Thompson/Center Arms Dimension Rifle Review
Part 3 - External & Operational Features
November 10, 2012

Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

In this part of my Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review, I cover all the external and operational features of T/C's switch barrel bolt action rifle.  In the next part of the review, I will cover in great detail the disassembly and switching barrels/calibers. 

 

Just to be clear, the rifle did not come with the bipod shown in the photos below.  I show photos using a bipod because the bipod helps me support the rifle when trying to get good overall photos.  These next four photos show some great overall views of the Dimension Rifle. Clicking on any of the photos will bring up a high resolution photo allowing you to see the details of the rifle. 

Since I'm a fan of non-traditional looking firearms, I really like the looks of the Dimension Rifle.  The combination of the gray accents on the interesting shaped black composite stock, along with a sleek looking barrel/nut/receiver/bolt configuration, seem to make this rifle stand out from the rest of the pack.

Figure 1
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 2
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

This rifle measured an overall length of 42" which was 1/4" longer than that stated in the specifications.

Figure 3
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 4
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The Dimension Rifle in .308 Winchester weighed in at 6.84 pounds which is slightly less than the advertised weight of 7 pounds .  If you get a larger caliber with a longer barrel, that rifle configuration will probably come in closer to the 7 pounds advertised.

Figure 5
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Starting at the front of the barrel, the muzzle is crowned as shown below.

Figure 6
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The .308 Winchester caliber comes with a 22" heavy sporter profile barrel which measured 0.650" in diameter at the muzzle and has a very shallow taper as the barrel transitions towards the receiver.

Figure 7
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

One of the first features you notice when you look at the rifle is the generous amount of space between the barrel and forend of the stock.  Clearly T/C was planning on floating larger calibers barrels and heavier barrel profiles with this extra space.  In my opinion, more space is better and there is no doubt the barrel is fully floated in all situations.

Figure 8
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

In the photo above and below, you can see that the forend has grey ribbed areas on both sides.  This ribbed area is actually a rubbery material that gives you some extra gripping texture on the rifle.  Also, the black composite portions of the stock have a ARMORSOFT® coating which give it a slight hard rubber feel and T/C states this coating "adds durability and noise reduction when hunting in dense vegetation".  The coating (or stock design) did seem to dull sounds when I tapped on the stock when compared to some other full composite stocks.

Figure 9
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The left side of the barrel was stamped with information shown below in the photo.  The circled "B" identifies this barrel is one from the "B" series.  The next marking is the manufacturer and caliber "THOMPSON/CENTER 308 WIN", and last is the 5R Rifling marking.  You can read some more details about 5R Rifling by going to the T/C website at this link.  Basically with 5R Rifling you have 5 lands and 5 grooves as compared to the typical 6 on most rifles.  In theory the 5R Rifling causes less bullet deformation which in turn causes less fouling and more consistency between shots.  Since T/C is making claims that their rifles are one MOA capable, I would tend to believe that they firmly feel there is a benefit to this rifling profile.  The barrel also comes with a 1:12" twist rate which should allow the use of up to 168 to 175 grain bullets.  Some may feel the 175 grain bullets are too heavy for this twist rate, but I feel it all comes down to what the rifle likes to shoot so I suggest trying a couple of different weights and bullet types.  Lastly, the forend comes with a steel sling stud as shown below.

Figure 10
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 11
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The top of the barrel is stamped with a bold block lettering "T/C DIMENSION".

Figure 12
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 13
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The upper portion of the barrel that is forward of the barrel nut has a machined section used for mounting the front portion of the scope bridge mount.  The bridge mount is basically a scope mount rail that mounts to the rear of the barrel and rear receiver mounts.  This rail "bridges" over the barrel nut and forward receiver mount and allows the scope to remain with the barrel as a single assembly once you remove the barrel.

Figure 14
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The photo below gives you a good idea on how the bridge mount works on the Dimension Rifle.  The thought behind the bridge mount is that keeping the scope with the barrel will aide in ensuring the scope returns to its zero when you swap out barrels.  The scope remaining with the barrel concept is similar to T/C's other switch barrel rifles and may seem comforting to some people.  I still feel there is a potential greater advantage if you can make a single scope work with all barrels.

Figure 15
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The photo below gives you a good look at the barrel nut.  Initially I was concerned that the barrel nut would reduce the aesthetic appeal of the rifle, but after having handled the rifle and examining it closely, I feel the nut configuration actually enhances the unique look of the rifle by making an interesting transition from the barrel to receiver.

Figure 16
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

As you shift your focus to the receiver, you will notice a change in the appearance of the receiver verses the barrel and barrel nut.  The barrel and barrel nut are both made from steel and have a blued finish.  The receiver is made from aluminum and has a black anodized finish.  The photo above does a good job of showing you the differences in surface finish with the anodized finish having a dull appearance.  The receiver is drilled and tapped and comes with aluminum Weaver-style bases already installed.  I checked and verified that all the base screws were tight (which they were).  Before you install any type of scope or sight on any firearm, make sure you verify that the mounting screws are tight.  I have found that sometimes these screws are not always torqued by the manufacturers.

Figure 17
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The receiver is stepped down as you transition past the forward mount, so the front and rear mounts are different heights to account for this difference.  The right side of the receiver has a vent hole to allow hot gasses to escape in the event you have a cartridge rupture inside the chamber.  The steel bolt is fluted and the flutes can be seen by looking through the ejection port.  The bolt also has a blued finish.

