July 22, 2009
Rifles of Interest: The Thompson/Center Venture
By David E. Petzal
A couple of years ago, Thompson/Center introduced its first bolt-action rifle, the Icon, a very handsome, very accurate arm that caused people to twitch because it was also pretty costly. But now we have the Venture, which at $499 is affordable to anyone not living in an oceangoing shipping container.
The Venture retains many of the Icon’s features: an extremely stiff receiver, an excellent, owner-adjustable trigger (The factory says it’s set at 3 to 3 ½ pounds, but mine breaks at 4 ¼ pounds which disturbs me not at all.), massive bolt with three rebated lugs and a short 60-degree lift, and a match-grade button-rifled barrel. My .30/06 Venture weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces with a Cabela’s Alaska Guide Premium 3X-9X scope on board, so it is a light rifle. The stock is molded, has a good recoil pad, and gray “traction panels” at the grip and fore-end. The Venture feeds from a detachable single-stack magazine, and comes in .270, .30/06, 7mm Rem. Mag or .300 Win. Mag. You can have any barrel length you want as long as it’s 24 inches.
Thompson/Center guarantees that the Venture will shoot a minute of angle. Mine will do better than that—a lot better. Here’s the poop. (All groups are three shots at 100 yards.)
Federal 168-grain Match--.789”
Federal 165-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip—1.195”
HSM 165-grain soft-point--.855”*
Nosler 180-grain E-Tip handload--.919”
Winchester 180-grain Power Point—1.163”
Berger 155-grain VLD handload--.667”**
T/C is not woofing; this is an MOA rifle and then some. It’s worth noting that not all that long ago, you could not have bought a big-game rifle this accurate no matter what you spent. For something to shoot like this for under $500 shakes me to the core of my being. Ventures should be in the pipeline as you read this, but I would not be surprised if they are in short supply for a while. The gun is astounding.
*I hope it’s not lost on you that HSM, which is Cabela’s bargain-brand ammo, shot nearly as well as the Federal Match.
**If any of you handloaders would like to see how well your rifle can really shoot, get a box of Berger VLDs. They are positively uncanny; they have been outstanding in every rifle I’ve tried them in.