Tech Force Contender 89 Air Rifle Review
The newest series of guns from Tech Force has arrived on American shores, and this Chinese-made powerhouse compares very nicely with many European models. At 46” long and weighing in around 7.5 pounds, it is a full-size airgun meant for the adult shooter.
Fit and Finish
Below you see the Contender 89 to the right of the RWS
350. Notice the checkering is comparable in quality and placement on
the gun, with the RWS 350 being the longer of the two guns by about an inch. It
sports a very nice hardwood stock that really fills the hand of the shooter. A
nice rubber buttpad with an excellent fit finishes off the attractive hardwood
The forward stock screws are hidden behind a plastic cover that gives the appearance of a spanner screw head, but if you remove the cover, you’ll find the standard Phillips-head screw where you would normally expect it to be. Keeping these screws tight proved to be a deciding factor in gaining accuracy during the test firing.
The trigger and trigger guard are both plastic. However, I noticed in the side-by-side comparison to the RWS 350 that the 350 also sported a plastic trigger guard. The safety is located in front of the trigger, easy to reach with your trigger finger.
A well-fitting rubber buttpad adorns the rear of the gun, assisting in controlling the recoil of the magnum springer.
Shooting the Contender 89
Upon first receiving the two Contender 89’s for a test (one in .177, the other in .22), I cleaned out the barrels, removing the oil and grease used for a preservative by the manufacturer. As you can see, it is a good idea to clean the barrel before ever firing the gun. However, this isn’t just found on Chinese guns…..my Beeman R-9 had similar deposits in its barrel when I first received it.
The front and rear sights are quality metal, not the cheaper plastic affairs of years past. They are adjustable in both elevation and windage, and work very well if you choose to use the open sights.
In the event you choose to use a scope, the Tech Force 3-12x40 is an excellent choice for this gun. Tech Force scopes are built rugged, and for the money, are some of the best deals on the market today. The Contender 89 comes with a scope stop already installed which you will need to help the scope holds its grip on the scope rails. As I mentioned before, this is a powerful springer, and the scope will creep on you if you don’t fasten it down firmly. Place the scope stop behind the rear mount if possible to keep the mounts from shifting during firing.
So how does the Contender 89 fare against other high-powered spring-piston airguns? I’ve owned the RWS 48, and have fired the Gamo 1250 and RWS 350. In terms of power, the Contender ranks right up there with the two of them in ease of use and firing behavior. It takes roughly 40 pounds of effort to cock the models I tested, but the firing sequence did not have nearly the spring twang I was expecting. Rather, it was within the expectations of such a powerful airgun to my way of thinking, perhaps a little better than expected. I ran a few hundred pellets through both calibers and then proceeded to try and stay on target with a new gun that was still breaking in. The .177 quickly proved to be very accurate, but I had problems getting the .22 to like any pellet I used. I went through my mental checklist of what could be wrong….scope, ill-fitting pellets, loose stock screws….oh, that was it. I had some loose stock screws on the .22 model. Once I tightened those, the target began to look more like it was supposed to. Remember, these are guns that are still breaking in, and accuracy will improve as the parts mesh and the last imperfections are worked out.
.177 cal at 20 yards
.22 cal at 20 yards
After a couple of hundred rounds, I began to record the velocities over my chronograph. The .177 caliber shot medium weight pellets (8.3 grains) right at 1000 fps, for an energy rating of 17 fpe, with lighter pellets going even faster. The .22 caliber hit the high 700’s with 14.3 gr Crosman Premiers, yielding slightly over 18 fpe. These figures will change as the gun continues to break in, but it is plain to see that the energy is there for small game hunting and pest control.
If I were to criticize the Contender 89, it would be over the lack of an integral scope stop machined into the receiver. The scope stop supplied with the gun works, but because it also uses a clamping design, it can occasionally slip as well. Perhaps the manufacturer will address this in future upgrades to this line of airguns.
So, would I recommend this gun to the end user? With a 15” trigger pull length, this gun is not for kids or adults of smaller stature. It is a large gun, and if you are larger in build, this gun is for you. It completely fills the hands of the user, and at 7.5 pounds it's sturdy and well built. The firing behavior is pleasant right out of the box, and the more you shoot it, the more you will like it. And at half the price of the RWS 350, this gun should go far at pleasing the budget-minded shooter.