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Thread: Contender fans?

  1. #1
    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Default Contender fans?

    I know the TC Contender was a hot item back when I was a little guy and shooting steel rams was a big thing, but it seems like you don't hear as much about them now. I had always wanted one and honestly didn't know why, as I prefer to do my handgun hunting with a wheelgun, but now through a series of good deals I'm the owner of one. As I've thought about it over the last few days I think I have found a reason to hang onto it.

    As I'm setup now all I have is a gen1 Contender with a Super 14 barrel chambered for the 35 Remington. I chose this barrel because not only was it cheap, but it has a combo of about the most recoil I want and enough power for pretty much any game I might encounter with it, and I already had beaucoup brass, bullets, and a die set.

    I plan to get my hands on a 10" 22lr barrel to go with it for small game sometime soon. When I have the two barrels my thinking is that it will be a easy to cram in a camp box combo to do double duty on flyout hunting trips. Leave the 22 barrel on it for ptarmigan and rabbits for the pot and have the centerfire barrel tucked away somewhere incase someone's rifle goes south during the trip. I usually pack an extra of some description but often find that I've packed the wrong one, IE I have my 22 and someone's scope breaks, or I pack an extra rifle or my 44 and we fill our tags and are up to the eyeballs in ptarmigan around camp. This will mean less weight and I'll always have the right extra gun.

    Ive got lots of books on Contenders and loading for them, but I like to hear of real world experience if possible and go from there. So if any of you use or used to shoot a TC, pull up a chair and spin some yarns. If you have any caliber suggestions that you think may better serve my wants by all means tell me what you know. Loads would be welcome as well.

  2. #2

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    Lotta years with them, but stopped with them close to 20 years ago.

    Biggest thing to overcome is packing one with that 14" barrel and a scope. I tried everything- slings to holsters. Ended up carrying the Contender in a shoulder holster under my left arm and a 7.5" Redhawk in a holster under my right. Two Gun Pete! Actually it was really slick. Carry the RH in my hand in cover, then switch when things opened up for long shots. Meanwhile both hands could be free for scrabbling uphill or contending with brush while packing game. I ended up preferring the 357 Herret to the 35 Rem, but the 375 JDJ over either. Biggest booboo you can make is push loads in the 35 Rem. If the case seizes the chamber wall even a little, the puny rimless extractor is going to skip the rim at least, or bend and need replacement at worst. Not an issue with either the Herret or JDJ.

    Favorite barrel was the 222 topped with a 6x scope. The 22LR was right there with it. Topped with a 4x scope it was an honest-to-goodness 100 yard beer can gun if I did my part.

    Enjoyed the TCU barrels (6mm, 6.5 and 7mm), but this was early enough that all of them suffered from lack of suitable bullets.

    The 256 Win barrel (10") is a great barrel, but kinda neither fish nor fowl for small game or deer. Loaded down for small game, it always made me wish it was a 25-20. The 44 mag and 44 Hot Shot barrels were great, but got rid of them and went with a 45 Colt barrel reamed out to also accept 410 shells and had a removable choke.

    I'm forgetting some barrels, but those are the high points.

  3. #3
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    I wouldn't even worry too much about the 22 barrel as a slow moving 38spl lead bullet loaded in 35Rem brass will do as well. Or substitute a 22H barrel for the 22lr and load varmit and sub sonic for it for 3 guns in one. Versatility is what the TC is all about.

  4. #4

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    I have about 15 barrels for mine, had it since I was a kid. Still one of my favorite guns. Plenty of deer taken with the 30-30 barrel and I plan to take a moose this year with my 375 JDJ barrel. For my 35 remington super 14 barrel, I like a 180 grain hornady ssp with 38 grains of hodgdon varget.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Can't say I've been a big Contender fan…but I love the 30-30 barrel loaded with suitable pointy bullets and I'd love to have another stainless one with that .410 barrel for a camp gun.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    10" .44 Mag.
    10" .357 Maximun
    10" 30/30
    14" .445 SuperMag

    The .44 and 30/30 have accounted for numerous deer. Still have not taken anything with the .445 but it is almost equal to the 45/70. It is a beast to shoot. There is nothing wrong with a Contender. I was working up a load for the .44 using a 225 Sierra one day and shot a 50 yard, 3 shot group that measured .375 ctc. It proved too light for Northern NY whitetails. The 30/30 is awesome too using a 150 grain rn. I don't know why more sheep and goat hunters don't use a pistol.

