Daystate Delta Wolf - test & review
- Credit: Archant
Terry takes the 12 ft.lbs. version of Daystate’s Delta Wolf in this test & review; will it handle the foul weather & still perform?
I’ve been looking forward to this test for a long, long time. Around four years, if memory serves. It was 2016 when Daystate’s Tony Belas hinted at ‘a new generation of electronic supergun’, during a conversation at the IWA show in Nuremberg. Tony’s eyes twinkled that day, but apart from a few more hints and lots of ‘I promise you’ll be impressed’, I came away from that meeting with very little solid information.
As time passed, I mentioned the ‘new supergun’ at every opportunity, in an effort to wheedle out enough details from which to form an imaginary picture of this new rifle, but even these scraps were hard won. Finally, around a year ago, Tony promised me the first test, swore me to secrecy, revealed a series of images, and asked what I thought of the new, ‘Delta Wolf’. I contributed my opinion, as I’m sure did others, notes were taken and the development continued. In the end, it took four long years to take the Delta Wolf from concept to commercial reality, and technical pioneering aside, there was a major reason for that.
RIP DAVID SNOOK
In early 2018, with development of the new rifle’s fully-electronic powerplant progressing well, Daystate’s electronics wizard, David Snook, became seriously ill and sadly passed away. The Delta Wolf program stalled until a new source of specialist development could be found. That was no small task, and when the best solution was discovered, it turned out that the only realistic way forward was to scrap all that had been previously developed, and start again with a clean software techno-sheet. As you can imagine, that was a massive setback, but at least the hardware format had been established, and the Daystate wish list remained as ground-breaking as possible.
For the record, absolutely everything about the Delta Wolf is brand new and developed specifically, including a new regulator from Huma-Air. Even the multi-shot magazine system, now used on other Daystate models, was originally developed for the Delta Wolf.
WHAT THE DELTA WOLF DOES
From concept to completion, Daystate’s Delta Wolf brief demanded that this rifle would push electronic rifle performance further than ever. Within that brief was written a series of features that would combine to equip an entire pack of Delta Wolves with more practical tools than ever before. Rather than describing the rifle’s features, let’s study that impressive line-up as an introduction to what has finally emerged from the extended period of development.
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* Throughout the calibres, .177, .22, .25 and .30, there is the ability for the user to fine-tune the rifle’s muzzle energy. Within the various model options, the Delta Wolf platform offers muzzle energy levels from 5 ft.lbs., all the way up to 95. This is obviously more useful for the FAC-rated high-power models, and of course the sub-12 models won’t allow their owners to break the law, but this facility offers the Delta Wolf owner the ability to match perfectly the rifle’s output to the pellet of choice.
* The Delta Wolf also comes with a barrel-swap facility. This can be carried out by the user and no specialist tools are required. Running parallel with this, is a breech bolt swap facility – the breech bolt is calibre-specific.
* The rifle’s Huma regulator can be adjusted, again by the user.
* The Delta Wolf is fully ambidextrous and the sidelever can be swapped to suit left- and right-handers.
* Within the rifle’s electronic internals, there’s a built-in chronograph that can record each shot.
* The electronic trigger is fully adjustable for first- and second-stage weight, first-stage travel, plus various positional adjustments for the trigger blade.
* The butt pad and cheek piece are adjustable
* The position of the sight mounting rail is adjustable.
* The electronic menu, accessed via a touchscreen on the left side of the rifle’s butt offers the following: power adjustment, magazine shot count, night mode, auto power-off time,and chrono’ on/off.
* Everything is powered by a removeable, rechargeable, 3-cell, lithium polymer battery, that is recharged via a USB type C cable, connected to any 5-volt phone or tablet charger rated at 2 amps or more.
Like any pre-charged pneumatic, the Delta Wolf needs an air supply, and this comes courtesy of a 480 cc carbon-fibre buddy bottle, which can be charged to 240 bar and feeds a 34cc internal plenum chamber. The fully-shrouded barrel, developed by Daystate’s in-house ART department, can be either 430mm long, or 600mm on the high-power models.
Add a drop-down grip, that latest-incarnation magazine system, and various abbreviated Picatinny mounting options, and you have a rifle that is probably … the least photogenic airgun I’ve ever seen.
LOOKS ARE DECIEVING
It’s true; the Delta Wolf really isn’t remotely photogenic. What you see on these pages, isn’t what you get. Every camera angle I tried made it look lumpen and bulky at the back-end, and it really isn’t. Looks count with every rifle, despite the protests you’ll hear from the ‘it’s just a tool to me’ fibbers, and I say again, the Delta Wolf is short-changed in the prettiness department. Let’s be honest, here; no rifle of this style can be viewed as anything like a classic sporter, but the Delta Wolf does seem to be the kid who pulls a silly face for their school photo. Take a look at one first-hand, and you’ll see what I mean, I promise.
CHARGING and LOADING
I was pleased to see that amid the hi-tech, hyper-development, someone had the good sense to fit a dust cover to the Delta Wolf’s inlet valve. It’s a bit fiddly, but no big deal, and with a full charge of 240 bar installed, the .177 test rifle was equipped to launch over 400, expertly regulated shots. Joy of joys, I didn’t have to deploy the accursed chrono’, this time, because the Delta Wolf has an at-a-glance speed readout available. Throughout my two weeks with the test rifle, and using Daystate’s own Sovereign pellets, washed and lubed for a change, the variation hovered around 8 f.p.s.
Loading the rifle’s magazine is a simple matter of flipping open its lid, pre-tensioning the internal, pellet-carrier, then locking it in position by loading the first pellet. After that, I just filled the remaining 12 chambers, closed the lid and slipped the magazine into the breech slot.
