Monthly Archives: August 2007
This TechForce® 97 is provided to us by www.Compasseco.com. Compasseco, is the primary importer of the TechForce® line of air rifles and they have worked very hard to bring high quality, cost effective air rifles to the market. The TechForce® 97 is a good example of their efforts.
The TechForce® 97 is an under lever cocking spring air rifle that retails for about $99. There are several things that make this rifle unique. First of all, it is NOT a break barrel rifle, but rather has a fixed barrel, ensuring many years of accurate shooting. Most under lever cocking air rifles start at $199 and go up from there. What also makes this rifle unique is its 12 lb cocking effort. This would be a perfect rifle for the young shooter. It is reasonably accurate and you can shoot it all day long and not get fatigued. Weighing in at about 7 lbs you won’t get tired if you decide to take it with you for some light hunting.
TechForce® 97 Left Side View
TechForce® 97 Right Side View
The stock and finish on the 97 are very nice for a rifle in this price range. They are definitely not up to the same quality as a BAM B26, but the B26 is about twice the price. It is important to keep things in perspective when looking at rifles in this price range. Your expectations need to match the product. With that said, the more I shot this little rifle, the more I really liked it.
The TechForce® 97 is touted as a “sporting” rifle and NOT a “target” rifle. You need to keep this in mind when buying this air gun. If you want to put 5 shots in the same hole, this is not the rifle for you. If you want to take a squirrel out of a tree at 45 feet, now we’re talking. You’ll see what I mean when we get to the shooting part of this review.
The 97 comes with a set of open sights. They are not the nicest I’ve seen, but certainly not the worst. I do wish they were fiber optic. I’m not sure how much more that would add to the cost, but I think it would be worth it and make it a whole lot easier to shoot, and increase the open sight accuracy.
Hooded Front Sight
Click Adjustable Rear Sight
While I did take some time and shoot some open sight groups, see below, for this review I mounted my BSA 4×32 AO scope. I really like this scope for 10 to 15 yards. I setup to shoot from about 13 yards for this review. The 97 has a built-in scope stop which is really nice. Mounting the scope was straight forward and easy, just like it should be.
To cock the 97, you only need to grab the under lever and pull it down. You’ll notice immediately just how easy this gun is to cock. What a dream. Once the lever is all the way down and you hear the “click” telling you that the sear has engaged, you’ll need to master the levers in the trigger guard, (reminds me of “three sea shells” in the movie Demolition Man). The lever in the rear is the release that allows you to return the cocking lever. Sometimes you’ll need to give a little down pressure to get the lever to release, but you’ll get the hang of it. The front lever is the automatic safety that resets every time you cock the rifle. The middle lever is of course the trigger. Back to the “sporting” adjective used to describe this rifle. Don’t expect much from this trigger. It is VERY hard to pull and makes highly accurate shooting impossible. That is not to say that you can’t get used to it, I did after several sessions of shooting.
The three levers from left to right:
anti-bear trap release, trigger, automatic safety.
Once you’ve got the rifle cocked, you need to load a pellet into the loading port. The opening is fairly large and I don’t imagine that someone would have a problem loading a pellet unless they had really big fingers. While shooting a variety of pellets, many did not want to fit securely into the breach. You need to make sure that the pellet STAYS in the breach before you close the lever or you may jam the mechanism. Once the gun is loaded and the cocking lever is back in position, you are ready to shoot. And shoot I did. I tried about 12 different types of pellets to finally land on the RWS Hobby pellet as the pellet of choice for this rifle. Here is how they performed.
RWS Hobby Pellet, .177, 7.0gn
High – 538, Low – 515, Average – 522, Difference - 23 FPS
On www.compasseco.com the TechForce® 97 is rated at 900 FPS in .177. Obviously this particular 97 has a problem or the gun’s velocity is grossly over estimated. I’ll be sure to follow up with Compasseco and get back with everyone to see if our test rifle is “normal” or if we got a dud.
As far as accurcy goes, the TechForce® 97 is not a bad shooting little gun. As you can see below, the open sight group is really not bad and things improved once I mounted the scope.
