February 12, 2024
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At one time, Thompson/Center’s custom shop offered hunters and shooters more than 100 chamberings in its rugged Encore pistol. Want a .22 K-Hornet, 6mm Benchrest, .32-20 Winchester or even the brawny .480 Ruger? Ackley Improved cartridges? They were on the list. For a wildcat enthusiast like myself, it was heaven.
T/C was well known for its Contender handgun, but in 1983 it introduced the much larger and stronger Encore to handle the high-powered cartridges where the Contender left off. In addition to chamberings, you could order any barrel length within the handgun cartridge range from eight to 15 inches in a tapered, heavy or bull contour. They came in various finishes and were drilled and tapped for scopes. Iron sights were optional, as was Magna-na-Porting, the T/C Muzzle Tamer or a standard muzzle brake.
The gun shown here was chambered for .357-.44 Bain & Davis. Aside from this unique chambering, my custom options included a bright metal finish, a heavy 15-inch barrel, the T/C muzzle brake and topped off with a T/C 2.5-7X handgun scope. The walnut grips with finger grooves and walnut fore-end are stock.
Each side that is polished bright is machined with an artistic wave-step accent. The rest of the frame is matte blue. Customers could order various styles of engraving, and if you wanted color case-hardening T/C would ship the gun out to the famous shop of Doug Turnbull for a one-of-a-kind firearm.
The Encore’s dragoon-style trigger guard is a full half-inch wide, which makes opening the action easy. The ejector doesn’t kick cartridges out of the gun but rather pushes them up far enough to be plucked from the chamber. The hammer is a rebounding safety type, rising up off the firing pin after the shot has been fired.
Since the gun is modular, both the fore-end and grip are interchangeable and removed easily via screws under the barrel. To change barrels, remove the fore-end, drift out the hinge pin on the receiver and remove the barrel to change calibers or for cleaning. Reinstall a new barrel and the hinge pin and reattach the fore-end.
My experience with the Encore dates back to its inception, and over the decades I have run through many chamberings that would not have been possible without the facilities of that custom shop. At the present time, the future of Thompson/Center Arms is uncertain as the parent company, Smith & Wesson, announced in May 2021 it planned to sell the brand. To date, no buyer has been found.