Krico rifles have enjoyed wide popularity in Europe, where their quality build and styling have appealed more to the tastes of our continental cousins than to shooters in Britain.
This is a crying shame, as they are exceptionally well-made and accurate sporting guns. Thankfully John Scoltock, of JLS & Co. Ltd., has taken over the Krico franchise and is giving these rifles the marketing and sales expertise they deserve.
Because shooters are insisting on them, more and more manufacturers are offering switch barrel systems – Krico is no different in that respect. The Model 902 has been designed with a very quick change barrel facility, so you can have one or more calibres per rifle chassis.
Lothar Walther, in Germany, makes the barrels, and can be relied on to produce top accuracy and durability. The choice of blued-steel, with either a traditional Best English blued finish or hunter-friendly non-glare satin look, is down to personal taste. Each barrel is supplied with open sights with a simple brass blade foresight and reversed blade rear sight that can be adjusted for windage laterally.
The profile of the barrel is that of a standard sporter – a slow taper that minimises excess weight, yet keeps the barrel rigid enough for good accuracy and avoids too much build-up of heat in use. The standard barrels are 57cm long, while the magnums are available in 57cm and 62cm. The most striking feature is that of the quick-change facility, enabling the rifleman to switch between calibres in order to adjust to any hunting situation. So you can use .243 for roe deer, then change to 30.06 for red deer or a 7mm Rem Mag for African game.
A barrel set in standard calibres will cost £465, while the magnum calibres cost £540 per set. To access the barrel-switching mechanism, the fore-end has first to be removed, which is achieved by loosening a screw. Once slackened off, the fore-end slips out from its hanger fastening and reveals the barrel-to-action union. On the underside of the barrel, at the chamber end, is a 1½in lug that nestles precisely into the alloy receiver body.
Beneath this are three allen screws that have to be loosened, and then the barrel simply slides out, front first. It is a precision-engineered fit that has to be able to withstand repeated removal while still maintaining the ability to hold zero. When in use, no perceptible zero loss was noted and the quick-change facility became increasingly appealing as the test progressed. To date, the calibre offerings are a little sparse, but they do cover the range you would expect on a sporting rifle: .243, 6.5-55, .270, 30.06, .308, 7-64, for the STD calibres, and two magnum calibres in the guise of 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag. My only quibble is that Krico does not offer this rifle with a small bolt-head option to facilitate the use of the more popular foxing calibres – such as .222, .223 or 22-250 – but John Scoltock is looking into this.
The bolt is also unique as it has three locking lugs across one plane, which ensure a correct headspace and solid lock-up when the bolt is closed. It also locks directly into the barrel that is chambered to accept it, ensuring perfect alignment and, again, a rock solid lock-up. A separate steel ring within the bolt face is easily removed by loosening three screws, cleverly allowing differing cartridge head sizes to be accommodated, so only one bolt is needed for all differing cartridge sizes.
The bolt handle offers the traditional butter-spoon profile, which some might find a little small to operate when wearing gloves. The slick operating procedure and silky smooth bolt action, with little or no bolt wobble, were reassuring indicators of good quality manufacture. As with the barrel, the bolt forms part of a modular platform in the shape of an alloy frame, which also houses the trigger unit and detachable magazine, as well as supporting the stock and fore-end. Fashioned from 7075t6 alloy, used in aerospace industries, this CNC-machined receiver block is a lightweight yet strong one-piece construction. Its tough black satin finish is durable and complements the woodwork and barrel, blued steel or stainless.
The trigger is a single-bladed unit that functions as a normal direct trigger pull unit, or, by pushing it forward, as a set trigger pull unit. Trigger pull can be adjusted but the factory setting of about 3lb was fine for sporting use. When pushed forward, the trigger blade sits lightly on set and only requires a light touch to trip it. Great on the range, less so on cold mornings and in a state of buck fever!
The detachable three-round magazine sits directly in front of the trigger-guard, flush to the action body, and is removed by depressing a small catch in a recess to the right of the action at the base. Using the right-hand thumb, magazine removal is a one-handed operation.
The receiver top is drilled and tapped for the mounting of ‘scope bases, for which there are many manufacturers, detachable swing-offs (available for £130) being the most desirable to take advantage of the switch barrel facility. The action length is fairly long, but mounting a ‘scope to suit your eye should not be a problem. At the back of the receiver block positioned ‘shotgun style’ on the rear tang is the safety catch. This is a large, positive affair with the catch effortlessly able to be thumbed upward to the ‘fire’ position or downward to ‘safe’. It is quiet in operation, which will please stalkers.
The final details on the action are the unusual and, as far as I am aware, unique detachable side panels. The standard set comes in walnut, but there are differing grades of engraved panels with gold accents that can be ordered to pep up the rifle’s appearance. The stock and fore-end are similarly detachable and can be exchanged for plainer or more figured walnut, depending on your aesthetics or depth of wallet. For colour and figure, the test rifle’s stock wood was of some of the best quality I have seen on a factory rifle, so I would personally question the need to pay extra for grade four wood.
The Monte Carlo-style stock I had on test had a higher cheek piece than the more Germanic hogsback version. All have chequering to the fore-end, whose schnabel profile looks great but feels a little slim, and a hand-cut pistol grip, which is also quite straight but which I prefer. The recoil pad is a traditional fixed solid rubber unit with black spacer that finishes off the elegant woodwork very well.
Accuracy tests were carried out at 100 yards from a bench with a variety of factory and handloads to ascertain which diet, if any, the Krico preferred. It’s testament to the build quality of the rifle that all three-round groups were less than 1in and many – of which the Federal Classic 100 grainers were best – were slightly over 0.75in. If you wish to experiment, handloads of 40 grains, H4350 and 100 grain Sierra Game kings offered several 0.5in groups.