Wildcat Tamed

The .280 Ackley improved meets the Kimber Classic Select.

It is a marriage made in heaven. When Kimber recently decided to chamber the remarkable performing .280 Ackley Improved cartridge in their lightweight Model 84L rifle, designed for the .30-06 family of cartridges, they gave us a versatile 7mm powerhouse that treads on the 7mm Remington Magnum without the magnum’s shove and boom. For most big game hunting situations, the Kimber-Ackley combination is hard to beat.

Making its debut in 2010, the Kimber Model 84L, “L” standing for “Long,” is the most petite and scaled-down production rifle I’ve ever handled. In spite of its flea weight running from 5 pounds, 10 ounces in the synthetic stocked Montana model to 6 pounds, 2 ounces in the Classic Select Grade, the 84L has proved to be an extremely comfortable rifle to shoot, even with the heaviest of bullets and handloads. The Classic Select Grade, pictured here, stocked in French walnut with an ebony fore-end tip, a steel pistol grip cap and a black 1″ Pachmayr Decelerator pad is an elegant, custom-class firearm indeed.

Kimber’s designers are the true minimalists of the firearms trade. For example, the diameter of the front ring of a Remington Model 700 or a Winchester Model 70 runs about 1.355″, while Kimber slimmed theirs down to 1.140″. Remington and Winchester bolt diameters are approximately 0.693″, while Kimber’s measures only 0.585″. I compared the weight of a standard Model ’98 Mauser bolt to that of a Model 84L. The Model ’98 bolt weighs in at 16 ounces on my Sunbeam scale. The Kimber bolt weighs only 10 ounces. The Kimber bolt is so dainty it looks like it belongs on a .223 Rem rather than on a .30-06. In fact, the overall styling of the bolt for the Model 84L reminds me very much of that of a pre-’64 Model 70.

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. 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.

The receiver is mated to a free-floated, pillar-bedded, match grade barrel 24″ long to extract all the ballistic potential the .280 Ackley Improved chambering can offer in a lightweight sporter, the action is slick and tight. Its feeding from the 5-round magazine of the Classic Select Grade is positive as is its ejection cycle which is handled by a blade ejector operating through a slot offset in the bolt face from the locking lugs.

As a final touch, Kimber supplies 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.

Offered originally in .30-06, .270 Win and .25-06 Rem, the Kimber 84L is now offered in one of the most efficient wildcats ever designed, the .280 Ackley Improved. Well, it was a wildcat until Nosler recently tamed it commercially via SAAMI and now offers an outstanding line of loaded ammunition and brass for the fine caliber.
By Holt Bodinson
Photos By Joseph R. Novelozo

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