Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thompson/Center Dimension Hands-On Rifle Review

It's not often that I have the chance to shoot an unreleased, unannounced gun weeks before the general public knows about it, but that's exactly what happened to me in early December of 2011.

While on a deer hunt in Southwest Texas, I was given the opportunity to handle, fire, and hunt with the new Thompson/Center Dimension bolt action rifle in .308 caliber, introduced today at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  Sadly, I wasn't allowed to take any photos on my hunt, but my experience with this gun is recounted below.

Looks aren't everything, but this rifle will definitely attract attention.  There's really no other centerfire bolt action like it.  At a glance, the overall silhouette approximates T/C's venerable Encore, with a pronounced pistol grip and a rounded, almost arched, stock.  It has various shims and inserts that help you customize the Dimension's, well, dimensions -- affording the shooter an optimum length of pull.  And a good-fitting gun is usually an accurate shooting one.

Speaking of accuracy, the barrel is completely free-floated, and in fact, can be swapped out with different caliber barrels (depending on length of action) in a matter of minutes, using a special tool that's included with the gun.  Hell, you can even make it a right handed or left handed bolt.  It's this sort of interchangeability (see: Encore) that is a hallmark of Thompson/Center, and it's nice to see they're bringing the modular gun concept well into the 21st Century.

My gun came pre-sighted with Nikon glass, and before taking the Dimension hunting, I fed it a few rounds of 150 grain Hornady Superformance at the 100-yard range.  Ergonomically, the gun fit well and I was easily throwing inch-and-a-half groupings downrange.  I was told the trigger is user-adjustable, and the pull felt crisp and light (but not too light).  The action was smooth -- similar to the T/C Venture that rests in my gun case.

Back to the hunt.  The rut was just coming in, and I was wanting to take a buck using rattling horns -- something that's common in Texas, but somewhat a mystery to this Midwestern boy.  We walked many miles over my three day hunt, and I carried the Dimension all day long, and never once did it become heavy.  The detachable box magazine was a nice touch, too.

Thanks to the popularity of the AR-15 platform, the shooting public no longer considers a black, "plastic" gun as inherently inferior to a traditional walnut-stocked bolt action.  And in this sluggish economy, one gun with multiple barrel options is going to make a lot of sense to a lot of people.  Priced at about $650 (with extra barrels at $250), it's also a gun that's within reach of most any hunter or shooter.

I never did find the buck I was looking for, but it sure was fun rattling in smaller bucks and hunting with a top-secret rifle.  I give Thompson/Center a lot of credit for taking some chances and designing a rifle that is truly different than anything else on the market.  I hope to put a new Dimension in my gun safe soon.

note: I was not paid or otherwise compensated by Thompson/Center for this review.


  1. You have shared your experience nicely. If you could add images of your hunting then it will be more attractive which you had missed. Barrett M107

  2. I'm saving up for a Blaser R8, or rather i was, this could well be a viable alternative for £2,000 less.