A Sub-MOA 6.5 Creedmoor for $400? Thompson/Center Compass — Full Review

Since its introduction in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor has taken off like wildfire and Thompson/Center (T/C) has delivered a rifle chambered in 6.5 that will go head to head with rifles a few weight classes above it. Thompson/Center is one of the oldest names in American hunting. They’re known primarily for their muzzle loading guns that are without peer. This year, they have taken a step into the bolt action market with a strong contender. Enter the T/C Compass.

The T/C Compass offers many features at a great price. Hunters would be hard pressed a more accurate rifle at this price point.

The Compass line was built from the ground up with the idea that inexpensive doesn’t mean cheap. The first thing that stuck in my brain when this rifle was announced was a 1 MOA three-shot guarantee that comes with an MSRP of $400. Even 17 years ago at the beginning of the war, 1 MOA was viewed as the holy grail of custom guns. I never thought I would live to see the day of a guarantee like this on a rifle under $500. And my test model delivered on it, every time I did my job correctly. The key is a mastery of 5R rifling, which results in less projectile deformation. It might be part magic, but it works.

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The barrel comes with a thread protector and is ready for end users to attach a muzzlebrake or suppressor.

  • Type: Bolt-action
  • Cartridge: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Capacity: 5 +1 rds.
  • Barrel Length: 22 in
  • Weight: 7.25 lbs.
  • Trigger: 5 lbs., 10 oz. adj. (tested)
  • Stock: Polymer
  • Finish: Blue/black composite
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $399
  • Manufacturer: Thompson/Center


The Compass is loaded with features you wouldn’t expect for the price. This is flush fit, rotary magazine-fed rifle. Standard calibers hold five rounds and magnum calibers hold four rounds. The barrel is threaded from the factory and ready to accept a muzzlebrake or suppressor. This shows that Thompson Center is looking ahead to the future as hunting with suppressors becomes more popular. The trigger is user adjustable if a bit more involved than some of the others on the market. It’s still not rocket science, and out of the box, it is good enough for most people.

The three-lug bolt design is simple and reliable. The three-position safety is also simple to actuate and easy to see. It provides a locked, load/unload and fire positions.

The bolt is a 3-lug design that is built beefy for a lifetime of use. The bolt isn’t the smoothest I have ever used, but you would be hard pressed to find a higher-quality rifle at $400. The 60-degree throw is nice, and the angle of the bolt handle keeps it well away from the optics. Thompson utilizes a three-position safety with a large safety knob on the bolt itself. You can’t miss this safety, and they made it stainless against the black bolt for good measure. The three-positions are safe, unloaded/safe, and fire.

The 60-degree bolt lift provided by the three-lug design gives maximum clearance between the handle and the mounted scope.

The stock isn’t going to put McMillan out of business anytime soon, but it isn’t bad for the price. It is lightweight which is a bonus for hunting — especially if you’re covering a lot of ground. It is synthetic, which makes it weather proof. The rigidity is better than most of the entry-level plastics stocks I have seen. There is a nice texturing around the grip area and again on the forend. The forend also has grooves cut the length of half the stock, which both looks nice and adds some purchase for shooting in less than ideal conditions. This stock was made to be used in the field and it shows. It also features front and rear sling attachment points, but only one of each. If you use bipods in the field, make sure your choice has a sling mount on the bipod.

Range Time

As advertised, the T/C Compass delivered sub-MOA accuracy at 100 yards.

The barrel profile is on the thinner side, which we expect for a hunting rifle. Shooting my groups with Federal Fusion ammunition, it heated up pretty quickly. This did not affect my groups or strike points in a noticeable way, and I probably shot more in one session at the range than most hunters will in three seasons. As mentioned, with a premium hunting bullet, I had no problems keeping groups under an inch. For a better field test, I then moved this combination out to 500 meters. I was set up with a Vortex Viper 4-16 set in the included Weaver mounts on the Compass, and my target was a 10 inch hex gong from MGM.  I am not a hunter by trade, but I would think this is well inside the vitals of most things you would shoot at that range. Hit after hit was no problem, even with a little wind.

The author was impressed with the accuracy at 100 meters and at 500 meters. The rifle put hits consistently on a steel gong at 500 meters.

This is a great set up for the field, and at a price that won’t break the bank. Available in a variety of calibers from .204 Ruger up to .300 Win. Mag., an option exists for all your hunting needs.

For more information about Thompson Center click, https://www.tcarms.com.

For more information about Vortex optics, click http://www.vortexoptics.com.

For more information about Federal Fusion, click https://www.federalpremium.com.

To purchase a Thompson/Center Compass on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Thompson%20Center%20Compass.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • James richie March 18, 2018, 4:25 pm

    Shot one box of ammo thru the rifle was very hard feeding shells from mag.to chamber. The bolt works ok till you put shells in it,then it doesn’t,want to move forward.This is my 2nd tc first was dud also.

  • davis October 5, 2017, 9:24 am

    Almost a wonderful gun from the factory. After “fixing” it is a WOW gun as good as my RPR. I received a TC Compass in 6.5- cleaned it well, re-tightened the loose stock and scope base screws and headed to the range. As advertised 1 inch groups at the get go. Went home. After careful glass bedding the rear pillar and the front pillar area and putting a Win70 target spring in the trigger it was back to the range. Holy cow- of the 4 groups it was .318/.330/.91/1.1 inch. Note the last two were due to two thrown shots as I got REALLY excited. If TC/S&W makes a solid(wood) stock for this gun it would eclipse all others.. and I paid a total of $240.00 take home price! I used factory ammo and a Vortex 6-24 scope.

