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It is finally alive, been acquiring parts from all over the US to build a three hundred and thirty eight Winchester mag Thompson Center Encore. She came out pretty well I think.

Waiting for some brass which is terribly hard to get these days to handload some test rounds. I once had a very accurate Sako Finnbear in 338 and still have the loading equipment so getting this one stoked will be easy. Took several head of big game and and probably a couple of dozen woodchucks with that Sako rifle, some good memories.

The hardest part was getting the 338 barrel, they are rare and I was outbid a bunch of times on any that came up on ebay and gun broker, once I had the barrel picking up the rest of the parts was was not bad. Every part was used except the walnut forend. 

Al

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Edited by airedale
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3 minutes ago, Farflung said:

How much does it weigh?

It is pretty heavy with that 28 inch barrel and beefy walnut stock I am guessing around 9 lbs with the scope. The 338 kicks a bit so the extra weight will calm that down some.

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Fine rifle, Al....Love the walnut, love the deep blue, love the quality,  love the caliber, no doubt one of the very best medium bore chamberings...

But DAMN, what an ugly design....If I had a dog that ugly I'd shave his ass and make him walk backwards....<<grin>>.....

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Love it, especially with the blued action and stainless barrel. Stock is a little shiny for me to hunt with , but I really like it .

The Encore is a great gun to have a magnum in. You can have a long barrel with a reasonable gun length. 

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Pygmy said:

But DAMN, what an ugly design

:D LOL, Dan I have to agree somewhat on the look of the TC Encores, they certainly do not have the beautiful flowing lines of design like a Ruger Number 1 or a Winchester High or Low wall. What captures my admiration for them is their versatility, it is truly a single firearm for almost any kind of hunting. Once a frame is acquired the sky is the limit, muzzleloader barrel, Turkey shotgun barrel, regular shotgun barrel, just about any rifle barrel can be had including rimfires. Stocks of many designs and materials are also available. To top it off they perform, accuracy is top notch and despite their quirky looks the ergonomics are superb. Bottom line once you mess around and get some experience with them they grab you.

As for the 338 Winchester mag cartridge I wanted to own one again more out of a nostalgia thing than anything else and try to make up for the dumbass move of trading off the Sako Finnbear many years ago.

With the new lightweight bullets available for the 338 these days the old shell takes on a whole new perspective. Back when I handloaded for my first one a 200 gr bullet was the lightest available and the cartridge was considered by most to be suitable best for game on the large side like Moose, Elk and big Bears and for a lot of the plains game of Africa. Today there are bullets to be had weighing 185 175 and 160 grs for Deer, they not only shoot laser flat they also reduce recoil considerably. I picked up a couple of boxes of Barnes 160 grain copper bullets and their loading data gives recipes that send those bullets screaming at 3400 fps. If they shoot accurately which by all accounts they do we have a long range Deer proposition that takes no backseat to anything.

Al

Edited by airedale
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  • 3 months later...

So I loaded up some 338 ammo to fire in this Encore and see how it performs, I used some Sierra 250 gr spitzer boat tails that I had on sitting my shelf that are at least 50 years old. These 250s were one of Elmer Keith's favorite for the 338 mag. Personally I favored the Hornady 200 gr spire points, they were very accurate in my old Sako Finnbear, the recoil was not too bad and on game they worked out well for me so I never loaded up the Sierras. As mentioned above I also have some 160 gr Barnes coppers I want to load but powder for the lighter bullets is so hard to come by right now I am going to have to wait.

So right off the bat I have a problem, the hammer spring in this particular Encore frame is for a light pull and it will not strike hard enough to set off a magnum primer. So to keep things moving along I switched out the 338 barrel to another Encore frame had a 22-250 barrel on it with a stock hammer spring. That frame has a synthetic stock setup that is much lighter than the wood stock pictured. 

So reliability was totally fine, the heavier weight hammer spring set off the magnum primers with zero problem. The bad part was the wicked recoil with the light weight stock setup, I will be installing a heavy weight spring in the wood stocked Encore frame and hopefully with the much heavier gun the recoil will be a bit more tolerable.

The rifle grouped those Sierras very well and I am totally happy about that but the recoil is bad, I took a bruising, I guess I am getting soft in my old age. I have some powder ordered for the lighter bullets and that will make a difference also.

