Thompson/Center’s New .22LR Semi-Auto Rifle
By Mike Cumpston
Mike mounted a Leupold Long Range Tactical 4.5×14 scope on the TCR22 for 50-yard bench groups.
It’s a lot of optic for the rifle, but results were excellent.
Thompson/Center has introduced its second semi-auto rifle, a compact little sporter in .22 Long Rifle. The company promotes the TCR22 as a general-purpose rimfire suitable for plinking and small game hunting, as well as a trainer for new shooters.
Some might not recall their first go at it, a lovely steel and walnut semi-auto of distinctive design. Alas, for a number of reasons, it didn’t make it to the market place. But the TCR22 has ably taken its place, with loads of features evident.
The Vortex Venom proved a good fit for the TCR22. The 1.1-oz. optic features a 3-minute dot.
The rifle’s machined aluminum receiver permits a weight of just 4.4 lbs. The overall length is just 35″ and the 17″ barrel is threaded at the muzzle at the standard pitch for suppressors and other muzzle accessories. The adult-size, lightweight Olive Drab Magpul stock features molded-in sockets for sling mounts. In addition to the Picatinny rail, the rifle has an adjustable rear aperture sight and fiber-optic equipped ramp front.
The TCR22 weighs the same — and is about an inch shorter — than the smallest of the Ruger 10/22 compacts. This isn’t surprising, since T/C makes no bones about its genetic heritage, T/C emphasizes the close resemblance to Ruger’s enormously successful rimfire. Custom stocks, barrels and other aftermarket items designed for the 10/22 will also fit the TCR22.
The 10-round spool magazine enables the bolt to lock back automatically after the last round. The rifle — it should be noted — will also function with Ruger 10/22 rotary magazines, though they will not activate the TCR22’s bolt lock.
For those who want to stay with “issue” iron sights, the aperture rear is adjustable for windage and elevation.
In shooting the TCR22, I found its practical accuracy to be greatly facilitated by the smooth 4.4 lb. trigger pull and the overall configuration of the rifle. I used a Leupold Long Range Tactical 4.5×14 scope for bench testing before going to the more appropriate Vortex Venom red-dot for practical use.
Loading the 10-round magazine proved something of a challenge as it is necessary to make sure the first round aligns perfectly with one of the rotor slots. Inattention sometimes results in this round falling loose into the magazine body. Subsequent rounds require maintaining a fairly precise angle and significant force as loading progresses.
Nevertheless, once fully loaded the magazine provided flawless function and reliable lock-back with the .22LR ammo types I used, which included a range of subsonic target rounds and a pair of high-velocity hunting loads.
RWS Target Rifle at 1,043 fps produced a 5-shot 50-yard group of 0.70″. The Gemtech Subsonic (loaded by CCI) and the Eley Contact clocked 1,057 and 1,051 fps and grouped 0.80″ and 0.82″ respectively. My long-time favorite rimfire field load for rifles and pistols, CCI’s Mini-Mag Hollow Point, clocked 1,239 fps and delivered a 0.88″ group.
Browning and Winchester Western have colluded on a full-weight 40-gr. HP chronographing an amazing 1,425 fps from this rifle. The 5-round spread went into 1.5″ with the best four in an even inch.
The TCR22’s rotary magazine locks the bolt to the rear at the last shot. The rifle will
also handle Ruger 10/22 mags, but they won’t lock the action open.
In using the SP 22 suppressor made by John’s Guns of Coleman, TX, velocities were effectively identical to the non-suppressed ones. This particular can generally adds a few feet-per-second to a 4.5″ pistol barrel. With the rifle, however, there was a considerable point of impact shift, making it necessary to decrease the elevation of the Vortex sight.
Cleaning the rifle from the breech requires a fairly comprehensive field-stripping routine. The owner’s manual and Thompson/Center videos provide step-by-step instructions, so separation of barreled action from stock, trigger group from receiver and removal of the bolt, charging lever and bolt stop can be accomplished in a routine fashion.
Replacing the bolt assembly is quite another matter. The owner’s manual suggests it might be a two-man operation, or one simplified by the use of a padded vice. The process is tedious enough that users are likely to follow the practice of many 10/22 owners. This entails using a pull-through bore-cleaning kit to adequately clean both chamber and barrel from the proper end after manually locking the bolt open. Online videos also address disassembly of the magazine.
RWS Rifle Match delivered the best 50-yard group at 0.70″.
The TCR22 and Vortex Venom lend themselves well to casual shooting at various reaction targets. We went to work on dangling metal plates and a self-healing ballistic polymer ball that the shots propelled across the ground in a fairly straight line.
My shooting partner, Big Mike Parsons, was favorably impressed by the light weight of the rig and the comfortable fit of the Magpul stock to his rather gigantic frame. He sees the rifle as a useful tool to keep behind the seat of his closed-cab ranch buggy.
The stock also fit my more pedestrian-sized stature quite well. Likewise, the 3-minute red dot of the Vortex Venom provided rapid sight acquisition and sufficient precision for our casual excursion. The setup would be ideal for routine small game and varmint shooting in varied lighting conditions.
Several sporting goods venues are stocking the TCR22. Although the MSRP is $399, you can reasonably expect to find it for less.
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