Monthly Archives: January 2008
Well, I know it has been a bit since my last review, but between the weather, being sick, oh yeah… did I mention the weather! South Carolina has basically been in a drought, until I needed to write about this rifle. Anyway, enough of my complaining, let’s get to the next review.
A while back I was thinking about other products that may be worth taking a look at. I know I like the magnum .22 springers and other hard hitting rifles, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. So I contacted Crosman and Daisy about getting some lower velocity sample products suitable for indoor or neighborhood backyard shooting. The first rifle we are going to take a look at is Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953.
The PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is a single stroke pneumatic rifle, that on paper, boasts up to 560 FPS. Daisy’s site says that it is great for paper targets, beginning competitive shooting, and even has its uses in the woods. We’ll see about all of this as we get through the review.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 left side
The PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is manufactured from composite and metal parts and has a precision 1:15 high-grade steel rifle barrel. The overall fit and finish of this rifle is quite nice and it is light enough and cocks easy enough for just about any age group, 12 and up with proper supervision.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 right side
The rifle feels very solid and has just the right weight and balance for my taste. I believe the front weight on the rifle actually plays a roll in this and is not just there for show. The grip is very different from most rifles in that it is nearly perpendicular to the line of the rifle. Most grips are angled at least a little. While this was different, it felt very natural and may have even helped with trigger control. I’ve tested one other CO2 competition rifle and the stock had the same sort of grip angle. There must be a reason, I just don’t know what it is! (I’ll try and find out)
There are many different versions of the PowerLine® TargetPro 953. You can get the bare rifle without sights, tru-glo sights, or the precision Diopter competition sights. The rifle has the standard groves on the receiver so that you can mount any 3/8” or 11mm air rifle scope. Our test model came with both tru-glo sights and the competition sights (Thanks Daisy!). For this first article, I’m only using the competition sights.
The front sight is a globe site that allows for interchangeable front sight inserts. The rear site mounts directly on the dovetail and is a Diopter peep sight with fine micro-click adjustments for windage and elevation. I’ve tested a few rifles now that use the Diopter sight system, and I’m starting to get used to it. The front sight is a circle rather than a post, which I found odd until I started shooting at my Gamo targets. The black circle is perfectly lined up inside the circle of the front sight at 10 yards. This made sighting and shooting the 953 super simple. If you wanted to shoot other targets besides paper, I’d suggest using the tru-glo sights or getting a different insert for the front sight, as the “circle sight” consumes too much of the overall sight picture for my taste. Anyway, for paper targets, which is all I am planning to shoot, the sights are perfect.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 front sight
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 rear sight
As I mentioned above, the PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is a single stroke pneumatic, which means that you have to cock the rifle each time you want to fire a pellet. To load a pellet, you simple pull back the bolt and load a pellet into the rubber valley and close the bolt. The pin on the front of the bolt will easily align the pellet and send it into the breach. The 953 does come with a 5 shot “indexing” clip which is supposed to automatically advance to the next pellet each time you pull back the bolt. The included “clip” did not work past pellet #3 and the pellets wanted to fall out while waiting in line, so I just decided to use the one-at-a-time insert.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 with cocking arm open
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 with bolt back waiting for a pellet
Wrapping up the basic look and function, we turn to the trigger and safety. The trigger is plastic with ridges, which gives it a “non-slip” feel. The safety is a manual cross bolt safety, which can easily be applied and released as necessary. Overall this is a very nice looking and feeling rifle. Now, how does it perform? We’ll get to that right now.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 trigger and safety
Before I start throwing numbers out, let’s look at the intended use for this rifle. Its main purpose is to be a beginning competitive shooting training rifle. It is not meant to hunt squirrels, possums, or rabbits. Although Daisy claims a max 560 FPS on their site, our rifle barely shot over 400 FPS throughout the entire test. In fact, when you look at the target, you’ll see that even at 10 yards it could not cut clean circles in my Gamo target cards. The only thing that might have affected the performance is the weather. It has been cold. In fact the shooting session for this report took place at just over 40 degrees. I’m not sure if that makes a difference in a single pump air rifle or not, but I wanted to mention it. Once the weather warms up, I’m going to shoot some more. If things change, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
While the velocity was disappointing, at least to me, the accuracy was astounding from day one. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about how the gun fires, then we’ll get to the accuracy. Firing the 953 is a dream. Because it is a pneumatic rifle, there is no recoil to speak of. The trigger is light and crisp, what you’d expect in a target gun. There is very little travel, no creeping, and it breaks just right every time. Having a light predictable trigger is a real must in a target gun, no matter what the price tag. The one technique I did not expect to need is patience. Let me explain. I’m used to shooting rifles that send the pellet out at 800+ FPS. By the time I’m done pulling the trigger, the lead is hitting the target and I’m getting ready for my next shot. Many times I found myself pulling the rifle off the rest getting ready to load the next pellet just to notice that I’d moved too quickly and ruined the shot. Once I learned to let each shot fully play out by pausing after pulling the trigger and allowing the pellet to compete its trip to the target, the 953 shot 10s all day long. I believe this is called follow through, and as much as I shoot springers, I should be doing this anyway!