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  7. #7
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    Killed a nice caribou at 146 yards with a 7-30 Waters in a T/C pistol that belonged to my hunting partner. When I got home I went and bought me a Encore pistol in 308. Love it!!

  8. #8
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    22 hornet Super 16
    23" 204 ruger custom taper
    26" 204 ruger custom bull
    23" 30/30 bull
    23" 375 jdj bull
    the 22 hornet has been around over 20 years, sweet shooting trapline gun. The 30/30 has been around 4 years, bagged a moose with it last season. The 375 jdj and the 2 204's are new, no story's behind them yet. Past few years have been working construction jobs not much time to put mileage on the barrels.
    oops, forgot to add a used 10" 357 picked up recently. When have time off from work, I can finally hit the reload bench and see what I come up with. But, I do know the 22 hornet will retire the ruger 10/22 I have. Rimfire ammo prices are nuts out in the bush.

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    I've only shot mine with oct. 10" .22LR and a 10" .45/410 barrel. It's been lots of fun so far. I couldn't hit much with the 410, but I had a friend that could hit clays with it...I didn't let him shot it after he made it look so easy.

    I have barrels in 14": .223, 30-30, and 410 vet rib (?) waiting for me to retire so I have time to play. I'd like to have a 375 JDJ, but it's never made it to the top of the want list.

    bellmtcs.com has a lot of good information on TCs.

  10. #10
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I got rid of my contender years ago as while I enjoyed all the shooting I did with it and all the barrels and chamberings I tested, I just found myself packing an iron sighted revolver and scoped rifle.

    That said, I preferred the compactness and balance of the 10" contender. In a 10" contender the two tubes I suggest you try are the 221 fireball and the 357 maximum. The 357 max is an often overlooked round and in the contender it really shines. As the case is smaller in dia than the 357 herret and 35 rem, it can opperate at higher pressure. Due to the higher pressure the diminutive 357 max can produce performance on par with the 357 herret and 35 rem. With my 10" 357 max I was pushing 200 gr cast 1900+ fps.

    If you want to try one of the 6.5's or 7's I'd opt for one of JD Jones wildcats or something based on the 444. I had a 6.5 based on the 30-30 and while it would give the 6.5 JDJ a run for it's money in terms of velocity and accuracy, cases suffered incipient case head seperation after 3 firings. I tried everything in terms of fireforming and case sizing and nothing helped. I just don't care to toss brass after 3 firings.

    The good thing about the contender is there are so many barrels out there you can most often pick one up, a set of used dies, try it out and if it doesn't live up to your expectations or you tire of it you can sell the setup for what you have in it.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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    In the mid 80's a coworker sold me one with a 10" octagon barrel in 44 with a 1.5X TC scope for $100. It had a serial number in the mid 13K range and sported a couple of notches in the handle the thief put there that stole it from him and killed two people in a robbery.
    I put a 14" 223 barrel and a set of Pacmeyer grip on it and using H223 it would shoot .3 groups at 100 yards. The only thing I ever killed with it was a few Jack Rabbits and a Javelina.

    I sold it a few years later to buy an XP100 in 7BR to get into Pistol Silhouette. Flash forward about 25 years and after eating dinner at Bass Pro I was strolling through the gun dept ad there sat a TC in 223 with the 14" barrel and a 2x7 scope. The rest is a blurr as I ended up taking that home and a fancy looking Winchester Model 12 that looked unfired. As it turned out it was made in 1953 and the young sales guy who sold it to me for $325 said it was not original and had been reblued and a vent rib added. Boy was he wrong.

