T/C Contender: 1 Gun, 40 Barrels

T/C Contender: 1 Gun, 40 Barrels

One of the world’s most versatile firearm platformsoffers a variety of options for handgun hunters.

Brad Fitzpatrick is gun columnist for Game & Fish magazines

In 1967, Thompson/Center offered the first Contender: a single-shot, hammer-fired pistol that could be easily converted to a rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader.

Although it looked like nothing else on the market at that time, shooters and hunters immediately fell in love with Thompson/Center’s new handgun. In particular, competitive silhouette pistol shooters favored the T/C’s lengthy barrel and robust grip as well as the fact that the Contender could be modified to fire a variety of cartridges.

Many of those silhouette shooters were also hunters, and the Contender became one of the top options for handgun hunting.

In 2013, Thompson/Center dropped the Contender from their line, but within two years the company brought back a new, sleek, modernized version of the pistol.

The modern T/C G2 Contender looks very much like the original, but it has an improved grip design with more space between the front of the grip and the trigger guard and slightly modified frame and forearm designs.

By removing a few pins and screws, the modern Contender can be transformed from a carbine to a pistol, and there are more than 40 different barrel options, which allow the shooter to quickly swap between chamberings.

Currently, T/C offers the Contender as a complete handgun (frame and barrel) in .357 Magnum, but there are a number of other barrel options, including .22 Long Rifle and .17 HMR, as well as .44 Magnum and even some less common chambering options, like 7-30 Waters and 6.8 Rem.

There’s a .45 Colt/.410 shotgun barrel and, for those who want maximum power in a handgun platform, there’s a .45-70 barrel. With a 12-inch .357 Magnum barrel and iron sights, the G2 Contender pistol weighs 3.5 pounds and measures 15.5 inches long.

My first experience with the G2 Contender pistol came on a whitetail hunt in South Texas. The rolling thorn scrub held plenty of deer, but shots were close and it was beneficial to have both hands free to navigate through the catclaw and mesquite. When a buck finally presented itself at 35 yards, it was an easy shot with the .44 Magnum Contender off a Bog-Pod shooting stick, and the deer dropped where it was standing. From that moment on, I’ve been a fan of the Contender family.

For those interested in handgun hunting, the G2 Contender is the ideal gun because you can quickly and easily convert the platform for a variety of different uses. Five decades after it first appeared, the Contender is still a favorite among handgun hunters who want accuracy and excellent craftsmanship.


Action: Break-action single-shot

Cartridge: .357 Mag.

Finish: Blued, stainless

Weight: 3.5 lbs.

Length: 15.5 in.

Sights: adjustable iron

MSRP: $729 (Blued .357), $523-$548 (pistol frame assembly)

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