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Thompson Center Contender G2 Muzzleloader and Rifle

Thompson/Center Encore 209x45

The Thompson Center Contender (TC) has been around for a long time in the form of a great hunting pistol and carbine. Last year TC announced the new version of the Contender, the G2 Contender with several improvements over the old model,

The New Features include easier to opening, More clearance between the grip and the trigger guard, incorporates a patented automatic hammer block safety with built-in interlock, and it allows shooters to cock the hammer, lower it, and re-cock it without the need to break the action open again.   In addition, you can also get a muzzleloading barrel in .45 or .50 caliber.

The G2 Contender rifle is very compact and weighs only about 6 pounds. It features readily interchangeable 23" barrels, enabling the shooter to select from several different cartridge options; from 17 HMR and 22 LR Match, 30/30 Win, 375 Win, 6.8 SPC, 45/70 Gov't., 45 cal muzzleloading, and 50 cal muzzleloading barrel. In addition, all of the 161⁄4" and 21" barrels made for the old style Contender will readily fit the new G2 frame. Old style contender barrels must use the old style forend. G2 barrels are untapered and use the new G2 forend with two attachment screws.  See ODHA 3030 Winchester Report here..

G2 Muzzleloader

All you have to do to fall in love with a Thompson Center Contender G2 muzzleloader is to pick it up.  It is light weight and fits like a glove.  The stock may look a little strange, but it is designed with the shooter in mind.  It points right where you are looking, the trigger and hammer are easy to reach and your eye looks right down the sites or the scope. The muzzleloading barrel comes with 3 dot fiber optic sites or you can attach a scope.

I've have made two short trips to the range with mixed results.  One the first trip I just wanted to get a few shots down range to see how that 45 caliber Contender G2 muzzleloader felt.  It felt like a small mule had kicked me on the first shot. A 110gn charge of Triple 7 behind a 225 grain Powerbelt moves that little 6 pound rifle around pretty good.  Can't wait to feel a 150 grain charge!  Just kidding. It actually kicked less than I thought it would. Everything went very well and I was able to keep my shots in the kill zone out to 100 yards using the 225 gn Powerbelt and 110 grain charge of Triple 7. My eyes are not the greatest for iron sites, but I think I can take a deer out to 100 yards easily...if I don't get a bad case of buck fever.

On the second day of the shooting, I put a scope on the rifle, zeroed it in and tried two types of bullets for groups. The first bullet was the TC 180gn Mag Express Sabots.  They shot pretty well out to 50 yards but opened up a little too much at 100 yards.  I swabbed the barrel after each shot to try to get maximum accuracy, but I will have to try some different charges before I will be comfortable shooting this bullet past 50 yards .  Most of my hunting is around hay fields and I need a bullet capable of taking a hundred yard shot.

Ever since I started shooting the Powerbelt bullets, I just can't go back to the saboted bullets. The Powerbelts always group  well and they are so much easier to load. My first 3 shots with the 225 gn Powerbelts shot into a nice 2" group.  The only concern I have with the Powerbelt is that it usually does not shoot all the way through the deer on broadside shots. The bullets are soft lead and although I have never lost a deer and they don't go far, there is usually not much of a blood trail. All the deer I have taken with the Powerbelt has been with the 195 grain bullet. This year I am switching to the 225 grain bullet in hopes of getting better penetration. 

Next trip to the range will be to try some other bullets with iron sites at 50 yards.  Got to keep in practice shooting those iron sites until The Peoples Republic of Georgia starts gets their brain screwed on straight and lets us put scopes or at least red dot sites on muzzleloaders.

My 30-30 barrel just came in for the TC Contender Carbine. First test will be with 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips and I hope to get 2700 fps out of the 23" 3030 Carbine barrel.  We'll see.  Come back soon.


2005 Update

The second trip to the range was for practice and to try out a new black powder substitute American Pioneer Powder. This new   American Pioneer Powder burns clean, loads easy and gives velocity on par with Hogden Triple Seven.  Jim Shockey shoots it and if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for the ODHA.  It comes is granular form or in 50 grain "sticks" (sort of like wedge-shaped pellets) . I opted for the sticks to compare the velocity of the American Pioneer with Triple Seven. I usually shoot 110 grains of Triple Seven behind .45 caliber  225 grain Powerbelt bullets in my Knight rifle , so I used the same load in the Contender G2 .45 caliber muzzleloader.  

The velocity of the  225 gn Powerbelt  from the Contender G2 with 110 grains of Triple Seven averaged 1852 . 
The velocity of the  225 gn Powerbelt  from the Contender G2 with 100 grains (2 sticks) of American Pioneer  averaged 1853.

Accuracy with the American Pioneer was very good and I never had to clean or swab the bore for the entire range session. It also gave good velocity with a little less powder. 


I have had two seasons with the TG Contender Muzzleloader and I like it more every time I hunt with it.  It is easy to carry, shoots great, and I have great confidence when I shoot it. I have taken a couple of does using the 225 Powerbelt and 100 grains of American Pioneer powder. This is not the fastest load but it is very accurate. First doe was taken at about 80 yards with a shoulder shot and she went down like she was struck by lightning. The second doe was 210 yards.  Sounds like a long shot for a smoke pole, but I had practiced with the TC out to 200 yards and knew exactly where to hold. The rifle is zeroed 2" high at 100 and that puts the bottom post of my dual-X reticle dead on at 200 yards. The Powerbelt hit the 100 pound doe square in the shoulder and she only went about 25 yards. I still wish that Powerbelt was a little harder so would penetrate better but it always seems to get the job done!

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