KalibrGun Cricket 2 Test Review .25 Caliber
March 12, 2021
Supplied by Airguns of Arizona
Magazine loading/indexing requires practice
Minor controls not intuitive in operation
No dedicated instruction manual
VALUE FOR MONEY
This KalibrGun Cricket 2 test review focuses on the .25 caliber model, fitted with WSA stock. This is a hunting-focused PCP air rifle that provides a lot of punch and accuracy in a compact, easy-to handle package.
With a Street Price of $1,895 the Cricket 2 is well in to the upper reaches of the airgun market. At this price point, the Czech-manufactured bullpup faces competition from “luxury gun” brands with up-market brand names and finishes.
The Cricket 2 doesn’t appear to compete on the basis of luxury. Instead, it provides strong performance in a package that is obviously intended to survive hard use in the hunting field. This is not a “show gun”, it’s an air rifle to be used – possibly abused – yet keep on working. It looks and feels solid, as you would expect from the latest version of a design that’s been around since 2006.
Interestingly, it provides strong accuracy with both the lightest and heaviest pellets in the HAM standard test suite.
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The subject of this Cricket 2 test review delivered a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 1109.74 FPS with 26.54 Grain Predator GTO alloy pellets. Yes, that’s 1100 FPS even in .25 caliber! Very unusually, the GTOs also delivered the best accuracy in HAM testing – at least at short range.
After these surprises, the Cricket also gave excellent accuracy with both 26.0 Grain Predator Polymags and 33.95 Grain JSB King Heavies. These are likely choices for many airgun hunters and so it’s good to see strong accuracy and power levels for these pellets.
As you can see from the table below, the Cricket 2 tested by HAM peaked at a stout 59.5 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy with the King Heavies. With its corresponding Muzzle Velocity of 888 FPS, these pellets will probably be the choice of most shooters as they are quieter than the GTOs.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Predator GTO Alloy 16.54 Grain||1109.74 FPS||45.24 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 19.91 Grain||1044.05 FPS||48.20 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Silver Point 24.85 Grain||974.08 FPS||51.37 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|JSB Exact King 25.39 Grain||974.10 FPS||53.50 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|Predator Polymag 26.0 Grain||967.59 FPS||54.06 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|Benjamin Lead Pellets 27.8 Grain||941.30 FPS||54.70 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|JSB Exact King Heavy 33.95 Grain||888.26 FPS||59.49 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
Shooting at 25 Yards, HAM Publisher Stephen Archer obtained a “one hole” group for 10 shots! This is undoubtedly the best group he has ever shot at this range!!!
Some of this is obviously due to the inherent accuracy of the Cricket 2 on test. But it was helped by the consistency of the GTO pellets (taken straight from the tin) and the Sightron SIII PLR riflescope set to the full 50 X magnification with the reticle illuminated and fired from a bench. Plus – a very good day for the shooter 😉
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Cricket 2 has a two-stage adjustable trigger that’s similar to the original Cricket. It’s possible to adjust the trigger position, also to tune both first and second stages for pull length and pull weight. As always, HAM tests triggers in “as received” condition.
HAM Tester Doug Rogers found the second trigger pull stage to be somewhat too long for his taste. He also found the let-off to feel a little indistinct. “I’d adjust the trigger if it was mine”, he wrote in his test notes.
HAM Publisher was happier with the trigger and it certainly didn’t hinder his test shooting.
The Cricket has an unusual rotary safety – it’s that ridged ring just ahead of the cocking lever. It’s conveniently located for the trigger finger and works well enough – once you’ know it’s there! However, there was no indication on the test gun if the safety was set or not.
Removing the stock revealed a red “off safe” sticker on the safety ring. It’s visible in the photograph below. Unfortunately this was not visible with the stock attached. This sticker clearly needs to be placed in a different location. If this were our personal gun, we’d move it ourselves to give a positive indication when the gun is “live”.
Cocking the action is undertaken using the sidelever system. This was effective and felt slick for the majority of the stroke. However the final pull back on the handle was surprisingly stout on the gun tested by HAM.
Like other aspects of shooting the Cricket, the HAM reviewers became more used to it as the test progressed and more shots were “put on” the gun.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The AoA website provides the following specifications for the Cricket 2 in .25 caliber in “full power” US configuration. “Energy up to 60 Ft/Lbs, shots per fill up to 50”.
