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Compasseco’s TechForce® Contender 89 Break Barrel Rifle, .22 Caliber and 3x12x40 AO Scope.

In the world of mediocre air guns it is a real joy to get my hands on a really excellent product. From the first shot, I knew this rifle had a lot to offer. But before I get into the review, let me say a quick word about Compasseco, the exclusive distributors of the TechForce® Contender series. Compasseco has invested a lot of time and money in producing high quality, yet cost conscience air guns. Yes their TechForce® line of guns are made in China, but under stringent quality control and continued high expectations from Compasseco and their customers. If it has the TechForce® name on it, it will be a high quality gun. Compasseco has worked very hard to make this a reality and we have all benefited from their efforts, whether we realize it or not. By them requiring better quality products, those factories are producing higher quality products overall. What’s more important is Compasseco’s dedication to their customers. They work to make sure you are satisfied with their products. Lastly, I want to personally thank Compasseco for their help in getting www.airgunweb.com off the ground. They were the first vendor to agree to send us products to review and I’m thrilled to finally put their Contender 89 through the paces!


Right side view of the Contender 89 on my MTM shooting rest.

The first thing that I noticed when I pulled the Contender 89 from the box is just how large the rifle is. It is 46.5 inches long, and with the included scope, weighs nearly 10 pounds. This is a big gun and best used by adults. Compasseco sent the 89 matched with their TechForce® 3x12x44 AO scope and a set of high scope rings. The cost of this combo will run you about $269. At first glance, this rifle reminded me a lot of the Beeman GH950 that I have, but once the shooting started the comparisons stopped. The 89 shoots with a lot of force, nearly 800 FPS with RWS 14.5 grn. pellets and right at 800 FPS with Crosman Premier Hollow Point 14.3 grn. pellets. The 89 makes my GH950 feel like a pop gun by comparison. The “out of the box” accuracy was exceptional. I make my own targets and they have a 1/8″ black dot for a bulls-eye. It is an amazing thing to sit back at 20 yards, and with little effort on my part, drive pellet after pellet through nearly the same hole. Wait until you see the groups….


Left side view of the Contender 89 on my MTM shooting rest.

Now that you’ve got a quick overview of the rifle, let’s talk about some of the aesthetic qualities of the 89. First of all I noticed just how dark the wood stock was stained. It gives the rifle a nice warm look and the highly detailed checkering just adds to the look and functionality of the rifle. Another nice feature are the screw covers for the front of the barrel. They really add to the quality “fit and finish” of the 89.


Nice checkering for the grip


Again, nice checkering makes for a sure grip. Notice the screw cover at the front of the picture.

The 89 ships with a decent set of open sights, but I would have liked to have seen some fiber-optic inserts instead of just metal sights. In fact the sights are my only complaint about this rifle, and that needs to be put into perspective. I’m nearly certain that this next issue is unique to THIS gun and not typical of the Contender 89 line, but my 89’s rear sight had some lateral movement to the tune of about 1/16th of an inch. As you can expect ANY movement on fixed sights makes them basically unusable. I noticed that when I cocked the barrel the adjustment screw hit the wood stock. I’m not sure if this caused the problem, but if you look at the picture below, you can see the notch in the stock. Now to put this into perspective, the 89 is just itching to have a scope mounted on it. So I’m not sure how important the open sights are to begin with. I’m sure that Compasseco would replace the sight without question if I simply asked.


Rear sight, notice the little “notch” in the stock just ahead of the barrel joint.


Simple front site on the 89

Compasseco included their 3x12x44 AO scope for this evaluation. This scope is only an $80 upgrade when you purchase it with the rifle. The optics are very clear and getting your eye in the right spot for a clear picture is really easy, as this scope seems to be fairly forgiving. By contrast, the scope on my B26 is really picky and you have to be in JUST the right spot to get a good picture. The AO feature worked really well and the 12x magnification is a must with this rifle. Because of the power in the 89, you will find yourself taking shots that you may not otherwise take. For example we setup targets out to 60 yards and at that distance the 12x really helps. I would not call this next comment a “complaint” but rather a suggestion. With a rifle like the 89, that has such a long useful range, a mil-dot scope would be a real help for shooting at various distances. The optics in the TechForce® scope are really nice and clear, add a mil-dot reticule and you’ve got a deadly combination. As it sits, you’ll need to do a lot of shooting to get the right “hold over and hope” for various distances. Not that shooting this rifle a lot is a bad thing, I found that it was rather fun. And if you shoot it a lot, you can skip that trip to the Gym. I’m beginning to think that my wife has figured out a way for me to exercise. The 89 takes a fairly strong person to cock the gun. I’m not sure of the exact cocking force, but if I cock the 89 for a while and then switch to my Gamo 440, I about snap my 440 in half.


