Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Air Ventury Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle
The new Tech Force M12 breakbarrel is a midrange springer from Air Venturi.

Today, we’ll learn an important lesson in spring-gun management. This report was supposed to happen yesterday, but the rifle wasn’t cooperating — and I had to spend an extra day testing it. I’ll explain what haoppened and tell you what I did to fix it. It was simple, and the results are astounding. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

As you know, I elected to test the .177-caliber Tech Force M12 4-12x40AO air rifle combo. I chose the package that came without the illuminated reticle but with the best scope.

I mounted the scope with no difficulties. The two-piece rings went on the rails easily and the rifle’s end cap was used to block the rear ring from moving during shooting. I can tell you at this point that you have nothing to fear using the cap this way. The end cap holds the ring positively and doesn’t seem to move.

Trouble in paradise!
But at 25 yards, I found I had difficulty shooting a group that was reasonable. The best I managed to do was 10 shots in an inch and a half, but I also had some that went two inches. It was discouraging, to say the least. I sat back and examined the groups to see what could be learned.

And one thing popped out. Each group of 10 was actually two very tight groups of pellets. There was enough dispersion that at first they just looked like a large group; but since I’d seen every shot go through the target and I remembered them going from one side to the other, I was able to see that there were actually two separate groups. And you know what that means, don’t you?

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Let’s say a new reader wrote a comment and complained about the lack of accuracy in his new rifle. We might have to go back and forth several times before he mentioned that there are really two smaller sub-groups in the one group he shoots. But that would be the key that triggers a response.

Many of you would advise this reader to remove the scope from his gun and shoot a group with open sights. That’s what I would do. Only in the case of this rifle, there are no open sights. What do you do then?

There is a “secret.” It really isn’t a secret; but from experience, I’ve found that only a few people know about it.

The secret is this: When you get multiple groups like this, the problem is usually caused by a floating erector tube inside the scope, assuming that all the mounting screws are tight. And in this case, I checked them and all were tight. The stock screws were also tight. So the erector tube is the suspect. The thing that sets it up to move like that is when the scope is adjusted up too high or too far to the right, so the erector tube spring (the spring that pushes against both adjustment knobs) has relaxed to the point that the tube can move. It’s a common fault when using a scope, and I’ve been seeing it more and more often with firearms, too.

What I would tell a new reader is to crank a LOT of down elevation (at least 60 clicks — more is better) into his scope and shoot a group. I don’t care that the pellet is now striking the target low. What I care about is the size and shape of the group. That’s exactly what I did. I cranked in 5 or 6 full rotations of down elevation into the scope.

10-meter testing
Because the rifle was now shooting very low, I decided to test the rifle at 10 meters just to keep the shots on the paper. I’m not going to tell you the pellets that were tried at 25 yards because what follows explains why they were not tested fairly.

The first pellet I tried in this experiment was the 10.3-grain JSB Exact dome. Inside of 3 shots, I knew I’d found the problem and was fixing it. The 10-shot group I got is not that small for just 10 meters, but it was relatively easy to shoot, meaning that I did not have to use more than the usual amount of artillery hold technique.

Air Venturi Tech Force breakbarrel air rifle 10 meter group JSB Exact 16 grain pellets
While this isn’t exactly a splendid group, it was easy to shoot. Notice the fact that there are still two groups! This group of 10.3-grain JSB Exact dome measures 0.557 inches between centers.

Next, I tried Crosman Premier heavies, thinking that the rifle was going to lay them in no matter what it was fed. But not this time. When 4 shots gave me almost 1.5 inches, I stopped! Clearly, this 10.5-grain dome is not the pellet for the M12.

Then, I tried a pellet that has never worked in any test I’ve done. The Beeman Trophy pellets I have are so old that they come in the old-style Beeman tin. But, I thought, what the heck — this is just a test. Let’s see what they can do. And, of course, they were stunning. Ten made a group that measures 0.458 inches, but 8 of those 10 shots made a 0.253-inch group that’s very round and encouraging.

Air Venturi Tech Force breakbarrel air rifle 10 meter group Beeman Trophy pellets
Ten shots are in 0.458 inches, but 8 are in 0.253 inches. This is a pellet to test at 25 yards.

Not only did the Trophy pellet make a nice round group, it also required very little special shooting technique. The gun felt like it was in the zone with this pellet.

The scope
I have to say this 4-12x40AO Tech Force scope that came with the rifle is a pretty nice optic for being included in a combo package. It focuses clearly and seems bright enough for general use. Once I found the problem, this scope performed as well as any scope would under similar circumstances. If you plan to purchase an M12, I would recommend getting it the way you see here.

Where are we with the Tech Force M12?
Obviously, I haven’t finished the test of the M12. I still need to shoot the rifle at 25 yards to see how well it does. And I know the groups are going to be larger than what you see here. Before I do that, I need to mount this scope in a good drooper mount so I can get the gun shooting to the point of aim, again.

Today’s report is a valuable lesson in what to do when you’re having problems getting a scope to work. The diagnostic for this is when the rifle wants to shoot several groups that are each respectable; but when taken together, they’re too large. In the situation I’ve shown here, we didn’t know if the problem was the rifle, the scope or something else. By dialing in a lot of down elevation and sometimes some left elevation, we put tension on the erector tube springs, taking them out of the equation. If the gun then shoots well, as this M12 clearly did, then you know you have a droop problem that’s easy to solve.

34 Responses to “Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 3”

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,

    I mentioned a couple days ago that I was having problems with my Air Hawk Elite. This rifle was shooting nicely a couple years ago, but this past weekend it was shooting shifting groups and random flyers. The first time I checked the stock screws, all of them were very loose. The scope screws were also looser than I’d care to find, but not horribly loose. In the end, I found myself having to tighten the stock screws at least 4 times.

    When I came home, I ran some test’s at 10 meters and found that the rifle was still shooting horribly, including flyers (as might be expected). This was just a sanity check, since it was shooting one hole groups at 10 meters a couple years ago. At this point I wondered if the issue was; a dirty barrel, loose screws (again), or possibly a scope gone bad (which I’ve seen cause this kind of behavior before). I applied blue Lock-tite, and cleaned the barrel. The barrel was very dirty.

    Today I took some shots at 10 meters and found that the rifle was finally shooting good groups again, and without flyers. I believe that the loose screws explained the shifting groups, and some of the flyers, but I also believe that the dirty barrel caused the groups to open up and was also a cause of some of the flyers.

    QUESTION (Possibly a future blog?)
    What should one expect from a dirty barrel in terms of shot patterns? This is a fundamental issue, and maybe one that should be obvious, but also one that I think is worth discussing.

    Should one expect a dirty barrel to cause flyers?
    Would a dirty barrel mostly (almost exclusively) just cause groups to open up, but not necessarily cause “flyers”?

    I’m still open to the possibility that the shifting groups could be caused by a scope issue. I doubt that a dirty barrel would caused groups to shift (i.e., tight groups at different places, without adjusting the scope).

    Victor

    • RidgeRunner Says:

      One day I was shooting my Gamo CFX and I was in the zone. With H&N FTTs, I shot a 10 shot group that you could literally cover with a dime at 20 yards. Next, I tried H&N Barracuda Match with the same results. Woohoo! Then I tried CPLs and achieved the same results. WOW! This was incredible! The only difference was the change in POI with the different pellets. I grabbed up my FTTs and shot another 10 shot group at 20 yards you could again literally cover with a dime. But the POI was 1-1/2″ to the right and 1″ lower than the first group. There were no loose stock screws, the scope was tight, no floating erector tube. I was stumped. But I did recall that I had been chasing my groups before.

      A couple of weeks later at the Roanoke show I told that to B.B. The first thing he did was reach over and grab my scope on my CFX and give it a couple of good yanks back and forth. Not a budge. He suggested all those things.

      I did not shoot it for a few months because life dictated I concentrate on other things, plus I still could not figure out what was going on. With Spring, I picked it up again and determined to see what was what. I set up a prone position with sand bags and started shooting. I had a decent group going then one jumped about 1″ to the right followed by another and another then back to the original group. To end this rather long winded dissertation, I discovered that with an ever so slight pressure of my thumb, I could dance them back and forth between the two groups.

      The CFX has a new owner and I am really not that interested in owning another sproinger with the exception of a FWB 300.

      • Victor Says:

        RidgeRunner,

        Thanks for the story. My CF-X is the least hold sensitive of all my spring-pistol rifles. However, when I first used it, I was holding it too tight. This is a rifle that I can rest directly on a bag with no problem. I tend to be heavy-handed so learning to relax my hands is a little challenging, even today. In the beginning, my wife was able to shooter this rifle much better than me, because she’s naturally lighter-handed. It’s still one of my favorites, however, I find it almost too easy to shoot well, so I tend to shoot other rifles more. I like the challenge.

        Victor

    • twotalon Says:

      Sounds like you had one of those multiple problems. Look on the bright side…you could also have had bad breech and piston seals, a broken spring, and a wasted scope.

      twotalon

      • Victor Says:

        TwoTalon,

        Thanks for the advice. I was checking the seals yesterday, and they seem to be fine. However, I wonder about the breech. It seems to be worn more on the top side than the other sides. I don’t know if that is by design? I want to shoot this rifle some more before I completely rule out the scope and breech. I am convinced that the loose stock screws were one issue, as was the dirty barrel. I’ll be satisfied that things are now working, or not, after a long shooting session.

        Victor

        • twotalon Says:

          Victor…
          They wear the most where they rub the hardest. It’s going to happen with moving parts. As long as the breech is not sloppy, then don’t worry about it.

          There are a lot of reasons why an airgun will throw a pellet once in a while. Usually you won’t be able to pinpoint the problem unless you have buggered pellets or inconsistent fit of pellets. Some rifles handle pellet problems better than others. Inconsistent fit would be suspect first. If you are just plinking it don’t make a crap.

          twotalon

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Victor,

      I’d have to think about that. I don’t know that there is a good diagnostic for a dirty barrel, other than an enlargement of group size.

      With twitchy guns like the AirHawk, I’d say there is no way to ever be sure. With a stable gun like my R8 I would know immediately when the accuracy fell off.

      B.B.

      • Victor Says:

        B.B.,

        Thanks for thinking about the effects of a dirty barrel. It makes sense that a dirty barrel would simply open up the groups, and not necessarily also cause wild flyers. But I don’t really know that for sure. I still think that the question of what effect a dirty barrel has is a good one.

        I think that we’ve all experienced an occasional flyer that we couldn’t explain. My guess is that most of the time the cause was a bad pellet. I can’t see how a dirty barrel would suddenly cause a pellet to fly off away from a group. I’m pretty sure that the loose screws caused my groups to shift after several shots. But I’ve also seen this happen with a bad scope.

        I mentioned a couple months ago that I had a bad tin of pellets. I could easily tell that the pellets weren’t consistent in that they didn’t fit the breech the consistently. Some were super tight, others seemed too loose. It helped to know that the rifle was capable of shooting tight groups.

        I guess the moral of the story here is to know what your gun can do. An accurate gun will better tell you when something is wrong.

        Victor

    • Victor Says:

      All,

      Thanks for your replies! Cleaning the rifle and tightening the stock screws with locktite seemed to fix the problems. Because I fixed two problems at once, I don’t know which was the cause of the flyers.

      Victor

  • Paul Says:

    B.B.,

    Regarding the Trophy pellet, those are no longer imported under the Beeman name and H&N does not sell them under their own label. They are still being made and sold in Europe as the Bisley Long Range Gold pellet. Is there any chance that Pyramyd Air will import these again under the Beeman label?

    Paul in Liberty County

  • J-F Says:

    When there’s no iron sights on a gun would using a red dot be a good solution?

    J-F

  • Vasco Says:

    Hi BB

    I have asked a question about the accuracy of airguns a few weeks ago and since then I have thought quite a lot about this issue. I have come to the conclusion that will probably raise a few eyebrows and the purists may even regard this as heresy, but I do think that too much emphasis is placed on the accuracy of air rifles. I also think that high muzzle velocity and power are much more important than the purists would like us to believe with their derogatory remarks about high-powered “super Magnum” air rifles.

    Before you crucify me, let me explain what I mean. An airgun only needs to group as small as the object you are trying to hit. This will obviously vary according to the purpose you are using your gun for. If you are shooting competitively in 10 m competitions you have to use a gun that can shoot a group of less than 5 mm (0.2 inch) at 10 m and ant punch a neat round hole through a paper target, so about 500 FPS is more than adequate. If you do field target shooting you will need some more power and a little bit less accuracy. For pest control you will probably need a gun that can shoot 0.5 to 0.75 inch groups at 10 m with a muzzle velocity of at least 700-800 FPS. Nobody will regard this as great, but it will be perfectly adequate for the intended purpose. If you’d like to shoot something bigger like rabbits or even something slightly larger, a gun that can shoot a group of less than 1.5 inch at 25 yards will be completely adequate, provided you have enough power. Depending on what you would like to shoot, you will probably need at least 1000 FPS.

    The majority of airguns however, are used for plinking with beer bottles and soda cans being some of the favourite “prey”. This means that the gun must be able to shoot no better than 2 inch groups at 15 to 20 m. Most purists will regard this as completely unacceptable, but the average air gunner will be quite satisfied if he could hit and knock over his target in his backyard.

    These same guys also like to use the airguns to shoot through stuff (not paper targets, of course), knock things over and shooting old radios, televisions, clocks, etc into little itty bitty pieces. The more powerful your airgun, the better you can do this and the more fun you will have.

    If you think I’m wrong about all of this, all you need to do is to do a search on You Tube; you will see that I am telling the truth.

    Please, don’t get me wrong. I realise the importance of accuracy in all kinds of guns, but let’s pick horses for courses. Both my son and my daughter do competitive 10 m air rifle shooting (quite well, if I may say so myself) and we have a CZ 200 T and two Air Arms MPR’s at home, so I understand the importance of excellent, accurate air rifles. However, when not shooting in competitions, they like to join me in the backyard with a Hatsan, B4 or Crosman Fury to help me kill a few soda cans, knock over a few coffee tins or see through how many telephone directories we can shoot.

    BB, I have browsed through your recent reviews and, although you were quite critical about their accuracy, it seems to me as if the Hatsan 95 and 125 as well as the Gamo Rocket IGT are perfectly suited for use by the average air gunner. Please don’t knock us if we are impressed by muzzle velocity figures and satisfied with what could be called barely adequate accuracy; these guns can do the job they were intended for.

    One last issue that is completely off the topic I have raised above. You may or may not recall that I have previously enquired from you about the suitability of various pistols for competitive 10 m air pistol shooting. I was lamenting about the high prices of FWB-pistols in South Africa and you advise me to look for second-hand units. I have done so, but it seems as if they are not available here at all. I’ve done a bit more research and have found the Air Arms Alfa Proj Competition PCP Pistol and this is priced very reasonably. I have read your three-part review of this gun, but I am still not sure about the suitability in competitive shooting. My son would like to change from air rifle- to air pistol shooting and I would like to give him a fair chance with decent equipment, but would also not like to spend a fortune on a sport that he may not like or excel in. What do you think?

    Regards.
    Vasco Ferreira.
    Pretoria, South Africa.

    • cowboystar dad Says:

      Vasco, I’d actually agree to a lot of what you say.
      Different tools for different jobs.
      I do some 10m shooting at a local informal league and anything less than a ’9′ is a bad shot (IMO).
      Yet I can be out shooting our Storms the next day and be having a blast. A few bursts at a paper target at 25′ looks like we shot it with a 12 guage…but boy, oh boy…watching that tin can dance around the yard is a blast.
      I think the complaints you see here are more about the magnum springer that can’t shoot 3″ at 25yds. I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying for a head or chest shot on a rabbit (for example) which is going to be needed to ensure a clean kill at 50yds.

    • kevin Says:

      Vasco,

      If you’re plinking cans, tv’s, radios, paper, etc. it doesn’t matter much how accurate the gun is or how powerful the gun is. Whatever choice you make and are happy with is correct.

      When it comes to hunting and/or pesting I respectufully disagree with much of what you’ve said since it’s a generalization. In hunting/pesting you have an ethical obligation when taking a life. In hunting/pesting power doesn’t trump accuracy. Accuracy doesn’t trump power. They are equally important and interwoven. Velocity isn’t as important as fpe especially at the distance of your intended target since there is a dramatic difference in bc of pellets. This size of the kill zone on your prey and toughness of your prey are also factors. The ethical distance you shoot your prey is determined by the above factors as well as your ability to consistently hit the kill zone WHILE SHOOTING THE GUN IN THE TYPICAL POSITION YOU’LL BE HUNTING/PESTING. A consistent one inch 25 yard group shot from a bench isn’t very relevant unless you’ll be hunting/pesting from your shooting bench.

      ps-What does youtube have to do with your gun and your abilities?

      kevin

      • Vasco Says:

        cowboystar dad
        Thanks a lot for not shooting me down completely. If you have a look at BB’s recent tests of the so-called magnum springers, you will see that the majority of them are able to shoot groups of just more than an inch (or even less) at 25 yards.

        Kevin
        Calm down a bit, buddy! I am not a barbarian. A rifle that can shoot a group of less than one and 1/2 inch at 25 yards with muzzle energy of 16 ft-lb is perfectly capable of hitting the kill zone of the average rabbit and causing enough tissue damage to kill it instantly. This is exactly what the majority of Magnum springers recently tested by BB are capable of. This issue is constant, regardless of whether you are shooting at something in the veldt or using a bench. Regarding the reference to YpuTube; obviously it has nothing to do with my gun(s) or capability. I was merely trying to illustrate what a huge number of airgunners do with their airguns. I may not agree with everything, but it’s there and quite a lot of it.

        Vasco.

        • kevin Says:

          Vasco,

          I’m calm. Sorry if I came across otherwise.

          Maybe the “all caps for emphasis” came across too strong but I still don’t think I made my point. Correct me if I’m wrong.

          You said that the ” the majority of Magnum springers recently tested by BB are capable of” one and a half inch groups at 25 yards. I agree but, the groups that BB shot were from bench. The distinction is that I’ve never seen anyone that can group with a rifle offhand as well as from a bench. Offhand groups are larger. In the same vein, I’ve never seen anyone hunt rabbits from bench. If you can keep 10 shots, shot offhand at 25 yards, with a magnum springer under one and a half inches then I agree you have a rabbit hunting gun out to 25 yards.

          You also said, “This issue is constant, regardless of whether you are shooting at something in the veldt or using a bench.” Unless you’re shooting from a bench in the veldt I don’t agree. Assume you’re hunting in the veldt and not carrying you’re shooting bench.

          Did I understand you correctly? Correct me if I didn’t.

          kevin

          • Vasco Says:

            Kevin

            We are both right. We dont shoot from a bench whem hunting, but if you are unable to get a rabbit at 25 yard with a headshot, shooting offhand with a Hatsan 125, you are unlikely to hit it with say, an Air Arms S510 Xtra. I think the accuracy-problem more often lies withthe guy behind the rifle, rather than the rifle itself.
            Vasco

        • Steve B Says:

          I think BB kind of nailed it on the head, I consider it the fun factor, like the steel storm, it’s a blast to shoot, gets more attention from friends then air guns that cost 10x more and that I consider prized possessions. There have been times I hoped a review said it was fun to shoot(like the cometa Indian). I also think most air guns take a lot of time to work out there bugs, find the right pellet, the right hold, and what’s there primary use. No one will take a .22 hunting for a elephant, so don’t over shoot your pellet guns potential on size of game or on distance.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Vasco,

      I would never crucify you or anyone for their beliefs. You are speaking about the pragmatic limits of accuracy, while I am referring to the ultimate limits. As a writer, I have to go for the ultimate, even though I acknowledge what is practical.

      In other words, I want a rifle to shoot groups as small as possible — even though I am not capable of doing the same.

      The Alfa Proj would be one possibility for competition. It is certainly accurate enough. I would want one with a target grip (an adjustable palm shelf) over one without, if I were competing.

      B.B.

  • kenholmz Says:

    B.B., after reading yesterday’s blog I did a little research to see what others were saying. The quote below is one that caught my attention.
    “The Glock is neither a technically true Single Action, nor a Double Action. Glock calls its action the “Safe Action”, which is close to a Double Action.”

