Daystate’s Red Wolf Air Rifle

Scenes from “2019: An Air Odyssey”
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Air Gun

The gorgeous wood stock is perfectly fitted and the suppressor is extraordinarily effective.

Things get weird when electronics become too smart. Neural network software engineers talk about computers becoming self-aware like the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. You might recall HAL went a little off the rails:

Astronaut Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL 9000: I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.

Thankfully, I’ve experienced no such backtalk from the latest high-tech, air-powered marvel — the Daystate Red Wolf air rifle. Mine was in .22 caliber but it can also be had in .177, .25 and .303 (it’s British, after all!). If you’ve already guessed it’s computerized, you’d be right. This rifle not only contains a tiny microprocessor but also a digital display screen. Sounds like a gimmick? Nope. It’s all for good reason!

Daystate

A Uniform “Charge”

While fire and brimstone guns bring a fresh charge of bang with every new cartridge, airguns have to fire their shots from a limited supply of compressed air. Just like a keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon, every tap into the reservoir reduces the amount of available air and its pressure. The effect is just like beer dribbling as the keg runs low. To overcome this problem, airgun manufacturers have designed all manner of mechanical regulators to release a pre-defined “charge” of compressed air with each shot. Until the reservoir volume and pressure dips to a point where there is less oomph than the regulator expects, each shot (in theory) gets the same charge.

This ensures velocity — and accuracy — are consistent. When an airgun reservoir “falls off the regulator,” there’s no longer enough raw material in the form of squished air to give the regulator what it needs, then the velocity drops. At this point, it’s time to refill the onboard air tank.

Mechanical devices can be effective but they’re not very smart. Consider a lug wrench. While it’s certainly handy, it can’t operate a TV remote, much less change the tire for you when it’s raining. While mechanical regulators are more complex than a tire iron, they have the same limitations — they can’t react to changing conditions with any intelligence.

Daystate

Even the trigger is electronic. The adjustments for weight and travel are manual, but the release is electronic.

Let’s Talk Technology

Even HAL recognized the importance of optimizing a task when he told his humans:

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

Such self-actualization is what the onboard processor of the Red Wolf does.

The Daystate Red Wolf samples air status thousands of times per second to operate the regulator electronically, offering consistency far better than a mechanical device could ever hope to achieve. The result of all this sampling and metering is more shots per fill and more consistent velocity from shot to shot. Translation? Once again, accuracy.

The onboard computer has other purposes too. Out of the box it offers the user three different power levels, selectable with specific operations of the safety and trigger. You can select from Low, Medium, and High to best meet the task at hand. Those settings also provide some degree of customization to match the right power output to specific pellet weights and types. Velocity of the .22 caliber version, depending on pellet weight, ranges from 950 to 1,000 fps.

Just like .22 rimfires, air rifles are picky about their pellets and it always pays to experiment in order to figure out which types of ammo your rifle likes best. With the Red Wolf you get an additional variable — the power setting — with which to tinker. The computer can also track your shot status to let you know how many pellets are remaining in the rotary magazine and how much air remains.

These electronic features are nice but where things get interesting is the programmable features. If you’re a serious air gunner, you can program the Red Wolf power settings to your specifications in order to get the exact performance you want for different pellet types. An optional interface allows you to geek out to your heart’s content.

Daystate

Among other things, the onboard computer tracks remaining pressure in the air reservoir.

Air ammo

Five shots, 25 yards: Not bad!

Good Looks, Great Performance

We’ve been talking about the onboard computers but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to the overall design and construction of this gem from Daystate. If you can appreciate the difference between an AMC Gremlin and a Bugatti Veyron, you’ll understand the differences between the Red Wolf and “standard” PCP air rifles. The wood stock is gorgeous and perfectly fitted. Operating like an extension of your body, you can opt for solid wood or the super-sexy red laminate finished Red Wolf.

The side bolt lever operates like the door handles on the Veyron while magazine calibration and operation is flawless. It just clicks and hums. You’ll also notice an effective suppressor on the end, complete with meshed air exit vents on the side. Compared to other .22 caliber air rifles, this one is hushed.

All of these mechanical and electronic features boil down to one purpose: Precision. The Red Wolf shines on the range. If you want to maximize your target efficiency by shooting single-hole groups, this is the rifle for you.

In fact, at the recent Airgun Benchrest Nationals, Red Wolf rifles captured the Top 8 places in Field Target Sniper Class and seven out of the Top 10 places in 50-yard Benchrest Unlimited. In my own informal testing, the Red Wolf had no trouble printing 0.09 to 0.23 5-shot groups from 25 yards. I also put it to good use pruning tall tree branches in my backyard — but don’t share this tidbit with the Daystate folks! I fear they might find this exploit too pedestrian for such a sophisticated rifle.

I’m not sure if the Daystate Red Wolf has become self-aware like the HAL 9000, but I did catch it snooping around in my man cave. We’re going to have to have a little talk.

http://www.daystate.com/i

GUNS May 2019

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