This Cricket 2 test review produced results that were very close to these claims. The maximum Muzzle Energy achieved on test was 59.49 Ft/Lbs with 33.95 Grain JSB King Heavies. That would be exceeded using even heavier pellets, or slugs.
As you can see in our “Consistency” section below, the gun used in this Cricket 2 test review produced 45 shots with rock-solid consistency. After that point, the gun clearly “fell off of the regulator”, however shot 50 was just 45.7 FPS below the maximum individual Muzzle Velocity recorded in our testing. Many shooters would consider this acceptable.
So it’s clearly possible to exceed AoA’s specs for 50 shots per fill, depending on how far you are willing to accept a dropping FPS for the shots beyond 45. In HAM’s opinion, this is a fair claim. However we would re-fill after 48 shots per fill (in .25 caliber) as this is a convenient four magazines worth of shooting.
Our conclusion is that the Cricket 2 in this test review matches the claims made for its performance in Muzzle Energy and shot count.
“Shot string Standard Deviation and trigger pull consistency very good.” That’s how HAM Tester Doug Rogers characterized the data from this KalibrGun Cricket 2 test review. Doug is a master of understatement…
As you can see from the shootdown chart below, Muzzle Velocity was rock-steady out to 45 shots from a full fill to 300 Bar (4,350 PSI). This is one of the most consistent regulated PCPs HAM has ever tested!
Most shooters would probably consider four magazines – 48 shots – to be a good point at which to re-fill to full pressure.
Note that HAM always uses high quality pellets straight from the tin for our shot count testing. This is to replicate the consistency obtainable by the average shooter.
The Standard Deviation – a calculation of shot-to-shot variation in a string – averaged just 2.40 FPS across all the standard HAM pellets in this Cricket 2 test review. That’s the lowest we’ve ever recorded. Congratulations, KalibrGun!
Similarly consistent was the trigger pull weight. This varied by barely more than 1 Ounce about its 1 Lb 1 Oz average. That’s outstanding and exceptional consistency that’s – again – right up there with the best HAM has ever recorded.
This Cricket 2 test review found a surprisingly quiet report in .25 caliber. The KalibrGun shroud is obviously effective in reducing the noise level on firing. This is good as there is no provision for attaching an additional – aftermarket – moderator with the shroud in place.
“Quiet enough to shoot indoors,” is how HAM Tester Doug Rogers described it in his test notes.
Note that – due to box length constraints – the shroud is supplied separately on the .25 and .30 caliber Cricket 2 models. It’s simple for the user to screw it into place: as we did.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Cricket 2 is fitted with the expected Picatinny scope rail. This is a long rail with around 7 Inches of “toothed” area for scope mounting. The result is plenty of space to accommodate the eye relief necessary for a wide range of both scopes and shooters eyes. Very good!
With most bullpups, HAM shooters usually find it necessary to use high rings to mount the scope. On many occasions, we’ll add a riser, too, to obtain the right eyeline.
However, the buttpad of the Cricket 2 sits low down below the line of the barrel and action. So – surprisingly – we were able to use low profile UTG PRO rings to mount the scope. This gave the HAM testers an ideal shooting position and eyeline – in spite of us being long-necked guys.
And without the need to lower the adjustable rubber buttpad!
The position of the scope rail allowed for even the long Sightron scope used for this review to balance well and comfortably in use.
Incidentally, the new Sightron SIII PLR 10-50×60 scope we used for this review gave outstanding optical sharpness and clarity. We’ll say more about it in a full review in future after more field testing.
In this KalibrGun Cricket 2 test review, we found the gun handles well and intuitively in the field. “Gun fits well and balances fine'” Doug Rogers wrote in his test notes.
Even with that long Sightron scope, this bullpup PCP balanced well for freehand shooting. The center of gravity ran directly down through the forehand, making for a very stable offhand shooting stance. That’s a big practical benefit that aids successful shooting in the field, even if it does not get mentioned in the gun’s specifications.
The pistol grip is comfortable to hold and positions the trigger finger intuitively in the right place. The pull length is 15 1/4 Inches – a comfortable length compared to the overall 34 1/4-Inch length of the gun in .25 caliber.
The total weight of the Cricket 2 test review gun – including the big Sightron 10-50×60 scope – was 10 Lbs 10 Oz. Although not a lightweight, the balance of the gun made it seem lighter than expected when in the shouldered, firing position.
