Thompson/Center (T/C) Encore in 6.5 Creedmoor

With the right cartridge, barrel and optic, the Thompson/Center Encore shows what it can do in the long-range game.

Thompson/Center (T/C) Encore in 6.5 Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz

I discovered the Thompson Center (T/C) Encore four years ago. I wanted to get back into whitetail hunting and needed a suitable firearm. My home state of Illinois doesn’t allow hunting with a centerfire rifle, which narrows the options to shotgun, revolver or single-­shot pistol. I gravitated to the single-­shot pistol for one reason: it allows me to legally hunt with low-­powered cartridges such as .300 Blackout (BLK). This gives me all the power and accuracy needed without the punishing recoil of a shotgun.

The Encore is a single-­shot, break-­action firearm known for the ease of switching its barrels. They are also known for accuracy. Getting ready for that first deer season, I found the Encore to be addicting. The deliberate pace of a single-­shot firearm appeals to my chess-­player mind. Slowing down, making every shot count and being rewarded with a great shot puts me in my happy place. It wasn’t long before my new hunting pistol became my favorite firearm for an afternoon at the range.

My hunting configuration is a 16-­inch .300 BLK barrel topped with a red dot. In the wooded area I hunt, where most shots are less than 60 yards, this setup is ideal. However, at the range, I quickly found the limitations. Soon I was looking at new barrels and optics with the intent of turning my modestly-­powered hunting pistol to legitimate long-­range monster.

TC-Encore-65-Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. The T/C Encore is a single-shot, break-action firearm. The barrel and action are connected only by a pivot pin, making it easy to swap barrels.

The Build

For a barrel, I reached out to Match Grade Machine (MGM) in Hurricane, Utah. MGM has a reputation as the premium source of custom T/C Encore barrels. Ordering a barrel from their website is simple. After clicking “Build A Custom Barrel,” you are asked a few basics, such as overall length, caliber, chamber and twist. From there things really open up, with options for muzzlebrakes, scope mounts and a host of cosmetic additions.


For this build, I went with a 15-­inch, factory heavy contoured barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor. Not wanting to go bare-­bones, I added a thread-­on muzzle­brake and a scope mount. For a little style, the matte-stainless finish is complemented with MGM’s spiral barbed wire fluting. Out of the box, the barrel looked amazing. It looked even better once the pistol was assembled.


In the precision rifle shooting world, the 6.5 Creedmoor is all the rage. My hope was that its relatively light recoil and impressive ballistics would translate well into a pistol-­length firearm. While I would certainly lose some velocity in a 15-­inch barrel, I figured I could still get distance out of the cartridge.

TC-Encore-65-Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. The MGM barrel features a thread-on muzzlebrake. This helps reduce recoil considerably, making the 6.5 Creedmoor much more manageable to shoot from a pistol.

The go-­to optic for long-­range handguns is the Burris Handgun Scope 3-­12x32mm. For a handgun scope, it is at the high end of the magnification spectrum. With parallax adjustment and 1⁄8-MOA clicks, this scope is built for precision pistol shooting.

The scope uses Burris’s Ballistic Plex reticle. It is a simple plex-­style reticle with the addition of four hash marks under the main crosshair. Without target-­style turrets, I would be relying on these hash marks to get on target past my zero.

A Pachmayr Decelerator grip to help recoil adsorption and a Choate forend completed the build. With my pistol assembled, it was time to head to the range.


TC-Encore-65-Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. The Burris Handgun Scope has several features generally not found on handgun scopes, including high magnification, parallax adjustment and ⅛-MOA clicks.

Getting Ready

Shooting from the bench with a bipod and rear bag, I was able to achieve a solid position. Recoil was tamed by the MGM muzzlebrake. While loud, the pistol was not uncomfortable to shoot. The Burris glass was clear and bright, and I had no issue seeing my target.

Trying a few factory loads, the MGM barrel seemed to favor Federal Premium’s 140-­grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing. Out of the 15-­inch barrel, velocity loss was less the 300 feet per second (fps) from the published velocity of 2,675. This meant I could shoot out to about 800 yards before the 140-­grain bullet would go transonic.

TC-Encore-65-Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. Shooting from prone with a bipod and rear bag, the author was able to stretch his Encore to almost 1,000 yards. Notice also the long eye-relief of the Burris Handgun Scope.

