The perfect size: Kimber's vision for the 84L. 30-06 comes together.
Photos: Joseph R. Novelozo
Kimber's long awaited development of an ultra-lightweight action and a svelte overall rifle for the .30-06-size family of cartridges is finished, and the end product is stunning. The new Model 84L series of rifles should be hitting your dealer's shelves just about now, and if you've ever desired a lightweight, semi-custom rifle at production rifle prices, take a look at the trim, attractive and efficient Kimber 84L.
Kimber's earliest offering of a semi-custom rifle line was the Model 84M 1 series, featuring an action slimmed I down and shortened to the dimensions I of the .308 Win clan, including popular F calibers such as the .204 Ruger, .243 Win, .260 Rem and 7mm-08 Rem. In doing so, Kimber was able to achieve a balance between action size, power and weight that set the 84M ("M" standing for Medium) very much apart from its competition. Often referred to as a miniature Model 70, the result was not your typical "short-action."
With few exceptions like SAKO and New Ultra Light Arms, the common short-actions have been full-length actions chopped in the midsection without any further reduction in the diameters of the receiver or bolt. For example, the diameters of the front ring of a short-action Remington Model 700 or Winchester Model 70 run about 1.355", while Kimber slimmed theirs down to 1.140". Remington and Winchester bolt diameters are approximately .693", while Kimber's measures only .585".
By downsizing the heart of the Model 84M, Kimber was able to proportion the barrel and stock in relation to the action. The result was an aesthetically pleasing, well-balanced and handy hunting rifle.
While logically you would think Kimber's next step would have been to lengthen the 84M action to accommodate the .30-06 series of cartridges, ' twas not to be. It was the age, nay, rage, for the latest short magnum cartridges, so Kimber responded by designing the 8400 series of actions and rifles proportioned to the beefed up dimensions of the short magnums. But the story does not end there.
The 8400 short-magnum action was then lengthened to accommodate not only the standard .30-06 family but the H&H belted magnum clan of cartridges as well. From Kimber's point of view, you might say they ended up with neither fish nor fowl. The result is not what Kimber based its reputation upon.
It was back to the drawing board. The solution was to take the original 84M scaled action that could handle .308 Win pressures and stretch it a bit for the .30-06 family of cartridges. Eureka! The Model 84L, "L" standing for "Long," is the most petite and scaled-down .30-06 production rifle I've ever handled, and yet, in spite of its flea weight of 6 pounds, 2 ounces, it's proved to be a comfortable rifle to shoot even with full powered, 180-grain factory loads.
To better illustrate this "minimalist" approach to Kimber's rifles, I compared the weight of the standard Model 98 Mauser bolt to that of the M84L. The Model 98 bolt weighs 16 ounces. The .30-06-length bolt of the Kimber weighs in at 10 ounces on my Sunbeam scale. The Kimber bolt looks like it belongs on a .223, rather than on a .30-06.
The small, cylindrical Kimber action offers controlled-round feeding, a Mauser-type claw extractor, a fully adjustable trigger and a 3-position Model 70-type safety on the bolt shroud. Functionally, the action is slick and tight. Its feeding from a 5-round magazine box is positive as is its ejection cycle which is handled by a blade ejector that works through a slot offset in the bolt face from the locking lugs. In fact, the whole Model 84L bolt, including the shape of the bolt knob, looks ever-so-much like that of a pre-'64 Model 70.
The firing pin is small and light, resulting in a lock-time just short of phenomenal. The bottom metal, featuring a straddle-type floorplate and a through the-triggerguard release, is clean and custom looking. In fact, the overall finish of the metal work approaches custom quality. As a final touch, Kimber offers a set of scope bases so perfectly matched to the contour of the receiver they give the svelte action the appearance of a square-bridge Mauser.
Kimber's match grade barrel, made in their own factory in Yonkers, New York, has a pleasing sporting contour and it's a full 24" long to extract all the ballistic potential the initial chamberings in .270 Win, .30-06 and .25-06 Rem have to offer.
The complete barreled action is finished in a matte blue, and it's both pillar and glass bedded. The barrel is free-floated up to the barrel shank with minimal clearance visible along the top line of the stock.
To be offered in their Classic, Classic Select and Montana models, our test gun was the Classic Select grade featuring an upgraded French walnut stock tipped with ebony, a steel pistol grip cap and a black 1" Pachmayr Decelerator pad. Kimber's trim, elegant stocks are designed along the lines of the American classic, carrying checkering panels cut to 20 lines-per-inch and final polished with a hand-rubbed oil finish. The Classic and Classic Select walnut stocks will be offered initially followed by the synthetic/stainless steel Montana later in the year.
We mounted our 84L Classic Select in .30-06 with Leupold's new "Redfield" line of value scopes and tested six different loads from three makers at 100 yards. The average group size of 12, 3-shot groups was 1-1/4". The smallest groups were turned in by Winchester Supreme 180-grain E-Tip (3/4" to 1-1/8" a t2,633 fps) and the largest by Winchester Supreme 180-grain AccuBond (1-1/4" to 1-3/4" at 2,631 fps). The other loads tested included Winchester Supreme 180-grain Ballistic Silvertip, Winchester 150-grain Power Max Bonded, Federal Premium 180-grain Nosler Partition and CorBon Hunter 168-grain Barnes Triple Shock, all hovering around 1-1/4".
The Kimber leaves nothing on the table in terms of accuracy with factory ammunition. Frankly, any .30-06 that can average 1-1/4" is a keeper. One of the characteristics of the .30-06 I have noted over the years is their tendency to shift the point-of-impact with each loading even though the bullet weight might be the same and the velocity similar. The Kimber was no exception.
The controlled-round action fed, extracted and ejected without a hiccup. Sporting an action designed by a minimalist, the 84L does require a bit of attention when loading the 5-round magazine box. It's tight in there, and you can't just stuff those 3.3" long, 180-grain rounds in quickly like you can in a Mauser or Model 70.
The best part of the story may be the pricing. When you can buy a light, elegant, accurate, American production rifle with custom quality features for $1,172 to $1,359, the leadership and craftsmen at Kimber deserve a real pat on the back. The Kimber tradition of offering exceptional quality at an affordable price lives on in the new Model 84L.
MODEL 84L MAKER: KIMBER MFG. ONE LAWT0N ST., YONKERS, NY 10705 (800) 880-2418 www.kimberamerica.com ACTION TYPE: Bolt, controlled round feeding CALIBER: .30-06 (tested), .270 Win, .25-06 Rem CAPACITY: 5+1 BARREL LENGTH: 24" OVERALL LENGTH: 43-3/4" WEIGHT: 6 pounds, 2 ounces FINISH: Matte black SIGHTS: None, bases supplied STOCK: French walnut PRICE: Classic: $1,172 Classic Select (tested): $1,359 REDFIELD 4-12X MAKER: LEUPOLD & STEVENS 1440 NORTHWEST GREENBRIAR PARKWAY BEAVERT0N, OR 97006 (503) 646-9171, WWW.REDFIELD.COM MAGNIFICATION: 4X to 12X OBJECTIVE 40mm DIAMETER: EYE RELIEF: 4.9" (4X), 3.7" (12X) INTERNAL ADJ. 50 MOA" elevation & RANGE: windage at 100 yards CLICK VALUE: 1/4" TJBE DIAMETER: 1" WEIGHT: 13.1 ounces OVERALL LENGTH: 12.3" RETICLES: 4-Plex Duplex (tested), Accu-Range PRICE: $209.99, $219.99 (Accu-Range Reticle)