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Thompson/Center Encore Rifle

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by RevolvingCylinder, Apr 3, 2009.

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  1. RevolvingCylinder

    RevolvingCylinder Member

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    I'm considering a future purchase of a Thompson/Center Encore. The purpose of this rifle would be for recreational precision shooting and as a general hunting rifle. I want to start out with a .30-06 Springfield barrel and expand from there. I know the advantage of buying a pistol receiver vs. a rifle receiver so we don't need to cover that(I'll likely buy the pistol receiver just to leave my options open though it's unlikely to be used as a pistol). My idea is for a practical, extremely versatile, comparatively short/light, and accurate rifle.

    I'd like to get some input from Encore owners on the accuracy and quality of these rifles. Who are your preferred barrel makers? Are these rifles rugged, even when using magnum rounds? My interest is only in centerfire rifle usage. I'm not interested in ever using it for black powder and I'm more interested in using it as a rifle.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  2. tbtrout

    tbtrout Member

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    I use the TC barrels in 45-70, .223 and .50ML. I am not a competition shooter but they work well for me. The .223 is a 26" HB and will group sub moa @ 200 yds. I am happy with them.
     
  3. Koveras

    Koveras Member

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    The Encore is a fairly lightweight rifle, so if you intend to do a lot of shooting off a bench I recommend getting the Flex-Tech butt stock. With low recoil rounds it is not a big deal, but if you shoot the magnums or something like a heavier loaded 45-70 there is a pain factor after a few shots with the standard wood or polymer stock. The heavy barrel contour (falls between the sporter and the bull barrels) adds some needed weight for recoil reduction as well.

    Most of my barrels are from TC, but I do have a custom 6.5x55 pistol barrel from MGM that is outstanding. The TC barrels all shoot quite well and I have not had any problems with the quality of any of them. I have no experience with the Bergara (CVA) barrels. Midway USA offers TC factory barrels in a wide variety of cartridges, although some of them are special order (90 days).

    A problem you may run into is a wandering pin (the pin that holds the barrel to the frame moves to the left or right thereby slightly changing the point of impact). When this happens, it is annoying. When this has happened to me, it is usually because I didn't center the pin well to begin with during re-assembly. There are a couple of aftermarket "solutions": oversize pins and locking pins. I have tried a locking pin and I can't see that it helps that much. I have not tried an oversize pin. Best results for me have come from just being careful to center the pin.

    I am no expert, but these are just my experiences. Hope it helps.
     
  4. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    One word HYPE

    I went through my encore phase with a couple frames and close to a dozen factory and custom barrels. I learned rather quickly that the accuracy of these rifles is grossly overrated. To put it bluntly they shoot like crap. I got into encores after being so disappointed by the accuracy of my Handi rifles only to learn that if anything your average encore barrel is even less accurate. It's been my experience that the break action rifle simply doesn't lend itself to knife edge accuracy. It's one thing when your $220 handi shoots 3" groups but it's quite another when a $800 Pro hunter does no better

    Couple that with the fact that for the price of a single encore rifle barrel you can buy a COMPLETE entry level bolt gun that'll shoot circles around even the most worked over encore and for the price of ONE shotgun bbl you could have a diffrent single shot chambered in ALL the common gauges.
     
  5. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    as much as I have dealt with Contenders and Encores, I have to say Krochus yours is the exception and not the rule.

    I am not saying it won't happen...I have seen crud barrels come down the pipe from Thompson...but don't condemn the whole line.

    mtcw
    D
     
  6. FredT

    FredT Member

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    I agree that SOME of the factory bbl can be dogs, but I do know that all of the ones I own shoot great. The big key is to get a custom bbl made by Bullberry, MGM, EA Brown or SSK Industries. I have a Bullberry .223 Rem, 22 inch Contender bbl that will shoot 1 inch at 200 yds. I have a 14 inch factory bbl in .222 Rem that will shoot 2 inched at 200 yds. I would say that is pretty darn good.
     
  7. RevolvingCylinder

    RevolvingCylinder Member

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    That's why I asked about favorite barrel manufacturers. I have no intention of sticking with a factory barrel. I'm thinking of ordering the whole thing from EA Brown. The rifle with my choice of barrel and frame would total less than $700.

