Tech Force TF99 Premier air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


The Tech Force TF99 Premier underlever air rifle is a large, powerful spring gun. This model has evolved a lot over the years.

Before we begin today’s report, I have a special sale to announce. Pyramyd Air has a super special deal on two spring air rifles.

The RWS Diana 350 Magnum in .177 with the T05 trigger was $399 and has been reduced to $299.95. This is the T05 trigger model that we discovered works just as well as the newer T06 trigger. The Hammerli Pneuma in .177 was $349 and is now $299.95. Here’s your chance to get a fine PCP for $300!

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Tech Force TF99 Premier underlever air rifle. Some assumptions I made in Part 2 have to be changed after today’s test, but I’ll get to that.

Short scope dovetail
For starters, the TF99 has a very short dovetail for the scope mount, so one-piece mounts are mostly too long. I had to use a two-piece BKL one-inch, double-strap, high-profile ring set to mount the Leapers 3-9x50AO scope. The high mount gave me good clearance for the 50mm objective, but I had to hold my head higher on the comb to see the image in the scope.

Cleaned the barrel before shooting
I decided to go ahead and clean the barrel before testing with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a brass brush run through the bore 20 times in both directions. Since this rifle has a sliding compression chamber, I had to enter the barrel at the muzzle. I put a cleaning patch over the air transfer port hole when the breech was slid back to prevent any dirt or cleaning compound from entering the compression chamber. The bore was loose and did not resist the brush like most new barrels do, so this bore is on the large side of normal.

Sight-in
I then sighted-in the rifle at 10 feet, prior to backing up to 25 yards. I used my special 10-minute sight-in procedure that works so well.

Some difficulties encountered
The rifle I’m testing has a lot of barrel droop, but the scope mount is not set up to compensate for it. Rather than spending another hour to re-do what I’d already finished to get to this point, I used a writer’s trick that works very well. The next time you think you have a scope problem, try doing this.

My groups were spread out laterally, and in a couple cases were falling into two distinct groups. That’s a classic sign of a weak erector tube spring, the cure for which is to adjust the scope’s elevation downward. So, I adjusted the elevation knob down 40 clicks and the lateral spread went away. Of course, my groups are nowhere near the point of aim. Since this test is just to determine the relative accuracy of the rifle, all I care about is how tight the groups are — not where they land. If I were going to shoot this rifle at targets, I would have to mount a drooper scope ring set to compensate for the droop so the scope could be adjusted normally.

Another difficulty I had was discovering how to hold the rifle. I tried it several ways with the off hand back by the triggerguard, but the TF99 doesn’t seem to want to be held that way. Then, I slid the flat of my palm out to the beginning of the cocking slot and that was where the rifle shot best. I remember when Mac tested the Browning Gold a few weeks ago that he found the same thing. Sometimes, you just need to play with the rifle until you discover its secrets.

Pellets tested
I tested a lot of different pellets while learning the secrets of this rifle, and I shot 10-shot groups with each pellet at least one time. With several of the pellets, I shot more than one group. Rather than show a bunch of large groups that were used to diagnose how the rifle likes to be held, here are the pellets I tested:

Beeman Kodiak
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome
RWS Superdome
Air Arms Diabolo Field dome 8.4 grains (JSB Exact)
RWS Hobby
Air Arms Falcon dome

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that the RWS Hobbys are not the right pellet for this rifle. All other pellets tested seemed to group about the same, and the Beeman Kodiaks were the best of all I tested. But even with all the techniques and tricks, the TF99 is not a tackdriver. It’s capable of producing about a one-inch, 10-shot group at 25 yards under the best conditions. And, only Beeman Kodiaks were able to do that. The others seemed to group into 1-1/8-inch groups or slightly larger at the same distance.


Ten Beeman Kodiaks made this group that’s 0.946 inches between centers at 25 yards. The aim point was at the top of the target, about four inches above the impact point because the scope was adjusted down to eliminate erector tube bounce.