Something else will make a difference the next time around, Amazon has a big sale right now on the Caldwell Lead Sled so one of those will be here shortly LOL!

Al

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Edited by airedale
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Love the Lead Sled!!! Even for smaller calibres. It just holds the rifle nicely for sighting in work.

When I was younger, recoil never bothered me too much at all. We were in a shotgun only zone, and shot cases of one ounce slugs over the decades. The shoulder bruising was just an accepted part of rang time! And we didn't have much in the way of rifles, except old 30-30's and a couple 06's our fathers had. So we would shoot those occasionally too. I don't remember anything having a recoil pad, until my first Ithaca Deerslayer.

Once rifles were made legal here in the early 2000's my wife gifted me a Savage Axis, in 7mm-08 for Christmas. That rifle changed everything for me! Just at the time my shoulders were getting bad. Hardly ANY recoil!! And DRT performance on deer! What could be better!! I did move up to a 270 with the same results. And that's what I use now.

My point is, at this stage, I don't think I would enjoy much recoil at all. But you going down to a 160g bullet, along with the walnut stock. That should cut down considerably, the felt recoil of your beautiful TC 338. And make it much more enjoyable to shoot at the range. While hunting, not many even realize recoil at all during the moment of truth. So still hoping to see that rifle laying across a deer this fall!

 

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So I just popped on amazon real quick and that really is a steal for that sled. 

Has anyone used one like it before? I am wondering how much recoil it cuts down on. I've been thinking about getting this style for a while now to help my daughter move up to a higher caliber than a .22 

It's a 2 part problem for her, noise and recoil. OK maybe a 3 part problem. Noise, recoil and her own head. If she can get past the nervousness of something new she will be fine its just getting to that point that's difficult. 

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15 minutes ago, Moho81 said:

So I just popped on amazon real quick and that really is a steal for that sled. 

Has anyone used one like it before? I am wondering how much recoil it cuts down on. I've been thinking about getting this style for a while now to help my daughter move up to a higher caliber than a .22 

It's a 2 part problem for her, noise and recoil. OK maybe a 3 part problem. Noise, recoil and her own head. If she can get past the nervousness of something new she will be fine its just getting to that point that's difficult. 

For a 243 or anything in the 22 caliber range, there will be no recoil felt at all when using the Lead Sled. Just add a little weight to keep it stable. A good set of ear protection muff's will help her with the noise part. And having dad calmly and softly, talking her through everything, will have her shooting like a little trooper!

Have fun out there!!

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On 7/13/2021 at 7:16 PM, airedale said:

It is pretty heavy with that 28 inch barrel and beefy walnut stock I am guessing around 9 lbs with the scope. The 338 kicks a bit so the extra weight will calm that down some.

I had a Ruger tang safety M77  in .338.... Very accurate, but it kicked the snot out of me....  I had it ported and that reduced the recoil some but then it was loud  as hell   Darn near deafened  a hunting partner who was lying on the tundra beside me when I shot a caribou...  I finally  peddled it and bought a  9.3 x 62....It  handles big bullets well out to 300 yards and doesn't scramble my ( meager) brains nearly as badly shooting from the bench..

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On 10/15/2021 at 11:14 AM, Pygmy said:

I had a Ruger tang safety M77  in .338.... Very accurate, but it kicked the snot out of me

Years ago I did quite a bit of shooting with some heavy hitters, while I won't say it was enjoyable I seemed to tolerate heavy recoil much better than I do today. My shooting style and technique has changed quite a bit to mostly rimfire and varmint rounds off the bench, their recoil is light and I hardly hold these guns when they are being shot from a rest and bench, after many thousands of rounds that easy holding method has become habit. Firing a heavy hitter using those methods will give you a rude awakening and I got one when sighting in that 338.

Anyhow the Lead Sled arrived today and I got it assembled and it appears to be a very well made piece of equipment. I have my Dad's Marlin 45-70 model 95 to sight in as I put a 1x4 Leupold on it after removing the 2.5x8 Leupold that was on it and putting it on the Encore 338. Those two rifle will give this Lead Sled a good workout and test when this rain lets up.

The Lead Sled after assembly with my tang safety Ruger 220 Swift light sporter sitting in the saddle.

Al

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Edited by airedale
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