I have several of each with multitude of barrels. They are normally great what I would say is better than average accuracy rifles/pistols. I can get 1/2-3/4" with most of mine with minimal load work up. With the Encore you are limited to 26" factory barrels. You can order semi-custom calibers from Fox Ridge Outfitters or T/C Custom shop. Bullberry Barrels builds true custom barrels in different lengths and match chambers ($300). However, you will still have a 7 lb gun in a larger caliber that will have a hefty recoil in the more efficiant LR calibers. In other words it will rock your world. You can put a BR type foreend on them and make them easier to shoot from bags or rest. There is a guy in Utah/Nev that rechambers factory Contender pistol barrels into his proprietary calibers and shoots sub 2" groups at 500 yds.
Bottom line, great guns to put in suitcase with different barrels for hunting trip, but I would not want to use them as basis for true LR rig. Like mine for what they are but not true LR rig (past 500 yds).
Great assessment of the Encore. One thing a person cannot do with them is tweaking - to the extent you can a boltgun. The trigger is simple but not user-friendly for fine adjusting, not sure what if anything you can do re bedding. The stock is nice fitting but not really the most comfortable with kicking calibers, as you mentioned. Basically this is a handgun frame that has been used as the basis for a very reliable single shot rifle.
I have standard, varmint and bull-barrel weight .308 barrels and they are good shooters, maybe in the 3/4 minute range or slightly better with good ammo. Each wieght of barrel gets more accurate, the standard is about a 2 - 3 inch shooter, the varmint right near 1" and the bull barrel will easily beat 1" for five at 100.
T/C now makes steel bases rather than the original aluminum bases, a definite improvement.
I had my trigger reduced to about 2 lb for a while (by a guy who knows Encores) but after a lot of shooting it seemed to get even lighter and I could push the hammer forward with my thumb and it would fire. Got some new parts and went back to 4.5 pounds.
Just got the T/C custom shop bull barrel and it is very accurate - makes for a very handy, light, carrying rifle. I have shot it out to five hundred on a fairly large gong and had no problem keeping center hits - at least 1 moa. We smacked a rock at 785 with it also, rock was not very large, good challenge and we got on it pretty quick. Have the prototype Nikon 2.5-10 tactical on it.
I just hunted in Montana on the Milk River with it and took a 20" wide 4x4 whitetail for a tv show.
Ian, that's sounds like fun. According to my math Encore + Nikon + Milk River = Team Realtree. Do you know when the air date is? How far was the shot? I'd love to hear the details. I hoped you chased the bigger ones back up to Saskatchewan. They shouldn't be allowed to wander so far from home anyway.
You are very astute. Bill had four cameramen at the Milk River. Fact is some disease cleaned up on the really big bucks last year so we did not have any Sask-sized bucks to chase.
No idea on the date. Should be interesting as I screwed up majorly on the one sentence I was supposed to say to the camera - like 9 tries... but the cameraguy got a kick out of all the fumbling.
They were also up in Sask. at the same time. One of my friends dropped a buck on camera that dressed 282 pounds.
I was invited to both but didn't make it up as I had about enough travel and had picked up a cold from sitting in ground blinds. Life is tough.
Shot the buck at 80 yds with a 175 gr. Matchking loaded by BHA, nasty internal damage, that one certainly opened up as well as any hunting bullet.