THE EDITOR’S TEST: DAYSTATE’S DELTA WOLF

PUBLISHED: 11:03 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:03 11 June 2020

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Archant

We bring you part one of an exclusive first look at the evolution and potential of Daystate’s incredible new flagship rifle

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Over the years, Daystate has earned a reputation for producing some of the world’s most innovative air rifles. The Staffordshire-based company was the first to go into production with pre-charged pneumatics and it owns an enviable track record of technological advancement, which is illustrated perfectly by the company’s electronic air rifles. A mere 17 years ago, I reviewed the first of the fully electronic ‘wonder guns’ – the Daystate Mk3. At the time, I said: ‘There are new air rifles and seriously new air rifles, and this is one seriously new air rifle’.

The Mk3, Daystate’s first commercial foray into air rifles that use electronics to operate the firing action, rather than mechanical sears, springs and levers, instantly established a new category and set Daystate apart. Since then, the company has evolved and innovated the technology to bring us rifles including the Mk4, Pulsar and latterly the Red Wolf, and now, Daystate is at it again. Its latest offering, the Delta Wolf, represents another step-change in airgunning. Although it owes its heritage to the Mk3 and all the electronic rifles that followed, the Delta Wolf is unlike anything we have seen before.

IN THE LOOP

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One of the perks of being editor is that I often get a privileged view of what’s coming next. Companies keep me in the loop because they trust me to respect the confidentiality of what they tell me, and because they know that when I eventually get to report on a new product, my knowledge of it will be much deeper. I also like to think they value my feedback and opinion while they are still in the development phase.

As a result, a couple of weeks before IWA, our industry’s biggest trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany, I received a call from Daystate’s Tony Belas. He gave me a basic rundown on the Delta Wolf and suggested I’d want to make sure I got to see one at the show where the rifle’s entire range of features could be rolled out to me.

OUT OF THE LOOP

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Well, that didn’t work out too well, did it? IWA was cancelled and Daystate’s carefully choreographed launch plans went out of the window.

To their credit, a plan B was deployed with amazing speed, a film crew was recruited to film the IWA display Delta Wolf rifles for a virtual launch, but since then, the coronavirus has taken an even firmer grip and the government has imposed a lockdown. As I write, Daystate’s factory is closed and the manufacture of airguns at Daystate’s factories in the UK and Italy has stopped, although they are still, like most of us, working from home offices.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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We’re all frustrated at the way the virus has impacted our lives; no more shooting or hunting for the foreseeable future is a sobering thought. It’s frustrating for me because I am fully aware of the service we can bring to our readers, and yet I haven’t been able to get my hands on a Delta Wolf to shoot one and tell you about it first-hand.

Fortunately, Daystate has done a great job of keeping us informed via its Internet social media channels. If you haven’t subscribed to its Facebook and Instagram pages, not to mention its website, I recommend you do because it’s a great way of whiling away the hours until you can get out again.

However, we all want to know more about the Delta Wolf. I certainly do, so I thought it was time to step in and ask the questions I’m sure you want answers to. Tony Belas is again my source of information on the Delta Wolf because he’s been following the mechanical and electrical designers and engineers who’ve been part of the project since its conception three years ago, and its development which began in early 2018.

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Initial concepts

Like any other strong brand, Daystate rifles have their own distinctive look and character. With each new rifle, the company has striven to reinforce its reputation for combining performance and quality with classic, flowing lines and aesthetic appeal, and it has to be said that Daystate stocks are some of the most beautiful on the market.

Deliberately stepping away from that heritage is a bit of a gamble, then. It’s no different to the conundrum faced by car brands like Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche and Maserati when they decided to move away from the sleek sports and luxury cars they are best-known for and introduce four-wheel drive SUVs to their line-up.

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Tactical demand

Daystate’s SUV moment came in the form of an increasing demand for tactical AR15-style rifles, especially in the USA where the assault rifle long ago usurped the classic sporter as the shooter’s favourite.

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Unsurprisingly, Daystate didn’t want to be left behind, but faced something of a dilemma; rifles in sister company Brocock’s range, especially the Concept XR and Commander XR, were already ticking the tactical AR15 box rather well. However, the level of technology planned for the Delta Wolf would put it outside of the traditional Brocock price bracket.

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Ultimately, as a rifle that was intended to set a new ‘ultimate airgun’ standard, the Delta Wolf would carry a premium price of around £2,500. Given Daystate’s standing as a premium brand it made sense to make the Delta Wolf part of its line-up.