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    I've been a Contender junkie for most of my life. I find my infatuation with them waxes and wanes, but it never completely ceases. I've shot dozens of them and have narrowed my love to just a few. I've a 22LR barrel (Super 14) that impresses anyone that shoots it. It is heavy and awkward, but its accuracy is unquestionable. I've a used various rifle cartridges for the Contender, but with the exception of the .223, I keep coming back to straight wall cartridges--particularly the .44 Mag and .357 Maximum. In several barrels I could never get the performance and accuracy from the 35 Remington that I can from the Maximum, but that could have been my small sampling size.

    I've used the factory irons a good bit, but my abilities are greatly magnified with a 2-4X scope. I've gotten exceptional accuracy from them as a whole, but their balance and my ability to shoot them in field positions has mostly relegated them to varmint shooting and just pure fun. I've tired of them as of late, but maybe my infatuation will be rekindled some day.........
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

  13. #13

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    I have a 7-30 Waters that I like very well. I have a 2.5 X 8 Leupold on it and it is very accurate. I have shot one of these in .223 a bunch and will buy a barrel in this caliber in the near future.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    They will let you know if your revolver ammo is loaded to hot as all the gas goes down the bore and not out the bc gap.It really opened my eyes many years ago and glad it did.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Cast Iron: do you find the full range of the 2.5X8 useful?

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    Thanks for all the input guys. I'm still shopping for a 22 barrel, if any of you have one you'd part with I'd be interested, round or octagon doesn't matter, I've accumulated 4 different forends already so I'm ready for about any barrel.

    It really is amazing how many options are out there as far as calibers go, some very odd to me. Can't think of a good reason I'd want a contender chambered for 9mm but I've found 2 different barrels so chambered. The 25/20 is kind of intriguing to me, as is the 7 TCU since I have a rifle so chambered and already load for it. Maybe next weekend I'll get some time to hit the range and wring out my 35 barrel.

  17. #17

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    LeonardC I do like the full range of the 2.5 X 8. I do most of my hunting with some of the lower power settings and use the 8 power setting mostly for sighting in and working up loads. All my other pistol scopes are fixed power and they do ok. When I buy another one I will probably spend the extra money and get another 2.5 X 8 leupold. I normally keep my hunting shots to around 100 yards or a little over so I do not need the higher settings most of the time. When target shooting I will shoot at 200 and 300 yards with this pistol sometimes and it is nice to turn it up to 8 power. Most of my shots at game are in low light conditions and the mid range seems to gather light a little better.

  18. #18

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    Kid the reason I don't own a .223 is because of all the offerings out there. I have not been in a hurry to get one because I know one will come my way before long. I hope your 35 does as good for you as my 7X30 Waters has for me. I have shot several deer with it and have not had one go over 25 to 30 yards yet. Most have dropped in there tracks.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    Maybe next weekend I'll get some time to hit the range and wring out my 35 barrel.
    If you're shooting handloads, be sure to take along a range rod.

    Then be gentle when you break it open after a shot. If there's the least resistance, let the range rod free-fall down the bore to "tap" the case and pop it free.

    That extractor is really TENDER, and it's easy to mangle it with a stuck case. At best it will jump the rim without bending and leave you in need of the range rod. At worst, it will bend the extractor before jumping the rim.

    You simply don't have much leeway in case expansion beyond that of factory loads.

  20. #20

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    I started shooting TCs back in 1972.Since then, I've owned or shot TCs in the following chamberings...that I can remember:>

    22LR...22Mag...22KHornet...222Rem...6.5 JDJ...7 TCU...7/30Waters...30 Herrett..309JDJ...30/40AckleyImproved... 375JDJ ..44 mag...444Marlin...45/70...410/45Colt etc.

    Currently, I own none of the above.And regret not having even one around.

    TCs are like rotary dial up phones...they worked fine in their era, but have been surpassed by much improved technology.

    And despite all of TC's efforts to upgrade TCs (not the Encore), they are still relatively weak actions that, if stressed, will sooner or later embed a cartridge case in the forehead of the shooter.Like any break open action where the locking bolt gives way.

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