Ok, so we’ve got the technique down, now we have to find the right pellet. Finding the right pellet was easy. Just about any wadcutter pellet shot well in the 953. In fact it was hard to find a pellet that did not shoot reasonably well in the 953. Obviously there were those that shot better than others but the best, however, was surprising, at least to me. The Gamo Match wadcutter topped the list as my pellet of choice. It shot better than anything else I had to shoot including Crosman Premier Wadcutters, Daisy Avanti Pellets, RWS Hobby Pellets, and many others. The velocity was not great, but it was one of the fastest I was able to post with the 953.
Gamo Match Wadcutter
High – 408, Low – 381, Average – 394, Difference – 27
Now on to accuracy, as I mentioned above, from day one the 953 was accurate. 3/8” groups shot from a rest with open sights were the norm. Given that my eyesight is not great, that says a lot for this little rifle. The combination of no recoil, decent trigger, and wonderful sights come together to make one accurate shooting rifle. I’d like to take all the credit for my shooting skills, but I’d be really misleading you all. The 953 is very easy to shoot. I had the opportunity to teach a friend of mine, who had never shot anything, how to shoot using the 953. Within about an hour, he was shooting 1/5” groups and is now hooked on shooting air guns.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 – accuracy test from 10 yards with competition sights
To wrap this up, at $118 with standard sights and just a bit more for the competition sights, the 953 definitely lives up to 90% of what I expected. I was hoping for more velocity and maybe with warmer weather, I might get it. This really is the perfect choice if you want to encourage your youngster to consider competitive shooting. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, it will just take practice. One thing I forgot to mention. The 953 is very quiet. I can’t imagine it ever generating any complaint calls no matter how close your neighbors live. If you like shooting indoors or if you want to really hone your 10 meter shooting skills on the cheap, defiantly look at the PowerLine® TargetPro 953.
Hello again. It is nice to be writing again. With the holidays, being out of town, and visiting with family, there was very little time for writing product reviews. But I’m back in the saddle again!
This review is long overdue and I’m very glad to finally get it off my plate. We are going to take a look at the TechForce® 99 Premier, under lever cocking rifle in .177. When I first got this rifle in and out of the box, I just had to step back and admire its looks. The stock is a dark brown with nice checkering. The weight lets you know that you’ve really got something in your hands. The TechForce® 99 Premier is a full size, high powered adult air gun. Do not get this for a youngster.
TechForce® 99 Premier right side
TechForce® 99 Premier left side
Let’s take some time and look at the details. First thing to mention is that this is basically a “biggie” sized version of the TechForce® 97 that we’ve looked at a couple of times. Just imagine everything bigger. Everything works exactly the same, from the front sight to the triple triggers. Starting with the front sight, you’ll notice that it is has the ability to use interchangeable sights. It ships with a standard post front sight. The rear sight is fully adjustable via “micro-click” adjustments. While these sights are adequate, I found them a little stale for a gun in this price range. Putting some nicer fiber-optic sights on this would have suited me much better. However, knowing that I’m going to install a scope anyway, just makes the sights a moot point.
TechForce® 99 Premier front sight
TechForce® 99 Premier rear sight
The TechForce® 99 Premier cocks using an under lever cocking arm. The force required to cock this rifle is considerably more than what the TechForce® 97 requires. If you shoot a lot, you may be able to skip that trip to the gym. Once you cock the rifle, the loading port is exposed and you can now load your pellet. We tried a lot of different types of pellets and I’ll share what I discovered a little later in this article.
TechForce® 99 Premier underlever fully cocked
TechForce® 99 Premier loading port
Once you loaded your pellet you use the three trigger system to complete the loading and firing of the rifle. The last “trigger” is used to release the cocking arm so that you can return it to the ready position. The front trigger manages the automatic safety, and the middle trigger is the actual trigger that fires the gun.
