Thompson Center Muzzleloaders Pros & Cons

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50 cal Renegade flint bought in 86, 45 cal Cherokee percussion bought in 94 for my son. Still have both along with a few other European cousins. Enjoy all my BP stuff. Rifle is only as good as the shooter behind it. Happy Thanksgiving!
 
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I’ve owned most of the TC models over the years, and all were good performers. Some were a bit stout and chunky in their stock dimensions for my taste, but they shot well and dependably. My current go-to rifle is a TC Pennsylvania Hunter round ball gun. Also have a .45 caliber Seneca and a 12 gauge New Englander.

The company is not what it once was, but TC is probably responsible for bringing more shooters into muzzleloading than anyone else.
 
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The earlier ones were very well made, the later ones not so much.
Gotta heartily disagree. That is bassakwards in my experience starting in 1970. The early made TC 'not-really-hawkens-hawkens' had serious issues. These were much discussed in the magazine Buckskin Report (RIP 😭 ). Among other defects, they often did not seat the breech to the barrel causing a gap that was weak and a patch grabber. My first one was like that. Others had the breech tightened so hard trying to line up the flats it was dangerously stretched and weakened. And, the list goes on and on. Later, TC did wake up and found it necessary to stick to better QC and offer an excellent warranty. I used to write for the BR and could type many pages on this subject here.
 
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It's hard to not love TC's. The only criticism's I would say is their current prices, and the number of cracked stocks you find. I have several Hawkens and Renegades, a cherokee,a seneca, new englanders in .50 and 12ga, and a few Green Mountain barrels in .32, .36, .40, .50, .54, and .62 smoothbore. The Green Mountain barrels seem to have a real edge in accuracy. Back when they were cheap, I bought every one I saw with a good bore, and several with junk bores to fit my GM barrels.
 

dylan84

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Gotta heartily disagree. That is bassakwards in my experience starting in 1970. The early made TC 'not-really-hawkens-hawkens' had serious issues. These were much discussed in the magazine Buckskin Report (RIP 😭 ). Among other defects, they often did not seat the breech to the barrel causing a gap that was weak and a patch grabber. My first one was like that. Others had the breech tightened so hard trying to line up the flats it was dangerously stretched and weakened. And, the list goes on and on. Later, TC did wake up and found it necessary to stick to better QC and offer an excellent warranty. I used to write for the BR and could type many pages on this subject here.
Good to know because I have a later "ugly" stocked one! The barrel rifling has some tooling chatter on mine but I doubt that will hurt anything.
 

bubba.50

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I absolutely love my TC's but, they are FAR from perfect. Most problems with them can be traced to their QC or more accurately, lack thereof. From their overuse of hot-melt glue instead of working to tolerance in fitting parts, their poorly fitted breechplugs with the gap that can grab a patch like no other or as others have said stretched to almost breaking with the overtightening. Other gripes is their use of the softest, cheapest screws they could buy. And their poorly designed sights that have to be completely disassembled to remove/install. And I don't know how in the fudge they even install those front sights! And one thing that in my opinion gets wrongly blamed is the comb of the Hawken stock. It gets reviled as being the cause of cheek-slap when the real culprit is that bulbous-ass 'cheekrest'. I ask everyone who complains about it to throw the gun up to their left shoulder beforre they break out the rasps & belt sanders. I shoot right-hand guns left-handed and the Hawken lays right in the groove under my cheekbone & puts my eye right behind the sights. But if I throw it up to my right shoulder I gotta bend & crane my neck plumb sideways to even see the sights.

And although I've never seen any real adverse effect from it, I don't know what the hell they were thinking with that QLA nonsense.

About my only gripe with the Renegade other than the ones from above that apply to both is the too short length of pull & it'd have been nice if they'd had about 30 or 32 inch barrels on them.
 
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i bought a T/C Renegade used flint in (i think it was about) 1983 ... remarkably, it was well cared for and still shoots better than i can aim it ... i'm building a few more franken guns ... one a .62 smooth using a sewer pipe barrel which Bobby Hoyt bores out, and one a .54 perc.

solid performers ... many turn up their noses at these guys, but they will do their part if you do yours, and one can't reasonably ask more of a tool than that.

one guy's opinion... free and doubtless well worth the cost
 

bubba.50

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Gotta heartily disagree. That is bassakwards in my experience starting in 1970. The early made TC 'not-really-hawkens-hawkens' had serious issues. These were much discussed in the magazine Buckskin Report (RIP 😭 ). Among other defects, they often did not seat the breech to the barrel causing a gap that was weak and a patch grabber. My first one was like that. Others had the breech tightened so hard trying to line up the flats it was dangerously stretched and weakened. And, the list goes on and on. Later, TC did wake up and found it necessary to stick to better QC and offer an excellent warranty. I used to write for the BR and could type many pages on this subject here.

