THE BIG TEST

An evo­lu­tion­ary de­vel­op­ment of an al­ready in­no­va­tive ri­fle gets the ed­i­tor’s at­ten­tion

Air Gunner - - Contents -

The ed­i­tor tests a Wolver­ine R Hilite from Daystate; a PCP with side lever and in­te­gral reg­u­la­tor

When the Daystate Wolver­ine ar­rived on the mar­ket, at first glance I thought it was just a vari­a­tion of the ul­tra-pop­u­lar Ranger that we’d all known for so long, but I was glad to hear it was an all-new model. Bet­ter yet, Daystate had grasped the net­tle of some of the prob­lems that most other pre- charged pneu­matic ri­fles suf­fer from, and found clever en­gi­neer­ing so­lu­tions to pre­vent them. In my hands to­day is an evo­lu­tion of that ri­fle ‘ bang on trend’, as fash­ion­able peo­ple say, that’s moved with the times and with cus­tomer de­mand. In most re­spects, it’s the same as the first ver­sion, but with two sig­nif­i­cant up­grades; a side-lever ac­tion and a reg­u­la­tor in­side.

ALL ME­CHAN­I­CAL

The de­sign is quite con­ven­tional in that a large ‘ buddy bot­tle’ reser­voir lives un­der the bar­rel and the ac­tion is a fully me­chan­i­cal de­vice, with none of Daystate’s pro­pri­etary elec­tronic fir­ing sys­tems em­ployed. I’ve used their elec­tronic guns ex­ten­sively with­out any prob­lems, but I’m aware that some shoot­ers are wary of them, so per­haps it makes sense that this is a me­chan­i­cal ex­am­ple. The older model used a typ­i­cal bolt ac­tion to cock the ham­mer spring and load pel­lets, but it seems to­day that Joe Pub­lic de­manded a side lever and Daystate was happy to oblige. The fac­tory, or an ap­proved dealer, can swap the lever to a left-hand set-up and the mag­a­zine can be set to load from the op­po­site side just by mov­ing a small pin. The ad­justable el­e­ments, namely the trig­ger blade and butt pad, can also be set to the left or right and tai­lored to the in­di­vid­ual’s frame and reach. With an am­bidex­trous stock and the safety mounted cen­trally, this re­ally is a gun for ev­ery­body

“it seems to­day that Joe Pub­lic de­mands a side lever and Daystate was happy to oblige”

at no ex­tra ex­pense. The one thing miss­ing for me is an ad­justable-height cheek piece, but I guess you can’t have ev­ery­thing.

SHE’S A BIG’UN

Like many of Daystate’s guns, the Wolver­ine R feels big in the hands. The fore end in front of the trig­ger guard is wide as well as deep, giv­ing the ri­fle a very tall feel­ing. I like the way it ex­tends for­ward be­low the buddy bot­tle, giv­ing a nice clean line, so that you don’t hold the bot­tle with your lead­ing hand when on aim. There are some deep grooves along the sides, which I think are more for good looks than any prac­ti­cal pur­pose. The pis­tol grip is com­plex and in­ter­est­ing; in an ef­fort to be all things to all peo­ple, it packs a lot into a small area. There’s the ob­vi­ous thumb-hole po­si­tion and also a shelf for a thumb-up po­si­tion on each side of the bridge that forms the up­per part of the thumb hole. At the front there are finger grooves above a small palm shelf, all backed up by deeply stip­pled grip pan­els on the sides.

The butt sec­tion is no less com­plex with the unusu­ally shaped am­bidex­trous cheek pieces ta­per­ing rad­i­cally to­wards the bridge where you ex­pect them to be thick. The cheek piece also slopes rad­i­cally down to­ward the ac­tion, where you’d ex­pect it to be hor­i­zon­tal. All these fea­tures are neatly carved from a huge chunk of grey lam­i­nated wood, not only for its strik­ing good looks, but also its sta­bil­ity, and abil­ity to shrug off bad weather.

CLEVER CON­TACT

At the back, we find an­other com­plex de­sign in the butt pad. The con­cave face is made from sticky rub­ber to grip your shoul­der and it sits on a mech­a­nism that can be ad­justed up and down and left to right, the lat­ter fea­ture be­ing the one I value most. By bring­ing the ri­fle across your chest, you can cre­ate ‘cast’ that more nat­u­rally aligns the scope with your eye.