TechForce® 99 Premier trigger and safety systems
Now that we’ve taken a look at the TechForce® 99 Premier’s looks, features and operation, let’s get down to the good stuff and talk about how this heavy hitter shoots. Because the gun is so big and heavy, it is relatively easy to manage the recoil from the heavy duty spring power plant. As I mentioned above, it takes a little muscle to cock this rifle, but most adults should not have any problems with it. The trigger on this particular rifle was fair but not as nice as the trigger on the TechForce® 97 that I recently tested. I’m guessing triggers vary from rifle to rifle. The trigger made longer shots that much more difficult, but with practice, I did get used to it.
At first the rifle was generating velocities in the 1000 FPS range, but that soon settled down to middle to middle high 800’s with TechForce® Pellets. (RWS Hobby pellets produced the highest velocities, 971 FPS, but did not group well.) The specs say that the .177 should be shooting in the 1100 FPS range. Frankly, I was hoping for high 900’s from this rifle, but in the end middle to middle high 800’s were the norm.
RWS Hobby Pellets:
High – 971, Low – 962, Average – 966, Difference – 9
High – 885, Low – 878, Average – 881, Difference – 7
JSB Diablo Exact Pellets:
High – 865, Low – 853, Average – 861, Difference – 12
Once I mounted the scope and began shooting, I ran into my first real problem. I could not get the scope to sight in correctly. Everything was shooting really low. Because I did not have any adjustable mounts, I had to improvise by shimming the rear of the scope so that I could get it basically on target.
Shooting up close the TechForce® 99 produced some really tight groups as shown below and I found that the TechForce® Pellets produced the best groups at 10 yards. As I started to back up, however, that changed dramatically. I noticed that at 27 yards the pellets were hitting the paper sideways. This is not good and basically means that they are loosing stability while in flight. At 10 yards they hit tight and cut nice, clean circles, but at 27 yards, they were grouping at 8+ inches. So the search began to find the right pellet for long range shooting.
TechForce® Wadcutters at 10 yards. This was the typical group.
When I say that I tried everything… I tried everything! I could not get anything to even come close to grouping beyond 15 to 20 yards, let alone 27, where my final backstop sits. The reason I’m shooting all the way out to 27 yards is because of the velocity of this rifle. You don’t buy a rifle that advertises up to 1100 FPS to shoot at paper targets 10 yards. You get one to hunt game and shoot 20, 30, 40 or even 50+ yards accurately. So I really needed to find the right pellet.
After about two weeks testing everything I could get my grubby little hands on, I found the JSB Diablo Exact pellets to be the right choice. Come to find out, they are the favorite of a lot of folks as their shape and weight help them to be “self stabilizing,” making them extremely accurate in many different types of air guns.
Now armed with my long-range pellet of choice, I was finally able to shoot respectable groups at 27 yards. Most of them fell within quarter sized, or just larger than quarter sized, groups. These are certainly not groups worthy of writing home about, but they are ok. The JSB pellets hold pretty true beyond 27 yards as well. I have a soda can hanging in a tree at 65+ yards and using the JSB pellets I could hit it every time no matter what angle the can presented to me. The pellets hit with such force that they passed through the can and flew into the woods beyond, hitting trees at 80 and 90 yards loud enough for me to hear the impact. At some point I’ll build a target system at 60 or 70 yards so we can really test the accuracy of these big springers, but for now, my soda can will have to do.
JSB Diablo Exact pellets at 27 yards.
JSB Diablo Exact pellets at 27 yards.
So these are my final thoughts on the TechForce® 99 Premier. When I started this review the rifle was selling at $189. I just looked and the price is down to $151 on sale. At $189, I’d really have to say look for another rifle. By the time you add a scope and mounts, you will be way over $200. There are a lot of really nice, accurate, rifles in that price range and less. At $151, however, things get a little murky and it is really a toss up. The TechForce® 99 Premiere may not be the rifle for me. I believe that I get more accuracy, velocity, and fun out of my BAM B26, all in a lighter and smaller package, especially when I’m just using open sights. If the TechForce® 99 Premiere had nicer sights, consistently produced velocities at or around 1000 FPS, and had whatever was causing the pellets to destabilize fixed, it would be one heck of a rifle. I wonder if the .22 version would do better. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to find out for you.
Next we will be looking at the Daisy PowerLine TargePro 953 entry level target rifle with Diopter sights. This is one VERY impressive little rifle so check back!