Andy McLachlan on the Red Wolf

After howling at the moon about a new rifle purchase, Andy McLachlan joined the wolf pack and decided to fork out for a Red Wolf. Was he pleased? Let’s find out…

You may remember from some of my recent articles that I have found myself enjoying the discipline of benchrest shooting. This has come about following a long introductory period in which my friend Dave and I found ourselves naturally gravitating towards the ability to precisely place a .177 air pellet onto a 2mm-sized bull at 25 yards.

Not that shooting accurate groupings of pellets at all ranges isn’t useful for anybody wielding our combinations – just that attempting to score highly on an official benchrest target card requires a considerable amount of skill, and of course the equipment to do so.

I own a couple of German-made target rifles that I use for outdoor competition. My current favourite is a Steyr LG 110 that allows me to make the most of my minimal levels of skill on the HFT course. The gun is very consistent and extremely accurate.

If I miss a shot, I know for a fact that it was me that was at fault and certainly not the gun. However, as this gun is equipped with an HFT-specific low-magnification scope to minimise parallax error, it is not suitable for benchrest shooting in its current format.

So rather than upset what is a known good performer, I decided to try the serious benchrest shooters’ rifle and scope combinations at the Leigh indoor range to identify a gun that I felt comfortable using.

The main weapon of choice appears to be the Rapid Air Weapons TM1000, which needs no introduction for many of the shooters having used one either indoors or outdoors for many years now. I own the hunting version of the gun, the HM1000, and can confirm that the accuracy potential is just as effective in the ‘buddy bottle’ format.

I then tried a gun whose layout I have not shot for a few years – an electronic Daystate. Having owned a few examples of the Daystate Air Wolf and a MK4 in the past, I was familiar with the electronic trigger assembly and its mouse-like click as the trigger is tripped to power the solenoid that releases the shot. This is a totally different feeling to a mechanical trigger unit, and can take some getting used to initially.

Andy zeroes his Red Wolf and Bushnell combo at Rivington’s indoor range – and likes what he sees

Personally, I have always liked using electronically controlled rifles, and have never had any problems whatsoever with any of the four electronic and five mechanically powered Daystate rifles I have owned over the past couple of decades.

For me, they have always been mega-reliable in the field. Being a Daystate, build quality is always high and designed to last. All my previously owned Daystates have been used in the field, rather than the competition course, I might add.

The gun I tried was the Serie Rosso special edition of Daystate’s new flagship rifle, the electronic Red Wolf. Owned by regular Leigh benchrest shooter Steve Hook, I must admit to being fully taken in by the gun on its looks alone.

For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to a well presented ‘shiny’ gun stock. I am of course aware that this is far from practical in a gun whose primary use is in the field when a nice matt finished oiled walnut stock is always my first preference for obvious reasons.

However, for a gun whose primary task is target shooting, it doesn’t really matter what colour or finish the stock has, if its dimensions allow good fit when presented into the aiming position.

Using Steve’s gun for the first time quickly reminded me how pleasant the electronic Daystate rifles are to shoot. The trigger is, in my opinion, second to none, as it displays all the characteristics required for perfect shot release.

There are no sears or moving parts, just a switch that allows the user to fully concentrate upon supporting the gun. In other words, the shooter doesn’t have to concern themselves at all with trigger issues, just releasing the perfect shot.

Andy’s been producing some excellent benchrest practice cards, with Diabolo Express being his pellet of choice

Apart from – in my eyes anyway – its stunning looks, the Red Wolf feels very well balanced. It does not possess the usual vertical pistol grip of a full-blown target rifle, but the dimensions still allow for perfect positioning of the trigger finger.

Upon release of the shot, an extremely slight movement of the gun’s action is noticeable for somebody like me who is used to firing totally ‘dead’ German-made target rifles and their stabiliser-type mechanisms that counteract the forces inherent in any gun firing a projectile.

This tiny movement has absolutely no effect upon the gun’s accuracy potential however, as I swiftly reminded myself.

I have read reports in the past of lock time, the length of time a pellet takes to leave gun barrel following release of the trigger. In every case, it was the electronically controlled Daystate that managed to get rid of its pellet the quickest.

This confirms that not only does the shot release feel fast, it actually is. What this equates to for you and I is the fact that the shorter the length of time the pellet is still in the gun, the lesser the amount of time we have to move it and pull the shot away from its intended point of impact. This equates to high standards of accuracy, and is why I immediately gelled with the Red Wolf.

The potential for high standards of accuracy becomes swiftly obvious following a few well-aimed shots at a 25-yard target card. I managed to drop several pellets right onto the bull for the 10 ‘X’ score that is required for a good benchrest score. This was with a gun that had been set up for somebody else and left me very impressed indeed. The gun was a pleasure to shoot.

As many readers will be aware, the limited edition Serie Rosso is both a beautiful and very expensive gun. Only 200 have been made available worldwide, and considering the two-and-a-half-grand price tag, it is highly likely that all have been sold to keen shooters and collectors all over the world.

It became obvious that if I wanted to shoot seriously at benchrest, I was going to need my own example of Daystate’s latest electronic rifle. 

Having looked at the grey and red laminate-stocked Red Wolf at a recent Rochdale Airgun Club open day, I decided that this model was the one for me. The decision being made, I had to travel a fair distance in order to find a retailer with some in stock due to the gun’s current massive popularity.

Optics-wise, I placed a high-quality Japanese-made Bushnell 3-12×44 scope on board. Twelve is the maximum allowed magnification for my intended benchrest Sporter category, with the optics allowing the brightest view when shooting indoors.

Zeroing the combination with the provided single-shot tray soon confirmed that my choice had been a wise one, as I continued to produce genuinely tiny groups right out to 54 yards. I currently have an Anschutz 9015 armed with a Hawke Airmax 24 mag scope that is zeroed for 54 yards only. 

If I tell you that my 12-mag scoped Red Wolf can outshoot the 9015, consistently, at that long range, this will hopefully convey to you just how accurate the gun has proven to be.

The newly zeroed combo was then used at the Leigh indoor range, with some very pleasing results

Having now owned the gun for a little over three weeks, and fired over 3,000 shots through it, I can only state that if anything, it is getting better. My best benchrest card so far scored is 248 ex 250 with 14 ‘X’ recorded using the 12-mag scope as described. 

The pellets that suit the gun’s barrel best have proved to be Air Arms Express. The electronically regulated action ensures genuinely amazing levels of consistency, with the large 480cc carbon bottle allowing nearly a full tin of pellets to be shot prior to a 210-bar refill. The fit and finish is genuinely outstanding in my opinion, as I suppose that it should be, for nearly £2,000.

Rifles, such as the Daystate Red Wolf are not cheap, but represent just what is possible from a manufacturer at the top of their game. My friend Dave has just purchased the more traditional walnut stock version, and several brand-new Red Wolves have appeared at both my airgun clubs in the past few weeks. 

All these new owners will be aware of their guns’ ability to deliver where it matters, downrange. The fact that they are a gorgeous gun to own and even more fun to shoot helps to explain just why the Daystate ‘Wolf Pack’ continues to grow.


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