There has been a lot of talk floating around centering on the anticipated arrival of this first British big bore. Ever since seeing the prototype gun at the SHOT Show and the IWA, I like many others have been very eager to shoot it. On a recent trip to Arizona to do some varmint hunting with several different guns, the guys over at Airguns of Arizona (the US importers of Daystate products) invited me over to shoot it at their facilities, then offered to let me use it for a few days in the field! This is just my first hands on experience with the gun, but based on this I have ordered one and will use it this season for predator hunting, and will also do some range testing with it. My experience with the Wolverine for long range varminting made a positive impression on me!!
In a couple days, I shot so many jackrabbits that I almost lost count. I shot several cottontails as well (right), but wanted to focus on the much bigger jackrabbits at longer distances. This is a substantial gun, about that there is no doubt. But the materials used and the superb stock design make the gun lighter than expected and so well balanced that shooting offhand in just about any situation presented no difficulty. Whether you agree with the philosophy or not, the gun is designed to work with a specific pellet and to keep the power to around 100 fpe. I have found that Daystates do not as a rule lend themselves to modification, so I think the 100 fpe neighborhood is where you’ll live with it. My feeling is that the package will be perfect for coyote and bobcat when the season rolls round!
The Daystate Wolverine .303 for long range Varminting!
I recently flew out to Phoenix where I met up with AoA’s Robert Buchanan and Kip Pardow. As mentioned, I got to shoot the new Daystate Wolverine with them at the shop and then Kip and I took it out for a couple of days of long distance prairie dog and jackrabbit shooting, I had a blast!
I really like every Daystate gun I’ve ever shot, they are well designed, well made, reliable and offer excellent performance across the board. But I’ve looked at the prototype of the Wolverine at the SHOT and IWA shows and have been counting the minutes till I could shake it out in the field.
The Wolverine is a .303 caliber gun, which sounds an odd caliber selection until you consider this was the 30-06 of the British Empire and Daystate is nothing if not a British tradition in our sport. It is a big gun 9.5 lbs, 43″ length over all with a 23″ barrel, and is broad across the beam. But it balances very well and the stock provides a perfect â€œthumbs upâ€� grip for enhanced control. It has a bit of the feel of an English double gun to me. The walnut on the gun I was shooting had a beautiful grain, and the pistol grip and forestock had an efficient stippling which provides a good grip. However the forestock stippling was situated too far back to accommodate my hold. But altogether it is a beautiful gun to look at and to hold. As a matter of fact, the balance of this gun makes it seem much more compact than it actually is.
The two stage adjustable trigger was set up to break at about 1.5 lb, and was crisp and clean. The nicest trigger I’ve used on a large caliber airgun. The 5 round magazine looks like the standard Daystate magazine on steroids, and is auto indexed when the gun is discharged, making it impossible to double load the magazine (something I do much too often). We sighted the gun in at 50 yards for part of the hunt, and at 100 yards for part. I will write up the detailed quantitative results when I get my gun (yes I ordered one). With limited target shooting at 50 yards average group size was under 1/2″ and at 100 it was a little over 3/4″. But given some time and better conditions I am sure that could be tightened up. A 15 shot string shot generated at the shop before leaving is shown above. This gives an average energy of a little under 100 fpe on my test gun. So we were ready for the varmints!
First up was some long range prairie dog shooting, and picking off dogs between 80-100 yards I was having a blast. PDogs are tenacious and often will make it down the hole even after a good head shot. But a body shot with this gun literally tore half submerged dogs out of the burrow and threw them backwards. I was shooting off my heavy duty Gorilla sticks (BTW, my favorite bipod shooting sticks) and the gun was producing excellent results even as the wind started kicking up. Though wearing a fully shrouded barrel, the gun had a bit of a bark, but in the context of big bores, not too bad at all.
The next round was the following day, and we headed up to the hills for some rabbit hunting, with both cottontails and jackrabbits on the menu. I hadn’t been in N. Arizona for a while, and had forgotten how beautiful it is. We found ourselves in thick populations of rabbits and I took a number of jacks out to 105 yards where even a chest shot was sending these big rabbits flying. I did find that a couple I shot at closer range didn’t go down as well, because the pellet was ice picking them. At 35 yards the pellet poked right through and exploded in the sand behind them. The rabbits took off and I had to walk a ways before finding them dead. I’m not sure of the mechanics, but the pellets almost seemed to pull lung material behind it, plugging the wound channel. The energy transfer on light bodied quarry at close range doesn’t seem as good as at long range., and there headshots will be better. And the gun has the accuracy to deliver those no problem.
The pellets are worth mentioning, this gun was built around the JSB Emperor which is a .303 caliber, 50.15 grain round nose Diabolo design, and the gun and pellet were built in tandem. Some have questioned the choice of a Diabolo pellet rather than using cast bullets. Daystate has said their rational is to limit the carrying distance of the projectile while delivering adequate power for predator sized game. I’ve got lots of big bore guns for hogs, deer, an African game, but this gun used for turkey, coyote, bobcats and long range varminting will be hard to beat.
It was only a couple days in the field, but I really enjoyed shooting this gun. To keep the expectations realistic though, as beautiful and accurate as this gun is it would not be my choice for larger game. As much as the British believe they have produced Thors hammer; I have many other big bores in my collection right now and the lowest power output is 180 fpe ranging up to a tease over 500 fpe with those guns. So why am I willing to plunk down a hefty chunk of change on the Wolverine? Because while I like doing big game hunts with airguns, the majority of my hunting is predator and varmint, where I think this gun may be one of the best solutions I’ve found. It has a fairly high shot count, it has a fast multishot action, it is maneuverable and ergonomic, and it has excellent accuracy and adequate power for my intended quarry. I can’t wait to get a lot more experience with this gun so that I can give a more detailed report, afterall that is the only way to be able to make a meaningful statement on the guns potential, but what I see up front is very interesting! Guns at this price point don’t fly off the shelf like bags of jerky at the convenience store, but I see a strong and enthusiastic group of owners developing a following around this gun. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be one of them.