“It’s a single shot.”
“What if I need to take another shot?”
“It’s damn near heavier than a bolt, probably less accurate too”
These were some of the objections rolling around in my head why I didn’t need to buy the TC Encore Pro Hunter I had in my hands, but they failed to stop me for one compelling reason: it felt so natural. My hand grasped the pistol grip, raised the compact, fluted heavy barrel up, and I planted my face on the cheek rest. It felt like second nature from the first time I put hands on the Encore Pro Hunter. All those prior objections melted away. If you haven’t picked up an Encore, I highly encourage you do so, but make sure you have a few bucks in the bank…just in case you love it.
The Thompson Center Pro Hunter is another step in TC’s evolution. Famous for their break barrel Contenders, that evolved into to the beefier Encore action that the Pro Hunter uses, TC’s rifles are known to be great quality and targetted towards hunters. The Pro Hunter is very different to the standard Encore by the number of and types of features available.
The action on the Pro Hunter is an exposed hammer, break barrel single shot. These actions are extremely compact length wise, enabling you to field a shorter gun or longer barrel than you could with a different action. This action opens by pulling the trigger guard back using the hook on the bottom of the guard. There is no safety, but you can safely move with a round in the chamber by keeping the hammer forward. The hammer is rebounding type that will not rest on the firing pin. The hammer also swings to the left or right,.which is necessary if you plan to put a scope on the rifle.
The action hinges with the barrel and forestock by means on a large pin. Oversize pins that give a tighter lockup are available in the aftermarket, but I haven’t felt them necessary to use because the accuracy I’ve seen has been fine. Removing the forestock exposes the hinge pin and allows you to swap barrels. Personally, I much prefer a bolt for high power varmint hunting, semi auto for lower power plinking, and dedicated double barrel shotguns for clays, so I don’t really make use of the multi barrel capability. I did make use of it to trade my 300 win mag barrel for a 7mm-08 so that my wife could use the rifle. Since they all cost about the same, being able to trade barrels with other pro hunter owners is interesting. The fact that the barrels are stainless, and that the action is single shot reduces the chances of getting a shot out, rusty barrel in trade.
The stock is a big differentiator here and a strong reason why I chose the pro hunter over a lower priced Encore. I went for the camo dipped version because I wanted to (and have) hunt with it. You’ve got your choice between a pistol grip or thumbhole stock. I went for the pistol grip stock because that’s what was in stock and it felt right. When I did fire the 300 win mag with the pistol grip stock, I could feel a lot of rotation upon firing. It torqued up and popped the barrel up. I think the thumbhole stock would do a better job of putting that recoil back into you instead of rotating on the pistol grip as it did. With the lighter recoiling 7mm-08, it wasn’t really an issue. One thing that I kind of expected to be better on this rifle stock was all the sharp plastic edges. There’s an annoying one along the front of the pistol grip, near the trigger guard, and on the forend where the inserts are. I’d like to have seen these sharp edges rolled or milled down when they made the cuts, especially on a rifle at this price point. The buttpad on the stock is squishy and soaks up all kinds of recoil. It has no issue taking the kick completely out of the 7mm-08 and cut down the sharpness on the 300 win mag as well.