Muzzleloaders

August 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Gear & Reviews

Thompson Center Arms

tc
Endeavor 50 Cal. Muzzleloader Endeavor 1

When I started this web site, it was for the easy money. Why not be techie?  How hard could it be to make millions on-line? Well, after several months my focus has changed from the millions of dollars, which never showed up, to just plain old enjoying writing about what we experience in the great outdoors. Pretty cool job, huh? I think so! However, I am still waiting for the Wells Fargo truck to show up at the front door with a pile of money, but I’m not holding my breath.

When Thompson Center Arms sent me their new Endeavor to put through the ringer, I was shocked.  So I won’t make millions, but I get to try out some pretty neat gear!  I’m all for that.  Who wouldn’t be?

Right out of the box this gun has all the bells and whistles with a  Flex tech Stock, Speed Breach XT, Energy Burners, Power Rod, and the QLA Quick Load Accurizor.  But can it shoot?  It sure looks pretty but I had my doubts.5724 I’m a simple guy  who likes simple things.  The more simple the better when it comes to muzzleloaders has always been my motto.  However, the older I get it seems that easier  just might be better. Easier, like the Speed Breech XT.  It doesn’t get any easier than this.  No need for tools, just a 90 degree turn with your fingers and your breech plug is out.  The QLA eliminates the need for a ball starter because the bullet starts with ease.  The  new ergonomic power rod provides a more comfortable and less painful grip when seating the bullet.  No more sore palms at the range.  The Flex Tech Stock with Energy Burners is a shoulder saver.  It takes over 50 percent of the felt recoil away from your shoulder and dampens the sound by up to 20 percent.  We all know muzzleloaders kick harder then modern rifles and the new technology in this stock keeps us at the range longer and helps dramatically with shooters pull (flinch). But, can it shoot?

AT THE RANGE

endeavor 5Right off the UPS truck I headed to Cabelas to purchase the recommended shooting supplies.  TC recommends a sabot through their fast twist barrel.  So I went with the TC Shock Waves in the 300 grain weight and triple seven FFG loose powder. I drove out to the property and began to shoot.  Initially I set the target at 100 yards for the first three shots to gauge the guns accuracy.  To my amazement the first shot hit 2 1/2 inches high of the bulls eye.  Beginners luck, I mean right out of the box and the gun is sighted in? Second shot 1 inch high of bulls eye and the third shot touched the first shot.  Ok maybe this gun with all this fancy new stuff can shoot and right out of the box. Needless to say, I stuck around till dark shooting my new Endeavor just enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells that come with hunting and shooting a front stuffer. This gun is a shooter!!!!

So there might not be millions of dollars in the web-site business, but the fringe benefits are worth a million dollars to me. Now, if only I could turn this into a full time gig!

Making the TC Endeavor Legal in Idaho’s muzzleloader hunts

What a challenge this turned out to be.  In Idaho you can only use a muzzleloader in a muzzleloader hunt that meets the following requirements;

  • Loaded with loose powder.  The Endeavor can be loaded with loose powder.
  • Loaded with a projectile that is within .010 inch of bore diameter.  The Endeavor will accept this projectile.
  • Must use round ball or lead conical.  100% lead, non-jacketed.  Can the Endeavor handle shooting a conical?
  • Equipped only with a musket or percussion cap! The Endeavor does not use either.
  • The cap must be exposed or visible to the elements when cocked.  The Endeavors breech is not exposed.
  • Open or Peep sights only. The Endeavor has open sights.

Off to the gun smith

“ The Thompson Center Arms alteration I am posting is purely experimental with INSUFFICIENT TESTING data to determine “no risk of injury” to the end user. Therefore in the interest of SAFETY and liability, please be informed that if you construct and use any altered guns or parts,  you do so at your own risk and responsibility, and I assume no liability or responsibility should injury or death occur in their use.”

To get the Endeavor to shoot a number 11 percussion caps, the Endeavors breech plug will have to be drilled, tapped and re-milled.  Drilled and tapped to accept the number 11 nipple, then re-milled so the cap is exposed to the elements.  In the picture below, the left breech plug is an original and the right breech plug is after the gun smith worked it. (NOTE….  Thompson Center Arms does not recommend altering their breech plugs or firing pins.)  I just wish that Thompson Center Arms would offer this breech and firing pin as an option to the Endeavor.  The gun would then be legal to use in Idaho, Oregon and Washington right out of the box.


