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:
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
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
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!