Thompson Center  Encore Endeavor

We started by mounting a Leupold UltimateSlam Muzzleloader/Shotgun scope in 3-9X40mm.

 

After mounting the scope we needed to bore sight it and to do this we placed the rifle in a Tipton gun vise, secured it with the barrel pointing toward a target about 20 feet away. We then removed the breech plug from the rifle and looked down the inside of the barrel, centering it on the target. We then adjusted the cross hairs on the scope to line up on the target. We have now bore sighted the scope and most of the time I am real close using this method. By securing the rifle in the Tipton gun vise, we are able to make adjustments to the scope without moving the rifle. I have tried several ways and found this to work best for me and the Tipton gun vise also comes in handy for cleaning the rifle after a day of Fun Shooting.

 

Now off to the range we headed to see how this bad boy performs. Our supplies consisted of two types of modern day, synthetic black powder, 209 shotgun primers and several sabot bullets of different weights.

After setting up targets, a Shooting Chrony F-1 chronograph and our Caldwell Lead Sled, we were ready for the first of many loud bangs, followed by a puff of smoke. 

 

I have used and had great success with Blackhorn 209 propellant by Western Powders, so it was first down the barrel. It was followed by a 250 grain inexpensive sabot bullet to test our bore sighting. After a few rounds to fine tune the Leupold scope we were now ready to test the combinations of powder and sabot bullets were we would be using on our hunts.   

 

We started with 90 grains measured in a adjustable powder measure. This devise allows you to measure powder from 10 to 120 grains and has a built in funnel spout that allows you to transfer the powder down the barrel without spilling any. NOTE: When measuring black powder, it is measured in volume.

Following the Blackhorn 209 powder was a Thompson Center Shockwave 250 grain Spirepoint #8207. 

 

Our first shot at 100 yards was about 1 inch from where the Leupold's crosshairs were pointed. We made a slight adjustment to the scope, measured out another 90 grains of Blackhorn 209 and sent another round down range. This bullet hit the bull's-eye on the target and so far we have a shooter.

We shot about 10 more loads of this combination then changed our powder measure to 100 grains and fired about 10 rounds, using the same bullet. These groups were not quite as good as the ones from the 90 grain combination but we were far from finished as we wanted to test loads up to 130 grains of powder. 

This endeavor was turning into a real fun time at the range. Normally I shoot alone. Just me and the gun but on this trip I took one of my two friends and with both of us shooting and loading, it was fun. 

We continued to increase our powder amounts by 10 grains all the way up to 130 grains.

We would swab the barrel after each group of 10 shots, even though you do not have to do this with Blackhorn 209 as it is designed to shoot cleaner than other muzzle loading powder. Each time we swabbed the barrel a light soot would come out on the cleaning patch but no big chunks like black powder leaves behind. We would also remove the breach plug on the Thompson Center Encore each time we swabbed the barrel. This process was extremely easy using only our fingers. We cleaned it thoroughly, greased it, replaced it and never needed any tools for removal or replacement. This is a real nice feature of this rifle. 

After we shot 10 each from 90 to 130 grains of powder, we had one group that was pretty darn good so we went back to that one and started adjusting our powder amounts up and down 2 grains until we found a combination that was as good as it gets with any muzzle loader, I have had the opportunity to shoot.

Of the 80 different loads we fired on this day, our most accurate was:

 Of all the loads shot in this day, our best group at 100 yards was just under 1 inch with 3 shots with the above combination. 

 

This load averaged 1980 fps, displayed on my Shooting Chrony F-1 chronograph, with a deviation of only 28 fps.  The chronograph was set up on a tri-pod approximately 20 feet from the rifle.

This means that with these 10 shots tested, the bullet left the barrel at no more than 28 fps from the fastest to the slowest. This is amazing with any kind of muzzle loader or powder. This small deviation has to be directly attributed to the consistency of the Blackhorn 209 powder. The name of the game when trying to precision shoot is consistency and this combination of rifle, bullet and powder provides you with what you need to hit the dot in the eye and not the barn door. 

 This writer is certain this rifle will put some meat on the table this year and with it's features like Composite FlexTech Stock with Energy Burners, a breech plug that is easily removable using only your fingers, MOA accuracy and it is darn good looking to boot, how can you not want one.  The Leupold UltimateSlam scope was exactly what I have become use to with their products. Crystal clear optics, precise and distinct hold points for 50, 100, 150,200, 250 and 300 yards, a range estimation feature that instantly tells you if the trophy is closer or farther than 200 yards, completely waterproof in any condition and a lifetime warranty.

 

After we had shoot all of these different loads from the Caldwell Lead Sled we wanted to test the rifle form a standing hunting type shot. With the rifle loaded with 95 grains of powder I shouldered the rifle, placed the crosshairs on the Leupold scope on the target and slowly squeezed the trigger. The scope provided a crystal clear view, the rifle felt comfortable on my shoulder and when the hammer dropped, I was right on target with my bullet. We did this several more times and with each shot we were able to place the bullet on target.  I give this a 10 out of 10 as a winning combination. I have included some sites that will be of interest to anyone reading this article. 

 

Blackhorn 209 Powder: 
http://www.blackhorn209.com/  
 
Leupold UltimateSlam Scopes:
http://www.leupold.com/hunting-and-shooting/products/scopes/shotgunmuzzleloader-scopes/ultimateslam/ 
 
Thompson Center Encore Rifle:
http://www.tcarms.com/firearms/encore.php 
 

Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe.

Jim Hammond

If everyone treated all firearms as if they were loaded,

there would be no more accidental shootings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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