Author:Bodinson, Holt

With their acquisition of Thompson/Center Arms, Smith & Wesson is back in the bolt-action sporting rifle business following their brief flirtations with HVA Husqvarna, Howa and I-Bolt models in the 1970s and '80s. It's been a long time coming, but the wait was ever so worth it.

With a lifetime of shooting under my belt, I am still amazed you can go down to your local sporting goods store, buy an off-the-rack rifle for $360 and shoot minute-of-angle groups right out of the box with factory ammunition. That's exactly been my experience with two of T/C's "Compass" brand rifles, and I still shake my head in disbelief that highly affordable rifles and factory ammo have progressed this far in such a short time.

My first opportunity to work with the Compass occurred last summer at an industry shoot in Utah. T/C Brand Manager, Danielle Sanville, was there, joined by Trijicon's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Chuck Wahr. Together they fielded Compass rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor outfitted with a variety of Trijicon optics. The course of fire was Action Target torso silhouettes placed at various distances out to 440 yards. Our "issue load" was Hornady 140-gr. A-Max.

Those hours out on the range were eye-opening. Not only were the torso silhouettes easy to hit with the T/C/Trijicon rigs, but the elevation and windage hold-offs with the 6.5 Creedmoor were minimal, confirming the general feeling the round is a remarkedly efficient match load. Anyway, I came away from the brief introduction wanting to do some further work with the same rifle/optic/caliber combination.

Retailing in my area for $360 in 11 different calibers ranging from .204 Ruger through .300 Winchester Magnum, the Compass proved to be a well-designed and intriguing rifle.

The tubular receiver is massive with a wall thickness of approximately 1/4" and a fairly small ejection port. The result is maximum rigidity and action rigidity enhances accuracy. I remember how astonished shooters were when they learned the low-cost, plain-Jane looking, Remington 788 rifle was inherently accurate and quite capable of outshooting their sporters costing 4-5 times as much. Again, it was a very rigid design with a receiver wall thickness measuring almost 5/16".

Dimensionally, we're talking about a 22" barrel (threaded 5/8-24), a 41" overall length and a weight of about 7 lbs. (depending on caliber). The stock is black synthetic and it comes with scope mounts.


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