Gary Reeder
When the Contenders first came out in 1967 or so
Wednesday, July 10, 2024, 12:45

they had a lot of rough edges but for handgun hunters we were in heaven. The first couple of years they were chambered in calibers like 38 Special, 45 Auto, 22 Hornet and such. No calibers for hunting deer size animals but for small game hunters it was a whole new world.
The Contender at the time had a rough trigger and cocking the hammer was just as hard. Changing barrels wasn't easy either, sometimes having to beat the barrel pin out with a hammer. Plus if you cocked the gun but were not able to get a shot you could just sit there with a cocked loaded gun or you could hold the hammer, pull the trigger and let the hammer down. But as was mentioned above to cock the gun again you had to open the action, slam it shut and then cock the gun again. A lot of movement and noise but no way around it.
The thing is, even with all the hoops we had to jump thru we loved that pistol. Whether it be hunting squirrels or deer we actually had a real honest to God hunting handgun and a good chance to take whatever game we were hunting.
A year or two after the gun was introduced a handgun scope was introduced. Even though it was only a 1½ power scope with long eye relief we thought we had it made.
Those were the days. I really miss them but don't think I could go back to those early days. We are spoiled these days. We have calibers that we can "easily" take a Cape Buffalo or a bull elk with and with our high powered optics shots at 200 yards are pretty much child play.
We didn't know how much we depended upon the current Contenders and Encores until the company went under. It was like we lost a good friend. We had to go cold turkey there for a couple of years with no Contenders, G-2s or Encores available. We have been building custom TC barrels since 1978 but for the last year or so no parts have been available to build those custom barrels. But now with Thompson Center being bought again by Greg Ritz, one of the original owners, hopefully we will have the TC guns and barrels to choose from again.

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