Monthly Archives: March 2009
One of the great things about watching a legend perform is that they constantly demonstrate their magic. They’re never and on-again, off-again items. They’re legends because they’re a threat to change the game every moment they’re on the field. Hank Aaron was one of those types of players. A true legend. Well, by comparison, so is this Tech Force Contender-Series TF-89 .22 I’m trying from Compasseco.com. Just as long as you do your part, it’ll hammer a pellet downrange into the same hole time after time. Rick’s already said a few words but he tossed one over to me to see what I think. Here goes…
Just like on a date, you want to make a good first impression. The TF-89 comes across as a high-quality product in appearance. The blueing on the steel parts is dark, consistent, and attractive. The brown stain on the wood stock is evenly applied, and the checking is quite good. It does make the rifle easier to hold, though the reach from the back of the hand grip to the trigger is a stretch. I’ve got big hands and it’s a reach for me to get my finger comfortably on the trigger, which is done in a shiny chrome finish with its own semi-checkered face. The trigger guard is a thick ABS-type plastic, which does look difficult to break, and there’s a thick rubber recoil pad on the end of the Monte Carlo stock. No lying folks, this is one gorgeous piece of work!
The open sights get high marks. I like the front blade, which is made of machined metal and screw-mounted to the barrel-weight/muzzle brake. The ramp in front of the blade is grooved with fine lines to kill glare. The rear sight is an all-metal assembly too, with a thumb screw with small click stops for vertical adjustments, and a flat-blade screw, with detents for the horizontal settings. The rear blade is curved, so it won’t reflect light back into your eyes. Rick noted a problem with his rifle’s rear sight nicking the inside of the stock when cocked (the barrel travels a LONG way back). Mine just barely touches the horizontal screw on the stock, and has removed a thin sliver of the finish. It has not managed to change the accuracy any. I handed the rifle to a neighbor, who was a State of California Corrections Officer, and to qualify every ninety days on a rifle with open sights. At twenty yards, in my standard backyard range, from a standing position, he promptly drilled a hole right through the center of a Coca-Cola can. “Oh, that’s right where I was aiming.” he remarked with a bit of surprise. I could have told him that would happen.
It’s a tad on the heavy side, but not horribly so. Anyone used to a hunting rifle wouldn’t find this out of the ordinary. It has a pronounced jolt during firing though. If you don’t have it set firmly against your shoulder and don’t keep a good grip on the trigger area, your groups will open up. When we say “open up” we mean “you’ll miss outside the 5 ring on a 25 foot bullseye, at 20 yards”. With practice, and a good scope, you can sweep the 8, 9, and 10 rings completely clear. I found that this particular rifle loves domed or pointed hunting pellets It’ll pop those one after another, into the same ragged hole. Shoot the end out of a soda can? No problem. Pulp small grapefruit at 20 yards? Sure, why not? It’s a little less accurate with wadcutters at that distance, in that some of the pellets fall ¼” farther away from the others, but they’re all within a 2” circle. The heavier, aerodynamic RWS SuperDomes will probably retain more power at 30 yards and beyond, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test it at that range yet.
The cocking action is smooth and long, and really doesn’t feel as heavy as advertised. I’d thought with the shorter barrel length (17.9”) that it might be difficult to manage, but it’s not. It does provide a good workout though! The trigger effort falls in the medium range; not too stiff, not too light. An adept “hunting trigger” would be a great description. I must note though, if you start moving the trigger into the “second stage” then stop, even though the safety can be reset manually, the sear will not reset on the trigger. It will dangle loosely, with no spring pressure on it at all! The rifle should be re-cocked if you’re going to carry it around after passing on a shot that way. You can feel the second stage start to move before it “snaps” with a crisp break, so the actual release can be appropriately judged. I’ve been trying this rifle against a BAM B26, with the 4-lever “Rekord” trigger clone, and the best I can say is that it’s “different”. I wouldn’t rate either one over the other at this point. The B26 trigger is smooth and light, but doesn’t have a crisp breaking point which means I’m often surprised when it goes off. The TF-89 doesn’t surprise me. I KNOW when I’m about to set it off, and that makes me more accurate. I would like a little less crispness, but as the sear wears some, that issue will improve.
While it’s not immune to typical springer holding issues, I found that, with a Centerpoint 3x9x32mm variable objective scope mounted on an Accushot 4-screw single-piece mount, it has a nice balancing point right around the end of the checkering on the arm closest to the trigger. I can wrap my thumb up on my left hand, find the checkering, and know I’m in the “happy spot”. If I let the rifle lay on my open hand, the torque from the spring will cause it to rotate to the left, affecting accuracy by about .5” up and to the left. If I keep my fingers loosely wrapped around the arm of the stock, the problem goes away, and the pellets hammer one after another into a big, raggedy-edged hole in whatever medium I’ve selected as a target. The destruction that near-900 fps wreaks upon particle board and pine must be seen to be believed. If I were ordering this rifle to own though, I’d certainly get a scope with 12x or higher magnification. First, I love to see what I’ve just nailed, and second, I’m just about as blind as a bat sometimes. 9x just isn’t enough magnification for me, even at 20 yards. You’ll want to shoot this rifle at distances over 30 yards, just to see what it can do.
As far as the “magic bullet” pellet, Rick says to try the Crosman Premier Hollow-points, but I haven’t found any at my local stores. I don’t quite live at the end of the earth, but I can see it from my house! I’ve tried the Gamo Match Wadcutters, the RWS SuperDomes, RWS Hobby wadcutters, and Crosman Premium Pointed pellets. Based on my shooting, I feel this particular rifle really likes the Crosman Premium Pointed hunting pellets. After looking at these dime-sized 5-shot groups, done at 20 yards with just a touch of wind, I don’t think I’d be able to better them no matter what pellet I use! The SuperDomes almost group as nicely as the Premium Pointed pellets but offer a little more mass. This means they strike low if the scope’s adjusted for the Premium Pointeds. Either of these would be an excellent choice for hunting. We’re just splitting hairs at this point (pardon the pun)! Also, with just over 1000 pellets through it, chances are good that it’ll still break in a little more in the next month or so. The bigger question is, will my technique improve? Ever? I could hunt for a day with this rifle and bag more than enough game to feed my family for a week, if only I could get them to eat wild jackrabbit!
Rick feels that the .22 version of the TF-89 is the perfect caliber for this power plant. While the .177 is definitely faster-shooting (1100 fps!), it would be interesting to try it with some of the heavy Beeman Crow Magnum or Silver Ace pellets, just to see if it could be slowed down enough to retain the accuracy of the .22 with some of the velocity and trajectory of the smaller caliber. If, on the other hand, you want a tack-driving, hard-hitting, classy-looking checkered stock spring-powered hunting rifle, you won’t go wrong with this TF-89 .22! Just like ol’ Hammerin’ Hank, it’s a legend in the making because it always delivers the good stuff.
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