Endeavor breech

After drilling, tapping, and re-milling it was time to focus on the firing pin.  It need to be altered so that it would fire number 11 percussion caps.  The firing pin needed to have a 1/4 inch flat striking surface instead of a normal firing pin that comes with the Endeavor.  Again the gun smith got to work on the Endeavor.  A couple of days and a number of firing pins (strikers) later and the gun smith had my new and now legal in Idaho Endeavor firing 100% of the time. The cost for this procedure is around $200.00 to $250.00 dollars.  After all of this time and money would my new gun even shoot a lead conical consistently?

breechThe new breech shown in place, the cap is now exposed!

Back to the Range!

The big question now was is this gun going to shoot lead through it?  For me patch and round ball is out of the question.   I want a muzzleloader that will preform out to 100endeavor 2 yards and beyond.  Round balls lose way to much kinetic energy and their foot pounds of impact down range and are not, in my opinion, sufficient enough to ethically harvest an animal out to 100 yards.  Most patch and round balls should never be shot at  large game animals any farther than 50 – 70 yards, so my choice was going to be a conical.  Power belt lead conical to be exact.  Powerbelt Bullets are a local company here in Idaho that I have had great luck with in the past.  Before I new it, I was off to the range with some 348 grain all lead power belt conicals, my triple seven FFG, and some CCI number  11 percussion caps.

The excitement was in the air and I was eager to see if my new gun would perform.  All the  muzzleloader forums on the net said that it was very unlikely that the Thompson would shoot a conical with consistency.  This time I set the target out at 75 yards to see if I could punch the target with the Power Belt.  For the load, I dropped the powder charge from 120 grains down to 90 grains.  I knew I was going to have to slow the bullet down to get consistent flight out of a fast twist barrel.

The first time I pulled the trigger it was a misfire. I guess when I last cleaned the gun I didn’t clean the breech plug very thoroughly.  Thank goodness it’s the Speed Breech XT and with one quick turn the breech plug was out to be picked and cleaned.  The gun fired on the next shot.  Now was the moment of truth.  Where did my conical hit?  It was 3 inches high of center which is not too bad, but I wasn’t out off the woods yet.  I’m looking for consistency out of my new gun.  My second shot went off without a hitch,  but were did I hit? endeavor target 1 As I looked through the spotting scope my heart sank.  I couldn’t have missed but the paper showed no sign of being punched.  I was now coming to the realization that I had just spent a ton of money making a gun legal in Idaho that wasn’t going to work for me.  I should have listened to the naysayers.  Reluctantly, I reloaded the gun for what could have been my last shot with a conical through the bore of the TC.  I sat at the bench, squeezed the trigger and the smoke flew.  Looking through the spotting scope I could see the hit was 1 inch low of the first shot.  Ok, now where did that second shot hit?  I walked down to the target for a further inspection.   To my amazement, my second bullet punched the paper right through the same hole as the first conical. It looked like I was back in the saddle.  I fired four more shots though the TC and walked away with a pretty good group.  See, the Thompson Endeavor can shoot lead conicals just fine!  Try it and see for yourself.  For all you naysayers out there, with a little tweak of the powder and the right bullet combination it is possible.  The proof is on the paper.endeavor target 2

With a new front site on this gun I should be able to make this group twice a tight as it is here.  Currently, the front site is the stock fiber optic one that comes on the TC and at 75 yards it covers up the whole target.  Come on admit it, thats a pretty good group for not even seeing the target while shooting at it.  I believe that the only thing wrong with this gun is the sites because they are very beginner.  I can’t wait for the day when I bust out my scope to really fine tune the load.  I don’t think I am too far off with the load I am using now!  Only time will tell and of course a couple more trips to the range.endeavorSo if I never get rich, monetarily, at least I’m having fun trying.  Until next time, shoot straight and just remember your in Mule Deer Country!

This is an experiment and is for you’re reading entertainment only…..Do not try this at home.  We accept no liability when altering any gun!

Steve Alderman

Founder, Mule Deer Country