Our resident US Army Sniper Ben Becker shooting the new Thompson Center Dimension modular rifle system. The barrel is interchangeable to other calibers, just like the Contender and Encore lines, but this is a bolt gun with four configurations for four action lengths, magazine sizes and extractor sizes.
See the D on this .300 Win. Mag. barrel? That indicates that it is in D class action, or magnum action.
The magazines come in lettered sizes as well, and have sleeves that slip into the action to make them fit.
Four bolts cover all of the cartridges in the four classes of actions. It isn’t at all confusing once you understand how it all works.
Two specially made tools for this gun loosen and tighten with the correct torque the differnet barrel assemblies that you purchase by caliber. this gear ring around the barrel holds everything in place.
Thompson Center Arms
A Smith & Wesson Company
I can’t say that the Thompson Center Dimension rifle is the biggest story at SHOT Show 2012, but it is definitely the most interesting. Being from New Hampshire myself, I was an early Thompson Center customer (I had a White Mountain Carbine) and have been a fan since. In fact one of the early articles on the GunsAmerica Blog was about out of the box MOA guns, and both the TC Venture and Icon made MOA easily, and they are both great values in a deer rifle.
By far the most famous product of Thompson Center is the line of pistols known as the Contender, then later the Encore and G2 Contender. If you are new to shooting sports, the Contender pistol series is a modular system that utilizes one universal frame and interchangeable barrels and forends for varying calibers. You buy one Contender, and several, or even dozens, of barrels, from .17 Hornet to .416 Rigby in the later versions. Several calibers were invented specifically for the Thompson Contender series, including the .30TC and numerous wildcats. A whole cottage industry of making Contender barrels sprung up over the years, based on the overwhelming success of the Thompson Contender. For the hobby shooter, there has never been a finer instrument to nerd out on with your reloading press and bench rest.
Fast forward to now, since TC was bought by Smith & Wesson, and a lot of us TC fans out there have been wondering what would become of our old friend, especially since the plant in Rochester, New Hampshire was closed last year. Smith & Wesson is a public company, so what the gun nerds think doesn’t always count when you boil everything down to nuts and bolts shareholder profits.
So it is with gratitude to the folks at Smith & Wesson that I say, Thompson Center is charging forward with a completely new, and revolutionary rifle system called the Dimension. It has been two years in the works and the Dimension made its debut today at Media Day at the Range, SHOT Show 2012. Take a look through the pictures here, and I will try to explain how it works to the best of my ability.
Rifle cartridges fall into roughly (or exactly if you ask TC) four categories. They are short action, medium action, long action, and magnum action. Short action cartridges would be the .223 Remington, .22-250, maybe 7.62×39, pretty much anything below a .308 Winchester. Medium action is a .308 Winchester, .270 Winchester, etc., that size. Then long action are the .30-06 size, and magnum action is 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and other belted cartridges. I may be a little off on what goes where, but hopefully when we get one of these guns to play with we will figure it all out.
Let’s call these four groups, A, B, C and D. That is what TC calls them, and that is what is printed on the bolts, magazines, and barrels for the four different sizes in the Dimension. Each category of action size has its own lettered magazine and bolt, A to D, and will fit all of the barrels in its class. All four categories of magazine and bolt fit the one Dimension rifle frame, similar to the old Contender methodology of one frame, many calibers. So for the complete Dimension system, if you want to shoot calibers in all four classes, you would have one rifle action and stock, four magazines, four bolts, and as many barrels as your significant other will let you buy, or that you can sneak and hide in the garage with the dies and brass for them.
The barrel assemblies come off with a special geared collar and two specially made torque wrenching tools. You use the tools to loosen and tighten the collar, as well to remove the magazine sleeve system, to change from A to D in setup, and for your barrel changes throughout the caliber availability. I didn’t get the list of available calibers yet, but from what I was told by the designers today, the rifle is available now, MSRP $648 for the full rifle, but I didn’t get a price for the caliber conversions.
The Dimension is made in Springfield Massachusetts at the Smith & Wesson plant, and for TC fans, it signals a genuine commitment from Smith & Wesson to continue the Thompson Center tradition through to the next generation. With all of the new gun owners out there these days, many, many, many of them will hopefully find a love for a lifetime of shooting, and a genuine value for the TC Dimension as the prior generation did for the Contender.
I was told that TC is going to guarantee that the Dimension is an MOA rifle, and if you think about this in terms of a rifle that the barrel screws off of, this is pretty amazing. However the Dimension was designed by TC engineers, and if anyone can pull it off in an elegant fashion, it is TC engineers.
As you can see in the pictures, the Dimension is an odd looking nut, but our resident US Army Sniper Ben Becker shot it today and he thought it felt great, and that the ergonomics of the gun are natural and effective. We couldn’t measure accuracy, trigger pull or anything else in the throng of hundreds of people today, but hopefully we’ll get one to test soon. Overall it is an easy shooting rifle that is perhaps the most interesting gun at SHOT Show this year. Congratulations to the engineers at Thompson Center and the managers at Smith & Wesson for making this new TC happen. We look forward to a long future for the TC Dimension.