It could be said that the design for the Kimber 8400 Patrol has its roots in the field of law enforcement marksmanship, where officers require rifles that are durable, accurate and transportable. It was the latter quality that required the shortening of the typical marksman’s rifle to make it easier to access and deploy from a vehicle. The product of Kimber’s engineering is a .308 Win.-chambered rifle that is short enough to transport—only 39½ inches overall—sufficiently rugged for duty use, and pinpoint accurate to make the tough shots. The same characteristics make the rifle suitable for hunting and competition.
Kimber’s primary challenge with the 8400 Patrol was shortening the rifle’s overall length while maintaining performance. Because the length reductions came primarily from the barrel, we will begin our analysis there. Previous iterations of Kimber bolt guns utilized barrel lengths of 18 inches to 26 inches, though the most common was 24 inches. The 8400 Patrol comes in on the shorter side of that scale with a 20-inch match-grade barrel. The Patrol has a bull barrel, which means the diameter of the barrel does not taper toward the muzzle, as is common in sporting arms. This design yields a heavier barrel, but one that possesses harmonic qualities that combat accuracy-eroding vibrations common in lighter-barreled guns. Flutes in the barrel reduce weight and provide additional surface area for heat dissipation.
Another interesting feature is the 8400 Patrol’s muzzle crown, which is significantly recessed—about 1/16 of an inch, a useful attribute that protects the rifling. Prior to testing, the loss of velocity, and therefore energy, experienced by abbreviated barrels was a concern. Over the chronograph, however, the three loads tested averaged only 82-fps below their advertised velocities. This drop is nearly imperceptible for all but the longest of shots, and shooters should experience no decline in performance, especially when shooting at less than 400 yards.
Moving on, the rifle’s receiver is drilled and tapped and topped with a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. The tried-and-true Kimber action accomplishes lock-up with dual-opposed lugs, and the fluted bolt has a full-length claw extractor. Other features on the bolt include an oversized bolt handle—straight arm with a conical knob that is nearly 1 inch in diameter at the base—and a Winchester Model 70-style three-position wing safety: the forward position reveals a red dot and allows the bolt to operate and the gun to fire; the central station allows the bolt to be operated but prevents sear engagement; and the rear position locks the bolt in battery. The action draws from an integral five-round magazine that uses a folded flat spring and polymer follower. The release lever for the magazine’s hinged floorplate is integrated into the front of the trigger guard.
The trigger has a clean pull with no takeup or overtravel. Though Kimber advertises that the trigger is factory-set to about 3 pounds, 8 ounces, our sample broke at around 4 pounds, which is certainly acceptable and probably preferable to a lighter trigger. It is important to note that though the Model 8400 rifles possess an adjustable trigger, this may be a bit of a misnomer as the owner’s manual cautions that “Only experienced Kimber gunsmiths should adjust the trigger mechanism.”
The Patrol’s stock is laminated wood with a black epoxy finish that, combined with the blued metal, gives the gun a very professional appearance. As well, the finish has a rough, though not abrasive, texture that improves purchase.
Accuracy is also aided by the pillar- and glass-bedding system which, typical of Kimber rifles, we found to be very clean and smooth, seating the action flush against the stock. Additionally, there were no contact points between the fore-end and the free-floated barrel that might compromise accuracy, and the spacing between the two was uniform from side to side. The bottom of the fore-end has two swivel studs, and there is a third on the buttstock, allowing for attachment of a sling as well as a bipod. Finally, the 8400 Patrol features a 1-inch-thick Pachmyr Decelerator pad that, in conjunction with the rifle’s 8-pound, 8-ounce overall weight, softens felt recoil to a very manageable level.
During the range evaluation the rifle performed flawlessly. We topped the 8400 with a Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30X 50 mm scope and evaluated three brands of .308 Win. ammunition—DoubleTap, Hornady Superformance Match and Nosler Custom—for accuracy and velocity. As previously noted, velocities were just below those advertised, though the ammunition from DoubleTap, a company well known for increased-velocity loads, had the top speed, averaging 2,808 fps. All three brands posted impressive groups, but the Nosler load was the most accurate with five consecutive, five-shot groups averaging 0.85 inches at 100 yards, and among those was the smallest group of the evaluation measured only 0.50 inch. Our evaluators agree that given the right ammunition, the Kimber Patrol is certainly capable of consistent 1/2- to 3/4-m.o.a. accuracy.
In the final analysis, evaluators were very impressed by the Kimber 8400 Patrol’s quality, accuracy and utilitarianism. Kimber obviously has known how to make durable, accurate rifles for some time. The company is well suited to apply its knowledge and manufacturing skill to create a purpose-built duty rifle capable of life-saving accuracy and rugged enough for life on the beat. It is no surprise that many sportsmen, competitors and enthusiasts have made this their rifle of choice. The Kimber 8400 Patrol epitomizes attention to detail and stands as a testament to a company applying its expertise to the creation of an excellent product.
Manufacturer: Kimber Mfg. Inc.; (888) 243-4522; www.kimberamerica.com