Law enforcement agencies and officers have diverse needs when it comes to firearms. This is particularly true with rifles. If you lump all long guns into the rifle category, you have to include everything from the short, compact entry weapons to the long and heavy counter-sniper rifles. All these rifles are commonly referred to as tactical rifles, but their proper application and configuration can vary tremendously. Why does this matter?
When agencies—large and small—are selecting weapon systems, a lot of things can happen. It’s rare that the cop who will actually be using the weapon system will be the one who selects it. It’s just as rare that the officer will have any input in the selection process. In many cases, cost plays into the equation. Additionally, sometimes the administrative officers in charge of procurement are so far removed from the field that the tactical rifle they select may not meet the needs of the officer who ends up on the trigger.
When selecting a tactical bolt rifle for law enforcement use, application should be considered first. For example, an agency looking for an urban patrol rifle—a rifle that will be carried in a patrol car—might be best equipped with a rifle like Kimber’s Model 84M LPT. This is a lightweight, heavy-barreled rifle that can be had in .223 Remington. It should be just the ticket for a beat officer who might need to engage a shooter at a short to moderate range.
On the other hand, a patrol rifle used in a rural environment, where shots can be longer or where large animals like rogue black bears might be encountered, should probably be chambered for a more powerful cartridge. Remember the lions, tigers and bears that got loose near Zanesville, Ohio, in October 2011? I’d much rather have been armed with a .308 or even a .300 Win. Mag. as opposed to a .223 in that situation.
But the cartridge a tactical rifle is chambered for is not the only consideration. Patrol rifles should not be tremendously heavy. The basic premise of a patrol rifle is to provide street officers a lightweight, portable firearm that is more accurate and more powerful than their duty handgun. A patrol rifle might also be described as a compact hunting rifle. For what it’s worth, an iconic hunting rifle, the Winchester Model 94 in .30-30 Win., was quite popular for some time as a patrol rifle.
Aside from the entry-type weapons, which are usually compact, select-fire carbines, the other common police tactical rifle is the LE marksman or counter-sniper rifle. This is where the Kimber Model 8400 fits in the lineup. A counter-sniper rifle like this is designed to be used from a static position in a situation where extreme accuracy is needed to solve the problem. In addition to the ability to make a precise shot, the shot might need to be made through some sort of barrier. This is generally best accomplished with a .30-caliber bullet.
The point of all this is to illustrate that all tactical rifles are not equal. They should be selected based on how they might actually be applied in a real-world situation. Kimber understands these differences, which is why they offer six differently configured, tactical bolt guns. Cartridge choices in the line include the .223 Remington, .308 Winchester and the .300 Winchester Magnum. The six tactical rifles available from Kimber range in weight from 8 pounds to 10.5 pounds and the overall length of these rifles varies by more than 5 inches. Prices vary, too, from $1,495 to $2,651. Kimber’s Model 8400 Tactical falls right in the middle of this price range. The 8400 Tactical unquestionably falls into the sniper/counter-sniper classification as does the Kimber Model 8400 Police Tactical, which has the same retail price. So, which one should you choose and what’s the difference?