Test: Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent – A specialized lightweight bolt-action rifle for mountain hunting

Trijicon 3-9x40 of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent
On the Mountain Ascent from Kimber the Trijicon 3-9x40 with Red Triangle reticle was used – an illuminated reticle with no batteries.

That Kimber can make more than just 1911s and revolvers should be well known by now. In addition, the US company from Yonkers, New York, started out with the manufacturing of rifles well before over the decades it gained an almost legendary reputation in the field of 1911s.

But also in other fields the Americans prove that they have it easy. For example, the Kimber Caprivi or the Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II. And now a new 84M rifle has landed on the all4hunters.com table: it's called "Mountain Ascent". 

Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent: first impression

When the rifle then came to our table, or rather into our hand, one thing was immediately noticeable: its light weight. Even with the Trijicon scope (3-9x40) mounted, you had the feeling of hardly holding anything in your hands. Including the optic, the Mountain Ascent just weighed under 6 lb /2700 g in .308 Winchester caliber (there are other calibers available for the Mountain Ascent, such as .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum or .280 Ackley Improved). Other people also picked up the rifle and were impressed by the weight. 

The camouflage pattern of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent 
The camouflage pattern of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent from the USA is called Optifade-Forrest-Country.

Another point that met with approval was the camo pattern. With its irregular patterns it reminds of the Dazzle pattern of World War I ships. Kimber calls this version Optifade-Forest-Country. It wraps around the Kevlar-Carbon stock. As you can already see from the stock material, Kimber has put everything under one motto with this gun: weight reduction. The recoil pad shows that, despite or because of this, even more attention was paid to other details. This pas at the rear end of the gun is up to 0.78”/2 cm thick to absorb the recoil impulse as much as possible. Another part of the gun – let's move forward now – is the muzzle brake, which is screwed onto the muzzle thread and can give way to a suppressor if necessary. This promised a docile shooting gun in the practical test, that's what the testers suspected at least.

The customary sling swivels are located below the rear stock and forend. The stock itself is slim and simple. No inlays or finger grooves, but the stock coating gives the shooter a good grip. The pistol grip itself is thin, so that the user can grip it comfortably. The match trigger can be adjusted and thus allows users to adapt it to their own needs.

The bolt of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent rifle
The Kimber rifle's bolt is stainless steel, fluted and has an extra long Mauser-type extractor, which has been skeletonized for weight reduction.

For the barrel, Kimber uses a thin stainless steel match version, which is fluted in the rear half. Stainless steel was also used for the receiver (including holes for scope mounting) and the bolt itself. The bolt is also fluted, as is the bolt handle stem. The system itself locks by means of two locking lugs and features a long claw extractor. The 84M is a short action rifle, designed for cartridges like the .308 Winchester. This reduces the overall length of the gun, saves more weight and facilitates safe cycling and cartridge feeding.

Trigger guard of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent 
Is there anything missing? A look in front of the trigger guard shows that where the magazine well should be, the Kimber Mountain Ascent has a continuous stock.

The Kimber Mountain Ascent has a three-position safety that helps you recognize where all the weight is missing – and something else. When the gun is set to "fire", you can see a red dot in a recess at the back of the lever above the bolt shroud. If you go to the half position, i.e. "Safe and chamber can be opened", you will see a recess at the base in front of the safety lever, in the next position, "Safe", you will see two of them. So instead of dots, they simply took out material. But you should put a drop of paint there, just to make it recognizable. Especially since the middle position is easily "skipped".

Illuminated dot of the Trijicon riflescope on the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent
Illuminated dot without battery: the Trijicon riflescope on the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent works like this.

If you are interested in which magazines you can use for this Kimber, you will be disappointed. The Mountain Ascent has no external magazine but only an internal 4-round magazine. In other words: if you turn the gun over, you will only see stock material in front of the trigger guard. 

