TC Encore Muzzleloader 300 Gr. Hornady SST Accuracy

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 3 shot group

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 1 5/8" three shot group at 100 yards with a 1x scope! I was shooting 300 Gr. Hornady SST bullets, in front of 100 Grains of Triple Seven FFG powder.

Velocities for these three shots were 1842, 1870, and 1821. I also recorded a 1841 on another shot to verify the scope adjustment before taking the 200 yard shot below.

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 200 yard shot

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 200 yard shot with a 1x20 Nikon Scope, Hornady 300 Gr SST bullets and 100 grains of Triple Se7en FFG powder.

There was a left to right wind so the drift right of center would be expected.

 

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter, EGW Rail, 1x20 Nikon Scope

The EGW rail, medium height Weaver four bolt tactical rings and 1x20 Nikon scope fit the Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter nicely.

There is just enough clearance to move this extra long eye relief scope forward, still clear the hammer spur and keep the scope nice and low.

After my first time out with my new TC Encore muzzleloader I wasn't super happy with the accuracy. It shot the 250 Gr. SST bullets pretty well but not as good as I would have liked. I'm betting that the bullets were not to fault but the Triple 7 pellets.

After researching more on the web going with loose powder appears to be the ticket for consistent velocities. For this time out to the range I decided to try the 300 Gr. SST with Triple 7 FFG loose powder.

I went with 100 Grains of Triple Seven FFG powder and the first three shots with this load produced a 1 5/8" group at 100 yards. Awesome! This really amazed me as it is with a 1x scope. This is the accuracy I was looking for when I upgraded to the TC Encore Pro Hunter this year. I'm happy with the accuracy now. I also noticed that the velocities are more consistent with the loose powder over the pellets.

I wonder what kind of groups this combination could do with a scope that had some magnification? Hmm...

I researched a lot of muzzleloaders this past summer. I looked at all sorts from Knights to Gunwerks' 5k muzzleloaders. After all was said and done I felt the Thompson Center Encore offered the best accuracy and quality for the price. And to be quite honest the Encore is a pretty nice looking modern muzzleloader. So many of the modern muzzleloaders have such a goofy look to them.

After shooting the three shot group I adjusted the scope to get the point of impact dead on for 100 yards. I then plugged in the conditions, velocity etc into my Android Strelok app and came up with 5.46 MOA for a 200 yard shot. I dialed up 5.5 on my Nikon 1x20 scope and took a 200 yard shot and hit a 5 inch diameter bullseye. Awesome! Just what I want to be able to do in the field like I do with my high power rifles. I love dialing up the shot and holding dead on.

One thing I found while shooting this muzzleloader is that Winchester primers which includes the shotgun and Triple Seven primers are just a hair too long for the action on this muzzloader. When you try to cock the hammer it won't cock. I have to open the action and shut it a couple times to bend the primer enough to allow the hammer to cock. I may have to pre-bend some primers before I hunt with them so I am not opening and shutting the action over and over in the field.

Less than a month to go till the Utah muzzleloader deer season. I'm feeling pretty confident with this setup.

Here's what I saw on my first mule deer scouting trip.

TC Encore Pro Hunter - First Time Out With My New Muzzleloader

 

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter with EGW Rail and 1x20 Nikon Scope

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter with EGW Rail, one inch medium height Weaver 4 screw tactical bases and 1x20 Nikon scope.

 

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 100 yard group

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 100 yard group with a 1x20 Nikon Scope, Hornady 250 Gr SST bullets and two Triple Se7en pellets.

 

200 yard shots with a 1x20 Nikon Scope, Hornady 250 Gr SST bullets and two Triple Se7en pellets

Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter 200 yard shots with a 1x20 Nikon Scope, Hornady 250 Gr SST bullets and two Triple Se7en pellets.

 

I always loved the muzzleloader season in Utah back in the day when you could hunt in November. Since they moved the season to the end of September I haven't been as fond of it.

This year I didn't draw my first choice of hunting with a rifle for mule deer here in Utah. So hunting with a muzzleloader was my second option. Knowing how hard I work to get into areas to hunt I decided it was time to step up from my CVA muzzleloader to something better. After mulling over all the different muzzleloaders on the market I finally decided the Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter was what I felt would best fit my needs, within the price range I could come up with the funds for.

Sportsman's Warehouse had both a camo and black stainless version in the rack and I walked out with the black one for $680.

Trying to decide on what powder, the charge, and bullets has been a challenge. There are a lot of options... To start with I tried going with two Triple Seven pellets of powder behind a 250 Gr Hornady SST sabot bullet. This had pretty decent accuracy considering I am restricted to a one power scope in Utah.

Deciding optics has been a interesting challenge. There are very few options in the one power range, especially when it comes to a turret that you can dial in the shot. Yes, I would like to range the deer at 185 yards, dial in the scope and take the shot.

I ultimately chose the Nikon 1x20 scope but the other two options were a Vortex 1x scope and a Night Force 1x scope that is custom built for Gun Werks. The Night Force would be the best but not for $1700. Not a chance for me to get.

I went back and forth between the Vortex and Nikon. Ultimately I went with the Nikon because I already had one from my old CVA and I felt the optics were a little clearer. Neither scope is exactly what I would like. I feel that both scopes have way to heavy of cross hairs. The cross hairs cover up a six inch circle at 100 yards. I wish they would make the cross hairs ultra fine with an illumination option for low light conditions like on the Vortex Viper PST scopes.

After getting an EGW rail and Weaver four screw tactical rings for my X-Bolt last year and loving them I decided to get some from SWFA.com for my new muzzleloader.

After doing some more research I am going to try Triple Seven FFG loose powder with these bullets. I think I will start with this powder in a 100 grain charge on my next trip to the range.

Rifle Golf with a 270 WSM at Spirit Ridge

270 WSM Berger VLD Hunting Bullet

My very accurate hand loaded 270 WSM Berger VLD Hunting Bullet.

 

Model 1885 in 270 WSM at Spirit Ridge

My Winchester Model 1885 in 270 WSM sporting a Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 scope with the 1000 yard club cap I received for hitting the 1000 yard target.

 

The DIY Hunter with my 270 WSM Winchester Model 1885.

Me with one of my favorite rifles, a Model 1885 chambered in 270 WSM at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course.

 

In July of 2014 I was back out to Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course. I have learned a few things from shooting the course in 2013 and was ready to have fun and learn some more.

As I did in 2013 with a 243 WSSM Model 1885, I shot the Masters course which has most targets in the 500 to 1000 yard range.

This time out I shot my Winchester Model 1885 in 270 WSM. I had recently worked up a very accurate load with 150 Gr Berger VLD Hunting bullets and was ready to shoot the Master's Course.

The highlight of the day was when I hit the small plate at 1000 yards. This was pretty cool. I just missed the target on my first shot and was able to catch the point of impact in my scope so I then held for the slight adjustment and smacked the steel on my next shot at 1000 yards. Way fun!

Shooting the course was fun as usual. I was shooting a little high all day long and after some investigation into the reason I found it to be the barometric pressure. I learned a very important lesson from this trip. Using a default barometric pressure in my Strelok ballistics app will not give me accurate results on the amount of adjustment I needed to dial in the shot with my Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope.

I had no idea the barometric pressure made such a difference and I found that it really does when you start shooting out past 500 yards.

I'll be better prepared for next time.

 

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