RWS Hobby pellets from 13 yards, open sights
RWS Hobby Pellets from 13 yards, 4×32 AO Scope
Ok, so the TechForce® 97, at least ours, did not measure up to the 900 FPS, but it did shoot reasonably well and was fairly easy to shoot. The only “real” complaint was the trigger. It should be easier to pull. Given that our rifle only shot just over 500 FPS, I would not recommend this rifle for hunting. I believe you’d wind up wounding your game rather than achieving a clean, one shot kill. However, if our rifle was the exception rather than the rule, and the average 97 generates near 800 FPS, then it would make a very decent light hunting rifle.
At $99, the TechForce® 97 is a great option for the young shooter and the casual plinker alike.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this review. Our next review will be on the BAM B50 PCP rifle in .22. I’m very excited to be able to bring this review to you all. The review on the BAM B26 in .177 will be coming soon and will be written by a good friend of mine. Actually, he was the one that got me started with adult air rifles. While shooting this past Friday, he up and left with my B26 he liked it so much. Later that day he called to tell me that he was shooting nickel sized groups from 20 yards with open sights, and generating over 950 FPS! I can’t wait to read his complete review. Maybe we can get him to keep writing! And waiting in the wings we still have the B40 in .177 and a couple of pistols as well so Stay Tuned!
This review is actually two reviews in one, spotlighting the BAM B40 and the Nikko Stirling Gold Crown 4x12x50 AO, MD, IR, Tactical Scope (Boy, that’s a mouthful!). Once again we want to thank the folks at www.AirgunDepot.com for providing both the rifle and the scope for us to test. I liked the combination of the B40 and the NSGC scope so much that I bought both of them.
Since we’ve spent so much time on the Xisico line lately I’ll skip some of the overly detailed descriptions and just jump right to the important stuff. The B40 is a clone of the venerable English made Air Arms TX200. While the Air Arms retails for about $550, the B40 comes in at about $290. That’s a huge savings!
BAM B40 Left Side View
BAM B40 Right Side View
The B40 sits near the top of the BAM line, second only to the BAM B50 and B51. The B40 is a big, heavy, under lever cocking rifle that can drive pellets to target at some of the most extreme distances. I’m talking hitting eggs at 60+ yards. The B40 does not come with any open sights, so you’ll have to pick up a scope. Because of the power and accuracy, you’ll want to get a minimum of a 12x scope with Mil-Dot Reticule. That is where the Nikko Stirling Gold Crown comes into play. While you may be able to get a less expensive scope, the NSGC is worth the $120.00 price tag and it includes an Accushot Single Piece mount with stop pin. A nice note about the Accushot mount is that they include a few extra parts just in case you drop a screw while making adjustments. With the scope mounted on the B40, the rifle weighs in at about 11 to 12 lbs. This is a very heavy rifle and I don’t know that you’ll want to carry it in the woods all day.
Highly contoured grip for comfortable shooting.
Adjustable, all metal, trigger and trigger guard.
Some of the other features include a beautiful Monte-Carlo Stock, highly contoured and very comfortable grip, and a wonderful trigger system. There is a long 11mm dovetail area for you to mount the scope. The NSGC scope is a great scope for this rifle. At this point I’ll take a little time and talk about the scope in detail. AirgunDepot is the exclusive distributor of the Nikko Tactical Scope, so after you read this and want one, just click this link and pick one up. You won’t be sorry!
The Nikko Stirling Gold Crown Scope sports a 4×12 magnification, a 50mm Adjustable Objective, 30mm single piece tube, and a mil-dot illuminated reticule all in a lightweight package. Don’t let the fact that the scope is light fool you into thinking that it isn’t rugged. I’m not pleased to say that I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises with my B40 and both the rifle and scope have taken them all without a hitch. It shoots just as true today as it did the day I first sighted it in.