Velocity
I said I would retest velocity after the accuracy test because the rifle was dieseling during the initial velocity testing. Well, the dieseling continues after this test as well, and the 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers that averaged 956 f.p.s. in the first test now average 961 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 951 to a high of 965 f.p.s., so the rifle hasn’t changed much even after 100 more shots have been fired. I think this is a rifle that needs a 1,000-shot break-in.

Firing behavior
The rifle has low recoil for its power, but it vibrates more than a little. I got used to a buzz after each shot.

The flat underside of the stock allows this rifle to lay very well on your off hand. It felt very neutral during accuracy testing, once the correct balance point was found.

The trigger is a single-stage and surprisingly crisp, though very heavy at the same time. I didn’t appreciate how it felt during velocity testing, but it came through loud and clear in this test. It’s a bit too heavy for the absolute best work, though I don’t think it cost me more than 1/8 inch in any of the better groups.

General impressions
The bottom line is that the TF99 underlever is a well-made, powerful underlever with reasonable accuracy if you do your part. It certainly isn’t a tackdriver, but it’ll hit a walnut or a cookie at 25 yards every time when the right pellet is used.

The right pellet, among those I tested, turned out to be the heavy Beeman Kodiak that I said I would not use in part 2. I said that because a spring-piston airgun generally likes medium and lightweight pellets best, but that was what I got wrong. This rifle likes the heavy pellets best, and it only came out when it was shot for accuracy.

26 thoughts on “Tech Force TF99 Premier air rifle: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    No one can say you didn’t test this one extensively. You went to the matt for this test.

    Took me 4 maybe 5 minutes to read the article. I’m estimating that you spent at least a full day for this 5 minute read. Cleaning the bore, mounting a scope, sighting it in, re-adjusting for floating erector tube during sight in, testing for correct hold, shooting 100 pellets out of 6 different tins, taking pictures of results, writing the article, etc. etc. 33 lbs of cocking effort along with an unusually long stroke times 100 shots. The stiff, strangely located anti bear trap release probably helped your callouses though. The good news seems to be that you got to implement and perfect your chin weld. LOL!

    I really appreciate your efforts in testing these airguns. I don’t know of another reviewer that goes to these lengths.

    Since the dovetail on this gun is short, the ring height has to be medium height (or lower, or smaller scope objective) and adjust for droop, what would be your ultimate scope mounting solution for this gun?

    I’m also curious what you’re using inside the bore of an airgun now, if anything, after you patch out the jb bore paste. Ballistol? FP10? PTFE?

    kevin


    • Kevin,

      Thanks. This blog took me a lot longer than most, but I wanted to give the rifle every opportunity to do its best.

      I am experimenting with a product called Safari Charlie Gun Lube. I have seen it do remarkable things for firearm bores, so I am experimenting on airguns. It’s too soon to say anything yet.

      http://www.superslickstuff.com/lubricant/Safari-Charlie-Gun-Lube.html

      It was disappointing not to get this rifle to shoot any better than it did, but that was exactly the same result that I got the past two times I have tested the same model. I guess it just is what it is.

      Tomorrow will be an interesting blog — at least for me.

      B.B.


      • Hm, I have a question about Ballistol now that I am the recipient of two huge new bottles from PA. (I’m glad to see that they have restocked the large size.) B.B., I recall you saying that Ballistol does not evaporate and stays for years. So, is there a difference between drying and evaporating? The Ballistol does seem to diminish without wiping so that in time the slide of my 1911 which has been coated with Ballistol feels less slippery. But I can see a slick residue still, for example, on the bolt of my Savage 10FP, long after I have applied it. So, is it possible that the water content evaporates but the petroleum stays? And how would this effect the usability of the applied Ballistol over time? Like how often would you have to reapply for a gun in storage?

        Matt61


        • Matt,

          You need to ask Ballistol, directly. All I can tell you is Ballistol does not dry out on my guns.

          If your 1911 has a phosphate finish or a textured surface of any kind, perhaps the Ballistol is still there but not showing as much.

          B.B.


      • I had to straighten and re-crown my TF99’s barrel to get a noticeable improvement. Also had to tweak the receiver to get rid of the excessive droop. That was before your droop compensating mount, though. Or, at least before the inexpensive ones… I never did try a one piece mount, so I don’t know if it would fit without modification.

