Daystate’s medieval-themed rifle offers style, features and performance, but as Mike Morton finds out, you’ll have to pay a king’s ransom if you want one
The Saxons. Raiders and invaders who settled in Britain in the early Middle Ages. Daystate has a Saxon too, which has managed to raid my gun cabinet and create a settlement all of its own. Maybe it will invade your life as well. Let’s find out.
Daystate’s newest PCP hunting rifle is the Wolverine 2, but the Staffordshire-based company likes to precede its production runs with special editions and the limited edition Saxon is probably the most comprehensive to date. The total package includes the rifle in either .177 or .22 calibre, a shrouded barrel, Huggett moderator, hard case, fill adapter, knife (yes really) and numbered certificate of authenticity.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Let’s take a quick history lesson. On 14 October 1066, Duke William II of Normandy, who was later to become known as William the Conqueror, defeated Harold Godwinson near Hastings. Harold died in the battle, making him the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Fast-forward some 950 years and Daystate has marked the start of the Norman conquest of England with the Saxon. But didn’t Harold get defeated, you ask? Yes, of course he did, but nobody’s going to call their rifle Norman, are they? So Saxon it is then.
This is my rifle – I paid for it myself – but there aren’t many like it, just 149 others as the Saxon is limited to 150 units. Why did I buy it? For the very worst of reasons actually – it was lust at first sight.
It’s expensive. Very. At £1,990 there’s no getting away from it. I told the salesman in the gun shop my wife wasn’t going to be happy. He told me to grow a pair.
The thumbhole stock, a co-creation of Gary Cane’s company Tech-Wood Designs and Minelli in Italy, is a laminate affair in medium brown and blue-grey, colours typically favoured during the Middle Ages. It has an ambidextrous raised, but fixed, cheekpiece, and has a cut-out on either side so both left and right-handed shooters can use the thumb-up position. I find this more natural than using the through-grip hold, so the thumb shelf gets a thumbs up from me, but this is very much down to individual preference.
The size of the pistol grip and finger grooves were spot-on for me, but bear in mind that while I’m six feet tall I have very small hands. And while I’m delighted the grip fits me perfectly, it may well be too small for shooters with larger hands. You’d have to try it for yourself.
MAKING METAL WORK
The build quality on the Saxon is anything but medieval. The action and barrel shroud have been anodised in matching coats of matt silver, while the Huggett moderator is matt black with bronze accents.
A small information disc is inset into the left-hand side of action containing the standard working pressure, which is 210 bar. A pressure gauge is located nearby, so you can check at a glance how much air is left in the carbon fibre buddy bottle. One small niggle is the fact that the gauge on my rifle was upside-down, but can still easily be read in any orientation.
For a rifle of this pedigree and price, I was expecting great things, but before I could find out just how much accuracy could be squeezed from the Saxon, it was time to mount a scope. I chose to fit an MTC Viper Pro 5-30×50 up top, connecting it to the action with Sportsmatch mounts. Head position is critical when it comes to accurate shooting and I was able to fit medium mounts (TO35C) and still have the scope objective and flip-up cap clear the barrel shroud. Another consideration was whether or not the magazine would fit under a scope mounted this low. It did, but only just.
Daystate has supplied just one 10-shot magazine with the rifle – two would have been nice because spares aren’t cheap. It’s the same type of magazine as on the Pulsar and Wolverine, with a last shot indicator colour-coded blue for .177 and red for .22. The magazine snaps into place with the help of a magnet and can be loaded from the left or right. The default is left-loading, but it’s easy to adapt it to right-loading by swapping the position of the magnet and locator pin.
Daystate also gives you the option of a single-shot loading tray, which is held in place by more of those tiny magnets. It works well enough, but a slicker aftermarket alternative is available from Rowan Engineering.
The Saxon’s trigger doesn’t disappoint. The set-back blade felt really good when I came to use it. While it’s a happy coincidence the shape and reach of the blade work for me, it may not fall under the pad of your finger quite so well.
Unlike the Pulsar and Renegade, the Saxon has a mechanical trigger, but let-off is superb. It’s light enough to aid precision, but not so light as to prove dangerous in the field. I found cocking effort to be very heavy, but the rifle is new, so it may well start to get easier with more use. Plus points are the fact that the rifle can’t be fired with an open bolt and can’t be double-loaded. Left-handers can also flip the position of the bolt, making it truly ambidextrous.
Thanks to that carbon fibre buddy bottle, the rifle feels surprisingly light, with a neutral point of balance even with that big scope on top. The rifle’s easy to hold, thanks to some stippling on the pistol grip and the finger grooves cut into the forend.
For the scope I used and with the mounts I chose, gun fit is near-enough perfect for me, but that non-adjustable cheekpiece could be a problem for some shooters. It’s a bit of a nightmare for manufacturers, too. If you make it adjustable you’re assisting fit, but adding to the cost and the weight, while arguably detracting from its looks.
I charged the rifle to 210 bar and fired 200 shots in .177, delivering a spread of 23 feet per second using JSB Exact straight out of the tin. I shot a further 20 pellets which had been washed, lubed, sized and weighed, which shrank the spread to 9 fps – which just goes to show how useful pellet prep can be. Accuracy testing was hampered by the almost incessant wind that blew whenever I set out to shoot a tight group. In the end I managed a single-hole group at 30 yards in gusty wind with Field Target Trophy. Good considering the conditions, but not a definitive test of what the rifle is capable of.
AFTER THE BATTLE
Having spent the past few weeks with the Saxon, I can now say it’s a lovely rifle and I’m glad I bought it, even if my wife’s not too impressed.
Am I a Daystate fan? Yes. Am I a Daystate fanboy? No. Would I recommend this rifle to you? Yes, provided you weigh up very carefully what you’re getting against that massive price tag. But to be honest anyone shelling out the asking price should know exactly what they’re letting themselves in for. What if you buy it and then fall on hard times? Well, you’ve always got that 50p piece to hand.
Look & Feel: 9/10
Build Quality: 9/10
Scope Up: 9/10