by B.B. Pelletier

The Tech Force Contender 87 is a big, powerful underlever.

Okay, now that Pyramyd Air also sells Tech Force airguns, I get to test them for you. Today, I’m starting to look at the Tech Force 87 Contender, a large powerful underlever that nicely compliments the TF 89 breakbarrel.

This is a very large spring-piston rifle. Dare I say huge? It weighs more than a Beeman R1 and is longer, too. According to the power level advertised, it should get 1100 f.p.s. in the .177 caliber I’m testing and 950 f.p.s. in .22. I’m excited to test this rifle; because when I tested the TF 89 breakbarrel that resembles this rifle so much, I found it to be an exemplary modern spring-piston airgun. I’m hoping this underlever will be the same.

As an underlever, this one has the sliding compression chamber that pushes the piston backwards to sear lockup when the rifle is cocked. Then, the shooter loads a pellet, taking care to restrain the underlever in case of a possible beartrap accident. You wouldn’t want your thumb in the way if the sliding compression chamber decided to suddenly close. But, the anti-beartrap mechanism is there to prevent any such accident. It’s the reason for three levers hanging down in the triggerguard.

Three levers in the triggerguard. The silver one is the trigger and the one in the middle is the automatic safety. The one on the left is the anti-beartrap sliding compression chamber release. When you’re done loading and want to slide the chamber forward, that lever must be pulled to the rear.

The stock is hardwood, stained a dark chocolate brown. The finish is even and without blemish. Uncharacteristically, there was absolutely no wood putty to be found anywhere. From past experience with Chinese-made argues, I looked at the alignment of the action in the stock, as evidenced by the position of the coking lever in the cocking slot. It was perfectly centered! And the checkering, while pressed and too slick to hold the hand, was also flawless. Somebody’s paying attention to this rifle at the factory!

The buttpad is a dark gray rubber pad meant to keep the rifle from slipping against your shoulder, but also from slipping when rested on the butt in the corner. It’s fitted as well as any European pad. A raised cheekpiece and Monte Carlo stock profile lift your head up for scope use.

The stock is not ambidextrous, but it looks like it could be shot by a lefty easily enough. The loading and safety are centered and don’t favor either hand. And the stock isn’t shaped to discourage a left-handed shooter.

Metal finish
The bluing isn’t as even as that found on a European gun, nor is the metal as well-polished. But the black oxide is very deep, which makes these criticisms difficult to see in anything short of bright sunlight.

The gun comes with a set of adjustable open sights with fiberoptics front and rear. But there’s also a scope rail, and it has a scope stop built in. So, you don’t need to worry about scope stops when you buy your scope mounts.

The scope stop comes with the rifle, so you don’t need to give it a second thought.

The rear sight adjusts in both directions but has an index for windage, only. It’s fiberoptic to compliment the front sight.

The underlever is held in place by a keeper that does not need to be released to pull down for cocking. Just grab it with your hand, and it comes away as it ought to. It also closes the same way, with no locking latch being required. There does appear to be an adjustment for the latch tension at the end of the fitting into which the lever fits.

I had to know how it shot
Part one of any test report is supposed to be about the features of the gun, but I was curious. I couldn’t wait to see how this rifle shot, so I fired it once. The feeling was remarkable, in that there was no great vibration or recoil. Just the smooth feeling of a powerful shot. And the trigger released reasonably, though with a little felt creep. I do believe I’ll enjoy testing this rifle.

The only drawback appears to be the cocking effort, which I’ll estimate to be 40 lbs. or so. I’ll weigh it when I test velocity for you. I also noted that when cocking this rifle, an extra pull is needed at the end of the cocking stroke. You’ll hear a definite click when the sear catches the piston.

Now for something completely different
Pyramyd Air no longer carries Ballistol, so what I am about to say will not benefit them. I’ve accidentally discovered a wonderful use for the stuff. Spray it into the bore of guns you have shot but not yet cleaned. It won’t remove copper or lead deposits, but it raises powder fouling like magic!

Spray it generously into the bore, then leave the gun alone for a week. When you return, you’ll discover that all the powder fouling has been raised up out of the metal and can be wiped out with just a cloth patch. It’s the easiest cleaning method I’ve ever seen, and these days I’m definitely looking for more of those!