Weihrauch HW 100 S FSB PCP rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This is the actual rifle I’m testing. Isn’t that wood beautiful?

Before I begin, at the end of this report there is a lengthy Q&A section in which Dr. Mirfee Ungier, wife of Pyramyd Air owner Joshua Ungier, answers a number of questions about protective eyewear and other related shooting issues. Dr. Ungier is a respected ophthalmologist with thousands of successful surgeries to her credit, and she agreed to answer readers’ questions about protective eyewear.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the HW 100 S FSB PCP air rifle I’m testing. Throughout this report, I’ve mentioned how impressed I am with this airgun for various reasons. It has the easiest-loading metal rotary clip in the business. You can see the pellets advance in the clip, and now I know that you can even see them when a scope is mounted. That makes the rifle very easy to manage — like knowing when you’re shooting the last shot. And, then, there’s the trigger! This one is perfect for me. It breaks cleanly at 8 oz. and has a positive two-stage release. I couldn’t ask for more.

The rifle is light, or at least it feels light when you hold it. The scale disagrees, but I can’t get away from the lightness I feel. Also, the stock happens to fit me perfectly. Though that’s a very personal thing, you can’t overlook it when it works out your way.

On the down side, I noted that the rifle recoils about the same as a heavy .22 rimfire rifle shooting standard speed ammo. It’s an unfamiliar feeling to have a smallbore PCP recoil. The shot count that the chronograph said could be as high as 38 shots on a fill actually turned out to be about 25, like I first noted. I will show you the evidence on two of the targets.

For this test, I mounted an older version of the Leapers 8-32x56AO scope that was used in the test of the Crosman Outdoorsman 2250. While it was too much scope for the little carbine, it was a perfect fit on the Weihrauch PCP. And, it allowed me to see the bulls at 50 yards very clearly. It was mounted in two-piece B-Square adjustable scope mounts that are no longer available. I’ll soon be showing you a new adjustable scope mount that may solve your scope adjustment problems, in case you do not already own one of these vintage American-made B-Squares.

On the big HW 100, the Leapers 8-32×56 looks right. It’s mounted in a vintage high B-Square adjustable mount that’s no longer available.

Accurate right from the get-go
I enjoy shooting accurate guns, because they cooperate to produce such wonderful results with so little work. The HW 100 is one of those. Even the sight-in group was impressive enough to show you. I selected the 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Exact Heavy as my sight-in pellet, simply because one owner said he got such good results with it in his .22 rifle.

This is the sight-in group — the first 10 shots made after the scope was mounted. It’s ten 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbos at 50 yards and it measures 0.795 inches between centers. It’s the largest group fired with this pellet.

Then, I settled down and shot a couple more groups with the same pellet. I’d adjusted the point of impact to the exact center of the crosshairs, so on the first group I shot out the aiming point with the first couple shots.

Ten more JSB Exact Jumbos went into this group, which measures 0.667 inches between centers. This is a phenomenal group. After the first couple shots, I had to estimate the location of the center of the bull because it had been shot away.

Learned something important
I tried to shoot a third group of 10 shots, and this is when I learned that the HW 100 doesn’t like to shoot that many shots per fill. At least, it doesn’t if you expect accuracy at 50 yards. Look at the grouping and I will explain.

The first two shots went through the center of the bull. The next two shots are at 5 o’clock on the edge of the black. The rifle is now low on air and the point of impact just shifted as a result. This is part of the proof I mentioned in the beginning of this report that the rifle falls off the performance curve very suddenly.

It occurred to me that I may not have filled the rifle to the exact maximum on the first fill. Taking that into account, I watched the rifle’s manometer as I filled the reservoir the second time, and stopped exactly when it hit the top of the green area, which is an indicated 200 bar or 2,900 psi. But as you will see, the needle is quite fat and a bit imprecise.

The onboard manometer (pressure gauge) is located on the end of the air reservoir, where it can be seen easily during a fill.

On the second round, I learned another important thing. This rifle is slightly overfilled when the needle on the manometer is pointing at the max fill spot. In other words, I should have learned where the right high end point was on my more accurate tank gauge and stopped there, because I’ll show you what happened.

On the next group, the first two shots were in the lower right portion of the bull, then they miraculously jumped back to where they belonged in the center. Even so, this was the tightest group of three shots with the JSB 18.1-grain Exact pellet.

