by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

We left off in the mid-1990s, as Daystate was just starting to bring out a line of new lighter air rifles. I had sent my Huntsman Mark II to Rodney Boyce for a new trigger and regulator. The reg boosted my usable shots to 48 from a 3000 psi fill. Velocity was given in Part 1.

The greater power of the modified rifle was welcome, but the accuracy didn’t change, of course (same barrel), so I still had a heavy, bulky PCP when everyone else was going to the new lightweights. Offhand competition for an entire match with my rifle was difficult, though a few offhand shots in a mostly seated match was no problem. I could have left it the way it was and continued to compete with it for many more years; but after owning it for about two years, I sold my Huntsman.

I went through some other PCPs during the years that followed – a Career 707 set up with a regulator and adjustable trigger by Alan Zasadny and a hammer-spring reduction by The A Team. That rifle was a real shooter, but it was a .22 and couldn’t keep pace with the .177s in field target. I also had a Barnes rifle in .177. It was set up for 12 foot-pounds, and I’ve never been a good enough shot to compete in field target at that power level. I was shooting on par with the best TX 200s (and getting beat by them in a lot of matches).

In 1999, Rodney Boyce sold me a Daystate Harrier. It was a single-shot rifle like my Huntsman, but 2 lbs. lighter and ready to compete right out of the box. It had a great trigger and ran at about the same energy as my old Huntsman. Daystate advanced their technology in the last five years of the 1990s, as did every other maker of precharged airguns. The new gun was more accurate than any air rifle I had owned to that time, and eight years later it’s still a gun against which all others are compared. But it wasn’t that way from the start!

Eight years old and still going strong. My Daystate Harrier is a classic.

For the first few days I was very disappointed by mediocre accuracy. It was grouping tight, small groups, then sending one or two pellets wide by an inch or so at 35 yards. What was wrong? A call to Rodney brought us both to the point of me sending it back for him to look at, then he had a thought. Could pellets possibly by hitting the muzzle cap? Sure enough, they were. When the cap was removed, the shots all went onto the same tight group (about 1/4″ at 35 yards and 1/2″ or a little more at 50). Using a hand drill, I opened the muzzle hole of the end cap by about a tenth of an inch. After that, I had a tack-driving air rifle that I still own. It shoots so much better than I do that there is little sense going to a more accurate gun – unless there would be some other kind of advantage. Another problem I had was impact shift from the barrel being connected to the reservoir. As the pressure got lower, the reservoir flexed, pulling the barrel with it. The fix was to remove the front barrel band, making the barrel free-floating.

The one thing I absolutely LOVE about my Harrier is that it has to be filled to only 2650 psi – not 3000. I use a hand pump when I compete, and this lower fill point really saves me some strain. I initially got 25 shots of Beeman Kodiaks at 875 f.p.s. within 20 f.p.s. and there is no regulator to break down. That velocity drifted up to 900 f.p.s. after about 1000 shots had been fired. There is no manometer (air pressure gauge) on the gun, so I count shots by counting targets in the match. If I have to blow off shots, I have to recalculate. Toward the end of my competing days, I came across the Phillips pellet holders that strap to the buttstock. They hold 20 pellets and I can count to five or I can fill after 20 shots. My rifle is dead-reliable – the kind of airgun legends are written about, and I know it will always be there when I need it.

During this same period, I briefly had a Daystate Mirage – a sporter that’s even lighter than the QC and the LR90. Mine weighed 5 lbs., 9 oz., SCOPED! Without the scope, it weighed 4.5 lbs.! Daystate and Falcon were having a contest at that time to see who could make the smallest, lightest sporter that still had American power. I think Falcon finally won with their Tominator (turkey-hunting rifle) that was based on their pistol action. But, the Mirage was still very lightweight and a thing of pure beauty! It averaged 815 f.p.s. with Crosman 10.5-grain Premiers and was good for 23 shots within 25 f.p.s. extreme variation.

Pint-sized powerhouse! The Mirage was a lightweight rifle that delivered big gun performance.

While this was happening, Daystate updated the CR94 to the CR97, which everyone immediately took to. It was better received than the CR94 had been, and it became very popular to upgrade the 94 to a 97. I wish I knew the differences between the two guns, but I don’t. Match totals in those days (end of the ’90s) always had several CR97s at the top battling with Ripleys or FWB P70s converted by Alan Zasadny. A few Air Arms NJR 100s were still in the mix, as well.

In my next installment, I’ll show you a 1990s-era Daystate airgun that most airgunners know nothing about!