Thompson/Center Arms

Last updated

Thompson/Center Arms Inc
Subsidiary
Industry Firearms
Founded1965
FounderK. W. Thompson Tool & Warren Center
Headquarters,
U.S
Products rifles, pistols
Parent Smith & Wesson
Website http://www.tcarms.com/

Thompson/Center Arms is an American firearms company based in Springfield, Massachusetts. The company is best known for its line of interchangeable-barrel, single-shot pistols and rifles. Thompson/Center also manufactures muzzle-loading rifles and is credited with creating the resurgence of their use in the 1970s.

Contents

History

In the 1960s, Warren Center developed an unusual break-action, single-shot pistol in his basement workshop that later became known as the Contender. Meanwhile, the K.W. Thompson Tool Company had been searching for a product to manufacture year-round. In 1965, Warren Center joined the K.W. Thompson Tool Company, and together, they announced Warren Center's Contender pistol in 1967. Although it sold for more than comparable hunting revolvers, the flexibility of being able to shoot multiple calibers by simply changing out the barrel and sights and its higher accuracy soon made it popular with handgun hunters. [1] As K.W. Thompson Tool began marketing Center's Contender pistol, the company name was changed to Thompson/Center Arms Company. Then, in 1970, Thompson/Center created the modern black powder industry, introducing Warren Center's Hawken-styled black powder muzzle-loader rifle. [2]

On January 4, 2007, Thompson/Center was purchased by Smith & Wesson. [3]

Smith & Wesson manufacturer of firearms and BB guns in the United States

Smith & Wesson (S&W) is an American manufacturer of firearms, ammunition and restraints. The corporate headquarters are in Springfield, Massachusetts. Smith & Wesson was founded in 1852 and after various corporate changes is now a unit of American Outdoor Brands Corporation.

On December 8, 2010, Smith & Wesson announced that the original Rochester, New Hampshire plant would be closed and manufacturing was transferred to Springfield, Massachusetts. [4]

Following the closure of Thompson / Center arms in Rochester, New Hampshire, Thompson Investment Casting opened in the same town continuing production of metal products for various companies including Smith & Wesson.

Break-action pistols

Thompson/Center's success came with the emergence of long range handgun hunting, target shooting, and, especially, metallic silhouette shooting. [5] Their break-action, single-shot design brought rifle-like accuracy and power in a handgun, which was a new concept at the time. Originally designed only for interchangeable barrels in .38 Special and .22 LR, subsequent handgun developments by Thompson/Center led to a wider range of interchangeable barrels for use with many more cartridges. Opening and closing the break-open action is accomplished by squeezing the outside bottom of the trigger guard toward the grip/buttstock, at which time the action opens, and an extractor manually extracts the cartridge.

Handgun hunting is primarily done with specialized handguns that have long barrels and are often set up with scopes.

Metallic silhouette shooting is a group of target shooting disciplines that involves shooting at steel targets representing game animals at varying distances, seeking to knock the metal target over. Metallic silhouette shooting can be done with airguns, black-powder firearms, modern handguns, or modern rifles. A related genre is shot with bow and arrow, the metal targets being replaced with cardboard or foam. The targets used are rams, turkeys, pigs, and chickens, which are cut to different scales and set at certain distances from the shooter depending on the specific discipline.

Single-shot

Single-shot firearms are firearms that hold only a single round of ammunition, and must be reloaded after each shot. The history of firearms began with single-shot designs, and many centuries passed before multi-shot repeater designs became commonplace. Single-shot designs are less complex than revolvers or magazine-fed firearms, and many single-shot designs are still produced by many manufacturers, in both cartridge- and non-cartridge varieties, from zip guns to the highest-quality shooting-match weapons.

Contender

Contender in 45 Colt/.410 with ventilated rib TC-Contender.JPG
Contender in 45 Colt/.410 with ventilated rib

The Contender, first introduced in 1967, is a break-action, single-shot pistol or rifle with a number of unique features. The first unique feature is the way the barrel is attached to the frame. By removing the fore-end, a large hinge pin is exposed; by pushing this hinge pin out, the barrel can be removed. Since the sights and extractor remain attached to the barrel in the Contender design, the frame itself contains no cartridge-specific features. A barrel of another caliber can be installed and pinned in place, the fore-end replaced, and the pistol is ready to shoot with a different barrel and pre-aligned sights. This allowed easy changes of calibers, sights, and barrel lengths, with only a flat screwdriver being required for change-out. [6]