The first two pellets went to the 5 o’clock position, while the other eight went closer to the point of aim. Even with this, the group measures only 0.571 inches between the centers of all 10 shots. It’s the best group of the test. This proves that the rifle needs to be exactly on the power curve to shoot its best. Omitting those two shots and the group shrinks to 0.368 inches. Remembering that most writers only shoot 5-shot groups for the record instead of 10, here are 8 that went well under half an inch!

Now I was on a roll and expected the other pellets to perform equally well. They didn’t though. After reading an owner’s report of the gun, I’d selected the best pellet for the rifle and started the test with it.

Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets were the worst pellets of the four I tested. They grouped 10 shots into a startlingly large 1.907-inch group at the same 50 yards that JSB Jumbos had made a group less than one-third that size. They were a shock and disappointment, but also a reminder of just how sensitive an airgun can be when it comes to ammunition.

This group of Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets was disappointing after the success of the JSB Jumbos. It measures 1.907 inches between centers.

Next, I tried the old favorite 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. At just 14.3 grains, it’s screaming downrange at the ragged edge of accurate velocity, and perhaps just a touch too fast. That’s why they gave a larger group that measured 1.225 inches for 10 shots.

Ten Crosman Premiers went into this group that measures 1.225 inches at 50 yards. It’s not that bad, but we already know this rifle is capable of much better.

The last pellet I tried was the equally brilliant JSB Exact 15-9-grain dome that works so well in a multitude of spring and PCP rifles. I expected great things from it. Alas, it was not to be.

Ten 15.9-grain JSB Exacts went into this group, which measures 1.187 inches between centers. It isn’t as good as I had hoped for this pellet.

Well, the results could not be any clearer. This rifle loves the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo to the exclusion of the other premium pellets I tried. It also develops the greatest power with this pellet, so nothing is lost by using it.

The HW 100 is also very sensitive to its fill pressure. As long as you stay within the boundaries, the rifle is capable of incredible accuracy; stray out on either side, and the pellets will wander.

The bottom line
If I could justify keeping this fine rifle, I would. But that isn’t going to happen. I already own several accurate PCPs, and my gun storage facility can only hold so much. So, we’ll be shipping it back to Pyramyd Air very soon. Whoever wants to own this particular beautiful tackdriver should request serial number 1921933.

Dr. Ungier’s answers
Now, we have some answers about protective eyewear questions and related topics from Dr. Mirfee Ungier.

Q. Is polycarbonate OK for the applications we are talking about (pellets and BB’s)?

A. Polycarbonate is more than OK as a safety glass material. ANSI standards have moved entirely to polycarbonate and away from plastics like CR39 (industrial plastic). It may scratch more easily, but maintains its integrity and protective function the best.

Q. If polycarbonate lenses take an impact, does that mean they’re done and you have to get new ones? I believe that’s what they tell us about bike helmets.

A. Polycarbonate can take impacts without cracking or chipping, but you do have to look at it. Especially rimless ones may chip. If there’s any visible defect, replace them. It is much cheaper than replacing an eye.

Q. What are the long-term effects on a person’s vision from frequent use of rifle scopes?

A. I am not aware of any downside of using scopes. People do all the time. If anyone using a scope notices a problem with their vision, they should, of course, get an eye exam. I think of people who use scopes are quite aware of what they are and are not seeing. When they come to me, they are usually better able to communicate than people who do not use their eyes as much. Using eyes is a good thing.

Q. What adverse effects can class III laser sights have on a person’s vision, and how much (or how little) exposure does it take for damage to occur?

A. I am not aware of a study regarding laser time exposure and damage to the eyes. These may not be at the nastier wavelengths, but all lasers by definition are highly coherent beams that can pack a punch. I use red beam aimers for directing other wavelengths into the eyes for therapeutic reasons, and I still try to avoid the center vision. Short glances into a laser scope will probably not cause harm in the short term, but we never recommend it, and you certainly wouldn’t play with them.

Q. What should we do if the unthinkable happens and someone is struck in the eye? What should we do while transporting the individual to the closest ER? What are the emergency first-aid procedures that we should follow?

A. If a serious eye injury occurs, there is no on-the-spot treatment you can do. In fact, most important is to not press on the eye. It is OK to shield it, but pressure could turn a bad injury into a worse one. Then proceed as quickly as possible to an emergency room in a hospital that is equipped to do eye surgery. Calling ahead to be sure would be great. If you are far off the beaten track, then any emergency facility would be OK. During working hours, you could see if there is an ophthalmologist (I mean ophthalmologist, not optometrist or optician, because we may be talking surgery) in town to examine and expedite treatment. Otherwise, call an optometrist for recommendation for the closest facility.