TechFoce 3x13x44 AO scope

All the pretty wood and checkering don’t amount to much if the gun can’t hit the target. That is most certainly NOT the case with the 89. Not only does it hit the target, it does it with a lot of force. Because of the weight I did not find the 89 that hold sensitive.  It does recoil a bit so this rifle has a noticeable kick to it. I had many people shoot this gun and they all shot it reasonably accurately. I found shooting this from my MTM shooting rest was the best way to go. I spent two full days on the range shooting several air guns. The Contender 89, BAM B40, and BAM B26 were all fun to shoot. As far as break barrel rifles go, the Contender 89 is by far my favorite. It is amazingly accurate and generates 800 FPS with the most accurate pellet, which turned out to be the Crosman Premier Hollow Point 14.3 grn. The RWS “Super” line of pellets were also decent, but the Crosman beat them out. Here are some tables for your review:

RWS Super Point 14.5 grn
High – 788, Low – 782, Average -784, Difference – 6 FPS

Crosman Premier Hollow Point 14.3 grn
High – 800, Low – 793, Average – 797, Difference – 7 FPS

As you can see, the Contender’s power plant produces good consistent velocity, contributing to its accuracy. Another important point about accuracy, and a topic of some of our most recent articles, deals with the trigger. The Contender’s trigger is a lot like my Beeman GH950. It is not like the Crosman or Gamo triggers. While it is not as smooth as the BAM B26 or BAM B40, it does not seem to hurt the shooting characteristics of the gun. It is a nice wide trigger with its own “checkering” and it has a positive release that is very predictable. It is not my favorite trigger, but it is a nice trigger for this gun. There is an adjustment for the trigger, but I did not find that it made that much of a difference. The safety system is automatic and engages each time you cock the rifle. I used to find this annoying, but I’m beginning to see why it is standard on many rifles. Safety is important. And on guns like these, they generate almost as much velocity as an actual firearm and safety is critical.


The Contender 89’s trigger guard and trigger.

Finally, we get to the good stuff. How did it shoot!!! As I mentioned above, I knew this rifle was going to shoot well. After I mounted the scope and got it basically sighted in, the 89 seemed to hit the target all on its own. By comparison, the Crosman 800x is fatiguing to shoot, when shooting for accuracy, (take into consideration it costs 1/2 as much), while the TechForce® Contender 89 takes little or no effort. Just put the crosshairs on the target and squeeze the trigger. The 89 will do the rest. During my shooting sessions with family in VT we shot at everything from paper targets at 10, 20, and 30 yards, to eggs at 60 yards. The Contender was up for any challenge. The most fun were the eggs. Boy did they go splat when they were hit head on. Here is a shot pattern from 30 yards using RWS Super Point pellets. I did not have a dime on me, so I used a quarter for comparison. I’m guessing that is at or less than .5″ c to c?


RWS Super Point pellets at 30 yards

I wanted to do more shooting in VT but the weather did not cooperate. I got this next grouping at 20 yards when shooting at my home range in SC.


Crosman Premier Hollow Point, 20 yards

That group says it all. I had been shooting for about 20 minutes with the RWS pellets when I decided to shoot the Crosman Premier HPs. When the first, second, and third shots went nearly in the same hole, I knew I had found the “magic bullet” for this particular rifle. I’m not sure how the hollow point will do at ranges beyond 20 yards, so I guess I’ll have to hold on to this Contender 89 for some “extended” testing! I don’t think the folks over at Compasseco will mind.