The Encore

The Encore was released in 1983. The Encore uses a different trigger mechanism, designed to be stronger than the original Contender's and to make the break-action easier to open. The Encore uses a considerably larger and stronger frame than the Contender, and accordingly, is found in over 86 cartridges - ranging from .22 Hornet to the huge .416 Rigby. There has even been one pistol-length stainless barrel made in .600 Nitro Express. The Encore barrel list also includes shotgun barrels in 28, 20, and 12 gauge, and muzzleloading barrels in .45, .50 caliber, and 12 gauge using #209 shotgun primers. In 2007, Encore rimfire barrels became available in 22 LR and 17 HMR, featuring a unique monoblock design that required no alteration to the frame assembly.

An upgraded T/C Encore is called the Pro Hunter which generally includes stocks with rubber "Flex Tech" inserts and are stainless or carbon steel with weather shielding. There are other slight differences among the rifles including the breech plug on muzzleloader versions. [7]

The Contender G2

The original Contender, now known as the generation one (G1) Contender, was replaced by the G2 Contender soon after the Encore came out. The G2 Contender is essentially dimensionally the same as the original Contender, but uses an Encore style trigger group. Due to the changes in the trigger mechanism, and to differences in the angle of the grip relative to the boreline of the gun, the buttstocks and pistol grips are different between the G1 and G2 Contenders and will not interchange. The G2, though, uses essentially the same barrels and fore-ends as the original Contender[ citation needed ] and barrels will interchange, with the only two exceptions being the G2 muzzleloading barrels, which will only fit the G2 frame, and the Herrett barrels/fore-ends, which are specific for use only on a G1 frame. [8]

Unlike the original Contender, dry-firing of the G2 Contender is possible only in the center (safe) hammer position, located on the hammer between the centerfire and rimfire positions. Also, unlike the original Contender, the break-action does not need to be opened/closed (cycled) to practice dry-firing, provided the hammer is lowered between dry firing "shots". The adjustability of G2 Contender triggers is also slightly different from the original G1 Contender.

General legalities

The receiver on a Contender, whether G1 or G2, is the portion of the combined grip/buttstock assembly containing the trigger mechanism, and this is legally considered the serial-numbered gun. Hence, barrels with iron sights, barrels with telescopic sights, and even the hinge pin, are all simply gun parts, with no serial numbers, making the choice of changing cartridges from a multitude of rimfire, centerfire rifle and pistol cartridges, and even shotgun shells, very simple.

It is possible to fit a shoulder stock on a pistol frame in place of a pistol grip, and, when combined with a 16" or longer barrel (see "Thompson Center Arms and the Supreme Court" below), a Contender may be legally converted from a pistol to a rifle or reversed. Although it is technically possible to fit a pistol grip on an original Contender rifle frame, and use a pistol barrel to convert it from being a rifle to a pistol, this is not legal in the USA, being an illegal creation of a pistol from a rifle. In order to be able to go back and forth, the receiver must have been originally sold as a pistol, per ATF rules.

California Legalities

See Gun laws in California

  • Possession of a Thompson Center Arms .45/.410 pistol barrel is illegal in California, for both dealers and individuals, and such a barrel may not legally be shipped into the state, or even taken into California for a hunting trip, by reason of it being classified as a short barreled shotgun (SBSG) when used with a Contender receiver. [9]

Muzzleloading rifles

TC Hawken percussion rifle TC-Hawken.JPG
TC Hawken percussion rifle

Thompson Center manufactures a variety of muzzleloading rifles of both traditional and inline designs, and sells percussion and flintlock rifles in a wide variety of bore diameters. Some of the better-known models are the Renegade, the Hawken, the Big Boar, and the White Mountain.

The traditional Thompson Center muzzleloaders are largely responsible for the resurgence of black powder hunting that began in the U.S. in 1970 when Warren Center designed the firm's Hawken-styled rifle. Thompson Center's reintroduced Hawken-styled rifle with solid brass hardware and an American walnut stock, styled in large part on "plains rifles" made by Hawken in the 1800s, has become one of the most-copied firearms designs in history. [10] Thompson Center produced these rifles in the following models and calibers:

Cherokee: Barrel: 24” octagonal, twist: 1:30 (32) & 1:48 (36 & 45), Trigger: double set, Caliber: 32, 36 & 45, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued 1994, Ignition: percussion

Seneca: Barrel: 27” octagonal, twist: 1:30 (32) & 1:48 (36 & 45), Trigger: double set, Caliber: 32, 36 & 45, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued 1987, Ignition: percussion

