Thompson Center's Encore Pro Hunter Review
If you follow the firearms market, then you're likely aware that Thompson Center Arms (TC) has earned a reputation for manufacturing high quality accurate guns. Perhaps best known for their black powder rifles, they also produce centerfire, rimfire and rifled shotgun barrels.
After attending the 2007 SHOT SHOW in Orlando last January and perusing the endless inventory of new and venerable guns, I learned that TC has come up with an exceptional alternative for the theoretical one gun hunter. Like a lot of us, over the last few years I'd heard so much about these guns that I thought it was time to try one myself. The challenge for me was deciding which one. After much research, I settled on the TC Encore Pro Hunter.
Even though I'd been considering this acquisition for a few years, I concluded that their relatively new Pro Hunter was an ideal option. Why? Simply put, many of us own at least one centerfire, rimfire, slug gun, and muzzleloader. The Pro Hunter offers everything in one accessorized package. It is arguably the most versatile, and some are saying most comfortable gun on the market today. Rather than buying four separate firearms, the Encore Pro Hunter allows the shooter to accessorize by getting interchangeable barrels all for the same receiver and stock.
The Pro Hunter integrates virtually all of the features you could ever want in an ideal gun. Ask any hunter in the know and many either want one or are contemplating buying one. It's that simple. Recognizing the incredible versatility of this gun I ordered one myself. I've since been able to test it both at the range and in the field in 7 mm Rem Mag on black bear and both 7mm Rem Mag and .50 cal. muzzleloader on whitetails. Even though it is a moderately heavier gun, I have to say that I'm awestruck by the accuracy of each.
An obvious anomaly in the world of long guns, it looks and feels very different than the more common bolt action rifle. So, why is the single-shot Pro Hunter so desirable? From what I've learned the most prominent reason is versatility; because it can be transformed into four different firearms, it's an economical option for those of us needing multiple guns. Previously designed in a manner that accommodates the switching of barrels, in recent years shooters could purchase three barrels; a centerfire, muzzleloader, and a rifled shotgun barrel. As of this last year, TC has made a fourth available in a rimfire. I ordered mine with three different barrels: one chambered in 7 mm Rem. Mag., another in .50 cal. muzzleloader, and the third in a rifled 12 gauge slug barrel. Although I chose to go with stainless fluted barrels, blued barrels of variable sizes are also available. The fourth option and newest addition to this model, is the rimfire barrel available in .22 LR and .17 HMR. With a unique mono block design, the frame assembly requires no modification. In other words with this firearm and variable barrels a person can hunt every gun season, namely both the general and primitive weapons seasons where hunting is restricted to the use of shotgun and muzzleloader.
Ergonomically designed for comfort, the Encore Pro Hunter is equipped with several brilliant features. As a single-shot it's safe, accurate, and reliable. It features a rotating hammer design called the "Swing Hammer" allowing easy access to the hammer spur. The rotating design allows the hammer position to be adjusted to the left, center or right, depending on preference and clearance under the scope.
Another outstanding feature on the Encore Pro Hunter is TC's new Flex Tech stock system. With today's magnum and ultra magnum loading charges, TC engineers have addressed the issue of manageability by partnering with Limbsaver, a company well-known for their recoil reduction technology. Now with the new patent pending Flex Tech stock, the Encore Pro Hunter incorporates four synthetic recoil absorbing arches, Research has shown that the Flex Tech stock dampens shock and vibration by up to 43 per cent. This translates to far less wear and tear on the shooter and scopes. From my own perspective, this innovative shock absorption technology is significantly more effective than installing a muzzle brake.
Shooters and hunters across North America are fast becoming aware of this incredible piece of firearms engineering. The biggest challenge is getting one, particularly if you live in Canada. I'm constantly being asked where these guns can be purchased. In most instances within the continental United States, checking with your local firearms dealer is your best bet. If they don't carry them, chances are they can special order one. For Canadians, with the challenges of importing across the border, ordering from a U.S. retailer or even directly from Thompson Center is out of the question. I'm told that the Encore Pro Hunter can be ordered directly from Bass Pro Shops (www.basspro.com) and, in Canada, through the S.I.R. mail order store in Winnipeg (www.sirmailorder.ca).
Disclaimer: Kevin Wilson is a freelance writer/photographer that uses TC products for hunting. TC provided this rifle on consignment to field test with the option to purchase.
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.