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Daystate Huntsman Classic

Mark Camoccio gets to grips with a new take on an old favourite – the Daystate Huntsman Classic

Over the last few years Daystate have been one of the most innovative of air rifle manufacturers, and the trend continues with a wave of new models and upgrades, including my test model here - the Huntsman Classic.

It was Daystate, don’t forget that pioneered the resurgence of the modern pre-charged pneumatic; with the original Huntsman playing a big part in the company’s formative years.

With Daystate’s recent ethos of ‘cutting edge’ technology and hi-tech electronic wizardry leading the way, one could partly forgive them for neglecting the traditional approach, to concentrate on the niche market for which they’ve become so respected. However, with an inspired and talented team behind the operation, no such narrow view has been allowed to propagate; hence a parallel product base has existed to satisfy the ‘keep-it-simple’ fraternity.

Electronics are all very well, but they just don’t suit everyone, so traditional mechanical actions are still available - and going strong, I hasten to add. Unbelievers and heathens among the populace, are well catered for, with visually near identical models minus the techy bits, sitting in the Daystate product line-up.

This new Huntsman is an unashamed retro offering; bringing together modern Daystate manufacturing techniques, with supposedly more ‘old school’ styling, to quote the sales blurb…

Traditionally modern…

The configuration on paper (at least) reflects that of the original Huntsman, with a conventional PCP sporter action, set into a slim-line walnut ‘sporter’ style stock. What partly accounts for the unique feel of this rifle, however, is the extended barrel/shroud and shortened main air cylinder - giving the new Huntsman the feel of a cartridge rifle (or carbine).

The bolt action Huntsman is an ultra compact and extremely manageable hunting rifle, which, at 5.7lbs, is unlikely to tire the user, even when out for an extended foray in the field.

So let’s start with the most striking part of this rifle - that walnut furniture. It’s largely back to the roots stuff, with the profile bearing some resemblance to the early models when Don Lowndes was overseeing production, back in the ‘70’s.

The dimensions are slimmed at the forend, with the actual width pared to a bare minimum. A schnabel tip affords a decent grip in the aim, whilst excess timber is relieved just forward of the trigger. Laser cut chequering (industry standard these days) is nicely executed, and provides good grip, whilst a conventional roll-over cheek piece is well defined and prominent, giving perfect head alignment.

The good quality, soft rubber butt pad does the job, yet I can’t help wishing Daystate had fitted the superbly arched, shoulder hugging version adorning most of their other models. The pistol grip all feels perfectly fine, but the lack of a thumb shelf is a regrettable omission. Another point of note concerns the stock finish, which seems more of a lacquer than oil based. On a good note, sling swivel mountings do come fitted as standard.

It’s the overall visuals that I’m undecided about here though. In the quest to be different, Daystate have undeniably given the new Huntsman a unique profile; yet the ultra slim-line approach comes across as just a little weedy to me.

The bluing is brown…

Look a little closer, and it becomes apparent that more radical visuals are on offer with this ‘Classic’ retro in the form of a brown coloured air cylinder and valve cover. BROWN! How dare they? Of course any colour other than black is less inclined to absorb heat; not to mention being more likely to blend in with surroundings - but just who do Daystate think they are, trying to apply logic?… Upstarts! Again it’s a matter of taste, and as I speak, deliberations are still taking place as to whether alternatives will be sanctioned; but word on the street is that both brown and black will be in circulation. Daystate are gauging response, so watch this space.

The 15.75inch barrel sits inside a chunky shroud over 20inches in length; giving a streamlined ‘bull barrel’ effect, with the barrel itself sitting in a very soft seal within a clamp. A slight jarring can be heard, if the shroud is tapped, which, whilst disconcerting, is proof of the near free floating set-up - a good thing, believe me! Indeed I raised the very point with Daystate’s head of sales,Tony Belas, who confirmed as much, and reassured with regards to the deliberate flexibility of the mounting.

The tip of the shroud is fitted with a threaded end to receive a silencer, and with Daystate supplying an Airstream model along with the test rifle, it was ‘rude not to’, as they say. With an additional 7.5ounces at the muzzle, balance was improved for me; although this Huntsman sits nicely on the target as standard. Muzzle report was low too, although there wasn’t a great deal to tame in the first place.

Anyone familiar with the latest Daystate bolt, breech block housing, safety tab and magazine, will note these features are all present here - and the Huntsman is a better rifle for it. The 10-shot, spring-loaded magazine is nicely made and reliable, although, for faultless operation (in keeping with most other designs), a deliberate approach to cycling the bolt and cocking the action, is always best practise. On test, it was just that… faultless.

Range time

The Huntsman is a no-nonsense sporting rifle, and as such, wouldn’t be bogged down with such paraphernalia as a regulator. Careful charging though, to a fill pressure of 200bar, sees a return of between 50-60 shots (53 on test) in .177, with respectable consistency of 26fps over the charge; helped in no small part by the new patented Harper Mk4 valve set-up. This micro valve apparently free floats, utilizes an anti-bounce hammer, and is 30% more efficient than previous designs. A .22 calibre version should return around 75 shots so I’m reliably informed.

Quality triggers have been a feature of modern Daystate’s for some while now, and the unit fitted to this Huntsman is crisp and clean. The blade sports a subtly curved, flat surface which falls perfectly to the finger, and certainly contributes to the top class accuracy on offer.

Over 35yds, using Daystate Select pellets, as recommended by the manufacturer, quarter inch groups (measured centre to centre) proved to be the norm - underlying the integrity of the marque. Admittedly I shot these from a bean bag rest, yet in the kneeling and standing positions, the balance is still impressive.