Drawing back the sidelever had activated the Delta Wolf, and switching the safety catch to ‘fire’ made the rifle ready to do just that.
AIDEN AND ABETTING
So far, so technical, but all the development in the world can’t do anything about the weather, and even though I’d arranged to meet Tony Belas for my first Delta Wolf tutorial at the splendid R.A.T.S.c club, with its comfy sheltered firing points, the weather went totally biblical on me. I believe ‘Storm Aiden’ was the official culprit, but it must have had a few mates to back it up, because reasonable weather didn’t coincide with my testing schedule for any meaningful length of time during the next fortnight.
Meanwhile, back at R.A.T.S., sideways rain is never the best assistant when trying to shoot groups at range, and despite recording some respectable clusters during rare lulls in the storm, I decided to dedicate that first session to developing familiarity with the function of the test rifle, plus a bit of exploration of its various options.
After consulting my phone’s weather app, I made two more decisions. First, to confirm basic accuracy, I knew I’d need to shelter myself and the test rifle in an indoor range, and second, I decided that this £2450 supergun was designed to be an all-weather sporting rifle, and I was going to give it the chance to prove that.
FOUL WEATHER TESTING
In an effort to convince myself that shooting the Delta Wolf in stupid conditions was a fine idea, I listed the essential findings that would soon be established. First, would wind-driven rain affect the rifle’s electronic heart and brain? Would the magazine system still shuttle about its business with water running out of that breech slot. How would the handling cope with freezing, wet conditions? So much to learn, in such a daft way. I think it says plenty about me, that I was actually looking forward to it.
GROUPING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
A friend with a redundant factory building provided my indoor range, and whilst Storm Aiden raged outside, I settled at what used to be a workbench, and started hammering away at paper targets 50 yards away. My best groups measured 18mm in diameter, and that was with a scope with ‘only’ 12 times magnification. Double that mag’, and I’d be confident of almost halving that group size, or very near offer.
On the subject of ‘hammering’, the relative quiet of the factory seemed to amplify the sound of the rifle’s main solenoid doing what solenoids do, a couple of inches away from my right ear. That sound is a sort of a double ‘tok!’, each time the Delta Wolf fires, and by pure coincidence, the nearest comparison I can make to it, is the ‘braap!’ of the first Daystate ever made, when it was running low on air. A valve-bouncy type of sound, although it was nothing of the sort in this ferociously efficient hypergun, of course. That said, I can see people remarking on it, unless Daystate sorts a fix a bit sharpish.
A TOTALLY TECHNICAL ANIMAL
The Delta Wolf shoots like the hi-tech performance instrument it has been expertly designed to be. It has a processor for a heart and there’s no soul to this rifle. Like all of its kind, it’s never going to be ‘Old Betsy’, and if you make the considerable investment in one, you won’t be polishing it lovingly with a fond smile on your face, I can tell you that from the start. This rifle is an ultra-hi-tech robot, but what an incredible robot it is!
POINTLESS AND SHOOT CAMERA
My first testing day dawned wet and dreary, but forth I sallied, teeth gritted between apologies to my cameraman, who insisted on repeatedly telling me I was ‘raving mad to be out here, doing this’. He had a point. That point was driven home almost as strongly as the rain, when we later studied the photos we produced from that first session. Frankly, they were rubbish. The camera lens was smeared with rain and every image was distorted.
Even taking a few static shots within the comparative protection of my garden was a waste of time, and although the rifle seemed to be shrugging off the storm, my photographer was getting seriously twitchy about his camera being able to do the same. Protecting the camera inside his coat instantly steamed up the lens, and within an hour I sent the photographer home. Displaying my trademark wisdom, I decided to squelch around in the rain and carry on with the extreme test.
ROBOT IN THE RAIN
As the wind howled and the rain battered the Delta Wolf and me without mercy, I actually gathered some valid information. First, this rifle definitely works in conditions more stupid than any sane outdoorsperson would venture out in. At one point, the rain was so ridiculous that I propped the Delta Wolf against a fencepost in the full, snarling face of Storm Aiden, and then I bravely ran away to cower in the lee of a handy tree trunk. I retrieved the test rifle at the first micro-lull in the downpour, slipped in a fresh magazine, and carried on shooting at acorns and twigs. The Delta Wolf didn’t miss a blip. I was far less effective, but as far as function went … it went perfectly.
The Daystate Delta Wolf is a ferociously efficient, eye-wateringly expensive, testament to what can be done with an air rifle, even in the mad year of 2020. It won’t appeal to everyone, and plenty who want it won’t be able to afford it, but there’s no denying what it delivers. Delta Wolf is more system than single rifle, and the set-up choice is yours.
RIFLE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
Model: Daystate Delta Wolf
Country of origin: UK
Type: Fully electronic, pre-charged, multi-shot, sporter
Calibre: .177, .22, .25, 30
Cocking/loading: Sidelever - reversable by user
Trigger: Electronic 2-stage, adjustable, with manual, resettable safety
Stock type: Black anodised alloy, ambidextrous, with drop-down grip and adjustable cheek piece and butt pad
Weight: 3.1 kg (6.8 lbs) Rifle only
Length: 700 mm (34 ins)
Barrel: 430mm (17 ins), 600 mm (23.6 ins) for FAC models
Fill pressure: 240 bar
Shots per charge: 400-plus in .177, 450-plus in .22 at sub-12 ft.lbs.
Average energy: 11.3 ft.lbs. (Up to 95 ft.lbs. In FAC models)