by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

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

Well, the first moment of truth has arrived for the big Tech Force 87 Contender. I think you’ll be surprised at what it did. I know I was.

Cocking effort
Remember in part 1 that I said I thought that the cocking effort of this rifle was at least 40 lbs.? Well I measured it this time. There are two distinct parts to the cocking effort of this rifle. The first is the mainspring compression and the second is when the rifle is setting the sear. When the lever is pulled down and back, the spring force builds rapidly after the halfway point. The force required to complete the cocking stroke increases to 39 lbs. just before the sear is set, then it stops. But it takes 43 lbs. to set the sear in a very definite second step. So make no mistake about it, the Tech Force 87 is hard to cock. And new owners are going to have problems with this until they acknowledge how the rifle works.

However, the rifle gives back what is put into it in terms of power. How much you ask? Well, let’s see.

Crosman Premier lites
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier averaged 993 f.p.s. The velocity spread went from a low of 975 to a high of 1005. That’s 30 f.p.s., or a little faster, than we like to see. However, in a brand new rifle, it can be overlooked. At the average velocity this pellet generates 17.3 foot-pounds of energy.

RWS Hobbys
The next pellet I tested was the 7.0-grain RWS Hobby. They averaged 1151 f.p.s. at the muzzle, and all shots were supersonic. The range went from 1148 to 1161 f.p.s. At the average muzzle velocity, this pellet generated 20.6 foot-pounds of energy. That’s no small trick for a spring rifle!

Beeman Kodiaks
The last pellet I tested was the Beeman Kodiak. The pellets I used are from the newer batch and weigh 10.2 grains. They averaged 955 f.p.s. with a low of 948 and a high of 961. That made them the most consistent for velocity. The average muzzle energy was a stunning 20.66 foot-pounds, proving that the Tech Force 87 is one of the big boys. All of a sudden, 43 lbs. of cocking effort doesn’t seem all that bad.

Firing behavior
Throughout all the testing, the rifle remained smooth and calm, as though it has been tuned. I remember that the Tech Force 89 Contender felt the same when I tested it, years ago. I don’t think you’ll be able to criticize the firing behavior of this rifle.

The trigger is two-stage with a somewhat vague first stage and second stage start point. But stage two breaks fairly clean at 5 lbs., 6 oz. It feels like less because of the size of the rifle and the smoothness of the firing cycle.

In the next part, I’ll test accuracy, and I’ve already heard from one reader/owner who says the scope stop won’t hold against the recoil. So, I’ll press a BKL mount into service and still use the scope stop the rifle comes with. That’s a belt-and-braces approach that just might solve the scope-walking issue forever.