Nikko Stirling Gold Crown Tactical Scope, 4x12x50 AO, MD, IR
The only other “nice” scope that I’ve ever used was a Leapers 3x9x40 AO scope that I picked up for $100 at my local gun shop. While the Leapers is a very nice scope, having the extra magnification is helpful for those long shots, or when you want to get that last 1/8 inch of accuracy shooting up close. The only down side, if it is one, is when you are zoomed in close, you get to see just how badly you shake.
Having the 50mm objective was another first for me. The clarity and brightness is hard to describe. While I seldom if ever use the Illuminated Reticule, when it is getting dark and I want to get those last few shots in, it really helps. While we are on the topic of reticules, the NSGC scope has a mil-dot reticule that makes stretching out those long shots a lot more accurate. It also is a big help when switching between pellets. While on the range today, I shot 4 groups with different pellets. Each pellet grouped reasonably well, but each landed in a different location on the target. They varied from 1/5 to 3/4 inches from the bulls-eye. Each pellet I shot served a purpose, i.e. field point, hollow point, domed, etc., and had I been out in the field hunting game, I could have easily adjusted to have any pellet land on target. You just can’t do that accurately without the mil-dot option.
When sighting it in for the first time, it only took a few shots to get dead on. Once on target, it has stayed dead on even thought the rifle has fallen over, and been dropped (really hate to admit that!). I’m very happy with it and I’m sure you will be too.
Now getting back onto the subject of the BAM B40. We’ve looked it over, mounted our nice Nikko Tactical Scope and we are ready to put some pellets through this beast. The B40 is a spring piston rifle that uses an under lever cocking mechanism. It takes a good bit of strength, my guess using my cheap scale is about 45 lbs, to cock this rifle so don’t hand this to a youngster unless he or she plays defensive line for the Carolina Panthers. Ok, so it is not that bad, but because the lever could easily slip out of your hand, you need to make sure that whoever is using this rifle can handle it. Once the lever reaches a certain point, the anti bear-trap lock comes into play. Take a look at the following photos.
Anti Bear-Trap stops and release lever
Fully cocked and ready to load
As you reach the end of the cocking stroke, you will hear and feel a distinct “click” as the sear engages the spring. Now you can safely load the pellet. It is always a good idea to keep one hand on the cocking lever while loading. Once you’ve inserted the pellet, you’ll need two hands to return the lever to the resting position. I use my left hand to release the locking clamp and my right hand to return the lever. This rifle also has an automatic safety that resets when you cock it.
Ok, now we are loaded and ready to shoot. I’ve been shooting this rifle for a while and the good news is that it is not very hold sensitive. I’ve used it on an MTM Shooting Rest, from the shoulder, over a chair, and the point of impact stays about the same. I’ve gotten the best results using the MTM Shooting Rest.
Before I show you the groups, let’s talk about pellets and how this rifle performs. The RWS line of “Super” pellets all work reasonably well, with the Super Points standing out above the rest. However, the real performers were the RWS Meisterkugeln producing excellent groups.
High – 740, Low – 736, Average – 737, Difference - 4
(3 shots came up as duplicate shots meaning my Chronograph saw them as identical)
RWS Super Point
High – 726, Low – 723, Average – 724, Difference - 3
When you are looking at those velocities, notice just how close they are. This rifle has a very consistent power plant, the best I’ve tested yet. Now take a look at the groups! All of these were shot from 20 yards, using my MTM Shooting rest.
RWS Meisterkugeln Pellets shot from 20 yards
RWS Super Point Pellets shot from 20 yards
For some reason I was shooting a bit to the left today. Today was not my best shooting day for some reason, so I’m not going to blame the gun or the scope. It was definitely me. While on the range I shot many good groups from across many different types of pellets. So with the B40 you have your pick of pellets to use for your intended purpose, i.e. hunting, target, etc.
Now for the summary… Its no secret that I really like the B40 rifle. It shoots very accurately and does it with very little noise or recoil. While this is a heavy rifle, the weight makes it easy to shoot. I can’t imagine dragging this rifle through the woods all day, but shooting off my back porch or on the range, is definitely a good time. While the price tag may put it out of reach for some, in my opinion it is worth the money. There are many vendors that carry the B40 starting with www.compasseco.com, www.pyramidair.com, and I believe www.airgundepot.com will be carrying them soon. Prices will range between on-line stores, but remember price is not the only factor to consider. Make sure whoever you purchase from will stand behind the products they sell.
