T/C Triumph Bone Collector Muzzleloader Review

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Mike Waddell says Thompson Center's new .50 Cal. Triumph Bone Collector is, "the baddest muzzleloader in the land!" I've gotta say, when I hear claims like this, I have to see for myself what all the fuss is about. So I picked one up and headed to the range.

It's no secret, New Hampshire-based Thompson/Center Arms has taken the firearms market by storm in recent years. Born in 1965, T/C has been around for over four decades and, many believe they now make some of the finest firearms in the world today.

Thompson Center Triumph Bone Collector Muzzleloader

Reputation aside, whenever I field-test a firearm, I make a concerted effort to be objective. We all know no single product is perfect; there are usually positives and negatives. But following a thorough "going over," I'm stumped. I don't have much to say in the way of negatives on this one.

As a regular attendee at the annual SHOT Show, I get to fondle most of the latest and greatest guns and I'll say this, even before shooting this muzzleloader, the new Bone Collector looks and feels great. But the obvious question persists … can it shoot? And if so, is it truly, "the baddest muzzleloader in the land," as Waddell claims?

While lots of hunters prefer to shoot their blackpowder rifles with open sights, I chose to mount a Bushnell 4200 series 2-10x50 on mine. My rationale - this allows me to test accuracy by eliminating as much human error as possible.

Whenever I check out a new gun, I consider first impressions and visual appeal, how it feels in hand, how it handles at the range or in the field, features that make it unique from comparable firearms, downrange accuracy, how easy it is to clean, and the price point. Read on and I'll share my impressions of the Bone Collector.

First Impressions and Visual Appeal
Unique in style, T/C is arguably at the forefront of firearms design. At first glance, this gun is indeed a one-of-a-kind. The newest member of the Triumph series, it has distinct appeal. In two words, it can best be described as "simple" and "weatherproof." I'll expand on this shortly when I address its unique features.

How it Handles
In the world of muzzleloaders, by comparison, the Triumph Bone Collector is relatively lightweight. Designed with an alloy receiver, this muzzleloader is much lighter than its cousin, the Encore Pro Hunter. Some guns just feel good in hand. The forend grip is comfortable; not too wide and not too narrow. The Flex Tech stock is about an inch shorter than those on other Triumphs and, I like a shorter stock, so this is a real bonus. It has a SIMS Limbsaver recoil pad and this is nothing short of awesome when you're shooting 150 grains of powder.

Consistent with most muzzleloaders, I found the Bone Collector to be easy to load as long as the barrel is clean. Set up for a 209 primer, this gun is simple to ready. With the tip-up barrel and toggle lock action, it's a simple matter of breaking the barrel, dropping in a primer, closing it, and locking the toggle in place. It doesn't get much simpler than that. But beware, depending on the powder you use, if you don't clean between shots, you'll have difficulty seating the sabot.

As far as the shooting goes, this muzzleloader has a factory set trigger with an automatic hammer block safety, making it easy and safe to handle. According to the specifications, all Triumph Bone Collector triggers are set at the factory for between 3 and 3.5 pounds of pull. In my experience at the range, this is a comfortable setting with this muzzleloader.

Unique Features
I found the Bone Collector's unique features appealing. From the 28" fluted barrel, to the easily removable speed breech XT plug, recoil pad, fiber optics sight, reversible hammer extension, Power Rod with "T" end, Weather Shield barrel and receiver, and the fact that the stock was available in both Realtree AP or black composite - my initial reaction - what could they possibly come up with next? But the three most impressive features were the easily removable breech plug, the weatherproof characteristics of this firearm, and the inherent recoil technology.

Speed Breech XT - T/C has engineered and patented this modern style closed breech plug that is easy to remove, by hand. In my opinion, this is one of the two most appealing features on this muzzleloader. If you've been shooting in-line muzzleloaders for more than 10 years, then you're familiar with the amount of effort required in the early years to disassemble and clean blackpowder rifles. The Triumph series and in particular this new Bone Collector has been successfully designed to eliminate traditional cleaning hassles. You still have to be diligent in cleaning, but it's a simple matter of turning the breech plug with a 90 degree twist, pulling it out and going through the motions of using bore cleaner, drying, and then lubing before storage.