To cus­tomise the fit fur­ther, the match­style trig­ger shoe can move back­wards and for­wards to ad­just reach, up and down, and left to right on the post. You will get the fit you’re look­ing for with this set-up. The trig­ger mech­a­nism is also ad­justable for length of travel and weight of pull, and all the ad­just­ments can be made with the stock still on.

Up front, I noted that the Wolver­ine bar­rel shroud is con­sid­er­ably fat­ter than my old Daystate’s, so the older si­lencers won’t fit, but there will be ded­i­cated si­lencers avail­able to fit soon. The shroud, like all the ex­te­rior sur­faces, is an­odised and I know from ex­pe­ri­ence that this makes them very tough and cor­ro­sion re­sis­tant. Mine have been out in all weath­ers, had blood and mud

over them, and yet look as good as new.

REG­U­LATED CON­SIS­TENCY

For me, it’s what’s in­side the Wolver­ine that makes it so in­ter­est­ing. Yes, we can all see the side lever and a smooth-act­ing ver­sion it is, but the star of the show, the reg­u­la­tor, can­not be seen. For those who don’t know, a reg­u­la­tor is a mech­a­nism that sits down­stream of the air reser­voir to ac­cept and hold a pre­cise vol­ume of air at a very spe­cific pres­sure. This en­sures that each shot is fired at the same ve­loc­ity as the last, which nat­u­rally im­proves ac­cu­racy. In my own test, I saw a ve­loc­ity vari­a­tion of just 8fps over 50 shots with pel­lets straight from the tin, which proves the point. The sec­ond ben­e­fit is that it’s very fru­gal with the air, mean­ing more shots per fill and the Wolver­ine is quite re­mark­able in that re­spect. Yes, it uses a large, 480cc bot­tle, and yes, that’s filled to 230bar, but get your head around this – one fill will de­liver 540 shots! You could shoot a whole tin of pel­lets and never go back to your dive bot­tle. Quite in­cred­i­ble. The only clue that the reg­u­la­tor lives in­side is the sec­ond gauge on the left of the ac­tion, with a grey face that reads Huma. This is the name of the Dutch com­pany who make it, now a full-time reg­u­lar sup­plier to Daystate.

LIGHT WEIGHT

On the sub­ject of the buddy bot­tle, the ‘ Hilite’ part of the ri­fle’s name refers to this. The light­ness comes from its car­bon­fi­bre con­struc­tion, which ac­counts for the un­usual ap­pear­ance. Not ev­ery­body likes it, say­ing that it looks un­fin­ished, but that’s the way the con­struc­tion ap­pears. Sim­ply put, it’s built for per­for­mance not to look pretty. The ri­fle is filled through a male Foster-fit­ting in the belly of the stock, cov­ered with a very smart cap held in place with mag­nets, which is a nice touch.

Go­ing back to the ac­tion, I men­tioned ear­lier that Daystate had tack­led some com­mon PCP prob­lems, the first of which is that many ri­fles will fire with the bolt open. This ac­ci­dent is more com­mon than you might think, and I know it’s hap­pened to me sev­eral times. The bolt can be caught on a bram­ble or twig which lifts it, and you might not no­tice as you come on aim. When you pull the trig­ger, some air goes down the bar­rel as nor­mal, but some blows back through the mag­a­zine and scares your pants off. Of course, you miss your tar­get too. With the Wolver­ine R, if you lift the side lever the ac­tion will not fire, full stop. The sec­ond area the Wolver­ine ad­dresses is the prob­lem with dou­ble-load­ing. Again, you might imag­ine this to be a rare prob­lem, but in the ex­cite­ment of a hec­tic hunt­ing

trip, I’ve dou­ble-loaded and ei­ther shot the two pel­lets low and missed, or re­alised my mis­take and needed to shoot the pel­lets into the earth be­fore reload­ing prop­erly.