Q. I was wondering if the age of Tom’s old safety glasses could have contributed to their easy destruction. Do time and sunlight degrade the efficiency of protective safety glasses? For instance, what’s the shortest time period in which you should you trust the material integrity of your glasses and be safe while shooting?

A. Safety glasses scratch, age and degrade. Old ones are better than none, but my optician recommends replacing them at least every 2 years.

Weihrauch HW 100 S FSB PCP rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, I want to let you know that there are two new videos on Airgun Academy:

Episode 25 – Introduction to airgun calibers: Part 1
Episode 26 – Introduction to airgun safety: Part 1

There’s also a new podcast. This is a special one. It’s the interview with Dr. Robert Beeman, founder of Beeman Precision Airguns. Sorry this has taken so long, but Edith processes them and she had a few unavoidable delays getting this ready for publication.

On to today’s blog.

Part 1

This is the actual rifle I’m testing. Isn’t that wood beautiful?

Today, I’ll resume our look at the HW 100S FSB PCP air rifle. For what I am about to do, I apologize: By the end of this section of the report, several of you will want to get this rifle.

This is velocity day and we have two things to test. First, we’ll be testing the velocity of the rifle with three popular brands of .22 caliber pellets. Based on the published energy potential of the rifle (26 foot-pounds), I’ve selected the Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellet for its weight of 21.1 grains. I’ve tested this pellet in other rifles and found it to be just as accurate as the all-lead Kodiak, so I felt this was an appropriate pellet to test. It just barely clears the repeating mechanism, front and rear, so it’s probably at the upper limit of pellet weights for use in this rifle in the repeating mode. If you obtain the optional single-shot adapter, you could load longer, heavier pellets.

The second pellet I chose was the 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Exact Heavy. Not only is this a good pellet in powerful guns, it also got at least one good mention in the customer reviews of this gun.

The third pellet I selected was the venerable 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. I wouldn’t normally select a pellet this light for a rifle rated at 26 foot-pounds, but the Premier is such a well-known pellet that I felt it had to be included. Unfortunately for me that choice cost me dearly, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Loading the circular clip for this rifle is quite easy. A mark on the outside of the clip tells you where you are, plus I was able to see the pellets as they fed into the breech since I haven’t mounted a scope yet. When installed in the gun, the clip rotates clockwise, so you always know to load pellets to the left of the outer mark on the magazine. The clip removes and installs easier than any circular clip I’ve ever used in a PCP rifle. And, the cocking sidelever is equally smooth and easy. I found the HW 100S FSB to be the epitome of a smooth-shooting PCP.

Two 14-round clips come with the rifle. Pellets are loaded from the back of the clip, shown on the right. The indexing line discussed in the report can be seen on the edges of both clips.

Discharge sound
This is not a quiet air rifle! The sound at discharge is approximately the same as a Sheridan Blue Streak or Benjamin 392 on 8 pumps. It really cracks! We must take into account that the rifle is generating more than twice the power of the multi-pumps, but I think the sound will bother those shooters who want perfect quiet from their guns.

The first pellet tested was the Beeman Kodiak Copper-Plated pellet. They averaged 799 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 29.92 foot-pounds, so the advertised 26 foot-pounds is very conservative. The velocity ranged from a low of 789 to a high of 805 f.p.s., for a the total spread was 16 f.p.s. I will be interested to see how accurate this pellet will be, because it really delivers the power.

Next, I tested the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. They’re shorter than the Kodiaks, so they fit the clip much better. They averaged 874 f.p.s., which calculates to a muzzle energy of 30.71 foot-pounds. That is an increase over the heavier Kodiaks! Normally heavier pellets are more efficient in PCPs, but we’ve just encountered an exception. The velocity spread went from 872 to 878 f.p.s., so just six feet per second between the slowest and fastest shot. That’s really amazing.

Normally, I would address the trigger in Part 3, when I test accuracy, but I just couldn’t wait that long. It’s a two-stage pull and releases with just 8 oz. of pressure. This is a TRIGGER! I feel like I’ll be able to do wonderful things with this rifle because of this light, crisp predictable trigger. You can forget about me adjusting it, because it’s perfect right now. In fact, I’ll make a confession about this trigger.