T/C's Weather Shield Protective Coating - Touted as a better alternative to stainless barrels, T/C's Weather Shield technology offers a completely weatherproof metal coating option. In turn, the coating is a matte black finish that is said to provide greater durability and excellent protection from corrosion.

As far as recoil is concerned, T/C's unique Flex Tech technology that uses SIMS Limbsaver makes shooting this muzzleloader a real treat. SIMS Limbsaver is well known in the world of hunting and T/C has joined forces with them to marry their technologies to make this remarkable recoil dampening stock.

The rifled tubes on today's muzzleloaders are precisely machined. This combined with the accuracy in powder measurements (i.e., in my case 150 grains of Pyrodex) along with the acute ballistic qualities of high performance sabots, creates a recipe for amazing accuracy. That said each component has to perform flawlessly to create downrange accuracy. Here's what happened the first time I took my Bone Collector to the range.

When I had the scope mounted, it was bore sighted. We all know it's only ballpark accuracy with bore sighting. Long story short, I shot 250 grain Barnes Expander Spit-Fire TMZ sabots out of this gun. At 100 yards I took two shots and wasn't hitting the paper with the gun. I immediately switched to a 25 yard target. The first five shots were in the same hole with an outside error of 1" so I easily zeroed the scope and then switched back to the 100 yard target. At 100 yards, with a vice, I was easily able to zero the scope and shoot a consistent 3" group with the next 15 rounds. Regardless of the vice, there is always some degree of human error and, frankly few could argue with this kind of performance. As far as downrange accuracy is concerned, I was suitably impressed. That said it's important to note that I cleaned the barrel thoroughly between each round.

Upon inspection, I also noticed that the firing pin depression was consistently centered on the head of the primer. No misfires or hang fires were experienced during my shooting session.

Again the Speed Breech XT plug is easily removed by breaking the barrel. With a simple 90 degree twist and pull, it is removed and you're off to the races. The Power Ramrod with "T" end and accessorized cleaning jag simplify cleaning. The muzzleloader comes with a complementary breech plug wrench even though the plug can be easily removed without it. This is a welcome evolution from the old labor-intensive breech plug assemblies of the early in-line muzzleloaders.

Price Point
Last but not least is cost. What will it cost you to get into a Bone Collector? That may vary somewhat between retailers, but they are competitively priced. From my research, the Triumph Bone Collector typically retails for between $500 and $600 U.S.D. depending on whether you get a black or camo stock.

To sum it up, the T/C Triumph Bone Collector is a performance muzzleloader. The hunting world is well acquainted with T/C's Encore Pro Hunter line and I'm intimately familiar with this model as well, in fact I own one. For sake of comparison, I found the Bone Collector to be significantly lighter and, incidentally trickier to stabilize for downrange accuracy. In turn, a rest, bipod, or shooting sticks are recommended when shooting this muzzleloader. Combine all of these unique features and it's almost impossible to dismiss this muzzleloader as a favorite.

Is it the "baddest in the land?" That will be up to you to decide. I still favor the Encore Pro Hunter, but the Bone Collector definitely comes in a close second!

Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing, waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com.
Member of OWAA & OWC.


thompson bone colector

i just bought one from cabelas  i got a great price on it , i am looking foward to trying it

i have to add on the primitive side of hunting  the inline smoke pole was patented in 1810 and the scope was patented in 1840   so in the relm of things how far back is primitive 

 i beleive it comes down to what a user feels most comfortable with

i have shot many animals with all types of weapons , and look foward to shooting my new rifle

i will set it up with the most advanced system i can afford , thats my choice so lets leave it at that and just have fun because thats what its all about , inovation to be more acurate not sucsesful

ps maybe i should learn how to use speel check on this computer  lol

hunter25's picture

I own a couple of muzzle

I own a couple of muzzle loaders already but none that I would consider state of the art. I plan to hunt with one again soon in Nebraska or similar state with a late season to expand my hunting time.

I Like the sounds of this one but I think there are better deals to be had for less than the 5 to 600 dollar price given for this one. I do have a Encore frame I could just buy the barrel for also.

This gun shoots good and looks good I just have to decide how much I want to spend to get into more seriously again.

