TC Compass Hands-On: From Unboxing to 600 Yards

For value-minded rifle buyers, there’s never been a better time than right now! Over the last 10 years, the “standard equipment” list of features and attributes for entry-level rifles has gotten better and better. If you told me 10 years ago that I’d be able to buy a rifle for $350-ish that was loaded with a premium trigger, pillar bedded stock and free-floated barrel, threaded muzzle, integrated scope bases, and a detachable magazine, and sub-MOA I might not have believed you! Well, this rifle is here and it’s real- it’s called the Thomson Center (TC) Compass. Available in a variety of chamberings, this feature-rich rifle may be just the ticket if you’re looking for a rifle that performs well, works with the muzzle accessories that you want to use, and won’t cause undue harm to your checking account.


Waiting is the Hardest Part

When I read about the TC Compass in an email newsletter I thought- I’ve got to get my hands on one of those rifles and give it a try! I had to exercise patience waiting for the rifle to arrive- and then I received the call: “Hi Gavin, wanted to let you know that your TC Compass rifle has arrived”. Needless to say, I was down at my local FFL: Low Price Guns in Bellevue Washington the next day. There’s nothing *quite* like the feeling of picking up that new gun:


At Low Price Guns, Dean helped me with the transfer, but I wouldn’t even let him take the rifle out of the plastic. “I want to save that for the unboxing video!” I told Dean. So he read the serial number through the plastic. I love these guys. If you look closely at the picture above you may see a “kid at Christmas”. Part of the fun of filming these kinds of stories is the anticipation. What would the rifle look like? What would the trigger feel like? How would this new rifle shoot? I was excited to have a .308 bolt rifle to complement my AR-10 style rifle- the perfect combination.

Here, I’ll walk through the unboxing with you, get things setup, chronograph my first loads with the MagnetoSpeed V3, shoot 100 yard groups, take things to 600 yards, and try out a suppressor. (Yes, that’s a LOT for one video, buckle up!).

Hands-On With the TC Compass


I’ll have to say, the TC Compass lived up to and exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high based on what I had read and watched). The trigger was crisp, and pull weight from the factory came in at just shy of 4lb, a great setup for a rifle that is going to be used for hunting and shooting at the range. The Compass is also balanced well, and light-weight: an important factor when you are hiking for 10 or more miles with your rifle while hunting!


My initial loads for this rifle performed very well! Here’s the recipe I started with:

  • Military 7.62x51mm brass (.308)
  • Hornady 155 grain AMAX .308 bullet
  • CCI BR2 Benchrest Primer
  • Hodgdon Varget Powder – 44.9 grains
  • 2.800″ COL

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

Notice the “ring” on the bullet- a sign I may have excessive neck tension (I know I’m not compressed with this load). I’ll have to look at that for subsequent loads! When it comes to quantifying the performance of your ammunition, there’s two things I look at: chronograph data and range results (groups size and other factors). This load chronographed quite well:


How about that? 2.800″ COL, and 2800 fps average speed. That doesn’t happen every day! This gathering of ballistic data was just what I needed to get “on target” with the Compass at 600 yards. With the rifle specifics and load specifics entered into the Shooter app, I calculated my “dope” which would enable me to get within inches of the 600 yard target on the first shot, and “on target” on the second shot: not bad.


It was a beautiful day at the North Central Washington Gun Club, and it was great to spend time shooting with friends Jim Findlay and Jesse Redell of RBros Custon Rifles. Great weather, new gear, and lots of hits on steel at 600 yards – it’s hard to beat a day like that! Here’s a view from the new Ultimate Reloader 4K quadcopter drone:


Closing Thoughts

Overall, I’m very impressed with the TC Compass rifle, especially at the sub-$400. price point! The proof is in the performance, and this rifle has exceeded my expectations in that department. I had no trouble producing a ~3/4 MOA group, which beats the 1-MOA gurantee by quite a bit: (I can’t wait to see what more load development and shooting will yield)


At 600 yards, I had no trouble stacking multiple shots on steel, even with moderate wind conditions. You can feel the light-weight construction of the rifle in its recoil impulse, but adding a muzzle brake helped tame the jolt substantially. Great to have the threaded muzzle!


Here’s what you get “in the box” with the TC Compass:


Included here are:

  • TC Compass rifle with integrated scope bases
  • Owner’s manual and related papers
  • Compass key chain
  • Gun lock
  • Sticker

And here’s an overview of the features included in the TC Compass rifle: (full specs HERE)

  • Synthetic stock with pillar bedding (free-floated barrel)
  • 60 degree 3-lug bolt with 3-position safety
  • 3.5lb – 5lb adjustable trigger
  • 5/8″ x 24 TPI threaded muzzle, 5R rifling, 1:12 twist (.308)
  • Swivel Studs for sling
  • 1 MOA gurantee

The TC Compass is available in the following chamberings as of the writing of this article: (latest models HERE)

  • .204 Ruger
  • .22-250 Remington
  • .243 Winchester
  • .300 Winchester Magnum
  • .308 Winchester (reviewed here)
  • .223 Remington
  • 30-06 Springfield
  • 7mm Remington Magnum
  • 7mm-08

That’s a pretty comprehensive lineup! If you’re in the market for a light-weight accurate rifle that’s packed with features at a low price-point- take a look at the TC Compass. I’m looking forward to more shooting and hunting with this rifle, so stay tuned for more related stories here on Ultimate Reloader. Do you have a TC Compass? Which chambering did you pick, and how are you liking yours? Please drop a comment!



