BRUSH-COUNTRY BUSTER: THE BREAK-ACTION THOMPSON/CENTER ENCORE KATAHDIN PRO HUNTER CARBINE IN .45-70 IS A POTENT, PORTABLE TOOL THAT'S MADE FOR HUNTING DANGEROUS GAME.
The Encore series called the Pro Hunter consists of several iterations of various calibers and barrel lengths. One new version is called the Pro Hunter Katahdin. The Katahdin name is appropriate because it comes from the highest mountain in the state of Maine: a granite mountain that is 5,267 feet high at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Called simply "Katahdin" by the locals, the name means the "Great Mountain" in the language of the Penobscot.
The mountain is home to a wealth of big game, including black bears, whitetails, and moose. T/C says that the Katahdin rifle is designed for "hunting moose in the thick cedar swamps of northern Maine." It is an appropriate pairing.
The Pro Hunter Katahdin is offered in three real thumper cartridges: .460 S&W Magnum, .500 S&W Magnum, and .45-70. This gun is not for sissies.
I received a new Pro Hunter Katahdin in .45-70 for this report. The .45-70 Government cartridge has been with us since 1873, and while dozens of faster, larger, and smaller cartridges have been developed since, the .45-70 still occupies a prominent place in the cartridge picket fence. Big-game hunters and target shooters of all stripes appreciate its fat, slow, heavy bullets that consistently bag game, knock over silhouettes, and punch holes in distant paper.
The frame is the same for all Encores, so any accessory Encore barrel will fit this frame. The Pro Hunter Katahdin is strikingly handsome. The stainless-steel frame and barrel have a lustrous matte finish, and the barrel is fluted. The barrel has a nice red fiber-optic front sight, and an excellent, fully adjustable rear peep sight is mounted close to the breech end. The barrel is drilled and tapped for scope mounts, but that requires removing the rear sight. With a scope mounted, the hammerspur is pretty hard to access due to the scope's eyepiece, and T/C solves this minor problem by making the hammerspur adjustable. It can be moved to the right or to the left for better access and locked in position with a setscrew.
The Pro Hunter Katahdin comes with T/C s FlexTech stock that features soft, molded-in gripping surfaces on the forearm, pistol grip, and cheekpiece. They flex upon firing a round and soften the recoil. The color is what I'd call a dark gray or maybe "off black." In any event, it's attractive and comfortable to hold. In addition, the stock ends with a 1-inch-thick Simms recoil pad that also softens the blow of the powerful loads for which the Katahdin is chambered.
The Encore Pro Hunter Katahdin with open sights weighs 6.0 pounds. For testing, I mounted a Leupold VX-1 3-9X 40mm scope with Duplex reticle, and it brought the rig's weight up to 7.0 pounds.
I must relate a minor problem encountered when mounting the scope. With the scope bore-sighted, the point of impact was about 3 feet below point of aim at 100 yards, much more than the range of adjustment of the scope. This could have been easily remedied by shimming the scope base, but because I was not taking it hunting, I just placed another target below my "aiming" target and tested loads with no problem. But it's something to keep in mind if you're installing a scope on your Encore.
I fired several .45-70 factory loads for accuracy and velocity in the Pro Hunter Katahdin, and most were pretty mild, no doubt due to the fact they have to be safe in weaker vintage rifles originally chambered for the round, including Trapdoor Springfields. Thus, pressures are held to about 28,000 psi. Nevertheless, these loads aren't wimps and delivered 1,650 to 2,000 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle.
Accuracy with almost all loads was excellent, ranging from 1.3 to 1.7 inches at 100 yards. The average group size of all factory loads was 1.68 inches. That's more than adequate for about any game hunted with a rifle chambered in .45-70. The smallest group with factory fodder was also the most powerful: the Hornady LEVERevolution 325-grain FTX.
Groups averaged 0.84 inch. Velocity was 1,923 fps, and muzzle energy was 2,669 ft-lbs.
The Fort Scott Munitions 300-grain Solid Copper Spun bullet also produced good accuracy; it averaged 1.02 inches. Federal's 300-grain JHP averaged 1.36 inches, which also is not too shabby. The only laggard in the accuracy department was the Winchester 300-grain JHP, which strung shots in vertical lines and averaged 3.44 inches, top to bottom. It also produced an extremely high velocity extreme spread of 156 fps, which resulted in a standard deviation of 64 fps.
In addition to the factory ammo, I developed several handloads, all of which produced a significant increase in horsepower. I used proven load data that had been pressure tested and kept pressure to about 38,000 psi. The muzzle energies of these handloads were as high as 3,200 ft-lbs.