Overall, the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent is a well thought-out, light and handy gun that has been trimmed to save weight. But the question remained unanswered: would that also mean compromising its shooting qualities? For the test we went to the SLG Niederweimar shooting range. The supplied scope in the form of the Trijicon 3-9x40 (Red Triangle) stayed in place, as it matched the rifle and does not require batteries for the illuminated reticle (keyword: tritium/fiber optic technology), which can be an advantage when stalking or mountain hunting.

Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent specs and price

Model:Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent
Price:2449 euro (price may vary in your country)
Caliber:.308 Winchester
Magazine Capacity:4+1
Overall Length:41.3/1.050 mm
Barrel Length:11”/560 mm
Twist Rate:1:12
Trigger Pull Weight:adjustable
Weight:77.6 oz/2.200 g
Left/Right Version:Right-hand version
Notes:bolt action rifle with muzzle brake, fluted match barrel, long Mauser-type extractor, adjustable match trigger

Kimber Mountain Ascent in .308 Winchester – The practical test

Internal magazine of the Mountain Ascent
There is room for 4 cartridges: the internal magazine of the Mountain Ascent.

The Kimber Mountain Ascent would then demonstrate its capabilities on the 100-meter range. For the loads, both leaded and lead-free bullets were used during the test. Bullet weights covered the range from 147 to 180 grains. In the test, however, none of them made it below the 0.78”/20 mm mark as far as the grouping diameter was concerned. But even the last place in the evaluation still showed a remarkable 1.25”/32 mm. The heavy RWS Uni Classic (180 grains) won with 0.82”/21 mm, ahead of the GECO Target FMJ with 0.86”/22 mm (147 grains) and the Hornady American Gunner BTHP (155 grains) with 0.94”/24 mm. It should also be mentioned that the velocities within the respective bullet weights were extremely consistent and only deviated from each other by a maximum of 15 meters per second. 

The gun itself was easier to shoot than initially expected by the testers – even more docile than expected in fact. There was a slight climb, but it went straight up. Grabbing the rifle a little harder can't hurt, however, as it soon turned out in order to be back on target quicker. There were no troubles. The Mountain Ascent fed each cartridge perfectly and ejected the case just as reliably. The trigger was great with a crisp break. Only the three-position safety could be a little tighter in the middle position.

What is the criticism of the muzzle brake on the Kimber?

The muzzle brake of the Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent rifle
The muzzle brake of the Mountain Ascent ensured smooth shooting – and a problem.

It can be said without hesitation that the rifle more than fulfilled the expectations placed in it. The low weight in combination with the caliber made the testers doubt whether everything would work. The whole system harmonized. The recoil pas absorbed the shock, the muzzle brake did its job and repeating went smoothly without any disturbances. One thing, however, stood out that we had never been seen before in any test. When shooting in, it was found that the gun began to get more "unsteady" as the number of shots increased. Solution of the riddle: the muzzle brake came off easily. Apparently, the hot gases gave this component a push, which in the end meant that you had to pull it back half or quarter a turn. This should be fixed. Apart from that, everything else was fine on the Mountain Ascent. 

Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent test conclusion

The Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent screams mountain game and hunting. Considering that the rifle has to be carried up and downhill for hours, hunters should be grateful for every gram they don't have to move – especially since the other equipment such as binoculars or rucksack or mountain stick is also included. And this is exactly where the Kimber rifle can show its strength. In terms of shooting behavior, thanks to the thick recoil pad and the brake, it's a modern alternative that delivers good results. The unusual bolt and camo pattern also make this rifle a real eye-catcher on every hunt. The missing removable magazine was one of the negative points. Because of the optics, loading was a bit difficult, as you had to maneuver the cartridges under the scope into the internal magazine. So it's nicer to simply insert a magazine from the outside. The price of over 2000 euro for this rifle resulted in nodding heads among the testers – it is definitely worth it. There was nothing to complain about the quality of the rifle, but a price just below the 2000 euro sound barrier would possibly be more sales-promoting for this Kimber hunting rifle, which so refreshingly stands out from the crowd.

For more information on the Mountain Ascent family of lightweight bolt action rifles please visit the Kimber website.

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