September 23, 2010
We stalked through the Namibian camelthorn bush on the spoor of an old eland bull when oval tracks the size of dinner plates appeared. With a sardonic grin, Jamey Traut of Eden Wildlife turned and said, "If you see a bush shaking and there is no wind, run€¦it's a rhino." The thought of a couple tons of armored gray death pounding down on us from point-blank range was less than welcomed. The lithe rifle in my sweating hands never felt so light and dainty and€¦inadequate. Inadequate for dangerous game that is, but more than adequate for about everything else.
Chambered in .30-06, Kimber's newest rifle--the 84L--had been proving itself time and again over the course of two weeks as one of the finest rifles I had ever had the pleasure of carrying through the African veld. It was light, beautiful, and felt as a hunter's rifle should. Put another way, it has a soul.
The first day out we spotted a bull gemsbok with a group of cows. He was long, heavy, and carried mass to the tips of his long, black spears. A stalk brought us within a long couple of hundred yards. Kneeling down, Traut whispered, "Can you make the shot?" I knew the rifle and was confident in its ability. At the range the gun had held minute of angle with Federal's 165-grain Trophy Tip Bonded Bear Claw. Easing over a termite mound, I settled the rifle, and when the bull turned broadside, I put a bullet through his heart.
The gemsbok was just a start. Over the course of the safari, the 84L racked up quite a record. Blue wildebeest, springbuck, waterbuck, two more gemsbok, a kudu, an enormous 1,600-pound eland, and a bull giraffe all fell to the rifle. While the list of one-shot kills impressed, in the end that is not what endeared the rifle to me--it was the journey, the ambience, and the adventure that it created. There are many rifles that could rack up the same black and white scorecard, but few that would do it with the same panache. Where the Kimber shines is in the shades of gray. As the mopane fire dies down to embers and the smoke lazily drifts toward the Southern Cross and a coat of oil is applied to the flat satin sheen of gunmetal is when the form that produces the function is truly appreciated. The wood meets metal like a tree grew around a strand of fencing wire; the stock lines are in perfect proportion and the checkering neatly executed. Combine these attributes with a natural balance and it makes for a rifle that is a pleasure to behold and a delight to carry€¦on any continent.