The Thompson Center Compass

The Thompson Center Compass is a low cost rifle in myriad calibers and actions. It features a push-feed Mauser action with a three position safety, a free floated barrel, preinstalled receiver rail sections, detachable rotary magazine, and optionally, a relatively rugged scope. By far the most distinct features of the Compass line are the use of 5R rifling and threaded muzzles, which are not usually available outside of significantly more expensive rifles.

As of August 16, 2017 you can buy a Compass with a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x for, after $75 rebate, under $300 shipped. Whether you’re in the deserts of Arizona ringing a thousand yard gong with 6.5 Creedmoor, taking Alaskan Caribou with 7mm Remington Magnum, or touching holes with 308 Winchester at CMP South in Alabama the T/C Compass will be right at home. Looking for a .30-06 with a threaded barrel? Good luck finding anything decent without spending three to five times what you would spend here.

<em>A young .30-06 with rests with three .308 battle rifles and a 12 gauge autoloader.</em>

The scoped Compass line originally used Nikon 3-9x scopes, pictured here.

This rifle was zeroed only once and since has experienced five thousand highway, city, and trail miles bouncing around the back of a pickup truck, who knows how many miles hiking and walking, and several different muzzle brakes and suppressors. It has on more than one occasion been driven two hundred miles with only one round in tow and placed a hole precisely where aimed. It has been used with factory ammunition and hand loads from high power to subsonic, suppressed and unsuppressed. You can be confident the rifle will stay under an arc minute and the glass will be on target. The newer scoped rifles come with a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x and unknown scope rings. With any luck they’ll live up to the expectations set by their predecessors.

Thompson Center feat. Ikea

The Compass uses five round rifle and four round magnum rotary magazines. The follower is returned by a spring wrapped around the axis similar to the ejection port cover of an AR-15. Unfortunately, the magazine is the weak point of the platform. The magazine is disassembled by removing the rear plate, but in what can only be described as the genius of an ITT Tech fastener engineer, the plate is retained solely by friction. When, not if, the plate deforms or is partially removed the spring slides off the follower, leaving the magazine mostly functional except for the last round. Tap the back of the magazine on a surface to evenly seat the rounds and there’s a good chance your place will come off too. If the spring is wound one extra time the backplate will even find itself spontaneously ejected. Fortunately the fix is fairly simple and requires no tools, magazines are cheap and plenty, and the rifle can be single loaded without difficulty.

Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive do-everything rifle to get you a couple seasons or a host worthy of your Schmidt Bender the T/C Compass line will serve you well.



Noth is a Second Amendment advocate, federal philatelist, Philadelphian, NRA Life Member, collector of antique firearms, and certified bubbasmith.

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1 Response

  1. Avatar Anthony says:

    The magazines for Compass are “unobtanium” in Canada, lol.

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