  • DG Still September 8, 2017, 1:17 pm

    Please….2007 the Thompson Center ICON enters the market with what is possibly the finest engineered Under $1,000 rifle ever! Have a 2007 ICON that came with a Factory Shoot-in Target w/a 3-Shoot .75MOA Group! The ICON broke new ground in many many areas. The Compass benefits a Decade Later from that engineering…BUT no matter how much plastic and CNC machinery you use…a cheap gun is a cheap gun! Not all bad but certainly not all good.

  • Archangel August 17, 2017, 5:48 pm

    Back when home computers were just coming out and the Internet was new, my youngest daughter misspelled just about everything, then would hit the “add to dictionary” button so because of the auto-correct, it was near impossible to type anything until I found out how to turn it off!

  • Bob August 15, 2017, 8:15 pm

    There is a information posted on the T/C website regarding a recall on the Compass. T/C makes it clear that

    “This recall applies to all Compass rifles manufactured by Thompson/ Center prior to September 16, 2016.”

    IMPORTANT SAFETY RECALL NOTICE – Notice to purchasers of Thompson/Center COMPASS® rifles. Thompson/Center has identified a condition that may impact the safety of its rifle. We expect to announce a detailed corrective action plan in the next few days. We ask that you immediately stop using the rifle until further notice. Read More.”

    “Thompson/Center has identified a condition that may exist in some Compass rifles. We have determined that there may be some instances, depending on the height and position of the rifle and other factors, where a chambered round may fire if the firearm is dropped with the safety in the fire position. Safety is paramount to us, so we are taking this measure to further enhance performance and to meet our customer expectations, with the goal of reducing the chance of an accidental discharge should the rifle be dropped.”
    This is vitally important safety information, and notice of the recall is prominently displayed on the first page of the T/C website. This “Full Review” about the Compass in GA should have mentioned the recall, for at least two reasons. (1) firearm safety. T/C finds the matter important enough to post notice on the front page of its website — why not GA in its article? (2) To inform the public that T/C is being responsible about the issue and taking immediate steps to deal with it. I am very interested in buying one of these rifles, and I am not worried about the recall. Why not? Because T/C explained the nature of the problem and because T/C made it clear that problem affects Compass rifles manufactured prior to September 16, 2016. This is similar to the way that Ruger is taking ownership of the problem with its Long Range Rifle. Because of the responsibility shown by T/C and by Ruger, I am more inclined rather than less inclined to buy their products.

    • Thomas and Sandra Ottey October 10, 2017, 4:18 pm

      I don’t take too much about on line reviews. I will let my gunsmith check out anything wrong with this firearm and hewill take care of it for me.

  • Craig Ramsey August 15, 2017, 9:38 am

    So he put a $1000 scope on a $200 rifle?

    • Likydsplit January 12, 2019, 7:07 pm

      So? What does the cost of the optic have to do with the cost of the firearm?

  • nED August 14, 2017, 11:08 am

    I love the good cheap rifles out now…Ruger American, Thompson Compass, Rem 788, Savage Axis. We’re living in a great time for shooters. Now if we could only get rid of that unConstitutional NFA

  • James Benat August 14, 2017, 9:33 am

    So why is this so much different from the Venture, which I have in 30-06? It seems like they are competing with themselves. Then there is the Dimension. I’m still wondering why they stopped making the Icon!

  • M. Atkinson August 14, 2017, 8:24 am

    Just picked one up one of these in 6.5 Creedmoor, very impressed, nice trigger, especially since there is a $75 rebate on these right now.
    I haven’t had a chance to shoot it yet as I’m waiting on an ammunition order.

  • Frank Brattina August 14, 2017, 8:12 am

    I bought the compass in 308 , after rebate I paid 199.00 for it . at the range with a Nikon P308 scope mounted on shots 6 7 & 8 (after sight in rounds) it shot half inch triangle dead center in 1 in bull with Hornady American whitetail ammo ! WHERE YOU GONNA GO !!! to get that for 200bux??!!!

    • M. Atkinson August 14, 2017, 8:28 am

      Damn right, I bought two, one in 6.5 Creedmoor, and one in 22-250, two rifles for $400 !!!

      • Mark August 15, 2017, 11:21 am

        I’ve searched locally and can’t find it for 199.00 after rebate. Where can I buy it for that price?

    • Mark August 15, 2017, 11:45 am

      I’m south Alabama, Frank where did you get one for 199.00?

  • akjs77 August 14, 2017, 5:49 am

    Wish more companies would start designing firearms that stay current with modern day technology and quality for a price us pheasants could muster!

    • Dennis2146 August 14, 2017, 9:46 am

      Pheasants??? Do you mean peasants?

      • David Hamilton August 14, 2017, 2:09 pm

        Don’t ruffle his feathers. And give him a break. Auto correct is a harsh mistress.

        • D. King August 22, 2017, 11:13 am

          David Hamilton, you are a riot! You should have a column.

  • DrThunder88 August 14, 2017, 4:08 am

    Is the Compass the model T/C issued a massive recall for last year? I trust they’ve worked out the problem, but it still seems disingenuous to say they’ve entered the bolt action market with it “this year”. It’s not even fair to imply this is their first bolt action, which I believe was the Icon in 2010.

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