VOLUME 58-----------APRIL 2007
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
April 5, 2007
I just returned Sunday evening from the 2007 In-Service Training session for Hunter Education instructors in Yakima, WA. This is an annual affair that is one alternative for keeping one's Certified Instructor Card current. The two day session drew well over 300 instructors this year, which is a record. Since some late comers had to be turned away for lack of room at the Clarion Hotel, next year's sessions will be held in the Yakima Convention Center, with overnight accommodations in two or more adjacent hotels.
I noticed this afternoon that I can see only one more pile of snow that hasn't succumbed to the slightly warmer temperatures. This snow is in a shaded spot where I plowed it into a pile behind the shop building. It's supposed to be in the 70's over the next few days, so hopefully everything will melt away and it'll dry up a little. I need to get some shootin' done, but, I'm finding as I get older and wiser, that it ain't as much fun shootin' in the snow and cold as it used to be!
Somehow we've managed to accumulate another rifle that we didn't really need. I've previously reported how the Winchester 1895 came to our gun safe, via the auction at the local 2006 NRA banquet. When we signed up for the 2007 banquet, I had no intention of spending too much money for a gun like I did in '06.
So much for good intentions! The second item up for bid in the live auction was a Kimber M84 bolt action chambered for the new .338 Federal cartridge. The rifle's floor plate is embellished with a gold NRA logo.
I say "new" cartridge only because it is just now legitimized by being chambered commercially. It's actually a "wildcat" that has been around in small numbers for years; the .338-08. This one, like the 7mm-08 Remington, .260 Remington, .358 Winchester, and .243 Winchester, is nothing more or less than the 7.62 NATO (aka .308 Winchester) with the neck sized to accept a different caliber bullet.
I suspect that several more bullet calibers have been tried in the venerable old military round, but these are the ones to my knowledge, that have made any kind of commercial debut.
Why Federal chose this combination to bear the Federal name, remains a mystery to me, but it may have some virtues. I'll get to that in a minute, but first I'll talk about the rifle.
Kimber is a New York company that manufactures firearms in their Younkers factory with the sales and distribution facility located in Kalispell, Montana. The company says they make and assemble every part "in house." In their words, "The only thing coming in through the gate is raw material, because there is no other way to ensure quality."
Kimber has been getting a lot of ink from gun writers lately, and their rifles were recently touted in a national magazine as one of the only mass produced American made firearms that rivals the quality and workmanship of the old "Rifleman's Rifle;" the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70. I can't personally attest to the qualities of the pre-'64 Model 70, 'cause I ain't got one. But, I can tell you that this little Kimber looks like "one fine piece of work!"
Now, back to the auction. Even though I had no intention of bidding on any guns, I was paying attention to the degree that I noted the opening bid was some $400 below the advertised retail price of this rifle, and stayed there in spite of the entreaties of the auctioneer. My decision to bid "only one time" resulted in a desultory wave of my bidder's card.
For some reason, at that very moment, all 300 people in the room developed a communal case of lockjaw and paralysis! In spite of the auctioneer's best efforts to the contrary, I had bought a gun! Since Little Heifer was sitting right beside me, I couldn't even prevaricate about the price I paid, nor could I hide it in the safe and pretend it didn't exist!
Only some brilliant, quick, and fancy thinkin' on my part prevented a potential barnacle on the hull of our sleek little speedboat of 45 year's marital bliss! It went something like this:
"Honey, the bolt handle on that thing is on the wrong side for me, and you shoot right handed. That .338 Federal cartridge is supposed to have mild recoil, yet launch a 200 + grain bullet at very respectable velocity. That little gun will make you an excellent elk, moose, and grizzly bear rifle as well as being ideal for medium sized African plains game!"
(The fact that neither of us is likely to actually go on a serious hunt for any of these creatures is completely and absolutely immaterial to this discussion - We're still married and I have suffered no seriously reduced privileges!)
Kimber Model 84M in .338 Federal
Kimber NRA Floorplate
No one has shot the Kimber at this point. It has no sights. I did order a set of bases and rings from Leupold, and they are on the bench awaiting installation. I am absolutely not procrastinating on this! The project will take some time as I plan to do a "how to" article on proper scope mounting for my next Outlook Magazine piece. This will require setting up the tripod and camera, and taking a meticulous approach to the process.
Come to think of it, it will also require removing the Leupold fixed 4X scope from Ann's 7MM-08, so it can be replaced with the Nikon Monarch 2-7X variable that was returned from the Nikon repair facility over a year ago, which will then free up the Leupold to go on the Kimber. That should fill up a rainy afternoon, sometime soon!
The other problem with shooting the rifle is lack of ammunition. While I haven't looked very hard, the only factory rounds I've seen are Federal Premium stuff with Barnes 185 grain TSX bullets at nearly $35 a box. I'm looking for the ATK loads with their new 200 grain "Fusion" bullets. I understand they are much cheaper, and I'll likely shoot only enough factory ammunition to obtain a decent supply of reloading brass anyway.
I'll report further on the Kimber project as it develops.
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a list posted on the wall at the Hauser Lake Gun Club. Even though the club is in north Idaho, I'm sure the advice has Missouri Hillbilly roots:
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you!
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!