Figure 18
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The receiver is held in place on the stock with two bolts typical to most rifles.  In the next part of the review I show the inside details of these attachments.  The trigger guard is integrally molded into the stock and from below you are looking at nearly all polymer parts.

Figure 19
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

With the magazine removed, you can see the polymer magazine adapter (housing) that nests inside the stock.  In general each caliber series (A, B, C and D) has a single unique magazine adapter for all calibers in a particular series.  There is some difference in the magazine for the B series in the 22-250 caliber, but I'm not sure if the adapter is different.  T/C has made sure you always have the adapter and magazine needed by providing them with the barrel as part of the caliber package.  If you purchase more than one caliber in a series, you will essentially get an extra magazine that will work with all calibers of that series.

Figure 20
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 21
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

On the left side of the receiver you can see the serial number, model, manufacturer and manufacturing location markings, "DIMENSION T/C ARMS SPRINGFIELD MA".  You can also see the stainless steel bolt stop lever.

Figure 22
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

A couple of other features I quickly noticed on this rifle were the slightly oversized bolt handle and the unique contouring at the rear of the bolt and receiver.  Since I'm a sucker for unique, I think the styling on the rear of the bolt and receiver does a good job matching the unique lines of the stock.

Figure 23
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

These next three photos show the safety in the "safe" position and the firing pin cocked, the safety in the "fire" position and the firing cocked, and the safety in the "fire" position with the firing pin uncocked.  All of these conditions are verifiable by both sight and touch.  Switching the safety from "safe" to "fire" or vise versa actually make a loud click so you will need to do it early if you have game moving in on you fast.

Figure 24                                   Figure 25                                   Figure 26
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review   Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review   Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The bolt has a short 60 degree bolt lift which keeps it well away from your scope when cycling the bolt.

Figure 27                                                            Figure 28
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review   Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The next two photos show the bolt in the fully closed and open positions and the bolt has a total throw of 4.1"  for the B series bolt.

Figure 29
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

One thing worth pointing out in the photo below is that the bolt cannot be removed by pulling directly back with the bolt handle in the normally open position.  You can see that the bottom of the firing pin assembly will contact (and scratch) the stock.  To remove the bolt, you will need to press the bolt stop and rotate the bolt down so the handle is nearly touching the stock as you pull the handle rearward.

Figure 30
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The rifle comes with an adjustable trigger and the "out of the box" trigger pull on this rifle averaged 4.0 pounds based on 10 pulls using my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.  The trigger had a hint of creep and then broke crisply at 4 pounds.  I tried making adjustments using the Allen wrench provided with the rifle and was not able to turn the screw due to the deflection of the wrench under torque.  The instructions state that the rifles come with a trigger adjustment tool, but the only tool that would fit on this screw was the Allen wrench provided.  Overall I believe most people would be happy with this trigger pull at 4 pounds for most hunting situations.  Later when I disassembled the rifle, I found that the adjustment screw was already set to the lowest trigger pull weight possible, which explains why I was not able to make any further adjustments.

Figure 31
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The photo below just gives you another view of the left side showing the bolt stop lever.  At the rear of the bolt stop lever, there is a steel support so that the stop lever contacts steel instead of aluminum to prevent wear on the aluminum receiver over time (I think).

Figure 32
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The shape and lines of the stock will probably make people fall into two categories; those who love it and those who don't.  As I have already mentioned, I like the look, so please forgive any bias.

Figure 33
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

This rifle came with a 13.25" length of pull (13.5" per the specifications) and has two shims each being 1/2" in thickness to allow you to adjust the length of pull either 1/2" shorter or 1" shorter.  Since I'm 6' 2" tall, I plan on shooting this rifle with all shims installed.  Removing the shims does give you the option for matching the length of pull to younger/shorter shooters.

Figure 34
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The butt stock also has a steel sling swivel stud installed.

Figure 35
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 36
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The butt pad is made of a soft rubber material and will clearly help in reducing the felt recoil of the larger calibers.

Figure 37
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The magazine is made primarily from some type of polymer material (most likely glass filled nylon).  The front of the magazine has a steel lever that includes the tab which holds the magazine in place in the stock.  The magazine has the Thompson/Center logo on each side along with the letter designating which caliber series the magazine belongs.  For the magazine shown, it is a Series "B" magazine.

Figure 38
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 39
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

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Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

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Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

Figure 42                                               Figure 43                                            Figure 44
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review   Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review   Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

The magazine holds three rounds and the cartridges are single stacked.  The photos show Federal Premium Gold Medal 168gr SMK BTHP ammunition.

Figure 45
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

I was very impressed with the smoothness of the action when chambering rounds.

Figure 46
Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle Review

 

Thoughts

So far I am impressed with the Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle.  The more and more I study the rifle, the more I like the looks and feel of the rifle.  I think most people will be pleased with the smoothness of the bolt action when chambering rounds and this smoothness along with the slightly oversized bolt handle should make it easy for anyone to chamber rounds from the shoulder.  I wasn't able to loosen the trigger pull adjustment screw with the Allen wrench provided in an effort to achieve a 3.5 pound pull as advertised on the adjustable trigger, but I am not disappointed with the 4.0 pound crisp pull that came with the rifle.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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