Daystate’s pioneering Delta Wolf project is finally nearing completion – Mat Manning has been putting the first fully functioning model through its paces and reckons it was well worth the wait
It has been a long time coming, but the ground-breaking Daystate Delta Wolf is finally set to arrive on the racks of gun shops across the country. This is, without a doubt, the most eagerly anticipated airgun launch of all time, so the British gunmaker’s latest offering certainly has a lot to live up to.
My first proper encounter with this electronic mega-gun was back in March when I spent a day filming with two prototypes prior to what was supposed to be the gun’s launch. The project was then stopped in its tracks as the world went into lockdown.
Daystate’s development team were back in action through the summer and then had to iron out the inevitable glitches that you encounter when attempting to make an airgun the likes of which has never been seen before.
Jump forward six months from that memorable day in the studio, and
I find myself in the fortunate position of having the first fully functional Daystate Delta Wolf nestled in my gun cabinet.
It certainly is unlike anything I have ever shot before and I think that anyone who manages to get their hands on one will agree that it was certainly worth waiting for.
The Delta Wolf’s unique selling point is the electronic internals, which give the shooter a huge degree of adaptability and control. It also has a lot of other very clever features, so let’s begin with those before moving on to the technical stuff.
MAKER: Daystate, England (www.daystate.com)
MODEL: Delta Wolf
PRICE: Sub-12 from £2,450, FAC (tested) from £2,700
TYPE: Programmable electronic bullpup
CALIBRE: .177, .22 (tested),.25 and .30
OVERALL LENGTH: 840mm
LENGTH OF PULL: 365mm
BARREL LENGTH: 450mm and 600mm (tested)
WEIGHT: 3.7kg (model tested without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage adjustable electronic
POWER: Sub-12 and high-power (tested)
Airguns with functional design and tactical styling are very much in fashion at present, and that is the look that Daystate has adopted here. I was sent the black version for testing, but there will also be a model with a Cerakote finish.
Apart from looking clean and simplistic, the Delta Wolf has been very cleverly designed to ensure good fit and balance. The gun I have been loaned for review is the larger 60cm barrel version, but it still only measures 84cm and tips the scales at a carry-friendly 3.7kg, thanks to its bullpup configuration.
The large carbon fibre air bottle serves as the forend on standard models, although the review gun came supplied with an extended bipod rail from PRS – that rail had a bit too much bounce in it for my liking, but I am assured that it is going to be made more rigid.
Other PRS add-ons for the Delta Wolf include a cheekpiece and adjustable butt plate. Factory models have a shorter Picatinny rail beneath the bottle, accessory rails on either side of the barrel and one on the underside of the butt section.
The scope rail is also of the Picatinny type and offers about 15cm of clamping space. It sits on top of a longer dovetail rail and after slacking off the four fastening screws the upper rail has about 15cm of travel to ensure perfect positioning with either conventional or short eye-relief scopes – a very smart feature.
AR-style pistol grips seem to be bang on trend, and the one on the Delta Wolf perfectly matches with the rest of the gun’s styling, while also providing an excellent trigger attack.
It can easily be swapped for an aftermarket alternative, which when combined with the previously mentioned PRS accessories, facilitates a remarkable degree of customisation. The cheekpiece on the review gun sat on a very handy PRS riser.
In standard production format it is very comfortable, featuring a radiused side that nestles comfortably against the cheek. It can also easily be reversed, and slides along the same dovetail rail as the scope rail to offer an impressive degree of adjustability.
Daystate has invested a lot of time and effort into barrel development over the last few years, and apart from being extremely accurate, the barrel on the Delta Wolf can also be changed quickly and easily.
That means there is the potential to swap between .177, .22, .25 and .30 calibres – something that on many airguns requires significant time, specialist tools and usually the skills of a gunsmith.
The barrel is held secure by an Allen screw at its rear – slacken that off and it pulls straight out. You now need to swap the pellet probe for one that corresponds with the calibre of the barrel you are going to fit.