        /Dave


    • Kevin,

      I forgot to answer the droop question. The answer is, I don’t know yet. The short dovetails rule out the very mounts this gun needs. If only B-Square still made a good American adjustable mount, or BKL would put out a two-piece drooper mount.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        Wish BKL would hurry up and put out their adjustable mount. In the meantime the TF99, and many others, seem to be a candidate for the burris signature rings with inserts that adjust for windage and elevation. Since your poi was off 4″ at 25 yards with the TF99 you would use the #20 inserts that adjust the poi 20 inches at 100 yards (4 inches at 25 yards). It’s nice that these rings come with an optional scope stop and an extra set of clamping feet that make these rings adjustable for a rail less than 11mm or as wide as 13mm. The adjustable inserts must be purchased separately though. The medium burris signature rings (for airgun and rimfire dovetails) are very low. They would not allow a scope with a 50mm objective to be mounted. The medium burris signature ZEE rings (for weaver/pictinney) are quite high and probably would fit a scope with a 50mm objective.

        The Safari Charlie lube is interesting. “Non-petroleum, contains no Teflon, no Silicone, no wax, no graphite or anything that can scrape off or build up.” I’ve used the old stand-by, Kroil, in my firearm bores with good results but don’t think I’ve discovered the ideal, final, follow up product for cleaning air gun barrels yet. I’d be very interested in knowing your results when your testing is concluded. Thanks.

        kevin


  2. B.B.,
    I understand that you’ve tested lots of pellets, but you know, this rifle might just be very picky about what it likes. I have a rifle that hates cphp lights, but LOVES heavies. It’s like night and day. Probably wouldn’t help, but it’s what I’ve experienced myself with a particular gun.
    Victor


    • Victor,

      That is an interesting observation. And of course it holds true for all the airguns I test. Even those that do well might actually do much better if only I used the right pellet.

      Maybe some readers who own TF99s will chime in on this and lets us know their experiences. Because, as I told Kevin, this is the third times I have tested this rifle with the same results.

      B.B.


  3. The reasons for and against buying this rifle reminded me of my thinking for my latest purchases. I thought that I had saturated the time I have to shoot with what I already have, so it took some extensive justification to get the Lee-Enfield and the Mosin. My great antagonist was BG_Farmer with his notion that any gun that does not get used once a month gets discarded. How could I disagree since I’m in sympathy with this idea, and I even had my own corollary to this in the form of

    The Inflation Principle: The more guns you own, the less worth/use you get out of each one. In fact, you are even undercutting the good deal you may get on a particular gun by buying more.

    All powerful arguments for me, and I had my work cut out. So, I came up with an intricate counter-case based on the following.

    The B.B. Principle: A gun does not have to be shot constantly to be worth owning. There is satisfaction in holding it or watching TV with it. True, especially in the case of historical guns.

    The Victor/Slinging Lead Conjecture: Each gun increases your understanding of all the others. So, in that way you are gaining rather than losing values on your guns with each addition.

    The Dark Horse Phenomenon: You never know in advance which gun will be your favorite until you try it out. I bought the Ruger Single Six to fill the revolver gap in my arsenal and also to get a little taste of the famous and historical six-gun design, and this little revolver is now second to none in my arsenal. I can hit dirt clods offhand at 50 yards with it–easy to do when you’re shooting at a field full of dirt clods, but still…. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

    Spanning: By purchasing a representative gun or best in class gun, you get all the guns in that class as well as associated history. Of course I needed the summit of the bolt-action battle rifle design which makes me feel like Dale Earnhardt Jr. shifting gears as I cycle the action, as well as the paradigmatic rifle of the Eastern Front.

    Anyway, by this means I hammered out the funding, and maybe it will help someone in need of a rationalization to buy.

    Wulfraed, I’m glad you got out to that extra session at the shooting range. They are darned expensive aren’t they?

