TechForce® 99 Premier – Underlever Magnum Springer
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!