I absolutely love my Thompson Chain! So much so I bought one for each of my friends who are new to the ministry. There is so much information in the back - having the historic maps and the references to historic customs, etc., is priceless! It's so much easier understanding a scripture if you know what the customs were at that time or if you realize the distance that Jesus and the apostles traveled to spread the good news! Only thing missing is a commentary, but I have Matthew Henry's commentary right next to my Thompson Chain. Excellent book for those who are studying the bible, not just reading it.
This is my review of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, after having reviewed a number of "Study Bibles" in an attempt to select a Bible for daily Bible reading, and personal study (as well as teaching Sunday school). Having reviewed and purchased the Old Schofield, Ryrie, MacArthur, NIV Study Bible, Archaeology Study Bible, and other "non-study" Bibles, I can say that the Thompson is my absolute favorite. Why? Because it contains a wealth of study material that the others do not have, and these study materials are presented in an "old school" format with many being "illustrated", and all of them being scripturally based, factual material, devoid of commentary within the text. These include illustrated studies and maps, archaeology supplement, teaching and memorization aids, book and chapter overviews, and much more. The Thompson is also tops in providing a person the means of using the Bible to study the Bible.
With that said, I want to make a comment concerning what I typically see listed as a "plus" of the Thompson. That being that since it doesn't contain outside commentary, that it is superior to other study Bibles, because it allows a person to form their own view on Scripture. I somewhat disagree with this kind of statement. I disagree, because I do in fact believe that there is a right way to interpret Scripture_every Scripture. Every Scripture has a specific truth, and this truth is not subject to individual interpretation. That's not to say that Scripture cannot have a personal application in an individual's life, but I do not adhere to the idea of each person interpreting Scripture based on their own worldview. Therefore, as part of my Bible study, I do like reading commentaries by trusted theologians who have devoted their lives to the study and teaching the God's Word. I just prefer these commentaries to be outside of my Bible proper. That way I can choose when I want to refer to one of these commentaries without being distracted while doing my daily reading.
My one complaint about the Thompson (well kind of a complaint, but not really), is that the Kirkbridge Bible Company has overhyped the quality of their Bibles. That's not to say that the Bible isn't well made. It is. It's as well made as any of the other decent Bibles that I've purchased. It's just not any nicer than those others. Having read the Kirkbridge website, I was expecting a little more, but my 2 Thompson's are no better than previous purchases. The printing does vary a bit from page to page, some being noticeably darker than others. The red wording is often light, not a dark read, and some of the illustrated studies (3 to be exact) in the rear of the Bible were not printed well, having in some cases areas that were almost too faintly printed to read. These faint areas were mixed erratically, right within a map that was otherwise printed perfectly in most other areas of the same map, and also mixed within pages of other maps that were otherwise printed perfectly. This last issue is only true of one of my two Thompsons (a Handy version). My other, a large print edition, has maps that are all very nicely printed. Last the leather is nothing special, although based on what the website reads, one might expect it to be. The paper is of decent quality, and I do not notice the words printed on the opposing side of a page showing through into the page that I'm reading. Overall the Bible is no better, but again no worse than my other bibles. They just aren't up to the standard advertised by the publisher IMO, which they use as a basis for justifying the slightly higher cost of their Thompson Chain bibles..
All of that said, I would highly recommend the Thompson if you want a good, solid, stand alone study Bible.