The Big Test: Daystate Renegade
- Credit: Archant
Can less technology be better? The editor finds out
The Daystate Pulsar bullpup has been a runaway success, in joining and perhaps redefining the current tsunami that is the bullpup movement. Inside its squat dimensions lives a huge technological brain that offers the tech-savvy shooter all manner of goodies to customise and perfect his shooting experience. However, all those toys come at a price, in both a monetary sense and also weight. Somewhere in a design team meeting at the Daystate factory, somebody asked the question ‘could we offer all the handling and size advantages at a lower retail price?’
What we have here is an answer in the affirmative. At first glance, you’d be sure that the rifle pictured is a Pulsar wearing a green synthetic stock, but you’d be wrong. What you see is a Renegade, the next step in Daystate’s long and innovative journey. It seemed logical to me when they developed the Wolverine chassis that it would become the base for the next generation of rifles, and it’s clear that this is the case. In my opinion, the impressive design features that action contains make it the most technologically advanced in the business, and the one that other manufacturers need to catch up with.
The Pulsar took it and added all manner of electronic gadgets, but the Renegade is the polar opposite. Mechanically, it’s just the same, but it’s now fired with a very conventional hammer and spring system, albeit the Harper Slingshot, famed for its consistency and frugal use of air supply. However, all bullpups face a common challenge, which is to connect a trigger blade, moved a good distance forward, to the sears at the back of the action. Rods and links are the usual answer and, to be fair, the trigger quality they’ve provided has generally shown them to be the compromise that they are.
The Daystate team took a good long look at the problem and used a technology they know well to deliver a new solution. Electronic firing is something they mastered ages ago, so they applied it here, just in a new form. Instead of the trigger mechanism releasing the sear that frees the hammer, a solenoid does the job. This means that the electronic trigger assembly that fired the Pulsar can be used to control this new system. Weight and travel can be designed in with no compromises because it is really a switch. All the mechanical aspects we feel are artificial, just to make us feel at home.
This is a true innovation, but I’d expect nothing less from Daystate. Alongside the ability to place the trigger blade where you choose, there are other benefits. Sear overlap is a matter of safety and therefore should never be compromised, but a light, predictable trigger action needs reduced overlap. It’s a trade-off. However, with the Renegade’s electronic system, a large amount of overlap can be set for safety reasons because the solenoid that releases it is powerful and incredibly quick. This means we have the best of both worlds. The mechanism runs from a PP3 battery than can be bought from every corner shop and is small enough to carry a spare for ultimate peace of mind. This eliminates the need to remember to recharge. My MK4 fires so many thousands of shots on a charge that I completely forget to plug it in, and on a couple of occasions I’ve set off with a flat battery. This was totally my own fault, but with the Renegade, I would have just dropped a new battery in and my day’s shooting could have been enjoyed.
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The same but different
If you’ve read about the Pulsar then you know about the Renegade. Externally, it’s identical, apart from the lack of LCD screen in the side of the stock. Filling the reservoir is still done by unscrewing an aluminium cap on the front of the reservoir and connecting to the male Forster fitting. Loading pellets into the familiar, yet newly coloured, rotary magazine is the same, and the side lever works in just the same way. Even the cross-bolt safety is the same.
You will notice that the elimination of the electronic system saves a little weight, and because the Renegade is tall, like all bullpups, that change is felt immediately. My test gun came fitted with the novel MTC Connect zero-eye-relief scope, which is light by today’s standards, enhancing the effect.
Another change was the green colour of the synthetic stock. I like this option because, writing as a hunter, I see it as ‘free-camouflage’. All-black guns stand out more than metal and wooden ones in my opinion, so this option makes good sense for me and to be honest, I just like the look.
Another area that challenges the designer of a bullpup is the fact that our cheek must rest on the top of the action, rather than on a stock. This fixes the height so the scope must be raised relative to this to allow us to see along the axis of the scope’s body. I’m blessed (a’hem …) with a particularly huge head, so I often struggle with this problem. The answer is usually to fit high mounts that allow me to see the whole sight picture properly. The downside is that the relationship between the barrel and the centre line of the scope gets even larger. On a conventional rifle this distance is commonly around 1¾”, but on the Renegade it’s a little over 2½”. Okay you might be asking ‘so what?’ so I’ll tell you.
Bullpups are often cited as the ultimate up-close, ratting and feral pigeon guns, but I’ll challenge that. The higher the scope is above the barrel, the more you need to correct your aim for close shots. On a conventional 11.5 ft.lbs., .22 rifle, you can aim spot-on at a rat sitting 10 yards away. With a bullpup you’d need to aim ½” high or you’d shoot under its chin. This is easy to do when you have lots of time to think about the shot, but in a hurry it’s the kind of thing we forget.
As I mentioned earlier, bullpups are tall compared to a conventional rifle and the issue of cant becomes a greater consideration. Cant is when we fail to hold the rifle perfectly vertical. Any lean changes the relationship of the sightline to the pellet’s trajectory, causing us to miss. To help us avoid this problem Daystate designed a tiny spirit level into the back of the scope rail. The Connect scope sitting so close to your eye prevents you from seeing it whilst on aim, but with all conventional scopes, you can be aware of it in your peripheral vision without needing to look directly at it. This is a significant help in real-world accuracy, and that’s what rifle shooting is all about.
I mentioned the Wolverine action being technologically advanced so let me explain why I believe that to be the case. Some tech’ ideas are great in theory, but I don’t care about them. What I care about are features that make a difference in the field to me as a hunter. For example, double loading is a problem that all hunters have faced but because the Pulsar magazine is indexed pneumatically as the rifle fires, it cannot double load. Another real-world problem is firing the rifle with the side lever open. The Pulsar will not fire unless the lever is locked shut, so another problem is solved. This is the direction that airguns need to take to improve their performance in a way that makes a real difference in the field.
The rifle I had on test was a pre-production prototype, but I tested it like a production gun just for my own interest. The muzzle energy was set at 11.2 ft.lbs with the Daystate Kaiser pellet, and shot-to-shot consistency was just 5fps, as I’d expect from a rifle of this quality.
Unsurprisingly, the trigger felt just like the Pulsar, although the firing cycle sounded a little different. Accuracy was every bit as good as the Pulsars I’ve shot, which is no surprise because the barrel is exactly the same and is fixed into the same chassis.
I guess the question of why Daystate would make another rifle that performs just as well as a Pulsar has to be asked, and the answer is that the simplified rifle is cheaper. In fact it’s quite a lot cheaper. Not everybody likes complicated guns, and using the Renegade is just like any other mechanical pre-charged pneumatic. You wouldn’t know that it has an electronic trigger in use.
I got the appeal of this decision right away and the technology that allows a very safe trigger to feel like a light, match-grade one is a good step forward, in my opinion. If you fancied a Pulsar, but thought the price was a little high, then have a good look at the Renegade, it could well be the rifle for you.
Tel: 01785 859122
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Side lever, rotary magazine multi-shot
Length: 760mm (30”)
Weight: 3.2kg (7lbs)
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable (electronic)
Full Pressure: 232 bar
Shots per fill: 170 in .177