Hawken: Barrel: 28” octagonal, twist: 1:48, except 1:66 on 50 cal deep button rifling, Trigger: double set, Caliber: 45, 50 & 54, Stock: American Walnut, Status: 45 & 54 discontinued, 50 in production, many special editions, Ignition: flint & percussion

Cougar: Special edition of the Hawken, satin finish barrel, stainless furniture, highly figured wood

Renegade: Barrel: 26” octagonal, 1:38 (50), 1:48 (50 & 54), 1: 66 (50 deep button rifling), smoothbore (56), Trigger: double set, Caliber: 50, 54 & 56, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued, Ignition: flintlock & percussion

Big Boar: Barrel: 26” octagonal, 1:48, Trigger: single, Caliber: 58, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued, Ignition: percussion

Encore 209x50 A modern design muzzleloader that can interchange with centerfire barrels. Based on a single-shot, break-action, the 209x50 is capable of "minute of angle" accuracy. The 209x50 can handle charges of up to 150 grains (9.7 g) of black powder or Pyrodex equivalent. Using a 26" barrel and a 250-grain (16 g) bullet with 3 Pyrodex Pellets, it produces a muzzle velocity of 2203 ft./second.

G2 Contender A modern design muzzleloader which accepts magnum charges for long range shooting. Charges of up to 150 grains (9.7 g) of FFG Black Powder or three (3) 50-grain Pyrodex Pellets produce velocities of approximately 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s) at the muzzle. The Omega can handle 150 grains (9.7 g) of Black Powder or Pyrodex equivalent, or three 50-grain (3.2 g) Pyrodex pellets. With its 28" barrel it burns magnum charges very efficiently.

Triumph This T/C muzzleloader comes in .50 cal. with a 28" barrel and composite stock.

Muzzleloading pistols

Thompson Center Patriot Black Powder Muzzleloader Pistol chambered in .45. Thompson Center Patriot Pistol.jpg
Thompson Center Patriot Black Powder Muzzleloader Pistol chambered in .45.
Thompson Center Scout Black Powder Muzzleloader Pistol chambered in .54. Thompson Center Scout Pistol.jpg
Thompson Center Scout Black Powder Muzzleloader Pistol chambered in .54.

Patriot: Barrel: 9” octagonal, Trigger: double set, Caliber: .36 & .45, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued 1997, Ignition: percussion.

Scout: Barrel: 15” round, Trigger: single set, Caliber: 45, 50 & 54, Stock: American Walnut, Status: discontinued 199?, Ignition: percussion.

A major factory fire at the Thompson Center factory in 1996 destroyed all tooling and parts for the Scout and Patriot pistols and the Seneca rifle. As a result they were discontinued for sale. [11]

Bolt action rifles

A T/C Venture Predator in Real Tree camouflage TC Venture Predator.jpg
A T/C Venture Predator in Real Tree camouflage

Compass
Barrel: 22", 24"
Trigger: Single stage, adjustable
Caliber: .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .308 Winchester, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 7mm-08 Remington
Stock: Polymer
Status: In production

Venture
Barrel: 22", 24"
Trigger: Single stage, adjustable
Caliber: .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, .270 Winchester Short Magnum, .280 Remington, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .308 Winchester, .338 Winchester Magnum, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 7mm-08 Remington
Variants: Blued, Weather Shield, Predator, Compact
Stock: Polymer
Status: In production

Thompson/Center Arms and the Supreme Court

In the case of United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Co. (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the company's favor by deciding that the rifle conversion kit that Thompson sold for their pistols did not constitute a short-barreled rifle under the National Firearms Act of 1934. [12]

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms contended that the mere possession of a pistol having a barrel less than sixteen inches (406 mm) long, a shoulder stock, and a rifle-length (more than sixteen inches) barrel constituted constructive intent to "make" an illegal short-barreled rifle (SBR) (by combining the pistol's frame, the pistol-length barrel, and the shoulder stock) even if the shoulder stock was intended to be used only with the rifle-length barrel.

The Supreme Court disagreed and its decision clarified the meaning of the term "make" in the National Firearms Act by stating that the mere possession of components that theoretically could be assembled in an illegal configuration was not in itself a violation as long as the components could also be assembled into a legal configuration. [13]

One argument raised was the example of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer and Diesel oil, which can very often be found together in a farmer's possession (fertilizer for the crops, fuel for the tractor.) Both are lawful, and while they can easily be assembled into the blasting agent known as ANFO, possession of both has never been held to imply (without other evidence) that a farmer was "making" explosives.

