Contender caliber?


July 2, 2003, 02:51 PM
Been considering a Thompson Contender for some time now. Most likely I will purchase it very soon. Would any of you say there is a quintessential chambering for this multicaliber pistol? I know I can get new barrels as I like but I am curious if there is a common opinion as to what should be the first. Pistol caliber? Rifle caliber?

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July 2, 2003, 03:28 PM
Hummmmm. Hard question. Certainly, pistol calibers out of a contender barrel will be more accurate and have more velocity. However, pistol calibers having short, fat bullets will not be as good for long range as the accuracy of the contender is good for. These will be fine if your use is up to 100 yds and if you need the 'thump' of a fat bullet. A good .44 mag or .45 colt chambering will fit these needs.

However, the accuracy potential of the Contender is better suited to some of the rifle calibers. I have a .223 and a 30-30 win. They cover my needs in this handgun. Both are super 14" models and both carry scopes. Accuracy has to be seen to be believed. Don't think 'handgun' type accuracy; think 'rifle' accuracy. I have few rifles that will hold the accurcy of either barrel. The .223 is great for varmits and smaller stuff while the 30-30 is amazing on deer and similar sized game.

Think about what you will be shooting at, how far and match the chambering accordingly. Good luck-but beware!!! You WON'T settle for just one!

July 2, 2003, 03:31 PM
I had planned on "potato chipping" the barrels from the get go. Right now I am gravitating towards .223 as the starter as I only have an AR in that caliber.

July 2, 2003, 03:40 PM
.30-30 came to mind when I read your 1st post-------but you never stated what your planned uses are.

41 Redhawk
July 2, 2003, 04:21 PM
30 and/or 357 Herrett and 7mm TC/U are all wonderful in a Contender

July 3, 2003, 08:37 AM
uses: paper punching, North American game

Al Thompson
July 3, 2003, 09:08 AM
IMHO, for deer sized and below, either .30-30 or .35 Remington are good choices. The ammo is available at Wal-Mart and cheap in .30-30.
I've played with two 14 inch barreled TCs and they are very accurate. Ballistic Tips work real well too - less FPS = more penetration.

July 3, 2003, 01:23 PM
I'm with Al on the ballistic tips. They are super in the contender. Absolute death ray on average size whitetails out of my 30-30. Out of the .223, they are devistating on varmit size stuff.

July 3, 2003, 02:32 PM
My first barrel was a 10" 357 Mag and it is no slouch in the accuracy dept. as shown in the attachment. The Super 14 I owned was in .223 and the post stating rifle accuracy was my experience as well. I think TC is producing 12" barrels these days.

July 3, 2003, 02:41 PM
Had some useful info on a thread i posted recently and - funds allowing - have pretty much decided to go for .223 ...... seems like a great cal to choose....... and i I reload too .. that helps further.

July 4, 2003, 05:24 AM
The classic barrel is the 45 Colt/410 shotgun barrel. I had one of those in 10 inch years ago and it was a handful shooting 410 gauge shells. Not very accurate though for the 45 Colt.

My 44 Magnum Super 14 barrel and .22 rimfire barrels were incredibly accurate. I would go with one of those if I was buying today.

July 5, 2003, 12:34 AM

You can use 125-grainers for varminting, or Remington Accelerators, albeit with questionable accuracy. Speer Plinkers are supposed to good for that also.

It was the concept of this gun that got me into Hand Rifles in the first place.

I still don't own one. They cost too much, and I can't get 'em new here anyhow. Stupid state.

July 5, 2003, 11:56 AM
There are a ton of wildcats if you reload. If you dont then teh 30-30 is good and cheap. The 357 is always a nice round. 22 hornet is nice also.

July 7, 2003, 01:45 AM
For nothing bigger than deer, I'd suggest the 7x30 waters. If you must go bigger, then I'd say .375 Winchester or .45-70, both of which were made in Contender barrels. I never tried the .35 Remington, but it should be a good choice, too.

I would avoid buying used barrels, unless they are Bulberry or T/C custom shop make - T/C barrels did vary a lot in quality and some were downright awful in accuracy.

