THE BIG TEST

Can Daystate’s new elec­tronic su­per-gun beat the edi­tor’s much-loved MK4?

Air Gunner - - Contents -

The edi­tor tests Daystate’s com­pu­t­er­driven fir­ing sys­tem in the Red Wolf for ac­cu­racy

I had a Daystate MK4 as my pri­mary hunt­ing gun for many years and it de­liv­ered supreme per­for­mance in all weath­ers and con­di­tions. Many peo­ple told me that they wouldn’t trust an elec­tronic gun be­cause they wor­ried they’d be unreliable, but I can tell you, from my own ex­pe­ri­ence that they’re not. I had one fail­ure when I for­got to charge the bat­tery, so that was a hu­man prob­lem not an en­gi­neer­ing one, and no dif­fer­ent to for­get­ting to fill the air reser­voir. I loved that gun and in some ways I wish I’d never sold it. So with that in mind, I was look­ing for­ward to test­ing Daystate’s lat­est elec­tronic ac­tion in the Red Wolf model. Ac­tu­ally, I have tested it be­fore in its Pul­sar guise, so I was in for no sur­prises, but as I’m not a fan of bullpups, I was hop­ing that the Red Wolf lay­out would suit me bet­ter. There’s no doubt that Daystate makes strik­ing guns, and the Red Wolf is no ex­cep­tion with the am­bidex­trous stock’s dra­matic swoops and curves catch­ing the eye – some­thing that seems em­pha­sised even more by the lam­i­nate stock. The Turk­ish wal­nut ver­sion looks un­der­stated by com­par­i­son, and is just right for the shooter who prefers a more con­ven­tional ap­peal.

AN ELEC­TRONIC HEART

At its heart is a com­puter- driven fir­ing sys­tem that con­trols the ham­mer force to com­pen­sate for the change in reser­voir pres­sure, cre­at­ing supreme shot- to- shot con­sis­tency, as shown across the chrono­graph. This is the foun­da­tion of ac­cu­racy in any sys­tem, and one of which Daystate is rightly proud. In­stead of em­ploy­ing a coiled steel spring to drive the ham­mer, an elec­tro- mag­net is used which has many ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing elim­i­nat­ing bounce and vi­bra­tion, plus its force is in­fin­itely vari­able to suit the pres­sure it faces. It’s a mas­sively clever and ad­vanced sys­tem,

quite un­like any­thing of­fered by its com­peti­tors.

The trig­ger has no me­chan­i­cal con­nec­tion to the ham­mer, but is in­stead a part of the elec­tronic cir­cuitry. In re­al­ity, the trig­ger is a switch and so re­sists no load, which al­lows it to be built for per­for­mance only. This means that it can be set in al­most any way you like, in­clud­ing mov­ing the trig­ger ‘shoe’ up, down, left, right, back­wards and for­wards. It re­ally will suit ev­ery­body. My test gun’s shoe po­si­tion was set well for my medium- sized hand and broke very cleanly, but was way too light for field use, so I ad­justed it to a more sen­si­ble pres­sure.

RE­SPECT

I have a deep re­spect for the fact that when de­sign­ing this ac­tion, Daystate in­cor­po­rated some ad­vanced think­ing that of­fers real help to the hunter in the field. Firstly, the ac­tion will not fire if the sidelever is open. If the lever catches on a bram­ble with­out you notic­ing and you try to shoot, the ac­tion will say no, prompt­ing you to close it and en­sur­ing that your shot flies true. Se­condly, the mag­a­zine is in­dexed by a pneu­matic pis­ton ac­ti­vated by the pres­sure of the shot. This means that if you cy­cle the sidelever with­out fir­ing a shot, the mag­a­zine will not ro­tate and the ri­fle can­not dou­ble- load. These are real- world im­prove­ments that make a dif­fer­ence in the field, and ones that I ap­plaud Daystate for build­ing in.

The safety slides left and right across the rear of the ac­tion, mak­ing it just as prac­ti­cal for left­ies as for the rest of us. Adding fur­ther to the gun’s am­bidex­trous cre­den­tials, the sidelever can be fit­ted to the left or the right by the fac­tory, and the mag­a­zine can be loaded from ei­ther side with just a small mod’, so our left- handed pals are well catered for.

LIGHT AC­TION

The ac­tion of the sidelever is in­cred­i­bly light, which is be­cause all it’s do­ing is load­ing the next pel­let into the bar­rel from the mag’. There’s no ham­mer spring to cock, so no force is re­quired. I know the mag­a­zines very well, hav­ing used them for over 10 years, and as long as you keep them clean, they’re solidly re­li­able and durable.

I ap­plaud Daystate for fit­ting an ad­justable height cheek piece and butt pad. They’ve taken these im­por­tant up­grades fur­ther still by mak­ing the butt pad ad­justable to move right and left, as well as up and down, and the cheek piece does the same. This al­lows a great

“It’s a mas­sively clever and ad­vanced sys­tem, quite un­like any­thing of­fered by its com­peti­tors”

deal of customisation which takes time to per­fect, but does al­low for the ideal fit. A ri­fle that fits you cor­rectly is a huge con­trib­u­tor to con­sis­tent mount­ing and ac­cu­rate shot place­ment, which of course is the whole point of shoot­ing.