This trigger is so beautiful that it made me do something about my 1886 Ballard trigger. As nice and accurate as the Ballard rifle is, its single-stage trigger releases with 7 lbs., 6 oz. of pressure! That’s simply too much weight for good target accuracy. I’ve contacted the Ballard Arms Company to inquire if they can make and fit a double-set trigger into my rifle without altering the rifle in any way. I want to retain the original trigger in original condition, and I want no original parts to be worked on, but I would like to have a better trigger in that rifle. I had it out at the range last week and the best I could do for 10 shots was just under two inches at 100 yards. I know that a better trigger could shave that considerably.

So, if I end up selling you on this HW 100, please bear in mind that it has already cost me money. I doubt your wife will appreciate my situation, however.

On with the velocity test
The third and final pellet I tested in the rifle was the Crosman Premier. Since the gun fell off the power curve after shot 25, I will not report the average for this pellet. Instead, I’ll show you all ten velocities.


It’s pretty obvious to me that the power fell off after the fifth shot. With the first two strings added in, that makes a total number of 25 shots on the first fill. You could argue that the next few shots are all close enough in velocity that this drop-off doesn’t really matter — and perhaps 30 total shots are possible. Okay, I won’t argue that. But that’s about it for one fill. The manometer needle has dropped to the lowest portion of the green (good) sector, so the reservoir needs to be refilled.

My bad day!
I had just relined my silent pellet trap with fresh duct seal before testing this rifle. The tens of thousands of smashed lead pellets that normally help retard each shot were not present. I also write a daily blog on airguns, and in my safety lectures I often tell my readers that a powerful airgun will shoot through a backstop if you shoot too many shots in the same place.

But I didn’t think it could happen to ME! Certainly not TWICE!

You see, I shot through another silent pellet trap that was made by another airgun dealer and given to me as a gift several years ago. But that trap had no steel plate backing the duct seal. A trap I made myself (using Edith’s best cookie sheet) did. I shot all the way through the new duct seal and through the steel backing plate and into the wall behind the trap!

Take a close look at the string of holes on the right. See the bunch of four near the top of that string? Those were the Premiers that punched through the duct seal in the trap, the steel plate backer, the half-inch plywood behind that and embedded in my office wall.

And that’s what it looks like when a pellet blows through a silent pellet trap! In this photo you can even see the steel plate and the half-inch of plywood that failed to stop the pellet after it penetrated two inches of duct seal.

So, kiddies, do as B.B. says and not as he does. For gosh sakes, a 30 foot-pound PCP is almost like shooting a .22 short — especially at close range. I will now have to resort to the homemade pellet trap that was given to me by Jim Contos earlier this year. It has twice as much steel backer plate inside, plus the container is PVC and not wood. I think it can do the job. It better, because I’m running out of spackle for the walls!

On the other hand — are you impressed? I know I am. This HW 100S FSB is an extremely powerful air rifle to be able to blast through a trap like mine that has stopped long rifle bullets (when it was loaded with spent lead pellets).

Premier velocity revisited
Now that all the fuss is out of the way, I refilled the reservoir and shot another string of Crosman Premiers. They averaged 956 f.p.s., which means they generated a muzzle energy of 29.03 foot-pounds. The rifle is most definitely a 30 foot-pound gun. The spread this time was from 954 to 959 f.p.s., so only five f.p.s. between the two extremes. Continuing to shoot Premiers netted me a total of 38 full-power shots, so the advertised number of 40 seems reasonable. Perhaps the rifle wasn’t quite full on the first fill.

What do I think?
At this point I think I’ve got a tiger by the tail. I think this HW 100S FSB could turn out to be one of the all-time best PCP rifles I’ve ever tested. Yes, it’s expensive, but so are many other rifles it competes with. We’ll have to wait and see on the accuracy, but I’m very impressed at this point.

BSA Scorpion PCP air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Announcement: The blog’s server went down on Thursday, April 21, 2011. It came back online Sunday, April 24. This blog was published early Monday, April 25, and is dated Friday, April 22. Monday’s regular blog will be published in the afternoon of Monday, April 25.

This is a good, long report, so grab your coffee and perhaps another Danish. Today, we’ll learn something about accuracy and group sizes.

I’m testing the accuracy of the .22 caliber BSA Scorpion PCP air rifle, and it’s quite nice! Helping quite a bit was the weather at the range, which was perfect for long-range airgunning, as there wasn’t a breath of wind to be felt. The day was overcast and misting slightly and with every shot you could see vapor at the muzzle when the compressed air emerged.

I scoped the Scorpion with a CenterPoint 8-32x56AO scope that was sharp and clear. Even though I shot at the small 50-foot rimfire bulls like I usually do, they appeared quite large and sharp through the scope. I was easily able to bisect the center ring with the crosshairs.