ENGINEERING GENIUS

Dubbed ‘Project Manhattan’ to reflect the enormity and ambition of the challenge, both in terms of technological complexity and cost, initial concepts benefitted from the input of several sources, most notably Airguns of Arizona, Daystate’s US importer. In addition, it was able to recall engineer geniuses Steve Harper and David Snook, who had worked on an earlier Daystate model, the Grand Prix, which featured a number of ground-breaking technological innovations, most notably the inclusion of a built-in chronograph.

The Grand Prix was destined to be discontinued in 2011, but the know-how, experience and hindsight of the original design and engineering team provided a valuable springboard for the Delta Wolf.

In addition, the technological limitations that existed when the Grand Prix was launched in 2008, such as byte size and circuit board size, were no longer a problem in 2020. As a result, the Daystate team was not only able to realise the vision set out by Harper and Snook, but also take it further. It’s fair to say that although lessons and styles were kept from past systems such as the CTD used on the mK3 and GCU from the Pulsar, the new AVT system used in the Delta Wolf was from a different hand and far more up to date.

HINDSIGHT

An example of updating is the integrated chronograph in the 2007 Grand Prix, which would occasionally foul due to lead build-up in the sensors – especially when a ‘fashionable at the time’ pellet oil was used – an issue that had not been foreseen at the design stage and was difficult to engineer out at the time. With that hindsight and modern technology, the chronograph in the Delta Wolf has been designed to allow the pellet to pass down a clear tube that is easily cleaned, not least by each blast of air, thereby removing the problem.

With these raw materials, Project Manhattan got off to a flying start, but soon ran into a serious setback when David Snook, whose particular gift as an engineer is his ability to turn an idea into a solution with a minimum of fuss, was taken ill. As David’s health deteriorated it became clear that he would need help, which came in the form of Colin Stephenson, who had been working alongside David and now had to take on more responsibility. In addition, Daystate’s Italy-based parent company in Milan was able to renew past relationships in the nearby automotive electronics industry to bring in fresh electronics expertise.

Feature rich

At the Delta Wolf’s electronic heart, Daystate has developed a new Bluetooth-enabled, touch-screen, Advanced Velocity Technology (AVT) electronic management system, which by managing the integrated chronograph, performs a number of tasks, including the ability to select pre-set calibre-specific power levels. In addition, the AVT allows the shooter to dial in desired velocities for specific ammunition and fine-tune other aspects of the set-up.

To exploit the potential provided by the AVT system and integrated chronograph, the Delta Wolf has been designed to allow for simple calibre changes. The barrels themselves were developed by the company’s own Accuracy Research Team (ART). Options include 430mm .177 and .22 barrels as well as high power 600mm .177, .22, .25 and .30 polygon profiled barrels that are also compatible with the next generation of slug ammunition. In addition, the rifle main body forms a rigid chassis to clamp the barrel and act as a huge 34cc pre-chamber for its Huma-Air regulator, the biggest of any comparable rifle.

TACTICAL DESIGN

Daystate understands that many airgunners buy a rifle for its looks as much as its performance. As technically advanced as it is, the Delta Wolf also delivers on the tactical AR-style design brief as well. Telescopic sights are getting bigger and more complex and need more flexibility in terms of eye alignment. As a result, the 22mm Picatinny rail on the Delta Wolf will adjust forward and back by 150mm, which when combined with a fully adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad, ensures perfect eye relief and shoulder fit.

The Delta Wolf also features an all-new magazine design, already in development for the current Daystate range, repurposed and focused on delivery for the new rifle. Holding between eight and 13 shots, depending on calibre, two magazines can be loaded back to back into the breech to double the available shot count.

PERSONAL TOUCH

Finally, today’s airgun shooter is passionate about personalising their rifle and the demand for after-market accessories is thriving. Daystate has paired up with PRS, which has developed a range of add-ons that exploit the Delta Wolf’s under- and side-mount rails and its modular design, which allows the AR-style pistol grip to be swapped out, for example. The new rifle is designed to be everything its owners want and need.

NEXT MONTH ....

Daystate has been testing the Delta Wolf for months, now, and the performance data is in and analysed. Next month, we’ll bring you that data and complete the picture of this remarkable air rifle.

The adage ‘if you don’t move forward, you step back’ applies to airgun companies as much as anything else. With the development of the Delta Wolf, Daystate has taken a giant leap and the challenge is now - what on earth will they think of next!

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