Wikipedia defines a bullpup as “a modern firearm configuration in which the action is located behind the trigger group and alongside the shooter’s face, so there is no wasted space for the buttstock as in conventional designs.”
I had heard about bullpup airgun designs for some years and had seen some on various forums – including a “bullpump” Sheridan – but had never handled or shot one until the Kalibrgun Cricket Standard Tactical .22 showed up at my doorstep, sent to me by www.airgunsofarizona.com . The Cricket that I tested was fitted with a Hawke 4-12 x 50 AO scope on Sports Match mounts.
To be honest, I had some doubts about the whole bullpup concept. Yeah, sure, it produces a shorter rifle, but the idea of laying my face on part of the action while shooting didn’t seem like the world’s greatest idea to me.
My first impression of the Cricket was that, unlike some of the homebuilt designs I had seen online, it looked professionally designed and executed. The stock is molded from a single piece of engineering polymer, and all the metal bits, with the exception of the trigger and the bolt lever, are finished in black. The Cricket .22 Standard Tactical weighs 7.75 pounds before a scope is mounted and measures 27 inches from end to end.
At the aft end of the stock is a soft black rubber butt pad, which is separated from the main stock by a white plastic spacer. Immediately on top of the stock at the rear is the receiver, which has a slot for a 14-shot rotary magazine. On the right side of the receiver is the bolt lever and the silver colored magazine control lever or MCL. Below the receiver, in the stock are four holders for additional magazines. Moving forward, there is a large opening that allows the shooter’s thumb to wrap around the pistol grip, which is nearly vertical.
Beyond the pistol grip, stock material forms a guard around the silver metal trigger. Forward of that is the forestock which has indentations for gripping on either side. Above the forestock is the air reservoir, which has a large gauge on the end. The metal surrounding the gauge slides forward to allow access for the fill port.
Above the air reservoir is the barrel, which is shrouded. Moving rearward, you’ll find two metal supports that serve as mounts for the barrel and a scope rail. To the rear of that is another section of barrel that is bare, and behind that, another barrel mount and the receiver.
To ready the Cricket for shooting, charge the air reservoir with a hand pump or SCUBA tank until the gauge is at the top of the green zone. Slide 14 pellets into the magazine, pull the breech lever back until it locks and slide the MCL back until the probe from the MCL can slide into the hole at the center of the magazine.
Next, return the breech lever to the fully closed position and slide the MCL forward all the way and then down. There are two forward positions for the MCL. One allows the magazine to function, and the other does not. And this brings me to basically my only complaint about the Cricket: the manual is terrible. It is poorly written and reproduced. In my view, when you spend 1.5 kilobucks for an air rifle, you should get a decent manual. End of rant; back to our regularly scheduled review. (End of rant; now back to our regularly scheduled review).
Now you are good to go. Take aim and start the trigger squeeze. The first stage requires only 7.8 ounces, according to my Lyman digital trigger gauge and at 13 ounces, the shot goes down range. The trigger is very crisp, and there is a very positive “stop” between the first and second stages.
The shot goes off with a distinct POP which is about as loud as a loud springer. It is not raucous by any means, but you can definitely hear it. This gun would not be your first choice for maintaining stealth while shooting.
The Cricket launches 18.2 grain JSB Exact Heavy pellets at 887 fps (average), and delivering 29.2 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Accuracy is top notch, and the Cricket seems to be un-fussy about ammunition. With Crosman Premiers, at 32 yards, it delivered a 5-shot group that measured just .675 inch from edge to edge, which works out to .455 inch ctc. With JSB pellets, I got a 5-shot group at the same distance that measured just .75 inches, or .53 ctc.
In addition, I found the shooting position very comfortable, with my cheek resting not on the receiver, but on the bare section of barrel just forward of the receiver.
If you’re looking for a short air rifle that is suitable for hunting, the Cricket Standard Tactical delivers the goods.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott