Daystate celebrates its 40th anniversary by showing off four decades’ worth of airguns – and launching a new Limited Edition rifle
British gun-maker Daystate has held a birthday celebration to mark 40 years in business – and marked the occasion with the news that a Limited Edition rifle called the Genus is on the way.
The Genus was launched at a special event at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to celebrate Daystate’s 40th anniversary, with the company tracing its history back to 23 October 1978. Around 50 different models from Daystate’s long history of gun-making were on show at the event, including the most recent addition to the Daystate family – the Red Wolf – as well as the original tranquiliser guns that started the ball rolling.
Daystate’s roots hark back to a man called Don Lowndes, a bare-knuckle boxer known as the Fighting Blacksmith, who possessed many different skills and interests. He loved racing cars, farming deer, had connections with Whipsnade Zoo and spent much of his time
Don once saw a deer that had got its antlers entangled on a discarded plastic bag, covering its eyes. The deer was so traumatised and uncontrollable that it had to be put down. Upset by the needless death of the beast, Don decided to make a tranquiliser gun, based on the multi-pump Sheridan Silver Streak. This tranquiliser gun was called the Air Ranger – a name that would be used again years later – and an airgun version was also developed called the Sportsman. A PCP tranquiliser gun soon followed, with a pellet-firing version being developed in tandem and named the Huntsman, a version of which has remained as part of the company’s line-up for the past four decades.
While Daystate continued to make tranquiliser guns in the 1980s, the airgun market was gaining momentum, boosted by the advent of Field Target shooting in 1985 – to which Daystate replied with the release of the target-focused Huntsman FTR. But the Staffordshire company also made other types of guns, such as an air shotgun, air-powered paintball guns (as opposed to CO2), and a five-shot riot gun called the Excalibur.
In 1992, the company brought out its first regulated air rifle, the Daystate 2000, and a decade later started introducing electronic rifles to its line-up. Airgun designer Steve Harper and his business partner David Snook had already developed an electronically controlled air pistol, and in 2002 Daystate collaborated with the pair to introduce electronics into its own rifles – the first of which was the Mark 3, followed by the Air Wolf.
Electronics are very much a part of Daystate’s current airgun inventory, while purely mechanical rifles such as the HR Huntsman Regal and Wolverine 2 provide customers with numerous non-electronic choices. Daystate believes in ongoing development, and puts its money where its mouth is. The development costs of the Mark 3, for example, were £15,000, while the figure rose to more than £250,000 for the Pulsar – the company’s flagship rifle until the advent of the Red Wolf. The growth in R&D has been matched by physical growth, with the company twice outgrowing its former premises. It’s currently based at a much larger site outside the town of Eccleshall.
Special Edition rifles are also part of Daystate’s heritage, with its latest gun, the Genus, being the 24th. The Genus pays homage to Daystate’s first full-production model, the Huntsman. The Genus is based on the latest incarnation of this rifle, the HR Regal, and only 200 will be available worldwide, each featuring an individually numbered breech and a laminate stock with a commemorative inlay in the bottom of the pistol grip.
It comes with a Huma regulator, and is decked out with some gold embellishments on areas such as the bolt handle and trigger blade. Shots are kept quiet thanks to a new moderator called the 0dB.
The Genus is expected to be available early this year, and although the price has not yet been confirmed, it’s likely to cost around £1,850. The gun will be available in .177, .20 .22 and .25 calibres, and the Huntsman Regal will also have its calibre choice extended to include .20 as well. The Genus will come packaged in a hard case and will include a commemorative book. We’ll aim to take a closer look as soon as we can.
The birthday event at which the Genus was launched included a presentation by the Royal Armouries on the history of airgun development, with an example of the Girandoni being one of several historic air rifles on display. This rifle was designed by Tyrolean inventor Bartholomaus Girandoni in about 1779 and was the first airgun to be introduced into military service, used by the Austrian army from about 1790 until 1801.
Not unlike a modern PCP, it used a pre-charged air bottle that was housed in the butt, was relatively quiet, could be reloaded in the field and had a magazine holding up to 20 rounds. It was, however, expensive to make and difficult to maintain. If you fill your PCP with a stirrup pump, spare a thought for the Austrian soldiers who used this rifle in combat. While the air reservoir was usually filled with a mechanical pumping device, it was possible to fill it in the field by hand – although this took a mighty 1,500 pumps!
It’s considerably easier to fill a PCP these days, and you get a higher shot count to boot. Like the designers who built on the success of rifles such as the Girandoni, Daystate’s aim is to keep developing airguns that get successively better and easier to shoot.
Here’s to the next 40 years!