    I'm interested in an Encore because it looks easier and cheaper to accurize than most bolt action rifles. I'm looking to replace a Winchester Model 70 because of this. The accuracy of the Model 70 has never been stellar and even though this one is a supergrade, its quality doesn't impress me nor does the worst trigger of any rifle I've ever fired. All the rest of my bolt action rifles are iron sighted, just as I prefer them.

    Krocuhs, I'm curious about the problems you had because your situation is the first I've heard of with accuracy issues. What complete bolt action rifles are you referring to that go for the price of an Encore barrel? You mean milsurp? Are you recommending I spend the money on going full custom on a Mauser?
     
  8. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    check these guys out...On Target Technology has a really good rep amongst the guys down here in Texas. He will send down a few "test" barrels from time to time for trying out, including an over-under rimfire JKL barrel for the contender. :)

    http://www.ottllc.com/



    One thing you will want to think about...the encore trigger DOES leave a little to be desired, but it isn't to hard to tweak down to a respectable break and travel.

    The things I have seen with factory barrels would be chambers that aren't quite center, or throats that appear to be shot out...on a NEW barrel.

    Easiest thing to do with those barrels is to send them off to someone like OTT or another trusted 'smith and have it re-chambered to a larger case same caliber.

    For instance...I have a 223 contender 16" barrel that shoots acceptable...1-14 twist so its not too bad...I am thinking either a re-chamber to 225 Winchester or a 219 Wasp might be in the works...the Wasp I can use regular 30 WCF brass.

    Hope this helps
    D
     
  9. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    If this is your goal and you're choosing the Encore as your vehicle to get there you are in for a world of expense and disappointment. You need to ask yourself " am I ok with 2 MOA from a rifle I have $800 in?"

    If the answer is NO the the Break action single shot isn't for you. It doesn't mater who makes your bbl or how much is costs the action is going to be your worst enemy when it comes to consistent group to group repeatable accuracy.


    Right now the BEST thing you can do is forget the Encore and buy yourself a used Savage or a $300 stevens 200 and a $300 shilen barrel. Take it from me I've BTDT exactly in your shoes. I've wasted so much $$ on encores and different bbls I could have built my bench gun three times over if I could get that cash back

    mine isn't the only sucker story with the stupid encore platform. As another poster pointed out you HEAR many many more r4eports of accurate encores than you will EVER witness at the range.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=414662&highlight=encore

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=402138&highlight=encore

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=404127&page=2&highlight=encore
    I really like post #33 in this thread
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  10. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    I have had an Encore for years. They are great rifles if you get to know them. I would not expect great things if you don't reload. Factory ammo will leave you to the luck of the draw with a factory barrel.

    If you reload then you can get excellent accuracy from them. If you get an MGM or OTT or SSK barrel they are as good as anything out there.

    The factory barrels are mostly ok but you will come across a lousy one from time to time. I have a .223 barrel that will shoot into the same dime sized spot all day. I had a black powder barrel I could never really get dialed in.

    If you want to shoot a heavier round I highly recommend a Limb Saver recoil pad. I shoot a 45 70 barrel on my Encore and the Limb Saver makes it possible for me. You can also go to a heavier stock like a laminate which will tame the recoil a bit.

    All that being said the trick to these rifles is getting the headspace right for your particular barrel frame combination.

    Just be careful because they are addictive and you may find yourself selling your single caliber rifles to fund more barrels!
     
  11. jbkebert

    jbkebert Member

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    I have the Pro-hunter version of the encore with 5 barrels and one pistol barrel. 22-250, .308 rifle, .308 pistol, .270 win, 50 cal m/l, .300 win all of these barrels are made by TC I have not purchased and other brand of them. Graf and sons sells them for $290 each. All of my barrels are shooting Sub-MOA sorry Krochus I have not shared your problems. I think they are great guns and seems to be very durable and accurate. Nothing but happy with my purchase.

