Daystate Alpha Wolf Safari Edition
Mike Morton gets a handle on the latest incarnation of Daystate’s flagship electronic PCP, the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition
Daystate Alpha Wolf Safari Edition
Daystate is a company that loves to create and innovate. It’s now known the world over for its electronic rifles, most recently the Red Wolf, Delta Wolf and Alpha Wolf. Now the pack has expanded yet again with the addition of the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition.
Readers will probably be familiar with the regular Alpha Wolf – if indeed ‘regular’ is a word that can be justifiably applied to a supergun like this. But the Safari Edition brings some fairly significant changes that will directly affect the form and indirectly affect the function of Daystate’s pack leader.
Daystate Alpha Wolf Safari Edition – key specifications
Maker: Daystate (daystate.com)
Model: Alpha Wolf Safari Edition
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Overall length: 722mm (24.4 in)
Barrel length: 430mm (17 in)
Air reservoir capacity: 480cc
Weight (unscoped): 3.35kg (7.4lbs)
Calibre: .177 (4.5 mm) and .22 (5.5 mm)
Cocking: Sidelever action, reversible
Magazine capacity: 13 shots in .177), 11 shots in .22
Fill pressure: Up to 240 bar
FAC muzzle energy: 20 ft-lb in .177, 45 ft-lb in .22
Trigger: Electronic release
Adjustability: Pull weight, length of stage and blade position
Safety: Manual, electronic isolation. AR-15-type lever
Stock: Textured wood
Options: PRS accessories, 0dB silencer, Aim Grip bipod
What’s in a name?
Anyone who has been following Daystate’s recent releases will know that the word ‘Safari’ means this bullpup comes with a unique type of ambidextrous wooden stock, being very heavily textured all over, with plenty of stippling on the pistol grip.
We’ve all heard the term ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and to be honest, when I first heard about the Safari stock I wasn’t convinced.
Then I saw one. And then I held one. You may disagree with me on this, but I think there’s a purposeful and practical elegance to this stock, and it’s a world away from the red and grey laminated stock of the standard Alpha Wolf, also nice but so different.
Having such a rough texture means that the stock will offer you plenty of grip, however you choose to take hold of it, and there’s an added benefit, which I’ve thankfully not had to put to the test, in that a bump, dent or missing sliver of wood due to some rough or careless handling will be far less likely to be noticed.
It’s not all about the stock, though, as the monocoque chassis has been bronze-anodised this time, compared with the all-black finish of the metalwork on the standard Alpha Wolf. This makes the two seemingly identical Wolves very different beasts, and also means that we get more of what we like best when it comes to airgun shooting – choice.
Inclusions and extras
Daystate has teamed up with Precision Rifle Systems, which produces a range of optional accessories for the Alpha Wolf and other rifles, with the most useful PRS items here probably being an adjustable butt plate with a monopod and rear bag rider. It’s no surprise to learn that just like the regular Alpha Wolf, the Safari Edition is not a cheap rifle, coming in at £2,400 for the standard sub-12 ft-lb version.
You can order one that’s already been kitted out with the full range of PRS accessories. This comes in at £2,700, which represents an overall saving of around £200 if the components were to be bought individually. Either way, nobody would argue that this is quite a bit of money, but as we go on I’ll explain how that money will be spent.
What you do get with the rifle is one of Daystate’s new fold-down gated magazines, which takes 13 pellets in .177 calibre and 11 in .22. No single-shot adapter is included, but one is available, again from PRS, as an extra for £75. Like the magazine, it can be inserted from either side of the action.
Also included are two small hex keys for adjusting the trigger, an extended Foster fill-connector and a Dowty seal. The fill point itself is recessed fairly deep inside the belly of the stock, hence the need for the lengthened Foster connector that we first saw with the Red Wolf. The fill point does not have one of Daystate’s new magnetic snap-on covers, but that’s because it sits so deep it’s unlikely to get dirty. However, a cover is available from PRS for those shooters wanting a belt-and-braces approach to air fill cleanliness. A battery charging cable and plug are also included, and everything comes in a hard case.
