by B.B. Pelletier
The Tech Force TF99 Premier underlever air rifle is a large, powerful spring gun. This model has evolved a lot over the years.
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Tech Force TF99 Premier underlever air rifle. You’ll remember from Part 1 that I was impressed by the overall finish of this airgun. It’s one of the first Chinese spring guns that has a stock that’s made right. The small features such as the sights and the scope stop on the 11mm dovetail point to quality that wasn’t there on earlier models. The gun has definitely evolved.
I’m all for that, because — in the end — I just want a good airgun. Where it’s made makes no difference, as long as it’s accurate. I do want this large underlever rifle to succeed, and so far it’s looking good.
When you cock the rifle, the anti-beartrap device prevents the sliding compression chamber from moving forward again until the lever to release it is intentionally pulled. The lever is small and the spring tension needed to overcome it is heavy, so this is something you do consciously or not at all. It isn’t going to close accidentally. You’re not going to uncock this rifle without firing it.
Once the rifle is loaded and generally pointing toward the target, you pull back on the automatic safety to release it. Then, the rifle’s ready to fire.
The trigger is single-stage and releases with 5 lbs., 6 ozs. of pressure. It’s surprisingly free from creep, though the heavy release pressure keeps it from being a precision trigger.
The rifle has quite a bit of recoil and definite buzzing when fired. This changes with each type of pellet used, and those that fit loosely buzz the most.
First up is the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. Because the TF99 is a spring gun, it isn’t well-suited to heavier pellets, so we’ll stick with lead pellets in the 7 to 8.5-grain weight range.
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier averaged 956 f.p.s. The spread went from 948 to 965 f.p.s. At that speed, the rifle produces 16.04 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Next, I tried the favorite lighteweight lead pellet — the RWS Hobby. Weighing just seven grains, this pellet has long been the standard for determining an air rifle’s velocity without endangering operation with non-lead pellets that can wear the bore or leave harmful deposits of plastic.
In the TF99, the Hobby pellet averaged 1022 f.p.s. The range of velocities went from a low of 1003 f.p.s. to a high of 1034 f.p.s. That works out to an average 16.24 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Finally, I tried some of the JSB 8.4-grain domes. These pellets fit the TF99 breech very loosely, and that showed in the velocity test. The average was 934 f.p.s., but the range was from 677 to 939 f.p.s. The two slow shots I got were no doubt due to pellet skirts not sealing the bore. The average muzzle energy was 16.28 foot-pounds.
I was able to measure the cocking force of the rifle at 33 lbs. It feels like it wants to be more than that, but the cocking lever goes back an unbelievable amount, thus reducing the effort to a manageable level. The gun also cocks incredibly smooth, as though it has been custom-tuned, which it hasn’t. That was a surprise, especially in light of the buzzy firing cycle.
The rifle is still dieseling on every shot. The detonations are becoming less frequent, and velocities are going to stabilize much closer than they are now once the oil burns off. I didn’t fire the rifle 100 times before velocity testing, so I’ll return and re-test velocity in Part 3, just to see if it’s starting to settle down.
Accuracy is next, and I have a suspicion that we’re in for a surprise.
48 thoughts on “Tech Force TF99 Premier air rifle: Part 2”
Well good morning B.B.,
It’s going to be a sunny day in the College Park/Riverdale part of Maryland without a lot of humidity. Looks like this Tech Force TF 99 Premier has the distinct possibly of being a shooter, judging by the tightness of the high and low velocities you were getting. State tune for the next installment folks.
Looks like it may be pretty consistent with velocity once all that oil burns off.
On the subject of pellet skirts sealing the bore….
I have yet to find a pellet that filled the grooves with the skirt all the way around, except with a detonation. I don’t have one of the megamagnums to try it with. Seldom see any indication that any part of the skirts rubbed in the bottom of the grooves.
This makes me wonder about the “smooth twist barrels”. Word has it that they are a little faster than ordinary barrels because there is no rifling providing friction. But with no rifling, the entire circumference of both the head and skirt are rubbing the bore….there should be more friction. At the same time, since there are no grooves to leak air, the skirt seals better.
