funny how things can change all around you and, for the most part, go
unnoticed. I've been
shooting firearms made by T/C since the early 70's. With a young family
and a very tight budget, a low cost Contender with interchangeable
barrels allowed my wife and I to fiddle with firearm gadgetry and enjoy
whatever range time we could manage. I still own that frame and every
accessory we ever purchased, including barrels, grips, forearms, and a
1½X T/C Lobo scope.
I didn't really do much with the
T/C Icon after its 2007 introduction. The 30TC cartridge was
interesting, as were the unique aspects of the rifle's design, but Smith
& Wesson had acquired the company and I wanted to wait a bit to see if
the Icon would continue and how else the product line and company might develop.
It appears that this is one of those times when the outcome of an
acquisition is a benefit to both companies and what began as a K. W. Thompson Tool
and Warren Center collaboration got to move beyond its forty-five years
of producing firearms.
Some Icon - Venture comparisons and overview...
1:12" 5R Type
Composite - Traction Panels
Blued Carbon Steel*
3.5 - 5 lbs Adjustable
Shield treated bolt handle, Melanite
coated bolt. ** Sixteen chambers, short/medium
length, standard and magnum cartridges.
The Venture, initially a January 2009 release, is an interesting
product. Intended to be an inexpensive Icon derivative that would
hold broad market appeal, the Venture represents a
minimal compromise in Icon features and no compromise in production
Where the Icon is available in
numerous versions from basic sporter weight to the company's tactical Warlord,
the Venture is offered more narrowly in two versions. The Icon
has solid, Ultra Wood, laminated wood, and composite stock
options. All versions include T/C's proprietary Interlock Bedding System,
an aluminum bedding block that resides squarely between the gun's
action and its stock. The Venture
does not utilize the Interlock Bedding System, it is fitted with a composite stock,
heavily cross ribbed for strength and integral aluminum bushings at
the fastener locations. The
Icon features Integra Base scope mounting where Weaver type bases
are CNC machined directly into the rifle's receiver. The Venture is supplied
with a set of removable Weaver type bases. The Icon has a two
position safety, plus a bolt lock. The Venture has a conventional two position
Both the Icon and
Venture have a sub MOA accuracy guarantee expressed as three shots
inside 1" at 100 yards. Both guns incorporate proprietary 5R
rifling; with five grooves, one is always opposite a land for less
bullet distortion and the sides of the lands are
cut at 65° rather than a conventional 90° angle
to reduce bore fouling and bullet jacket damage.
Both Icon and Venture models are available with a
Weather Shield™ silver gray finish which the company represents as 50x
more corrosion resistant than stainless steel. Bolts are finished in black Melanite for smooth operation
and both rifles have adjustable
triggers. After handling budget priced firearms from most
manufacturers, I have to say the Venture represents a lot of value
while retaining a high end appearance.
Picking and poking... observations
When I first saw the grip area panels, I
assumed T/C had taken the same tact as they had on the Encore Pro
Hunter stocks. However, the stock on the Venture is a Hogue stock
with traction panels while the Encore FlexTech® stock receives
Simmons recoil dampening material embedded in the stock to absorb
recoil as well as inserts at the grip and forearm for improved hold.
While the FlexTech® stock probably makes
a lot of sense on this somewhat feisty 5.5 Lbs .45-70 Gov't
Katahdin, I prefer the more conventional composite stock on the 7 lb
3 oz 270 Winchester Venture.
T/C's "Fat Bolt" design is pretty beefy.
The Venture's bolt has an 0.853" body diameter and 0.825" tri-lug
bolt head. By comparison, a Remington Model 700, a really stout
action, has a 0.704" bolt body and 0.990" dual lug bolt head. At
first look it would seem the Remington has greater lug contact area
at 0.122 sq.in. However, as there are three lugs on the Venture's
bolt, the actual lug contact surface is also 0.122" so there is
plenty of surface area in contact when the bolt is closed.
benefit of the three lug set up is that only 60° of rotation is
required when opening the bolt. While this may permit faster
operation, I'm happy with just the additional scope clearance this
creates. With large eyepieces so common on current scopes,
conventional 90° bolt rotation can force a high ring requirement. I
installed high rings on the Venture for this project, but only
because they are more comfortable for me when shooting from the
bench a good deal. Otherwise, low rings would have worked just fine.
