FT star Richard Beaugie tests the Daystate Tsar
06:22 02 February 2017
Richard Beaugie gives his view on this partnership between Daystate and Ataman
Having been told by Tony Belas, director of Daystate, that the earliest the company would put out the next generation of dedicated target rifles would be late 2017, it was a nice surprise to be invited to have a new gun in August 2016 on long-term test. I couldn’t imagine anything coming up to the Mk4 standard, but I have been totally won over by the new addition, the Daystate Tsar.
The Tsar is the result of a partnership between Daystate and Ataman, a Russian airgun company based in Moscow. They have been producing airguns for around six years and have an excellent reputation. Daystate was encouraged enough to agree to work together and produce a Daystate version of the Ataman M2.
It remains basically the same gun, but with Daystate expertise added to make it their own. They decided on the name Tsar to reflect its Russian heritage and instead of a serial number, it gets a name. The one I have is Petr. I just hope there were enough Tsars to keep this going!
This is an out-and-out field target rifle currently only available in .177 and 12 ft.lbs. The gun gives 140 shots on a 210 bar fill, so many, in fact, that I had stopped carrying my dive bottle with me. It is fitted with the tried and tested Korrick-style regulator, so should be trouble-free. Filling the cylinder is via a probe connector and it took me a few attempts to realise it is a very slow fill. Just open the bottle and watch the gauge slowly move on the end of the cylinder.
The Tsar is fitted with a two-stage match trigger, with all the adjustments you could need. It has a trigger shoe that I thought I would want to change for a smaller ‘ball-type’, but the shoe actually works well for me. The trigger is fitted to a rail that allows adjustment for length of reach and for the trigger shoe to be angled to suit your style.
Within 50 shots, I was completely at ease with the first-stage set-up and the second stage breaks so cleanly and is so predictable that I haven’t found it necessary to alter it from the factory setting. Another great feature is the dry-firing system. Flipping the safety to the ‘T’ position allows you to set the trigger and dry fire, which is great for indoor practice.
The barrel is stainless Lothar Walther match grade and has an ‘A’ clamp supporting the front section. Some will undoubtedly want to remove it to ensure the barrel is free-floating, but as long as the barrel isn’t touching the clamp, I think it gives a little extra protection against accidental knocks.
The muzzle brake is an addition that has been fitted by Daystate. I found that with it on, the gun had absolutely no movement when fired. There is a pellet tray fitted as standard, but I have removed mine because I prefer to feed the pellet directly into the breech.
The stock follows the lines of some of the metal stocks found on match rifles, but this one is made of blue laminate. There’s an accessory rail running the full length of the fore end. The action tightens into the stock using two bolts, located at each end of the trigger block. No other part of the stock touches the action, so minimising any possible POI movement caused by stock fit.
The cheek piece is fully adjustable for height, angle and lateral positioning. It is straight-edged, which suits me because I have set it so that my cheek bone rests along the top edge. There’s no chance of parallax error by not positioning correctly behind the scope.
The pistol grip has full rotational adjustment and some forward and back movement. The grip does have to be loosened to access one of the stock bolts. There is a fully-adjustable butt pad and hook fitted. This is slightly larger than the standard M2 butt pad, reflecting UK trends. It can be quickly altered for vertical movement or removed for travel using a single clamping lever. The butt is also adjustable to give the desired stock length and can then be locked up using two grub screws.
The adjustable fore end attaches via the accessory rail. The adjustment is simple using a quick-release lever. Proving Ataman’s attention to detail, the pivot points are serrated, so when the quick-release is tightened, there is no chance of the mechanism slipping. I have fitted a small bipod to the accessory rail, which lets me put the gun safely down between lanes.
I fitted my favourite Sightron S111 scope to it and spent a day or two getting the gun to fit me, testing various pellets to find which it liked best and running through my click adjustments for all the ranges from 10 yards right through to 55 yards.
The next step was to see how accurate the Tsar was, so I set a card at 55 yards and tried to get a group with my chosen 8.4 gr JSB pellets in gusting wind.
I had four touching each other, while one shot had been blown a further 20mm to the right. The next shot joined the group and I told a couple of my club mates, ‘I’m going to try for a 10-shot group. Just watch me mess this up!’ For the next four shots, I had five other scopes zoomed in watching the grouping. One more pellet joined the lone shot out to the right, but I had eight shots touching - incredible considering the conditions.
I had booked in to the Midland Game Fair European championships, a two-day event that was going to be a good test for both me and the Tsar. The course had been designed and set up by Andy Calpin and his band of helpers, so I knew it was going to be a challenge.
On day one, I finished on a dismal score of 38 ex 49. Not a good start, but I wasn’t alone in getting completely out-foxed by the wind. I was pleased with the handling of the Tsar, though. Absolutely dead to shoot and I was able to follow most of my shots right through to the target, which only made the frustration of missing worse. At the end of the first day, my consolation was that I had only missed one of the ten discipline shots, proving that the trigger and gun fit was spot on.
I was determined to do better on day two and I started off well enough, only missing one from the first six. My shooting partners, Des Edwards and Dave Croucher, had scored the same as me on day one, so we each knew we had to knuckle down and try to read the conditions better.
But then came a film crew, which set up directly behind me to get footage of the Tsar in action. I found myself listening in to the commentary and lost concentration. I ‘double-dinked’ the lane before the crew realised what was happening and went off to find fellow Tsar shooters, Stuart Hancox and Steve Franklin. They were also shooting new set-ups, so I really needed to keep up with their scores to justify my place in ‘Team Tsar’.
I still misjudged a few shots on windage, but finishing on 42 ex 50, I was feeling much happier considering these results came after less than two weeks with the gun.
There isn’t much you need to add to this gun, maybe a bit of cotton for a windicator, but it really does have all you need straight from the box and Team Tsar is really excited about it.
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