Kimber vs. Tikka
Hello all! I am a brand new member of this site, but not a new member to the shooting/hunting community. I have designed 5 wildcat cartridges and had a few other established ones custom built. I learned more about handloading than I care to mention in these endeavors, and I currently load for all of my rifles. I am a hunter, and do not do any recreational shooting. All of my rifles are bolt actions and I own a couple of shotguns for upland game.
Enough about me. I am writing to get your feedback on my latest decision. I came about a new Kimber 84M Hunter in 7mm-08. I have owned a couple of Kimbers before, and I experienced the same thing with both. 2 shots in, one out. I had heard Kimber was now offering a MOA guarantee, like Tikka and some others. I read positive reviews about the newer models, including the Hunter. It weighs 5.6 lbs, and only comes in stainless with a tan synthetic stock that is solid enough where it counts, and fades to hollow near the butt end. I got a good deal on this rifle, and decided I would give the American gun maker another chance. But when I received the rifle, it had the same issues as the previous two: The bolt flops and might fall open if bumped good the right way, even when loaded. The wing safety engages and disengages with a loud, audible “CLICK.” I acquired some Warne steel stainless bases and rings and a very good second hand Leupold VX-III scope in stainless in 3.5-10×40. I put the bases on, but never mounted the scope. Instead, I found a guy in AZ that owns a shop there that is willing to trade me the whole rig, unfired, for a new Tikka chambered in 260 Rem with stainless metal and the gray laminate stock. I have about $1091 in the Kimber, and he is offering the Tikka for sale for $789 with a Buy Now of $849.
I have owned 3 Tikkas. My first was an old Model 695? with heavy barrel chambered in .25-06, and it would drive tacks with the right load. My next was a .223 Hunter that would do likewise, and my last was a T3 Lite in 9.3×62, which was one of the hardest kicking guns I've ever shot (and that's saying something!) It would hold MOA with my selected bullet, but no more. The one thing I remember about all the Tikkas, is that they were all somewhat finicky about what they would and would not shoot.
So is this common with all Tikkas? I realize it is common with rifles in general, but some tend to shoot more of most anything than others. Even in custom rifles designed from the ground up, it is very common to have issues where the gun will simply not shoot your intended bullet or powder well enough for you to continue trying. In particular, what can you all tell me about the stainless laminate model I've picked out?
Finally, I get to the issue of weight. Or the lack of it. As to how it relates to one's ability to accurately place shots in the field. I've found that I tend to shoot better in the field (on target more often) with a little more weight. I've also noticed that too much weight has caused me to trade some very accurate rifles over the years and some very unique rifles at that. I feel the Kimber's 5.6 lbs soaking wet in gun oil and bore solvent isn't enough for me to consistently place shots out to 4 or 5 hundred yards. I typically do better with a rifle weighing from 7 – 8 pounds pre-scoped. I don't think the Tikka laminated is quite 7 pounds, but close.
Lastly, a 5.6 lb 7mm-08 can deliver a bit more recoil than one might suspect. I recall shooting the Remington 700 Titanium made a decade-and-a-half ago. It wasn't abusive, but not as pleasant as a 7mm-08 should have been. I think going down to the .260 Remington in a rifle a pound and a quarter heavier will mitigate much of the recoil I would have experienced with the Kimber. I also seem to get along quite well with all laminate stocks where form, function, and perceived recoil is concerned.
My hypotheses are that I will feel less recoil, I can shoot more accurately, the rifle will be less finicky and have a definite “sweet spot” where better inherent accuracy off the bench can be realized, the safety will be much quieter and easier to operate in the field, and the action won't flop open and unload itself or spook game rattling around through the woods.
I didn't have the extra scratch to hold onto the scope and just pay a difference on the rifle vs rifle trade (even though they are essentially the exact same retail price). I want to go with a 30mm 3-12X40 or x42mm with a slightly heavier crosshair anyway. I have it boxed up and ready to ship Monday morning.
Am I crazy by at least not trying the Kimber on the range? I was just so unimpressed with what I saw out of the box. It felt good in the hand, and lightweight for sure. But maybe too lightweight?? I just can't get passed the bolt flopping around in the action when in the closed position. Even with a round chambered. I can't imagine it would be particularly accurate, or even achieve their advertised MOA. The trigger was ok at just a gnat's hair under 4 lbs. LOP was good for me at 13.5″. I haven't handled but the 3 Tikkas so far. What I know is that all of them would out shoot either of the two Kimber's I've tried to date: a .308 and a .270 WSM. Even with custom ammo I handloaded. It's worth more to me to have a rifle I can depend on every time that costs slightly less than to have a big name rifle that I can't depend on all the time, even if it costs more. I knew once I fired the Kimber that my trade value would fall at least $100. I decided to cut my losses and go with a rifle I felt comfortable with, even though it was costing me $300 in the process. I had seen a Tikka identical to this one advertised for $850 when I bought the Kimber, and I felt $850 was a bit steep. I felt like I would be just as well off for less money ($679 for the Kimber) based on the reviews and new MOA guarantee. But when I put my hands on it, I couldn't convice myself it was going to be THE rifle based on what I observed.
Now, I also have a new Browning Western Hunter in 26 Nosler (also unfired) that I want to eventually use as my long range (400yds+) rig. I have also acquired a few heavier-for-caliber 6.5mm bullets to prepare to load for it. With the .260, I can use the same bullets for both rifles, conceivable saving a dime or two while adding a measure of convenience.
Let me sum up by saying that I hunt deer. Whitetail and perhaps an occasional mulie. I hunt primarily in the Eastern US, with an occasional excursion into the plains or mountain foothills area (did one moderately high mountain hunt – up to 9,000 ft- and can't do it again!). Does anyone see an issue I'll regret by going down from a 7mm-08 to a .260 Remington, first, and then does anyone see an issue I'll regret by going from the Kimber 84 Hunter at 5.6 lbs to the Tikka T3 stainless laminate at around 6.7 lbs (I think)?
This was the only guy willing to do a trade with me. Another guy asked me to send photos of the Kimber with rifle and mounts without scope in exchange for a Tikka .260 Hunter with blue metal and wood stock, but I didn't hear back from him. I'd be in the same boat needing another scope either way, so I decided to go with the nicer stock and stainless finish and lose a little more money. Selling the rifle and scope outright and then buying what I want is an option, but with today's market prices, I'd be doing darn good to get $800 for the complete rig. I suppose I could put it up on a 3-day auction with bids starting at $800 and see if I get a bite. Then I could save a whopping $20 if it's bid on. Kimber 84 Hunter's (L and M versions) are selling for around $600-$625 right now, if you find auctions with no reserve for new guns (and there are a few). I just paid $314 for the scope complete with Butler Creek flip up lens caps. I was the only bidder, so I am assuming the value of the scope today is around $250-$305. Scope mounts always seem to get devalued to nothing in gun trades. In actuality, they are about $60-$75 or more. Add all this up, and my likely bidding range is $850 – $1000. Hmmmm… sounds like I may have been a bit hasty. Maybe I'll offer it for sale, and then purchase the rifle outright and have a little left over to buy dies or a down payment on a decent scope (likely matte black- silver is about impossible to find in a quality scope today). Ok… on auction she goes… for 3 days! If no bites, I'll ship it off as planned. A lot of times with auctions, nobody wants to be the first to make a move. You can often entice people to bid, just by having the first bid pop up. Human nature is funny! Give me your thoughts and I will let you know what happens next week!
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