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Thompson Center Contender G2 Rifle in 30-30 winchester caliber

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. See ODHA report on the muzzleloading barrel here..

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, 330-30 Winchester, 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.

30-30 Winchester in the TC Contender Carbine

When I first started looking at the new TC Contender Carbine I was most interested in the .45 caliber muzzleloader and the 6.8 SPC.  I really wanted to see how that new 6.8 SPC military cartridge would perform in the 23" Contender barrel. Finding a barrel was easy, but finding ammo and/or brass was not.  No one seems to have any because it is all going to the military (like it should).  I looked at the other barrels available and decided the 30-30 Winchester would be the best for my needs and it is also very close to the reported performance of the 6.8. Matter of fact, I will add that comparison to this report.

Things got off to a slow start when I put the new 30-30 Winchester barrel on the G2 Contender frame and it would not cock.  Took it off my Carbine frame and put it on an old style contender frame and it worked fine. After some searching on the internet for possible cures and some close inspection, I found that the barrel lugs were not locking into the frame all the way, preventing the G2 internal hammer block safety from releasing. There is a small lever in the frame that springs forward when the barrel is opened that prevents the hammer from being cocked.  If the spring loaded locking lugs don't snap all the way into battery when the barrel is closed, the hammer still can not be cocked.  The cure was to hone down the top of the locking lugs about a thousandth of an inch so the lugs would snap into battery and allow the hammer to be cock.  Easy to do if you understand how the Contender works.

After getting the barrel fixed I used a Weaver mount to attach my Leupold VXII 2x7 scope.  This scope will be used for the 30-30 Winchester and the .45 muzzleloader. Using quick detachable rings and the same type Weaver base on both barrels lets me use the scope on either barrel until I can get another scope.

There is basically no reloading data for the 30-30 Winchester except for low pressure loads with 150 gn or 170 gn round nose bullets. Sierra has some special loads for Contender pistols, but the data was for 14" barrels and fast burning powers. I wanted to see what kind of energy and accuracy could get out of a 125 or 150 spitzer bullet in a 23" barrel.  The advantage of a slick bullet like a Nosler Ballistic Tip over a round nose bullet would make a lot of difference at 200 yards and the velocity should be higher in the longer barrel even with factory ammo.

My search did pan out when I went to Ken Waters' Pet Loads.  If you haven't heard of Ken and the great work he has done, get yourself a copy of his two volume masterpiece on reloading.  Here a link to a source on the net. Many of his articles from Handloader Magazine are contained in the Book. In his 30-30 Winchester update he lists many loads chronographed from a 24" Winchester M54 bolt action rifle. Following his lead, I tried some of the powders that worked well for him and had pretty good results.  Below is the loading data for the 30-30 Winchester from the TC 23" barrel I chronographed and shot for accuracy on my initial trip to the range.

3030 Winchester                For Thompson Center & Bolt Action Rifle Only -- Too Hot for Lever                                           Action Rifles and Sharp nose bullets can not be used in tube magazines.

Weight

Bullet

Charge

Powder

Velocity

Primer

Case

Gun

Remarks

125

Nosler BTip

35.0

IMR4064

2460

CCI 200

Rem 

TC/23"

 

125

Nosler BTip

36.0

IMR4064

2550

CCI 200

Rem 

TC/23"

Max 

125

Nosler BTip

31.5

Reloader 7

2600

CCI 200

Rem

TC/23"

Max

150

Nosler BTip

32.0

H-322

2450

CCI 200

Rem

TC/23"

Max

150

Nosler BTip

34.5

AA 2230

2500

CCI 200

Rem

TC/23"

Max

150

Hornady SST

30.5

Reloader 7

2525

CCI 200

Rem

TC/23"

Max, Accurate

150

Rem Flat Nose

Factory

 

2300

 

Rem

TC/23"

 

170

Winchester Flat Nose

Factory

 

2100

 

Rem

TC/23"

 

The Factory ammo is listed for comparison and fell short of advertised velocity by about 100 fps.

Seems the faster burning powders are best for this case even in longer barrels.  I thought the slower burning IMR4064 would help in a longer barrel but that is not true for the 30-30 Winchester. I was really impressed with the 150 grain velocities. The 150 gn Ballistic Tip still has over 1200 foot pounds of energy at 300 yards.

Below is a table that compares my results  from the TC Contender G2 Carbine in 30-30 Winchester with published data for the 6.8 SPC and the 308 Winchester. Notice that the 30-30 Win handloads with the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet produced over 50% more energy at 200 yards than a 30-30 Winchester factory load.  Most of the gain in energy was because of the much better ballistic coefficient of the Ballistic Tip over the Round nose factory bullet. If you change the bullet of the factory load with a muzzle velocity of 2300 fps from a round nose to a Ballistic Tip, the energy at 200 yards would be increased to 1250 foot pounds.  That is roughly a 33% increase in energy!   All the handloads outperformed the new 6.8 SPC, some by as much 40%.

Calber/Bullet

Muzzle Velocity

Energy @ 200yd

MRT w/200 yd zero

Accuracy

30-30 Win 150 BTip

2500

1495

+2.5"

2" @100yd

30-30 Win 150 RNose

2300

936

+3.8

 

3030 Win 125 BTip

2500

1165

+2.6

2" @100yd

6.8 SPC 110 SP

2600

1081

+2.4

 

308 Win 150 Sierra BTip

2800

1893

+2.3

 

I think the 125 gn bullet will perform better with the faster powders like AA2230 or RL7.  Ken Waters got fantastic results with RL7 but I do not have any on hand.  Have to put that one on the shopping list.  I also want to get the groups down closer to 1 MOA. I may be able to do that using Honady 150 gn SST's or dropping the powder charge a bit. The SST's shoot half inch groups in my .308 Winchester at full velocity.

Come back soon for more loads for the 30-30 Winchester in the TC G2 Contender Carbine.

UPDATE

Made it back to the range with new loads using Reloader 7 with 125 gn Nosler Ballistic Tips and Hornady 150 gn SST bullets.  The velocity was a little better with Reloader 7 in both bullets weight.  The loads listed are max so DO NOT shoot these in a lever action! Not only did the velocity improve, but also the accuracy with the Hornady SST's.  5-shot groups averaged 1.5" @ 100 yards.  Looks like this will be the load for deer in the fall. Come back in November for the picture of the Buck.

Good Shoot'n,

Chester   
 

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