I first had a chance to hunt with the inaugural version of the Thompson/Center Compass on a trip to Africa. Industry writers were invited so we could field test gear. Having extensively shot my Compass chambered in .30-06 Springfield out to about 450 yards prior to leaving the U.S., I had total confidence in the rifle. I was excited to receive the T/C Compass II chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor to compare it against the version I have known well for a few years now.
This confidence was well placed as I took many plains species with it. The longest shot was through the heart of a black wildebeest on an open plain at 390 yards. The light, easy-to-handle Compass was a pleasure to carry and shoot throughout the week we hunted. Because of the experience, I ended up buying the test gun, and it has since taken several Oklahoma whitetail and feral hogs on my small leased property.
The only minor complaint I had about the original Compass was that the trigger was not perfect. There is no doubt I’m a trigger snob, so my standards in this department are high. It had just the slightest grinding creep perceptible when totally focused on it during dry-fire or taking that precise shot from the bench.
Of course, the first thing I did when taking the T/C Compass II 6.5 Creedmoor out of the box was work the action, check to ensure the chamber was clear, and slowly press the trigger. It was perfect and shocking for a gun at this price. It was the improvement most touted by Thompson/Center with this newest generation of the Compass, and they did not disappoint. I was happy.
Taking the gun to the range on a near-windless 75-degree day sent a Chris Matthews thrill up my leg. I knew 2 MoA targets out to 400 yards were waiting for me. The 6.5 Creedmoor is one of my favorite cartridges for deer-sized game due to its flat-shooting, wind-bucking, low-recoiling nature.
The shooting session reminded me of the things I most like about the Compass. The short 60-degree throw of the bolt on re-load is a true pleasure for those of us who train to work the bolt as part of our automatic follow-through after every shot. It is something we should all strive for because it is what allows for quick follow-up shots on game. I simply love how this minimized bolt handles. It reminds me of the wonderfully efficient Sakos.
The three-position safety is crisp in its movement and locks the bolt in the rear position, something that is critically important when walking through thick vegetation that has a penchant for grabbing a bolt handle and taking it out of battery. The five-round detachable rotary magazine is a very nice feature for loading and unloading when scouting for species like pronghorn from a vehicle. Another joy is the threaded barrel to accommodate one of my many hearing-saving suppressors I’ve collected through the years.
But then there is the silly-good accuracy that I found in the Compass I took to Africa. It consistently shot sub MoA groups with a variety of ammo. For the trip to the range with the T/CCompass II 6.5 Creedmoor, I used the 140 grain Winchester Match BTHP. I shot five five-shot groups from front and back bags at 100 yards. The average group size was 1.12 inches with the smallest group at an exceptionally good 0.81 inches. This gun’s accuracy did not disappoint.
There is a lot to like about the Compass II and virtually nothing to dislike. It is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a bargain-priced hunting rifle. The version chambered in .243 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor is ideal for newer hunters so they can practice without having skills eroded by fear of harsher recoil. Adding a suppressor would be icing on the cake here by taking one more measure to avoid having the dreaded “flinch” response creep into the equation. For a low-cost rifle, it performs way above its class.
MSRP: $405, www.tcarms.com
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