I have very limited experience with the newer smooth twist barrels that fx has produced. I’ve also heard the “Word that they are a little faster”. I’ve also read about their supreme accuracy. I spent quite a bit of time with a fx royale 400 that had a smooth twist barrel and was not impressed with the accuracy. Tried everything to get that gun to shoot accurately. Now I think it may have had a burr. You may find this interesting:
Kevin….I saw that one too. I know that the rifling lands tend to extrude lead along the trailing edges of both the head and skirt. How much “bite” that the rifling has can have a lot to do with it. Then there is how tight the pellet fits, and how tight the choke is.
Some barrels extrude quite a bit of lead with some pellets, while other barrels and different pellets extrude very little.
I’m glad Kevin said what he did, because I have zero experience with the smooth twist barrels.
My only observation, thus far is, I want to see some believable results — not the factory hype. That’s more of the snake oil that we discussed in the comments a couple days ago.
But B.B., snakes have smooth twists. 🙂
Sounds like it’s time to test one B.B.!
Haven’t there been some “rifling” types used in firearms that are oval, the barrel is just oval with a twist, and H&K was using a hexagonal rifling in their guns?
Then there’s Marlin’s micro-groove system.
I seem to remember in modern 10-meter rifles the bore is choked down at the last third of its length toward the muzzle for accuracy purposes. (Which may bring velocity down a little but in 10m stuff, accuracy is all.)
From my experience, the Marlin “micro groove” system was one fo the BEST ever! Every one I owned was a tack driver! Had one I could bench rest and shoot primers out of shot gun hulls consistently at 100 yards on a calm day!!
Hard to beat that kind of accuracy. Many 100’s of squirrels bit the dust to that gun! That gun was eventually custom stocked and traded for a truck! Needed transportation and my brother subsequently wanted that gun only in exchange for his truck. Needed transportation bad, and subseqauently traded him and several years later the gun was stolen from him! 🙁
That one was “one of a kind” and I am heart broken it was “the one that got away”!
I’ve got a Marlin bolt action, magazine-fed, forget the model, 925? Black synthetic stock, standard post and leaf sights, decent trigger. I’m not sure about its accuracy since all my shots are really close range, putting down varmints that I trap. But, I had a Marlin 2000 in early 90s, bright blue(!) stock, styled sort of like a biathlon rifle although it wasn’t a Fortner action, that would have been cool. It was cool anyway. Came with a decent set of target sights, and I used to go out with a buddy and plink at stuff, I hate to admit it and I’m nice to all lizards now but … we shot lizards. Pretty long shots and the lizards were pretty cautious, and even with iron sights it was really accurate.
I have to wonder though, if Marlin’s type of rifling is really inherently more accurate, are the high-end target guns, like your Anschutz, Walther, etc., .22s, using a micro-groove type rifling? That’s a question I don’t know the answer to.
As for oval rifling, I remember reading about it in some book about guns when I was a kid. When you’re about 12, it’s *all* fascinating.
As far as I know, Marlin copied Pope’s rifling that worked so well for soft lead bullets. It deformed the bullet bases less and he felt that added to accuracy, which is why he made muzzle-loading rifles that were really breechloaders.
Well, I did some research and ….. Anschutz target .22’s have 8 grooves, Marlin .22’s have 16.
I found a good discussion on micro-groove rifling and Harry Pope here:
BB: I believe that Marlin copied the Ballard style rifling for their barrels before the micro-groove of the .22 RF barrels that started in the 1950’s. Some recent modern versions of the 1894 and 1895 rifles have the Ballard style rifling ,not micro groove. In fact ,they advertise it as such, and it does perform well with cast bullets.
According to period reference souces that I have, it was the better Stevens SS target rifles that actually used the Pope style rifling. Harry Pope’s rifling machines and methods were sold to the Stevens arms company in 1901 , and he oversaw all the work that left the factory . He worked with/for them . No Pope barrels were allowed to leave without his personal inspection. Pope rifling consisted of eight wide grooves , with the corner of each groove rounded to prevent fouling from black powder. The lands were narrow,and averaged 1/5 to 1/6 of groove width. Almost all of his barrels had a left hand gain twist. Some were special ordered with a right hand twist, and reportely, there was no advantage to that. Bullets used in these barrels were made with a base large enough to fill the grooves , and the body of the bullet was the same dia. as the bore.They were also slightly taper bored (choked) and as you say were loaded from the muzzle with the aid of a false muzzle. Pope’s barrels were so good because he took as much as a week to rifle a barrel after boring ,and reaming the blank. According to one source who watched him work, when he pushed the cutter through the bore he didn’t make a chip. Only oily dirt came out. He cut one groove at a time. He was the consumate craftsman who also could really shoot.
