By Mark Nelsen
One of the fun things about a bucket-list adventure is it typically takes a great deal of planning. In some cases, years of planning. Such was the case when my best friend and I opted for our lifelong bucket-list trip – chasing Dall’s sheep rams in the northern Brooks Range of Alaska.
We planned this hunt for years, and when we finally put down deposits and started making payments towards our dream hunt, we were still a few years out. That gave me plenty of time to plan, particularly when it came to what rifle I wanted to shoot, and more importantly, carry for 10 days in the mountains.
LIGHT WEIGHT AND PERFORMANCE
After a lot of research, I opted for Kimber’s Mountain Ascent Bolt-Action 84L Rifle. Weighing in around five pounds before optics, this rifle was the lightweight offering I craved for this hunt, and knowing I would use this rifle after the bucket-list hunt on regular elk hunts in the Rockies, I wanted something light. The Kimber fit the bill perfectly.
With light weight comes some sacrifices, but Kimber solves all those potential issues of recoil and accuracy in this package. It comes out of the box with sub-MOA accuracy with match-grade barrels, chambers and triggers. Pillar and glass bedding provides a firm frame while the Kevlar/carbon-fiber stock add to the overall weight reduction. The muzzle brake reduces felt recoil and is removable for those who prefer a non-brake barrel. The stock is equipped with a 1” Pachmyr Decelerator recoil pad, which helps absorb the shock of such a lightweight package.
One of the interesting things Kimber did in introducing this family of rifles is they matched the action sizes for the specific caliber (it’s available in five calibers – I chose .30-06). The Mountain Ascent has controlled round feeding, a Mauser-style claw extractor and a three-position, Winchester-Model-70-type wing safety. The trigger is fully adjustable but I’ve yet to feel the need to make any adjustments.
COOL CAMO STOCK
I chose the camo model in OptiFade Open Country Concealment pattern because I thought it was cool and it really gave the entire package a unique look. This rifle points and aims beautifully. It performed great with a variety of factory loads and I expected nothing less in the field.
IN THE FIELD
The Kimber was a dream to carry on the sheep hunt. When it was attached to my pack I really didn’t notice the added weight of a rifle, and I didn’t find myself constantly switching sides with the sling when hiking with the rifle on my shoulder.
Unfortunately, and a story for another time, the sheep hunt was a bust. However, I did get a chance later in the year to put the Kimber to a field test on a late-season elk hunt at Dismal River Club in Nebraska. Again, the rifle was a dream to carry, and performed as advertised on a mature bull taken with one shot.
I own a lot of rifles, but the Kimber Mountain Ascent 84L has a new favorite place in the front of the safe, as it’s now my go-to big-game rifle for ease of carry and shootability.