Top quality U.S.-made smallbore target rifles have been a scarce commodity for many years. Winchester decided in the late 1970s that annual sales of the legendary Model 52 target gun, seldom numbering in the hundreds, were insufficient to justify continued production.
Since then the 40X rifles made in Remington's custom shop have been the only smallbore guns made by a major U.S. manufacturer. German makers, especially Anschutz, have dominated the field. Most U.S. manufacturers have abandoned the smallbore target rifle, but a government contract helped Kimber.
With the help of a big U.S. government contract, Kimber of Oregon has set out to change the situation. The firm won a contract to make 20,000.22 rimfire target rifles, all capable of firing .700" or smaller groups at 50 yds. with target ammunition.
With completion of government deliveries near, Kimber now is offering the gun to the civilian market. This rifle differs from the military version only in that the sight set is an optional accessory that most smallbore shooters will, no doubt, want to order with the rifle.
The loading platform of the singleshot Model 82 is inserted in the receiver and incorporates the ejector. The action is securely fastened to the stock by a pair of heavy screws; one through the rear of the steel trigger guard into the rear tang and the other through the handstop rail into the recoil lug. The recoil lug is dovetailed to the receiver, which is grooved to accept the rear sight.
Most of the Australian-made rear sight components are steel, with the housing and mounting bar made of a non-ferrous alloy. The mounting base secures to the corresponding receiver dovetail with two heavy clamping screws. The entire mounting system appears abundantly secure and allows the sight to be removed and reinstalled with minimal impact change.
The adjustment knobs are heavily grooved for easy turning and are located at the top and left side of the sight. Each is clearly marked for direction and scale, allowing easy return to any previous setting. The adjustments are faithful to their claimed 1/5 minute of angle (m.o.a.) increments. No backlash was n6ted.
The front sight is of the standard globe type and is made of a non-ferrous alloy. The 10 interchangeable inserts and the screw-in sight face and back are steel. The three post sizes and seven apertures that make up the front sight insert set seem adequate for shooting at most ranges and under varying light conditions.
The safety lever is typical of Kimber sporting .22s and is "rolled" on and off to positive stops. It cannot be applied unless the action is cocked. The bolt handle is not locked when the safety is applied.
The trigger assembly is fully adjustable for weight of pull, overall travel and sear engagement. The manufacturer cautions against making adjustments before reading and understanding the pertinent instructions; and then that adjustment be undertaken only by an experienced gunsmith or armorer.
The three trigger adjusting screws (accessible after the barrelled action has been removed from the stock) are each provided with two locking screws. An inspection port allows viewing of the sear/trigger engagement.
The instruction book states that rifles are shipped with triggers adjusted to a pull weight between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs., and that the trigger should not be adjusted to less than 2 lbs. Notwithstanding all that, the sample rifle tested at a very crisp 3 lbs., and no further adjustment was deemed necessary.
The instructions further state that the rifle should not be dry-fired, but it may be uncocked by holding the trigger to the rear as the bolt is closed.
The cylindrical 25" barrel, factoryfitted with three sight bases (for scope mounts and the front sight) has a diameter of .928". It has a 1 in 16" righthand twist and is completely freefloated.
The manufacturer warns against the use of all types of Short, Long or hypervelocity cartridges.
Three buttstock spacers allow the length of pull to be adjusted between 117/8" and 133/8". The fore-end's accessory rail accepts the factory-supplied round hand stop.
Fit and finish were in keeping with other target arms in this price range. All metal parts were well polished and nicely blued. The walnut stock had some visible figure and a low-luster finish. There were a few extremely small bubbles in the stock finish that could easily be compounded out.
The Kimber Model 82 was fired for accuracy, with results shown in the accompanying table, and function-fired with a variety of ammunition. There were no failures of any kind, and accuracy results showed the Kimber test rifle capable of staying within the 10ring of the 50-yd. and 50-meter targets used in conventional smallbore competition.