By: Mark Camoccio
Mark Camoccio looks at the MK4iS Sports from Daystate, which utilizes just about everything that they have learnt about pre-charged pneumatic rifles over the last few decades.
One of my all time favourite airguns has to be the Daystate Huntsman FTR from around 1988. The action was the classic agricultural Daystate of old; a steel cylinder, knurled bolt handle, fairly crudely scalloped breech housing, and simple knock open valve set-up. But it shot superbly, with all the ingredients in place for a super accurate Field Target or hunting rifle. Yes that gun was a real classic, and only a complete fool would have sold it!... Oh dear…
So if that ‘low-tech’ gun shot so well, and so many years ago, it begs the question, just what does the modern Daystate do better? Well ‘shot count’ is an area where the modern PCP really outscores those early examples, and if you consider that my trusty old FTR could barely muster 45 usable shots in .177 calibre, and this latest MK4 can knock out 160-170 from a single 230bar charge, you can begin to appreciate just how far we’ve come.
The MK4 Sports MCT (Mapped Compensated Technology) uses a digital microprocessor to control a solenoid-powered air valve. The ingenious design sees the rifle’s on-board computer and pressure sensors monitor every microsecond of the firing cycle, calculating the precise amount of time that the firing valve needs to open, to overcome the pressure inside. Effectively ‘computer controlled’, the system continually regulates the rifle’s power output, which largely addresses the problem of a conventional PCP, and the inevitable power curve associated with previous non-regulated rifles.
The clever stuff doesn’t stop there though. A small information screen (denoted by the ‘iS’) in the rifle’s name, is mounted on the action, allowing the shooter to keep tabs on the complex technological marvels within; relaying such information as residual cylinder pressure and overall shot count. The MK4 is programmable, and by using the sensitive electronic trigger as a switch (once the action has been checked and cleared as safe of course) programs can be cycled through in turn, and activated as required.
Settable commands as pre-set on this MK4 iS model are as follows (signified by the relevant number of beeps):
- Stage 1: Reset Magazine This resets the magazine shot counter
- Stage 2: Reset
This resets the overall ‘shots taken’ counter
- Stage 3: Display Pressure The current on-board air pressure will show in the display screen when this is activated.
- Stage 4: Set Power Once the trigger is released at this point, the trigger can then be used to toggle between the two power modes-‘Hi pwr’ and ‘Pwr2’. Hi pwr is full power, and Pwr2 is usually set to be 70% of the higher power.
- Stage 5: Lighting Options The LED display can be set to light up for 10 seconds, or continuously.
- Stage 6: Mag Count on/off
- Stage 7: Single Shot on/off When set to ON the safety catch needs to be reapplied after each shot, and the rifle bleeps as a reminder
- Stage 8: Pressure Warning The rifle can be set to give a warning when the residual pressure drops below a pre-set figure - adjustable in 50bar increments.
- Stage 9: Reset Defaults The trigger itself incidentally, is electronic in operation, offering pleasantly light and crisp settings to suit the majority, whilst adjustment is mechanical via Allen keys.
The MK4, in keeping with all Daystate’s models, can be used as a multi-shot, courtesy of the 10-shot rotary magazine, or fired as single shot via the push fit, magnetic single shot tray - and very neatly machined it all is too. Just fill each magazine chamber in turn by rotating the cover, push the magazine into its slot within the action, and push forward the bolt.
One point to note with these electronic rifles is that the bolt doesn’t actually need to be cocked, but merely drawn back - so effort is minimal. With the mag fitted, the motion does index the following shot, so more care and positivity needs to be taken here.
With the stainless single shot tray in place, zero effort is expended, whilst each pellet is simply rolled into the loading channel.
As a point of interest I decided to evaluate this MK4iS with regards to handling in the main shooting positions; partly to see how it compared to my old FTR, but also to verify its competition credentials.
Plenty of crossover exists within the various branches of our sport, and whilst one rifle may be deemed suitable for hunting, and another for HFT for example, the requirements of each should be and are, largely
one and the same. Admittedly budgetary restraints often dictate which rifle a shooter may take hunting, but where top class accuracy is required for HFT or FT, little is left to chance for the top competitors. The MK4 clearly joins the list of top contenders, and has a string of wins to its name; but why?
Inherent accuracy is a prerequisite of course, and industry standard Lothar Walther barrels make that possible.
Ultimate control resulting in accurately placed shots, is what it’s all about thereafter, and the ‘Sports’ stock on my test model is the real deal here.
All the features of the FTR are here, yet in a more flowing, aesthetically pleasing format, with the scalloped and beautifully shaped cheek piece, outrageously stylish. The wonderfully concave butt pad really hugs the shoulder, so whichever stance is adopted, confidence is assured.
I began from the rested and totally supported prone position, shot from a bean bag over 35yds, instantly reaffirming what I already knew - namely that these rifles are blisteringly accurate machines, capable of single ragged hole groups at such a distance. From the kneeling position, groups inevitably opened up slightly, yet bear in mind that the test card aim points were rings just larger than a one penny piece, and the results are still highly impressive.
Standing shots are of course the most demanding of all, and here, I found the MK4 a little light at the muzzle for my taste; so a silencer would be screwed into place if this were my rifle. Shot as seen, results were again highly acceptable, with just the odd pellet slipping away as the fragility of my standing technique was pushed to its limit.
What really makes this rifle for me though, is those dual thumb shelves, and the subtlety of the design, and the luxurious grip afforded. These excellent features, coupled with the company’s pedigree, keeps the MK4 around the top of any shortlist.
If all this technological wizardry leaves you cold, or worse… scares the pants off you, then fear not - mechanical equivalents are available, and the company hasn’t lost sight of it’s roots in this regard. If however cutting edge electronics fires the imagination, then just embrace Daystate’s trail-blazing ways.
They boldly claim that the MK4 is the most advanced PCP on the planet, and with these rifles generating a lock time (the time between the trigger being pulled and the pellet exiting the barrel) apparently several times faster than a conventional mechanically powered PCP, they may have a technical point.
However, theory is all well and good, and whilst these electronic Daystate’s are undoubtedly brilliant pieces of technology, reality still sees mechanically driven rifles feature heavily at the highest level of both Hunter Field Target and FT; so the jury’s still out as to verifiable advantage.
One thing is for sure though - what Daystate have achieved is strong brand distinction and originality, and with it, a fiercely loyal fan base. With their latest ethos ‘innovate not imitate’, it’s little wonder that the company has carved out a successful niche market for themselves; catering for serious enthusiasts and connoisseurs of fine engineering and design, worldwide.
Yes Daystate do things differently, and in the MK4iS, we have a superbly functional sporting airgun with real character that can’t fail to put a smile on the face.
|Model:||Daystate MK4 iS Sports|
|Type:||Electronic multi-shot PCP|
|Calibre:||.177 on test; .22 available|
|Stock:||Walnut sporter (right hand on test)|
|Trigger:||Match grade, electronic|
|Fill pressure:||230 bar|
|Shot count:||Expect around 160-170 shots in.177or 190 shots approx. in .22|
|Average velocity:||797 fps (throughout charge)|
|Total spread:||22fps over 165 shots using Daystate Li pellets|
|Average Energy:||11.2 ft/lbs|
|RRP:||£1,036 including 10 shot magazine, single shot tray and electronics charger|
|Options:||Sports Thumbhole stock or all black rubberised Panther version|
|Contact:||Daystate tel.01782 791755 http://www.daystate.com|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates