Given the commitment that Kimber has made to provide law enforcement and civilian shooters with top-grade 1911 pistols for duty and defense, it was no surprise when Kimber announced it was entering the tactical rifle market in January 2007. The Yonkers gunmaker currently catalogs three rifles of this type: the M84 LPT (Light Police Tactical), made on the company’s Model 84 action, the Tactical and Advanced Tactical guns, both based on the larger Model 8400 action. All differ in weight, barrel length and stock options.
The top of the Kimber tactical line is the Advanced Tactical Rifle, a repeating bolt-action gun with a 24-inch heavy barrel and a McMillan A-5 stock. The rifle offers all the signature Kimber action features including a two-lug bolt, a Mauser-style non-rotating claw extractor, a mechanical blade ejector, a pivoting left-side bolt release and a recessed recoil lug between the receiver and barrel. Also retained is the Winchester 70-type three-position swinging safety lever located on the bolt shroud.
The Advanced Tactical Rifle utilizes Kimber’s bottom metal and feeds from a non-detachable 5-round steel box magazine. Emptying the magazine is accomplished by depressing a button inside the front of the triggerguard, which drops the hinged floorplate. This rifle also has Kimber’s gunsmith-adjustable trigger, which on my sample was set at 3 pounds.
Although similar in components and design to other models in the company’s long-gun line, the rifle also offers unique features for tactical shooters, such as an oversize tactical bolt knob and a steel 20-minute Picatinny scope rail mounted with 8-40 screws. The match-grade barrel features a tight match chamber, a recessed crown and a 1:12-inch twist.
The stock is the popular McMillan A-5 model in desert tan, fitted with an adjustable comb and length-of-pull spacers. The Advanced Tactical Rifle is further modified for tactical use through the addition of four flush-mounted quick-detachable mounting points for sling attachment. There’s two on the left side of the stock and two on the bottom of the stock. Accuracy is enhanced by both the glass bedding and a free-floating barrel.
Kimber’s KimPro II baked-on dark earth epoxy coating is applied to all metal parts. This finish not only protects the metal, but it makes the surface slicker, reducing friction on moving parts.
The Advanced Tactical Rifle can be purchased in two forms. There’s the basic rifle with a 20-minute scope rail attached and housed in a Hardigg Storm case, which can be had for $2497. For those who want a complete, ready-to-shoot package, the Advanced Tactical Kit can be added. This includes a Leupold Mark IV 3.5-10x40mm Long Range Tactical scope, anodized in a dark earth finish and mounted on the rail via Kimber rings, a Versa-Pod bipod and mounting hardware, a Seekonk 65 inch-pound torque wrench with bits for the stock screws and scope ring nuts, a Kimber field cleaning kit, a Kimber shooter’s log book and nylon sling. The Advanced Tactical Kit retails for $2575, making the price of the rifle plus kit $5072.
My Advanced Tactical Rifle was indeed ready to shoot as I discovered when I went to sight in at the range. The first shot out of a cold bore with Black Hills’ 175-grain Sierra MatchKing load was less than an inch from the point-of-aim, which certainly made zeroing easier. Preliminary accuracy testing was done with three factory match loads at 100 yards off the included Versa-Pod bipod. The best accuracy was achieved with the Black Hills 175-grain and Federal 168-grain MatchKing loads, followed closely by the Winchester’s 168-grain match load.
At longer range, however, the differences among the three loads became more pronounced. Conditions weren’t great for shooting at extended range, mostly due to gusting winds that precluded the firing of a large number of comparison groups. Nonetheless, I was able to do enough shooting to draw some conclusions.
Out of my test rifle with its 24-inch barrel, the Black Hills load with the 175-grain Sierra MatchKing was by far the most accurate at 1000 yards with three-shot groups (fired when the wind was relatively steady) approaching 1.25 minute-of-angle (MOA). I had no problem in hitting an IPSC silhouette target at that range, as long as I watched the wind flags, it had pretty good gun performance for firing off the ground from a bipod with factory fodder. Had I the benefit of a scope of 24x or greater and the use of a sturdy tripod rest and bench, I think that accuracy approaching 1 MOA at 1000 yards would be within reach.
I think that the Federal and Winchester loads did not fare nearly as well at nearly a kilometer, but that’s a reflection of the muzzle velocities of the two loads and the ballistic coefficients (BC) of their 168-grain projectiles, not the quality of the ammunition. While the 175-grain Sierra out of the Black Hills ammo is still rolling along at a respectable 1223 feet per second (fps) at 1000 yards, the 168-grain projectiles from the Federal and Winchester loads have dropped to 1088 and 1094 fps, respectively.
As many of you already know, strange things happen to bullets when they approach and pass through the velocity barrier separating the supersonic and subsonic ranges, about 1118 fps at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so staying supersonic is critical. Although I did not have the chance to shoot the gun at 600 or 800 yards, I suspect that the Federal and Winchester loads would have fared much better at those distances.
All in all, the Advanced Tactical performed well. There were no malfunctions of any kind. The bolt cycled smoothly and the trigger was crisp and light enough to make small groups possible and the stock fit me like a glove (I’m particularly fond of the A-5, which is, in my opinion, the finest tactical stock available).
The choice of a medium-heavy barrel rather than a heavier profile gave the gun better balance and facilitated field carry and it did not seem to diminish accuracy. The sharpness of the view through the Leupold Mark IV compensated a bit for the 10x maximum magnification. About all I’d suggest would be the option of a threaded muzzle for suppressor attachment and use of bottom metal allowing the use of detachable magazines.
The Kimber Advanced Tactical Rifle offers some features that are not seen in other rifles for military and law enforcement precision shooters, such as the non-rotating claw extractor, mechanical ejector (useful when spent cases can’t be left lying on the ground) and thoughtfully modified A-5 stock.
When the Advanced Tactical Kit is added, Kimber must be given credit for providing serious precision shooters with an integrated shooting system composed of top-quality components and backed by the reputation of a company occupying a preeminent position among American gunmakers. For those LE departments, military units or individuals seeking a complete tactical package, the Kimber Advanced Tactical is worth serious consideration.