Airgun shooting in the UK has never been stronger. Airgun Expo at the Midland Game Fair is the annual meeting place for the airgun community and I have never seen it busier.
Not only were there more airgun enthusiasts in attendance, but there were more manufacturers displaying more new products than ever before.
But with so much choice and competition it can be difficult to get noticed. However one of the newest names in airguns had no such problems in attracting attention.
Prestige Airguns has recently exploded onto the airgunning scene with its range of Kub pcps, and as part of its launch stepped in to sponsor Round 7 of the UKAHFT series at Anston.
Managing Director Jeff Cooper has been in the industry for many years, and was the driving force behind Webley and AGS before starting his new venture. After leaving Webley at the end of last year Jeff saw a gap in the market for a quality, affordable range of airguns and thus Prestige was born.
There are currently 3 pcps in the range, each with a different cocking action. The prize on offer at Anston was the range topping Kub SB side bolt with thumbhole stock worth £639.00, which I got the chance to have a closer look at.
Straight out of the box it is clear that this is a quality rifle. Although perhaps not as “pretty” as say a Daystate Huntsman, everything about the Kub is solid. At just over 37 ins and weighing in at 6¾lbs it is a very manoeuvrable carbine.
The Kub is only available as a multishot, but this isn’t a problem for HFT. The rules state that magazines must be removed between lanes, and the practical design of the magazine on the Kub makes this very simple indeed.
The 10 shot rotary magazine is machined from a single block of stainless steel with a recessed rubber o-ring to hold the pellets in securely, and is held positively in the action by a pair of sprung ball bearings.
The machining of the pellet chambers in the magazine is tight and initially I was a little nervous about damaging the pellets on loading. However as you will see from the range data, I needn’t have been.
Starting at the muzzle, the Kub comes fitted with a screw-on muzzle weight which can be removed and fitted with Prestige’s own DeciBlocker silencer. Although not as quiet as some other silencers on the market, it did provide the Kub with a bit more stability at the muzzle.
Behind this is the filling port with its rotary cover then the solid barrel clamp at the end of the cylinder. I do prefer this type of filling arrangement at it is quick, simple and much tidier than others employing removable caps.
The barrel and cylinder are beautifully finished, and slot neatly into the alloy breech block. The anodised receiver has both 11mm and 22mm dovetail mounting rails, and is neatly etched with the Prestige logo and fill pressures.
A superb feature of the Kub’s breech block and magazine design is the fact that there is sufficient clearance to fit a scope with low rather than medium mounts. This brings the centre of the scope closer to the barrel, meaning that you need to “aim off” less at close targets.
With many of the 20-25mm reduce hit zones coming in at close ranges on an HFT course, this is a really key attribute that many other multishot designs seem to overlook.
Now we get to my favourite bit – the side bolt. Now to begin with I wasn’t sure about this particular feature. It looked a little “clunky”, and while I am used to using bolt actions on my rimfire and full bore rifles, I didn’t see how it could be integrated successfully on an airgun. How wrong I was!
The bolt was a little stiff to start with, but once it had been cycled a few times it worked beautifully. It does need to be cycled “positively”, but this only adds to the experience. The short bolt movement actually made this faster to fire than the leading side lever systems.
I was concerned that this “positive” cocking action may inflict damage to the pellets as they were pushed into the barrel by the brass probe, although the long range performance shows this wasn’t the case.
Below the wooden bolt handle is the real star of the show. The Kub’s trigger is an awesome performer. It is adjustable for weight and has a small range of positional adjustment within the guard.
It has a positive first stage, maybe a little heavier than I personally prefer, followed by a consistent and crisp let off. I hate trigger creep. A bad trigger will cost you targets, particularly positional shots where timing is critical. The Kub has one of the best triggers I have used on a rifle in this price range.
The stock is an ambidextrous thumbhole sporter, and the one I tested was wearing a nice piece of light coloured walnut. The neat laser etched chequering on the grip and forend looked nice, and was reasonably “grippy”.
Comb height can often be a problem with sporting stocks of this type, but the fact I could mount my 1in bodied Lightstream 4.5-14×44 on low mounts brought the crosshairs perfectly in line with my head position on the stock.
The positioning of the scope in relation to the centre of the barrel was almost identical to my EV2, which meant my 35 yard zero would provide the same aim points and save a few hours of range work!
I tested several different types and sizes of pellets through the Kub. I use JSB pellets supplied by Air Ammo and have a selection of dies and head sizes to find the best fit. It may not seem that important, but the results can differ quite significantly.
My EV2 likes 4.52s from die 70, while my Walther LG300 likes 4.52s from die 30. If you are going to compete it is important to match your barrel to the right ammunition. What is very clear from the results is that the Prestige Kub likes JSB 4.51s, and it likes them a lot!
The Kub is regulated so you would expect good consistency, but at 35 yards in windy conditions the chrono results were nothing short of phenomenal. A 10 shot string with unprepared ammunition straight from the tin yielded a variance of just 10.4 fps and a 5 shot group of 12mm.
The JSB “Heavies” also performed well, but were susceptible to the odd flyer. These retained more energy down range, but probably need more careful ammo selection to tighten up the groups. Their “loopy” trajectory is not ideal for HFT, but I would definitely consider them for hunting.
Following my range session, I was really excited about Kub’s potential as an HFT rifle. At Anston I had an opportunity to shoot the Kub on the course in the afternoon session. I had put in a pretty stout 55 in the morning session with my EV2 in somewhat breezy conditions.
The wind picked up some as the afternoon progressed and I didn’t fancy my chances. However, despite some rather tricky angled shots courtesy of Andy Calpin, the Kub put in a creditable 54 which turned out to be the second highest of the afternoon!
With such a wide range of quality rifles out there it is essential that your rifle stands out. Prestige have managed to produce a range of solidly built, quality rifles with innovative design features that set them apart from other traditional pcps. But if the Kub SB is anything to go by, it’s the outstanding ballistic performance which will really catch your attention.