BTW: The modern centerfire Marlin rifles I own with what Marlin calls the “Ballard” style rifling have 6 lands and grooves. They shoot cast bullets really well, much better than the micro-groove style for what were essentially black powder cartridges.
You are right about that. I also read one source that said since Pope rifled with a left-hand twist, Microgroove rifles can’t be considered the same, since it is right-hand. That is a bit silly,, since the twist direction makes no difference to the style of rifling, but they style of rifling is, indeed, different.
Yes, as you say the direction of twist didn’t matter, as the devil was in the details. He would give folks what they wanted and experimented . Pope barrels were so renown because of the care he put into rifling them. For instance, he didn’t lap is bores and it would have been an insult to suggest that he did. They were that smooth. Pope also re-bored and re-rifled many other makes of rifles . He re-bored some Ballard rifles to a .33 cal that were originally .32-40 Ballard. When done ,they were still able to use the same Ballard everlasting 32-40 cartridge for firing the bullet.
HK used polygonal rifling in a few models… No sharp edges at all, as I recall — just “wavy” (“2 groove” would be an ellipse rotating as you move down the barrel).
I don’t think my HK91 was in the production batch that had such, however…
Since you’re not very busy…………………..
On PA’s site the Air Arms TX200HC and Air Arms TX200MKII link for the latest buzz takes you to part
1 of the report that B.B. did.
Would be nice if the links took you to part 2 so potential purchasers could read both:
I’ll update them later today…or later this week. Whenever I can catch a breath 🙂
5$ gift card… Too bad the promotion has been suspended.
TEMPORARILY suspended 🙂 It will return.
Any idea when? I’ve been compiling my list of issues and patiently waiting – I’ve almost reached my goal before ordering a few more ‘necessities.’
We’re fixing some of the issues previously reported. You may have to scrap your list because those issues may have been fixed by the time the program is started again.
Let’s see whachya got!
The CP 7.9’s seemed to have decent consistency. I wonder how the heavies might have done. Of course, where it matters the most is in the accuracy tests. Can you please test both the light and heavies in the accuracy tests? Another reason that I’m so curious about the heavies is that they will bring the velocity down to a better range for accuracy, I think. This is a powerful gun, so they might be better. And, yes, I think we will be in for a surprise. I’m still curious as to how this rifle stacks up against it’s more expensive sibling.
Okay, I will test both CP lites and heavies for accuracy. And if the heavies look good on paper I will chrono them in Part 3 when I re-test the other pellets.
Sounds good! Thanks!
I have been using CPH exclusively in my TF99, because they fit the bore tightly and reduce the dieseling. If the intent is too burn off the excess lube quickly, using light pellets would be better in the interim, but I think the heavies do better overall in a rifle of this power. Sometimes a fat slower pellet is better than a fast light pellet, no?
Does your cocking lever have much side to side play? Mine does, and it is probably my biggest sticking point with this rifle. I suppose I need to add some washers somewhere. Then it would be mind-boggling good for the price. How can a rifle this cheap, weigh so much?
I just checked the underlever for sideplay and there is none when the lever is under tension. At rest, yes, it’s sloppy, but the lock holds it securely so you never notice it.
On the subject of stocks, I’m curious about the magical technique of removing dings by ironing them out. I guess the heat is expanding the wood. I’m reminded of a B movie from the 60s called Rat Race where a stressed-out girl is pushed past her breaking point when she can’t open some wooden drawers. Then a guy comes up behind her and gently works them out while explaining that the humidity in their dumpy lodgings has caused the wood to swell (he grabs a few smooches in the process). Anyway, the dynamics of heat must be the same, and it sounds like heat alone will swell the wood of the stock although maybe the damp rags you iron over provide the humidity. Anyway, I love this technique.
