I first fired one of the new Thompson Center Compass rifles at a pre-release event and was immediately hooked, so I talked the editors here at GunsAmerica into publishing a full review. Why? It’s a very affordable rifle that shoots and handles like a very unaffordable rifle. What’s not to love about that?
My first impression of the Compass was very favorable. It’s not like I fired a few shots and made some snap judgment. Rather, I came to that conclusion after firing over 780 rounds from the same rifle in just two days. For a bolt-action rifle, that might qualify as cruel and inhumane punishment, especially considering that the barrel got so hot, I completely melted a rifle rest. Still no word on whether the gunsmiths back at Smith & Wesson have removed all the melted goo from that barrel… Anyway, I shot the heck out of one of these rifles, chambered in .204 Ruger, and it performed. As a result, I wanted to get my hands on a more versatile caliber model and give it a more in-depth trial.
The sample for this review was a Compass chambered in .308 Winchester. As of this writing, Thompson Center also offers the Compass in the following calibers: .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .22-250, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 7mm-08. During SHOT Show 2017, the company announced yet another caliber option – 6.5 Creedmoor.
The Quick Tour
Let’s start with the barrel as that’s the really important part, at least for accuracy and longevity. This model features a 1:12 twist rate, but that’s caliber specific, so yours may vary depending on which model you choose. The unique thing is the 5R rifling pattern. The pattern sports more rounded lands and grooves so there’s no “cutting” into the bullet jacket as it’s forced down the barrel. The idea is that less bullet deformation leads to better accuracy. The other benefit of the 5R rifling is that fewer hard edges in the bore result in less fouling and therefore easier cleaning. One day, I’ll work up the nerve to ask the person who had to clean my very abused Prairie Dog Compass how the fouling was after 780 rounds of .204 Ruger.
Read the rest at GunsAmerica.