Daystate MK3(b)  Review

by Dale Foster

Since the introduction of the new Daystate Mk3 air rifle I have been intrigued to have a close look at this electronically operated offspring from one of the longest established manufacturers of pre-charged airguns. I was therefore very pleased when keen FT shooter and SWEFTA treasurer Andrew Knott kindly offered me the loan of his recently acquired Mk3.

My first impressions of the rifle is that it is extremely visually attractive featuring high gloss bluing and blacking of the metal components and top quality walnut is used for the stock. As the mechanics of the Mk3 have been described before, I will not go into graphic detail of the CDT system but will examine the upgrades to the system.

The model that is examined here is the Mk3(b), which features a battery pack comprising rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries that are permanently attached to the action so there are no trailing wires to worry about when removing the stock from the action. These batteries are quoted as having a life of at least one thousand charging cycles (or five years when being continuously charged). According to the information supplied by Daystate a full charge should supply a minimum of 3000 full power shots at the UK legal limit.

Recharging of these batteries is carried out on board the rifle without the need for removing the stock. A 15-volt power adapter is supplied with the rifle; this is plugged into a socket that is located where a rear trigger guard retaining screw would be found on more conventional rifles. A full charge of the batteries should take on the order of 14 hours, but as the charging circuit is current limited it can be left on indefinitely without harming the batteries. Batteries of the type used in this rifle can have the charge topped up at any time without fear of degrading their capacity.

One noticeable change from other Mk3’s that I have seen is that the safety catch now features a transparent lug to move it from the safe to the fire position. When the safety is now placed in the fire position a red light emitting diode (LED) inside the action causes this plastic lug to illuminate giving a visual confirmation of the rifle’s status. The light is a mere glow so would be unlikely to give the shooter away in the field, however should this be of concern then this function can be disabled.

This transparent lug also fulfils a second function in that when the rifle is connected up for battery charging, a yellow light illuminates with a flash interval of approximately 1-second to signify charging in progress.

Where the forward trigger guard screw would normally be located the Mk3 features a keyway. With the key that is supplied the rifle can be totally deactivated during storage for safety.

The Mk3(b) also offers several advanced features to the user, these are as follows: an auto safe feature whereby the rifle will be rendered inert if it is left in the fire mode for more than 30 minutes since last being fired. The rifle will give an audible and visual signal to make the shooter aware of this condition. Applying the safety catch and then returning it to the fire position resets this auto safe system.

The rifle features counter functions for the magazine and for number of shots fired before refilling is required. The former function tells a shooter when the 10 shot magazine is empty, both of these functions give audible and visual indications. The shot counter requires to be programmed by the individual user to the required number of shots. The magazine counter function can be disabled when the rifle is used in conjunction with the single shot loading tray.

One other useful feature is a power setting function. The rifle as supplied from the factory is set to give a maximum power that is in accordance with the appropriate legislation according to where the rifle is destined to go, so for UK rifles this upper power limit will lie safely within the 12Ft.lbs limit. The power setting function allows the power of the rifle to be reduced in up to 16 steps (according to calibre and original power output).

All the above mentioned functions can be programmed by operating the rifle’s trigger. The programming method is extensively covered in the handbook that accompanies the rifle. During the test the rifle was set to its default condition, which I personally prefer, whereby all the features other than the safety light are switched off.

Moving to the externals of the rifle, it is quite a compact rifle with an overall length of some 37.5 inches and a barrel length of 15 inches. The muzzle is equipped with a small moderator unit that reduces the muzzle blast considerably considering its compact proportions. The front of this silencer also features a threaded section beneath a decorative cover to allow the installation of a second stage moderator unit that further reduces muzzle noise to a mere whisper. Daystate offers two options of second stage moderator in the shape of the 8-inch long Airstream unit or a much neater compact silencer that complements the overall look of the rifle.

Sitting beneath the silencer is the inlet valve assembly equipped with the now pretty much standard quick fill connector. An attractive alloy cover, the front of which is engraved with the Daystate logo, covers the inlet valve.

Moving to the breech the rifle features a substantial breech block again finished in a gloss black. Daystate’s name and details of the model of rifle are neatly laser engraved on both sides of the block. For the duration of this test the rifle was equipped with the single shot loading tray. This attaches to the breech block by two allen screws and can be easily removed to allow the fitting of the 10 shot magazine assembly.

The loading area is slightly more restricted than on some dedicated single shot rifles but did not cause any problems with getting a pellet into the channel on the loading tray. The bolt on this rifle comes equipped with a nickel-plated handle that attaches to the shaft of the bolt by two grub screws. Given that the bolt on this rifle only loads a pellet (and rotates the magazine when fitted) the movement of the bolt was not as smooth as might be expected although this may just be due to the newness of the test rifle.

The trigger on the rifle features five adjustments which are accessed through a series of small allen screws located in the polished alloy trigger blade. From the front the first screw that is encountered controls the length of the first stage, the second screw is the first stage weight screw. The next three screws control the second stage weight by offering a heavy, medium and light setting according to which screw is engaged with the micro-switch that activates the firing mechanism.

The trigger on the rifle as supplied to me was set up in the medium weight range on the second stage and had a short light first stage. The trigger characteristics were well up to sporting standard, but when compared to the target type triggers as fitted to the Daystate CR-X and the Air Arms Pro-Target it lacked some of the crispness and precision of the dedicated mechanical units. Also it would be nice to see a fully adjustable trigger blade on a target version of the Mk3.

Moving onto the woodwork, the rifle was fitted with the deluxe thumbhole stock, which is made by Gary Cane. The quality of the wood was very nice with good figuring and tiger striping throughout the stock, the finish on the wood is a two-pack eggshell varnish. Although the varnish is a resilient finish, an oiled finish would probably enhance the beauty of the wood even further. The butt is equipped with an excellent curved rubber pad that gives good contact at the shoulder. There is a raised and heavily rolled over comb on the stock, although to be honest I felt that the comb could do with being a bit higher to properly align the eye with the scope, particularly when mounts of the correct height to fit the magazine are used.

The pistol grip has a pronounced palm swell and features both thumb-through and upright thumb positions according to the shooter’s preference. The face of the grip has a generous panel of stippling to assist enhance the grip characteristics. From a cosmetic perspective, a rosewood cap and white line spacer finishes off the base of the grip.

The fore-end of the stock is quite long running approximately three-quarters of the length of the cylinder and is finished in a neat Schnabel tip. The base of the fore-end is level with the bottom of the trigger guard and has a comfortably rounded shape. No checkering or stippling is present on the fore-end.

Range testing the rifle highlighted how quiet this rifle is owing to the absence of spring noise from the striker mechanism. With a second moderator screwed onto the muzzle, the sound of the pellets impacting on the steel targets was far more noticeable than the discharge noise. Removing the second moderator and using the integral unit raised the discharge signature slightly, but dramatically improved the balance, handling and the looks of the rifle.

A slight movement could be detected on firing, possibly due to the striker being drawn back into the solenoid system. This minor movement had absolutely no effect on the accuracy of the rifle. A short session with the chronograph showed a consistency of less than 5 fps from shot to shot, the power being set for a comfortably legal and usable 11.5 Ft.lbs of energy.

Using Air Arms pellets in 4.52, the rifle was comfortably printing sub 10mm groups at 35 yards and when the wind dropped I was able to shoot a 25mm group on a 63 yard target on the zeroing range of Cornwall FTC. Taking the rifle around the main course I found it to be quite forgiving when used for standing shots although the stock style did not really suit being used in an FT position. I feel that with the right stock this rifle could give a good account of itself in FT competitions.

As the rifle was not mine I decided not to take it out hunting, if I was to use one of these rifles as a field rifle I would be inclined to fit a set of sling swivels and a sling to make carrying it for extended distances more comfortable. The stock can be easily removed (by a single very substantial bolt) to allow the fitting of a set of sling swivel studs.

All in all I found the Mk3 to be quite a pleasant rifle to use, it was quiet, efficient and accurate. I would like to extend my thanks to Andy Knott for kindly loaning me his rifle.

Technical Specifications

Action type Pre-charged, regulated, electronic discharge system
Overall Length 37.5 inches
Barrel Length 15 inches
Calibre .177 on test (.22 available)
Weight 7.5lbs (rifle only)
Trigger Two stage adjustable electronic
Safety Manual safety catch, auto safe system and isolator system
Silencer Integral unit fitted, screw thread for second stage system
Stock Thumbhole, walnut
Finish Gloss bluing/ blacking
Shots per charge .177 – 110, .22 – 150 at UK power levels