Regarding mini-sniping, ice has a lot going for it with its explosive reaction to being hit and because it doesn’t create a mess to clean up, but I’ve always thought that fruit would be interesting too, as many said.
A new accuracy experiment! I have this idea that if one were to shoot a 10 shot string and score each shot, you would get a statistically significant distribution in which the middle shots would be more accurate than the starting and ending shots. Would this distribution approximate a normal curve? I dare not say. 🙂 But I’m guessing the extremes would come at the beginning and the end. The reasons are not far to seek and are mostly psychological. You’re settling in for the first few shots and at the end you’re looking to finish and worried about messing up your group. In addition, the middle shots would be stabilized by your shooting rhythm if there’s anything to that. The point of all this? Those who take 10 minutes between shots like the guys at the shooting range in Hawaii are losing out on some of their best shooting. Anyway, I don’t use scoring targets and just shoot for group, but anyone who does should be able to verify this. It has been more or less implicit in our discussions but there’s nothing like the quantitative verification.
Man, I feel great settling back into my routine with my RWS Hobbys and repaired cardboard box. I notice after my layoff that the flow of information seems to be definitely from airguns to firearms. The latter are fun to shoot with the big bang and the history and culture of certain models and the long range, but you don’t get the nuances of the firing sequence the way you do for an airgun. My airgun shooting definitely improves my firearms shooting and the firearms seem to dull my airgun instincts. On this subject, Wayne and other field target shooters, could it be that after reading the wind for an airgun pellet which is much more sensitive and response than a bullet, reading the wind for a high-powered rifle would be easy? That would be my suspicion.
On the subject of the federal debt, some guy reduced it into the terms of a single household and came up with the following. An income of $55,000 a year that spends $91,500 and therefore, in the course of one year, adds $41,500 to a credit card debt of $366,000. I’d say most airgunners, even with continued impulsive buying, are doing better than that.
Steaming out dents in wood is old hat. Well known to stockmakers/stock repairmen, and furniture restorers. There should be plenty of instruction on it online.
I am an unrepentant airgun sinner. Yet, I never spend money I don’t have to buy airguns. The only debt I have is on my house. Yet the government insists it can spend my money more wisely than I can. Imagine if I could tell my employer that I needed a significant pay raise, because I had been overspending, and I owed alot of money to the guy that lended me money, and was hacking into my computer.
You keep thinking of it as YOUR money. Know how our Congress critters refer to the money that you keep and that is not collected as taxes? Uncollected taxes. Not kidding.
They think of your money as a big pot they can dip into at any time.
I say we should go back to the way Congress was set up 200 years ago: they come in to work for a few days every now and then, solve some urgent defense-related problems and then go back to their full-time (non-political) jobs back home. My guess is that most of them couldn’t find gainful employment because they have no useful skills or talents.
You know in Belgium they went without a gov. for over a year… with no apparent problems!
Google it, it’s funny and sad at the same time…
Only a YEAR? We’ve been three years without one so far.
Greatings from sunny Tenerife (Spain).
I’ve been lurking (again) for quite some time (just didn’t have anything constructive to add) now and thought I’d let myself be known again from my vacation spot. (Gotta love free Wi-Fi spots)
I adore the airguns that have been reviewd in the last couple of months and wish I could afford more of them or that they wern’t illegal according to Dutch laws. (If it looks like a firearm it’s illegal)
Anyway, keep up the good work. (I hope you’ll redo the airforce airgun reviews to your current standards but that’s just me)
It is always good to hear from airgunning friends from abroad. I have learned much from like-minded airgun folks living in places I only wish I could visit.
PS: I never let not having anything constructive to say prevent me from posting. Unlike many places, off-topic comments and questions are welcomed here.
I’m sort of going back to the AirForce guns, because I’m now using them for some advanced testing. I just did a re-test of the Talon SS with a 24-inch .22 caliber barrel.
I titled it “What would B.B. do?” because readers are always asking me what my favorite airguns are. So I decided to show them one and why it is a favorite.
I will use this same gun in another series that starts in Friday.