July 7, 2003, 01:52 AM
The .444 Marlin will take down most anything you'd want to face with a pistol and check how well your fillings were put in.

July 8, 2003, 12:26 AM
My dad has an Encore (pretty much the same as the Contender) that has a 30-06 barrel on it.

It makes about a 2 foot fireball out the muzzle:D Fun to shoot...the only thing anybody has been able to say after a shot is "D***!"

He has a long eye relief Leupold scope on it, and a over the shoulder bandolero style holster with about 25 rounds on it.

It's an attention getter.

Think it's OK for Concealed Carry?:evil:


Travis McGee
July 8, 2003, 04:26 AM
In my novel "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" the female protagonist uses a Contender in .223.

She rides a motorcycle, it gives her rifle accuracy in a dayback portable package.

July 11, 2003, 10:44 AM
for pure outright FUN,and wide-eyed looks at the range,go 45-70!!!
BUT DON'T go beyond minimum loads the first time out.Seeing a 14 inch T/C go straight up w/the first trigger pull is fun to watch,but not fun to do.! :)
I got terribel accuracy w/lead bullets though,so stuck with jacketed.
They are on fun gun.!!!

July 12, 2003, 05:59 AM
I got terribel accuracy w/lead bullets though Well, I guess it's safe to assume with a handle like SASS#, you're into old timey things huh?:D
You might want to have a look at paper patching those lead .45/70 rounds like the old timers did.

July 12, 2003, 11:54 AM
My first choice would be .22 Hornet then work my way up through the calibers from there.

July 12, 2003, 12:36 PM
Do they make one chambered for the .50 BMG?


July 13, 2003, 08:40 AM
.35 Rem awesome on deer... I took two in a row 1 @ 145yds and the other @ 190. IMO, a better round than 30-30.

.223 a great varmint round, 'chucks to coyotes handload them to make them better.

I have others too but these get used the most.

July 13, 2003, 12:19 PM
My personal preference for first caliber in a Contender is the .22 LR. To me, one of the best things about the Contender is the ability to use both rimfire and centerfire cartridges. In handgun configuration, it takes a bit of practice to position one's hands so as to not get whacked by the trigger guard spur with the more "energetic" cartridges. I still remember my first shot with my 14" .45-70 Hunter barrel; my knuckles ached for days. The .22 LR barrel allows one to get used to the Contender and put a lot of rounds downrange without breaking the wallet or the hands.

The .22 LR barrels are a lot of fun. I have three, a 10", a 12", and a 21". In deer hunting calibers, the .30-30 Win., .35 Rem., and .44 Magnum are quite impressive performers. Of those three, the .35 Rem. is my favorite; I have a Super 14 barrel that has dropped three deer in three shots. The .45-70 is amazing, but I traded mine for a .45 Colt; it was too much for Georgia deer.

In varmint calibers, I like the .22 Hornet, .22 WMR, and the .17 HMR. I think the .223 Rem. is just too loud in a short barrel; in the Carbine barrels, I like it a lot more. The .17 HMR might just be my favorite of the three; the Super 16 barrel in this caliber is the right length for a very handy Carbine.

If you buy an aftermarket barrel (like a Bullberry or Virgin Valley), you need to be sure it either has been fit for a factory forend or comes with the matching forend. Both companies use a hanger bar system for best accuracy, and factory forends do not fit those barrels. Both companies make first-class barrels that come with accuracy guarantees.

I also recommend taking a gander at the Thompson/Center Association, the factory-recognized collectors group. This group has a very good quarterly publication, and each quarter a T/C limited-production barrel or firearm is available for purchase to members.

July 13, 2003, 01:38 PM
"If you buy an aftermarket barrel (like a Bullberry or Virgin Valley), you need to be sure it either has been fit for a factory forend or comes with the matching forend. Both companies use a hanger bar system for best accuracy, and factory forends do not fit those barrels. "

I recently took delivery of a Bullberry 10" 357 mag "match" barrel. By removing their hanger bar I was able to mount a TC factory forend on the barrel.