Top performer was the Nosier 300-grain Ballistic Tip Hunting bullet. (Warning: This sharp-pointed bullet is not suitable for lever guns with tubular magazines.) Atop 55.5 grains of H4198 powder, velocity was 2,196 fps, and at 3,213 ft-lbs, muzzle energy was the highest of any handload tested. With a charge of 60.0 grains of IMR 8208XBR, accuracy averaged 0.83 inch, which was the best of the bunch.
Another winner was the Kodiak 350-grain Bonded Bullet over 56.0 grains of Benchmark. Velocity averaged 1,888 fps, and accuracy averaged 0.94 inch. The Hornady 350-grain Flat Point shot into 0.91 inch with a velocity of 1,834 fps. The powder charge was 47.5 grains of H4198. The Speer 400-grain Flat Point also favored Benchmark, and 55.0 grains produced 1,852 fps, a group average of 2.22 inches, and an average muzzle energy of 3,047 ft-lbs, the second highest of any load I fired.
The grand old .45-70 traditionally has been loaded with cast lead bullets, and 500-grain bullets traveling at about 1,200 fps have slain countless thousands of American bison. I used the excellent cast bullets from The Oregon Trail Bullet Co., but similar bullets are available from many other sources. I chose Oregon Trail's 350-grain gascheck and 405- and 500-grain plainbase bullets for my handloads. All performed really well and would make perfectly fine hunting loads for almost any big game. Accuracy averaged from 1.00 to 1.20 inches, with excellent ballistic uniformity.
The Encore Pro Hunter Katahdin is a great rifle, and the .45-70 is a great cartridge. However, there can be too much of a good thing, and here we must take the bitter with the rotten. With the heavier jacketed bullet handloads, not only is the power level up, but so is the recoil--substantially.
Recoil is both subjective and objective. How shooters perceive recoil varies with their individual makeup and experience level. The objective component can be quantified. In addition to the recoil energy (in ft-lbs), the recoil velocity of the gun (in fps) is extremely important in how recoil "feels." Maj. Sir Gerald Burrard, in his scholarly work The Modern Shotgun (1961), detailed many aspects of a gun's recoil. He spent much time observing British soldiers shooting .303 service rifles and concluded that the threshold velocity of the recoiling gun that induced flinching in riflemen was about 16 fps.
For most factory loads fired in the scope-sighted Pro Hunter Katahdin (weighing 7 pounds), the recoil energy was about 16 to 20 ft-lbs, and the recoil velocity was 13.5 fps; both values are in the "tolerable" range. The heavier handloads had more recoil (around 32 ft-lbs) and higher recoil velocity (up to 17 fps). Note that if the gun is fired with open sights (weighing just 6 pounds), the recoil of such loads jumps to 44 ft-lbs, and the recoil velocity goes up to 20 fps.
Shooters can conveniently partition their ammo into two power levels: mild factory loads or equivalent homebrewed ammo and more potent handloads tailored to match whatever the need. In the field, the big-game hunter or backwoods wanderer can take comfort in the fact that such loads would cleanly take just about any game for which the .45-70 is suitable, within its range limit.
My gun's mainspring was very strong and made the hammer difficult for me to cock. I generally used both hands to cock it when firing from the benchrest. Also, my gun's trigger pull was pretty heavy, averaging 6 pounds, 2.5 ounces. And right out of the box, the action was stiff and rather hard to open. By the end of my shooting session, the action was much easier to open and close, but the hammer still required strong effort to cock it. I don't see any of this as major detractions because the Pro Hunter Katahdin is such a well-made, good-shooting carbine, but these are things I think readers should know.
The Pro Hunter Katahdin version of the T/C Encore represents a modern, straightforward approach to the vexing problem of power, portability, economy, and versatility. It's a fast-handling, compact carbine that's ideal for hunting big, dangerous game in brush country, and it makes a fine companion for fishermen in bear country as it can deliver a bone-crushing blow to a recalcitrant bruin or any other critter with fang or claw bent on harm.
Caption: Appropriately named for the highest mountain in Maine, the 20-inch- barreled Encore Pro Hunter Katahdin is built for big, dangerous-game hunting in brush country.
Caption: The stainless-steel Pro Hunter Katahdin has a high-visibility red fiberoptic front sight. The rear sight is a fully adjustable peep type. It must be removed in order to install scope mounts. To make cocking the singleshot Pro Hunter more convenient if a scope is mounted, the hammerspur can be swung to the right or the left and secured in place.
