TC Northwest Explorer
The new TC Explorer should be your muzzleloader of choice!
by Steve Alderman
Thompson Center Arms comes to the Northwest with its newest line of muzzleloaders, The Northwest Explorer.
The Northwest Explorer fresh out of the box!
In recent years, the northwest has put some heavy restrictions on muzzleloader hunters. Until recently, muzzleloader hunters in Idaho, Washington and Oregon were limited to only a hand full of sub-par muzzleloading rifles. TC Arms has added what I think is one of the better muzzleloaders on the market. With its open ignition, open sights and number 11 percussion cap as the ignition, it meets the Northwest’s unwarranted demands for muzzleloaders and muzzleloader hunters.
You got to love a job like this! Testing all the latest gear has to be done by someone I guess!
Thompson Center Arms took some of their already popular guns and molded them into the Northwest Explorer. A drop away breech, similar to the Omega, allows the hunter easy access to the breech plug for priming. With a weather shield Barrel and the camo synthetic stock this gun is built for the harsh conditions the northwest can dish out. What is TC’s weather shield barrel? It’s a coating that is very similar to a teflon coated barrel. It repels moister and cleans very easily. TC also added QLA muzzle system for fast accurate loading of the gun. With a full size, 14 inch, monte carlo stock and ventilated rubber recoil pad, this gun feels great on the cheek.
I received this gun to do a review I was commissioned to write for a national publication. After one day at the range, I knew I had to add this gun to my collection. Granted it wasn’t the most accurate gun in the review of muzzleloaders, as it actually came in second in accuracy. However, it came in first in every other category. When I say it came in second it still had a 1/2″ MOA at 50 yards with open sights. Yes, I did say 1/2 inch groups. Try and get that with your muzzleloader and open sights. It came in first place with fit and feel, ease of loading, ease of priming, and ease of cleaning. It also came in first at the bench, with speeds reaching a 200 feet per second faster than the competition. Granted, the barrel is 28 inches long which is up to 4 inches longer than some of the other guns tested.
At the bench the gun handled very well. After a few hours of shooting, I found my gun preformed the best with 105 grains (by volume) of Triple Seven FFg powder and a Thompson 370 grain maxi-ball. The lead conical by Power Belt in a 425 grain weight came in second with just over 3/4 inch groups at 50 yards. I currently have the Explorer at a gun smiths to get it drilled and tapped for a scope. I will hit the bench a couple more times to try and figure out the best load for the gun. A scope definitely helps take human error out of the equation when compared to using open sights. I can always sweeten up my loads when I use a scope. It helps me find the perfect load for each gun that I shoot.
1/2 Group at 50 yards with open sights
Before actually hunting with this gun, I’m going to change a couple of things There will be a new Simms recoil pad and some better sights added to the gun. Not that either one of them are all that bad, they just could be better. I personally like a small front bead on my guns. Aim small , hit small is one of my favorite sayings. The gun definitely needs a smaller front sight for precision shooting.
Some of the essentials used in testing this gun!
After shooting this gun I can see why Thompson Center Arms is the leader in muzzleloading. From their fine line of Omegas and Pro Hunters, to this new line of semi-traditional guns made for the northwest, Thompson Center Arms can take care of all of your muzzleloader needs. I will be hunting with the Northwest Explorer this year. How big of a buck will it bring home on its maiden mission? Only time will tell.
- PROS: By far the best shooting muzzy right out of the box, at least with the TC Maxi Balls. Other bullets like powerbelts and sabots don’t fly well through this gun. It’s a gun made specifically for me and the rest of northwest.
- CONS: Front sight is too large to be precise with your shots past 75 yards. The barrel doesn’t come in stainless steal.
- PRODUCT: High Rating…Very good product….All the components of this gun are as solid as any TC gun. Shot the TC maxi balls like no other gun. It must be that 1/48 twist barrel.
- COMPANY: High Rating….I like to talk to somebody when I call a company, not a machine. When you call TC, you could be on hold for a while or you can leave a message and they usually get back with you within one business day. Their gunsmith is as good and knowledgeable as anybody in the business. All of the staff is very helpful and friendly.