Monday, April 1, 2013

A Trio of Contenders

Since selling off my Ruger New Model Blackhawk chambered in .357 Maximum, I wanted the same caliber but in a single-shot pistol with at least a 10" barrel.  I decided on a Thompson-Center Contender.  I purchased a stainless steel frame off of Gun Broker and searched for a 10" barrel in .357 Magnum.  More on this in a bit.  The next thing I know I went a little Contender crazy.     

All of a sudden, the Thompson-Center Contender project grew to three pistols and four barrels.  The first was put together on the above-mentioned stainless steel frame and 10" bull barrel chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge.  I then had Mike Bellm of Olathe, Colorado ream the chamber out for the .357 Maximum cartridge.  I now have 600 brand-new Remington cases, 500 Hornady XTP bullets and about 950 CCI primers, so I'll be good to go in the reloading room.  

Teamed with a Burris 2x scope, this Contender shot my load of a Hornady 180 grain XTP bullet over 20 grains of IMR-4227 ignited by a CCI 450 primer.  The CCI 450 is a Small Rifle Magnum primer but with such a large load of powder, this primer would guarantee performance regardless of the extremely cold temperatures we sometimes hunt in here in Illinois. 

When I test-fired this load, recoil was stiff but extraction was flawless and there were no signs of pressure-related issues with the primers.  This one is ready for the outdoor range and sighting in at 50 and 100 yards.

The second in my trio of Contenders was a 12" T/C Custom Shop barrel chambered for the mighty .44 Magnum mated to a blued-steel frame.  I teamed this pistol up with a Burris 2x scope as well.  This Contender shot extremely well on the indoor range so it too is ready for the trip to the 50 yard outdoor range.  I have piles of .44 Magnum ammunition on hand so I won't have to reload for this brute for quite a while.

My final Contender frame was also made of stainless steel and mated to a blued-steel Super 14" barrel chambered in 7-30 Waters and equipped with T/C's integral muzzle break.  I mounted a Burris 2x-7x pistol scope in Leupold rings and bases.  Luckily, I found five boxes of Federal Premium 7-30 Waters ammunition, loaded with a 120 grain bullet.  The 7-30 Waters is basically a .30-30 Winchester case necked down to 7 Millimeter. 

I fired three rounds though this pistol and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of recoil.  The T/C integral muzzle break really does it's job, as the 7-30 Waters seemed to recoil less than the .357 Maximum and the .44 Magnum.  The group was 2.5 inches high and all three were within an inch.  All this without bore sighting too.  This beauty is ready to be sighted in at 100 yards.  I'll then fire it at 200 and 300 yards to see how it performs.

My other barrel is a brand new, Super 14" chambered in .41 Remington Magnum.  I love the .41 Magnum as it's one of THE most accurate pistol rounds I've ever fired.  I have amassed 500 pieces of Starline brass and 500, 215 grain, SWC lead-cast bullets.

All in all, I'm very impressed with the quality and accuracy of the Thompson-Center Contender.  These pistols are essentially hand-rifles.  I look forward to using all three pistols on my quest for more species of Exotic game in Tennessee.