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Thread: Educate me please on Thompson Center Hawkens . . . .

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Educate me please on Thompson Center Hawkens . . . .

    I'm interested in learning more about T/C Hawkens . . . .

    My background is that I've been shooting BP for 55 years. I've built custom rifles and very few of the front stuffers I've owned have been "production" rifles other than some H & A under hammers,rifled muskets and more recent purchases (in the last couple of years) a Lyman GPR flint in .50.

    I just picked up a .45 T/C "Seneca". To be honest, I've never really been interested in T/Cs. BUT, I am impressed with this little Seneca. It's a nice lightweight little rifle and will be a lot of fun. Now, the more I look around, I am wanting to pick up a T/C Hawken in .45 (percussion). I don't hunt anymore and it will strictly be a range plinker. At my age, my "building" days are pretty much over. My wife and I recently moved from our house of 45 years in to a condo so most of my shop equipment is gone with the downsizing. Other than a few repairs, etc., my interest is now concentrating on getting some good range time in when I can.

    I've read about the history of the company and have known about them for years but not much about the "nitty gritty" of them. Due to some eyesight issues, I would like one and would probably put a rear tang peep and a globe sight on the front. No competition shooting.

    My interest is in hearing if there are any things that I should be looking for or avoiding? I' very well versed on bore condition, and such things to look for when buying a used ML. What I like to hear about is barrels and locks, etc. I've googled and have read what I can but really haven't found much out other than general information. And to be honest, I really don't think I've ever heard much "bad" about the T/C line in years past.

    Over the years that the Hawkens were made, was there ever a time that they had problems with barrel and or rifling quality? I have noticed prefixes on serial numbers in close up photos - is there a preferred prefix to look for and others to avoid?

    How about lock quality? Any years when that might have been "iffy" as far as soft internals and other things such as that? I'm aware that L & R makes upgrade/replacement locks for them as well.

    What I'll be looking for is a good functional shooter and a factory built one rather than a "kit" gun.

    Any information, input or comments on them would be greatly appreciated. I know that they have served many shooters and hunters over the years very well so am primarily interested in hearing if there are things to look for or avoid?

    My preference is .45 as I have other .45s and more molds for that caliber. I'd consider a .50 but for what I'm looking to do with it, if I went with a .50 then I would also be considering one of the Lyman Trade Rifles (percussion). Of those two rifles (T/C Hawken or Lyman Trade Rifle), both have coil spring locks, the Lyman a single trigger as opposed to the T/C double set, etc. and I'm thinking the overall quality of the T/C would be better - nicer wood, etc.

    Thanks!

    Jim

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    triggerhappy243's Avatar
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    unfortunately, the guys I know who could be called an authority on t/c rifles are either on perma-banned or have left the sight voluntarily. IMHO, the t/c Hawken in 45 cal. would be an awesome addition to anyone's collection. As far as tang sights go, 54bore (perma-banned) would be wealth of info on. I hear t/c's tang sight is not as good as it could be. Idahoron would be my choice to ask. For what it is worth, I size my bullseye targets so my front bead just covers the bull ring.

  3. #3
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    To be honest the questions your asking would be best suited for bubba.50, but he is unfortunately no longer part of the forum, so I will do the best I can with my limited knowledge.

    T/C started making the Hawken around about 1970. They released a somewhat desirable to collectors, 25th anniversary model in 1995. Their have been plenty of rumors about who made the barrels, most common I have heard are Green Mountain, Douglas and Sharon, but I honestly have no idea or way to verify barrel makers. The most desirable barrels seem to be the pre black powder warning barrels. Most people stay away from any early barrels in which the breech plug clean out screw has been tampered with, later models do not have the clean out screw. Green Mountain replacement barrels to fit the T/C muzzleloaders are at a premium right now, so much so that it is rumored the Rice barrel company intends to build replacements.

    To the best of my knowledge the locks were pretty consistent or at least I have never heard on any issues. Flintlocks tend to have normal ware and tear to the frizzen, Lyman frizzen replacements will work on the T/C.

    Wood can be anything from minor sap wood exposed to the most beautiful of grain pattern on nearly any factory stock short of custom shop. The finish seems to vary on the T/C's over the years from light and pretty to an almost thick plastic clear finish.

    Hope that helps. I'm sure others will have something to add. I would like to add the Renegades are nice too and tend to be a little less expensive than the Hawken, but they did not come in 45 cal from the factory.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    waarp8nt, i stand corrected. bubba50 is another go to guy. Forgot about that. he probably knows more than anyone i know.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by triggerhappy243 View Post
    waarp8nt, i stand corrected. bubba50 is another go to guy. Forgot about that. he probably knows more than anyone i know.
    I have inquired of both bubba.50 and 54bore on a number of occasions. I still email and text them both on a regular basis.
    Boolits Feedback <> Gunbroker Feedback

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  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Many years ago (mid 70s) I had a T/C 50 that I shot in competition. I figured that about 7,000 round ball went down the barrel before it started spreading them out a bit. The fast twist for round ball ( 1 in 48) seemed to like a load around 50-60 grains. Sometime I used 3F and some times 2F. I replaced the barrel with a GM 54 and shot it for a few more years before letting it go. Never had any lock problems.
    John Taylor, Taylor Machine, gunsmith

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I don't think there is a anything I can say you don't already know Jim or at one time or another haven't already experienced.

