Dominic Griffith succumbs to the allure of this Thompson Center Dimension .243 rifle on sight and is delighted when it performs beyond his expectations
The Thompson Centre Dimension .243 is this month’s test rifle, and Dominic Griffith finds himself quickly understanding why it was nominated NRA Rifle of the Year in 2013. As far as Dominic Grifiith is concerned, Thompson Centre Dimension’s attempt to provide an affordable take-down rifle has been wonderfully successful.
THOMPSON CENTER DIMENSION .243
It’s not often that something different turns out to be something interesting. As a general rule, the bolt-action rifle is a very satisfactory piece of engineering and those who try to mess around with it do so at their peril. There is, nevertheless, a strong demand for take-down rifles with interchangeable barrels, and the challenge presented in providing such an option while maintaining accuracy is one that few manufacturers have mastered. Blaser, of course, with its straight-pull bolt, leads the field in such innovation but innovation of this nature is usually expensive and the price of a Blaser is many times that of a simple American sporting rifle.
The Thompson Center Dimension aims to provide the option of a take-down rifle with interchangeable barrels but at an affordable price, and it must count for something that it was nominated the NRA Rifle of the Year back in 2013. It guarantees return to zero as long as you use the torsion tool supplied. This is quite a claim for a rifle
in its price range. Imported by Viking Arms, it is now available on the UK market.
There is something alluring about the Thompson Center Dimension rifle. I really like the soft-touch, high-comb, short, composite stock with its shaped pistol grip and the broad fore-end grip that exposes a very obviously fully floating barrel. The broad fore-end grip takes a bipod naturally, creating a perceptibly stable shooting platform. I like the ergonomic bolt handle and reassuringly stout bolt and receiver of the Thompson Center Dimension, too.
A WEIGHTLESS RIFLE
Robust though it appears, this does not translate into weight, the Thompson Center Dimension fully set up with scope weighing less than 81⁄2lb, which is light by any standard. Further inspection does expose certain shortcomings: the safety catch is rather clunky and feels unrefined; the magazine and release catch are plastic; there is no unload button; and the barrel is not factory screw-cut. Apart from that, there is little to detract from what feels a well-balanced and comfortable stalking rifle. Even the trigger is remarkably good for an American rifle and has an adjustment screw located under the bolt.
The interchangeable barrel system is based on Thompson Center’s LOC (Locking Optimised Components) system. In essence, you select your stock, receiver and action from four series: A, B, C or D. Action B, for example, covers calibres .22.250, .243, .308 and 7mm-08 and means that only the barrel, magazine housing and magazine need be changed within that series. Other series include similar calibre groupings to choose from according to your personal requirements or species stalked. Each of the four components within each series is stamped with the appropriate letter code to minimise the risk of mismatching those components.
Thompson Center also boasts that its “5R” rifling delivers superior accuracy by causing less barrel fouling and thus reduced bullet deformation, thereby creating greater stability in flight. MOA accuracy is guaranteed and the Thompson Center Dimension comes with a lifetime warranty.
Using the tools provided, the barrel is easy enough to change and, with practice, it should take no more than a few minutes. The most difficult part is removing the bolt; this requires a rotation halfway through the procedure to bypass the stock comb. Failure to do so means a damaged stock.
The test rifle was a Thompson Center Dimension .243 and was mounted with a Czech MeoPro 4-12×50 variable scope. Viking Arms also provided some Lapua 100gr soft-point ammunition. The scope was clear and fitted with a fine and graded reticle. It is relatively inexpensive and appears to deliver in accuracy and reliability but a scope must always be judged over the long term rather than a brief review period.
ON THE RANGE
On the range the Thompson Center Dimension .243 performed more than adequately, cycling and ejecting effortlessly and reliably while producing groups of just over an inch at 100 metres. The trigger let this great rifle down a little but only because it was factory set too heavy. In other respects it was well engineered and suffered no apparent drag. With adjustment, I have no doubt that it could shoot even tighter groups.
With one of the most comfortable stocks I have ever used, the Thompson Center Dimension rifle was a joy to test and performed beyond expectations. It fits its market niche while functioning like products many times its price.
Thompson Center Dimension, SRP £875
MeoPro 4-12×50 variable scope, SRP £563
Lapua 100gr SP ammunition, SRP £40 for 20
From Viking Arms, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 4BW
Tel 01423 780810