Another handling benefit is the wrap-around wooden cheekpiece that covers the breech of the gun.
The benefit here is that the wood is warm against your cheek when shooting. It stops you from being distracted by a freezing cheek weld as you can get from many other bullpups where your cheek weld is made against a metal breech. Even some synthetic cheekpieces can be cold too when shooting bullpups in lower temperatures. The HAM Team liked this very much!
There’s a substantial rubber buttpad that grips well against the shoulder. This is vertically-adjustable. However the HAM Testers found such adjustment unnecessary for our physiques. Others may find it a big benefit…
The pressure gauge is clear and easy to read. However – as always – the HAM Team dislikes having a pressure gauge at the end of the HPA tube. It’s not a great idea to have to almost look down the barrel in order to check the pressure. In our opinion, at least…
Most Crickets have the capacity to carry one or more additional magazines in the stock. The WAS stock fitted to the Cricket 2 test review sample holds a single additional magazine securely in the underside of the stock until it’s required. This is another good, practical feature for the hunter in the field.
The magazines themselves are of the traditional “open” type found on Crickets since the beginning. They are easy to load and give some visual indication of when the last pellet is available. However, they will allow double-loading and blank-firing, so it’s good practice to keep count of the number of shots fired.
But the HAM testers found that inserting the loaded magazine into the gun was somewhat of an acquired art. The need to keep the bolt probe back and insert the magazine while correctly engaging the Magazine Control Lever to correctly index the magazine – all at the same time – is something that needs some dexterity.
Doug Rogers found it fairly easy, although Stephen Archer struggled with it. Both of us found that it does get easier with time. This is definitely a case where practice makes perfect!
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Cricket 2 test review sample gun showed good levels of metal machining and finish. The primarily matt black finish is non-reflective and ideal for the hunter.
The engraving on the breech is also well executed, as can be seen in the photograph below.
The WSA wood stock is pleasantly-designed and has lots of good-looking, comfortable curved surfaces. However it could benefit from additional checkering in the forehand grip area.
The pistol grip sides have a degree of “stippling” on the surface. However it’s pressed into the wood – like the KalibrGun logo. At this price level, we would expect to see the pattern cut into the wood – as, indeed, is done with the wood cheek piece.
Overall, the wood stock is functional and serviceable.
BUYING AND OWNING
As a specialist high-end airgun, most Cricket owners make their purchase online. That’s pretty-well par for the course at this price level. However the gun is available in several versions from Airguns of Arizona, so there’s a strong choice of calibers and stock configurations.
The user documentation is in English only. In a nice, classic “old world” touch, the user’s manual is stamped with the serial number of the rifle and the date of manufacture.
KalibrGun is currently working on a new user’s manual for the Cricket range. That’s a good thing, for several reasons…
The manual accompanying the review gun is actually for the original, rear-cocking Cricket and not the Cricket 2. So it does not cover – for example – the operation of the safety or the hammer spring adjuster.
Nor is the purpose of that M4 x 25 screw that’s supplied with the gun explained. It’s actually a tool to index the barrel correctly – if required – upon (re-) installation.
There’s also a bag of O rings included with the gun. However few owners are likely to make use of them without any instructions. And the new manual needs to cover how the owner can change the cocking lever location to the left side. This is a great feature, but the owner should not have to find out how to do it unguided…
The Cricket 2 is also supplied with two rotary magazines and a fill probe. Note that this fill probe has a screw thread at the other end. This means that most US shooters will need an adapter to connect to the 1/8-Inch NPT standard quick disconnect on their tank or compressor hose. Don’t forget to order one with the air rifle.
The HPA fill port is covered by a spring-loaded annular cover. This certainly prevents dirt and junk from making its way into the gun and cannot be lost.
However the HAM Testers found that the strong spring loading made is somewhat difficult when filling the gun. Three hands were necessary. One to pull back the fill port cover, a second to insert the fill probe and the third to hold the gun!
The test gun filled best with a very slow fill of High Pressure Air. Of course, a slow fill is always best for any PCP! That makes it ideal for filling from a HPA compressor, which you’ll most likely need if you want to achieve the full 4,350 PSI fill pressure.
Finally, we have to note that the Cricket 2 is covered by just a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. At a time when even some $100 air rifles have a 5-year warranty, this is an area that could be readily improved.
Even if warranty coverage is not required – as normally, it’s not – it’s still good to know that extended coverage is available.
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This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.