As more shooters gravitate towards long-range marksmanship and long-range hunting, manufacturers address these trends by developing new products. Kimber is one such company, which unveiled its Open Country rifle last year. It carries a list of features that make it ideal for both long-range shooting and hunting at almost any distance.
The primary interface between a shooter and a rifle is the stock. The stock on the Open Country is one of the best yet. It is made using carbon fiber, making it both strong and light. Many stocks on featherweight rifles will feel and sound hollow. They will also exhibit a muzzle-heavy bias due to almost no weight in the back end, making them feel heavier than they actually measure. Kimber’s Open Country stock has uniform weight distribution throughout and has a high-quality feel to it, while being very well balanced.
The Open Country stock is also full-sized with a length of pull of 13.7 inches. The comb is high and full, enabling a firm head placement behind the scope. The stock does not come with an adjustable comb, yet its drop is .43 inch. This means the stock does an admirable job keeping the shooter’s head high enough to see through the scope without requiring an adjustable comb and the additional weight of a cheekpiece.
The stock has two aluminum pillars that surround the action screws inside the stock. The pillar’s bedding ensures the action doesn’t crush down inside the carbon fiber from over tightening, forcing the internal magazine to bind and create feeding issues.
The action is not glass-bedded in the stock, but we observed no action movement while removing the action screw. Action movement during screw removal indicates the rifle would benefit from glass-bedding because the stock doesn’t provide complete and full contact with the action. G&A’s test rifle would benefit very little from glass-bedding, as the accuracy table shows.
The Open Country feeds from an internal magazine that had no issues during testing. Kimber’s website states the rifle holds “four” rounds in the magazine, but we found that five rounds fit comfortably inside our rifle without causing the bolt to bind. All five rounds fed reliably every time.
The stock’s full-length forend is an endearing feature when shooting under field conditions. Plenty of forend allows the shooter to use all available rests to help stabilize the rifle. As forends shorten (usually to cut weight), it gets harder for the shooter to stay behind the rifle and support the forend without also mashing themselves up against the field rest.
The forend is wide and flattens out on the bottom. That flat surface on the bottom of the forend greatly helps the shooter stabilize the rifle when resting the forend on most solid objects. The rifle is much less prone to wobble back and forth, especially if the shooter can stuff a glove or jacket between the forend and solid rest.
The forend tip has two sling swivel studs, another boon to field shooting. The stud closest to the floorplate hosts the sling and allows for comfortable carry afield. The second swivel closer the forend’s tip is for a bipod.
We typically carry a bipod with removable leg extensions that allow for shooting from both the prone and seated positions. The ability to leave the bipod attached while hunting and still retain the ability to throw the rifle over your shoulder for slinged carry makes hours in the field much more comfortable.
Kimber is the only rifle company of which we are aware of that has action bodies sized to accommodate both cartridge length and diameter. The 84-series actions are for cartridges with .473-inch-sized case heads and the 8400-series actions are for cartridges with .532-inch-sized case heads. The 84M is for medium-length cartridges (anything .308 Winchester-length) and the 84L is for .30-’06-length cartridges.
The Open Country is currently only available with the 84M action and is chambered in either .308 Winchester or 6.5 Creedmoor. The 84M action has just enough mass and weight to handle the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge that our test rifle hosted. This helps to keep weight down by eliminating as much steel as possible.
There are four 8-40 screw holes in the top of the receiver to host a wide variety of scope mounts. The test rifle received a continuous-section of Picatinny rail allowing us to mount a Leupold VX-3i LRP 6.5-20x50mm scope on top.
Screw size for scope bases comes up on occasion and the 8-40 screws as featured on the Open Country are preferred. The smaller 6-48s work just fine for most applications and only have trouble when very light rifles used to shoot long-action cartridges host heavy scopes. The heavy recoil from the light rifle means it accelerates quickly to the rear while trying to drag a heavy and inertia-laden scope with it. The four screws are all that carry the load and small ones will strip from time to time. Kimber is aware of this and consequently uses 8-40 screws.
The 84M action is a perennial favorite. The most prominent action feature is the large external claw extractor design of the Mauser M98. The 84M’s claw extractor utilizes controlled round feed (CRF), ensuring that the moment the cartridge leaves the internal magazine it is held snugly against the bolt face until seated in the chamber. Unlike the original Mauser design, the extractor’s edge has a nice bevel that allows the shooter to drop cartridges into the open action and then close the action without damaging the extractor. The bevel allows the extractor to slip easily over the top-loaded cartridge’s case head.
The 84M ejector is also a solid and slender piece of steel that extends along the lower half of the bolt body. As the bolt travels rearward, the ejector moves up into place where the rearward movement of the bolt pulls the fired cartridge into contact with the ejector. Done quickly, an empty case goes flying. A more sedate pace of working the bolt will drop spent cases right next to the rifle.
The safety on the 84M is tough to beat. Based on the Winchester Model 70 design, it sits on the back of the bolt shroud and controls movement of the firing pin instead of trying to manage the trigger’s sear. Since movement of the firing pin is the only way for a rifle to fire, focusing a safety’s efforts there is always wise. The first position is off safe, the second position pulls the pin away from the chamber and the third position secures the firing pin while locking the bolt closed.
The barrel Kimber puts on the Open Country has a heavy contour, but uses deep flutes to trim weight. The combination might sound contradictory, but the contour does an excellent job of putting steel around the chamber where throat erosion occurs. Placing this amount of steel around and just in front of the chamber allows the barrel to absorb throat-destroying heat quickly, mitigating the damaging effects of that heat. The flutes forward of the throat are where Kimber removed a significant amount of weight.
Maintaining the heavy contour for the barrel’s length means that the threaded muzzle has a massive shoulder to support muzzle devices and suppressors. Barrels with light contours don’t offer much of a shoulder to butt-up against, so muzzle devices and suppressors can damage or be damaged by the end of a lightly contoured barrel. The Open Country is a rifle that doesn’t suffer from this issue.
Kimber’s Open Country is a rifle that is meant to be shot just as much as it is carried. Rifles & Glass Columnist Tom Beckstrand spent several days on a summer axis deer hunt in Hawaii to evaluate the Open Country. It performed beautifully.