After cutting his teeth on the high-power Delta Wolf, Mat Manning gets to grips with this week’s Gun of the Week, Daystate’s new flagship in sub-12 guise.
The launch of the Daystate Delta Wolf was without doubt one of the biggest events in the 2020 airgun calendar. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the first fully functioning model, which was an awesome FAC-rated gun kicking out around 60 ft-lb.
Impressive as it was, the majority of UK airgun shooters are off-ticket so they’re going to be a lot more interested in the sub-12 ft-lb model, and that’s the gun that I’ve spent a fortnight shooting in the lead-up to this test.
Daystate Delta Wolf .177 – key specifications
MAKER: Daystate, England (www.daystate.com)
MODEL: Delta Wolf
PRICE: From £2,450
TYPE: Electronic bullpup
CALIBRE: .177 (tested), .22, .25 and .30
OVERALL LENGTH: 720mm
LENGTH OF PULL: 365mm
BARREL LENGTH: 450mm (tested) and 600mm
WEIGHT: 3.5kg (model tested without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage adjustable electronic
POWER: 11.8 ft-lb on maximum output (high-power version also available)
One of the big selling points with the high-power Delta Wolf was its huge degree of tunability, but not surprisingly some of that has had to be removed from the legal-limit version.
To prevent non-FAC shooters from finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, this model is set to generate a muzzle energy of around 11.8 ft-lb at full output, and it does that with unerring consistency.
Incidentally, Daystate have made a very generous pledge to upgrade all legal-limit Delta Wolfs to full FAC spec should their owners decide to get themselves a Firearm Certificate within 12 months of registering their new gun.
Just like the high-power version, the sub-12 is tricked out with all sorts of electronic wizardry, including an intelligent regulating system which makes tiny adjustments to output based on the previous shot to ensure optimum performance.
It also has a chronograph housed inside its chunky carbon shroud, and shot speed is displayed on a screen on the side of the stock.
A quick glance at that screen after each shot quickly confirmed to me that this airgun is remarkably consistent; the test gun generally displayed a variation of within four feet per second over 10-shot strings.
And it didn’t appear to be pellet-fussy as it produced similar results with ammo from QYS, JSB, Daystate and H&N.
Consistent muzzle velocity is obviously important, but it doesn’t count for much if it doesn’t translate into respectable downrange grouping. The Delta Wolf has no shortcomings in that department, thanks to the extensive development that has gone into its barrel.
I managed impressive groups out to 40m with all the above brands, but Daystate Rangemaster Sovereigns edged it during my testing. In windless conditions, and shooting from the support of a bench, sub-20mm groups at 50m soon became an expectation.
The great thing about the sub-12 Delta Wolf is that you can tell that it’s based on a gun that has the potential to churn out much, much more. Consequently, it feels like it’s hardly doing any work and that makes for a remarkably dead firing cycle.
Thanks to its sophisticated internals and electronic trigger, it also has a very fast firing cycle. Get the trigger set up to your liking and it feels like you are thinking shots away rather than squeezing them off.
In fact, the only fault that I have ever been able to find with Daystate’s electronic triggers is that once you get used to them you never want to go back to anything else.
Returning to the subject of adjustability, the sub-12 ft-lb Delta Wolf does give you the ability to wind power output up or down by five percent increments, which amounts to around 0.6 ft-lb per step – and the gun has been programmed with profiles to deliver optimum performance at each level.
Although many shooters like to crank up output to the maximum setting and stick with it, it is possible to extract even better performance by turning it down until you find a velocity which suits the ammo you are using.
Shooting a few test groups will reveal what speed your favourite pellet prefers. Being able to wind down the power can also come in handy when shooting in the garden or if you find yourself having to carry out pest control in confined farm buildings or close to livestock.
Tactical is the current look for high-end airguns, and that is the style that Daystate have applied to the Delta Wolf. There is a Picatinny rail beneath the carbon bottle, accessory rails on either side of the barrel and one on the underside of the butt section.
