Remove the bolt by retracting it to the rear, depressing the bolt release, rotating the bolt 180 degrees clockwise then sliding it from the rear of the receiver. Use the torque wrench to break loose the rear then front action screws; then use the Allen head to unscrew the action screws. (All screws on the Dimension are captured, so there is no fear of losing them). Lift the barreled action from the stock.
Loosely screw the V-shaped portion of the torque tool through the bottom of the receiver into the barrel shank then insert the shaft of the tool into the hole of the torque wrench block marked “L” for “loosen” then tighten the torque wrench snugly. Engage the teeth on the barrel nut with those on the tool’s gear. Be sure the torque wrench is inserted so it and the Allen wrench function like a pair of pliers. Squeeze the two pieces together in your hand to break loose the barrel nut then loosen it further by hand.
Separate the action from the barrel. Exchange the barrel with another; hand-tighten the barrel nut then install the torque tool, inserting the shaft of the wrench into the hole of the torque wrench block marked “T” for “tighten.” Tighten until a “click” is heard; the correct amount of torque has been applied.
If you are switching between cartridge-group families, you will need to also switch magazine kits. Simply lift out the previous unit from the top of the stock and drop in the replacement that corresponds with the nomenclature on the barrel.
Use the torque tool to tighten the front action screw then the rear action screw. When an audible “click” is heard the proper torque has been applied. Lastly, be sure to insert the proper bolt corresponding to the appropriate caliber family.
Thompson/Center guarantees the Dimension to be a three-shot, one minute-of-angle gun, but shooting five-shot groups opens up things a bit. In range sessions with a .300 Win. Mag. fitted with a Leupold VX-R 3-9X 40 mm riflescope, I shot nine different loads for function testing and selected three different bullet weights for the accuracy evaluation, firing five, five-shot groups with each. The best load, a Hornady 150-grain GMX, produced two groups that measured a scant 1.25 inches. A 180-grain Winchester XP3 printed three 2-inch groups. The Remington Premier load, with its 200-grain Swift A-Frame, is the one I subsequently took moose hunting. It produced one 1.5-inch group and two 2-inch groups. Keep in mind these are all five-shot groups; overall size would have been smaller had they been only three shots. I have no qualms about T/C’s three-shot, one-m.o.a.-guarantee—it can be handily met with the right ammunition.
Impressions From The Field
I first laid eyes on a Dimension in summer 2011 at an event T/C reps held in Illinois for select members of the media. During a range session, in which I fired four different calibers in four different families, I noted function, repeatability and accuracy were present in spades. After a tutorial, all of us were disassembling and reassembling individual rifles in different calibers with aplomb. Every part mated to the gun seamlessly. The directions printed herein may seem confusing, but after you see the process once it’s a simple matter to go from .204 Ruger to .270 Win. in minutes.
Last fall I took a .300 Win. Mag. Dimension to Newfoundland, Canada, for a moose hunt. I’d shot several prototype iterations already, and I’d shot this unit numerous times in preparation for the hunt. But a week-plus in the bush provided some final notes.
Remember that stock I complained about? Its design actually settles nicely into what I call the “frontier” cradle, wherein I carry the gun in the crook of my weak-side elbow and grip the gun with my weak-side fingertips beneath the pistol grip. On easy ground I can merely keep the tip of one finger on the bottom of the pistol grip to keep the gun balanced. Rifle stocks with shallow pistol grips don’t work well for this, but the Dimension’s grip is so pronounced I never lost my hold on it in wind, rain and snow. Because of the stock’s polymer construction, the elements can do their worst, and the Dimension is none the worse for wear. The gun points nicely, too. There’s no denying the high comb positions your eye quickly.
The three-lug design demands a bit of force to rotate the bolt, so be sure to practice with the rifle before you expect fast times in rapid fire. The large bolt knob is easily found, though, and it’s not easy to lose one’s grip on it. It should appeal to those who don’t like to search for the controls.
You won’t have to search for the safety, either. It’s large, lies along the right rear of the receiver where the bolt exits and is easily pushed fore and aft. Hold it between your thumb and forefinger when disengaging it in the presence of game to silence it.
I wish I could tell you that with the Dimension I felled a 50-inch bull moose at 300 steps; that the rifle’s accuracy astonished even the crustiest Canadian guides. But alas, my bull fell at perhaps 6 yards. It wasn’t a giant bull, either. But it was meat for the freezer. I shared it with my hunting partner and many folks ate well over the winter.
Make no mistake, the Dimension does not hide its appearance, and such looks aren’t for everyone. Then again, it’s entirely possible the addition of another stock in the Dimension lineup may change the rifle’s lines altogether. In the meantime remember looks aren’t everything. Consider that the cost of a second barrel for many switch-barrel rifles costs more than some complete rifles. This “bolt-action platform” breaks that mold. Its retail price is $679. That’s right, the entire rifle costs less than some extra barrels from other systems. What’s more, additional barrels cost $250, and each one comes with a new magazine kit appropriate to the caliber-family of the barrel. Bolts are $162.
Now hunters and shooters can buy one gun—a stock with adjustable length of pull, a barrel, bolt and detachable magazine—in one caliber and outfit it for nine other calibers with the purchase of extra barrels. The whole shebang is not only reasonably priced, but it works flawlessly. Eli Whitney would be proud.
Manufacturer: Thompson/Center Hunting, Smith & Wesson Holdings; (866) 730-1614; www.tcarms.com
Mechanism Type: bolt-action, switch-barrel, repeating, center-fire rifle
Caliber: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 7 mm-08 Rem., .308 Win., .270 Win., .30-’06 Sprg., 7 mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag. (tested)
Receiver: machined aluminum
Barrel Length: 22" or 24"
Rifling: 5R; 1:9"-1:12" RH twist depending on caliber
Weight: 7 lbs. (empty)
Overall Length: 413⁄4"-433⁄4"
Magazine: three-round detachable box, single-stack, polymer
Trigger: single-stage, pull weight adjustable from 3 lbs., 8 ozs., to 5 lbs.
Sights: none, Weaver bases factory-installed
Stock: Monte Carlo style synthetic; length of pull, adjustable from 121⁄2"-131⁄2"; drop at heel 9/16";drop at comb, 3/4"
Accessories: torque tool, Weaver scope bases
Suggested Retail Price: $679