The limited edition Heritage model of the Daystate Red Wolf combines world-beating technology with elegance and exclusivity – Mat Manning puts this remarkable airgun to the test.
The Daystate Red Wolf needs no introduction; it has established itself as one of the finest and most desirable air rifles on the planet since its launch three years ago. This awesome airgun not only boasts ingenious electronic internals that regulate power output and deliver remarkable performance and consistency, but is pretty kind on the eye.
Above all, it is extremely reliable and makes the task of landing pellets dead on target feel surprisingly straightforward. It is these attributes that have made the Red Wolf my go to hunting rifle over recent years.
Considering how far ahead this gun is from the pack, the decision to give it a makeover might sound surprising, but Daystate has a fondness and enviable reputation for creating limited edition airguns. Disruption caused by coronavirus prevented the British gunmaker from releasing any exquisite variants last year, but I think most shooters will agree that the Red Wolf Heritage more than makes up for the gap.
Limited to a worldwide run of just 250 guns, most of which are very likely to have been snaffled up by the time you read this, the Red Wolf Heritage certainly stands out from the crowd. Finished in bronze and dark grey, the metalwork is a serious departure from the standard version.
Daystate has already turned out this gun with some head-turning laminate handles, but I think the Heritage stock, which echoes the colours of the metalwork, is the best one yet. Although it has a high-gloss finish, this woodwork manages to look flash without appearing garish, and perfectly complements the flowing lines of this excellent handle.
It will certainly attract plenty of admiration at the range, but I don’t think it would look too out of place in the field if you wanted to put it into proper service.
Daystate Red Wolf Heritage – key specs
MAKER: Daystate, England (www.daystate.com)
MODEL: Red Wolf Heritage (limited run of 250)
PRICE: £2,749 (standard UK model), £2,999 (HP model)
TYPE: Limited edition electronic multi-shot PCP
CALIBRE: .177, .22 (tested), .25 and .30
OVERALL LENGTH: 990mm (UK), 1120mm (HP)
LENGTH OF PULL: 365mm
BARREL LENGTH: 430mm (UK), 600mm (HP)
WEIGHT: 3.5kg (UK), 3.8kg (HP)
TRIGGER: Electronic two-stage adjustable
POWER: 11.5 ft-lb to 80 ft-lb (60 ft-lb tested)
The handle on this airgun doesn’t just look good, it is also extremely functional. A sweeping groove follows the length of the forend along both sides to create a comfortable contact point for your leading hand.
The inside of these contours are adorned with fish-scale chequering which improves grip and feels great. That lovely chequering is also present on both sides of the pistol grip, beautifully sculpted to cradle your hand and set you up perfectly for the trigger whether you shoot with your thumb around or use the support of the scalloped thumb rest.
Ambidextrous stocks needn’t feel like a compromise as long as they offer adjustment to ensure good fit, and this one certainly does that.
The cheekpiece can be shifted to ensure correct alignment between eye and scope, and the butt pad
is adjustable for height and angle – the ability to adjust angle makes a difference to ambidextrous handles as it enables you to introduce some all-important cast, resulting in a stock that feels like a right- or left-hander.
Daystate supplied me with the Red Wolf Heritage in its longer HP (high power) format, which weighs in at around 3.8kg and measures up at about 1120mm before you fit a silencer. This model has a 600mm barrel whereas the standard version has a 430mm barrel and is therefore significantly shorter and weighs a little less.
Aesthetics are a very subjective thing, but in my eyes the more compact version is better looking. Either way, both models are well-balanced and feel extremely good in the shoulder.
Build quality and features
You would expect to pay serious money for a gun of this pedigree, and the Red Wolf Heritage retails for £2,749 in its standard guise and £2,999 for the HP model. That is a lot of money, but remember that it is buying you one of the most technically advanced airguns in the world in a very special format.
When you’re parting with that sort of cash for an air rifle, you expect pristine build quality, and the Heritage really delivers in this department. Everything appears to be neatly finished and the gun feels very solid. I can confirm that there is nothing fragile about the Red Wolf – mine has been getting bashed around in the field for the best part of three years and hasn’t let me down once.
This air rifle is equipped with Daystate’s reversible sidelever cocking mechanism. Because of the electronic firing action, the lever does no more work than indexing the magazine and probing home the pellet, but it does that very well. It is well-positioned and is fast and slick to operate.
A single-shot tray is supplied and you also get Daystate’s new gate-loading magazine. This mag holds 13 shots in .177, 11 in .22, 10 in .25 and eight in the mighty .30 calibre, so capacity is increased over the older model.
