Thompson/Center Contender pistol
|Place of origin||United States|
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.
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.
A pistol is a type of handgun. The pistol originates in the 16th century, when early handguns were produced in Europe. The English word was introduced in ca. 1570 from the Middle French pistolet. The most common types of pistol today are the single shot and semi-automatic. Automatic pistols are less common due to laws and regulations.
A rifle is a portable, long-barrelled firearm designed for accurate long-range shooting, to be held with both hands and braced against the shoulder for stability during firing, and with a barrel that has a helical pattern of grooves ("rifling") cut into the bore wall. The term was originally rifled gun, with the word "rifle" referring to the machining process of creating groovings with cutting tools, and is now used for any long handheld device designed for well-aimed discharge activated by a trigger, such as the personnel halting and stimulation response rifle. Rifles are used extensively in warfare, law enforcement, hunting and shooting sports.
Warren Center, working in his basement shop in the 1960s, developed a unique, break-action, single-shot pistol. In 1965, Center joined the K.W. Thompson Tool Company and they introduced this design as the Thompson-Center Contender in 1967. Although they cost more than some hunting revolvers, the flexibility of being able to shoot multiple calibers by simply changing the barrel and sights and its higher accuracy made it popular with handgun hunters.As K.W. Thompson Tool began marketing Center's Contender pistol, the company name was changed to Thompson/Center Arms Company.
Originally the chamberings were on the low end of the recoil spectrum such as .22 LR, .22 WMR, .22 Hornet, .38 Special, and .22 Remington Jet, but as Magnum calibers took off in the 1970s, the Contender quickly became very popular with shooting enthusiasts.
The .22 Long Rifle or simply .22 LR is a long-established variety of .22 caliber rimfire ammunition, and in terms of units sold is still by far the most common ammunition in the world today. It is used in a wide range of rifles, pistols, revolvers, smoothbore shotguns, and even submachine guns.
The .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, also called .22 WMR, .22 Magnum, .22 WMRF, .22 MRF, or .22 Mag, is a rimfire cartridge. Originally loaded with a bullet weight of 40 grains (2.6 g) delivering velocities in the 2,000 feet per second (610 m/s) range from a rifle barrel, .22 WMR is now loaded with bullet weights ranging from 50 grains (3.2 g) at 1,530 feet per second (470 m/s) to 30 grains (1.9 g) at 2,200 feet per second (670 m/s). Compared to the faster but lighter .17 HMR, the .22 WMR impacts targets with higher kinetic energy within its effective range, albeit with a less flat-shooting bullet arc.
The .22 Hornet or 5.6×35mmR is a varmint, small-game, predator, and competition centerfire rifle cartridge commercially introduced in 1930. It is considerably more powerful than the .22 WMR and the .17 HMR, achieving higher velocity with a bullet twice the weight of the .17 HMR bullet. The Hornet also differs very significantly from these in that it is not a rimfire but a centerfire cartridge. This makes it handloadable and reloadable, and thus much more versatile. It was the smallest commercially available .22 caliber centerfire cartridge until the introduction of the FN 5.7×28mm.
The most unusual feature of the Contender is how 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 or length 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 this change.
The Contender frame has two firing pins, and a selector on the exposed hammer, to allow the shooter to choose between rimfire or centerfire firing pins, or to select a safety position from which neither firing pin can strike a primer. The initial baseline design of the Contender had no central safe position on the hammer, having only centerfire and rimfire firing pin positions, each being selectable through using a screwdriver.
Rimfire ammunition refers to a type of metallic firearm cartridges. It is called rimfire because the firing pin of a gun strikes and crushes the base's rim to ignite the primer. Invented in 1845, by Louis-Nicolas Flobert, the first rimfire metallic cartridge was the .22 BB Cap cartridge, which consisted of a percussion cap with a bullet attached to the top. While many other different cartridge priming methods have been tried since the 19th century, only rimfire technology and centerfire technology survive today. The rimfire .22 Long Rifle cartridge, introduced in 1887, is by far the most common ammunition in the world today in terms of units sold.
Three variants of the original Contender design were later developed, distinguished easily by the hammer design. The first variant has a push button selector on the hammer for choosing rimfire vs. centerfire, the second variant has a left-center-right toggle switch for selecting center fire-safe-rimfire firing pins, and the third variant has a horizontal bolt selection for choosing center fire-safe-rimfire firing pin positions. All three of these Contender variants have a cougar etched on the sides of the receiver, thereby easily distinguishing them from the later G2 Contender which has a smooth-sided receiver without an etched cougar. Some of the very earliest Contenders, those requiring a screwdriver to switch the firing pin between rimfire and centerfire, had smooth sides, without the cougar etched on the sides.