WELL PROVEN

The Wolver­ine’s mag­a­zine is the well­proven, 10-shot unit I know so well. It has a neat cut- out where you load the pel­lets, so that you can seat them fully with your thumb, en­sur­ing that each one is in the proper place. The mag’ is in­dexed by a tiny pis­ton driven up by the air pres­sure of the shot’s re­lease, so if the ri­fle hasn’t fired and you cy­cle the lever, the mag­a­zine won’t ro­tate and it will not dou­ble-load. For me, these are ex­cel­lent, en­gi­neered so­lu­tions to real-world prob­lems that mean less frus­tra­tion and more rab­bits in the bag.

De­spite the fash­ion­able tra­jec­tory this ri­fle is on, I was re­lieved and de­lighted to see a tra­di­tional 11mm scope rail rather than the more trendy Weaver/Pi­catinny pat­tern that’s in vogue. The lat­ter de­sign might well suit mil­i­tary equip­ment, but looks like a row of Lego bricks on top of a clas­si­cal sport­ing ri­fle, in my eyes.

BIG GLASS

My test gun came fit­ted with a 3-18 x 50 Viper Tac­ti­cal Pro scope from Daystate’s sis­ter com­pany, MTC. This is a big scope that added to the al­ready heavy ri­fle, giv­ing the com­bi­na­tion a ‘ tar­get ri­fle’ kind of feel. I don’t think I’d like to walk around the farm for four hours with this set-up, but from a static po­si­tion the ex­tra weight would make for a very sta­ble rig.

Over the chrono­graph, the Air Arms Di­ablo Field .22 gave an av­er­age of 573fps for a muz­zle en­ergy of 11.6 ft.lbs. Each Wolver­ine R is set up by hand by a skilled tech­ni­cian so that we can be as­sured that ev­ery one is spot on. That it de­liv­ered sen­si­ble and con­sis­tent power was no sur­prise to me, but what I wanted to see was just how ac­cu­rate the ri­fle would be. I kept my fin­gers crossed for a wind­less day, but with our dead­line loom­ing I had no choice but to go to our club and take my chances. The day was very mixed, with pe­ri­ods of very lit­tle wind in­ter­spersed with blus­tery mo­ments. I’d need to use my judge­ment for when it was worth shoot­ing.

AC­CU­RATE ENOUGH?

I set­tled down at a proper shoot­ing bench and be­gan to work my way down the range. The trig­ger had been set up by some­body who must know what I like be­cause it was splen­did. I was able to re­lease shots with not much more than a thought. As the range in­creased, the tricky wind be­came more and more frus­trat­ing, but when I timed the re­lease well, I was hit­ting ev­ery­thing I wanted. Get­ting be­yond 40 yards I be­gan to strug­gle un­til I woke up and re­mem­bered that the test ri­fle was a .22 and the drop- off gets in­creas­ingly steep at those dis­tances. The dif­fer­ence be­tween 40 and 50 yards was over 3” and be­cause I’ve shot .177s for the last 20 years, I was mak­ing silly mis­takes by not al­low­ing enough hold over. The multi-aim-point ret­i­cle soon had me back on tar­get, and the 55-yard knock- down tar­gets were fall­ing at will, re­as­sur­ing me that this ri­fle was ev­ery bit as ac­cu­rate as I’d hoped.

One and half thou­sand pounds is a lot of money to pay for an air­gun, but the Wolver­ine R is quite a spe­cial ri­fle. It’s drip­ping with clever fea­tures and has dra­matic looks that many will love. The light­weight, car­bon-fi­bre buddy bot­tle also looks pretty spe­cial if you like high-tech ma­te­ri­als. It’s not a gun for ev­ery­body, but for those who get it, there’s noth­ing else like it in the air­gun busi­ness.

“multi- aim- point ret­i­cle soon had me back on tar­get and the 55- yard knock- down tar­gets were fall­ing at will”

The side lever was well po­si­tioned for my reach

A cen­trally placed safety adds to the am­bidex­trous cre­den­tials

There can be few more ad­justable trig­gers on the mar­ket

I added cast through the butt pad which was very no­tice­able

Car­bon-fi­bre might look un­usual but saves a lot of weight

Two gauges? Yes: one is reser­voir pres­sure the other is the pres­sure of the reg­u­la­tor

This is a mag’ I know and use very of­ten

An ex­tended Foster fit­ting is supplied to help re­move the hose from deep in­side the stock

An ex­ten­sion to the fore end means you’re not hold­ing the buddy bot­tle

A thumb- up shelf adds ver­sa­til­ity to the stock

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