Thompson/Center Venture Weather Shield Rifle

   12.19.13

The big trend that started a few years ago was for firearm manufacturers to come out with new, lower-priced rifles that have many of the features of the top-shelf, high-dollar models. The first few variations were flat awful, with terrible actions, lousy triggers, and fit and finish that were cheaper than bargain-bin guns.

Manufacturers learned from their mistakes. Well, most of them. What we eventually got were budget-friendly rifles that had all of those qualities we, as consumers, wanted. One of the absolute best on the market right now is the Thompson/Center Venture series. It is pretty easy to go spend a ton of money on a new rifle. Heck, I could sit here all day long and think of possibilities for new rifles given an unlimited budget. The fact of the matter is, like most of you, I don’t have an unlimited budget—and that is one of the many reasons I like the Thompson/Center Venture Weather Shield.

Specifications

  • Tested caliber: .308 Winchester (.22-250 Remington, .270 Winchester, .270 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .30-06, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 7mm-08 also available)
  • Barrel length: 22 inches
  • Stock: black composite with Hogue panels
  • Trigger: adjustable from 3.5 to five pounds
  • Rate of twist: 1:10 inches
  • Capacity: 3 + 1
  • Length of pull: 13.5 inches
  • Overall length: 39.75 inches
  • Weight: seven pounds
  • Sights: scope base included
  • MSRP: $578

Iconic origins

The origins of the T/C Venture aren’t that old. The high-dollar model it derived from, the T/C Icon, is a fairly new rifle itself. I had the opportunity a few years back to test an Icon before they came out. I was solidly impressed with the performance and accuracy of the rifle. The only marks against it were weight and price, both of which were too high. The Venture was originally a more economically-built version of the Icon rifle. It didn’t take long for T/C Venture to realize they had a winner and the Icon has since been discontinued.

My test Venture is a .308-chambered, all-weather tack driver. Oh wait. I’m supposed to build some suspense here, aren’t I? Sorry. The cat is out of the bag. The Venture is a darn nice shooting rifle. T/C claims the Venture is guaranteed sub-MOA right out of the box—and I experienced some mighty fine accuracy with it. I mounted a scope on the nicely pre-mounted bases and grabbed an assortment of different ammo before heading to the range.

The Weather Shield Venture is roughly $50 more than the blued variant. It makes the rifle virtually rust proof and that’s worth $50 to me. Image courtesy Thompson/Center.
The Weather Shield Venture is roughly $50 more than the blued variant. It makes the rifle virtually rust proof and that’s worth $50 to me. Image courtesy Thompson/Center.

Looks and performance

Let me back up a little. The gun looks and feels great. It has a decent recoil pad, a nicely-fitting stock, and it feels good being held. The weight is pretty good at seven pounds without optics. There are textured Hogue grip panels in the right areas. The trigger was light and is adjustable from 3.5 to five pounds. Mine was set right at just a hair under four pounds. It worked well and I like it. One of my mentors in firearms once gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received when talking about guns: it all comes down to the trigger. The stock, the finish, the weight—all are side notes, and it all comes down to pulling the trigger. If you can’t cleanly pull the trigger, you’re not going to shoot well.

Triggers are the next part of the factory-rifle revolution. For the longest time, consumers didn’t have much choice in triggers. The aftermarket flourished with trigger options and if you wanted a good trigger, you were going to pay for it. As more and more people demanded good rifles and, maybe more importantly, good triggers at prices we could afford, manufacturers came out with high-quality, from-the-factory adjustable triggers.

The good trigger and the barrel combine to make the Venture a solid, accurate rifle. The gun shoots just as well as advertised. The barrel features 5R Rifling and a crowned muzzle. After I got it dialed-in with the scope, we were shooting three-shot groups that were all within a hair of touching at 100 yards. At 200 yards, I was still within an inch. Impressive for a “cheap” gun—the Weather Shield version has a retail price starting at $578, $537 for the blued model. For what you get with that extra $51, go for the Weather Shield. The finish is pretty much impervious to rust and corrosion. I’ll take it!

The Venture liked better ammo and is the kind of gun that responds well to cleaning. When I say that, I mean that it is very accurate when clean, but as it fouls, accuracy fades quickly. Some rifles can shoot more rounds than others between cleaning. This T/C Venture was not one of those. My best shots came with Federal Premium loaded with Barnes 150-grain TSX bullets.

The bolt is Melonite-coated to give it a smoother action. It was stiff. I think, as with any bolt-action gun, this gets better with use, but I was used to some of my more broken-in actions and it was a touch tight. The detachable magazine worked flawlessly.

Thompson/Center and their parent company, Smith & Wesson, is selling a lot of Ventures. If you need a solid rifle for all-weather conditions, the Venture in Weather Shield is a good choice. With several caliber options up to .300 Win Mag, you would be wise to take a serious look at them. There are cheaper rifles out there, but for its combination of accuracy, trigger, and all-terrain characteristics, the Venture is hard to beat.

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