Ok, so let’s wrap this review up. The TechForce® Contender 89 starts at $189 and is available in either .177 or .22. I specifically asked for the .22 version because all the other reviews on the 89 were the .177. I like .22 caliber better and I like to be a little different from everyone else, so that is why most of the reviews you will read here will be on .22 caliber and above. Anyway, the Contender sells for $189 with open sights. In the realm of guns just under $200, the Contender has a lot of company, but not a lot of competition. This rifle is effortless to shoot, is extremely accurate, and generates 800 FPS in .22 caliber. Head shots at 30 and 40 yards should be easy with a good scope. Because of the weight, shooting without a rest will take some practice and patience, but I’ve got a tin can in a tree about 40 yards away with a lot of holes in it from this Contender, all shot from the shoulder. When choosing a scope for the 89, make sure you identify your shooting purpose. If you will always be shooting from a fixed distance, i.e. 20 yard range, then the TechForce® scope in this review is a great choice. If you are going to be using the 89 for hunting at all distances, consider something with a mil-dot reticule. Either way you go, you should set aside about $90 for a decent scope and mounts, putting your final cost at $279.00. If you look at the Beeman GH950 combo from Pyramid air selling at $269, the Contender is a hands down better deal. I want to thank the folks over at Compasseco again for allowing us to review this product. I look forward to bringing you more reviews on their entire TechForce® line.

 

Written By,
Rick Eutsler
Editor / Owner www.AirGunWeb.com
[email protected]
Copyright 2007, Dog River Design, LLC – All Rights Reserved.

  • fsdanlie

    Have one it’s 8 months old and it is my favorite shooter.It hits extremely hard.Did use the crosman hallow points,it does alot of damage on mt dove i shoot.I use benjamin diablo pellets 14.3 grain now.Have 4 thousand rounds on mine it easier to cock but it still has authority on targets.Dont have a crony,i know it has power.Use a leapers 3/9/40 mil dot with red and green.

  • Thank you for your comments. We are supposed to have some more TechForce products coming our way soon to review. I just got some Benjamin pellets when I was at the Virginia Airgun Expo. It may be a good time for a follow up review!

    AirHead.

  • pistonjackson

    Hey AirHead. This review has me very interested in this rifle now at $150. When are you making a follow up? I would like to know how much louder it can be than a Gamo Shadow 1000 and can you post more target groups with other pellets? Thanks.

  • Dear PistonJackson,

    I’ve been shooting the TFC 89 a lot lately and it is still performing very well. I’ve had a few cosmetic “issues” that have come up, i.e. the front sight assembly fell apart, but all in all the rifle is getter better as time goes on. I’ve been planing a follow up article and video, but time has not permitted either. I’ve also been expanding my range to allow for much longer shots so I hope to get shot groups out to 50 yards. I’ll move this rifle up the list for everyone. I just got in the Benjamin Discovery .22 PCP rifle so keep your eyes open for that review.

    Thanks.

    AirHead.