The original Contender designs have an adjustable trigger, allowing the shooter to change both take-up and overtravel, permitting user selection of a range of trigger pulls ranging from a fairly heavy trigger pull suitable for carrying the pistol while hunting to a "hair trigger" suitable for long range target shooting (see accurize).
Unlike the later G2 Contender, the original Contender may be safely dry-fired (provided the hammer is not drawn back from the second notch) to allow a shooter to become familiar with the trigger pull. The break-action only has to be cycled, while leaving the hammer in the second notch position, to practice dry-firing. G2's with switchable firing pins (centerfire or rimfire) can be safely dry-fired with the hammer only in the safety (center) position.
Barrels have been made in lengths of 6, 8 3/4, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 21 inches (530 mm). Heavier recoiling cartridge barrels have been made with integral muzzle brakes. Barrels for the original Contender may be used on the later-released G2 Contender and G2 barrels may be used on original Contender frames with a serial number greater than 195000.
The earliest barrels, from early 1967 to late 1967, were all octagonal with a flat bottom lug, and were available in only 10 and 8 3/4 inch lengths. The next group of barrels, from late 1967 to 1972, were available in 6, 8 3/4, and 10 inch lengths. Later, round barrels were added in a wider variety of lengths, including 10", 12", and 14". Likewise, round barrels in heavier (bull) barrel configurations, known as Super 14 pistol and Super 16 pistol barrels, respectively, were added. Carbine barrels in 16 and 21 inches were added for the Contenders.
Sights on all the pistol barrels have varied, ranging from low sights, only, in the earlier years to a choice of either low or high sights, as well as no sights, for those pistol barrels intended for use with a scope. Various barrels have sometimes included ejectors as well as extractors, or extractors, only, as well as containing either a flat bottom lug, a stepped bottom lug, or split bottom lugs. Barrels have been made available in either blued or stainless configurations, to match the finish available on Contender receivers.
Unlike most other firearm actions, the break-action design does not require the barrels to be specially fitted to an individual action. Any barrel, with the exception of a Herrett barrel, that is made for a Contender will fit onto any frame, allowing the shooter to purchase additional barrels in different calibers for a fraction of the cost of a complete firearm. Since the sights are mounted on the barrel, they remain sighted-in and zeroed between barrel changes.
Pistol grips, butt stocks and fore-ends have been made available in stained walnut, or in recoil reducing composite materials. Different pistol fore-ends are required for the octagonal versus the round versus the bull barrels. The fore-ends have had an assortment of either one or two screw attachment points, used for attaching the fore-ends to the barrel with its matching one or two attachment points. Universally, the fore-ends, in addition to attaching to the barrel, cover the single hinge pin that connects the barrel to the receiver.
The wood stocks and forend are made specifically for Thompson Center by a sawmill in Kansas.
Calibers available for the Contender were initially limited, stopping just short of the .308 Winchester-class rifle cartridges. However, almost any cartridge from .22 Long Rifle through .30-30 Winchester is acceptable, as long as a peak pressure of 48,000 CUP is not exceeded. This flexibility prompted a boom in the development of wildcat cartridges suitable for the Contender, such as the 7-30 Waters and .357 Herrett and the various TCU cartridges, most of which were commonly based on either the widely available .30-30 Winchester or .223 Remington cases. The largest factory caliber offered for the Contender was the .45-70, which, although a much larger case than the .308, is still feasible because of the relatively low cartridge pressures of the original black-powder round relative to the limits of the bolt face of the Contender receiver. Custom gunmakers have added to the selection, such as the J. D. Jones line of JDJ cartridges based on the .225 Winchester and .444 Marlin. Other barrel makers pushed beyond the limits the factory set, and chambered Contender barrels in lighter .308-class cartridges like the .243 Winchester. The Contender can fire .410 bore shotgun shells, either through the .45 Colt/.410 barrel or through a special 21-inch (530 mm) smoothbore shotgun barrel. A ported, rifled, .44 Magnum barrel was made available for use with shotshell cartridges in a removable-choke .44 Magnum barrel, with the choke being used to unspin the shot from the barrel rifling, or, by removing the choke, for use with standard .44 Magnum cartridges. The degree of flexibility provided by the Contender design is unique for experimenting with new cartridges, handloads, barrel lengths, and shotshells.
The original Contender is now known as the generation one (G1) Contender and was replaced by the G2 Contender in 1998. The new design is 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 uses essentially the same barrels and fore-ends as the original Contender 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.
In both the light novel and the anime, Fate/Zero protagonist Kiritsugu Emiya uses a Contender as his weapon of choice. In the anime, the Contender is chambered in .223 Remington, which can be identified from the rear sights of the gun. In the light novel, it is specifically noted that the Contender is a modified variant with the option for barrel-changing and is chambered in .30-06.
The Thompson Arms Contender is also used in the John Woo movies Hard Boiled and Hard Target, with the characters Mad Dog and Emil Fouchon wielding them respectively.
