Well known for super-lightweight, accurate hunting rifles, Kimber has outdone itself with the new Hunter Pro Desolve Black.
Part II of III Lightweight Hunting Rifles
Story and Photos by Jason Brooks
Kimber is known for its extremely lightweight and accurate rifles. Machined to tight tolerances, assembled and completely built in the USA, Kimber rifles are carried into the backcountry each fall by hunters who want a rifle that shoots well but doesn’t weigh down the pack.
The Alabama company was founded in 1979 and has become an industry leader with a reputation for benchrest accuracy, comfort and quality construction of their firearms. For 2021, they added the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak to the Mountain series of rifles. It is one of the lightest production rifles on the market that is budget-friendly. This rifle is currently chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester and .280 Ackley Improved. The rifle is 41¼ inches overall and the Creedmoor and .308 versions weigh only 5 pounds, 7 ounces, while the .280 Ackley is 43¾ inches and 5 pounds, 12 ounces.
ACTION: The rifle is an 84M bolt-action that has tight tolerances and virtually no “slop” when you lift the bolt knob. It has a Mauser claw extractor and a three-position Model 70-style safety. Sliding the bolt both backwards and forwards is smooth, with virtually no lateral movement. The design of the bolt is to reduce weight; in fact, everything about this rifle is designed to reduce weight while maximizing the machined accuracy of the rifle to its fullest potential. At the top of the action are predrilled and tapped holes to mount the scope bases.
BARREL: The .280 Ackley Improved is a long action and comes with a 24-inch barrel, while the short-action .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor are available with a 22-inch barrel. All of the barrels are pencil-thin to reduce weight. Each rifle also comes with a muzzle brake that is threaded on and a thread protector if you choose to remove the brake. For me, the muzzle brake is a must when it comes to a super-lightweight rifle. The chamber is match-grade, making for an extremely accurate rifle, and the barrel is mounted with a pillar block that helps accuracy. It is guaranteed to have a sub-MOA right out of the box.
STOCK: The stock is fiber-reinforced polymer in Desolve Blak pattern, which is a digitized grey splatter that accents the rifle well. It is extremely lightweight and tough, resisting scratching and comfortable to grip. It also tends to be “non-slip,” which helps when you use a rest to shoot the rifle, as it grips the rifle and helps you hold it steady. The rifle comes with a 1-inch recoil pad and the total length of pull is 13.75 inches.
TRIGGER: When it comes to shooting a lightweight rifle accurately, one of the most influential factors is the trigger. Since the rifle is so light, any pressure on the rifle causes it to move and that decreases accuracy. Kimber knows this, which is why the factory trigger is adjustable. The assembly is easily removed and two set screws adjust the length of travel and the pull weight. When you get the rifle from the factory, it comes with the trigger pull set to between 3.5 and 4 pounds and no travel in the trigger. You can adjust this yourself if you feel the need, but be sure to stay within recommended tolerances. A quarter to half a turn on the set screw will lighten the trigger significantly, but I found it wasn’t necessary on this rifle.
SAFETY: Kimber uses a three-position Model 70-style safety. The safety locks forward once the rifle is fired, which is a reminder that the rifle has a spent case in the chamber. The three positions allow you to keep the rifle in the “safe” position and able to work the bolt to unload the rifle. It has a fairly large flange that is textured and is easy to use, even when wearing thick gloves for those late-season hunts.
MAGAZINE: Unlike Kimber’s Mountain Ascent series, the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak comes with a detachable box magazine. This is a nice bonus feature, as it is quick to unload and makes it easy to carry extra ammunition that’s ready to go in magazines. The magazines themselves are once again designed with weight in mind, as they are constructed of polymer and metal, and they hold three rounds of ammo.
MUZZLE BRAKE: Thankfully Kimber has made the muzzle brake part of the package instead of an add-on. This is an extremely lightweight rifle and recoil is not fun to shoot. But the muzzle brake takes a lot of the felt recoil out of the rifle. It does add to the increased noise and hearing protection is a must, even when hunting. If you decide you don’t want to use the muzzle brake, then you can simply unscrew it from the end of the barrel and put on the thread protector that is included.
The model I have is in 6.5 Creedmoor and though a muzzle brake isn’t necessary, it really helps stay on target for follow-up shots if needed. Even in this mild caliber, the rifle tends to jump a bit since it is so lightweight.
PERFORMANCE: Like my other Kimbers, and even a few other lightweight rifles I own, the Hunter
Pro Desolve Blak is made to be carried easily afield. One of the main differences between Kimber rifles and other rifles I own that are sub-6 pounds is the accuracy and increased ballistics.
The longer barrel that Kimber offers for such a light rifle allows the full potential of the cartridge. The length of the barrel has two main influences when it comes to accuracy and performance. The first is that the longer the barrel, the less “off center” the projectile is when it leaves the barrel if you happen to flinch or move just slightly. The second thing is pressure build-up. As a cartridge is fired and the powder burns, it creates an increased pressure of gasses that pushes the bullet down the barrel.
Once the bullet leaves the barrel, it is no longer being pushed. The more travel or time the bullet is in the barrel, the faster the bullet accelerates, which means the long barrel increases the bullet speed compared to a shorter barrel. With very tight machined tolerances, the long barrel, quality trigger and pillar bedding, the Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is guaranteed sub-MOA accuracy with quality commercial ammo.
THE TEST: Just like with any new rifle, the first thing I do is clean it. I remove the bolt and wipe it down with a solvent, run a few patches down the barrel and work the action once it is all assembled. This is an operational function testing to make sure everything is in working order. A Leupold VI in 3-9×40 matched the rifle and caliber very well. Three cartridges were loaded into the magazine and from there the rifle was placed on a shooting rest. The trigger didn’t need any adjusting and the rifle fired without issue. Cycling the 6.5 Creedmoor was relatively easy with no feeding problems occurring. Accuracy was better than I could shoot the rifle, meaning off of a bench and wearing proper safety equipment such as hearing protection and shooting glasses, the rifle shot extremely accurately. Replicating these conditions during hunting is impossible, but knowing the rifle shoots tight groups means that if I miss, then it is my fault and nothing to do with the rifle.
BOTTOM LINE: Kimber makes high-quality firearms and the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak, with a price point almost unheard of for a rifle built this well and lightweight, exceeds even their great gunmaking standards. Unlike other companies that produce dozens of rifles or more at a time, Kimber runs each rifle through tight tolerance inspections and it shows.
The rifle will not make a good whitetail “deer drive” gun, as it should be fired from a steady rest. And if you take the time to set up for the shot, you will know that the rifle is more than capable of making it count. For the backcountry hunter, this is one of the best and lightest rifles on the market today.