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One of these things is not like the other

For those of you who didn't grow up with or raise a kid on Sesame Street we'll forgive you for not being familiar with the little ditty I'm now reciting in my head.

You can imagine that we see Encores and their "sibling" firearms pretty much every day; that means the ProHunter, Endeavor, those same frames with the Weather Shield coating, the ProHunter XT (sold as a Muzzleloader set-up), etc. T/C has a reputation (before and since being pulled under the Smith & Wesson umbrella) for re-branding and marketing a kind of barely different product as the new great thing. We get it, and generally speaking we like them all . . . I take that back, I don't like the Weather Shield, but it's a personal preference thing.

Well, today I'm writing to answer what has come up only a couple times as a new quandary from customers of the Encore family of firearms. To get right to the point (FINALLY, I know) the new ProHunter FX is NOT an interchangeable platform despite the ProHunter name and barrel dimensions. From the outside these rifles look damn near identical to the XT model mentioned above. From ramrod to Flextech to QLA (I hate this feature too) to the swing hammer and that cursed Weather Shield finish, all appearances look like a typical ProHunter. If you have one of these new FX models you should be able to quickly notice a couple things: first and foremost, if you bought yours from a reputable dealer and not a person-to-person sale you probably didn't have to fill out the usual ATF paperwork. That's because this gun is only EVER going to be a muzzleloader. The same rules simply don't apply to muzzleloaders as they do with other firearms. Secondarily, if you remove the forearm from the FX you'll notice straight away that the hinge pin holding the barrel in the frame is blued (at least that's what we've seen on the two that have been in our hands), sharply fluted (to have an exceptionally strong press fit in the frame), and WAY smaller than the traditional Encore hinge pin hole. The pin alone is basically screaming, "DO NOT REMOVE ME! I'M NOT MEANT TO LEAVE THIS PLACE!".

T/C went with "FX" to denote the "fixed" nature of this firearm. That means that while so many things point to this being yet another T/C family member we make replacement barrels for, we simply never will. However, If you're looking to have custom woodwork made (laminate or walnut), that we can accommodate. Visit our Black Powder Barrels page for more details on the barrels we do make for interchangeable barrel platforms. And please realize that our barrels feature a 45° recessed crown for the best bullet/sabot starting rather than the QLA system that has causes accuracy issues for so many. We also use the standard recessed and fully threaded breech plug (made by T/C for the original Encore barrels), alleviating concerns of blow-back with the partial threads.

As an aside for those of you shooting black powder firearms in general and Weather Shield in particular, for the love of all that is holy, please do NOT subject your firearm, Weather Shield or otherwise, to 350 hours of exposure like T/C claims to have done in testing Stainless vs. Weather Shield. Of course a synthetic coating over a blued frame will hold up better than uncoated Stainless Steel in the same conditions. But do me a real solid and be sure to clean (I mean CLEAN) your black powder firearm right after your shooting session. To learn more about how we recommend cleaning our black powder barrels visit our Tips & FAQs page. And watch out for gas-checking on your firing pin bushing. I see a LOT of frames for trigger work or test fitting to new barrels that I can instantly tell were not cleaned when their barrel was (I hope their barrel got cleaned!). The black powder components are wildly more corrosive than other powders, so you'll see a lot more frame and part wear from this seemingly minor oversight. I get how much of a pain it is to break-down these frames for people who don't do the work all the time, let alone in the field . . . who wants to carry two screw drivers and a punch and a pin punch and a hammer in their pack? . . . but one of the best things you can do is at least remove the forearm from your barrel and barrel from your frame followed by a quick interior wipe down with a clean rag or patch. If you're feeling particularly adventurous have a can of compressed air with your gun gear and spray out the frame when you get out of the field and have wiped it down. Getting dirt, weeds, animal hair, and powder buildup out of the frame's parts will lead to a much more useful frame in the long run.

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