I had filled my carbon fiber air tank since the velocity test, so I was able to fill the rifle up to its maximum of 232 bar. I couldn’t do that in Part 2 because my tank was below 232 bar, so I’m going to give you a second look at velocity today, with some of the pellets I used for accuracy.

Accuracy first
The gun was not sighted-in because I had just mounted the scope the evening before. Normally, I like to shoot the first few rounds at 10 feet to adjust the scope on target at 20 yards, but today I did something different. I stapled a huge silhouette target to the target frame, then put my targets on that. That way, I had two feet by four feet of paper for the pellet to hit. You could also use a large piece of butcher paper or even cardboard to do the same thing. So long as there are no holes in the paper when you start, just attach your real target to the center of the larger paper and start shooting. For those of you who shoot at public ranges where you cannot put your own target on the range at different distances, this is a handy trick to avoid boresighting.

The first pellet I tried was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet that everyone raves about for powerful PCPs. Since this rifle is capable of almost 40 foot-pounds, it seemed perfect for that pellet.

The first five shots were barely on paper, but they did strike the intended target paper of 11 bulls. Though they all landed in the upper right corner of the paper, I scanned the group to show you how the gun did. Bear in mind that this is only a five-shot group, and it not representative of the true accuracy this rifle can offer, but it’s in the ballpark.

The first five shots from the BSA Scorpion at 50 yards made this 0.175-inch group! Now, that’s a screamer, folks! But look to the upper right of that hole and you’ll see another partial hole. That was shot No. 6. And THAT is the reason that 5-shot groups are not enough. Read the text for the explanation.

Okay, I hope you’re as excited as I am by this first group. All five pellets wanted to go to the same place. I’ve tested accurized Ruger 10-22 target rifles that did not give results as good as this. However, as I indicate in the caption, shot No. 6 landed apart from the group. Since I have a little experience with these high-pressure, powerful BSA rifles, I suspected what was happening. I quit shooting this group and adjusted the scope. Because this rifle is advertised as having 20 powerful shots on a fill, I continued shooting after adjusting the scope.

This is the telling target. There are 10 shots here, but they represent shots number 7 through 17 on the first fill. The same JSB Exact Jumbo 18.1-grain pellet was used. Notice the two definite groups we have. The upper group contains the first six pellets and the lower group the final four. This rifle is losing pressure and changing the point of impact as it does! That is why the sixth shot in the first group was apart from the other five. This whole group measures 1.013 inches but the top group of six measures 0.533 inches.

I’ve seen performance like this before in these 232-bar BSA rifles. They have a large number of shots for the relatively small reservoir on the gun, but the valve cannot perform with stability across the entire fill. You do get 20 powerful shots, but the POI will change slightly as the pressure diminishes. Hunters may not notice it, but it shows up clearly on paper at 50 yards. I decided that with the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet the Scorpion had only five good 50-yard shots on a fresh fill before it started to shift POI. I refilled the rifle and shot another 10-shot group to see if that was correct.

Here’s the proof of what I’m saying. The first five JSB Exact Jumbos stayed in a very tight group, but starting with shot No. 6 the group spread laterally to the right. The last shot went to the far left, so the POI was still shifting. The group measures 1.49 inches between the two widest centers.

What does this mean?
All is not lost, nor has the sky fallen. You have a choice when presented with this type of performance. Either refill the rifle after every five shots and get bragging-sized groups at 50 yards, or accept the 10-shot groups that you do get and continue to shoot this pellet, or find a different pellet.

The weight of the pellet, plus how it fits in the bore, determines the dwell time that the pellet remains in the barrel. For most of that time, the back-pressure of air inside the barrel behind the pellet holds the firing valve open and air escapes. Changing to either a lighter pellet or one that fits looser — or both — will change this relationship and give you different results, as we shall see.

These JSB Jumbos fit the bore so tight that I could feel them pop into the breech as the bolt was closed. So, they’re both heavy and tight.

Next, I tried the Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellet. They weigh the same as the all-lead Kodiaks, and past testing has shown that they’re equally accurate, so let’s see what they did in the Scorpion.

A beautiful nine-shot group! If only that tenth shot wasn’t in the center of the bull. I don’t know which shot it was, but I do know it was not in the first five, nor was it the last shot. Group measures 1.227 inches between centers, with nine shots in 0.537 inches.

