Thompson/Center Long-Action Icon

Thompson/Center Long-Action Icon

Rifle report.

One of the most debated questions in building a custom rifle concerns which action to use and the relative merits of options found on those actions. But what if all the desirable features of a custom rifle could be combined into one action? That's the approach Karl Ricker, Thompson/ Center engineering manager for new product development, and Mark Laney, manager of research and development, took when determining what features to incorporate into the new long-action Icon.


Ricker and Laney spent time with many custom gunsmiths-- notably accuracy guru George Gardner of Precision Rifles--in an attempt to figure out which features were most attractive to shooters. At the same time, the development team began a similar exploration of barrel-making techniques and geometry that would allow the company to build guns it could certify as capable of sub-inch groups at 100 yards.


I recently had the chance to hunt with the result of these efforts, and my initial impression of the long-action Icon was good. That impression deepened and solidified with further use.

What's different from the medium-action Icon (not short action--T/C plans a true short action built for the .223 size family of cartridges)? Most notably the use of a knob on the bolt and a hinged floorplate rather than a removable box magazine--both improvements, in my book.


The author bench-tested the Icon with a 2-8x32 Leupold VXIII off a Sinclair benchrest. Even in winds gusting to 30 mph the rifle shot very well.

While the butter-knife bolt handle used on the medium action is sleek and aesthetic, I find a standard knob easier to manipulate. And I simply prefer a classic hinged floorplate to a detachable box, especially on a hunting rifle.

The action itself is fairly beefy, designed for stiffness rather than light weight. It is well-bedded in a nicely finished walnut stock. I couldn't find a single wood pore left unfilled, and the excellent butt pad is well-fitted.

The only complaint I have with the stock concerns the checkering outlines, which are rather bland. A point-pattern would, in my opinion, remove a slightly chunky look around the wrist and fore-end area.

The blued barrel complements the matte-finished action and is free-floated with a minimum of gap between it and the stock.

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ACCURACY RESULTS: T/C Long- Action

.270 WIN AMMO TYPEBULLET WEIGHT (gr.)MUZZLE VELOCITY (fps)STANDARD DEVIATION (in.)GROUPS SIZE (in.)
Hornady InterBond1303,15561.03
Remington AccuTip1303,159180.70
Remington Core-Lokt Ultra1403,067330.73
Black Hills Gold BTSX1303,002211.36
Notes: Velocity recorded 10 feet from the muzzle with a Shooting Chrony chronograph. Accuracy tested off a Sinclair bench rest; results are the average of four three-shot groups at 100 yards. Winds gusting to 30 mph. Abbreviation: BTSX, Barnes Triple-Shock

The action incorporates a three-lug bolt and a unique "T-Slot" extractor mounted directly into one of the lugs. And, as on the medium-action Icon, integral Weaver-type rails are machined into the top of the action.

The jeweled bolt is constructed of stainless steel, and the bolt handle and knob are polished almost garishly bright--as is the bolt release on the left side of the action.

Operation is smooth, and the three locking lugs bear equally on all three surfaces. The lugs themselves run the raceways in a "Y" position; two up and to the sides and one down. The three-lug system provides a precise and consistent lockup as well as a short, 60-degree bolt throw.

The Icon's T-Slot extractor works well, reliably withdrawing spent cases, allowing the plunger-style ejector to fling them out of the port and well to the side. When closing the bolt slowly and carefully--for instance when quietly chambering a round after getting settled in a stand--the extractor hangs up just slightly and requires a firm forward/downward push to engage the extractor and close the bolt.

On the other hand, when working the bolt rapidly t

he cartridge fed into the chamber with admirable smoothness, and the bolt ka-chunked home with satisfying ease, no trace of the extractor felt.

The bolt shroud is machined at a sweeping angle and blends nicely with the rest of the action. Accent grooves are cut into each side. When cocked, the rear of the firing pin mechanism protrudes slightly, providing a cocking indicator.

