Predator hunting is one of the fastest-growing segments of our sport, and a predator-specific rifle is a must in every rifle manufacturer's line. Some of those rifles are well thought out, while others are just the same old gun with a new paint job and a fancy name. The new Predator version of T/C's affordably priced Venture line is one of the good ones.
If you're not familiar with it, the Venture was introduced at the 2009 SHOT Show as a lower-cost alternative to T/C's Icon line. I got to test a prototype for one of our sister publications back then and was blown away by its quality and features. Since it is such a new design, a quick review of those features is in order.
First, the Venture's action has a round bottom, which is more economical to produce than flat-bottom designs like the Icon. Its shape may be different, but the Venture shares many features with its more expensive brother. For example, its action, which is machined from bar stock, has a solid top and a three-round detachable magazine.
|T/C VENTURE PREDATOR ACCURACY TABLE|
|LOAD||VELOCITY (fps)||ACCURACY, 100 yds. (in.)|
|HORNADY 40-gr. V-Max||4,097||75|
|Federal 50-gr. Barnes TSX||3,742||.95|
|55-Grain Sierra GameKing||3,618||.591|
Like other round-action designs, the Venture employs a substantial steel recoil lug that is sandwiched between the barrel and the action. The bolt release is located aft on the left side of the receiver. The two-position safety is found just behind the bolt.
The Venture's fat, solid bolt is machined from bar stock and wears a corrosion-resistant black nitride finish. Its three-lug design means the Venture requires just 60 degrees of bolt lift. This allows faster follow-up shots and ensures that fat fingers won't get crushed between the bolt and the scope's ocular lens. Like the Icon, the Venture's bolt shroud has a sleek, racy appearance.
Extraction is via a small extractor fitted into one of the bolt's three lugs, which means the Venture's bolt face completely surrounds and supports the case head. It is a robust design, despite the extractor's relatively small size. Ejection is accomplished by a conventional, plunger-style ejector.
Its black bolt handle is teardrop-shaped and user-replaceable. However, T/C will not be including a disassembly tool with the Venture. If you would like to replace the standard knob with a butterknife or oversize tactical knob, you'll have to order an Icon handle and bolt tool from T/C.
|T/C VENTURE PREDATOR|
|Caliber:||.204 Ruger, .223, .22-250 (tested), .308 Winchester|
|Overall Length:||39.75 in.|
|Finish:||Realtree Max-1 Camo|
|Stock:||Synthetic stock with Hogue rubber grip inserts|
|Sights:||None. Comes with Weaver-style scope bases|
|Trigger:||Adjustable from 3.5 to 5 lbs.|
Though the Venture is less expensive than the Icon, T/C didn't want to sacrifice quality. Consequently, Ventures have the same button-rifled, match-grade barrels that were originally developed for the Icon. To further ensure that they meet T/C's high accuracy standard, the company stuck with 5R rifling, which has five grooves and lands with angular sides. The angular sides reduce jacket deformation and fouling, resulting in a barrel that is faster, more accurate and stays clean longer than conventionally rifled tubes.
The Predator's 22-inch barrel has six light flutes. It is a fairly trim tube that is ideal in length and weight for its intended role. A recessed, 60-degree target crown is standard. Knowledgeable shooters swear by 60-degree crowns because they allow gases to vent to the sides of the bullet as it exits the muzzle, thereby exerting less influence on the projectile. The recessed design also protects the crown from accuracy-robbing dents and dings.
The Venture's barreled action is bolted into a relatively straight, sporter-style stock. The synthetic stock has soft, black Hogue inserts on both sides of the fore-end and pistol grip that provide added traction for wet or gloved hands. A cushy, one-inch recoil pad is another nice touch. The lines of the stock are pleasing to the eye, and they help the rifle come to the shoulder quickly and point naturally.
In keeping with its Predator designation, the entire outside of the gun, save the bolt and Hogue grip inserts, is finished with a Realtree Max-1 camouflage dip. The finish is well done, durable and very attractive.
Every Venture comes with a set of Weaver-style scope bases. The Predator's bases wear the same Max-1 dip as the rest of the rig. The test rifle came from T/C with a matching set of camo scope rings and a Max-1-finished Nikon Coyote Special 3x9 scope. The trim scope has a wide field of view and generous eye relief. It is perfectly sized for predator-calling rifles like the Venture that will be carried a lot.
The Predator is available in .204 Ruger, .223, .22-250 and .308. Mine is a .22-250. The flat-shooting .22 is the perfect tool for smoking marauding coyote and foxes from my Yamaha Rhino as I go about my daily chores.
|Hunting Coyotes In The Wind|
|Predator Calling With A Pro|
|Hunting The Hunters|
The combination of the Predator rifle, Nikon scope and .22-250 cartridge makes for a functional, well-balanced package. I was anxious to test it, so I toted it to the ranch the first chance I got.
I tested it from the prone position with a Harris benchrest-height bipod and a rear bag with loads from Federal and Hornady. My first group, fired with Hornady's 40-grain V-Max, measured just .95 inch--not bad for the first three rounds from a new gun. Thanks to its phenomenal trigger, it didn't take me long to get into the groove with the Venture. My groups improved rapidly, as evidenced by my .42-inch best group and .75-inch accuracy average with that load.
I also tested two loads from Federal: the 50-grain Barnes TSX and 55-grain Sierra GameKing. More predator-specific loads might yield better accuracy, but I often use my predator gun to cull deer and head-shoot hogs. Those GameKings and TSXs are perfect for my intended role. Even though they might not be the best loads with which to test the rifle, both averaged under one inch at 100 yards, and the GameKing load averaged .591 inch--outstanding accuracy for any factory gun.
As impressive as those accuracy averages are, my ability to shoot tiny groups was hampered a bit by Nikon's BDC Predator reticle. The reticle is great for long-range work and shooting predators on the move, but I had trouble centering my target in the open circle. I am quite certain a bit more practice with the reticle will result in even tighter groups.
T/C's Venture Predator is an attractive, fast-handling rig that shoots like a house afire and carries an easy-on-the-wallet MSRP of just $549. Who wouldn't love that?