A Flawless Flyweight: Kimber Model 84M Mountain Ascent Review
December 18, 2012
The Kimber Model 84M and I go back to almost its beginning. In 2002 I took one of only two preproduction rifles in existence at the time to New Zealand where I used it to bag a magnificent free-ranging red stag. During that same hunt I also took very nice fallow and sika deer. Both the rifle and I proved to be accurate enough. For the trip I packed 40 rounds of .308 Winchester ammo, used five in confirming the rifle's zero when I got there, fired three at game, and left 32 rounds with the outfitter. I have since tried other Kimber rifles in other calibers, and while all were quite nice, to this day the Model 84M in .308 is my pick of the entire litter.
The rifle I hunted with had a walnut stock and weighed a bit less than 6 pounds without a scope. That was light then, and it still is, but at 4 pounds, 13 ounces, Kimber's new Mountain Ascent version of the Model 84M reduces the hunter's load by a good pound. It is presently available only in .308 Winchester with a 22-inch barrel, but I won't be surprised to see the 7mm-08 Remington become available sometime in the future. A second variation built on the longer Model 84L action and slated for availability in .270 Winchester, .280 Ackley Improved, and .30-06 Springfield will be a half-pound heavier. Most of the additional weight is in its longer action, but two more inches of barrel along with lengthening the stock in the action area add a bit as well.
Worth Hocking the Farm For
Some of those ounces were trimmed away by utilizing a trim yet grown-up-sized stock made of Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber weighing only 20 ounces. Its 3/4-inch-thick pad is quite effective at soaking up recoil, and as any hunting rifle should, the stock has posts fore and aft for quick-detach sling swivels.
The finish on the stock is described by Kimber as Gore Optifade Open Country Concealment. Regardless of whether you are hunting in dry desert, frigid arctic, or rocky high country, it will hide from sharp-eyed game animals, yet it is sure to get plenty of attention in any hunting camp. My wife Phyllis absolutely loved the stock at first sight, but there are likely those who won't. For them, the stock of Kimber's Montana has a more conservative finish, and it weighs only 5 ounces more. As for me, I am so impressed by the Mountain Ascent that zebra stripes or even scantily clad mermaids would be just fine.
Weight was further reduced by the use of a blind magazine rather than the more commonly seen hinged floorplate. This was an especially practical design option for Kimber engineers since placing the Model 70-style, three-position safety in its mid-engaged position unlocks the bolt for safely unloading the magazine by cycling cartridges through the action.
The internal steel magazine box holds four rounds, and with a length of 2.820 inches, it is 0.010 inch longer than SAAMI maximum for the .308 Win. cartridge. The front end of a nicely shaped aluminum trigger guard is held in place by a vertical screw inside the stock. It is accessible when the barreled action is removed. The opposite end of the guard is secured by the rear action bolt.
The action rests atop aluminum pillars located in the stock beneath its receiver tang and ring. Measuring 1.140 inches in diameter and 7.875 inches long, the receiver appears to be the same as on other variations of the Model 84M rifle.
A bolt release tab located on the left side is easy to operate. The spring-loaded ejector in the floor of the receiver bridge was obviously borrowed from the Winchester Model 70 design. I consider it an improvement over the Mauser-style ejector, which requires a passage split in the left locking lug.
The receiver is drilled and tapped with 8x40 holes for attaching an included Talley two-piece aluminum scope mount.
The guys at Kimber subjected the bolt to some really serious whittling. Spiraled fluting on its body left a smidgen of weight on the shop floor, as did three lightening cuts in the side of its Mauser-style extractor.
I had seen bolt handles lightened in the past, and I own a few of them, but their modifications are mild compared to this one. The shank of the handle, which was quite small in diameter to begin with, has three lightening flutes extending all the way into a hollowed knob.
The bolt weight is 8.25 ounces. I'm not sure how that compares to a standard Model 84M bolt, but I can tell you that a Remington 700 short action bolt weighs a quarter-pound more.
I have seen lightened bolts with a butchered look, but on the Mountain Ascent it is not only tastefully done, it makes an extremely attractive rifle even more appealing. Equally important, strength and durability are in no way compromised.
The bolt has two ports located just behind its locking lugs. In the event of a ruptured primer or blown case, one port will channel propellant gas into the bottom of the receiver where some of it will escape through a port in the right-hand side of the receiver ring, with any remaining gas making its way into the magazine box. The other port would divert gas into the receiver raceway of the left-hand locking lug. Bolt throw is 4 inches.
Extremely skinny barrels sometimes look odd, but the one on the Mountain Ascent is scaled perfectly in size for the rifle. Beginning at the receiver, its chamber reinforce section is 1.765 inches long and 1.050 inches in diameter. From there it tapers gracefully to 0.565 inch at the muzzle.
Overall barrel length, including a 28-port muzzle brake, is 23.38 inches. The brake is easily removed and replaced by an included thread protector; doing so reduces length to slightly less than 22 inches.
The six-groove rifling has a twist rate of 1:12 inches. Three rather deep lightening flutes run about half the length of the barrel. A washer-style recoil lug is sandwiched between a shoulder on the shank of the barrel and the face of the receiver. Stainless steel is rust resistant but not rust proof, so as an additional touch of Kimber class, the barreled action is further protected from foul weather and hard knocks by a durable KimPro II finish.
The trigger is fully adjustable, but who would want to mess with it since it leaves the factory at 2.5 pounds? The total absence of either creep or overtravel along with a pull variation of only 1 ounce makes it one of the very best triggers available.
I remember when 8 pounds was considered extremely light for a rifle wearing a scope, and back then such luxury was available only to those who could afford a very expensive custom rifle. While that's still plenty light for most of the hunting most of us do, it is a bit hefty today as a pure mountain rifle goes. Wearing a Weaver 3-10X 40mm Grand Slam scope in the Talley two-piece mount, the Kimber Mountain Ascent I shot weighed precisely 5 pounds, 12 ounces on my postal scale. Add another half-pound for four cartridges and a lightweight sling and its hunt-ready weight is still inside 6.5 pounds. There was a time when any serious sheep hunter would have hocked the family farm for such a rifle.
The barrel has three deep lightening flutes that run along half its length.
Kimber further reduced the weight of the Mountain Ascent by lightening the bolt to 8.25 ounces by spiraled fluting on its body, three small cuts in the side of its extractor, three flutes on the shank of its bolt handle, and a hollowed knob.
A closer look at the bolt shows the spiraled fluting on its body.