Thanks for the good review.

CVC's picture

Thanks for the review.  I

Thanks for the review.  I enjoyed it because (looking around to see if wife is reading over my shoulder) I am thinking about getting a muzzle loader.  I want to get one to hunt pronghorn antelope and whitetail deer with.  Just something different to add a different dimension and challenge to the hunt.

The one shot capability with limited range makes hunting more challenging but still has the boom factor that I don't get with the more challenging bow.  TC is the brand that i will be looking out, just need to figure the model.

SimonG's picture

We hunt pronghorn, elk and

We hunt pronghorn, elk and muleys every year, and most other game too, with our flintlocks and I think if you are a true hunter you will very much enjoy the hunt more.

Few states honor the intent we had when we fought to have primitive seasons created, though some still do.

oddly enough the new generations who never knew what it was like to not have an archery season much less a muzzleloader season were represented tonight in a sporting good store and I could hear their conversation as they hoped they would get new inlines and ballistic scopes for christmas, they condemned crossbows in their talk but couldn't wait to get "back to basics" liek the mountain men, with the pellets, range finders and 209 primers, saboted jacketed bullets and ballistic compensating scopes.


Sadly they also vote.

I hope you will vote for a more traditional and challenging muzzleloader, its not really only another tag or season, its a lifestyle.


CVC's picture

Simon, I can agree with 99%

Simon, I can agree with 99% of what you wrote, but one small line bothers me a little. You say if your are a true hunter....I am not sure if you meant to imply that those that don't enjoy hunting with flintlocks are not true hunters.  I may be misinterpreting what you wrote so if I am then I apologize in advance.

I think true hunters hunt with a variety of tools...some primitive some modern.

Now, I do agree that the original muzzle loader season was intended for a primitive weapon and not a rifle that uses black powder.  Putting a scope on the muzzle loader defeats the idea of using a primitive weapon.

If I had a vote, I'd vote to do away with the scopes for muzzle loader season.

jaybe's picture

Nice Rifle!

So - it's the next best thing to the baddest muzzleloader in the land, eh?

I guess that would make it a pretty good rifle, then.

That speed breech sounds like a real nice item.

I have owned two inlines, and the one I have now (a White Ultra Mag) is easier to take apart and clean than the first, but this sounds like it's a real dream to clean.

I appreciated the report that included a report of actual firing at the range.

As for the discussion on primative weapons, it is a non-starter in my opinion.

The element that's always missing in this discussion is a determination of "HOW primative?"

As soon as one shooter limits it to no scopes, then why not limit it to no sights at all?

As soon as one restricts it to a flint or caplock, then why not restrict the ignition system to a matchlock?

The arguments are endless in this discussion, so why not support one another in the freedom to keep and bear arms and engage in the hunting of all the great animals that we have available to us in this country?

When we quarrel over points such as the current discussion, we only divide ourselves and help those who would take away our freedoms.


Triumph muzzleloader

One advantage of the speed breech that was pointed out to me by a satisfied Triumph owner was that if he suspected that moisture had effected his pellets, he could easily remove the breech plug, dump out the old pellets and drop fresh ones in and reinstall the breech plug with a simple twist of the fingers. Yes, Triumphs are easy to clean, but a Savage muzzleloader using smokeless powder, doesn't have to have it's bore cleaned until the end of the season, and maybe not even then. I have owned two Thompsons, one a Black Diamond, and the other an Omega, and also two older (orange Disc) Knight Disc rifles. IMO the Knights are more accurate, but the Disc system is a pain in the back side, with blowback, and delayed ignitions. I replaced one Disc system with Knight's 209 direct system, which resulted in easier clean ups (no more blowback) and eliminated ignition problems. My Thompsons never had ignition issues. Here are a couple of hints, to help with ignition problems with the older Knight Disc rifles, before loading, run a patch down the barrel, leave it in place with the ramrod and fire one or two primers. This process will burn out unwanted residue and eliminate delayed ignition. A hint for the Omega, when cleaning, after dropping the breach cap lever, place an elastic around it and the barrel to keep it from rising back up when running the cleaning rod down the barrel and the rifle is in a verticle position.

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