Thompson/Center has redesigned two of its best selling hunting rifles for 2020 with the Venture II and Compass II, incorporating modern attributes that make them feature-rich bolt guns representing a great value for their price point.
I got the chance to hunt antelope in northeastern Wyoming with one of the first Venture II rifles to come off the line last October and I also put in a lot of trigger time with the gun before and after I filled my tag.
The rifle’s new two-part trigger works somewhat like Savage’s Accutrigger or Mossberg’s LPA trigger. It’s excellent and addresses one of users’ most common gripes about the old Venture. It breaks clean at just around 4 pounds with no creep at all.
The Venture II I used on the hunt was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and fed from a three-round, staggered stack, detachable box magazine. Out of the box, the bolt was stiff, as is typical of a new gun, but after working the bolt a few dozen times, and a couple of long range sessions, it became a lot smoother.
Ergonomically, the synthetic stock is robust and comfortable to shoot with from a variety of positions. Textured Hogue grip panels on the grip and handguard make it easy to hold with wet or gloved hands.
The threaded 22-inch barrel is suppressor ready with a 1:8 twist and 5R rifling. An improved Weather Shield coating on the receiver, bolt, and barrel mean you don’t have to worry about this gun getting dirty, muddy, or bloody in the field.
I left my gun crudded up for a full 24 hours and there wasn’t a spot of corrosion anywhere when I finally cleaned it, and the grime wiped off with ease. The rifle is 42 inches overall with an unloaded weight of 7.3 lbs, making it an easy carrying gun no matter what kind of hunting you’re doing.
At the range, once I got used to it and got my scope dialed in and zeroed at 200 yards, I began competing with the other writers on the hunt after we got bored drilling paper targets from rests. We were all using Venture II and Compass II rifles, all in 6.5 Creedmoor. We wanted to see who could hit the 380-yard 8-inch gong off-hand and it was ultimately easier to count our misses than our hits—and that was during our first hour with the rifles.
On the morning of the first day, I used the Venture II, topped with a Crimson Trace scope, to tag a solid pronghorn buck at about 200 yards from a seated position with no trouble at all—and the speed goat fell right where it was shot.
The rifle held up to some rough treatment during the stalk: sliding along rocky ground and being hauled through brush on the crawl, not to mention a long two days of being tossed in and out of trucks and side-by-sides as those of us with filled tags pursued coyotes and prairie dogs. Once it was cleaned up, you would never have known.
For those of us who tagged out early, the second day with the rifles was spent on bluffs overlooking prairie dog villages doing a little pest control for the local ranches at ranges out to 500 yards. The last day was rainy with steady 20 mph winds, which ruined our coyote hunting plans, so we spent most of the day in the wet cold shooting steel from the ranch owner’s back porch, combating the wind the best we could.
The rifles were all wet to some degree for most of the day and when we packed them up, most still had grime and blood on them from the hunt. Despite all that, they all cleaned up like new. All in all I’d say I put about 300 rounds or more through the rifle during the entire trip, plus we traded guns at various points, so the rifle itself was shot quite a bit.
The Venture II is currently available in nine chamberings, including .243 Win, .270 Win., .300 Win Mag, .308 Win., .223/5.56, .30-06 Sprg, 350 Legend, 6.5 CM, and 7mm Rem Mag.
New Compass Rifles
It is joined by the Compass II and Compass Utility rifles as T/C works to revamp its family of centerfire bolt guns and bring it more in line with what customers expect out of hunting rifles in the price range.
The Compass II also features a new trigger (the same trigger that’s in the Venture II), redesigned ergonomics, a threaded barrel, and Weather Shield finish. One of the biggest differences from a user’s perspective is the Compass uses a rotary magazine instead of the Venture’s box mag. I found the rotary mag a bit more difficult to reload quickly and I tend to fumble them a little with cartridges larger than a .22 LR, but that’s just because my fingers are dumb.
The Compass Utility is a budget version with the older Compass trigger installed and fewer bells and whistles, though it’s still a very competent rifle and extremely affordable.
The Compass II Compact is just what it sounds like, a shorter version of the Compass II with a 16.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 35.125 – 36 inches, compared to the 21.625-inch or 24-inch barrel on the regular Compass II. It comes with a significant buttpad extension to increase the LOP, allowing the small rifle to be shot comfortably by larger framed hunters, as well as smaller statured shooters without the extension.
The Compass II and Venture II will be available with Crimson Trace 3–9×40 scopes already mounted and boresighted. The Compass Utility will be offered with a T/C 3–9×40 scope.
The Venture II is a hell of a rifle package, especially when you consider it’s a sub-$530 rifle. The stock is ergonomic and in wet conditions with gloved hands, the Hogue grip panels made it super easy to control. It proved to be solid and accurate at the distance we were shooting (inside 500 yards) and the fact that it comes with a threaded barrel and weighs in around seven pounds makes it an adaptable gun that can be used for pretty much any kind of hunting.
If you’re looking for an all-around hunting rifle, or even a first hunting rifle, the Venture II and the Compass II are excellent choices, and if you need a bang-around rifle that will work when you need it to, at less than $360, you can’t go wrong with the Compass Utility.
MSRP: Venture II: $525; Compass II: $405; Compass II Compact: $405; Compass Utility: $359.
Venture II Weather Shield 6.5 CM Specs
Finish/Stock: Weather Shield/Black Composite w/Hogue® Panels
Trigger: 3-4 lbs. GENERATION II
Barrel Length: 22″ . (,270 Win, .300 Win Mag, ,30-06, and 7mm Rem Mag models have 24″ barrels)
Rate of Twist: 1:8
Capacity: 3+1 (detachable box magazine)
Length of Pull: 13.5″
Overall Length: 42″
Weight: 7.3 lbs.