    Aside from that, I agree whole wholeheartedly that you have offered the most concise and clear explanation of Double Action and Single Action. This has reinforced what I learned from you during the last go round about actions.

    Oh…one other thing caught my attention last evening. I realize this one belongs to the marketing folks; still, I was surprised that the package for the Crosman .357 revolver states it is a “semi-automatic” as does the “Overview” on the Crosman web site.

    ~Ken

    • Matt61 Says:

      Ken, I’ve been doing some outside research myself. I searched Google for the use of dye penetrant kits on military surplus rifles and one of the top of the very few results was me asking that same question on this blog. And we know that guy is suspect. :-) But this shows me that there is no one else on the planet thinking about this but me, so I will put that idea to rest.

      Incidentally, I’m surprised how high the blog ranks in Google on other shooting questions. That would tend to give credence to our huge number of silent readers.

      Matt61

      • Robert fromArcade Says:

        Matt: On the subject of failures in ex-military rifles. P.O.Ackley gunsmith,and the inventor of many wildcat cartridges wrote about his experiments with trying to blow up various military surplus arms. He found that all of them were a lot stronger than they were often given credit for. The Japanese Arisaka being one of ,if not the strongest action of all of them. One old test to detect cracks in the Model 1917 Enfields recievers( Eddystone ones were often suspect), and US Krag rifle bolts was to immerse the part in gasoline and then wipe it dry. The gas would then seep from any crack and could be seen under good light.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Matt, when I began searching for airgun information last year, B.B.’s blog made the first page repeatedly. GTA and Yellow were the second place winners.

        I had to see for myself what you experienced while looking for a dye-penetrant kit (and, of course, I had the same experience but I may have one lucky hit. The link below includes mention of kits from Grainger or McMaster-Carr. I don’t know if this will help but the discussion is about the Springfield Model 1898 Krag-Jorgensen carbine pictured at the beginning of the post.

        http://eb-misfit.blogspot.com/2011/04/two-weeks-late-on-bag-day.html

        ~Ken

      • kenholmz Says:

        Matt, I must have forgotten to fill in my ID before. It has been interesting to read about the dye-penetrant kits. When I first entered a search target I typed in “dry-penetrant kit” (in quotes) there was one hit. Here is the link to that hit:
        http://www.gtrade.or.kr/buyer/product/Pico-Color-Check-Penetrant-Testing.do?productId=C2006-0000000578&categoryId=

        ~Ken

    • Wulfraed Says:

      Many of the striker-fired semi-auto pistols don’t have a full “single-action” stroke. They tend to “half-cock” the striker leaving a shorter trigger stroke that is still pulling (pushing?) the striker back to the release point. In contrast, the external hammer pistols do a full cocking of the hammer, leaving a the trigger for just a true single-action release pull.

      The “double-action only” pistols may always be in that “half-cock” condition, or they may truly be in an uncocked mode (that is, the firing action doesn’t do anything for the striker).

      • kenholmz Says:

        Wulfraed, thank you for that explanation. I’ll have to think about it a bit to get a better visual image but I think you provided good information for me to work with. ~Ken

  • Mike Says:

    BB, how well do Red Dot sights hold up on springers?

    Mike

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Mike,

      I have only a little experience with red dots on springers, but they always worked well for me.

      B.B.

  • john Says:

    B.B.

    Does the ‘erector’ refer to a cylinder within and, when in neutral, coaxial with the outer tube? And when some elevation and/or windage is dialed in, is the erector axis then tilted with respect to the outer tube’s axis?

    john

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      John,

      It is best to think of it that way, and in many scopes that is exactly what it is. Some scopes differ in their internal design, but the erector tube operates the same in all of them.

      B.B.

  • Matt61 Says:

    Isn’t it a little weird for a scope to be cranked up to maximum elevation at 25 yards? Wouldn’t that indicate that something is wrong with it?

    Thanks for the info about the notch side. So, I see that you focus on the front sight only after aligning with the rear sight, and this is done better with a clearly defined notch.

    Victor, good news that you’re even thinking about the pistol which is much better than being in a wheelchair.

    Matt61

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Matt,

      All it indicates is the axis of the bore is not in line with the axis of the scope. That’s usually the rifle’s fault.

      B.B.

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