ENCORE PRO HUNTER KATAHDIN MANUFACTURER Thompson/Center Arms tcarms.com TYPE Break-open single shot CALIBER .45-70 CARTRIDGE CAPACITY 1 round BARREL 20 in. OVERALL LENGTH 34.5 in. WEIGHT, EMPTY 6.0 lbs. STOCK Black Flex-Tech forearm and butt- stock with Simms recoil pad LENGTH OF PULL 14 in. FINISH Matte stainless SIGHTS Fully adjustable peep rear, red fiber- optic front TRIGGER 6.16-lb. pull (as tested) MSRP $852 T/C ENCORE PRO HUNTER KATAHDIN ACCURACY & VELOCITY POWDER BULLET (TYPE) (GRS.) .45-70, 20-in. Barrel Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip H4198 55.0 Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip IMR 8208XBR 60.0 Hornady 350-gr. FP H4198 47.5 Hornady 350-gr. FP IMR 8208XBR 55.0 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded Benchmark 56.0 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded H4198 46.0 Oregon Trail 350-gr. Cast GC 5744 26.0 Speer 400-gr. FP Benchmark 55.0 Oregon Trail 405-gr. Cast FP 5744 28.0 Oregon Trail 500-gr. Cast RN Varget 37.0 Hornady LEVERevolution 250-gr. MonoFlex Factory Load CorBon DPX 300-gr. HP Factory Load Federal 300-gr. Fusion Factory Load Federal Power-Shok 300-gr. JHP Factory Load Fort Scott 300-gr. SCS Factory Load Winchester Super-X 300-gr. JHP Factory Load Hornady LEVERevolution 325-gr. FTX Factory Load VEL. BULLET CASE PRIMER (FPS) .45-70, 20-in. Barrel Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip Horn. CCI 200 2196 Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip Horn. CCI 200 1996 Hornady 350-gr. FP Horn. CCI 200 1834 Hornady 350-gr. FP Horn. CCI 200 1808 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded Horn. CCI 200 1888 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded Horn. CCI 200 1788 Oregon Trail 350-gr. Cast GC Win. Fed. 215 1172 Speer 400-gr. FP Horn. CCI 200 1852 Oregon Trail 405-gr. Cast FP Win. Fed. 215 1310 Oregon Trail 500-gr. Cast RN Win. Fed. 215 1223 Hornady LEVERevolution 250-gr. MonoFlex 1940 CorBon DPX 300-gr. HP 1946 Federal 300-gr. Fusion 1749 Federal Power-Shok 300-gr. JHP 1707 Fort Scott 300-gr. SCS 1622 Winchester Super-X 300-gr. JHP 1573 Hornady LEVERevolution 325-gr. FTX 1923 S.D. M.E. RECOIL BULLET (FPS) (FT-LBS) (FT-LBS) .45-70, 20-in. Barrel Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip 5 3213 35.3 Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip 32 2655 30.4 Hornady 350-gr. FP 6 2615 29.4 Hornady 350-gr. FP 5 2541 30.3 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded 22 2771 33.3 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded 17 2485 27.6 Oregon Trail 350-gr. Cast GC 9 1068 10 Speer 400-gr. FP 22 3047 39.3 Oregon Trail 405-gr. Cast FP 12 1544 16.5 Oregon Trail 500-gr. Cast RN 14 1661 22.2 Hornady LEVERevolution 250-gr. MonoFlex 19 2090 19.7 CorBon DPX 300-gr. HP 16 2523 25.5 Federal 300-gr. Fusion 7 2038 20.7 Federal Power-Shok 300-gr. JHP 14 1942 19.7 Fort Scott 300-gr. SCS 19 1753 17.2 Winchester Super-X 300-gr. JHP 64 1649 15.9 Hornady LEVERevolution 325-gr. FTX 8 2669 29.0 100-YD. ACC. BULLET (IN.) .45-70, 20-in. Barrel Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip 1.20 Nosier 300-gr. Ballistic Tip 0.83 Hornady 350-gr. FP 0.91 Hornady 350-gr. FP 1.30 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded 0.94 Kodiak 350-gr. Bonded 2.32 Oregon Trail 350-gr. Cast GC 1.00 Speer 400-gr. FP 2.22 Oregon Trail 405-gr. Cast FP 1.20 Oregon Trail 500-gr. Cast RN 1.19 Hornady LEVERevolution 250-gr. MonoFlex 1.85 CorBon DPX 300-gr. HP 1.14 Federal 300-gr. Fusion 2.12 Federal Power-Shok 300-gr. JHP 1.36 Fort Scott 300-gr. SCS 1.02 Winchester Super-X 300-gr. JHP 3.44 Hornady LEVERevolution 325-gr. FTX 0.84 NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a Caldwell Lead Sled. Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured 10 feet from the gun's muzzle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data. The .45-70 Pro Hunter Katahdin's best 100-yard, five-shot groups measured less than an inch. Its overall average accuracy for seven factory loads and 10 handloads was 1.46 inches.
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|Article Type:||Product/service evaluation|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2018|
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