Thompson/Center R55 .17 Mach 2 Rifles
By Ed Timerson
One of the newer T/C products is the R55 rifle. It is based on Thompson's .22 semi-auto action modified to shoot the 17 Mach 2 cartridges. Thompson claims one-half inch groups at 50 yards with this rifle, and in talks with their people I was told they shot 25 shot groups at 25 yards that could be covered with a quarter. This is great accuracy for any production rifle, and outstanding accuracy for a semi-auto rimfire.
As of this writing, four R55 models are offered: the Classic, with blued steel/walnut stock; All Weather, in SS, with synthetic stock; Benchmark, with heavy blued barrel and laminated wood; Sporter, with laminated wood. A nice feature is a trap door in the buttplate to store an extra magazine.
I ordered the stainless steel All Weather model with a black composite stock. Here are the basic specifications of that model:
Tests have shown that .17 M2 velocity peaks in the short 20" barrel. Thompson actually makes their barrels, and I observed the process during a factory tour. After completion, finished barrels go through a long process of oven stress relieving. This illustrates Thompson's dedication to quality.
The synthetic stock has a raised, Monte Carlo style cheek piece. The flared pistol grip is comfortable to hold, and the forearm is wide, with finger grooves along its top edge. This fits nicely in the hand, and also works well on bench rests.
The action is narrow along its top half and gracefully tapered at the rear. The thumb operated safety on the right-rear side, and a large magazine release button is in the front of the trigger guard. The 5-shot magazine is formed from heavy cast steel. The R55 is, overall, a high quality rifle.
The R55 scope mounts are Thompson Maxima steel rings and two-piece bases with a black matte finish. They are compact, but very solid. I happened to have a Leupold compact M-8 4x scope, which I mounted on the R55. The final touch was to attach a black web sling and swivels.
The test rifle basically lived up to T/C's accuracy claims at the range. And it functioned very well, with only one jam--a failure to eject--in shooting several hundred rounds.
When a person has been shooting and working on guns for as long as I have, one can usually find something to complain about, and I had some small annoyances. The safety was stiff to operate. Being an enclosed action, the bore has to be cleaned from the muzzle. Because of the sharp-edged target crown, brushes and patches are hard to start in the bore. The trigger guard is small and doesn't allow the use of heavy winter gloves.
But these are minor points. Over all, the T/C R55 rifle is a joy to use. It is reliable, very accurate, and good looking. It is a semi-auto worth owning.
Note: There is a full length review of the T/C R55 All Weather .17 Mach 2 rifle on the Product Reviews page.
Copyright 2006, 2012 by Ed Timerson. All rights reserved.