Simply slide the butt plate out by pushing forward its retaining button in the underside of the butt section, then use an Allen key to flip the battery out so you can access the screw at the rear of the probe and take it out. Replace with the correct probe, tighten the screw, push the battery back in and snap back the butt plate and you’re ready to slide the barrel in.
You will see terminals at the rear of the barrel shroud, and these need to line up with the ones on the gun – more about what they do later. Tighten up the barrel screw and you’re all done and ready to start shooting. When it comes to engineering skills, I’m about as ham-fisted as you can get, but even I can do the switch in a couple of minutes.
Switching from one calibre or barrel length to another usually requires laborious tinkering in order to maintain optimum performance, but the Delta Wolf enables you to do it with the press of a button, or more accurately the touch of a screen.
On the left-hand side of the butt stock is a touchscreen, which in normal use shows regulator pressure and your chosen mode setting, along with calibre and pellet choice, barrel length, selected muzzle velocity, battery level and required regulator pressure.
Those contact points I referred to earlier connect the gun’s electronic brain with a chronograph located inside the carbon barrel shroud. Every time you take a shot, muzzle velocity is measured and displayed in feet per second.
To make adjustments to the electronic settings, you need to unlock the gun by switching on the safety catch, opening the sidelever and then holding the trigger in for three seconds. Swipe to the left and you scroll to Factory Shot Setting. Press the screen and you then enter menus to input calibre, barrel length, pellet weight and muzzle velocity.
The boffins at Daystate have done the hard work and stored profiles created from their data to ensure optimum performance at the settings you choose – the most you have to do is tweak the regulator pressure to the recommended level, which the screen prompts you to do.
More adventurous shooters can swipe past Factory Shot Setting and on to Advanced Shot Setting. This opens up more menus so you can set up your own profiles, even adjusting voltage and hammer pulse length for fine-tuning.
You can name and save your own profiles and switch between them as you change between calibres or just to suit different ammo or shooting scenarios.
Anyone embracing the current fad for exhaustive testing of pellets and slugs through high-powered airguns will find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to setting up the gun to suit their latest favourite rounds.
Further menus enable you to set magazine shot count, switch between day and night display modes, adjust auto-power-off time and switch the chrono on and off. The electronic wizardry even features Advanced Velocity Technology, which makes constant adjustments to deliver remarkable consistency.
All this technology comes at a cost, and the starting price for the Delta Wolf is £2,450 for sub-12 ft-lb and over £2,700 for high-power models. That is very expensive, but this air rifle sits firmly at the front of airgun development and I honestly don’t believe that Daystate, or anyone else for that matter, could make such a gun available for any less.
I don’t think they will have any trouble selling them because there are plenty of shooters out there who want the latest technology that money can buy.
I do hope that Daystate has ensured that the Delta Wolf is built to last though because I would expect punters to react very angrily if they experience breakdowns after making that kind of outlay. I have a Daystate Mk3, Mk4 and Red Wolf of my own, and these electronic airguns have never let me down, which bodes well.
Innovative features extend beyond electronic gizmos and quick barrel changes, and Daystate has developed a new, higher-capacity magazine system for the Delta Wolf. The new mag delivers 13 shots in .177 calibre, 11 in .22, 10 in .25 and eight in .30.
A very clever tandem system doubles that shot count as you can fit two magazines at once and push the full one into position as soon as you’ve emptied the first. Loading up is easy; simply 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.
The magazine can be inserted from either side if you want to take advantage of the double loading system. One slight flaw with this setup, on the review gun anyway, was that the curved face of the cheekpiece blocks access from the left (for right-handers) if you position it too far forward. The PRS riser on the test gun’s cheekpiece solved the problem by lifting it clear of the recess.
