Thompson Contender Recoil?


December 17, 2003, 12:37 PM
Although I have a nice selection of modern pistols and revolvers, I'm considering a Thompson Contender for a change of pace. What I need is some advice on caliber choice to keep recoil at a manageable level. I currently shoot 44mag and 460 Rowland full power loads in my 6" S&Ws with no problems. What TC rifle calibers (if any) would give me a similar recoil level? I'm not a hunter so that's not really a consideration. Advice?

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December 17, 2003, 01:10 PM
Dave ... I can only refer to my set-up, which is Contender with a 14" .223 barrel, and a 12" .44 mag.

I am somewhat of a ''hand-cannon'' freak!! And so almost thrive on recoil .. even hot .454!! However ... I'd say that you ain't gonna get any (unwelcome) surprises from a Contender really.

People wanting something like 45-70 will tend toward G2 or Encore probably but ... if you can be happy with what I have mentioned, or 30-30 which is also a great cal for Contender - then go for it.

I find .223 very pleasant to shoot ... and it's a good round for economy . I use factory and homeloads. The .44 .... well, no worse for me in Contender than hot loads in my SRH or SBH.

As I said ... I'll stick my neck out and suggest you will not suffer disappointment.:p

Probably the reverse!:)

December 17, 2003, 02:22 PM
Besides the .223 (which like P95Carry said is a real pleasant round to shoot) I also have barrels in 30/30, 35 Remington, and 375 Winchester. I don't wear gloves to soften recoil out of my SRH & SB .44 Mags but out of my 30 cal T/C barrels I always do. Those barrels still don't recoil as much as my SRH .454 with full loads (then I wear batting gloves under a pair of Uncle Mike's).

December 17, 2003, 03:02 PM
My contender combo's are an old style frame, (hole in the hammer, I call it), a .223 Super 14 with a Bushnell 2X6 pistol scope, and a .357 Rem. Maximun with another Bushnell 2X6 pistol scope. As the other people said, the .223 is very pleasant to shoot and very accurate.

The .357 Rem. Max. is also as fun to shoot. The only drawback to it would be, if you don't reload, as I do, you won't find ammo for it anymore. My advice would be to stick to calibers that are common, as you can find all kinds of exotic barrels but no factory ammo.

Of all my, (12 at the moment), pistols, I have more fun showing people I can hit a water filled milk jug at 200 yards with my .223 contender. I just love seeing the look on their faces when the jug explodes.

December 17, 2003, 03:05 PM
I've only got 3 barrels so far. a 10 inch 357, a 10 inch 223, and a 14 inch 44. One of my 44 handloads is kinda unpleasant, but it's still easier to take than full load 357's from my snubby. Everything else is a pussy cat. My dad used to have a .444 and it would shake your fillings loose. By march I hope to have my .44 barrel grow up into a .444

December 17, 2003, 03:07 PM
Have you tried 357 mags thru your 357 max? I want to get my 357 reamed out to max, but I wonder how the accuracy would be affected if I used mags in it.

December 17, 2003, 03:20 PM
Okiecruffler, I had a .444 Marlin rifle one time and you want to shoot that cartradge out of a Thompson pistol? All I gota say is, you are a braver man than I!

As for the .357 mag in my max barrel, the reason the Rem. Max is no longer made in a revolver is the gasses were cutting the top strap above the cylinder gap, Ruger continued to make one for a time but they finally gave up also.

No, because after reading why the .357max was taken out of production in revolvers I didn't want to take a chance on any gasses opening up the barrel where the mag and max were different in lenghth. The barrel is almost as accurrate as my .223 barrel.

December 17, 2003, 03:32 PM
I've got me a .444 rifle, the wife makes me shoot it when I've been bad. (in fact I have a nice hicky on my shoulder right now from a few rounds shot last Monday). Everyone I know with a 357max barrel has been surprised with the accuracy of it. You really should take up reloading, it'd be a shame to just let that barrel gather dust.

December 17, 2003, 03:46 PM
OOPs, I thought I did say I reloaded. Dust???:confused: My pistols have never heard of that word:) I've probably got as much money tied up in reloading stuff as I've got in guns. As you well know, this can be a very expensive sport, but d*mn ain't it fun. Heck if I didn't reload, my sweet, very cute, and wonderful wife, (added in case she reads this), might throw me out on my ear:D

December 17, 2003, 03:50 PM
I have an old octagonal .44 Hotshot barrel that draws blood shooting .44 mag factory loads. Every time I shoot it I end up with blood on the web of my hand if I don't wear a shooting glove. Several of my shooting buddies have had similar experiences with the old octagon barreled .44 Contenders. Just plain ain't enough weight out front!
Gene :D

December 17, 2003, 05:08 PM
Did mean to add earlier ........ I have Pachmayr grips and fore end ... I do think these grips make for more comfortable absorbtion of recoil . I'd certainly never expect any ''web'' damage, however hot the loads!!

December 17, 2003, 06:06 PM
My bad, I misread your post. Probably shouldn't start drinking so early in the morning.:D

I've got Pachmayr grips on mine too. Tried the wooden Harrett grips. They look great, but punish the web of the hand.

December 17, 2003, 06:26 PM
I tried one in 44 mag once and found the recoil punishing.

December 17, 2003, 11:04 PM
The .44 mag is not bad in the Contender. The .30-30 is not either, though it's different than the .44 in that it is a quick slap to your hand, and a bit more stout. The .45-70, on the other hand, is quite punishing in the 300gr factory loads, and I don't recommend it to anyone short of Ross Seyfried who seems to enjoy pain.

