In our years of shooting with bolt-action rifles, it’s tricky to find budget picks because they tend to have subpar quality. The TC Compass and the Ruger American are popular choices in this department, but are they really up to standard? In this comparison, we’ll find out.
Thompson/Center Compass Advantages
Ruger American Advantages
Features of Both Guns
While both rifles look pretty similar, we have to give the design edge to the Thompson Center Compass.
The TC Compass is available in two barrel lengths, four rates of twist, and more than 10 calibers. It’s more than what the Ruger American offers, which is three rates of twists and more than 5 calibers. As such, you have more flexibility in terms of configuration with the TC.
Additionally, the best thing about the TC Compass is its compatibility with a silencer, making it perfect if you want to take a break from the loud snaps. This rifle works with many types of ammunition, but we do recommend high-grade rounds for the best results.
But despite the limitations in configurations, the Ruger American has an advantage in ergonomics. It’s light and easy to handle, which is great for long hunts or situations where portability is a must.
In the hands of a capable marksman, the TC Compass and the Ruger American are both very accurate rifles. But if we were to pick a winner, the Ruger American has the advantage of accuracy.
We’ve tested both these rifles on the range and both produced great results. The TC Compass is capable of achieving 1 – 1.2 inches groupings at about 100 yards. On the other hand, the Ruger achieves groupings between 0.9 and 1.1 inches in the same distance.
Another thing that contributes to the accuracy of the Ruger American is its well-aligned design and floating barrel. This further boosts a shooter’s precision, making it easy to hit targets in different ranges with ease.
Taking this into account, the TC Compass is a great option for people who are new to bolt-action rifles and those who want to learn how to use it first-hand. For the usual, all-around needs, this rifle is a great budget option.
Meanwhile, the Ruger American is ideal for recreational shooting . If the TC compass and the Ruger American have the same ammo and the same caliber, you’ll get better results with Ruger American.
Still, it must be said that accuracy still depends on other things besides the choice of rifle. The shooter’s skill, sound moderators, and bullets all play a crucial role. Choosing the right scope matters too, but more on this later.
The TC Compass and the Ruger American each have their own unique features.
On the TC, there’s an adjustable trigger pull that can be set from 3.5 pounds to 5 pounds. It can be surprising that the rifle’s default factory setting is at a heavy 5 pounds, but it’s fairly easy to adjust before use. While this feature is convenient, it misses a take-upstage due to the trigger’s single-stage design.
The Ruger American, on the other hand, features a user-adjusted trigger compression which can be adjusted between 3 and 5 pounds. When we set the Ruger trigger pull to heavy, it almost feels as if we are using a 2-stage trigger even if it’s not actually designed as such.
Moving on to the magazine, the TC Compass has a polymer box magazine while the Ruger American uses a plastic removable magazine. While both are easy to use, there are differences when it comes to the overall feel.
TC’s polymer box magazine is more familiar because it’s similar to what other bolt-action rifles use. It’s lightweight and compact, which are great for outdoor conditions. Reloading is easy and can be done while the magazine is attached by loading rounds through the ejection port.
As for the Ruger’s magazine, its plastic construction may be a dealbreaker for many shooters, but it’s actually durable. It’s a great option for those who want something lightweight and easy to handle. And while it has a smooth profile, it holds itself firmly without any wobble.
In our tests with both rifles, we prefer the TC’s magazine because it feels more solid than Ruger’s plastic one.
Similarly, the stock in TC compass is better, too. It’s composite and the grip patterns work nicely with most gloves. Even if you use it with your bare hands, it’s fine. And while the rifle has a pretty user-friendly recoil, the stock has a rubber pad that lets you scope with the recoil as well.
Ruger’s stock is made of rigid polymer, which makes the rifle feel compact and look sleek. The surfaces have some textures as well, but the grip itself feels substandard.
When we tested the Ruger on a hunt, the area where the cheek is placed is skinnier than expected. This gave us a few bumps while firing, which is not a problem with the TC’s stock at all. Nevertheless, this works well on the shooting bench, but there are struggles on hunts.
Both the Thompson Center Compass and the Ruger American have pre-drilled scope mounting holes, making it easy to customize according to your liking.
Some of the common scopes used on the TC and the Ruger include the Leupold 3-9×40 Freedom, Pinnacle 5-30×50, and the Burris E1 3-9×40. But whatever scope you choose, remember that a larger round produces a stronger kick.
Conclusion: TC Compass or Ruger American?
To end this TC Compass vs Ruger American battle, let’s establish the fact that they are both great budget bolt-action rifles. They do have their differences, so everything boils down to what you need.
The TC Compass is a great all-around rifle if you prefer a solid stock, silencer-compatibility, and extensive configurations.
On the other hand, the Ruger American is ideal for the shooter who wants a lightweight design, better accuracy, and a more flexible trigger compression adjustment.