July 13, 2003, 03:28 PM
That is really great that you could do fit a factory forend on a Bullberry barrel. My 1998-vintage 12" .22LR needs the Bullberry forend; it will not work with the factory forends. I wonder if Bullberry has made a change.

July 13, 2003, 03:41 PM
Scott - yeah, I asked Fred before ordering about the forend and he said that if I went with a TC factory forend I would need a Super 14" style forend with the 2 anchoring screws which I happened to have. I did have to remove the hanger bar before mounting the TC forend. I wanted to try out the barrel again today but as luck would have it I can't find my forend mounting screws! :mad:

Mike Irwin
July 13, 2003, 04:41 PM
Two of the most popular rifle calibers seem to be .30-30 and .35 Remington.

I know several people who hunt deer with one or the other.

July 13, 2003, 04:53 PM

Thanks for the info on the Super 14 forend. I have several Super 14 forends, so I am going to give it a try. Since I already have the Bullberry forend, the real benefit would be to allow me to use a Rynite forend and not ding the beautiful Bullberry wood.

July 14, 2003, 02:26 PM
To those of you with .223 T/C pistol barrels, how is the recoil on them? I would like to get one of these (and a few other barrels), but don't want to hurt myself....guess I should just stay away from the 45-70 barrel. :D

July 14, 2003, 04:32 PM
Recoil on a 223 isn't bad at all. Depending how you load them they can be quite fun or you can throw a 2 foot flame out the muzzle. :D They are on the loud side though.

July 14, 2003, 05:30 PM
oh heck yeah, I'm all about a 2 foot fireball! :D:D

I'm not suprised they're loud...every .223 i've shot (or heard shot) has been loud...and this will be a 15" > barrel.

July 14, 2003, 05:42 PM
LOL ..... I remember I loaded up a bunch with some BL(C)-2 I had. Man you'd go blind if you fired them at night...:what:.... H335 is a better powder for the Contender if you roll yer own. If I recall correctly it's the same propellant used in the military rounds.

January 4, 2006, 10:42 PM
I only have the 7x30 waters but it REALLY rocks. It is a 7mm head chambered into a 30-30 cassing.
I just bought it and had a 1 shot kill at 160 yards on a 6 point whitetail.
I am looking for a better scope though. The current is 2.5x-6x power but, I am looking for something for better view out to 300+ yards. I am blind as a freaking bat!!!

January 4, 2006, 11:10 PM
I have a really great shooting .30-30 in a 12" hunter barrel topped by a 2x scope. My first barrel was the .45 Colt/.410, but I quickly wanted the .30-30 for deer and hog. I shoot the Nosler 150 grain Ballistic tip with it, boat tailed spitzer, and it's instant death about as far as a field position will let you shoot. If you have a real good rest, 150 yards is easy. I have a 7mm TCU I bought specifically for IHMSA, but bored of that. So, now, I have this 7mm TCU barrel with a IHMSA rear iron on it that I don't use, but it's still fun at the range. I bought a .22 LR barrel and topped it with a 2x scope. That one's the ultimate squirrel hunter. My next barrel will likely be a .45-70 just because. I kinda want a thumper that can really lay down the power. I'll get it in a hunter barrel and scope it if and when. Really, though, the .30-30 does all my big game (deer and hog) needs. I don't really need the .45-70. No moose or elk where I hunt.

January 19, 2006, 01:38 PM
how did you add that picture? MCgunner?

January 22, 2006, 08:20 PM
.357 would be a good choice if you reload. Great for huntin white tail or the range.:)

January 22, 2006, 09:55 PM

January 22, 2006, 10:15 PM
Ya cant just have one've got to have several.

Ive got:

a 10" .22 for squirrle hunting
a 10".223 for coyote hunting and crows
a 12" .44 mag for deer and hogs
a 14" 7x30 Waters for deer and anything else
a 12" .300 Whisper for those quiet shots...

All my stuff is stainless and I think with the barrels that I've got that it about covers everything...:D

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