by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I wanted to remind you that I’ll be in the hospital today and for the next few days due to surgery. I’d appreciate it if the regular blog readers could help by answering the questions in my absence. Edith will also help answer questions.
You guys have been very good to me this year, which is why I didn’t mind putting in the extra time with this gun. Too much.
In all my years of shooting pellet rifles, I’ve never worked harder to get a good result. The Tech Force 87 underlever has the potential to shoot pellet after pellet through the same hole, but only if you know what you’re doing and you never deviate from the right procedure. If you are a casual deer hunter, better stand inside a barn and be satisfied when you hit one of the walls. But if you can be an anal jedi/ninja sort of guy, you can get this rifle to perform.
Three separate days I shot the rifle. I shot it with so many pellets that I’m just going to list them for the record. I can’t even remember what they all did, because I spent so much time with the one pellet I finally got to shoot well (sort of) that I forget the rest.
The first thing I discovered was that the gun shot low. Okay, there’s a simple solution to that. A BKL drooper mount was installed. At first I selected the BKL one-piece mount with .007 drop compensation and a short clamp base, because there isn’t enough room to clamp the 4-inch BKL mount to the rails with the scope stop mounted. Well, it didn’t work. The mount actually walked forward under recoil! So, off came the TF 87 scope stop and what a surprise — it’s not anchored to anything. In other words, it doesn’t work!
But that cleared enough space to mount the longer BKL one-piece mount with .007 drop compensation. That one has 6 clamping screws and held just fine.
The scope I used was Leapers 3-9×40 mil-dot with red/green reticle. The one I used was an older scope than I’ve linked to, but the specs are the same. The BKL mounts lifted this scope high off the spring tube so a 50mm objective would even be possible. I found this scope to be very bright and clear throughout the whole test.
Then, I turned to shooting and encountered problems. Three pellets would land in the same hole, then two would stray one or two inches away, then another would go through the hole, again. Experience has taught me that this is usually due to technique if the vertical reticle in the scope isn’t adjusted up too high, which, due to the drooper mount, this one was not.
I began experimenting with my shooting technique. By technique, I mean different variations of the artillery hold. Oh, in case you’re wondering, I did try the gun directly on the sandbag, too. Shooting it that way, the pellets didn’t even hit the pellet trap at 25 yards!
By this time, I had two different mounts on the gun and tried about 12 different high-quality pellets. Here’s the list of what I tried:
Air Arms 8.4-grain Diabolo Field domes
Air Arms Falcons Too light! Supersonic!
Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets All over the place!
Beeman Kodiak HP
Beeman Kodiak Match
Crosman Premier heavies
Crosman Premier lites
H&N Rabbit Magnums Off the target!
JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes
JSB Match Exact RS domes Supersonic!
Success, sort of
And then I found a pellet that the rifle likes, more or less. Actually, the rifle really likes the JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome a lot, but you have to use the right technique if you want to get it to shoot. And the right technique is this:
Hold the rifle dead, dead, dead! What that does is ensure a perfect follow-through. Now the regular artillery hold normally accomplishes this for me, but this time it wasn’t enough. Instead, I slid my off hand out as far on the forearm as I could reach and rested the rifle on my palm. Everything about that hold was dead calm. Then, I had to consciously relax with every shot. I’m going to show you exactly what happens when you don’t consciously relax. The following targets will not impress anyone, so please take the time to read the lengthy captions, because they explain what you’re seeing.
These were shot off a rest at 25 yards on a calm day.
This is the target that showed me what this rifle needed! I know it looks terrible, but look at the five shots in the black. They’re not too bad for 25 yards. At nine o’clock in the white are two shots — numbers three and five. With three, I wasn’t fully relaxed. With five, I tried to hold the rifle exactly the same as for shot three. The pellet went through the same hole! The three shots above the black are all when I didn’t relax completely. I figured out enough from this target to shoot a better one.
In this target, I put 6 shots into a good group in the black. But, 4 times I wasn’t as relaxed as I should’ve been. The two shots in the black at 7 o’clock are slight mistakes, and the shot in the white at 10 o’clock is when I rushed the shot because I’d just landed so many in the good group. The final shot I also rushed and got the hole at 12 o’clock in the white.
What’s the verdict?
This rifle is for the careful shooter who will take the time to learn his one rifle and what it likes. I’ve probably only scratched the surface of what can be done with it. However, it’s not a natural shooter that puts them on top of each other like they were radar-guided. The reason for that is the power.
If you remember from Part 2, the TF 87 lives up to its advertised potential. In .22 caliber, it might be a lot easier to shoot well, but in the .177 test gun, most pellets go too fast. You want to be sure to use only the heavier ammunition and use the good stuff. At this point, I’m recommending the JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes.