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Hello, my name is Jerry, and I am a rifle whore! This is my story....................

 
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  #1  
Old 11-23-2007, 09:48 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: TN
Posts: 56
Hello, my name is Jerry, and I am a rifle whore! This is my story....................

A couple of weeks ago I did something that I haven't done in over 15 years...I bought a rifle with a blued barrel and a gen-u-wine wood stock. Fancy that! For close to 20 years I've been a big proponent of the fiberglass composite stocks ( I simply detest the cheap injection molded Tupperware stocks) and stainless barrels for a working man's rifle, a rifle that will actually be used, and carried over hill and dale to be hunted with in all weather conditions! I've always loved the feel and warmth of a rifle with a lovely wood handle...but inclement weather and the occasional horse with an ill disposition has kept me using rifles with a fiberglass handles.

What rifle did I buy? I caved to the whimsical desire and justification that I needed another rifle...when it comes to rifles, I'm worse than any woman with her purses and shoes!!! When it's time to go hunting I open the safe pondering which toy will see the light of day to come out and play.

Hello, my name is Jerry, and I am a rifle whore! This is my story.....................................

After reading Ian's review of the Thompson Center Icon and the various articles in the shooting rags I was mildly interested in this new rifle. Then when I really got fondle one of these new rifles (you know rifles really are cheaper than women) and was able to run my hands over the Icon's graceful lines and curves I really started to take notice. The first Icon I touched was in .308 and it lasted a day on the dealer's shelf. I told my dealer to hold the next .308 model to come in. The next to arrive was a .243 and the wood on this model looked like something on a 30K shotgun. Then a .30 T/C came in and that looked even better, and I'm still holding out for a .308 model.

One day my dealer who I keep on speed dial, calls me to let me know he has a couple of Icons in .308 for me to look over, and I make my way over to the gunshop to audition one of these likely new candidates. After much discussion and perusal of these fine examples of wood and steel I made my selection. I married my new Icon with one of the new Nikon Monarchs in 2.5 X 10 X 42mm scopes, with a set of Leupold lever quick release rings (all I had at the time).

Once home the new Icon weighs out at 8.75 pounds on the scales. Certainly no short action lightweight! Then it's off to look under the hood at what makes the Icon tick. Simply back out the three Allen screws in the bottom metal. The fit and finish in the areas you can't see are superb!!! The metal to metal, and metal to wood fit and finish is excellent. The trigger came set at 4.25 pounds and I couldn't live with that. Push out two retaining pins (trust me this is the best way to adjust the trigger) with your fingers and viola the trigger housing drops into your hands.

Then I turn the trigger spring adjustment screw to its' lightest setting, then remove the RTV goop from the sear and overtravel screws to adjust them. After a series of adjustments the trigger breaks like a glass pipette at three pounds. I would have liked 2.5 pounds...just can't get there yet.

What do I like about this rifle? A WHOLE LOT of things! It's a rifle with new technology that's made in the U.S.A. For a production rifle this beauty has a lot going for it! The bolt stop/release is Sako style, the safety bolt lock system is a lot like a Sako 75, the fat body bolt reminds me of a Weatherby, the bolts' three lug 60 degree arc is very much Sako-esque. The bolt has a very good extractor. The aluminum bedding block/plate with the three locking recoil lugs provides for a stellar fit and lock-up between the barreled action, stock, and bottom metal eliminating a lot of problems with wood stock rifles. The muzzle has a target crown.

What do I not like about this rifle? Very little and much of this is personal preference and a couple of quirks in the rifles' design. The butter knife bolt handle looks good and gives the rifle a distinct look-at-me appeal and I'm different than my market brothers. It functions flawlessly...I just don't care for it. I will most likely order a round bolt knob from T/C when they are available.

The single stack magazine holds three rounds and works flawlessly. With this design you lose one round capacity versus a hinged floor-plate, perhaps a moot point.I would have preferred a hinged floor-plate or a detachable box magazine similar to the Sako 75 system. The ejector works perfectly everytime, but could be a wee bit stronger but this also could effect accuracy. At the bench with magazine inserted you cannot lay a single round on top of the magazine to fire a single round. It will not feed a single round in this fashion, again this is really a moot point and I knew about this design quirk before I bought the rifle. To fully charge the rifle with four rounds you can insert the magazine and let the bolt strip of the top round, or you can tilt the muzzle down and manually insert a round into the chamber and close the bolt, it is a little difficult but works. The smoothest method is to let the bolt strip the top round and then remove the magazine to add another round and re-insert.

How does it shoot? AWESOME!!! I first tried some $10.00 a box Federal 150 gr. soft points that printed 5 shot groups slightly less than one inch groups at 100 yds!!! Next I tried factory Winchester 150 gr. BST that printed a 5 shot group just under .500 on a cold breezy day! Yousa! I'm liking what I'm seeing!!! Once I get some dies in .308 it will be interesting to see the results! Not too bad for a competitively priced ($899.00 my cost) commercial production rifle.