That’s it for now. Our next review will be on the TechForce® 97 followed by the B26 and B40 in .177. Then I’m going to try and get some pistols for testing. So Stay Tuned!
Editor / Owner www.AirGunWeb.com
Copyright 2007, Dog River Design, LLC – All Rights Reserved.
This article stems from a request from the folks over at www.AirgunDepot.com. They asked me to take a look at 8 different Xisico air guns and report on their overall quality, accuracy, and reliability. The Xisico article can be read in full here: Xisico Air Guns – General Review. What I found is that, like every other manufacturer, Xisico has several “layers” of products all in different price categories. Their inexpensive products are just that, inexpensive products. But when you reach the B26 on the way up the price scale, things change immediately.
In our set of products, the B26 came right after the B12 (see overview article for more information). The difference between these two guns is dramatic and the quality continues up the line from there. The B26 is a copy of the Beeman R9 break barrel rifle that sells for about $395.00 without a scope. Not having an R9 to compare the B26 to side by side, I can only make very general comparisons. The B26 on the other hand retails for about $189, although I’ve seen it as low as $140.
When I first opened all the rifles that came in for the Xisico review, I immediately gravitated to the B26 over all the others. It looked refined and precision crafted. The wood stock was very nicely stained and the steel was evenly blued. It was very lightweight and with the TruGlo sights was begging for some immediate shooting. Right out of the box the B26 performed well. With open sights at 15 yards, it held a respectable .75″ group. From what I understand the B26 is a sporting rifle and not a target rifle. Its size and weight make it perfect for hunting in close quarters and its easy cocking effort make it a great choice for younger shooters.
Our first B26 had a little problem with the trigger adjustment and the safety. You can read about the experience here: A Quick Note About Safety. After talking with Xisico they assured me that this was not the norm and I sent this rifle back to them to review. A few days later the replacement B26 arrived complete with a Xisico 3x9x40 AO scope and one piece mount. This gun looked just as good as the first one and better yet, the trigger and safety worked correctly. It is important to note that EVERY manufacturer will have something now and then come off the line with issues. It is YOUR responsibility to treat every gun like it is defective until you have fully proven that it is not. And even then it is better to be safe than sorry. Don’t trust safeties, always assume the gun is loaded and ready to fire, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, keep it pointed in a safe direction.
Our tests of the B26 started over our trip to Vermont. While I was shooting the B40, Contender 89, and other rifles, my 13 year old niece took to shooting the B26. Surprisingly, she was able to cock the gun on her own and spent the whole day shooting targets from 10 yards to 50 yards. This was her first time shooting anything and she had a real blast. It was hard to get it from her so I could do this review! While this is an adult air rifle, because it it light and relatively easy to cock, it would make a great starter rifle for the young shooter. It shoots fast and accurate, with minimum problems with recoil and hold sensitivity.
Now that the basics are done, lets take a closer look at the B26. The wood is a lighter color, which I like, and the metal is a deep dark blue. This rifle is in the mid to full size category measuring 43″ and weighing in at 7.3 pounds.
Xisico (BAM) B26 Rifle on MTM shooting rest
Xisico (BAM) B26 Rifle on MTM shooting rest
The rifle ships with a very nice set of open sights that sport bright TruGlo inserts. Because of the size and weight, this rifle screams to be used in the woods. My preference is to use the rifle WITHOUT a scope because the sights are really nice and very accurate. They are micro-click adjustable so getting on target is a real snap.
Rear sight – Xisico (BAM) B26 Rifle
Front sight – Xisico (BAM) B26 Rifle
Although I really like the simplicity of the open sights, for the accuracy part of this review, we have the Xisico 3x9x40 scope and one piece mount. The mount has a stop pin that lines up with a hole in the top of the rifle. If you are going to mount a scope, you need to either get a scope stop, or a set of mounts that has a stop pin. If you don’t, the scope will slowly work its way off the back of your rifle due to the recoil.