FAC variants of the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition are available, offering extra calibre options in addition to the .177 and .22 of the sub-12 ft-lb models. This review will focus on the standard sub-12 variant, with the rifle on loan to me being .177. The Alpha Wolf has calibre-swap functionality, but I stuck to the configuration in which the rifle was supplied, and to be honest I expect that’s how the majority of owners will leave theirs.
The test rifle came supplied with a 0dB Long moderator with a black finish, which costs £164, but you could fit any moderator of your choosing because the shroud has
the standard ½in UNF thread. Having said that, the 0dB Long really looks the part, accentuating the aesthetics of this handsome rifle, at least in my eyes, and better yet it did a superb job of quietening down the muzzle crack.
One thing I really like about the rifle is the fact that the foam in the hard case has been cut so the rifle will fit inside with a scope on top. There are also plenty of additional cut-outs for storing other items in the case, such as a recess for the charger, one that can take two magazines and another for a spare Li-Po battery. With the 0dB Long attached, the rifle would no longer fit in the case, but I have a 0dB Short, so fitted this instead.
Noise reduction naturally takes a slight hit by using a shorter moderator, but if this rifle was mine I’d keep the 0dB Short on the rifle, as it now fits in the hard case perfectly. There is an additional cut-out in the foam for a longer moderator, but you will have to unscrew it each time.
A quick-start guide is included, which gives you all the info you need to get up and running safely and effectively as soon as possible. However, a more detailed guide can be accessed by scanning the QR code that’s printed on the quick-start document. This system not only saves paper, it ensures the version the user is reading is the most up-to-date one available. I downloaded a version to my phone so I could keep it to hand when I was at the range, and also made a copy that I sent to my PC so I could read it at home at my leisure.
Because it’s an electronic rifle, the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition needs a battery, and in this case it’s a Li-Po (lithium polymer) rechargeable stick-type. Daystate advises the user to ensure that the battery is fully charged before the rifle is used for the first time.
Charging is in situ using the USB-C power cable and UK-standard wall plug that come in the case. Being USB-C, you don’t need to worry about the orientation of the cable, which plugs into the battery compartment via a cut-out in the wooden stock. With the cable attached and the power supply turned on, you’ll see a battery charging indicator appear on the touchscreen display.
One of the key features of this rifle is the fact that it can be tuned electronically, but I initially kept well away from that side of things as I wanted to see what the rifle could do out of the box.
Lock, stock and barrel
The Alpha Wolf Safari Edition is a relatively compact little bullpup, measuring 722mm (24.4 in) in length and having a barrel length of 430mm (17in). With its 480cc carbon-fibre-wrapped buddy bottle up front, it weighs 3.35kg (7.4lbs) unscoped. The test rifle was supplied with an MTC 12×50 SWAT Prismatic scope on top, and while wearing this optic the point of balance was immediately underneath the trigger guard.
Whoever set up this rifle at the factory did a great job – I only needed to lower the butt pad a touch, as the adjustable cheekpiece and Mohawk-style scope rail were already perfectly positioned for me. One complaint of bullpups is that they can sometimes be slab-sided and top-heavy, but the Safari Edition showed no inkling to roll over onto its side. The scope rail even has a built-in bubble level to ensure the rifle’s being held level.
The ART barrel is clad in a very attractive carbon-fibre shroud, but the bark from the muzzle is quite noticeable and I suspect most Safari Edition owners will want to add a moderator as previously discussed. However, the barrel shroud has an even better trick up its sleeve.
The Alpha Wolf contains a built-in chronograph that displays the muzzle velocity in feet per second (fps) when the rifle is fired. This clever feature is practical too, as the rifle has a digitally controlled Huma-Air regulator and the onboard computer will make adjustments from shot to shot to ensure that velocity is consistent.
