I've got an Encore with two barrels, .35 Whelen & 25/06. I do not have a M/L barrel at this time, but if I ever wear my Optima out, that's likely the way I'll go. The whole premise of the Encore "shooting system" is a great one, I think. As already mentioned, shooting one barrel is good practice for all of them as you are using the same stock and trigger. If you use similar scopes, your ruse is complete.
It's more enjoyable sitting and shooting a couple boxes of baby '06 than it is a couple boxes of the Whelen, that's for sure. As far as your idea for buying a Whelen barrel, I'll just say I'm very glad I did. I've now owned four .35 Whelens (still own two) and it is one of my all-time favorite rounds. I use it all the time for whitetail deer too. It is simply the Hammer of Thor on deer-sized game.
Good luck finding a nice Encore!
A pic of my Encore in .35 Whelen
Last edited by turner; 10-06-2011 at 11:22 AM.