Like many top man­u­fac­tur­ers, Daystate fits Lothar Walther bar­rels and chooses se­lected, match- grade ones, which have de­liv­ered on their prom­ise again and again over the years. The na­ture of the elec­tronic fir­ing sys­tem al­lows Daystate to use just 17” bar­rels which keep the guns at a handy length. Wrapped around it is a full- length, car­bon­fi­bre shroud that of­fers some noise re­duc­tion and is threaded to ac­cept a si­lencer for those who de­mand the max­i­mum. Daystate of­fers a choice of si­lencers and sup­plied my test gun with a shock­ing- red Belita from Hugget. This is the com­pact ver­sion that gives away a lit­tle bit of noise sup­pres­sion for a sav­ing in weight and length. As with all Hugget si­lencers, the build qual­ity and fin­ish were ex­em­plary and eas­ily a match for the Red Wolf.

SOLID NUM­BERS

Be­fore getting started with my test­ing, a quick visit to my ev­ertrusty SKAN chrono­graph was in or­der, and the re­sults matched the ones the fac­tory sup­plied with the ri­fle; 8.44 grain Air Arms Field Di­ab­los were av­er­ag­ing 784fps with just 7fps vari­a­tion from shot to shot. This means 11.5 ft.lbs. muz­zle en­ergy – a group of set­tings that’s about as close to per­fec­tion as I’ve seen.

The next job was to trun­dle off to my gun club at Bis­ley where a 55- yard range full of tar­gets spread be­fore my test bench. It’s rare that I have the time sim­ply to sit and shoot like this, and to add to the treat, the in­fa­mously tricky Bis­ley wind was hav­ing a day off. This al­lowed me to revel in the Red Wolf’s su­perb ac­cu­racy, and within min­utes of getting the zero per­fected I was tak­ing any tar­get I wanted with ease. I soon ar­rived at a point where I was able to choose which flake of paint I would chip off the knock- downs and spin­ners, and I don’t mind telling you, it was a real joy.

HAVE A GO

As ever, I en­cour­aged my club mates to try the ri­fle so that I could hear their opin­ions and views of such an ex­treme ri­fle. I chose to keep the price to my­self, but they knew well enough what a ri­fle like this costs. It’s fair to say that the ap­pear­ance had the Mar­mite ef­fect, with some say­ing bright red lam­i­nate un­der shiny lac­quer was all too much, whilst oth­ers sim­ply adored the look, but all agreed that it’s a fan­tas­ti­cally easy gun to shoot ac­cu­rately. In my eyes it’s much more Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor than As­ton Martin Van­tage.

The fir­ing cy­cle is quick and smooth and al­though you can’t call it ‘dead’, there’s so lit­tle move­ment vi­bra­tion that I could watch the pel­lets in flight, some­thing I’ve of­ten no­ticed with elec­tronic Daystates.

Per­haps it’s the elec­tro- mag­net fir­ing sys­tem, or some­thing else, but it’s very im­pres­sive what­ever it is.

I tin­kered and tweaked the stock ad­just­ments un­til I felt more con­nected, but the ri­fle has another Daystate trait – it just feels like a big gun. The pull length is only ¼” over the in­dus­try stan­dard 14½”, yet it feels longer. It’s also a tall gun be­cause of the buddy- bot­tle de­sign. Even the pis­tol grip has a large feel­ing about it, de­spite de­liv­er­ing my in­dex fin­ger per­fectly to the trig­ger shoe. It’s clear that will suit taller shoot­ers very well in­deed, but ev­ery­body else would be well ad­vised to han­dle one prop­erly be­fore buy­ing.

LCD SEE?

On the left side of the ac­tion is an LCD dis­play that of­fers vi­tal in­for­ma­tion about the gun’s cur­rent state. It’s also used when pro­gram­ming the elec­tron­ics, a process that’s to dull to de­scribe here, but suf­fice to say it’s easy enough to do. I se­lected set­tings that I felt ben­e­fit­ted my MK4, such as the min­i­mum reser­voir pres­sure, and low bat­tery warn­ings, which are re­ally use­ful out in the real world.

Hav­ing shot and han­dled the Red Wolf for a while, I sat back and tried to sum up my feel­ings for such an ex­tra­or­di­nary gun. It’s clearly not for ev­ery­body, cost­ing close to £ 2000, but for those who are in this mar­ket, it’s a com­pelling op­tion. Tech­no­log­i­cally, it must be the most ad­vanced ri­fle on sale to­day and if you’re look­ing for a gun that makes a state­ment, then no­body is go­ing to fail to no­tice it. It’s too shiny and bold for my own needs, out hunt­ing in as stealthy a way as I can, yet I’d love to have all the ad­van­tages the elec­tronic sys­tem of­fers. Then we have the ac­cu­racy – it’s stun­ning, and I thor­oughly en­joyed plac­ing pel­lets with ex­treme pre­ci­sion, and even watch­ing them in flight. It’s an im­pres­sive gun and per­haps the finest ex­pres­sion of ev­ery­thing Daystate has learned through­out its his­tory, dis­tilled into their ul­ti­mate ri­fle.

BE­LOW: Getting the stock to fit me per­fectly en­sured that I made the best of the han­dling

ABOVE: It’s a strik­ing gun in any light

BE­LOW: The trig­ger ‘shoe’ can be mas­sively ad­justed

RIGHT: The sidelever ac­tion is light be­cause there’s no ham­mer spring to cock

BE­LOW RIGHT: I know these mag­a­zines well and use them all the time

BE­LOW LEFT: A mag­netic cover keep­s­the fill­ing port clean

ABOVE RIGHT: Adding cast in the butt pad brings the scope in line with your eye more nat­u­rally

ABOVE LEFT: Cy­cling the sidelever from the shoul­der felt quite nat­u­ral

BE­LOW: Plac­ing the safety here suits right- and left- handed shoot­ers

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