Gun test: Daystate Red Wolf
- Credit: Archant
Can Daystate’s new electronic super-gun beat the editor’s much-loved MK4?
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.
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.
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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 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, carbon-fibre 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.
Before getting started with my testing, a quick visit to my ever-trusty 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.
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.
Tel: 01785 865958
Model: Red Wolf
Type: Electronic pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Magazine-fed, sidelever
Length: 39” (99cm)
Weight: 7.5lbs (3.5kg)
Barrel length: 17” (43cm)
Calibre: .177 .22
Trigger: Electronic two-stage, adjustable
Fill pressure: 230bar
Shots per fill: 460 .177, 530 .22
Shot to shot consistency: 7fps
Stock: Ambidextrous Turkish walnut or laminate
Options: Silencer, high-power versions, .25 and .303 calibre
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