A cartridge or a round is a type of pre-assembled firearm ammunition packaging a projectile, a propellant substance and an ignition device (primer) within a metallic, paper or plastic case that is precisely made to fit within the barrel chamber of a breechloading gun, for the practical purpose of convenient transportation and handling during shooting. Although in popular usage the term "bullet" is often used to refer to a complete cartridge, it is correctly used only to refer to the projectile.
The term "derringer" has come to refer to any small-sized handgun that is neither a revolver nor a semiautomatic pistol. It is not to be confused with mini-revolvers or pocket pistols, although some later derringers were manufactured with the pepperbox configuration.
The Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Single Action Army, SAA, Model P, Peacemaker, and M1873 is a single-action revolver with a revolving cylinder holding six metallic cartridges. It was designed for the U.S. government service revolver trials of 1872 by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company—today's Colt's Manufacturing Company—and was adopted as the standard military service revolver until 1892.
The Steyr Scout is a modern scoped bolt-action rifle manufactured by Steyr Mannlicher and chambered primarily for 7.62 NATO, although other caliber options are offered commercially. It is intended to fill the role of a versatile, lightweight all-around rifle as specified in Jeff Cooper's scout rifle concept. Apart from the barrel and action, it is made primarily of polymers and is designed to be accurate to at least 300–400 meters. The Steyr Scout is also available in 5.56 NATO, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .376 Steyr and 7mm-08 Remington.
.22 Short is a variety of .22 caliber (5.6 mm) rimfire ammunition. Developed in 1857 for the first Smith & Wesson revolver, the .22 rimfire was the first American metallic cartridge. The original loading was a 29 or 30 gr bullet and 4 gr of black powder. The original .22 rimfire cartridge was renamed .22 Short with the introduction of the .22 Long in 1871.
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.
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.
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.
The Smith & Wesson Model 17 is a six-shot double-action revolver chambered for .22 LR. It is built on Smith & Wesson's medium-sized K-frame.
A caliber conversion sleeve or adapter sleeve is a device which can be used to non-permanently alter a firearm to allow it to fire a different cartridge than the one it was originally designed to fire. The different cartridge must be smaller in some dimensions than the original design cartridge. Alternative names sometimes imply the type of dimensional difference. A chamber insert may be used for a shorter cartridge of similar base diameter. A supplemental chamber or cartridge adapter is typically used for a shorter cartridge of reduced diameter. A cartridge conversion sleeve may include a short barrel of reduced bore diameter. Shotgun conversion sleeves may be called subgauge inserts, subgauge tubes, or gauge reducers. Sleeves intended for rifle or handgun cartridges may have rifled barrels. Additional variations may allow centerfire weapons to fire rimfire ammunition and/or retain autoloading function with the smaller cartridge.
A combination gun is a firearm that comprises at least one rifled barrel and one smoothbore barrel, that is typically used with shot or some types of shotgun slug. Most have been break-action guns, although there have been other designs as well. Combination guns using one rifled and one smoothbore barrel usually are in an over and under configuration. Side-by-side versions are referred to as cape guns. A drilling is a combination gun that has three barrels. A vierling has four barrels. Combination guns generally use rimmed cartridges, as rimless cartridges are more difficult to extract from a break-action weapon.
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.
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.
The Marlin Model 1894 is a lever-action repeating rifle introduced in 1894 by the Marlin Firearms Company of North Haven, Connecticut. At its introduction the rifle came with a 24-inch barrel and was chambered for a variety of pistol rounds such as .25-20 Winchester, .32-20 Winchester, .38-40, and .44-40. Variants in other chamberings remain in production today.
A handgun is a short-barrelled firearm that can be held and used with one hand. The two most common handgun sub-types in use today are revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.
22 caliber, or 5.6mm caliber, refers to a common firearms bore diameter of 0.22 inch (5.6 mm). Both the .22 Long Rifle and 5.56×45mm NATO/.223 Remington cartridges are very widely used.
The 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum or 5mm RFM is a bottlenecked rimfire cartridge introduced by Remington Arms Company in 1969. Remington chambered it in a pair of bolt-action rifles, the Model 591 and Model 592, but the round never became very popular, and the rifles were discontinued in 1974. About 52,000 rifles and 30,000 barrels for the T/C Contender pistol were sold during its brief production run. Remington discontinued the cartridge itself in 1982, leaving owners with no source of ammunition.
The CZ-550 is a bolt-action hunting rifle series manufactured by Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod. The CZ 550 series is available with a medium or magnum sized action. The CZ 550 rifle resembles the Mauser 98 rifle series, though it is not an exact copy.
The term .32 rimfire refers to a family of cartridges which were chambered in revolvers and rifles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These rounds were made primarily in short and long lengths, but extra short, long rifle and extra long lengths were offered.