Daystate MK4 iST
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
The Daystate MK3 was the first electronically controlled sporting air rifle, bringing us Capacitor Discharge Technology (CDT), which uses a digital microprocessor to control a solenoid-powered, highly advanced air valve, thereby giving competition winning accuracy and consistency, as well as; patented trigger and firing mechanism; magazine counter; low pressure warning; key switch ‘trigger lock’ located in the trigger guard that stops the gun from firing when locked; red light ‘gun live’ indicator and charging led; rotary safety catch/immobiliser that completely stops the rifle from firing when applied.
Then the new Mk4 version took it all a little bit further with a Mapped Compensated Technology programme (MCT) that enables the rifle’s computer to precisely calculate the amount of time and distance the valve needs to open to ensure identical air releases. The air cylinder is pressurized to the usual 230bar. As shots are taken, the pressure gradually goes down in the cylinder. A built-in pressure sensor detects this and compensates accordingly. It basically monitors the pressure against a ‘map’ with a pre determined power curve. The system then hits the hammer progressively harder to maintain a consistent velocity. In addition a Mapped Velocity Technology (MVT) programme gives a choice of two power variations so the shooter can match his chosen pellet precisely to the gun while ensuring that it stays within the legal limit.
Programming is a familiar feature on these hi-tech models, and the MK4 comes suitably equipped, with no less than 7 functions as follows:-
Stage1 - Reset magazine shot count
Stage2 - Illuminated safety catch LED off/on
Stage3 - Enable magazine counting
Stage4 - Program low pressure warning from 50bar, in 10bar increments (everytime trigger is pulled)
Stage5 - Power adjustment, allowing the user to fine tune power level
Stage6 - Enable single shot operation
Stage7 - Default settings
All this is clever stuff, and although it may sound unnecessarily complicated, in practise, you don’t even think about it. The circuitry just quietly goes about its business, and the tight pellet groups keep forming.
And now we have our test gun, the Mk4 iST, which takes it further still. The ‘i’ in the name signifies that the rifle is fitted with an optional LCD digital readout screen (on the left of the action), previously only seen on Daystate’s electronic flagship hunter – the Air Wolf MVT - and the top of the range Grand-Prix FT model. The fitting of the illuminated liquid crystal display screen has resulted in many of the features already incorporated into the rifle ‘coming to life’, as the user can for the first time actually see what is being programmed. Cylinder pressure, battery voltage, magazine status and shot counter can all be seen at a glance. This optional display screen is a factory fitted extra, and is only available on new build ‘i’ rifles, not as a retro fit to previous models.
The top quality Turkish walnut woodwork of the test gun is in a sports thumbhole (hence ST) format, designed by custom stock-maker Gary Cane, then machined and given a hand oiled finished by Minelli in Italy.
It has a high swept cheek-piece; scalloped underside; finger grooves along the forend and a pistol grip with a rosewood cap and laser cut-chequering. A generous thumb shelf offers an alternative grip, if you prefer that to the thumbhole – mind you, an ‘S’ version is available with a standard sporter stock, and you’ll save a few bob on the price too.
A ventilated rubber butt pad keeps everything hugging the shoulder, whilst the sleek tapered forend catches the eye at the business end. OK, it’s only a piece of wood, but it does its job superbly.
Bull Barrel Shroud And The New Daystate Airstream Reflex silencer
The MK4 match quality barrel is fitted with a full length barrel shroud. Sleek looking, and with internal baffles sitting within the shroud, much of the rifle’s report is muted just using it straight out of the box. An optional Airstream Reflex sound moderator was kindly included with the test rifle, and with this in place the muzzle report was virtually silent. The Airstream Reflex has a high-grade 30mm diameter carbon fibre body and sits over the bull barrel, retained by an internal ½” UNF thread machined in the end of the alloy baffle stack. An O-ring seals the rear of the body. Although it’s 7” long, the ‘over-the-barrel’ reflex design means it only adds 3 ½” to the overall length of the rifle. The alloy/carbon fibre construction results in a weight of just 99 grams, so balance isn’t affected as much as a standard screw-on moderator might.
All the metalwork on the MK4, is treated to a durable zinc based coating. On the air reservoir this coating is both inside and out, giving a welcome safeguard against corrosion. The other main components of the MK4 are reassuringly solid and oversized, such as the chunky breech block, scope rail, stainless steel bolt and rear mounted illuminated safety catch.
Both the standard issue interchangeable 10 shot rotary magazine and the single shot pellet tray are included in the package. These are fitted with neat but effective magnets that keep them in place, and in the case of the mag, actually pull it into place. The magazine has undergone minor tweaks too, and with its new low profile, scopes can be mounted lower than on previous models.
Filling the mag is a simple affair, just turning the chambers anti-clockwise in turn. I did find seating pellets gently with another pellet kept them snugly in place, encouraging smooth operation. Loading an electronic Daystate is a civilized business indeed, bearing in mind that the bolt has no spring pressure whatsoever to deal with. Cycling the magazine is hardly strenuous, and with the pellet tray in place, the effort is precisely zero.
Electronic Trigger Control
Triggers are always an important feature, and the MK4 is fitted with an electronic unit that’s both reasonably light and consistent. The nature of the system, however, means that the trigger is live unless the safety is applied. An isolator key is provided to ‘power on’ and ‘power down’ the rifle, with an automatic shutdown after 15 minutes if the rifle is left switched on but not used.
The rechargeable battery that supplies power to the system comes with a plug-in transformer, but since the battery is good for around 5000 rounds, charging becomes very few and far between.
All these electronics are understandably a concern in a product destined to spend most of its life outdoors. With Daystate only too mindful of the public’s pre-conceptions in this area, they have taken it upon themselves bring in an outside consultancy to advise about weather proofing components. To this end, the gun’s electronic innards have gone from receiving one emersion dipping at the factory, to having 3 layers of emersion dipping applied by an outside agency. Contact plugs are then injected with silicon grease in-house. I’ve seen these electronic actions left in a water tank throughout a 48 hour show, then taken out when required for a demo, wiped down with a towel and then fired with no problems at all.
Accurate and Consistent
Accuracy is first rate with Daystate rifles, and this Mk4 in .177 calibre was no exception. With sub 0.4” groups at 35yds, and still under half inch at 50yds, the MK4 certainly has what it takes. Chronograph testing showed 160 shots within a 20fps variation, before the figures tailed off, which is more than enough for the keenest enthusiast.
Hi-tech electronic rifles may not be to everyone’s taste, and the MK4 certainly carries a serious price tag, but even its detractors must now admit that this is a ‘state-of-the-art’ air rifle. In the Mk4, Daystate have cleverly advanced their cause, with a top class rifle armed with MCT technology that evolves the system and now the LCD screen to help the shooter stay in control and make easier use of all these electronic features at his disposal.
Using Daystate Select pellets
Highest - 795fps
Lowest - 775fps
Average - 787fps
MK4-iS sporter stock model (£914)
FAC up to 30ftlbs - add £50 to above prices
Left hand versions - add £30