    What I do know about shooting those Cherokee & Seneca's they either shoulder well or they don't._ Keep in mind they do have a shorter carbine like sight plane which will cause a fellow to tuck up even tighter to their stock than they may be accustom too.
    As far as who I think is the most knowledgeable here on T/C side-locks? No one individual.
    "But a combination of us all here" surely are.
    "JUST A OLD DEPLORABLE THAT'S IRREDEEMABLE."

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Hi Jim,
    Well! That little rifle made a pretty good impression on you! I know you'll enjoy it!

    T/C Hawkens are virtually identical to the Seneca except about 2-1/2 lbs heavier and I think the LOP is an inch longer. The Seneca is a "scaled down" Hawken. I've owned a number of T/C rifles over the years, all but one were trouble free. That "one" was an early production Renegade rocklock that was never reliable. At the time I chalked it up to being the nature of the beast with flinters. Today, however, I know that those early T/C frizzens were improperly hardened. The Traditional Muzzleloading Forum

    http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/fu...fbb_uid/19736/

    is a wealth of information on these guns, and virtually any other muzzloading arm, cannon included. Check it out!

    Because of their shallow riflind (.004" IIRC) T/C rifles generally produce best accuracy with a tight fitting patch/ball combo. I was using a .440" ball and a .015 or.017" patch (can't remember which) in your gun. You will want to use a short starter for sure! In ANY T/C I've ever owned, even the ..54 Renegade I'm shooting now, a nice light load is a .45 ACP case full of 2F with a PRB. Good enough to plink pigeons off the barn roof at 40 yards or so! (NO, I'm not worried about putting holes in the roof, if you could see the barn you'd understand).

    All in all, any used T/C is usually a sound purchase , dependent on bore condition. On that, you will be limited to looking at relatively pristine rifles, since you won't be able to re-bore a .45 upward if you want a .45. But they're out there, keep looking. The forum above has a classified section also, join up if you're not a member already!
    "Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity.......and I'm not sure about the universe..........."

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Thank you all for taking the time to respond - I greatly appreciate the information!

    Like just about all mentioned, I miss bubba in particular as I know he was a wealth of knowledge on these.

    I remember hearing lots of rumors on who made their barrels and in the long run, I think I ran across one ancient posting where a fellow had issues with his T/C and accuracy - and I kind of take that with a grain of salt as I could say the same about some of my rifles but in the long run, the accuracy problem is me, not the rifle! LOL

    Over the years, the one thing that really impressed me about the majority of the T/Cs that I would see at gun shows or on racks was their wood. Having been brought up in the lumber industry and having been a cabinet maker, I appreciate "good wood" and while supply/demand can sometimes affect availability, T/Cs wood reminds me of the "quality" that we wee used to on the earlier Winchesters, Remingtons, etc. before the bean counters got involved and cheaper wood was used.

    I can appreciate the advice on the length of the sight picture on the shorter Seneca. The one I bought fro a member on here was set up with a truglow front sight and a tang peep. I have eye issues and come to find out, so does the seller. I have to shoot left handed now and we'll see how it works when I can get to the range but I think it is going to be the ticket. I don't deer hunt anymore but it would have been an ideal rifle for where I used to hunt on the farm - not only for weight and carrying but the shorter length for the brush and swamps and the .45 would have certainly done the trick at the distances I would have had a shot at. I know I'm going to enjoy the Seneca but the length of it is why I really would like to find a 45 Hawken - the added weight and length in particular.

    Thanks so much for the information and your thoughts - I greatly appreciate it! Now my search begins which can sometimes be as much fun as "finding" what you're looking for!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master scattershot's Avatar
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    T/C made very good quality rifles back in the day. Most of them I know of have 1:48" twist rifling, which is fairly shallow. I got best accuracy with mine with a bigger ball and thinner patch.

    The only prefix I'm aware of on the T/C Hawken series is "K", which indicates a kit.

    Good luck!
    "Experience is a series of non-fatal mistakes"


    Disarming is a mistake free people only get to make once...

  11. #11
    Boolit Master scattershot's Avatar
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    Duplicate post, sorry.
    Last edited by scattershot; 09-17-2017 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Duplicate post, sorry.
    "Experience is a series of non-fatal mistakes"


    Disarming is a mistake free people only get to make once...

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    You might try over at the muzzlelodingforum. I think some of the guys hang out there. I believe (if I remember right)some of the early T/C flint "locks" had some issues do to the design angle of the hammer in relation to it's angle with the frizzen.
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