Contender Hammer Safety Issues

The following is taken from the sheet I send out with hammer extensions.It is a general warning about leaving the hammer resting on the firing pin with either the Contender or the Encore. It is for old timers and newbies alike. Failure to observe the following is what has caused at least one manufacturer to stop offering hammer extensions for Contenders, and I believe Encores as well.

Even though the Encore has a better mechanism, it too can be dangerous and can fire if dropped or the hammer partially withdrawn and released, as in snagging a hammer extension on a gun case, etc.


WARNING: All firearms are potentially dangerous if incorrectly used. Contenders and Encores are no exception, and each has unique features the user must understand to avoid accidental discharges which can result in damage to property, injuries, or death. Both the Contender and the Encore are designed such that in certain situations the hammer can rest on the firing pin, and if the hammer is struck or partially withdrawn and released with a live round in the chamber, the firearm can fire.

The use of hammer extensions provides for a safer grip on the hammer, especially when access to the hammer is hindered by the presence of a telescopic sight; however, the projection of the extension to the side also increases the risk of snagging on a gun case, fabric on a car seat, brush, clothing, or any number of materials that may be present.ALL users of Contenders and Encores must understand the design limits of these firearms, whether an extension is used or not, to avoid accidents related to the use of the hammer. Understanding these design limits and exercising correct procedures is essential to safe handling of both types of firearms.

The Contender is potentially the most dangerous of the two. It is similar to the old familiar Colt single action revolvers, for example, in that the hammer and firing pin can rest on the primer of a live round if the hammer is not drawn back to half cock. If the firearm is dropped on its hammer or the hammer is otherwise struck, it may fire. The Contender will do much the same thing if the hammer is not moved to a safe position. IF THE CONTENDER HAMMER IS ALLOWED TO REST ON THE FIRING PIN WITH A LIVE ROUND IN THE CHAMBER, IT MAY FIRE IF THE HAMMER IS STRUCK, IF THE FIREARM IS DROPPED ON THE HAMMER, OR IF THE HAMMER IS DRAWN TO THE REAR AND RELEASED.

Correct Procedure for the Contender is to always open and close the barrel to reset the hammer block safety, which prevents the hammer from contacting the firing pin when the hammer is not cocked.NEVER LOWER THE HAMMER AND LEAVE IT RESTING ON THE FIRING PIN. IF YOUR HAMMER HAS THE SLIDING CROSS BOLT SAFETY OR SELECTOR ON THE HAMMER, ALWAYS BE CERTAIN THE SAFETY IS IN THE SAFE POSITION UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO FIRE.

ENCORES: The newer ENCORE has an entirely different trigger, sear, and hammer mechanism. It is designed so that removing the trigger finger from the trigger automatically causes the sear to push the hammer back and hold it in a position that corresponds to a “half cock,” off of the firing pin.

However, if the mechanism malfunctions and the hammer is resting on the firing pin, just like the Contender the ENCORE can also fire if the hammer is struck, the firearm dropped on the hammer, or if the hammer is drawn to the rear and released.

Encore frames that have had a trigger job performed on them are most prone to this malfunction if the pull weight is too light and/or there is inadequate tension from the sear spring to push the hammer back to half cock, or if the hammer spring is too long.


If the mechanism of either the Contender or Encore is not functioning as described, or if you have any doubt at all about the manner in which these firearms function:1) Contact Thompson/Center Arms if the frame is in factory original condition, or2) If it has been modified contact who specializes in Contenders and Encores who is fully competent to evaluate your frame for proper function and explain its function to you. Many general ‘smiths do not understand the function of these two peculiar firearmsMike Bellm

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5 comments on “Contender Hammer Safety Issues”

  1. wm . lustusky Reply

    I have a problem with my Contender which makes it very dangerous. The problen is that when the hammer is back and the triger guard is squeesed it will fire just as if you pulled the trigger. Also with the 44 mag barrel in place the action will spontaneously open when the round is fired. I have only used the gun once and sent it back to the factory after talking to the rep on the phone. I was told by the rep.that the early units ( under serial number 130,000) had problems (my unit is #102,—). I was told to send it back for repare of modification. It was returned to me with a note that the hammer extension should not be used and the rubber after market grips might be a problem. I removed the grips and the problem still exists. What would you advise? Thanks Bill L.

  2. Jim Harter Reply

    My T/C Contender has not been fired for several years. I tried shooting it with the 22 LR barrel this week and it
    will not fire. Can you tell me what my problem is?

  3. Andy paganetti Reply

    My contender is missing the firing selector that goes into the hammer. I had the one that you had to use a screwdriver to turn it from rim to center,I have no idea when this piece came out of the hammer.Can you tell me where I can find another one.

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