    I’m undergoing a certain kind of Biblical retribution based on the passage about building your house on a solid foundation as opposed to sand. The somewhat ill-fitting joints of my reloading stand are being exposed with my enthusiastic working of the lever arm, and my entire stand is twisting and shaking itself apart. While full-sizing a case, the whole press became separated from the stand. Argh. It all does make me curious about how ammunition companies mass produce high quality ammo. Do, they have a corps of specialists hand trickling in the exact powder charge or is the whole thing automated to a very high level of precision. Probably the latter I would think with a lot of inspecting and quality control of the products.

    Victor, thanks for your comments. I remember some of your remarks to Lloyd but should have given them more attention, I see. So, it would appear that any exceptional performance (as opposed to a single lucky shot) probably indicates some aptitude. A truly terrible shot will not put together a good range session. What then separates the fledgling talent from the true master? I would have supposed consistency, but that seems to conflict with your story about the batter of the batting cage. It sounds like he could hit perfectly well in the cage as long as necessary. So, what stopped him from hitting in games? I would guess the ability to withstand competitive pressure. Would that be the defining trait of the master shooter? (By the way, how did you get a distinguished expert rating while shooting at the sharpshooter level? That seems to be a contradiction in terms.) Supposing that the ability to deal with pressure is the defining trait I wonder if that is really the essence of master shooting or a specialization. The late Col. Jeff Cooper made a distinction between tactical shooters who could make one accurate cold bore shot under threat as opposed to competitive shooters who could post scores with “machine-like regularity” (he said rather snidely). It’s like professors who have a certain specialized kind of accomplishment without being universally smart. (In fact, extremely stupid in some cases.) Of course there is some overlap between the different types of shooting. Your accurate life and death shooter (the profile of a professional hunter I’m guessing) must have some basic skills just as a master class competitive shooter will have at least some ability to handle different kinds of pressure. It’s like someone who practices martial arts in a dojo cannot avoid building up a foundation of skill even if he is not exactly like a combat veteran, but the two are on somewhat divergent tracks as well.

    Your mathematical analogy reminds me of a scene in the film Good Will Hunting where there is an argument about how to educate a young genius. A mathematician Field Prize winner says, “I had people who pushed me, and I learned to push myself.” And a psychiatrist (Robin Williams) replies, “You mathematical —-.” Heh, heh.

    Duskwight, so regulations in Russia are exactly the same as California. So, is the Mosin a pretty universal bolt rifle for shooters in Russia or are there other popular brands? Alas, the Mosin rifles in that movie I mentioned were not quite up to the job of defeating the demonic alien villain, but Telly Savalas did a very entertaining job with Russian stereotypes as befitted this C/D grade movie. He first appears rolling out of sleeping bag leaving behind a beautiful woman with a huge smile on her face. “Ten minutes to move out,” he shouts to his Cossacks, and they disappear into a driving snowstorm. The Cossacks board a train and shut it down completely, but they are no match for the enemy alien who has gained control of a sort of mad monk who wipes them all out with his eyes flaring red. Savalas is the last man standing and with blood streaming down his face makes an heroicc attempt to impale the monk with his Cossack sword before succumbing. The monk is finally dealt with by rerouting the tracks and sending the train over a cliff over which the monk goes shouting and trying in vain to work a hand brake. Anyway, the stuff is not to be taken seriously. But I bet those Mosin rifles would have survived the train wreck.

    Matt61



    • Thank you for putting all these principle togheter, it’s very appreciated (my wife might want to have a talk with you later about this 😉 ). While the BG and inflation principle sound great and bring respect to the ones who are able to apply it, the others are MUCH more fun. I like having all kinds of rifles from different countries with different kind of stocks and powerplant and classics are and will always be classics, a Beeman P1/Weihrauch HW45 will always have a place in an airgun collection.

      Edith the “latest buzz/article/review” link on the Crosman Optimus combo page (http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Crosman_Optimus_Breakbarrel_Air_Rifle_Combo/2405) brings me to part 2 of the review. The rifle only page brings me to part 3.

      J-F


    • Matt,
      You can indulge yourself if you consider that those rifles so critical to you that you shoot them regularly need “backups”. What ever would you do, for example, if your main battle rifle broke down or the ammo. delivery is delayed or your powder supply runs low. No problem, you’ve got another one that uses a different ammo! Democracy isn’t going to defend itself in that kind of situation. Do it for the generations that have not yet been born free :)!