The Picatinny scope rail slides on a dovetail rail to offer about 15cm of adjustment, so you are ensured comfort whether you opt for a standard or short-eye-relief scope. The curved cheek support sits on the same dovetail rail, offering further tweaking of fit, and the butt pad is height-adjustable.
An AR-style pistol grip complements the gun’s tactical styling, while also setting you up nicely for the trigger, and can be swapped for an aftermarket alternative should you wish. The gun here is the black version, but there is also a dark bronze model.
The sub-12 Delta Wolf measures a stubby 72cm from end to end and weighs in at just under 3.5kg unscoped. Despite what looks like remarkably simplistic design, it shoulders well. And if you want to go to town with sculpting the Delta Wolf to fit your frame, there are a host of PRS accessories available.
The barrel on this little bullpup isn’t just accurate, it can be changed in a flash so you can swap between .177, .22, .25 and .30 calibres without help from a gunsmith.
There is no denying that the purposeful-looking carbon shroud helps to deaden the muzzle crack, but it does have a bit of a snap at max power so you may want to take advantage of the threaded muzzle and add a silencer if you want to make it whisper-quiet for stealthy hunting or backyard plinking.
The barrel is held in position by an Allen screw at its rear – just loosen off this screw and the barrel pulls straight out. You need to swap the pellet probe for one that corresponds with the calibre of the barrel you are changing to.
To do this, 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 – they relay data from the onboard chronograph to the computer and the screen. Tighten up the barrel screw and you’re ready to go.
A touchscreen on the left side of the butt stock provides an interface between the shooter and the sophisticated electronic internals responsible for the Delta Wolf’s remarkable performance.
In normal use, the working screen shows chosen power level, magazine count, battery level, regulator pressure (which was set at 97 bar on the test gun) and muzzle velocity in feet per second.
To change any of the 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 until the padlock icon disappears from the screen. Swipe to the left and you scroll to Power Setting.
Press the screen and you enter the Power mode which shows the power level as a percentage of the maximum on the left and + and – buttons on the right.
These buttons enable you to adjust power output by five percent at a time. 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 Delta Wolf is equipped with Daystate’s new, higher-capacity magazine, which holds 13 shots in .177 calibre, 11 in .22, 10 in .25 and eight in .30. A magnetic tandem system enables you to double the shot count as the gun can hold two magazines at once; empty the first one then push the other across and you’ve got another full load.
The new magazine is easy to load; flip forward the magnetic cover, rotate the inner drum clockwise as far as it will go and then drop a pellet into the bottom chamber to hold the drum under its spring tension ready to load the rest of the chambers. The magazine can then be inserted from either side or from both sides if you want to use the double loading system.
Loading is a breeze with the new magazine system, driven by a smooth sidelever action to deliver fast, slick reloading. After just a few shots, the chunky dropdown handle comes to hand very naturally, and it can be swapped over to the opposite side for left-handers.
The electronic trigger is adjustable for weight and length, and the match-type blade also has an impressive degree of refinement, enabling the shooter to tweak length of pull, height and angle.
An AR-type safety catch, with switches on either side of the gun, is positioned above the pistol grip. It is safe when the switch is in the upward position and you thumb it down when you’re ready to take a shot.
Charging is by means of an extended Foster connector that attaches to an inlet on the underside of the gun which is discreetly concealed by a magnetic cap.
You can unscrew and swap air bottles without having to empty the one that’s running low, but it would take a busy day to run out of air – at maximum power, the sub-12 ft-lb Delta Wolf can return more than 450 shots from a 250 bar fill.
Battery life is even more impressive, and should run to 3,000 shots from a charge. A C-type USB lead is supplied for recharging and simply plugs into a socket at the front of the butt section.
Though packed with sophisticated technology, the Delta Wolf is easy to shoot. Daystate have done the laborious stuff so all you have to worry about is settling the crosshairs on the target and touching off that trigger. In short, it is a joy to shoot and I struggled to put it down during the test period.
Of course, the Delta Wolf’s pioneering features come at a cost, and the sub-12 model starts at £2,450. Those who are lucky enough to own this flagship Daystate will be buying a fine air rifle that has taken consistent performance and precise pellet placement to the next level.
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