ShareThis Page
The Thompson/Center Venture Predator a real shooter |

The Thompson/Center Venture Predator a real shooter

Bob Frye
| Monday, March 11, 2019 12:26 a.m.
Bob Frye | Everybody Adventures
Thompson/Center’s Venture Predator rifle

Shoot it? Heck, for a while it wasn’t certain I could load it.

The folks at Thompson/Center sent me one of their Venture Predator rifles in .223 Remington to test and review. The gun has been around for a while now, and I’d been a fan from afar, having seen them when they first came out at a large gun show.

Never having shot one, though, I was excited when it arrived.

Right out of the box the Venture Predator is a handsome firearm. My test gun was finished in Realtree Advantage HD Max-1. The stock, the trigger guard, the fluted barrel – everything but the black Hogue grips on the pistol grip and forend and a black rubber butter pad — are camouflaged that way.

The effect is a rifle that’s, well, just very cool looking.

If the green camo doesn’t do it for you, though, there’s a Realtree AP HD snow camo version available as well (I’ve seen those, and they’re really nice, too).

With both patterns, it’s possible to get a matching scope and scope rings, so that your rifle is dressed the same top to bottom.

My rifle didn’t have those accessories. So for testing, I topped it with a relatively inexpensive 3×9 Weaver scope lying around home. My cash-strapped son previously bought it on clearance at one of the bog box stores for his deer rifle. It stayed there just one season.

It’s an OK scope, relatively clear and bright. He killed a deer with it the one autumn he took it into the woods.

But the dial to change magnification is ridiculously hard to turn, especially when it’s cold and you’re wearing gloves. So he swapped the Weaver out for a different scope and I use it for testing.

In this case, I put it on the Venture Predator and bore sighted the rifle.

Finally, before heading to the range, I removed — or tried to remove — the rifle’s detachable magazine.

The rifle comes with one. It holds three rounds, with room for another in the chamber.

According to the owner’s manual, you’re supposed to push the latch just in front of the magazine and catch it “as it falls out.”

That didn’t happen. In fact, to get the magazine out the first few times, I had to press the latch, grip the front of the magazine, and push down on the top of it through the bolt opening. It was that tight.

It was sticky from being new, I think. Only after doing that 10 times or so did it loosen up enough that I was about to pull it out with one hand.

Even then, there was a bit of a trick to it.

Releasing the latch and then just pulling on the front of the magazine caused it to bind, stuck in the rifle at about a 45 degree angle. On this rifle, you had to release the latch, grab the magazine at about its center point, then pull it out.

That was easy enough from then on.

That issue resolved, it was time to go to the range. I was eager to see what this rifle could do.

As stated, the Venture Predator is a good looking gun. And at just 6.75 pounds before adding a scope, it’s a light one, too, perfect for carrying on predator or varmint hunts where you walk a lot.

It has an adjustable trigger, capable of being set from 3.5 to 5 pounds. It comes from the factory art 4.5; I left it there, as it seemed comfortable. The thumb safety sits right next to the bolt and is easy to reach.

So everything seemed set.

But, as with any rifle, the real value lies in how it shoots. This is billed as a real winner in that regard. Thompson/Center promises “minute of angle” accuracy with these rifles, meaning they should be able to group three shots within an inch at 100 yards.

And yes, it delivered. Oh mercy, did it.

I started shooting at 50 yards to make sure the bore sighting indeed had it on the paper. It was. A little more tweaking dialed it in pretty good.

That was with three types of ammunition: Frontier and Federal 55 grain full metal jacket rounds and 55 grain Remington Core Lokt soft points.

Next, I moved to shooting at 100 yards. After a half dozen shots or so, it seemed on.

The Venture Predator is a fine rifle.

OK, I thought, time to put up new targets, fire some three-shot groups “for real” and keep score.

Talk about a rifle that will boost a guy’s confidence. I shot five three-shot groups. The tightest measured about 0.675 inches across — small enough that you could cover all three holes with a dime. Even the largest groups were just shy of 1.0 inches.

It’s hard to expect much more than that from an off-the-shelf rifle topped with a budget scope.

The Venture Predator is relatively inexpensive, too. It’s not an entry-level gun necessarily; the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $638. But many shops sell them for less than $600.

I didn’t buy this one. With one son just out of college and another still in, with all of the financial commitments that entails, I told myself before pulling the trigger even once that I would send this one back when finished with it, no exceptions.

And I did.

Worst consequence of self discipline I’ve ever suffered.

Almost any rifle you buy these days has a chance to be decent or better. Some, though, prove exceptional. This was one, so it’s on the futures list. At some point its relative will be in the gun cabinet, count on that.

It was that good.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or via email. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

Categories: Sports | Outdoors
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.