    Krochus I am curious as to which set up you had in the encore. I have been shooting mine for around three years and have not had any of these problems. I also have three buddies and we all shoot the same platform with only one problem. One of the guys that I shoot with had a custom .338/06 barrel that never shot better than 2 MOA?? I am trying to figure out how mine can shoot a .893 group in a muzzle loader config and yours is shooting 2" plus with centerfire. What type of ammo were you shooting? I am running mostly handloads but I get close to the same results with Hornady custom line factory ammo.
     
  12. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    My encores were fed handloads and factory fodder, multiple chamberings ranged from 6.8spc to 460S&W, 300H&H to 30-06. Mostly factory barrels intermingled with some custom shop jobs and one Begara bbl that actually did shoot sorta OK

    None could be relied on to print a "to save your life" sub 2" 5 shot 100yd group at any time. Any groups that were smaller were flukes and not repeatable. Folks like to claim their Encores are accurate by eliminating unfavorable groupings. But I've done 5 shot drills with my buddies who still have Encores. Basically their ammo 5 shots best they can do, fliers count, I buy supper if the group is less than 1.5MOA...So far I've only been leaving the tip.

    No it's not my ammo or shooting as my bench gun shoots in the .3's with me pulling the bang switch on my loads


    A group doesn't tell us anything. It's the average that matters. Plus the ML configuration eliminates the goofy wedge fit to headspace problem break actions suffer from
     
  13. jbkebert

    jbkebert Member

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    I got the .893 as a average between (4) 3 shot groups at 100 yards fired off of sandbags two weekends ago. I was shooting 120 grains or 777 and winchester 209 primers and a 250 grain T/C superglide. I had one group go just over one inch and one group go sub 3/4 so that is how I got my average.

    I am the same way a flyer counts and I did not have any one this paticular volley. I did allow approx 10 min between shot groups and ran a wet patch and dry patch between each shot.

    Now that being said I am not kidding myself into thinking this is a 1000 yard bench gun. I have not ever thought that. Would I take a 150-200 yard shot at a deer with this rifle your darn right. I would have nothing but complete confidence in my rifle to make a quick humane kill shot. With the .300 win mag barrel I would take a 400 yard shot with the same confidence.
     
  14. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    I can only speak for what I have seen, shot and owned.

    Mostly contenders I have owned...but...

    12" 223 with muzzle-tamer. 45 grain HP WWB would give me consistent 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards. 52 grain Sierra HP's using H335 would do the same group. This was with a clean barrel and one fouling shot. Fouling shot would always send the bullet to 3 O'clock about 1" out of the group of next 5.

    14" 7-30 Waters...fire-formed Winchester 30 WCF brass, Speer 145 gr Match and either AA-2520 or W-748 would give me 1.5" groups at 100. Sierra 160 grain Spitzer BT's would give me a 2" group at 100 yards.

    I also had a 14" 30-30, 14" 445 Supermag, 12" 357 Mag, and 14" 22 LR barrels. All would shoot very well, the 22 would give me 2-3" groups with most of the ammo I played with. The 30 WCF, 445, and 357 would all shoot very well. I have since sold them all off, and now have just a 16" 45-70, 16" 223, and a 21" 17 HMR. I have gotten to the point to where the 17 HMR bores me...it puts holes where I want them. Shoots 1" 5 shot groups for the first 15 rounds. Have to clean it after that as it starts opening up to 1.5-2" afterwards.
    The 45-70 is a hunting barrel and gives hunting accuracy. It will give me a 2.5" group with Winchester 300 gr Partitions. I need nothing else from that barrel.
    The 223 is in process of being worked up with loads as it didn't have a scope for the longest time.

    Again, these are contenders...and long post is LONG.

    TL;DR?

    Every case is different, and everyone has different experiences.

    And edit to add : OP states "The purpose of this rifle would be for recreational precision shooting and as a general hunting rifle."

    I don't think he will be looking for high aggregate scores. :)

    MTCW
    D
     
  15. RevolvingCylinder

    RevolvingCylinder Member

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    Thanks for the info. That's what I was worried about with the break-open system. It will be something I will have to consider. Again, that's why I asked. Maybe I'll just have to consider working on a Savage or something similar.
     
