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T/C Contender Problems

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. First time venture into encore/contender land for me. Bought used, somewhat rough contender yesterday. Put brand new .218 bee barrel on it. Shot it today. Two problems:

    1. The action to break it open is extremely stiff. Sometimes it's just stiff, but about every 3rd time I try to open it, it's so stiff that I have to use two hands and squeeze with both hands as hard as I can and then it will finally pop open. I lubed it well and it still does this.

    2. Light primer strikes. Some of the ammo I had didn't fire, even after repeated strikes. One time the strike was plainly showing that it was very shallow/light, but then after multiple firings, the indentation would grow deeper (looked normal depth), and it still would not fire. Three out of about 15 rounds wouldn't fire. The rest fired fine. Needs new firing pin, or something else?

    Any chance that problem #1 and problem #2 are related?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  2. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Well-Known Member

    Misfire problems often plague break action guns but seldom with rimmed chamberings. Does the carbine in question have a hammer extension? Sometimes the added mass from one will cause weakened strikes
  3. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    Doc H:

    My first Contender was so stiff even after hundreds of rounds, that I still had to force the action open, and had to pretty much had to slam it shut. That concerned me with .22LRs, but never had any issue.

    Re: light strikes, no idea. The only failures to fire I ever had were with military ball ammo (5.56 in the Contender and 7.62 in the Encore) due to hard primers.

  4. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    Bought a 12" .30-30 contender barrel for hunting. It fired factory ammo fine, but would NOT fire a reload even though the primers were seated proper. So, I switched to large pistol primers with it, works fine. :D I worried a little whether the primers would be strong enough, but the loads are pretty hot and I have no problems with it. On a .218, might try small pistol primers or magnum small pistol primers. If it's not capping factory ammo, well, something's probably wrong. My contender frame is OLD, 70s anyway. I figure they probably have stronger hammer springs in 'em now days considering what all calibers are offered. Back in the day, they were only in pistol calibers.
  5. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    So here is the most common problem. You probably have one of the early frames. They have a pivot point for the trigger guard/cocking mechanism towards the front of the trigger guard. This makes them naturally very stiff to open.

    You can send it to T/C and for $59 they will relocate the pivot point towards the rear of the assembly and this extra leverage makes it an "easy open" frame. T/C went to this pivot point with their later models of the Contender.

    Your light strikes are probably the barrel locking plate not fully seating when you close the barrel. Its actually a safety mechanism. On top of that a lot of Contender fans put an even stiffer than stock locking plate spring in the barrel so that you get more positive lock.

    So the fix is to take a good look at the locking plate and if needed remove it and clean it up. Its very easy to do. Take a c clamp, compress the locking lug, tap the pin out and do this with safety glasses on! Take the locking lug out and clean it up. If you can, shine it up with some flitz to make it good and slick. Take a look at the frame and see where the plate locks in and get that nice an clean too. Then oil it lightly.

    For a wealth of information go to www.bellmtcs.com
  6. jbkebert

    jbkebert Well-Known Member

    I am sorry about your luck with your new contender. I have had the problems with the stiff action but have not encountered teh soft strikes. My advice would be to talk to t/c customer service 603-332-2333 for tech support. I own a encore pro hunter and a contender and any question I have ever had these guys worked through with me on the phone. Great customer service.

    Now which hinge pin is installed on your new contender. The push through style or locking? The locking style requires a allen wrench to take apart and requires a little gunsmithing to install. If someone installed that style pin incorrectly and it is not letting the barrel lock up. You will get soft strikes or no strikes at all. The auto saftey will block the pin thinking the round is not in proper alignment with the barrel. A gunsmith that specalizes in break action rifles names Mike Bellm has a forum to deal with most quesions about these guns. www.bellmtcs.com/FAQ/Contender_misfires.htm

    Hope that it helps I am in love with both of my t/c break action guns and will probably buy another one or three as time goes on.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  7. waverace

    waverace Well-Known Member

    I sometimes had a problem with the firing pin piece coming unscrewed , the screw is located under the hammer and is a painto get a screwdiver into , but mine would work loose after about 50 shots and cause the exact problem with closing and opening that you describe .
  8. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    Dr. Tad, I have a TC Contender with a couple barrels, and thankfully have never had a problem.

    I'm sure there are people here with more knowledge in repairing TC actions than me.
    I have no clue why your action is causing the opening problems. Did the action come with a different barrel when you bought it? If it did, did it operate ok before installing the new barrel?
    Does the new barrel close tight to the breech block?
    Not being a wise guy, but is the centerfire/rimfire selector properly centered on the hammer?

  9. MatthewVanitas

    MatthewVanitas Well-Known Member

    Is your serial # under 195000?

    If so, you have an "early frame" and some folks report compatibility problems with later barrels. I had an early frame and had a new barrel lock up so tight (not shooting, just putting it on) I had to disassemble the gun to get the barrel out. If you have an early frame, that might explain some of the hinkiness.
  10. Yeah, it's 145,XXX something. Hmmm. Thanks for all the replies - it will take me a few days to sort through them.
  11. Update



    1. As mentioned, yes older model / early model.

    2. Yes, I believe the rimfire/centerfire screw is turned correctly. It's turned to where the protruding part will hit the lower firing pin, which I believe is the centerfire. Looks to me like the upper one is the rimfire one. I don't think it would have fired otherwise, but possible it would have I suppose.

    3. As for the screw "under the hammer" mentioned by one gentleman, I do not see any such screw, other than the centerfire/rimfire selector switch mentioned, which cannot (apparently) "come loose" - it just turns and turns and turns without tightening or loosening - so I don't know what you mean. :confused:

    4. Yes it has the hammer extension - is this a known problem that causes light primer strikes? I want to keep the hammer extension regardless, so I guess I'll just have to buy a new hammer spring.

    5. The tightness is wholly unacceptable. It takes an enormous amount of strength/pressure to open it sometimes now. So much so that my fingers ache after doing it half a dozen times or so.


    1. Is T/C known for having excellent C.S.? Because if they can fix this for me, I'll be happy, and I've been eyeing an Icon Classic, so I hope so - I'd like to have something to push me over the edge to get the Icon. :)

    2. Will the "old style" Contender use the identical hammer spring as the new Contender, when I go to order from Numrich?

    3. Do you think that an internal part is being damaged by me continuing to force it open under high pressure as I am (in the hopes of it loosening up)? Should I just halt everything until I get it fixed, or is the hard open ok?

    4. Any other advice to give me? What about a non-gunsmith fix, by increasing the "amount of slant" on the slanted corners of each side of the locking lugs?

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  12. MatthewVanitas

    MatthewVanitas Well-Known Member

    T/C has great customer service. Long-established American company with high-quality products.

    When I sold my early T/C, the buyer had a problem with it, returned it to T/C, and got the problem fixed. I would definitely contact them with a clear/concise description of your problems, and see what they have to say. Definitely let us know how it works out.
  13. Oops,

    OK, now I see that I've probably got it covered with coltdriver's and jbkebert's advice:

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