If you want a hunting rifle you can carry all day, without suffering an unnecessary financial burden as well, the Kimber 84 Hunter is your rifle. Or at least it wants to be.
The main attraction is the Hunter’s light weight. That’s its prime reason for being, followed closely by the fact that it’s the entry-level price point for Kimber, which also sells lighter but more expensive models.
There’s more to this rifle than the lack of mass, of course. It is good looking, with respectably high build quality and a devotion to clever engineering.
The action is a Mauser-style setup with controlled round feed and wing-type three-position safety. It has been shrunk to minimalist dimensions — tailored to each calibre so that it is just solid enough to safely handle the detonation. This means the Hunter’s weight will vary depending on the calibre used.
The stainless action is nested in a synthetic stock that’s stiffened internally by honeycomb bracing, so it’s as rigid as it is light. Aluminium pillars bed the action into the stock. It’s a simple sporter style with straight comb and squishy recoil pad, and shape significantly reduces felt recoil, so even in calibres heavier than the mild 6.5CM it’s much more pleasant to shoot than you’d expect of such a lightweight.
In 6.5CM, the 84M Hunter weighs just over 2.5kg bare.
A blind magazine may have cut weight a bit more, but Kimber went with a detachable box magazine in the Hunter, partly made from steel. You have to be a little more precise when fitting it than with some magazines but it’s not fiddly if you insert the rear first then lock the front in place. It can’t be top-fed while in the rifle.
IS FEEDING AN ISSUE?
The web is full of reports of how the Hunter in 6.5CM doesn’t chamber rounds comfortably. There’s truth in it but it’s not a deal-breaker. This test rifle when new fed stiffly, requiring a fair degree of force as you closed the bolt, though over a few hundred rounds it became smoother and easier. No Mauser-type action is as smooth or easy as a push-feed action like the Tikka T3x (to name an obvious competitor) but the Kimber is a bit coarser in feel than the similar Ruger M77 action.
You must also open the bolt with purpose if you want the spent case to eject clear of the action. This is not a fault, but a design factor. Kimber gives you the option of extracting gently to spill the case into the chamber if you want to save the brass; or of extracting quickly to flick the case clear if you don’t care where it lands.
The only trouble there is you have to remember this in the heat of the moment, so sometimes you get the wrong result if you’re not thinking about it.
SCOPED UP AND READY TO GO
There is no point buying an ultralight rifle and topping it with a huge scope that weighs the same again. The Leupold VX-3i 2.5-8×36 scope on this rifle is one of the lightest on the market, and in Talley one-piece mounts it keeps weight right down.
With a sling attached and three rounds in the magazine, this whole rig as reviewed tops out at just 3031 grams.
THE TROUBLE IS…
The advantage of a heavy rifle is its stability. They are generally more accurate if for no other reason than they are easier to hold steady; they resist human interference to a greater degree.
The Kimber is not so forgiving of your personal shortcomings as a shooter. You will have to practice your technique and ensure your trigger finger is light and precise, or you’ll pull shots too easily.
In its favour, the Hunter’s balance is lovely. It does not have a heavy-butt, light-barrel imbalance, instead spreading the weight through the rifle so it’s front-rear balance remains good. That helps your accuracy.
So does the very good, crisp, adjustable trigger. Set it up to the weight you like and it will always be predictable with a clean let-off.
For a different take, see what Ozzie Reviews thinks of the 84L Hunter in .270, in this video
SPEAKING OF ACCURACY
Yes, the Kimber will shoot sub-MOA groups as promised by the factory. It won’t do it all the time, nor with all types of factory ammo. This example loves Winchester’s 125gr Deer Season load, regularly shooting MOA three-shot groups. Hornady’s 129gr Superformance was a close second for accuracy, while Federal’s 129gr PowerShok resulted in 2MOA groups on average.
That was on a bench. Off-hand in the field, the Kimber has decked everything it has been pointed at: foxes, wild dogs, goats, deer and pigs. Once you learn to be definitive in your shooting technique to complement its lightness, this is an easy rifle to shoot well.
It is no culling weapon for shot-after-shot accuracy. That’s where the light design leaves the barrel vulnerable to heat, which manifests in larger groups from the fourth shot on.
Before you even mention its weight, the Kimber is as good a hunting rifle as anything in its price range, particularly considering it’s a stainless-steel rifle.
The way its stock reduces felt recoil adds points.
If you appreciate the engineering and craftsmanship behind the Model 84 — things like the petite Mauser-type action and the stock’s internal honeycomb strengthening — you’ll get a superior sense of pride in ownership, too.
It’s the light weight that lifts it above the rest, though. There’s a lot of joy to be had in carrying a scoped, loaded hunting rifle that weighs only 3kg when you’re stalking in mountainous country and covering a lot of distance. Nothing else is quite as light as a Kimber 84 Hunter unless you’re prepared to dig deeper into your pocket.
If that sounds like the rifle you want, go for it.
KIMBER MODEL 84M HUNTER SPECIFICATIONS
- Calibre: 6.5 Creedmoor as tested
- Barrel: 56cm (22 inches)
- O/A Length: 105cm (41.25 inches)
- Weight: 2523 grams (5.56lb)
- Stocks: Synthetic with pillar bedding
- Action: Bolt
- Material: Stainless steel
- Magazine type: Detachable box
- Magazine capacity: 3+1
- Price: Around $1850 as at 2021
- Importer: NIOA