I think Thompson Center has a real winner on their hands with the Icon! Would I recommend this rifle to a friend? Absolutely!!! This rifle is an absolute steal at the price I paid!!!!!!!!!!!! A stainless and wood model would look awesome! I'm sure there are other model variations in the planning.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:12 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,410
Jerry,
Thanks for an interesting and comprehensive review of the new Icon. You will be pleased to know that TC has a great little plastic insert that facilitates single loading. A long narrow adapter simply slips into the top of the magazine and enables loading one cartridge at a time. Believe they will be available shortly and will not be expensive at all. Plus the new round knob bolt handles will soon be available, I used one extensively and they seem to give better leverage. Plus I prefer their looks, but that is a personal preference.

You will find that the uplift and closing of the bolt is quite stiff when new, after about 200 rounds the movement will get significantly smoother. Just simple break-in. Also the barrel may need a fair bit of cleaning initially, again to get through a break-in period where there is some smoothing and burnishing taking place. I have 500 rounds though my .308 and it is still a bit rough as far as copper fouling goes, but it certainly shoots accurately.

I got to shoot some new stuff a while ago, including the first and only prototype composite stock for a custom shop offering. The stock weighs 22 ounces and is tougher than you can believe. There are some other goodies coming that will widen the scope of available models.

What is amazing is the fact we switched barreled actions back and forth between stocks and accuracy stayed a constant. Did not seem to matter which stock and barreled action went together, they shot very well.
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  #3  
Old 11-25-2007, 09:20 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: TN
Posts: 56
Ian,

Thank you for the kind words! I really enjoy the articles you write here and in other publications! There was an article several months back in American Hunter titled " Can You Go Long" that was very interesting and enlightening.

The Thomspon Center Icon as is, is a quality rifle that represents a lot of value for the dollar. I really think it's a winner! I also think with S&W being the parent company T/C will have greater distribution capabilities and R&D resources at their disposal. This should make it a lot quicker for Icon goodies to get in the pipeline.

A few other ruminations come to mind about the Icon...

I'm glad they went with a medium sporter weight 24" tube versus a wimpy 22" pipe. The receiver is appears to be very strong and rigid reminding me just a little of the shape of a Browning A-Bolt. I like the way the receiver is milled and machined making for a very different look. The mini 1913 picatinny rails make for a solid lock-up with the appropriate rings and save you the cost of bases.

The bolt glides on the raceways making for superbly smooth operation and looks heavy duty and built for the long haul. It does come with a lifetime warranty! The bolt disassembly tool looks just like the tool that came with some of my Sako rifles and that's a very, very smart option. Clearly some forward thinking here for future options!

If you open the hood on a Remington or Ruger for example, and look in the barrel channel or the bottom of the receiver you will find tooling marks and rough places. This is typical manufacturing, you can't see it and it really doesn't matter for the most part. I had the distinct luxury of taking my Icon apart before I bought it. The attention to detail in the barrel channel and the bottom of the receiver, the fit and finish of what I could see and couldn't see are some of the many things that sold me on the gun. Of course a friend's range target from his Icon went a long way to seal the deal.

My rifle came with a computer generated representation of the test fire target that showed a 3 shot group of .740. Of course an actual target would be much nicer but not as cost effective. The S&W-T/C rep I know tells me that every Icon is test fired by hand fully stocked (no machine rest) just before shipping, just as it is will be delivered.

I hope the market decides the Icon is a winner, only time and the bean counters will tell. I've seen 4 different Icons fired at the range, all of them in .308 Winnie and they have all shot under and inch!!! I've peaked under the hood on 3 different Icons and all 3 have been superbly fitted and finished. If T/C can keep this level of quality up that would be awesome indeed and nothing in its' price range comes close.

I like the Icon well enough that down the road that I may consider buying another one...just waiting to see what they have to offer. Some many rifles, so little time!
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  #4  
Old 11-25-2007, 11:18 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,410
Jerry,
We have never had it so good with choices of fine rifles. The Accutrigger from Savage has set a standard and all of a sudden us ordinary shooters can be trusted with factory triggers set at less than four pounds! Also Weatherby and T/C are putting rifles into boxes that actually shoot one inch groups and showing the proof with targets. Weatherbys have actual holes in the paper, particularly the MOA models, whereas the Icon has a computer printout but it is of the group shot by that particular rifle. If the rifles do not meet the moa standard they go back upstairs to get worked over or a new barrel so that they will beat one inch. One inch is a good group, despite the fact that most talk in the gunshops is about 1/2 and 1/4 inch groups that are shot with ease. I still have a problem averaging one inch for five groups with some of my rifles, some will average nearer to 1/2" for several groups, the big variable is me.

Glad you are enjoying your Icon, I am very fortunate to know the designers and they want this rifle to set a standard. It is seen as being a platform for other projects, just watch what is coming. Obviously down the road at some time we will see more riflestock options, more barrel contours, hinged floorplates, various action lengths and maybe even bolt handles on the wrong side. TC has ideas cooking that will keep us shooters interested for sometime.
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  #5  
Old 11-25-2007, 12:36 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 718
Is there any chance they will offer an octagon barrel? It seems that someone would, I believe the last was a win super grade to offer that from the factory.
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  #6  
Old 11-26-2007, 12:34 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,410
Lazylabs,
That is one option I have never heard discussed - neat idea tho!
ian
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  #7  
Old 11-27-2007, 10:35 PM
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: california
Posts: 362
on the subject of octagon barrel's MGM has them for the TC Encore's

Last edited by Dead Beat; 11-28-2007 at 12:06 AM.
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