Yep. I have owned two first-year production Hawkens and with those poorly fitted breechplugs they were patch-grabbin’ rascals for true. And enough hot-melt glue under the tangs to assemble a model car….or two. And with those square point wedges it was hard to even put the barrel back in the stock after cleaning without knocking the escutcheons loose. But, shooters they were.
 

kentuckyjed

.45, .50, .62 cal.
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T/C .45 Hawken was my first BP, bought in 1993 the seller said if I ever got rid of it he wanted to buy it back. He has passed and it aint going nowhers. I recently acquired a New Englander in .50 with the synthetic stock, replaced the stock with a walnut one and browned everything. I have not got to shoot it yet. Anyone have any info on the New Englanders, pros/cons?
 
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Thompson Center traditional muzzleloaders, arguably the best production blackpowder guns ever made. That ought to get some blood boiling. What do you see as the pros & cons of these guns?
What's bad about them is that everyone has one. What's good is that if you don't like the 1 in 48, shallow button rifling, you can get a drop in barrel from Rice.
 
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T/C .45 Hawken was my first BP, bought in 1993 the seller said if I ever got rid of it he wanted to buy it back. He has passed and it aint going nowhers. I recently acquired a New Englander in .50 with the synthetic stock, replaced the stock with a walnut one and browned everything. I have not got to shoot it yet. Anyone have any info on the New Englanders, pros/cons?
Good functional hunting gun. Great that you can switch from a 50 caliber to a 54 caliber or a 12 gauge barrel. Bad thing is the lack of and high price for the 12 gauge barrel. All around basic hunting gun.
 
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No one has mentioned the greatest PRO for the TC Hawken.
I will go back to when I could afford a BP rifle in the 1960's. It was hard to scrape up enough dollars to afford the longrifle I bought from Tuner Kirkland.
At a later date when I moved back to Florida I joined the Central Florida Muzzleloaders. That was in about 1970. The TC Hawken had not been on the market long and suddenly the numbers of members started increasing rapidly. It seems that the TC Hawken was the affordable tool that helped boost the increase.
By 1975 our membership had grown to 150+ and the vast majority of shooters were using TC Hawken rifles, somewhere along that time the Seneca came out and there was a rifle that suited the ladies and kids.
Not only did these rifles shoot well the warranty was rock solid. If some of you old timers remember it was popular for while to use fiberglass ramrods to load and clean. These rods wore the muzzle of the rifles severely and the accuracy fell off notably. TC replaced those barrels at no charge.
I cannot remember the reason now but at a later date TC farmed out the barrel making to other suppliers and some of them were a disaster.
In the final analysis I thank TC for bringing more people into muzzle loading than anyone else.
 

bat119

32 Cal
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I have three Hawkens one in 50cal and two in 54 excellent rifles that felled many deer although I haven't connect on a moose yet! My only complaint is the factory sights they are too large the bead almost covers the black at 100 yards. I replaced the sights on the 50 back in the 80's with a set of Williams gold bead these greatly improved my 100 yard targets, these sights are no longer being offered by Williams. I recently found a NIB old stock Green mountain 1:28 54 barrel equipped with Williams Fiber optic sights, my first thought was to replace them with more traditional sights however after shooting for a while they were an improvement for my tired old eyes.
 
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Have owned at least a half-dozen T/C Hawkens, Renegades and New Englanders since 1972, all percussion since I live in the land of perpetual rain known as the Pacific Northwest. That first Hawken was .50 caliber, everything afterward either .54 or 12 gauge (the New Englander) and all successful both afield and on paper.

But now -- despite living where constant rain makes flintlocks undependable at best -- the skyrocketing prices, shortage (and probable prohibition) of percussion caps has prompted me to assemble a pair of .50 caliber Pedersoli flintlock Kentucky Pistol kits and acquire (after a two-year search and thanks entirely to Track of the Wolf) a very early .50 caliber (four-digit SN) T/C flintlock Hawken with a properly sparking frizzen, a perfect, non-patch-grabbing bore and a stock that after I stripped off the aged factory varnish and applied a dozen coats of hand-rubbed linseed oil revealed a subtle but truly beautiful grain (see pictures).