Ky Larry
December 17, 2003, 11:48 PM
There must be something wrong with me. Warm loads in my S&W Model 29 seem to recoil more than .45-70 factory loads in my old frame Contender. Probably just me. The .223 is a blast in my Contender. It's a 14 inch bull barrel with a 2X7 T/C scope Very accurate. I've been trying to find a single load that works well in both my Contender and my Ruger 77V. I can get close with 24.2 grains of AA-2230,Federal 205 primers,Star brass, and a Sierra 52 grain HPBT MatchKing bullet. The OAL is slightly different. I'm not there yet but that's why we reload. Shoot well and often.:D

P.S. I shot a Wolf steel cased .223 in myContender once. The case stuck and was a b***h to get out. Now I shoot steel cases in my Commie guns and brass in everything else. YMMV.

December 18, 2003, 11:53 AM
I was considering a .243 but I think I'm hearing I should limit myself to the .223 unless I want recoil to be an issue. Anybody care to comment on .243 recoil?

December 18, 2003, 12:13 PM
Just a ''guessed'' opinion here Dave . .243??

NO WAY!! Much as I tolerate recoil .. I think here we gotta see the round as what it is .. .308 necked down .. and my homeloads are stoked with 33.9 grains Vit N-140 behind a 105 grn Speer SP spitzer ..... now that outa the rifle is ''brisk'' but well acceptable ..... but somehow I think that could be ''overkill'' thru a T/C handgun .. really!!

Others may disagree. And of course you could ''load down'' but - why bother!

Go .223 .. overall I really think that is one of the Contender rounds ''par excellance''.

December 18, 2003, 01:05 PM
If your looking at a 243, you must be looking at the Encore. The 243 is WAY over pressure for a Contender. The Encore however is a whole different animal. People out there shooting it with 338mags and 405win. Not bright people, but people nonetheless.

December 18, 2003, 04:46 PM
I never have understood why Thompson started making the Encore when they have such a fine handgun in the Contender. I prefer the older style frames, but the ability to recock the hammer without breaking it down has really got me looking into the new Contender G2.

ammodave, you can always go with the .223 to get a feel for the Contender, then buy or trade for other barrels as you see fit. That is 'one' of the joys of owning a Contender.

December 18, 2003, 07:31 PM
There must be something wrong with me. Warm loads in my S&W Model 29 seem to recoil more than .45-70 factory loads in my old frame Contender. HUH? Are you sure they weren't 405 gr. loads? These are pure "popgun" loads. Try a 300 gr. Remington factory load sometime. I've shot 300 gr. loads at over 1200 fps out of a .44 Redhawk. While it wasn't pleasant, it was FAR tamer than the above mentioned .45-70. At least it didn't actually HURT after 1 shot!

December 18, 2003, 09:34 PM
I have owned my Contender longer than any other firearm I own and have owned various barrels through the years. The 10" 44 mag barrel was the most unpleasant 44 mag I have ever fired and I have owned close to a dozen 44 mags. The TC bore axis is very low and the recoil is straight back into the hand - much different from the 44 revolvers I have shot. I can shoot my 6.5" Smith 629 from the bench with bullets from 180 to 300 grains with no discomfort - but that 10" TC was painful from round one! Ended up wearing a weightlifting glove to shoot it.

Of course everyone's hands are different - someone with beefy hands may have more natural recoil absorbtion and may not consider the 44 TC to be all that bad - I'm not one of them!

By contrast a Ruger Super Blackhawk 10.5" was the mildest recoiling 44 I have ever shot.

December 19, 2003, 10:22 AM
I have an old Contender with the old style "racy" solid wood grips and a skinny .octagon 44 magnum barrel that has a "screw on" choke for the T/C .44 "Hot Shot" cartridge. (Do they even make those any more?)

When shooting a full power .44 mag load, this setup HURT. It was much worse than a 4" M29 wearing the small wood grips.

Now, with a heavy "Super 14" barrel in the same caliber, and the addition of Pachmayr grips, recoil is mild. There's a fair amount of muzzle lift, but the impact in my hand feels about like a 1911 shooting hardball - not bad at all.

And I have a 15" heavy barrel in 6.5 Ingram (a necked up and blown out .223) that gives me about 2100 ft/sec with a 140 grain bullet. This is a pussycat to shoot.

December 19, 2003, 02:36 PM
I have a barrel in 444 Marlin. I got it cheap from a friend who only shot it 10 times :D. He couldn't handle the recoil, but I did not think it too severe. I can only go through about 20 rounds before my hand and wrist tell me to quit.
Its one heck of a thumper!

December 19, 2003, 03:34 PM
OK, I surrender--a .223 it is. At least it can share ammo with my Mini 14.

December 19, 2003, 03:37 PM
No need for ''surrender'' Dave!!:D

But I'll again stick my neck out as earlier ...... I'll all but guarantee that you will LOVE that in .223 .... the ''grin factor'' is almost a given!! let us know eventually what you do and how it goes eh.!:)

December 19, 2003, 04:05 PM
Don't have one of my own (yet) but I have capped quite a few rounds of .45-70 out of a Contender that belonged to a friend of mine. It was a gas to shoot. Even his hot loads. (The owner had quite a reputation for pushing the limits of reloading.)

In .223 or .30-30 it's a pussycat.

But then, I LIKE big bore handguns. Don't understand folks who find a .44 mag to be a lot to handle. (Though I concede it might be in a lightweight snubby.)

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