side of the main action.
Again, there has been no expense spared with the spring-loaded alloy magazines. They are ‘drop in’ type rotary mag’ and very easy to use. The .177 mag’s hold 18 pellets, whilst the .22 holds 16, and .25 holds 14.
The rifles also come with a single-shot magazine, and both of the mag’s can be stored in the handy optional magazine holder that attaches to the side rail of the rifle.
The magazine can only be inserted into the rifle one way, and that is from right to left. It slots in with a positive ‘click’ and is held in place via a sprung ball bearing system – it’s rock solid.
I love the short-stoke sidelever, too. It’s a tiny 70mm-long, and cocks the rifle with a 90-degree pull, which requires minimal effort. Then it slides back into position with a positive yet muffled click. After cycling through hundreds of pellets I fell more in love with the system after each and every stroke, it’s simply wonderful. The sidelever can be swapped from right to left in a matter of seconds for those who shoot left-handed.
The trigger blade is really quite wide, measuring around 7mm, with a gentle curve that sits well on your fingertip. It’s two-stage adjustable, too, and Chris had his set with a very short first stage, which comes to an abrupt halt before the release. There’s absolutely no creep at all and it’s a real joy to use.
Having used the Krait L for over a month now, I really don’t want to give it back! Those of you who have been following my recent gun tests will know that I’ve been trying to test each rifle in as many sitations as possible, from my back garden range to the Range & Country club range and also on one of my hunting permissions. In this instance, the first two options were all I could achieve, because all of my permissions have been flooded out for weeks, due to the traditional British summer we have been experiencing!
I’m in no doubt that the Krait would have been responsible for clearing a few rabbits had I managed to get on to the land, though. The targets at my local club have been taking a hammering, and as far as paper-punching goes, this thing is pellet-on-pellet, as you would expect from such a highly crafted work of art.
It’s so easy to shoot, which is largely down to the adjustability, but also the fact that it weighs a mere 7.7lbs, unscoped. The original alloy stock version weighs even less at around 6.2lbs!
There’s definitely something for everyone within the Krait line-up, and the fact that they are so uniquely and finely adjustable means that literally anyone from a small child right up to a lanky gibbon like me can get the perfect gun fit.
Whether you’re a hunter, club shooter or even competition-level marksman, the Krait will do the job for you.
I’m really looking forward to having a play with the other two current models from the AirMaks stable – the Caiman and Katran, but those will have to wait for a few more months now.
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