Those who hunt with handguns are a small minority of the total numbers of hunters in the U.S., and those who use muzzleloading handguns are a tiny fraction of that cohort. It was a bold step when Thompson/Center Arms introduced their Scout pistol and rifle in 1990. By 1996, when a factory fire had destroyed the tooling and the Scout line was discontinued, T/C had decided that there was a future in producing handguns for hunters. By ’96 they were outfitting their Contender with barrels that were 14-16 inches long to take full advantage of the .44 Remington Magnum’s and even the .45-70’s capabilities as game killing combinations. The muzzleloading Scout was a landmark handgun in that it was T/Cs first pistol to break the 10-inch barrel-length barrier with the Scout’s 12-inch barrel.
The Scout pistol was offered at the beginning with .45, .50 and .54-caliber barrels so that it would be compatible with the Scout rifle’s calibers. To take advantage of the continuing interest in Western look-alike guns, the Scout rifle’s profile resembled the 1894 Winchester rifle and the pistol’s the 1875 Colt Peacemaker. As was true with the modern Encore, the Scout’s barrels were interchangeable. Unique to the Scouts, the barrels were vented in the chamber so that gas escaped through the sides of the frame when the gun was fired. This step was taken so promote more uniform combustion of large amounts of black powder in the pistol’s 12-inch barrel. This also necessitated that when the heavy gun was fired using a two-handed hold, that the hands be placed on the grip, rather than one hand being used to support the fore-end, as is usually the case when shooting long single-barreled pistols.
Other distinctive features about the Scout was its one piece detachable breech plug-nipple, vented chamber, coil-spring mainspring and a flexible flat spring that connected to the hammer to prevent cap fragments from being blown from the nipple into the action which could tie-up the gun. This was a problem that sometimes plagued Colt’s percussion revolvers whose nipples could also shed cap fragments.
Dimensionally, the Scout pistol was about 17-inches long and weighed 4 lbs. 6 oz., depending on the bore diameter. The oversized Peacemaker-style grips made it feel good in the hand and roll in the hand under recoil. The gun in recoil was demonstrated very well in a video that I did of shooting a .50-caliber Scout that you can see at: http://youtu.be/Hi1f8xFt2cM. I like the way the long, heavy gun feels in the hand or when carried. In the video I also show how to carry the gun in either a factory holster, a homemade version or in the off-side hand when approaching game.
When I work up a gun for articles, I try to stay with that company’s products. In the case of the Scout I used T/C’s 370-grain MaxiBall and 85 grains of GOEX FFg black powder and a number 11 percussion cap. This load generates stout recoil, as did the others that I tried in the video. I wanted to see the results that might be obtained in the Scout using more recently developed powders such as GOEX 1 1/2 FFG Old Eynsford, Hodgdon’s Triple7even and Alliant’s Black MZ. Just to illustrate that not every charge fired from the Scout needs to be a balls-to-the-wall load, I started out with a .440 round ball and T/C Bore Butter lubricated pillow-ticking patch and 40 grains of GOEX FFg., which is a target and plinking load in this gun. The results are listed below:
Bullet wt. gr. Powder wt. gr. Velocity fps. Energy ft./lbs.
.490 rb./179 40 gr. GOEX FFg 961 367
370 Maxi 70 gr. Hogdon’s 3-7 1044 895
370 Maxi 50 gr. Alliant Black MZ 918 692
370 Maxi 70 gr. GOEX OE 1 1/2 F 960 757
Not surprisingly from my previous experiences with Triple7even, the Hodgden powder gave the highest velocity and energy figures . I would happily hunt with any of the MaxiBall loads, but would prefer the higher energy provided by Triple7even powder. On one hunt I took the Scout and a .44 Rem. Magnum 14-inch barreled Encore on hunts on Georgia’s Cumberland Island. The weather was very cold for the Southeastern Coast, and wind chills were near 0 degrees F. I had Arctic weight gear and hunted, while many hunters stayed in camp. Only six deer were killed on that hunt and I took two, one with each pistol. These were nearly identical double-lung shots through the chest. My impression was that the .50-caliber muzzleloader killed as well as, or even slightly better than, the .44 Magnum due to its larger bullet diameter and heavier bullet. The MaxiBall gave a larger wound channel and it, like the .44 Magnum, passed through the deer.
My .50 caliber Scout is now for sale and will be offered from Aug. 1-31, 2014. You can make a bid by leaving a comment on my video at: http://youtu.be/Hi1f8xFt2cM. The gun will be sold with its specialized ramrod, a signed CD copy of the video and a signed copy of my book, X-Treme Muzzleloading.