Daystate Howler slugs reviewed by Roger Lait

Roger Lait gets to grips with the new Howler slug from Daystate, and despite an anxious start finds himself ending up in airgun heaven.

Daystate Howler slugs

Hi Roger, I understand you like shooting slugs. How do you fancy being the first to shoot a new slug from Daystate?” was the call I got from Airguns of Arizona. “Yes please!” I shouted back down the phone – I could hardly say anything else, could I? But before we get into my testing phase with the new Howler slugs, it’s time for a bit of backstory.

I’ve written extensively about slugs before, as I am sure you are aware. I’ve shot almost every slug on the market and have learned a whole bunch about them in the process.

These new Howler slugs from Daystate are actually made by Nielsen Specialty Ammo, a company run by Nick Nielsen in the United States. I have used NSA slugs before and I must be honest, have had mixed results.

I was a little worried because the last time out I tried some 20.2 grain flat-based slugs from NSA and they did not perform well in my gun. So it was with trepidation that I waited for these new slugs to turn up from America.

I thought it best to go out and try some more of the NSA slugs that I still had in my box of plenty. I grabbed four boxes of different weights and base shapes, and then headed to my local pest control permission and tried them out on some targets. 

Things were not looking good, not good at all! I set up my Daystate Red Wolf and put targets out at 50, 100 and 150 yards. After an hour of shooting, and lots and lots of coffee, I’d only used the closest target as the NSA slugs weren’t playing nice with my rifle.

Roger was testing Wildman slugs alongside the Howlers – both were amazing and worked a treat in the Wolf

So I was dreading getting these Howler slugs to try, as I wasn’t really expecting them to be any better. I decided to call Airguns of Arizona and ask what testing they had done while these slugs were in the development phase. 

I was told in no uncertain terms that these slugs don’t just work in Daystate ART barrels, they work well. Really well!

Two weeks passed and the knock at the door came. The parcel had arrived and it was full steam ahead. Airguns of Arizona had kindly sent me 10 tins of Howlers. I couldn’t worry any more, it was now time to clean the barrel of the Daystate, charge the battery and make sure both the gun and I were all ready to go.

I wondered whether to take my FX as well to see how the Howler slugs work in the Superior standard barrel? Yes, of course, as I wanted to see how well these things would work in both guns. So off I went to put these slugs through their paces.

Let’s get one thing straight. The Daystate Red Wolf and FX Impact are totally different fish. The Daystate has three power settings, while the Impact has infinite adjustability, so can almost be tuned to whatever projectile you choose to use. If it works in the Daystate at one setting your luck is in, whereas the Impact can be made to shoot them how you like.

Howler slugs are the result of a collaboration between Daystate in the UK and Nielsen Specialty Ammo in the US

When I turned up at my permission the wind decided to turn up too. Normally that’s not a problem at all for slugs, but these Howlers don’t weigh much at all – 20.3 grains in .22 calibre is not heavy by any means, which could mean that they would  be blown all over the place. 

Now don’t get me wrong, all slugs move in the wind at some point, and nowhere near as much as pellets for sure because of the better ballistic coefficient (BC) of the slug. It was time to set up a target at 50 yards to see what these things could do. 

I must say, my fears had returned and I really was worried about how well they would work. I wanted them to group – and group well. I had a really good look at the slugs and first of all noticed how shiny they were, and on closer inspection how well made these slugs really were, with hardly any defects.

I shot at the target and missed it completely. Not a great start to be honest. But hang on, that was my fault as I was zeroed at 50 yards with my 27 grain Wildman slugs and these were only 20.3 grain. 

It’s not like I have been shooting for nearly 25 years or anything?! What a schoolboy error. So I fired a single shot at the target, aiming lower this time,  and did it ever hit high! How fast were these things going? So it was out with my chrono to see what I was dealing with. 

I nearly fell over as the Howlers were screaming along at an average speed of 1,008 feet per second. 

I inputted the data to the Strelok Pro app on my phone and turned my attention to accuracy testing to see what kind of groups I could get.

Howler slugs have a ballistic coefficient of 0.08 which means they should cope very well in windy conditions

You must remember that I had cleaned the barrel because I was using different slugs before, and different slugs lead up in different ways, well that’s what I have found anyway. Two magazines’ worth were put through the gun and then suddenly it happened: I was totally and utterly shocked.

At 50 yards, and with brand new ammo, remember, the groups were nearly the best I had ever done. It was slug on slug on slug. The group was ridiculous. I carried on shooting these tiny – and I mean tiny – groups for a good while. 

I was so enjoying looking at what they could do that the smile on my face was enormous. These slugs right off the bat were incredible, so out to 75 yards went the target. I was so lucky at this point as the wind had all but gone and it was pretty much still. 

And at 75 yards, as you can imagine, they did not disappoint one single bit. People talk about sub-MOA groups out of their FAC airguns and we all strive to get this, but these Howler slugs were nailing this with ease. 

Sub-MOA was a doddle! It seemed they loved being shot through the Daystate ART barrel and it was almost too easy to shoot the tiniest groups ever.

Get me out to 100 yards right away! Now this was the real test, the thing we all strive for, great groups at 100 yards. There was a time when only a few people and only a few air rifles could really shoot groups less than an inch at 100 yards, but nowadays it’s far more common if you do your part.

Let’s see what these could do. Shock, horror, sub-MOA at 100 easily. I nailed three groups next to each other, well under the magical one inch. The slugs were bang on and as accurate as anything. It was slug heaven. Time for a coffee.

I sat there and chuckled to myself. “These slugs make me look amazing,” I thought. “Such a shame nobody is here to see this.” The Howlers were certainly doing the business alright and the Daystate loved them. On to the FX Impact then. 

This gun has big power. I know it can shoot slugs well, but I wondered if the speed generated would be too much for this lightweight slug. I set up the chrono and loaded up the magazine.

It’s essential to keep the gun stable when carrying out any kind of accuracy test, so Roger brought along his own bench

I set the Impact to max power on the side power wheel and off we went. The chrono recorded an average of 1,084 feet per second, which worked out to 53 foot pounds, not quite the figures I’d been expecting, but still super fast. 

Would they group at this speed? Answer: oh yes! I went through all the power settings on the side wheel to see where they grouped the best and then tuned the gun when I found the optimal setting. Fifty and 100 yards were a breeze. They grouped superbly and worked a treat!

I was over the moon with these Howler slugs and how well they performed through both guns. They could handle the speed super well and just went like crazy. 

Then the wind started up again. This did change the group sizes slightly, but the groups opened up laterally, which is not a bad thing, and while the wind did affect them it was far less than a pellet, for sure. I’d be confident to hunt with them out to 100 yards on a still day, but would keep it closer on a breezy day.

All in all these slugs were a massive eye opener for me and performed faultlessly every time I have used them since that test. Well done Daystate. Well done indeed.

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