23 thoughts on “TC Compass Hands-On: From Unboxing to 600 Yards”

  1. Good review Gavin I’m looking for one in 7mm08. May have to have someone order me one. Thanks for all the great reviews. Robert

  2. Excellent review! I just picked up a T/C Compass in .243 Win at a local shop. I’m waiting on test ammo and reloading components to arrive. So far I’m impressed with the value. I have bookmarked your site will check back often. Steve

  3. Great article, and review. have just recently been watching ultimate reloader as my interest has peaked to reload for myself. Have really learned a lot so far, and this review is icing on the cake. Like i need another rifle!!! Well I do now!! Thanks a lot. Keep up the great work!!! With your insight I won’t be buying and crying. Got my list for reloading equipment and moving ahead with it.

  4. Replacement stock for the Thompson Center Compass 300win mag bold action rifle…something that’s not plastic … Tried Boyds gun-stock, MDT, eBay….all no-go

  5. I purchased a 30-06 and tried to put my 5/8×24 muzzle brake from silencerco on
    it. It seems to have to much play and no shoulder have not shot it. Wonder if it
    being a .308 size compared to your 6.5mm makes the difference. I guess you get a shoulder to screw into?

  6. Hi Gavin, just wanted to drop a note and say thanks for ALL your super high quality and informative content.

    I started reloading for pistol a couple years back and my wife and kids have grown quite accustomed to hearing your theme music for the vidoes as I have poured over them again and again (and again) … lol 😁

    Wanting to get into shooting and reloading for rifles … and based on both your reviews of the T/C Compass, I am now the proud owner of twins… also in .223 and .308.

    I picked up the .308 with their Vortex combo deal (Crossfire 3×9) and built my .223 with the same scope as your project rifle. It’s very nice. My friends shooting much more expensive glass can’t believe I got it for $65!

    I have tuned my triggers down to a perfect 3 pound pull and I am thoroughly enjoying both of these guns. Especially the reloading and trying different recipes with them. There’s a lot more in rifle loading than pistol I’ll tell you that much.

    Anyway… thanks again for all the great content.

    1. Thanks Tom, and that’s awesome that you got “one of each” – I think you’ll find them both to be super-useful- the .223 for varmint hunting and target work (with the kids?) and the .308 as a great hunting rifle, and for target work as well if you don’t mind the “kick” 🙂 Have fun!

  7. Hi Gavin,
    I picked this up in 308 for a hair under 200 bucks after the rebate. I did so because of your video. Right out of the box, with really cheap ammo, it shot slightly sub MOA. I am looking forward to putting some match grade ammo through it soon. I’m a mid range target shooter, not a hunter. I’m also a big fan of high value, low dollar gear. I’m looking to get out to 600 yards with this rifle. Thanks for the great video and the in depth review. I just bought the Miculek brake for the rifle. Should be even better after the install.

  8. I purchased the T/C Compass in 308 Win when they offered the rifle at a ridiculously low price with a manufacturer’s $75 dollar rebate on top of that. I’m shooting Hornady ELD Match 155 gr and Hornady 150 gr FMJBT. Both with 43 gr of IMR 4895 pushing it. So far my best group is 0.67″ at 100 yards. Not bad out of the box and with a Striker Industries brake. My only gripe is that the bolt lug almost touches the stock when fully retracted and has a bit of play/slop. However, I can live with this and if you can too you will be rewarded with an amazing bargain that is amazingly accurate.

  9. Great review and info! Now that some time has gone by, do you have any additional load data or comments on what the Compass rifles seem to like from a reloaders perspective (preferred seating depth, jump, particular bullet the 5R rifling likes, etc.)?
    I have 2 Compass rifles (.308 & 7mm-08) and am trying to decide where to start reloading them. These are hunting rifles but looking for supreme accuracy out to 500ish yards. So far they seem to like the ELD-X and Fusion factory ammo. Still trying to find a Berger hunting bullet they like…

  10. Great review! I just purchased one of these in .308, with an “el cheapo” scope on it, at a sale price of $279 !!!! oh, and there is a $50 rebate I need to send off for also! LOL!!! Absolutely crazy!!! I’m thrilled!
    I managed to get a few rounds off the next day, we had a great time. The pumpkin targets, not so much, lol. This is the first bolt action for us (me, wife, daughter). It’s been a really long time since I’ve had any rifle play, way back in the late 90’s when I was in the USMC.
    I already feel the reloading bug setting in, so I’m glad I found this site. Keep up the good work!

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