Related Research Articles

Firearm Gun for an individual

A firearm is a portable gun designed for use by a single individual. It inflicts damage on targets by launching one or more projectiles driven by rapidly expanding high-pressure gas produced by exothermic combustion (deflagration) of chemical propellant. If gas pressurization is achieved through mechanical gas compression rather than through chemical propellant combustion, then the gun is technically an air gun, not a firearm.

Semi-automatic rifle rifle that fires a single round each time the trigger is pulled

A semi-automatic rifle is a type of self-loading rifle whose action will automatically cycle a new round after each shot, but needs the shooter to manually release the trigger and reset/recock the sear and hammer/striker before pulling again to fire another shot; thus, only one round is discharged with each pull of the trigger.

Action (firearms) firearms mechanism that moves cartridges and/or seals the breech

In firearms terminology, an action is the mechanism of a breech-loading weapon that handles the ammunition or the method by which that mechanism works. Actions are technically not present on muzzleloaders, as all are single-shot weapons with a closed off breech. Instead, the ignition mechanism is referred to: matchlock, flintlock, etc.

A semi-automatic firearm, also called self-loading firearm or autoloading firearm, is one that not only fires a bullet each time the trigger is pulled, but also performs all steps necessary to prepare it to discharge again—assuming cartridges remain in the firearm's feed device. Typically, this includes extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge case from the firing chamber, re-cocking the firing mechanism, and loading a new cartridge into the firing chamber. To fire again, the trigger is released and re-pressed.

Savage Arms is a gunmaker based in Westfield, Massachusetts, with operations in Canada. Savage makes a variety of rimfire and centerfire rifles, as well as Stevens single-shot rifles and shotguns. The company is best known for the Model 99 lever-action rifle, no longer in production, and the .300 Savage. Savage is a subsidiary of Vista Outdoor.

.410 bore shotgun shell

The .410 bore or .410 gauge, is the second-smallest caliber of shotgun shell commonly available. A .410 bore shotgun loaded with shot shells is well suited for small game hunting and pest control. The .410 started off in the UK as a garden gun along with the .360 and the No.3, No.2 and No.1 bore rimfires. .410 shells have similar base dimensions to the .45 Colt cartridge, allowing many single-shot firearms, as well as some derringers chambered in that caliber, to fire .410 shot shells without any modifications.

The .256 Winchester Magnum was a firearms cartridge developed by Winchester, and was produced by necking-down a .357 Magnum cartridge to .257 diameter. It was designed for shooting small game and varmints.

Remington Model 700 rifle

The Remington Model 700 is a series of bolt-action centerfire rifles manufactured by Remington Arms since 1962. It is a development of the Remington 721 and 722 series of rifles, which were introduced in 1948. The M24 and M40 military sniper rifles, used by the US Army and USMC, respectively, are both based on the Model 700 design.

Marlin Firearms Co., formerly of North Haven, Connecticut, is a manufacturer of semi-automatic, lever-action and bolt-action rifles. In the past, the company made shotguns, derringers and revolvers. Marlin owned the firearm manufacturer H&R Firearms. In 2007, Remington Arms, part of the Remington Outdoor Company, acquired Marlin Firearms. Remington currently produces Marlin-brand firearms at its Kentucky and New York manufacturing facilities.

.30-30 Winchester rifle cartridge

The .30-30 Winchester/.30 Winchester Center Fire cartridge was first marketed in 1895 for the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. The .30-30 (thirty-thirty), as it is most commonly known, was the USA's first small-bore, sporting rifle cartridge designed for smokeless powder.

H&R Firearms Harrington and Richardson firearms manufacturer

H&R 1871, LLC is a manufacturer of firearms under the Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms trademarks. H&R is a subsidiary of the Remington Outdoor Company. H&R ceased production February 27, 2015.

Thompson/Center Contender

The Thompson/Center Contender is a break-action single-shot pistol or rifle that was introduced in 1967 by Thompson/Center Arms. It can be chambered in cartridges from .22 Long Rifle to .45-70 Government.

Break action firearm action using a hinge to expose the breech

Break action is a type of firearm action in which the barrel or barrels are hinged much like a door and rotate perpendicularly to the bore axis to expose the breech and allow loading and unloading of cartridges. A separate operation may be required for the cocking of a hammer to fire the new round. There are many types of break-action firearms; break actions are universal in double-barrelled shotguns, double rifles and combination guns, and are also common in single shot rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and can also be found in flare guns, grenade launchers, air guns and some older revolver designs. They are also known as hinge-action, break-open, break-barrel, break-top, or, on old revolvers, top-break actions.

