In all sincerity, if you have to ask this question, then take someone with you who is knowlegeable about contenders! This will probably save you a bunch of headaches, and get you started off on the right foot, for a long and happy experience with T/C products. I might even suggest a .22 lr barrel for your first barrel. It's easy to shoot, cheap to use, and you can move it easily if you decide if you're not a Contender person.
Stretched frames can be either easy or hard to detect pard. So ditto Bug that if you don't know what to look for, frames with "problems" could end up following you home. See if you can get someone who has some experience with Contenders to do the show with you and help you buy.
Aside from that, the pre-fire easy open was the best Contender frames T/C made. The post fire are OK in most regards too though, just butt ugly and their breech block update (while it sounds good on paper) has had some problems. Just lock onto the serial numbers... anything over 195,00 in blue and any stainless frames when you're looking and you'll be looking at only pre and post fire EO's. They also made some armor alloy frames that can be very good too, but they need converting to use with all vintages of barrels (not a big deal).
Gotta agree with the above, unless you're pretty experienced with things mechanical, just unfamiliar with Contenders and you can't find anyone to go with you. If you know what to look for when looking at overstressed metal, and have a good glass, you can figure most of it out. Contenders aren't very complicated. Get a parts list or exploded view and if you're good with guns you can figure it out. Now, that said, there are or can be "hidden snakes" so if you're not familiar look hard and long especially if the price seems too good to be true. My experience lately has been that gun show prices aren't so great, so if you see a $100 frame, I'd run away. Look real close at any of the frames (Ed's usually got used Contender frames for a little over $175 so that's you're benchmark).
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