Thompson Center (T/C) has been known since the late 60's and 70's for their Contender single shot hunting handgun and their line of higher end traditional and modern muzzleloaders. From the start, T/C has been about blackpowder and single shot pistol and rifle hunting. Given this 40+ year background it was surprising when T/C brought out their first bolt action rifle, the Icon , a few years ago. We have previously reviewed the Icon and found it to be a solid offering and were excited to take a look at the new T/C Venture when it started shipping late last year.
The Venture is T/C's less expensive, value based rifle with a street price of around $449 (at the time of writing (11/2010) T/C is also offering a $50 mail in rebate on the Venture). Currently the standard Venture is only available in blued metal with a synthetic stock. There is a Venture Predator version, only available in smaller varmint cartridges, that are just starting to ship and comes in a fully dipped Realtree Max-1 camouflage.
Thompson Center (T/C) Venture Rifle
The standard Venture is available in short and long action models. The long actions are currently available in the following cartridges: 25-06, 280 Rem, 338 Win Mag, 270 Win, 30-06 Springfield, 7mm Rem Mag, and 300 Win Mag. The short actions are available in the following cartridges: 204 Ruger, 223 Rem, 22-250 Rem, 7mm-08, 308 Win, 243 Win, and 30 T/C. Our review model is a long action in 270 Win.
When first looking over the Venture it is easy to see the aesthetic similarities to the Icon. The receiver has a similar shape and layout to the Icon; however there are some differences. First off the Venture does not have directly integrated scope bases. Nonetheless, T/C does include pre-mounted Weaver style scope bases with the Venture, a nice simple perk that Marlin also does with their value based XL7, but seems to be uncommon for most manufacturers.
The Venture does not have integrated bases like the Icon, but T/C includes two pre-mounted Weaver style bases.
The rear of the receiver has contours and a design that is reminiscent of the Icon as well. It is easy to see if the rifle is cocked and ready to fire or if the hammer has been dropped. The safety is a simple two-position design, which is to the right of the bolt. When the safety is engaged it is still possible to cycle the bolt and remove a live round. The bolt uses T/C's short 60 degree bolt throw for quickly cycling rounds. The bolt, while not the absolute smoothest on the market, is very good for any rifle and better than most value based rifles. Furthermore it is not excessively loose and does not wobble in the receiver. The bolt is released by depressing a simple mauser style release button on the left side of receiver.
Rear of bolt in the uncocked or fired position.
Rear of the bolt in the cocked position.
The three lug bolt uses a plunger style extractor.
The fit and finish on the Venture is excellent. T/C has done a great job with the bluing for the price. Our review model had a polished blue not usually seen at this price level. While the bluing is not as deep as say an early Colt Python, it has a good luster and polish. If you like blued metal, this is a huge step up from the unpolished matte blue that is par for course in the value based rifle market.
The muzzle has a recessed target crown.
The Venture's stock is synthetic with grayish inlaid grip panels on the pistol grip and forearm. These grip panels are a nice addition to a synthetic stock and make it easier to hold the rifle under recoil and slick conditions. Another nice addition to the stock is one that cannot be seen but only heard and felt. Most synthetic stocks these days have a hollow sound when lightly tapped. T/C has either foam filled the butt-stock or is using some other process to fill the rear of the stock. This gives the stock a more solid feel than most synthetic stocks on the market. The stock's recoil pad is made of softer rubber, however it retains some firmness and should stand up over many seasons.
Textured rubber inlaid into the stock gives a better grip.
Its worth noting that while the Venture does not have the three bedding aluminum blocks of the Icon, it still uses a simple metal bedding. T/C has inlaid metal around the two screw holes that bed the action to the stock. The recoil lug and stock bedding is more typical of those found on most other rifles.
The receiver is bolted to the stock through two holes that are embedded with metal (rear view).
The receiver is bolted to the stock through two holes that are embedded with metal (front near the recoil lug).
The recoil lug that rests in the slot in the stock.
The recoil lug is embedded into the stock forward of the front receiver bolt.
All T/C Ventures also ship with a detachable box magazine with 3+1 (three in reserve, one in the chamber) capacity regardless of the cartridge. The box mag is plastic with a plastic follower and plastic feed lips. However the retention tab that locks the magazine into the stock is metal. The metal on plastic design should last a long time.
Somewhat fuzzy view of the plastic retaining tab for the magazine.
The detachable magazine, notice the metal retaining tab at the front of the magazine.
Bottom view of the receiver.
The trigger on our review model broke cleanly and consistently at about 3.75 pounds. There was a very small amount of creep and no over travel. Adjusting the trigger involves removing the bolt and turning a small set screw that is recessed in the receiver above the trigger assembly.
Left hand view of the trigger. Notice the mauser style bolt release on the side.
Right hand view of the trigger. The trigger assembly is similar to the T/C Icon.
Two views of the small set screw that is above the trigger assembly to adjust
the trigger pull weight. Remove the bolt to access the set screw.
The Venture has the same 5R rifling as the Icon. 5R rifling uses 5 lands and 5 grooves in such a configuration that lands are opposite (directly across the barrel) from grooves. T/C claims that this style of rifling reduces bullet deformation and presumably making inner-chamber pressures more consistent from shot-to-shot. T/C is so confident in their rifling technique that they are guaranteeing the Venture to shoot 3 shots in one inch or less at 100 yards with premium ammo. If not completely satisfied T/C will certify MOA accuracy or replace with a new Venture. (according to this: http://www.tcarms.com/technology/minute_of_angle.php ).
The last few years have seen a lot of new value rifles introduced to the market. If you have $300 to spend on a new rifle, there are a lot of good options, such as the Stevens 200 , the Savage Edge , the Marlin XL7  or XS7, and some offerings from Mossberg. However there is a second tier of sorts opening up in the value market that hovers in the $400-$450 price range. The Venture sits nicely in this tier. For the extra $100 to $150 you get an accuracy guarantee, detachable magazine with metal lock-up, a nicer stock, and a consistent externally adjustable trigger. If your budget allows for up to $500, the Venture should definitely be on your short list of models to review.
For more information about the Thompson Center Venture rifle visit www.tcarms.com .