Xisico 3x9x40 AO scope
The Xisico scope is a decent scope with a mil-dot reticule. I have fallen in love with mil-dot scopes. A rifle like this is perfect for one. In .22 the bullet will tend to drop faster than .177, but I’ve found that even at range they tend to be very accurate. Having a mil-dot scope will help you with “hold over” so that you can be more precise at longer ranges. While this is a decent scope, it is not quite as nice as my Leapers 3x9x40, and I found the eye relief to be unforgiving. You have to be in JUST the right spot to get a clear picture. Once acquired, the picture is bright and clear and the AO works very well. The “easy adjust knobs” round out the nice features and make quick adjustment easy. All in all, this scope is a good match for this rifle.
The final aspect that I want to spotlight, and my favorite part of this rifle, is the trigger. As mentioned above, the B26 is a copy of the Beeman R9 and that includes the famous Rekord Trigger. Many entry level products skimp on this very important part of the gun. As I stated in the GRT-III trigger review, I’d rather them keep the mediocre scope, they often bundle, and build a rifle with a good trigger system. Anyway, I think Xisico must have read my mind as they let you get the optics of your choice while providing the best possible platform in this price range. This is an all metal trigger and trigger guard adding to the overall quality of this rifle. The adjustment screw at the rear is all you need to adjust this trigger to your liking. It breaks very clean and completes this rifle nicely.
Now let’s talk about what is really important in a gun. While looks are important, looks aren’t going to clear those pests out of your garden. Fortunately, the B26 does not disappoint! In general the B26 is a very nice shooting rifle. Since it is a springer, and is kind of light, it does take some technique to get the most from this rifle. Be patient and practice, you will learn to love this gun. From the start, I got decent groups, in the 3/4″ range with open sights at 15 yards. Once I added a scope things got better. The trigger takes some getting used to. Not because it is not a nice trigger, I’ve just gotten so used to really awful triggers, that shooting something with a light, predictable pull took some time!
Before we talk accuracy, let’s talk velocity and pellet choice. The B26 likes the RWS line of pellets pretty well, but REALLY likes the Crosman Premier Hollow Points. I got decent results with the RWS Super line of pellets, but the RWS Meisterkugeln Wadcutters were the best RWS pellets.
RWS Miesterkugeln Wadcutters
High – 685, Low – 679, Average – 681, Difference - 6
Crosman Premier Hollow Points
High – 678, Low -674, Average – 675, Difference - 4
RWS Superdome Pellets
High – 671, Low – 665, Average 668, Difference – 6
As you can see, the power plant is very consistent.
For the following groups, we did all our shooting from the rest at 20 yards.
RWS Miesterkugeln Wadcutters, 20 yards
Crosman Premier Hollow Points, 20 yards
This next group was shot while in Vermont from a rest at 30 yards using RWS Superdome pellets. Now that I know more about this rifle, I believe that I could get a better 30 yard group, but wanted to include this one so that you can see that at 30 yards, the groups did not open up much.
RWS Superdomes shot from 30 yards
I know this has been a lengthy review and I’m going to wrap things up. The B26 retails for anywhere from $140 to $190 on-line. When you add a decent scope, you can plan on your final cost to be between $200 and $260. I have seen one vendor selling a B26 with 3x9x40 AO scope for only $179, but I’ve not had any dealings with them so I’d rather not point people their direction at this time. I can say that www.compasseco.com currently carries the B26 and www.airgundepot.com should be carrying them soon. I believe Pyramid Air also carries certain of the BAM product line. The bottom line is that the B26 is just a really nice rifle and if you can find one with a scope for around $220 you’ll be very happy you did. The .22 version is a great rifle for everyday use and for clearing pests. While it may take some time to get used to the recoil, it is much easier to deal with than many other rifles that I’ve tested.
We’ll be looking at the B40 in .22 next. And coming soon, we’ve got both the B26 and B40 in .177, along with samples of Xisico pellet, not to mention the TechForce® 97. We’ve got a lot more to come so Stay Tuned!