Had one of these and did not like it! It was very heavy and had a terrible trigger pull. Fact is I believe I have tried every TF model and only one I liked and kept was TF 59! Was a really nice gun and very accurate w/o being too heavy.
You can chaulk it up to being cheap chinese air rifles and therefore no good, but some of my best shooters have been cheap and maybe Chinese. Like my Storm XT for Crosman and Chinese made? $60 and one of the nicest inexpensive guns I have owned at $60 with scope that works nice. And the Crosman Titan GP reman @ $100. Dunno if it is Chinese and don’t care as it is one heck of a nice gun! Including a scope that actually works rather nicely!
So you don’t have to spend a ton of money for some nice guns, but be prepared to send the clunkers back! And make no mistake! Eight of ten will be clunkers!
I guess you missed the part in the last report where I admitted that I shot the couch with the last TF 99 I tested. I’ve been testing this model ever since it was new and this time I hope they got it right.
Me too! I think that model may have been the first one I ever owned that was chinese made. I was under impressed and severely depressed with it. But by now maybe they got it right?
The Chinese manufacturing techniques were simply very crude, to say the least. I have three right now I bought as a “tinkeres special” for $40 plus I think maybe $10 shipping for all three! All three are exactly the same. Nothing to lose there as that is exactly what I want to do with them! And in disassembling them I find crude manufacturing techniques. Barrels are spot welded to the frame! No deburring what so ever of the internals! Sub standard fit and finish.
But the barrels look good, and the build is solid. So with some tlc these may indeed shoot well in the long run! But I have to do what a better made factory gun would have already done. Clean, fit, polish, deburr, and otherwise make the beast into a nice shooting weapon.
I bought em for the experience of working on them. So I am not disappointed.
Had I bought them with the expectations of German made quality, I would have been sorely disappointed. But I like the challenge! I am betting $50 I can turn 2 of them at least into nice shooting guns. With any luck, maybe all there, though on disassemgly I find some broken internal parts on one of them. IF I had a small milling machine/lathe it would be no problem as I could make the parts. And my brother manages a plant that manufactures machines, so he has access to what I need. With luck I will get him to manufacture the parts for me after hours and paying his company for the materials and use of the machinery. It had worked for me in the past, let’s hope it will again.
This will be my first attempt to disassemble and work on air rifles. They are side levers based I think on the T 45 guns! First I had to make a spring compressor. I have done that, it works, and is nothing fancy, but was made with scrap lumber. Not elegant, but it works. And my cost was less than $20, $14 of which was for the C clamp! Sure beats the heck out of spending $125 to $250 on a commercial one!
So to everyone who enjoys air rifles, best of wishes and enjoy the heck out of our hobby!
Is there a reason why you test only the .177 versions of these powerful rifles?
I try to test what sells. And sometimes I test what I’m sent, which is what happened in this case. I was sent five TF rifles to test and this was one of them. At the potential power level of this rifle .22 would be my choice, as well.
Smooth Twist? I’d say FX is a company that does their homework.
This thing seems to be generating a fair bit more power than earlier variants you’ve tested. I’ll be real curious to see where the power is after it settles down. The one you tested in 2006 couldn’t break 900 with Hobbies. But that one also had a lighter cocking effort and (oddly enough) a higher price.
This gun is one of five that was just sent to me when Pyramyd Air bought Compasseco. I forgot that I had tested it back in 2006. That makes four times that I have formally tested the model.
The current rifle is definitely an upgraded gun, so the results should be different.
Sounds like the factory might have changed the spring as well as the seal compared to the original/old 36-2. The cocking effort sounds reasonable for the power yours is generating — the old spring was very stiff and heavily preloaded, to the point where I don’t believe it was adding anything except cocking effort; I would have believed 50 lbs :). It was really a blessing that it broke, in my opinion, as the lighter e3650 with apex seal still produced plenty of power with much less pre-load, and the cocking effort is similar to the one you have, maybe a little less — I didn’t need to produce maximum power for marketing purposes, just adequate power :). I do remember, however, asking you about the whistling Hobby pellets were making in mine before they keyholed the target — from you numbers, it seems possible they really were close to going supersonic! Superdomes are good ones to try also.
I’ll try to remember to add Superdomes to the accuracy test.