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“built to per­form as well as look­ing re­mark­able”

What do you see when you take a long and care­ful look at the Daystate Saxon? Most will see a stand­alone, lim­ited edi­tion ri­fle that Daystate col­lec­tors will en­sure sells out its never-to-bere­peated pro­duc­tion run of 150. That’s fair enough, and there’s def­i­nitely plenty to catch the eye on that ba­sis alone. Those who have stud­ied the for­mu­la­tion of the Saxon will be search­ing be­yond its strik­ing looks and unique fea­tures, to the ri­fle it will soon rep­re­sent – the Wolver­ine 2.


As with all of Daystate’s spe­cialedi­tion ri­fles, the Saxon is built to per­form as well as look­ing re­mark­able. As the launch plat­form for one of the com­pany’s most im­por­tant mod­els, this LE needs to show more than a hint of what’s to come when the next-gen­er­a­tion Wolver­ine is re­leased to the wait­ing pub­lic. The Wolver­ine has been an in­cred­i­ble suc­cess for Daystate and that’s some­thing the Stafford­shire­based, pre-charged pi­o­neers are bound to want to build on. Let’s ex­am­ine the foun­da­tion, then, with a tour of the £1990 Saxon LE.


The ‘his­toric’ theme of the Daystate Saxon is de­signed to sig­nify the 950th an­niver­sary of the end of Saxon rule, which came about with the coro­na­tion of Wil­liam The Con­queror, on the 25th of De­cem­ber 1066. To es­tab­lish this theme, the ri­fle car­ries colours, pat­terns and ex­am­ples of lit­er­a­ture used through­out the An­glo-Saxon era, in­clud­ing Latin, that uni­ver­sal lan­guage.

Daystate has also com­mis­sioned mas­ter blade­smith, R. Har­ring­ton of Bi­son Bushcraft in the suit­ably his­toric town of Bat­tle, near Hast­ings, to pro­duce a be­spoke, cus­tom made hunt­ing knife and leather sheath, crafted in an au­then­tic Saxon langseax style, and num­bered to match each ri­fle. Add the cus­tom Huggett si­lencer and bar­rel shroud, the cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity and an all-pro­tect­ing lock­able hard case … and ac­tu­ally, you’re still a long way off from ap­pre­ci­at­ing the whole Saxon pack­age. To do that, we need to go in closer.


An­other mas­ter, this time stock­maker Gary Cane at his Tech­wood stu­dio, was called upon to reprise and en­hance the am­bidex­trous thumb­hole lam­i­nate de­sign that played such a part in mak­ing the orig­i­nal Wolver­ine the world-beater it be­came. Gary’s de­sign was passed on to pro­duc­tion mae­stros, Minelli of Mi­lan, where it be­came an er­gonomic re­al­ity in lay­ers of multi-hued tim­ber.

As stated, the Saxon is de­signed to de­liver top per­for­mance and that starts with con­trol, so an ad­justable butt pad, fully scal­loped, stip­pled grip and a scope height cheek piece.


The Saxon, and even­tu­ally the Wolver­ine 2, is a full two inches shorter that the ear­lier model and that has a no­tice­able ef­fect on the ri­fle’s bal­ance. That car­bon-fi­bre Hi Lite (High ca­pac­ity – Lite weight) buddy bot­tle air reser­voir holds suf­fi­cient com­pres­sion to power al­most 300 shots in .22 at 11-plus ft.lbs., which should trans­late to around 220 in .177. FAC hold­ers can opt for the 30-plus ft.lbs. ver­sion in .22, and that will yield 60, full-power shots per charge, which on the test ri­fle is 210 bar. All Daystates are in­di­vid­u­ally set up at the fac­tory, so in­di­vid­ual ri­fles can show dif­fer­ing rec­om­mended charg­ing pres­sures on the lit­tle de­cal set into the frontleft of the breech block.

The Saxon is fit­ted with a re­vised valve sys­tem that smooths out power de­liv­ery, im­proves con­sis­tency, re­duces muzzle noise and im­parts a more ‘ef­fi­cient’ feel to the shoot­ing cy­cle. This is en­hanced by the Huggett si­lencer and shroud, with its trick ports and stain­less mesh in­serts. An­drew Huggett is a full-spec’ ge­nius in his own right and de­serves his place in the Saxon’s roll call of com­mis­sioned tal­ent.


In ad­di­tion to the up­rated fir­ing valve and its at­ten­dant air-flow dy­nam­ics, the Saxon, and again the new Wolver­ine, fea­tures bolt-open safety, an anti-dou­bleload de­vice in­cor­po­rated within the mag­a­zine mech­a­nism, plus the best safety catch on the mar­ket. The lat­ter is man­ual, cen­trally mounted and can be op­er­ated by the flick of a thumb. Per­fect.

“the fea­ture he kept re­turn­ing to was the ri­fle’s bar­rel”

I’m pleased to see that the Saxon re­tains the op­tion of a user-change­able bolt-han­dle, which can be switched for right- or left-han­ders in a cou­ple of min­utes, as can the side from which the 10-shot mag­a­zine is in­serted. This is, there­fore, a fully am­bidex­trous ri­fle and all the bet­ter for it.

Trig­ger func­tion is two-stage and ad­justable, of course, with the curved, stain­less blade of­fer­ing let-off weight op­tions that range from ‘sen­si­ble’ all the way down to ‘you’d bet­ter have the dex­ter­ity of a neu­ro­sur­geon’. This su­pe­rior ri­fle has a re­as­sur­ingly su­pe­rior trig­ger.


In prepa­ra­tion for this re­view, I spoke to Daystate head hon­cho, Tony Be­las, about the Saxon, the up­com­ing Wolver­ine 2, and about count­less re­lated top­ics, but the fea­ture he kept re­turn­ing to was the ri­fle’s bar­rel. Stay­ing ahead in the bar­rel tech­nol­ogy race, and race it surely is, is an in­ten­sive, costly busi­ness. Like all in­volved at the top ech­e­lon of air­gun man­u­fac­ture, Tony knows all too well that any high-per­for­mance ri­fle is only as good as its bar­rel, and the Lothar Walther match­grade ver­sions used by Daystate are at the cut­ting-edge of that tech­nol­ogy. These are scar­ily ex­pen­sive items, and Tony Be­las jokes that his com­pany’s bar­rels cost as much as some en­tire ri­fles. That’s, lit­er­ally, the price you pay for a dec­la­ra­tion that no ri­fle in your sec­tor will out­shoot yours.


Nor­mally, the down­range per­for­mance of what is, af­ter all, a col­lec­tor’s piece, can be slightly shoved aside in favour of de­tail­ing what the ri­fle is, rather than what it does. Not this time. As the fore­run­ner of the Wolver­ine 2, and iden­ti­cally equipped to rep­re­sent that ri­fle’s per­for­mance po­ten­tial, the Saxon needs to be fully ex­plored on the test range, so that’s what I did.

I was care­ful, and I avoided the un­help­fully hideous weather out of re­spect for the Saxon’s im­mac­u­late fin­ish, but I put 200 or so, care­fully sorted, per­fectly matched, .177 pel­lets through it, and I took it on sev­eral strolls through sev­eral fields and woods. I ac­tu­ally re­quested that Daystate let me keep the test ri­fle right up un­til the last minute be­fore the Bri­tish Shoot­ing Show, where it is due to be of­fered as a prize.


When­ever pos­si­ble, I did my best to for­get about the Saxon’s ar­ray of ‘col­lectable’ fea­tures and furbe­lows and just got on with the shoot­ing. The pho­tos ac­com­pa­ny­ing this test will dis­play the bling, so I need say no more on that sub­ject, any­way.

As a shoot­ing ma­chine, I con­sider the Saxon, to be the finest full-length ri­fle that Daystate has ever made. I’d be more spe­cific but the pre­vi­ous holder of that ac­co­lade is the Rene­gade bullpup, and I’ve yet to test the two ri­fles side-by-side, so bets have to be hedged, for now.

The bal­ance is truly ex­cel­lent, mak­ing the Saxon’s scoped weight of 8.5lbs just about per­fect, and far lighter in the shoul­der than it is

It feels more com­pact than it is and short­en­ing it has made a real dif­fer­ence.

A lim­ited edi­tion with lim­it­less po­ten­tial for the fu­ture.

The full Saxon time cap­sule.

The stan­dard of pre­sen­ta­tion is su­perb.

The spe­cially com­mis­sioned knife is of a suit­ably his­toric de­sign.

Sim­ple, bril­liant and per­fect for the job.

His­tory all over the place.

The shape of things to come, and by the look of the lo­cal veg­e­ta­tion - that photo wasn’t taken in Stafford­shire.

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