Changed the T/C flash-hole liner for the far superior Ox-Yoke variety, as I had done with the Pedersolis. Had to replace the brass ramrod thimbles with steel ones to afix sling swivels, and hope to find an all-steel T/C peep sight for a far more rational price than the $160 for which they now sell on eBay and Gunbroker. (There's a tinny/aluminum Lyman available, allegedly for T/C, but this piece of junk also requires substantial mutilation of the stock to fit, which of course obliterates any resale value the piece might have after I -- now age 82 -- am no more.)

Best thing about the tang-mounted T/C peep is you can replace the issue mid-sight with the so-called T/C "primitive" sight, drift out the sight itself, replace it with a folding Marbles or Lyman sight and use it to confirm the T/C peep is still properly zeroed after disassembling the rifle for cleaning. Thus if anyone has a T/C peep that's even red with rust and otherwise NRA Ratty, I'd be interested were the asking price rational.

Apropos cleaning T/C arms -- raised as I was on original flintlock and percussion muzzle-loaders and corrosive .30-'06 military ammo -- the one sure way to clean a muzzle loader (or the '03 Springfield and M-1 service rifles of my generation) is with laundry soap and hot water followed by a boiling-water flush to heat the steel to the point it dries quickly with only a few patches, the process finished with a bore-mop soaked in Balistol or some other dedicated gun oil.

Only problem is I'll probably never get to test fire any of these guns; I don't drive anymore -- CHF occasionally passes me out -- and though I'm a life member of Tacoma Sportsmen's Club, the range buddies upon whom I was dependent for drives to and from the firing lines are now all either dead or disabled. Even so, the projects themselves remain most interesting.
 

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Have owned at least a half-dozen T/C Hawkens, Renegades and New Englanders since 1972, all percussion since I live in the land of perpetual rain known as the Pacific Northwest. That first Hawken was .50 caliber, everything afterward either .54 or 12 gauge (the New Englander) and all successful both afield and on paper.

But now -- despite living where constant rain makes flintlocks undependable at best -- the skyrocketing prices, shortage (and probable prohibition) of percussion caps has prompted me to assemble a pair of .50 caliber Pedersoli flintlock Kentucky Pistol kits and acquire (after a two-year search and thanks entirely to Track of the Wolf) a very early .50 caliber (four-digit SN) T/C flintlock Hawken with a properly sparking frizzen, a perfect, non-patch-grabbing bore and a stock that after I stripped off the aged factory varnish and applied a dozen coats of hand-rubbed linseed oil revealed a subtle but truly beautiful grain (see pictures).

Changed the T/C flash-hole liner for the far superior Ox-Yoke variety, as I had done with the Pedersolis. Had to replace the brass ramrod thimbles with steel ones to afix sling swivels, and hope to find an all-steel T/C peep sight for a far more rational price than the $160 for which they now sell on eBay and Gunbroker. (There's a tinny/aluminum Lyman available, allegedly for T/C, but this piece of junk also requires substantial mutilation of the stock to fit, which of course obliterates any resale value the piece might have after I -- now age 82 -- am no more.)

Best thing about the tang-mounted T/C peep is you can replace the issue mid-sight with the so-called T/C "primitive" sight, drift out the sight itself, replace it with a folding Marbles or Lyman sight and use it to confirm the T/C peep is still properly zeroed after disassembling the rifle for cleaning. Thus if anyone has a T/C peep that's even red with rust and otherwise NRA Ratty, I'd be interested were the asking price rational.

Apropos cleaning T/C arms -- raised as I was on original muzzle-loaders and corrosive .30'06 military ammo -- the one sure way to clean a muzzle loader (or the '03 Springfield and M-1 service rifles of my generation) is with laundry soap and hot water followed by a boiling-water flush to heat the steel to the point it dries quickly with only a few patches, the process finished with a bore-mop soaked in Balistol or some other dedicated gun oil.

Only problem is I'll probably never get to test fire any of these guns; I don't drive anymore -- CHF occasionally passes me out -- and though I'm a life member of Tacoma Sportsmen's Club, the range buddies upon whom I was dependent for drives to and from the firing lines are now all either dead or disabled. Even so, the projects themselves remain most interesting.
Absolutely beautiful finish, well done Sir.
 
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Put me in the “love em” camp. Got mine in the early 80’s, Hawken in 50. I’m thinking of re-barreling or sleeving the tube. The 10’s of pounds of powder run through it not to mention all the experiments done I’ve done with it. I burned out several nipples in the early days of my BP education and the T/C just kept on ticking.
 
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