  16. flipajig

    flipajig Member

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    I bought my pro hunter in 30-06 last year and I have really enjoyed it the only problem was the trigger and after a trip to the gun smith i couldnt ask for a cleaner crisper trigger. the last time i shot it I didnt measure the groop but 4 rounds inside a 1inch spot with factry amo I cant wait to see what some hand loads will do. My next barrel will be in 22-250 and im looking at a custom barrel or a factry barrel. As you can see im pleased with the rifle. It all comes down to what you want in a rifle.
     
  17. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    I don't have any experience with Encores, but I've been quite happy with my Contender. And I'm a little tough to impress.

    I got a 22" barrel from the T/C custom shop in 32/20. It'll do sub MOA at 100 yards all day long, and it's not a caliber renown for exception accuracy to begin with.

    For versatility, I love the Contender. krochus, I don't know what the prices in your area are, but I can't find a decent, complete center-rifle in my area for less than the price of another center-fire rifle barrel for my Contender. If I want to try out a different caliber, I can do it for somewhere between $200-$300. And I don't need any special tools, knowledge or gunsmithing skills to do it. If I want to try out something unique and out of the ordinary, the T/C is a very economical way to go.

    My Contender rifle is a lot more sleek, lighter, and easier to carry afield than any of my bolt rifles. I've never found myself needing a second shot on a deer, even with my repeating rifles. But I disciplined myself to take a good shot the first time.


    For a bench gun, the break open action is not going to compete with a solid receiver. But for those who like versatility, an easy-carry and light rifle, the T/C has a lot to offer. Be careful, they are addicting.
     
  18. t george

    t george Member

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    yes they are very addicting!!! i already have my next two barrels planed and i havent even got the first custom barrel in my hands yet... my factory 10in 223 with 2x leupold scope shots dime size groups over and over as long as i let the barrel cool and i dont screw up the shot... i have no complaints with my old styl contender it has a very nice and user friendly trigger on it. it is by far my fav hand gun to shoot at the range and i cant wait to get it set up in a carbine config. thumbs up to the contenders! will be getting an encore soon if all goes right!!!
     
  19. MNgunhead

    MNgunhead Member

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    I have had an encore PH for 2 years now. I bought it with a 30-06 barrel. I have tried a rediculous amount of hand loading and it just isn't working out. That barrel shoots no better than 1-1/2" 100 yard groups with the best loads i've developed. It shoots 2" to 3" groups with most others. Don't bother with factory ammo, it's even worse. I don't call that good enough when I've got bolt actions that will keep them well inside and inch consistantly. I will say that my 22-250 barrel will shoot 3/4" groups and the muzzleloader barrel is unbelievably accurate. All of my hunting buddies marvel at how good that barrel shoots. If you are looking for a target gun, this is probably not the rifle to buy. If you want a reliable, hunting accurate rifle to hunt with, it will fit the bill. If you plan on being a paper puncher, you will be disappointed. Get a good bolt gun for that type of work. Good shooting.
     
  20. JWJacobVT

    JWJacobVT Member

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    Well Said MNgunhead. The Encore/G2/Contender are hunting rifles/pistols. If you wish a target gun than get Bullberry to build you a extra heavy barrel in your choice of caliber. I bought my first contender in 2000. I have one of each in several calibers(45-70, 44mag, 243, 50bp, 10mm, 223, 22,45/410, etc.) My son has taken several deer with the 44mag contender carbine I set up. I carry the 45-70 and the 50bp for deer. I have used the 10mm (16 inch) for varmits with great sucess.
     
  21. alaskanativeson

    alaskanativeson Member

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    My wife has an Encore in 7mm-08 and she loves it. She shoots 1" groups, I do a little better. That's shooting Federal Premium rounds. I keep thinking i"m going to get her a 300 or 375 barrel for it, but we really haven't had a need.

    The Contender was the one I really liked. Stainless G1 frame with barrels in .44 Mag, 30/30, and .22LR, all pistols. Groups for the 30/30 (the only one I've really papered) are just under 2 inches. From a 30/30 that's better than I'm getting with my pre-64 Winchester.

    We have a lot of guns in my household. The ones from Thompson Center rank among our favorites.
     
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