I shot a few different types of pellets, and when swapping from one type that was significantly different to the last, the rifle would make some internal adjustments. This resulted in quite different muzzle velocities. After a few shots, once the rifle had ‘trained’ itself to work with the new pellet type, the spread in muzzle velocity really tightened up to within around 2fps, which is an absolutely superb result.
As mentioned, the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition seen here is a standard sub-12 ft-lb version, and while it doesn’t have the full range of adjustability of an FAC or export version, there are still a number of areas that can be tweaked by the user.
I won’t explain how to carry out each step, as that can be found in the manual, but three main areas that can be tinkered with are ‘power’, which can be tweaked from 70% to 100%, the number of microseconds the hammer opens the valve for, 1,980 being the maximum, and the voltage, 69.0 being the maximum.
While I shot several types of ammo for my accuracy testing, which I’ll discuss later, I stuck to just one type, Rangemaster Sovereign, when making incremental adjustments to these three main settings.
This was because I wanted the only variables to be the electronic settings, and not the ammunition. I won’t bore you by cataloguing the exact details, but I found the rifle to be very accurate regardless of the power level that I selected – and this is very good news for the close-range ratters and garden plinkers among us.
However, I ended up leaving both the hammer duration and voltage settings on maximum in order to achieve the greatest accuracy. Other pellet types may well benefit from different settings to these, but it’s a matter of just a few seconds of work with the touchscreen to make changes to any of these variables. The Alpha Wolf Safari Edition really is a tinkerer’s paradise.
Other settings include a ‘magazine shot count’, which lets you set the number of shots for the calibre of magazine you are using, 13 in the case of the .177 test rifle, and whether or not you want to double the number if you are using magnetically paired magazines, which in this case would be 26. However, I kept things simple and did most of my shooting with a single magazine, and so set the shot count to 13.
In use, the screen will helpfully display the number of remaining shots, and should you try to take an extra shot – a 14th in my case – the rifle will gently vibrate as a reminder to refill the magazine or swap it for a fresh one.
Then there’s ‘night mode’, which gives you the ability to substitute the black-on-white illumination for a far more subdued red-on-black. This is good because red light will help preserve your natural night vision, and it also won’t show up as much in the dark, therefore making you less visible to your nocturnal quarry.
Finally there is the ‘backlight settings’ mode, which lets you change the level of brightness and the number of seconds the screen stays lit.
All in all, these settings should prove very useful and can be adjusted quickly to match the type of shooting you are about to do.
Accuracy and handling
Due to the ergonomics and balance of the rifle, shooting offhand in both the hunting and target stances was a breeze. With my leading hand forward, the Picatinny bipod rail was resting in the palm of my left hand, but luckily this did not feel uncomfortable at all.
Shooting off sticks was also a real pleasure, as I was able to rest the buddy bottle into the Vee of my Primos Trigger Stick while nudging the tip of the forend against the yoke, bracing the rifle firmly.
I did run into a few problems when trying to shoot the rifle off bench bags as well as shooting prone off a bipod, simply because the butt is not as deep as a conventional rifle and I found myself struggling to properly support it. If the rifle was mine, I’d fit a monopod to the section of Picatinny rail that’s under the butt to provide an instant fix.
I shot several types of pellets through the Alpha Wolf Safari Edition, with most being decent, and Rangemaster Sovereign and Air Arms Diabolo Field being extremely good, delivering tiny 6mm groups at 30 yards and 10mm at 40.
Daystate’s two-stage electronic trigger really lets you get the most out of this rifle, the cocking handle was simple to use, and I had no hiccups at all other than needing to spend a little bit of time getting used to the touchscreen and its various clever settings.
It’s fair to say that this is another rifle that I would dearly love to be able to keep. Is it expensive? Yes. Does it represent value for money? Definitely. Would I buy one? If I had the money.
This little bullpup manages to combine exquisite performance with excellent handling and tunability, and if you have the money to buy one of these magnificent rifles you won’t be disappointed