Remington XP-100 bullpup bolt-action pistol

The Remington XP-100 is a bolt-action pistol produced by Remington Arms from 1963 to 1998. The XP-100 was one of the first handguns designed for long-range shooting, and introduced the .221 Remington Fireball and 6mm-223 6×45mm. The XP-100 was noted for its accuracy and is still competitive today in the sport of handgun varminting, which it helped create.

The Sako TRG is a bolt-action sniper rifle line designed and manufactured by the Finnish firearms manufacturer, SAKO of Riihimäki. The TRG-21 and TRG-22 are designed to fire standard .308 Winchester /7.62×51mm NATO sized cartridges, while the TRG-41 and TRG-42 are designed to fire more powerful and dimensionally larger .300 Winchester Magnum (7.62×67mm) magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6×70mm) super magnum cartridges. They are available with olive drab green, desert tan/coyote brown, dark earth or black stocks, and are also available with a folding stock.

Browning BLR

The Browning BLR is a lever-action rifle manufactured by Browning Arms Company. It comes in many different variations and is chambered in calibers from .22-250 Remington, .308 Winchester, .325 WSM and .450 Marlin.

Colt Lightning Carbine

The Colt Lightning Carbine or Colt Lightning Rifle was a slide-action (pump-action) rifle manufactured by Colt from 1884 to 1904 and was originally chambered in .44-40 caliber. Colt eventually made the Lightning Rifle in three different frame sizes, to accommodate a wide range of cartridges, from .22 Short caliber and .38-40 to .50-95 Express. Its profile resembles the pump-action rimfire rifles made by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and Remington Arms. The Lightning saw use as a sporting arm in America and was adopted for use by the San Francisco Police Department, but was never as popular or as reliable as the various lever-action rifles of its day.

Arms Tech Limited

Arms Tech Limited is a firearms manufacturing company located in Phoenix, Arizona established in 1987. The company says that its mission is to support the U.S. Military Special operations community. The company manufactures an array of firearms designed to military specifications.

The Model 721 and Model 722 along with the later Model 725 variant are bolt-action sporting rifles manufactured by Remington Arms from 1948 until 1961. The 721/722 replaced the short lived Model 720. The Model 721/722 is considered to be one of the first modern, economically produced sporting rifles whose design largely continued with the subsequent and highly successful Model 700. Manufactured with high precision, it is known for exceptional accuracy. The bolt and receiver design, based on the Mauser action, is considered one of the strongest ever produced. Samples in excellent condition have become collectible.

References

  1. Van Zwoll, Wayne (2006). Hunter's Guide to Long-Range Shooting. Stackpole Books. p. 332.
  2. Stephens, Charles (1996). Thompson/Center Contender Pistol: How To Tune, Time, Load, And Shoot For Accuracy. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press. p. 64. ISBN   978-0-87364-885-1.
  3. 13009 - Smith&Wesson: Press Releases
  4. O'Donnell, Jake (December 10, 2010). "In Rochester: Thompson/Center Arms plant to close". Fosters Daily Democrat.
  5. Simpson, Layne (January 4, 2011). "The Contender's Magnificent 7". Shooting Times. 2009 (2). Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  6. Ayoob, Massad (May 29, 2012). "Thompson Center Single Shots". Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. F+W Media. pp. 241–266. ISBN   978-1-4402-2877-3.
  7. "Interchangeable Platforms". T/C Arms. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  8. Potts, Bruce (October 1, 2008). "Thompson Center G2 Contender Rifle Review". Shooting Times. 2008 (10).
  9. "California Dangerous Weapons Control Law ARTICLE 2. UNLAWFUL CARRYING AND POSSESSION OF WEAPONS 12020". State of California. 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2013. As used in this section, a "short-barreled shotgun" means any of the following: (A) A firearm which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell and having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. (B) A firearm which has an overall length of less than 26 inches and which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell.
  10. Towsley, Bryce (2003). "The Mighty Hawken". Hunting Magazine. Petersen. 15 (6).
  11. Mark Blazis (December 7, 2012). "Outdoors: Thompson/Center Arms spirit lives on". Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  12. 504 U.S. 505 (1992)
  13. "Case syllabus from Cornell Law School". Cornell University. 1992. Retrieved October 21, 2009.