  • randy

    HI AIRHEAD, I LOVE YOUR SITE. A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO I BOUGHT THE MENDOZA RM200 177. I WAS LOOKING FOR A MEDIUM SIZE 177, HOPEING IT WAS IN THE RANGE OF THE R7. WELL IT WASNT ITS WAY TO POWERFULL I CANT CHECK IT BUT IM SURE IT WAS SHOOTING RWS HOBBYS AT 800 FTPS AFTER SHOOTING 1000 ROUNDS THRU IT TO REMOVE MOST OF THE DESELING. AND LIKE YOU SAID ABOUT THE TRIGGER, ITS GREAT. I HONESTLY HAVE NOT FIRED A AIR GUN WITH A MORE PERFECT LIGHT AND CRISP TRIGGER. EVEN WITH MY DADS EXPENSIVE OLD GERMAN GUNS LIKE WIENARC SOMETHING. I BROUGHT IT OUT TO 29 PALMS FAMILY CAMPEING GETTOGETHER AND OUT OF MY BEEMAN GS950 (SPANISH 22 WHICH IS A GREAT GUN) RWS 350 MAG 177, AND THIS OTHER REAL 22 SMALL RIFLE I HAD GREEN LASER SIGHTS AND WAS SHOOTING THAT NEW AGUILARA 550 AND 750 FTPS AMMO. I COULDNT STOP SHOOTING THE RM 200 AND THAT WAS WITHOUT A SCOPE. SO I KNOW WHAT YOUR SAYING ABOUT SPENDING TIME WITH A GOOD FRIEND. DID I HAPPEN TO SAY THAT I LIKED ITS TRIGGER, SORRY. ANY WAY THE MAIN REASON FOR WRITEING YOU IS AFTER READING YOUR ARTICLE ON TECH FORCE 89, IM GOING TO BUY ONE. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE BEST BUY IN HIGH POWER 22 SPRINGER AND I THOUGHT I WOULD HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER RWS 350 MAG IN 22. WHEN I BOUGHT THE 350 IN 177 IT WAS QUITE A PENNY WHEN I ADDED THE 3X12X40 SCOPE, SO I WAS HOPEING NOT TO DO THAT AGAIN. ON YOUR REVIEW OF THE 89 WITH CP PELLETS AT 800 FTPS ITS ONLY ABOUT 30 FTPS SHYER THAN THE 350 THAT I KNOW IS ALSO A HONEST REVIEW OF THE GUN LIKE YOURS IS. OK IF YOUR STILL AWAKE HERES MY QUESTION. SINCE MY WIFE DOESNT BELIEVE I HAVE AIR GUN BLOOD CIRCULATING IN ME AND THIS IS GOING TO BE MY LAST GUN FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS AT LEAST, YOU SAID YOU HAD A BEEMAN GS 950 IN 22. CAN YOU DO A SHORT WRITE UP ON IT AND USEING CROSSMAN PELLETS IN THE BOX CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT IS THE EXACT SPEED THAT GUN SPITS THEM OUT, IM GUESSING ABOUT 700 FPS. REMEMBER YOU SAID WHILE COMPAREING THE BEEMAN TO THE 89 THE BEEMAN WAS LIKE A POP GUN. SINCE I CANT BUY MORE GUNS I DEFINATLY CANT BUY A FPS TESTER. PLEASE UNDERSTAND I TRY TO KEEP THE PEACE WITH MY BELOVIN AND SHES WORTH MORE THAN AIR GUNS. THANKS FOR REPLYING TO MY EMAIL, AND DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LIKED THAT TRIGGER? I WAS THINKING ABOUT GETTING THE MENDOZA 600 MAGNUM BUT I COULDNT FIND ANY REVIEWS EVEN CLOSE TO 800 FTPS AND BESIDES I LIKE USEING THE CP PELLETS FOR THERE PRICE AND THE ROUNDED HEAD MAKES THEM FLY FASTER DOWNRANGE THAN FLAT HEADS FOR MORE ENERGY AT TARGET, IF I COULD GIVE 1 BAD MARK ON THE MENDOZA ITS THE BARREL IS TO FAT REQUIREING FATTER PELLETS. THANKS AGAIN, RANDY

  • Well Randy…

    From what you are saying.. I think you like the mendoza trigger? Yeah it is a wonderful trigger in such an inexpensive rifle. I recently picked up another RM 200 this time in .177 and it seems that it was some older stock when RWS was importing them. So far I can’t tell you how happy I am with the performance. You are right about the 800 FPS. That is what I’m getting out of mine with hobbies. I’m hoping to do another review on the RM 200 this time in .177 so I’ll let you know when that happens. As for the 950.. sorry.. I don’t have that rifle anymore. I gave it to my brother in law up in VT so he could keep the little varmints out of his garden. If my memory serves me right however, I believe I was getting mid 600’s with the GH950. I have the newer Beeman SS1000-h with the interchangeable barrels which feels and shoots just about exactly the same. I’ll run some pellets through that tomorrow and let you know what I get.
    As for my thoughts on the Contender 89. So far, other than like a Bam B40, it is the nicest, most accurate Chinese rifle that I’ve ever shot. I’ve had only a few issues and they are with the open sights. They are really bad. My front sight has fallen apart and the rear sight was never stable. Seeing as I use a scope, it is not a big deal.
    If you are looking for 1 gun that will last you a couple of years.. You should really consider the new Benjamin Discovery. Mine is sooting Beeman Kodiak’s over 700 FPS and JSB Diabolo Exacts shoot .25″ groups at 25 yards. I know it is a lot of money for the rifle and the scope, but it will make you want to just put all your springers up in the closet. The Discovery is not without its own issues, but I’ll get to those in the next review.

    Hope to hear from you again soon, and thank you so much for your comments.

    AirHead

  • R.W.

    is this better than a RWS 34? is this better than buying a Walther Talon w/ the gas upgrade for $300? btw, is the stock scope on the Walther Falcon from Pyramyd that much better than the stock scope on the Talon?
    you’re the best. Thanks

    • The Contender 89 is on par if not a little better shooting than the 34. it is not as powerful as the Falcon or the new NPSS from Crosman. I actually like the NPSS more than the Contender and the Walther at this point. Price is a bit high, but you get a very powerful, gas ram equipped rifle with a well matched scope for around $300. I think the NPSS is easier to handle than the Walther and the 89. I hope to be getting an RWS 34 in the not to distant future.

      Cheers.

      Rick

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