The author took this heavy 11-point whitetail with Hornady's 130-grain InterBond.

The bottom hardware is well thought out. The trigger guard sweeps in a large bow to allow use with gloves and sports a square back, reminding me vaguely of the lovely square-backed guards used on some of the early model Colt's revolvers.

The hinged floorplate is sturdily built with a minimum of parts, is well fit and tight on the hinges and functions flawlessly. T/C's logo is nicely etched into the matte black floorplate. Allen-head screws bolt the assembly together; I hope to see either torx screw (stronger) or regular slot screws (classier) utilized on the final production models.

The trigger is a match-grade affair designed entirely by T/C and is user-adjustable. A diminutive Allen wrench is supplied for the purpose; simply insert it through a slot in the top of the tang and into the adjustment screw. My Lyman digital trigger pull gauge measured the trigger pull at four pounds on average, with a variation of four ounces high to low. Overtravel and sear engagement is also adjustable, but T/C recommends that a qualified gunsmith do the adjustment.

The stainless steel bolt is jeweled and polished, and decorative cuts meant to complement the action's lines adorn the shroud.

The safety is a unique affair positioned just behind the bolt handle, consisting of a two-position forward/back rocker type trigger safety, with a small separate rocker that locks the bolt.

The rifle proved to be very accurate. Mounted with Leupold's 2-8x32 VXIII, it shot three out of four loads into less than the certified .99-inch on a windy day. With winds gusting to 30 mph and continually shifting direction, I was amazed that the rifle held groups even close to that, but the rifle's favorite loads shot several tiny clusters, the best measuring .37 inch.

While hunting I used a Ziess Rapid-Z 800 Diarange scope and Hornady's 130-grain InterBonds. After sighting in at the recommended point of impact, I could consistently hit six-inch steel plates to 400 yards simply by putting the power selector ring on the appropriate setting and holding dead on with the correct stadia line.

At least some of this accuracy can be attributed to the Icon's barrel "5R" rifling, which incorporates radiused lands. T/C's research indicates that beveling the sharp edges of the rifling makes a rifle shoot better longer and can provide a higher level of accuracy.

The target crown incorporates a 60-degree chamfer, which makes the crown less susceptible to micro-nicks--and therefore more suitable to the rigors of hunting. All barrels are double stress-relieved 4140 (blued) or 410 (stainless) steel.

Overall, I found the Icon's balance to be superb and function to be flawless. The rifle does not have the familiar feel of a Remington or Winchester, nor does it remind me of a Sako or Weatherby, rather it combines traces of all of them and others into a solid, lively feel that riflemen will appreciate.

On my hunt, a good buck appeared at short range, and the Icon came to my shoulder without a thought. At the shot, the deer bucked hard and disappeared into the thicket below. I found him 50 yards down the slope.

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SPECIFICATIONS:T/C LONG-ACTION ICON

ACTION TYPE:three-lug bolt action
CALIBER:.270 Win. (tested), 7mm Rem. Mag., .30-06, .300 Win. Mag
MAGAZINE:box, hinged floorplate, capacity three
BARRELL:24 inches, R5 radiused rifling, target crown with 60-degree chamfer
TRIGGER:user adjustable
OVERALL LENGTH:44 3/4 inches
WEIGHT:7 3/4 pounds
STOCK:checkered walnut
METAL FINISH:barrel, blued; action, matte black
SCOPE MOUNTS:integral Weaver-type rails
PRICE:$1,100
MANUFACTURER:Thompson/Center,TCARMS.COM 603-330-5659

The long-action Icon is fairly beefy for stiffness and features integral scope rails atop the receiver.

I also shot six does on management tags, from 40 to more than 200 yards. None required more than one shot, and in every case the 130-grain InterBond landed precisely where I wanted it to--invaluble when building confidence in your hunting rifle.

Judging by the rifle's performance at the bench and in the field, T/C managed to do just as it intended: combine its innovations with great features from history's best designs.

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