Thompson/Center Encore?

Alive And Well, Thank You Very Much

By Mark Hampton

Recently I was scrutinizing my hunting handguns and I noticed a void in some of the T/C Encore line-up I had. I hadn’t heard much from T/C in some time. So, curious as to whether I could even still find them, I got on the phone and, sure enough, was able to order an Encore Pro Hunter frame with .223 and .44 Mag. barrels. It seems parent company S&W still has the brand kicking. I wanted to see how the new T/C guns were built so looked forward to seeing them in the flesh.

The stainless Encore arrived with a fluted, 15″ .223 barrel with sights, while the .44 Mag. barrel measured 12″. The interchangeable barrel system on the T/C platform provides a lot of flexibility. Remove the forend, knock out the hinge pin and change barrels. The frame came with a rubber grip, and this design is still my favorite. It fits most hands well and provides a nice cushion. T/C didn’t go to any extra cost or effort with their forend, though, so I’ll be replacing it with a custom one from Tony’s (contact below).

The first thing I’ll do is remove the sights and mount a Warne base-mount on both barrels. The .223 barrel will be fitted with a Burris 3–12X and the .44 will wear a new Bushnell 2-6X in Warne steel rings. The frame will receive a trigger job — as I can’t sleep at night with a 7-lb. trigger on any handgun. Are you listening T/C? Once the scope is installed and the trigger job and forend addressed, I’ll grab a variety of ammo and head to the range and report back in a future column.

Encore barrels with Burris & Bushnell scopes waiting to be
fitted in Warne base and rings. We’ll shoot these later and
report back.

Handy Tools

The .223 is one of those rounds you can enjoy in lengthy practice and shooting sessions. Ammo can be found almost anywhere. I normally shoot Black Hills 50-gr. V–Max ammo as it has performed accurately in a variety of handguns. The Encore is very pleasant to shoot with the .223 and amazingly accurate. This makes a deadly varmint rig for fox, bobcat, coyote, groundhogs and smaller targets such as prairie dogs. My wife, Karen, also enjoys shooting the .223 due to its mild demeanor.

For hunting wild hogs, whitetail and many other species, the .44 Mag. remains one of my favorite straight-wall pistol cartridges. Inside 100 yards, the .44 Mag. is seriously effective. There are bigger bores, but they all come with a price — increased recoil. Most shooters can properly handle the .44 and shoot it better than some of the bigger, rhino-stomping rounds. When you find the right load, 3″ groups or less at 100 is within reach. There’s also a host of quality factory ammo available with a wide cross-section of options. While 240-gr. bullets are most common, weights from 180- to 300-gr. are options.

Handloaders have a world of premium bullets for any application imaginable. And the Encore handles the .44 Mag. nicely. This is one of those guns you can hand-down to your children or grandchildren to enjoy for years of shooting pleasure.

Encore Pro Hunter with fluted .223 Win. barrel.
Additional barrel is .44 Mag.

More Choices Too

The Encore is available in several other calibers, including .22-250, .243 Win., .308 Win., 7mm-08 and .460 S&W Mag. to list a few. Both blue and stainless models are available. For hunting medium-sized game like whitetail deer, the 7mm-08 or .308 Win. is hard to beat. Most .308 Encores I’ve shot will group better than many rifles will at 100 yards. When scoped and set-up properly, these Encores make ideal hunting handguns. The T/Cs are dependable, reliable, easy to operate and accurate, across the board.

I’ve been fortunate to hunt in some of the harshest, inhospitable, remote parts of this planet and have never worried about an Encore failing me. In a couple of months Karen and I will be in the rainforest of Cameroon hunting for dwarf forest buffalo. This is the smallest sub-specie of buffalo in Africa, yet has the worst attitude. Think: ex mother-in-law. You guessed it, I’ll be carrying a T/C Encore.

Like many other hunters, I appreciate taking game with one well-placed shot. I enjoy shooting all types of handguns, and I especially like shooting single-shots. There’s something gratifying from hunting with a single — knowing you only have one opportunity to make things right. The Encore delivers, and it is definitely alive and well. Stay tuned for an update after I wring these guns out.

For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index; www.tonysforendsandgrips.net, Ph: (218) 205-6588

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