The new unit has also been redesigned with very precise tolerances to maintain accurate alignment and ensure that pellets reach the barrel in tip-top condition.
Loading the new magazine is easy. Flip forward the magnetic cover, rotate the inner drum clockwise as far as it will go and then drop a pellet into each of the chambers – load the bottom one first to hold the drum under its spring tension and the job is a cinch.
As with all Red Wolf magazines, you do have to be mindful of the fact that this one stands proud of the scope rail, which is an important consideration when selecting mounts.
Of course, the Red Wolf’s real party piece is its electronic internals, and you get the latest GCU 2.0 version on the Heritage. It still features Daystate’s MCT (Map Compensated Technology) which adjusts the valve to suit the pressure in the cylinder – it’s effectively an electronic regular – but there have been numerous upgrades including a more powerful circuit board, a better battery and much, much more.
The electronic wizardry extends far beyond the MCT firing cycle, and the screen that’s been subtly inletted into the side of the stock serves as your interface, clearly displaying the remaining air pressure and selected power level.
Open the sidelever and hold in the trigger and you can toggle through various programming modes to input which calibre magazine you are running to keep the counter accurate, select from three power levels, set sleep time duration, choose the display light mode and reset the shot counter.
Owing to the fact that Daystate sent me the .22 calibre HP model to review, I was treated to a whopping 60 ft-lb of muzzle energy.
Despite the huge output, the gun still felt extremely smooth to shoot and returned 65 very consistent shots from a full 250 bar fill. The biggest hitter in the range is the .30 calibre Heritage, which knocks out 30 shots at a massive 80 ft-lb.
If you go for the shorter sub-12 ft-lb model, which is likely to be the choice of most UK owners, you can expect more than 450 shots from a charge, and because of this gun’s remarkable electronic brain, shot-to-shot consistency should be within four feet per second over a 10-shot string.
When it is time to refill with air, it’s simply a matter of removing the magnetic dust cap from the underside of the stock and connecting the filler attachment before topping up to the stated working pressure for your gun.
I make no secret of my fondness for Daystate’s electronic trigger system. The mechanism works like a very subtle switch; it feels a little bit like clicking a computer mouse and is extremely precise and predictable. The two-stage trigger unit on the Red Wolf offers an almost infinite level of adjustment, and you can easily tweak first-stage travel and weight and second-stage weight without removing the action from the stock.
The post can be adjusted backwards and forwards, and the wide blade can be adjusted for height and angle. It is a joy to use on sub-12 models and, because the unit is under no mechanical strain, is equally sublime on the versions that churn out extreme muzzle energy – the level of refinement has to be experienced to be believed.
The Heritage maintains the Red Wolf’s clever safety features and won’t fire if the sidelever is left in the open position. Sensibly located at the rear of the action, the safety catch is a discreet switch which makes the gun safe when pushed to the left – nudge it to the right and you’re ready to shoot.
Another safety feature, which also helps to preserve battery life, is that the Red Wolf shuts itself down after a few minutes of inactivity. The latest electronics on the Heritage allow you to select how long it takes for the sleep mode to kick in. If the gun does nod off in the field or on the range, flicking the safety catch off and on will wake it up again.
The Red Wolf’s strong account in Extreme Benchrest is down to many features, and they are all present on the Heritage model. That includes Daystate’s ART barrel, which is renowned for its accuracy.
The mighty 60 ft-lb HP model was happily knocking out cloverleaf groups at 40m and sub-12 versions should be capable of landing pellet on pellet at 30m in calm conditions.
Unsurprisingly, the HP variant has a bark to it. The colour-matched shroud, which has neat vents towards its rear, provides a small degree of sound suppression, but the Heritage also comes supplied with a matching 0dB silencer.
This excellent moderator did an admirable job of hushing down the HP, and should stifle the sub-12’s muzzle report to no more than a mere whisper. Other extras include a quick-fill Foster connector, battery charger, a lined hard case that’s emblazoned with the Heritage motif as well as a certificate of authenticity to confirm the rifle’s limited edition pedigree.
Despite all the electronic complexities that are going on inside this airgun, it still remains very easy to use – Daystate has done all the complicated stuff so you can just focus on enjoying your shooting.
And this gun really is a joy to shoot, not least because its fast lock time does wonders to prevent you from drifting off target after pushing through the trigger. Add the Heritage opulence to the mix and you really do have something very special.
Of course, only a handful of people will be able to appreciate it because the run is limited to 250, but those shooters who can afford to join this exclusive club will have an airgun to be extremely proud of.
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