Kodiaks weigh 21+ grains; and like the JSB Jumbos, they also popped into the breech. Well, I decided to try it again because that nine-shot group was a good one. So, the rifle was topped off, and I shot the copper Kodiaks a second time.

This 10-shot group shows more spreading than the first one did. Again, I got a flyer through the center of the bull, but this time there were also two that went to the right. Group measures 1.253 inches between centers, and you can see that the first seven are in a tight bunch in the center.

What next?
Well, at this point I reckoned that I had the Scorpion pretty well figured out. Heavy pellets were going to use a lot of air, which resulted in a change of POI in the middle of a 10-shot group attempt, so they were probably not the best pellets to use for what I was doing. However, if you could top off after five shots, then they would be ideal.

I tried one more pellet just to prove my point about the heavy pellet POI shift after five shots. This last one was the 28.4-grain Eun Jin pellet. If ever a pellet was going to hold open a valve, this is the one that would do it.

Well, it doesn’t get much more obvious than this. The first five are in a tight group that then drops to the right. The final three pellets are on the extreme left. The group measures 1.774 inches between extreme centers and is the largest group of the test. No sense shooting another one.

The results were as clear and unambiguous as they could be. The tendency to spread after five shots continued in a most aggressive way. The central group of five measures 0.526 inches between centers. So, shooting the first five shots from a fill is still a viable option, even with this heavy pellet.

Now where do we go?
Isn’t it obvious? If the rifle can’t shoot heavy, tight pellets more than five times on a fill, what will it do with lighter pellets that are loose? Luckily, I happened to have a tin of the old standby 15.8-grain JSB Exacts on hand. They’re the lightest pellet I tested, and they were loose in the bore.

Ten 15.8-grain JSB Exact pellets went into 0.62 inches at 50 yards. This is almost as good as a custom-tuned 10-22 Ruger I tested years ago. This is a good pellet for the Scorpion.

The first target was good, so I shot a second one. It measured so close to the first one that I cannot discern a difference.

A second group of 10 15.8-grain JSB Exacts measures the same as the first one. This is obviously the pellet for this rifle.

I said I would do some more velocity testing for you because I wasn’t able to completely fill the rifle in Part 2 of this report. I’ll test two pellets — the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo heavy and the 15.8-grain JSB Exact. They should show us what the performance curve looks like, and we can extrapolate to other pellets whether they’re heavy and tight-fitting or light and loose.

The 18.1-grain Exact Jumbos averaged 871 f.p.s. for 20 shots, but the spread went from 818 up to 904. Starting with shot No. 6, the velocity fell off on every successive shot. Shot 15 was still going 848 f.p.s., so for hunting purposes that might be your last shot on a fill. But shot five is the last one for a super-tight group at 50 yards. The first five shots averaged 899 f.p.s., with a muzzle energy for just those five of 32.49 foot-pounds.

The 15.8-grain Exacts averaged 891 f.p.s. for 20 shots with a spread from 810 to 947. Every shot except shot five was a decrease from the shot before, and the rifle dropped velocity faster with this pellet than with the heavier one. Velocity alone doesn’t explain why I got such great 10-shot groups, because by shot 10 the rifle had dropped 45 f.p.s., where the heavier pellet lost only 18 f.p.s. Still, the groups don’t lie. This is the more accurate pellet. The first five shots averaged 936 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 30.74 foot-pounds.

I seem to be pushing the 10-shot group a lot for accuracy testing, but today was a perfect example of why it’s better. Yes, this was a very specific situation that you wouldn’t encounter in a spring rifle, but those extra five shots give any gun every chance to express all of its bad traits. A 30-shot group would even be better, but except for extreme product testing or belaboring a point, it’s seldom done. Ten approximates 30 closely enough for most purposes.

Looking at the price of the rifle, it offers a hunter good value in a traditional-looking powerful rifle. The trigger is okay and nothing about the rifle is bothersome, except for the 232-bar fill pressure. The accuracy is stunning, as you have seen. It cracks like a .22 short, so be ready for that. In fact, after I finished the velocity testing, Edith said, “That was loud. What was it?”

I replied, “BSA Polaris.”

But that didn’t sound right, so I thought about it for a second until the name came to me.

“Scorpion!” I shouted a minute later.

“Where!” she answered, running into the room with her shoe off, looking for the arachnid invader.

So, the old girl still has life in her yet.

And, by the way, I can still shoot a rifle, in case anyone asks.

Tech Force 87 underlever – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

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

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.

Problems, problems
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 Kodiaks
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!
RWS Superdomes

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.