Gun test: Daystate Wolverine 2
- Credit: Archant
Subtle improvements make a great gun even better
I’m as excited as anybody when it comes to shooting a new gun, which is lucky because I shoot a lot of them. Opening one of Daystate’s big black flight cases is enough to raise my pulse a little, and knowing that the Wolverine 2 was inside this one drove it up just a bit more.
My first impression was that the changes from the mark one model must be quite subtle because they didn’t jump out at me. I thought that my best approach was to call Daystate’s shy and retiring sales director Tony, who would give me the facts. This he did for about 30 minutes but somehow I didn’t feel I was getting to the sexy stuff.
Tony explained how this internal component had a new finish, and how that bit could be removed quickly and easily, making the job of the service technician easier. Oh dear – it was all a bit dull, but then he got to the point of all that techno babble. He said, “We’ve looked at each and every area that could be improved and worked on all of them.”
Ah, now I get it! This is evolution not revolution. He had such belief in ‘a better ‘O’ ring’ making a big difference that I had to admire his attention to the details. Of course we all love a reliable gun. There’s nothing worse than one that lets you down in the field, so the factory’s dedication to perfecting an already great gun fills me with admiration.
The biggest change for me is the revised stock. You need to put the Wolverine 1 stock side by side with this one to get the full effect, but the changes are important. I immediately noted that the pistol grip is considerably fuller and supported my hand much better. It has finger grooves in its face and I’m not normally a fan, but these fitted my medium-sized hand very well. For me, the thumb-up position is also greatly improved, but I found it more comfortable to use the thumb hole. There are panels of stippling on the sides of the pistol grip which gave a very secure hold when stalking in on my quarry, and were therefore very welcome.
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Behind and below the pistol grip you now find a deep scoop, driven by American bench rest shooters who like to use a large beanbag-type support here, and the shape fits that well; I wouldn’t mind betting that Gary Cain’s love of dramatic lines had some influence, as well. Further back still, we find a multi-axis, adjustable butt pad with a deeply concave face made from sticky rubber, and once you get this into your shoulder, it stays put.
Daystate deserves recognition for offering a stock that manages to blend the bulbous, bulky form of a buddy bottle into its lines with some grace. This has another benefit for me – my leading hand holds oiled walnut, not metal or carbon-fibre on freezing cold mornings. However, we’re still left with the problem of where to attach the front sling swivel stud.
The Wolverine 2 benefits from the innovative technical advancements that are the hallmark of the rifle’s design. The first is that fact that the rifle won’t fire if the bolt is lifted or withdrawn. I’ve fired PCPs with the bolt lifted many times after it has caught against something whilst being carried, and because I was concentrating on my quarry, not the rifle’s condition, I didn’t notice the angle of the bolt and was greeted with a rush of high pressure air as it pushed the bolt back from the breech - not only does it make you miss, it scares the pants off you as well. The only downside of this arrangement is that you cannot de-cock the action.
The second feature is that you cannot double-load it. This is another mistake I’ve made many times when I wasn’t sure if I’d loaded the rifle, and cycled the bolt only to put a second pellet into the breech. The Wolverine’s magazine is indexed by a tiny piston that pops up as the rifle fires. If you haven’t fired, but cycle the bolt, the magazine won’t rotate. It just this kind of innovation that is the future of hunting airguns and I applaud Daystate for taking the lead in this area. As far as I know, they’re also the only manufacturer offering reflex-style silencers that overlap the barrel shroud to give full noise suppression with minimal length.
I also appreciate the function of the safety which slides right and left across the back of the action. This can be engaged before you cock the gun, ensuring that it’s there to help you instantly. However, as with all thumbhole stocks, you cannot reach it from the firing position, so you need to remove your hand from the stock to disengage it before a shot.
You can chose from three styles of Wolverine 2 – as seen here with the 480cc carbon-fibre buddy bottle, the B-Type with a 400cc aluminium buddy bottle or the C-Type with the 200 or 300cc cylinder. The test gun was good for 270 shots in .177 from a 200bar fill, which is surely as many shots as anyone could ever want or need. Much of this vast capability comes courtesy of the remarkable Harper Sling-Shot hammer system. During testing, Daystate found it to be at least 40% more efficient than a conventional knock-open valve set-up. It also delivers stunning shot-to-shot consistency and a nearly flat power curve without the complexity and added cost of a regulator. My beloved Skan chronograph confirmed that these claims were true.
Average velocity was 592fps and it varied just 4fps over 50 shots, which is superb and lives up to the manufacturer’s claims. Cocking was impressively smooth which I partly attribute to the thicker than average bolt shaft. There was little sign of any wobble either, which added to the classy feel. I expect top-drawer triggers from Daystate and this one was just that. It moved cleanly and lightly breaking like the proverbial icicle, which is something I value greatly. During a one-shot string I had five shots all through one hole at 30 yards and felt the internal pressure not to mess up the following shots. I got the sixth and then the seventh through the hole, and by then the mental pressure was unbelievable. Of course, a gust of wind took the eighth ¼” off to the side, or at least that was my excuse, but I put nine and ten through the hole. You need a trigger this good to release the rifle’s inherent accuracy, and this one is sweet.
I used Daystate’s own Sovereign pellets which are made in the Czech Republic and look very familiar. When filling magazine, I noted the coloured dot that helps you to see how many shots you have left. It was blue and this appears to be in line with a growing industry standard to mark .177 blue and .22 red. This is the same magazine that I used in my Huntsman Regal and I know and trust it completely. The cut-out in the face plate, where you insert the pellets, is as simple as can be, but the work of genius. The old mags’ always needed some kind of probe to seat the pellet to the right depth, but you can press them in with you thumb with this design.
The firing cycle is very smooth and I noted no spring noise at all. The recoil is so slight that it’s hardly noticeable, allowing me to focus on the target and ignore the gun completely. It feels like a big rifle in the shoulder, even though it’s not that heavy, but the large and complex MTC scope clearly added weight, and the high mounts added to the top-heavy feel.
I asked Tony why the top edge of the cheek piece is so low, and he told me that it’s set that way to accommodate any position that the hunter might find himself in. If it were set higher, it would compromise some positions and make the rifle impossible to shoot. I know that he knows his onions, but I’d still like to see it set higher. The butt pad is multiway adjustable for those who enjoy such things, and I see them in the same way that Tony sees the cheek piece. It needs to be set in one place that allows you to shoot from almost any angle and then locked down. I don’t think hunters will be relocating it in the field in the way some competition shooters do.
Overall I’d say that the Wolverine 2 is a subtle yet worthwhile evolution of the first version, and I always appreciate it when manufacturers make the effort to move their products on. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the price has
been held to that of the Wolverine 1, despite all the improvements, but if the owner of a Mk1 asked me if he should sell it to buy a Mk2, I’d have to say no because in terms of performance, they’re almost identical. However, if you’re in the market for a top-class, hunting pre-charged pneumatic, then you really need to have a good look at one of these. You have plenty of choices in how you spec’ it, and class-leading design and innovation aplenty. As flagships go, I think that Daystate can be very pleased with this one.
Contact: Daystate on 01785 859122
Model: Wolverine 2
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Bolt-action fed
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Weight: 7.11lbs (3.22kg)
Shots per fill: 270cc
Fill pressure: 200 bar
Wolverine2 HiLite: £1,259.00
Wolverine2 C type: £1,176.00
Wolverine2 B type: £1,176.00