A very slick sidelever action – a feature perfected by Daystate over recent years – drives the magazine. It is well-positioned, easy to swap over for left-handers and features a nice chunky drop-down handle. In short, it is a brilliant and very reliable mechanism that quickly becomes instinctive to use.
I am extremely fussy about triggers and find it hard to fault Daystate’s two-stage electronic unit – save for the fact that on its factory setting it can be so light as to catch the uninitiated by surprise.
It is, however, adjustable for weight and length – set the crisp let-off to your liking and you’ll struggle to go back to anything else once you get used to it. The match-type blade is also excellent and can be adjusted for length of pull, height and angle. Miss a shot with this airgun and you won’t be able to blame the trigger.
Just above and behind the trigger sits an AR-type safety catch, with switches on either side of the gun. It is safe when the switch is in the upward position and you thumb it down when you’re ready to shoot. The switch is very positive in operation and although it does have a bit of a click it shouldn’t be enough to bother hunters.
PERFORMANCE AND PRECISION
Air capacity will obviously vary considerably depending on your chosen calibre and power output. The high-power .22 model I was testing was churning out more than 60 ft-lb on maximum output and still returned about 50 shots from a 240 bar fill – air pressure is displayed on a gauge on the side of the stock. Sub-12 ft-lb models should deliver around 500 shots per fill.
Charging is via a supplied extended Foster connector that attaches to an inlet on the underside of the gun in front of the trigger guard (it’s cleverly concealed by a neat magnetic cap) and you can unscrew and swap bottles without having to empty the one that’s running low.
As for battery life, the Li-Po cell on the test gun drained disappointingly quickly, but Daystate assure me that it should be good for 5,000 shots per charge on production models. Recharging is very easy, just plug a C-type USB lead into the socket at the front of the butt section.
With the Delta Wolf fully charged with power and air, I had a great time putting it through its paces on the range. The electronics are surprisingly easy to use and, for a gun that boasts so many advanced features, nothing has been lost when it comes to the simple pleasure of obliterating targets.
After opting for the factory profile for my chosen barrel and pellet combo, all I had to worry about was putting the crosshairs in the right place – the Delta Wolf’s electronic internals took care of all the complicated stuff.
At 60 ft-lb, the Delta Wolf does have a bit of a bark to it, as is to be expected. Daystate’s 0dB silencer did a good job of hushing it down and I would imagine that combined with the sound-reducing properties of the carbon barrel shroud it would make the gun near-silent at sub-12 ft-lb.
The high-power test gun was sending pellets downrange with a good degree of consistency. Variation was within 20 fps over a 10-shot string and, while that may not sound too impressive to sub-12 shooters, this was hurling unselected 34-grain Rangemaster Emperors at over 900fps.
The lock time feels remarkably fast. This helps to reduce the influence that any tiny wobbles can have on accuracy and, combined with the Delta Wolf’s excellent barrel and trigger, it makes for extremely precise shooting.
In windless conditions I was managing ragged one-hole groups measuring comfortably within 25mm at 50m – and that was straight from the get-go with no tinkering and a high-power model that has a noticeable nudge-back when a shot is released.
So what is my honest appraisal of this unique air rifle? Well, I had a lot of fun ripping up paper targets and I can see the Extreme Benchrest geeks having a whale of a time fettling the Delta Wolf’s performance in pursuit of precision at outrageous ranges.
It will certainly impress your mates at the local airgun club, and its proportions and versatility should also make it great for hunting – I can’t wait to get it out in the field.
There is no getting away from the fact that the best part of three grand is extremely expensive for an air rifle, and my advice to anyone who would struggle to justify the outlay is not to bother – you can buy an excellent airgun for one third of the price and a pretty good one for one sixth of the price.
But remember, this airgun marks the pinnacle of almost two decades of research and development into electronic airguns by Daystate. If you are lucky enough to have the necessary cash burning a hole in your back pocket and you want to own the most technologically advanced air rifle on the planet, then the Delta Wolf is probably the one for you.