The Venture, a push feed bolt action,
has a large extractor and positive spring loaded ejector. Both
chambering and extraction were very positive.
of the striker acts as a cocked condition indicator. Always nice to
have this status heads up,
Before working with
the Venture, my personal favorite for slick cycling was the current
Winchester Model 70, which is based upon a -re '64 design. We have a new winner
in the Venture. The bolt stroke is slick,
lock up is very positive and there is virtually no bolt wiggle when
in the full back position. Unlike the Icon, the Venture manual does
not cover bolt disassembly, it is not supplied with a bolt take down
tool and interchangeable bolt handles, as offered for the Icon, are
not listed for the Venture. Something for me to tinker with, later.
Not to belabor the point, the composite stock on the
Venture is well done. The internal cross ribbing is extensive, without
creating excess weight, fastener spacer bushings are present as required and sling swivels are
preinstalled. The magazine is made of fiber filled poly,... just
like a $4,000 Blaser R8. The traction inserts are well placed and
effective even in the foot of snow we got buried in today.
Venture has a very solid, balanced feel and gripping areas are
shaped and sized correctly to fill human hands. Thompson / Center
did an excellent job with overall aesthetics. It is unique to find a
gun designed with the thought that it will eventually be shot.
Mainstream manufacturers are installing high grade
adjustable triggers on their products but, for some reason, either
the point of adjustment is buried under the stock making access
difficult, adjustment instructions are omitted from product
literature. T/C did something nifty here by making the trigger
adjustment point accessible with just the bolt removed and they
described the process of adjustment clearly in the gun's manual -
safe and easy
No mounting objections... sorry
Both Weaver type scope bases and rings were included with
the Venture. Pictured right - The 1" diameter rings were Thompson /
Center lightweight aluminum, medium height. I would have used
them, however, I had a Burris SixX 30mm scope set aside for the project.
Warne steel rings were selected because that is my standard choice and I
had a set on hand. The T/C rings are very well made, nicely stylized and
complete with cross bars to prevent longitudinal movement in the mounts
under recoil. The supplied installation tool, pictured top right is
handy, making ring removal quick and easy. The tool's cross bar handle
stows inside the tool's body when not in use.
subject firearm is chambered for the 270 Winchester, which is one of my
favorites. Pictured center, the 270 Winchester is flanked left by the
308 Winchester and right by the 270 WSM; three of the sixteen available
Venture chambers. Barrel length is either 22" or 24" depending on
cartridge. For the most part, high capacity overbore cartridges get a
24" barrel, all others 22"; 270 Winchester 24", 308 Winchester 22" and
270 WSM 24".
There is a certain logical
inconsistency in barrel length to cartridge assignment. As an example,
the 30-06 Springfield gets a 24" barrel, but the 300 Winchester Magnum,
338 Winchester Magnum and 300 WSM get 22" barrels. If the 30-06
Springfield were 22" I'd go with a capacity:bore ratio as the underlying
factor, so I am not sure. Something further to check into. All trivial
curiosity as most 30-06 Springfield firearms have 22" barrel and WSM
barrels vary from 22" - 24" dependent upon manufacturer. In any event,
the Venture offers the shooter good cartridge choice flexibility.
For the live fire portion, I've got controlled lot
handloads with most popular bullet weights and types and some factory
ammunition to use as a baseline. I also have data collected from
firearms tested earlier to use as a basis for comparison.
An attention getter...
is a good looking gun, one that drew quite a bit of attention around
here. It looks good, carries well and, even on a preliminary basis, it
is a solid shooter. I thought the Burris SixX would compliment the
Venture and it really did. Good match on color and texture and even the
logos color matched the Venture's traction panels.
Personally, I'm glad I got to spend time with this
firearm. it is a different design, it handles better than many other
established products I've shot recently and it's got a good feet. beyond
shooting as a factory chamber, it would serve as the basis for a pretty
slick wildcat custom.
I'll be back in Part II
with live fire information and some assessment of the gun's accuracy and
performance to Thompson Center's MOA Accuracy Guarantee.
Thompson / Center's Venture Part I
Thompson / Center's Venture Part II