The True Test

For long-­range testing, I headed to Elmore Stock Farm in Laura, Illinois. Ranges longer than a few hundred yards are rare in Illinois, so I was excited to see what this place had to offer. I was met by my host and range ­officer, Ron Milby. After explaining the range rules, he pointed out the targets and their distance. The farthest target, a life-­size buffalo silhouette, was just short of a mile. The closet target, at 465 yards, would be a good first test for my diminutive Encore.


I would be shooting from prone while Milby spotted. Setting up behind the pistol, I felt a bit intimidated. Had all my preparations been enough? Maybe I should have had the trigger lightened? Any doubts were put to rest as Milby shouted, “Hit,” after my first shot. After two more rounds were on target, I was ready to move on.

With the scope at 12X, I was already at the bottom of the ballistic reticle with the first target. For the reticle to work farther out, I needed to lower the magnification. I knew the MOA equivalents of each elevation mark on the reticle at 12X, so with a little math I could calculate the MOAs at each power setting. While not as precise as dial turrets, using this method enabled me to hit the 509-­ and 611-­yard targets with little difficulty and even bullseye the 789-­yard target with my first shot.

At 953 yards, my last target of the day was a silhouette about 2 MOA wide and maybe 3 MOA tall. According to the ballistic calculator, the bullet would now be well into the transonic range. The previous targets had been sheltered from the wind by a line of trees. However, this target was out in the open, resulting in a greater windage hold.

TC-Encore-65-Creedmoor
Photo by Michael Anschuetz. Elmore Stock Farm was a great place to shoot and Ron Milby was an excellent host and spotter. Below is Ron (left) and the author posing in front of the 953-yard target.

My first few shots were in the dirt. With the scope now at its lowest power, the target was tiny. After a couple more shots, I found my hold, hitting the dirt directly in front of the target. Not satisfied with that, the next shot struck the orange center. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, I put two more shots below that one.

Not counting the steel buffalo, there was only the 1,285-­yard target left. I was out of reticle and my bullets were dropping like rocks in the transonic zone, so I thought it best to save that one for another time. As it was, the Encore, MGM barrel and Burris 3-­12X handgun scope had exceeded my expectations. It had blasted its way to 789 yards with ease. Even at almost 1,000-­yards, I was able to consistently find the mark.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to the Encore. It can be a pistol or a rifle, a short-­range hunting gun and a long-­range blaster. The package had proven what it was capable of, and I’m already brainstorming ideas on how to improve things for the next range session. Best of all, when deer season comes back around, all I have to do is swap barrels and I am back in hunting mode.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of the 94 Winchester rifle.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market. Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple points of retention adjustment and clip options. Accessories

Crossbreed's The Reckoning Holster

Eric R. Poole - May 13, 2019

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple...

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps. How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by examining the requirement around which Hornady designed the .300 PRC; the requirement came from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Rifle

.300 PRC Review

Tom Beckstrand - March 12, 2019

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

Competitive shooter and author Jim Tarr team up with retired police officer and instructor Jeff Chudwin to review this feature-packed 1911 to decide if the 10mm still has a place among modern defensive firearms. Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Springfield RO Elite Operator 10mm

Guns & Ammo Staff - June 29, 2020

Competitive shooter and author Jim Tarr team up with retired police officer and instructor...

Competitive shooter James Tarr joins retired police chief and current Firearm Instructor Jeff Chudwin to review Walther's new variant of the PPK. Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Walther PPK/S .380 ACP

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 24, 2020

Competitive shooter James Tarr joins retired police chief and current Firearm Instructor Jeff...

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a forged slide and frame. The crowned muzzle is cut flush with the bushing, which was given flats around the edges. Few curves were left untouched by flats; even the bottom of the triggerguard has corners leading to the high-grip undercut. The scale motif adds striking functionality. Reviews

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review

Eric R. Poole - July 28, 2020

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a...

The B&T APC9K Pro platform demonstrated why it was selected for U.S. Army security personnel, and it was fun to shoot. To that end, it would also serve civilians extremely well in home defense or personal defense roles. Reviews

B&T APC9K Pro Pistol Review

Eric R. Poole - July 01, 2020

The B&T APC9K Pro platform demonstrated why it was selected for U.S. Army security personnel,...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now