My old Huntsman, fitted with the FT factory stock, (circa mid’90’s) was a fantastic little rifle, and selling it was a disgraceful decision on my part. OK, the engineering was typically agricultural and basic (hard to believe, but synonymous with Daystate at the time), yet the sheer simplicity, function, and raw accuracy, was beyond reproach.

This current offering, obviously at least matches the performance of the old model, yet just seems to lack something in the overall visual profile.

I can’t help but compare it with my old favourite, yet as previously stated, it really is a matter of taste, and leaving aside my watery-eyed hankering for the past, if an incredibly light and versatile sporter is what you are after, then this Huntsman Classic will deliver the goods – absolutely no question.

Technical Specifications
Model Huntsman Classic
Manufacturer Daystate
Country of Origin England
Type PCP
Calibre .177 (on test)/ .22 available
Weight 5.7lbs
Overall Length 38inches
Barrel Length 15.75inches
Stock Walnut sporter
Velocity Using Daystate Select pellets supplied:
High 780fps
Low 754
Ave 773
Variation - First 47 shots: 19fps. Over whole 53 shots: 26fps
Energy 11.2ft/lbs
Shot Count 53 within acceptable margins (see variation)
Fill Pressure 200bar
Trigger 2-stage sporting unit
Price £670
Options Possible choice of cylinder colours: brown or black
Open sights can be fitted if required

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

User Comments
  • I've recently purchased the Midas version in .22 - a beautifully balanced little rifle but proving impossible to zero at present, as it's shooting too low and left for any scope to accommodate it.

    Comment by: David Cook     Posted on: 28 Feb 2009 at 11:21 PM

  • Shooting low can be due to a problem with the rifle, mount or scope. You didn't mention what scope you were using, or whether the scope and mount are new. If the scope and mount have been taken off a rifle that is shooting fine, then it's probably not them, but if one or both are new, then they could be causing the problem. Start with the mount. Take the scope out of the mount, reverse the mount on the rifle, reattach the scope. If it is still shooting low and left, the problem is not with the mount. Some scopes are primarily designed for firearms, and haven't got enough adjustment in their elevation turret for the close range zeroing required for air rifles. You can carefully pack the bottom of the rear ring of the mount with shims (easily made from film negatives or similar thin flexible material) which will raise the zero point. Make sure not to overpack (two pieces of film negative should be fine) or overtighten the rings, as damage can result. If this works, you can by Sportsmatch mounts with this bias already built in.

    If neither scope nor mounts are at fault, return the rifle to Daystate or the rifle retailer under their warranty system.

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 02 Mar 2009 at 12:52 AM

  • Thanks Pat,

    I used to run Highwood FAWC - remember your visits back in the mists of time? I've had a range of scopes and mounts on the gun, including Hawke, Bushnell, Leupold, Tasco, etc. but the barrel definitely has a case of the droop! I've loosened off the forward clamp, which has fetched the barrel pretty much into alignment laterally but there's a fair way to go elevation-wise. As you suggest, I may well end up packing out the rear mount - those dummy credit cards off the front of the airgun magazines are ideal! All the best.

    David.

    Comment by: David Cook     Posted on: 02 Mar 2009 at 11:48 PM

  • hi i have a new huntsman classic ordered in 22 cal can you please tell me how many flat useable shots out of the 70/75 shots i will get in the flat sweet spot ?? i know the shots will rise hold and fall, but by how much and will it be very noticable at say 40 yards ????? thanks

    Comment by: les     Posted on: 05 Nov 2010 at 10:03 PM

  • This is something that you will have to work out for yourself as it depends on what pellet brand you use, fill pressure, etc.

    Just fill the rifle, set a target out to 40yds and keep shooting at it until there is a significant drop in the pellet strike point. Whatever pellet number it is before the drop, that is the total of 'flat' shots, although most manufacturers might claim that there will still be a few 'useable' shots left before a recharge is necessary.

    However, most of us that are interested in accuracy prefer to just use the 'flat shots' and then refill. By tweaking the fill pressure - usually just below the manufacturer's recommended pressure - you can often get more 'flat' shots per charge, but less total 'useable' overall.

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 06 Nov 2010 at 12:30 AM

  • hi thanks for info pat .. i have been advised to go with the .22 FAC huntsman classic as ill be shooting targets @ 43 yards (lenth of garden) the FAC would nearly suit me better at that distance , i know the FAC shot count is only about 30-35 shots , so would i get say 20 consistent shots out of the 30 ????? ....... anyone out there got a huntsman clasic in FAC .22 that can give me some more info ?? thanks

    Comment by: les     Posted on: 10 Nov 2010 at 12:36 PM

  • Hi Les, a 12ft/lbs rifle is easily capable of dispatching rabbits (the largest quarry you should tackle with an air rifle) at 40yards providing you do your part with technique and accuracy.

    If you go with the FAC version, you should get at least 25-30 perfectly consistent shots - but you will still have to experiment to get it exactly right, there just aren't any shortcuts.

    ATB

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 10 Nov 2010 at 03:54 PM

  • hi again pat that would be great to get 30 consistent shots .. do you own a huntsman classic in FAC .22 ?? how do you find the accuracy @ 50 yards in perfect conditions ?? also how do you find the bolt and magazine movement ??????????? thanks again

    Comment by: les     Posted on: 10 Nov 2010 at 06:35 PM

  • In what year was the first one made?

    Comment by: Eddie     Posted on: 25 Jul 2011 at 11:16 AM

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Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
Daystate Huntsman Classic
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