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The Truth About Encore

Before we can begin to talk about the truth about the Encore, I felt the need to talk about the marketing methods of the hunting industry... yes marketing.

It takes us years of being the consumer of hunting products before we can really figure out whether a company is telling us the truth about a product or not. Only after being “had” a few or, in some cases many times, of buying hunting products that did not perform as they were marketed do we really begin to see through their advertising ploys.

For instance, one of my favorite marketing tag lines comes from Scent Lok: “forget the wind, just hunt”. Now I have been a whitetail hunter for almost 40 years and always have and always will take the wind into account on all of my whitetail hunts. No article of clothing is going to change that, ever. To prove my point let’s look at one of Scent Lok’s biggest promoters, Drury Outdoors and their videos & tv shows. Although their hunters make a big deal about wearing ScentLok, on MANY of their hunts they talk about how they have been waiting for days for the right wind before hunting a particular stand. Why do this if you can “forget the wind, just hunt”? I’ll assure you that Drury Outdoors doesn’t kill the size of whitetails they do by not taking the wind into account.

Now that brings us to the tag line of “Americas Gun Maker” - yes, Thompson Center. Have you ever asked yourself what makes them Americas Gun Maker? Well, I think it’s purely their ability to have one of the very best marketing programs in history! They PAY for all those famous celebrity so called “Pro Staffers” to shoot their rifles, and they PAY for all the well-known critics to give you their opinion....so really, what can the celebrities & critics say? It’s a paycheck for them.

It is not TC’s ability to produce a true, high-quality, out-of-the-box rifle. Maybe you’ve guessed I’m now talking about the Encore and/or Pro Hunter.

TC’s marketing will lead you to believe that you have purchased, or will purchase, the most accurate rifle ever made and I can assure you that this is not the case. By looking at and holding one of these rifles, you get the feeling that you have a quality piece of equipment. But in most cases, the first trip to the rifle range will leave you wondering.

The fact of the matter is, Thompson Center could send a high- quality rifle out the door, every time, but they just don’t quite finish the job. Their attention-to-detail is not up to the image they project. They leave a lot of the fine finishing and quality craftsmanship, as far as proper functioning and accuracy goes, out of every rifle. In my opinion all they have sold any of us is a good looking, versatile and over priced rifle that needs some improvements done on it before it can truly be called a high- quality and accurate rifle.

At MAX, we thank the good Lord everyday for allowing us to see through it all. Because of TC's short comings, we are in the business we’re in today. The bottom line is, we think Thompson Center has taken everyone’s money on a sub-standard, over-priced rifle. At MAX, we have we have found the ways to make these rifles work like they should! After the big mouth full I said above, I must say that I love the Encore rifle system. That’s right, you heard me correctly. After a few modifications, it is an outstanding rifle, among the best in the world. Now ask yourself, how does Russell know all this and why should I trust him as to what’s wrong with this rifle and how to fix it? My answer to you is: because of my extensive shooting history, I was able to do the RESEARCH. I seeked out the country’s best experts, I did the extensive shooting, and to put it all together to make my rifle an excellent piece of equipment.

I have had unlimited access to dozens of Encores and Pro Hunters and have really worked hard to find the problems that are inherent, or common, with each one. The most widespread problems with these rifles are: 1) the barrel, 2) the triggers, and 3) hinge pin fit. Along with some marketing hoo-doo people need to get past. All of these problems are easy to fix with the right knowledge, tools and equipment.

First of all, let’s debunk what we believe is advertising hogwash: Cleaning between shots. Most shooters don’t understand the importance of how to clean and load a muzzleloader properly for maximum performance and accuracy. At MAX we don’t believe in a fowling shot, or simply making a rifle dirty before loading. In short, all it does is make your rifle dirty and in some cases, harder to load. Most importantly, you can’t control the condition of the barrel by doing this. The only thing that we can have control over is how clean the barrel is, so this is what we go with (*with the exclusion of someone using Black Horn 209). We give extensive information and very specific tools you can use to get a consistently clean barrel in our first two videos: “Maximizin’ Your Muzzleloader for Pin-Point Accuracy” and “Precision Fire Inlines”. You can also see our recommended loading and cleaning procedures in great detail in our videos.

Next is the rifle’s barrel. My extensive research has shown that a rifle that has had 50 to 70 rounds fired through it is more prone to produce tighter and more consentient groups than a barrel that has not been broken in. What I’m saying is, it takes a lot of shots to be fired through a Thompson Center barrel in order to smooth out the rough tool marks left behind from the manufacturing process, therefore allowing it to get broken-in and settled-down in order for it to be able to provide tight groups. At MAX, we have now found a way around this.

The way to go, without question, is a new Bergara drop-in barrel. These barrels are made in Spain by a group of very dedicated and skilled Spanish craftsman in a manufacturing process that is second to none. These barrels are like getting a custom, hand-lapped barrel right out of the box! All of the Bergara barrels we have tested in both muzzleloader and center fire have produced 1-inch or better groups immediately, without any breaking-in or settling-down shooting expense or time, better than you will ever get out of a Thompson Center directly off the shelf!  One of the best things about these barrels is the price, you can save $75.00 to $100.00 by buying one of these barrels rather than a TC. What we are recommending to our customers is to buy just the Encore frame and then buy a Bergara barrel; you will come out with a lot better rifle and for a cheaper price by going this route. You can see exactly what I’m talking about in my new video “Super MAX Your Encore”.

Now for the trigger. The best I can say about the quality of the trigger in the Encore or Pro Hunter is: shame on Thompson Center. In factory, out-of-the-box rifles, we have found as much as 5 lbs of pull weight difference from rifle to rifle! Our research has found this defect to be due to the very crude and rough finish condition of the internal parts to include the trigger, sear and hammer. I will say that we have found the inner-workings of an Encore to be very simple and the problems are very easy for almost anyone to fix. With a little work, these rifles can have a very clean and crisp trigger, in fact some of the best triggers I’ve ever used. I have covered how to do this with great detail in my new “Super MAX Your Encore” video and have put together a Trigger Job Kit that includes all the parts needed to upgrade your trigger.

The last big problem that we have found with these rifles is the hinge pin fit. A proper hinge pin fit is crucial in having a rifle that will shoot tight, consentient groups. This is another area that we have found huge variances from rifle to rifle right from the TC factory. We have started dealing with Bellm TC and using their custom hinge pins since late 2008 with a significant improvement in the performance of our test rifles. What you’re looking for is for the hinge pin to fit snug in the frame and barrel lug holes. In most cases a Bellm 1X or 2X pin will fix the problem. In some extreme cases these holes may have to be reamed out, which again is a simple fix that almost anyone can do with the proper tools. For more on this topic see our page on “Hinge Pins”.

Although I now sell a lot of the items mentioned in this article, I did not write it for any other reason than to point out the problems that are inherent with most Encore and Pro Hunter rifles and to let you know that there is, in most all cases, a simple and easy fix to all of these problems. It’s all about accuracy. After all my research, I wanted to share what I figured out with all other TC consumers.

I hope you chose MAX to help you obtain maximum performance from your rifle. All of our accuracy solutions came from a lot of research, shooting and aligning ourselves with the nation’s experts on this rifle system. I want all of our customers or potential customers to know that we have no sponsors and we foot the bill for all of our Muzzleloader Projects. Once we figure out what works and what doesn’t we seek out dealerships so that we can offer these products to you too. We will only sell the very best products and never cut corners when it comes to our research. We truly want our customers to have the same confidence in their rifles as we have in ours. We hope you will use MAX for all your accuracy needs.



where accuracy & performance are the only options