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The Thompson Contender G2 is a break action pistol designed by Thompson Center Arms in the late 1990s. The Contender G2 is the second generation of the Thompson Contender Pistol, one of Thompson's most successful designs.
The Thompson Contender G2 takes many of the features of the original Contender (now often referred to as the G1), with the striking appearance of the Contender G1 being modified on the G2. The G2 uses a very similar (although slightly modified) grip as the original, while the sweeping trigger guard remains virtually untouched. The frame has, however, been modified with the almost arrow like shape of the fore of the frame (on the G1) replaced with a virtually straight piece to the trigger guard.
The G2 uses the same array of barrels that were available for the G1, and they can be interchanged (ie G2 barrels can be used on the G1 and vice versa). The G2 also has a variety of muzzle loading barrels available with it, although these cannot be used on the G1. The G2 also has the ability to become a rifle, using a rifle length 23in barrel, with the addition of a removable stock. This ability to become a rifle has caused Thompson some problems, including a Supreme Court ruling (which ended in their favour).
In terms of mechanism the G2 remains, in terms of break action mechanism, identical to the G1. The G2, however, cannot be dry fired (ie without a cartridge loaded) unless the hammer is in its mid ("safe") position (the G1, as it lacked a form of safety until its later years, could be dry fired with the hammer in any position). The G2 also has a slightly different adjustable trigger.
The G2, like its predecessor, fires a wide range of cartridges and calibres. This variety ranges from the .17 HMR cartridge to the comparatively huge .45-70 Government blackpowder cartridge. As mentioned above, the ability to fire this range of cartridges comes from the fact that the barrel can be changed to one of a different bore and the action contains no cartridge-specific elements.
The Thompson Contender G2 continued Thompson's most popular line of designs into the 21st century. The G2 can use virtually all of the components of the G1, although the trigger has been modified. As such the G1 and the G2 are very similar to shoot when using the same cartridge, although the G2's design does allow marginally more customisation.
United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Co.Edit
The Thompson Center Arms company was brought before the Supreme Court by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms whom believed that the ability for the G2 to become a rifle made the design illegal. They further read the G2 as a deliberate attempt to manufacture a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) as the stock can be added without the rifle barrel. An SRB is deemed illegal in the 1934 (US) National Firearms Act.
The Supreme Court, however, deemed the design legal in 1992, citing that the mere existance and ability to purchase the conversion kit was not enough to deem that Thompson were deliberatly manufacturing a SRB. The decision also lead to a clarification of the term "make" in the (US) National Firearms Act of 1934. Some confusion may arise due to the date of the trial, in regards as to whether the ruling was based on the G1 or G2. The exact dates of the G1 leaving production and the G2 entering production are unknown, however the G2 is known to have been in development throughout the 1990s.
http://www.guns.com/review/2012/02/03/review-thompson-center-contender-g2-will-not-disappoint/ (info + G2 Contender Image origin)