|The Seneca's simple yet beautiful appointments are testament to |
T/C's attention to quality and detail.
Aside from being a percussion cap rifle instead of the older style flintlock, the only modern feature of this rifle is its sights. It has pistol-style open sights, with a U-notch rear sight that is adjustable for elevation. Once that’s adjusted for the individual rifle, there is no need to change it. Right or left sight alignment is achieved with a small screw on the rear sight and/or by drifting (or moving) the front sight in its dovetail groove. Be sure to use a brass punch for this if available, to prevent tool marks. Again, you can set it and forget it.
|Front sight and ram-rod.|
The Seneca has two triggers. The one nearest the muzzle, or front, is the firing trigger. When the hammer is cocked, this front trigger provides a nice, crisp break that requires the force of “pull” that you normally expect when shooting any conventional rifle. (That trigger has an adjustment screw located between the triggers.) But when you have time to take very deliberate aim, you have a rear “set-trigger” available to enhance your accuracy. Once the “set” is made by pulling the back trigger, the front trigger only takes a slight touch to drop the hammer. Using that set-trigger makes for superb accuracy but care must be taken not to touch it until you’re ready to shoot. Also, I have found that if you are very near your game, the little metallic “click” sound it makes when it sets can spook the game, so it’s best to use that set-trigger only for longer shots or target shooting.
|Most Hawken Style muzzloaders are today in .50 or .54 caliber (as this one show), and weigh as much as |
50% more than the Seneca. That's 8-9 pounds vs. about 6 pounds! Major difference when hunting.
When silent hammer-cocking is needed, the hammer-cocking clicks (similar to the old Colt single-action revolvers) can be eliminated by holding the front trigger down while cocking the hammer. Just make sure that you have a good grip on the hammer and that you release the trigger before slowly and carefully releasing the hammer at its cocked position. Though it has never failed to hold at the cocked position for me, I strongly suggest that you keep the gun pointed in a safe direction if and when you ever try this.
Thompson/Center Arms specifically states in the Seneca literature to avoid the use of sabots. I’m not sure why they advised that other than muzzleloader sabots were new at the time. Perhaps the early plastic sleeves, ca 1978, left a burned-on or melted plastic residue inside the barrel. I fired a few sabots made ca. 2000 to see how they performed on a target and found them to be very accurate. Those sabots used what appeared to be .40 caliber flat-nose bullets inside a plastic sleeve. I expect they may extend my effective hunting range. However, I have no hunting experience with them to relate.
The Seneca was made in both .36 and .45 calibers, and in cap-lock and (I think) flintlock versions. The .36 is often referred to as a “squirrel gun” and I suppose it is well suited for that. If you can find a Seneca, it will probably cost well north of $300. Just how far north will depend upon its condition.
If you are interested in using a .36 or .45 caliber muzzleloader, be aware that they are not as common as in the early days of the muzzleloader resurgence. Supplies and parts for them are difficult to find and the variety available is quite limiting. I attribute this to the increased popularity of the .50 caliber muzzleloader, which appears to be far more efficient on deer and many states now have a deer muzzleloader season. Since the .45 is so devastating on small game and comparatively less efficient on large game, where does that leave it as a hunting gun? It’s kind of in an “in the middle” category.
All this being said, I still love my Seneca rifle for what it is: A great little all-round gun.