Kimber 84M - In a Class by Itself
Author: Mike Schoby
Field Tested and Approved! If you are looking for a varmint rifle that looks as good as it performs, the Kimber 84M Varmint fills the bill with class to spare.
Kimber is an amazing company. Originally known for their extremely high-quality .22 LR target and sporter rifles, they have spanned all facets of the firearms market including rimfire rifles, shotguns, pistols and centerfire hunting rifles. The U.S. Army, as well as countless civilian shooters have competed with their .22's. Several years ago, Kimber broke into the .45 ACP market and now many competitive shooters use them, including the US Shooting Team. Regardless of what they build, they build it with style, quality craftsmanship and a dedication to accuracy that is unmatched.
Kimber's 84M series of rifles is no exception to this high standard of quality. The action incorporates the classic lines, dependability and functionality of a traditional Mauser with a full-length claw-type extractor. The 84M is available in three configurations; Classic, Varmint Classic and Laminated in a variety of short-action calibers. 2003 promises more models with synthetic stocks and stainless steel barreled actions.
Recently, I tested an 84M Varmint in .22-250, topped with a Leupold Vari-XIII 6.5X - 20X. Upon receiving the test gun, one thing was immediately evident - like all Kimbers, quality was throughout.
The dark, figured walnut stock was slim in design and the 20 LPI checkering was perfect (which has been a hallmark of every Kimber rifle I have seen). The wood was finished in a durable hand-rubbed oil finish that brought out the natural beauty of the grain, while protecting it from the elements.
Most varmint/predator guns are too heavy and almost always tend to be muzzle-heavy. The Kimber 84M overcomes this complaint by using a medium-heavy, fluted stainless 26-inch barrel that compliments the rifle nicely without adding too much weight.
The overall balance of the gun was superb and it tipped the scales at only seven pounds, five ounces which makes it a perfect weight for everything from prairie dog shooting to a walking predator rifle.
In a world of specialization and work farm-out, Kimber is a refreshing exception. They pride themselves in making everything "in-house." From their machined steel trigger guards to their barrels, Kimber makes it all and consequently has the benefit of controlling all aspects of the quality from start to finish.
Keeping with the tradition of accuracy, Kimber skips no steps when it comes to one of the most critical parts of building a rifle - the mating of barreled action to stock. All Kimbers are pillar bedded with twin aluminum pillars. For added rigidity and shot-to-shot consistency, the recoil lug is glass-bedded into the stock in all calibers above .243. Before it is finished, the full length of the barrel is free-floated from the stock to minimize any shifting due to extreme environmental elements.
Another fundamental key to accurate shooting is having a clean, crisp trigger pull. All 84 M's are fitted with a Kimber match grade trigger, which is set at the factory to break at a clean 3.5 to 4 pounds.
There are many quality factory loads out there and I wanted to see how this rifle would digest some of them. I set up targets at 100 yards and fired groups from "The Rock" rifle rest. I picked three premium loads with bullets designed for anything from prairie dogs to coyotes and fired five shot groups to see how they would perform. Winchester's 40-grain Supreme Ballistic Silvertip performed the best with a tiny .67 inch center-to-center cluster. This load also has a smoking velocity of 4150fps and works extremely well on prairie dogs. The next load I tried was the Hornady 40-grain V-Max. While not quite as good as the 40 grain Winchester, it was still incredibly accurate. Five shot groups averaged around .78 of an inch, which is more than adequate for any varmint hunting. The final load I tried grouped the worst, but ironically it is still my first choice for an all around load. It was the Winchester 50-grain Supreme Ballistic Tip which averaged .85, 5-shot center-to-center groups. While the groups were not as tight as the first two loads, it was still really accurate, and I like a heavier bullet for larger predators such as coyotes and bobcats.
I was astounded with the accuracy of this gun. The test rifle was a used "writer's gun" that had seen more than its fair share of use. I called Dwight Vanbrunt of Kimber to get some more information on this gun, such as the number of rounds fired through it. He informed me that Kimber makes a point of pulling actual production guns from their lineup to send to writers - nothing "special" has been done to their writer guns and this particular rifle had been to many media events and prairie dog hunts.
"It has had many days where 1000 rounds were put through it without any sort of cleaning and it got so hot you couldn't touch it." He told me with a chuckle. "I know for a fact that rifle had about 500 rounds a day shot through it for eight consecutive days before it was sent out for your review. I only cleaned it before I sent it out. We hope our customers don't treat one of our rifles this badly, but from a testing standpoint, we like to know what our barrels are capable of. We make all of them in-house and I think you will agree they are pretty accurate."
I wholeheartedly agreed! The gun shot like a precision custom rifle that had been properly broken in, but otherwise brand new, not a factory production gun with thousands of rounds through it. Considering a hot .22-250 round tends to push the 4,000-fps barrier very consistently (several loadings are actually over 4,000 fps) the amount of abuse that this rifle had endured is hard to fathom, yet it still shot well.
Hunting with the Kimber was a joy. The first morning I took it out for coyotes, I was presented with an interesting target - a skunk loped through a wheat stubble field roughly 150 yards away. Knowing the gun was sighted in an inch high at 100 yards, I held dead on the skunk's mid-section as he trotted through the field diagonal to my position. The trigger broke extremely crisp and the bullet made a loud "Whop." I examined the skunk and then continued on to a couple more calling locations for coyotes.
After a morning of no coyote action, the sun had now warmed the winter day significantly and even if the coyote hunting was good, I wanted to put a few dozen rounds through this rifle. Luckily, near my house, I have the perfect rifle testing area - a large prairie dog town. I headed out there to see if I could complete my field test.
Arriving at the town, the barks of the prairie dogs resounded through the calm of the mid-day. Lying prone, using a Harris bipod, I engaged prairie dogs from 100 to 400 yards away. The rifle performed flawlessly with many more hits than misses. The barrel, while not extremely heavy, did not heat up overly fast (even with hot rounds) and when it did heat up a bit I did not notice any point of impact change. A true testament to a good bedding job and a precision barrel.
In every test, the Kimber performed flawlessly. The target and field accuracy were incredible. The action was silky smooth and the wood was superb. However, there are some qualities of a fine rifle that are not really testable yet they define the essence of a quality firearm. In short, there is no hand and foot rules for defining fit, feel, balance and graceful lines, but when a rifle has them it is evident. The 84M has these elusive qualities that sets it apart from the crowd and it will remain a popular classic for years to come.
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