    • Matt, dirt clods have started more than one illustrious shooting career.

      And you like the Single-Six too eh? I mentioned I got one, primarily because of my idiotic primer-powered-pellets idea, which turned out to be really stupid. Now I have this really cool little revolver. I have a feeling I will never regret it.



  4. Matt61,
    My position is that most people are much smarter, or more capable, than they realize. I think that the gifted can get lazy. I’ve seen the “average” surpass the gifted. Bottom line is that some people decide what they want, and they’ll do almost anything to get it. For some, there is nothing that they can do to get there, but not all. It’s not uncommon for the guy who started out 5th best in his local club to become the best in the state, or even the nation, after years of hard work. You just need to be persistent, and find your groove. There’s always an answer. You just need to get smart, and look for the right answers. Personally, I think that the guy who started off struggling, but overcame the challenges, may end up with special insights.
    Victor


  5. BB,
    I’m a little surprised with the accuracy you are getting, but I don’t have any solid evidence to the contrary, as there was a scope mounted on mine for about only 3 days at most, and I never benched it for groups. The only groups I shot formally were at 10 yards with wadcutters, and that was open sights. It always seems to hit what I’m aiming at, though, and I would have expected 1/2″ at 25 yards at most. If I have a spare scope and some time someday I will see what I can do, although mine is not stock. Slinging Lead and Vince might have some information on how theirs shoots as well. One issue with the stock model, I think is probably that the velocity is a bit too high for best accuracy? Mine is substantially detuned compared to stock. My guess is that the velocity and power sells better than accuracy :)!


    • BG_Farmer,

      You either a better shot with powerful springers than me and/or have better magnum springers than most I’ve shot.

      I can count on two fingers the 16+ft lb springers I’ve shot that can consistently do 1/2″ groups at 25 yards. 🙂

      kevin


      • Kevin,
        I doubt I’m a better shot than you. Mine isn’t that magnum, as I tried to point out. Don’t have a chronograph, but I started with almost no preload so that it shot like (and probably was) a 500-600 fps rifle (smoother actually, as it is pretty heavy) and then kept spacing it up a mm. or two until I got it in the neighborhood I wanted power wise with the pellets I wanted and stopped when it started to go down hill in terms of shot cycle and accuracy; not much in the way of hold sensitivity, though there was when it was stock. I think it probably shoots CPL’s around 900 or so, maybe 8.4 gr. around 850, I had figured it out in terms of trajectory at some point.


  6. B.B.

    As far as I know M4 is not meant to be used in a bayonet fight, however full-sized M16 is. AK-74 was designed with hand-on-hand and bayonet fighting in mind, so it should be ok. Funny, but I heard from beople I can trust that fixed bayonet is a perfect tool to convoy a person, as it feels more intimidating than a bullet. And not a long ago I’ve read that British lieutenant in Afghanistan cut down a Talib machinegunner with his bayonet, after charging directly on working machinegun. So it seems cold steel does mean something even these days.
    I must boast once more as I received some more parts. Here they are: http://i53.tinypic.com/4t3gbb.jpg
    Front support, front cylinder plug, rear cylinder plug and trigger frame. Not drilled for pins yet, it will be done in situ not polished and not yet blued. By the way, what would you recommend – Klever Shnellbrunnung or Birchwood Casey’s Superblue – I’ve heard the last one is stronger and gives a deeper color. I don’t want to boil them in salts or use a cold rust.

    duskwight


    • duskwight,

      Good job on the parts! Things are progressing.

      I don’t recommend anything but Blue Wonder these days. I have personally seen it as tougher than any cold blue on the market. It’s as tough as a hot blue. It may be difficult to get, but it’s worth the effort.

      B.B.



  7. I’am still eating myself inside out about the modified rifle u have in the picture here . Can u let me know I would like to get myself a good Christmas’s gift.

    Thank U may God Spread over your house many Good Wishes .

    William.


Leave a Reply