For years, the Contender Series from Thompson/Center Arms (T/C) gave hunters a vast number of options, letting them change out barrels and calibers, stocks and forends, as needed. The T/C Contender Pistols provided similar change-over possibilities. Maybe, though, the Contender Series gave us too many options? Too many calibers and too many barrel lengths, too many decisions for those of us who just wanted a solid hunting gun?
Enter the new G2 Contender Series rifles and pistols, the second generation of the Contenders from T/C, each of which comes as a complete firearm. For 2016, the G2 Rifle is offered in .30-30 Win, the G2 Pistol in .22LR and .357 Mag. Both are ready to shoot out of the box. But, like the previous generation, you can still switch out barrels and furniture on either the rifle or pistol.
I used both the G2 rifle and pistol in South Texas recently, on a deer and hog hunt sponsored by T/C. I never considered myself a “single-shot” sort of hunter. I mean, there’s a reason we have magazine-fed bolt actions and semi-autos, right? So I approached these G2’s with some skepticism. Then I began laying bullets right into the bullseyes and, more importantly, into the vital zones of four deer and one hog, all five of which dropped with a single shot. I was impressed!
I used a T/C G2 Contender Rifle in .30-30 Win., topped with a Leupold VX-3i scope, 5.4-14x40mm, firing Federal Fusion 150-grain Trophy Copper rounds. The G2 Contender Pistol was chambered in .44 Mag., topped with a Leupold VX-3 scope, 2.5-8x32mm. I fired Federal Fusion ammo with a 240-grain bullet.
That all said, here are five things you need to know about the G2 series.
1. They are very accurate. After some practice, I was printing three-quarter inch groups with the .30-30 Win. chambered rifle at 100 yards, and drilling the bullseye at same distance with the pistol. I took a smallish South Texas doe at 204 yards. She ran 20 yards and folded right up. With the G2 Pistol, I bagged a doe at 104 yards and a cull buck at 85 yards. The doe piled up where she stood, while the buck made a 30-yard dash before toppling over.
2. They're easy to handle. The relatively short length of the G2 Rifle is a real help in blinds, getting in and out of trucks and maneuvering through thick brush. The barrel on the rifle is a full 23-inches long, but the single-shot action makes it seem like you are carrying a 16-inch barreled brush gun. It weighs in at just 5.5 pounds and is a shade less than 37 inches.
3. They're customizable. As hunting and shooting needs change, you can customize the G2 Contender rifle with barrels in blued or stainless, and in seven different calibers ranging from .17 HMR to .30-30 Win. An additional 11 calibers from .17 HMR to .45 Colt/410 Bore are available as an accessory barrel to compliment the G2 Contender pistol.
4. They're backwards-compatible. The components of the T/C G2 Contender Complete Rifle and Complete Pistol maintain their compatibility with previous G2 Contender models. The G2 Contender frame will accept all Contender barrels and their corresponding forends (except the Herrett forend). Blued and stainless barrels are also interchangeable.
5. They maintain their zero. Sights and optics mounted onto barrels stay sighted in and ready to perform when returned to the firearm. No need to re-sight your pistol or rifle after you change back barrels—though more practice is of course always a good thing!