Almost two years ago, I decided I needed a new hunting rifle. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I did know I needed something I truly liked and would want to pick up and shoot years from now. My number one requirement was that I wanted something lightweight and easy to carry, for the numerous reasons of simply making a long walk or hike easier. Additionally, most women do not have the upper body strength that our male counterparts normally possess. While not exactly limiting, per se, there is no reason to create unnecessary muscle fatigue when hunting, particularly when accuracy can mean the difference between life and death.
After looking and looking and looking some more, I had my search narrowed down to two similar rifles. Ultimately, I chose the Kimber 8400 in .300 WSM.
|Kimber 8400 WSM|
My Initial Impressions:
1) It was lightweight, easy to carry and easy to shoulder.
2) I loved the gorgeous walnut stock.
3)The bolt action was remarkably smooth and the 3 position safety was classic, yet functional.
Actual Selling Points (why I forked over the cash and took it home):
1) Lightweight - 6 lbs, 10 oz, and the weight was evenly distributed. Many of the other "lightweight” rifles that I handled were noticeably front heavy. I appreciated the balanced feel, making it that much easier to shoulder and handle.
2) Classic look and beautiful walnut stock - Frankly, I am a woman and I love pretty things... this goes for guns too. The nicer the stock and overall composition, the more I am inherently attracted to it. The traditional look only helped to solidify my initial impressions.
3) Mauser-style, controlled-round feed, bolt action - High degree of reliability in chambering and extracting.
4) Adjustable trigger pull - Just one more way for customization.
The 8400 actually comes in a variety of calibers, but I chose the .300 WSM cartridge because of its efficiency, while still being able to provide magnum capabilities. The versatility of the cartridge also allows it to be custom loaded to less than punishing recoil levels, which the magnum designation is well-known for. Additionally, the 30 caliber offers numerous choices of bullet styles and weights, allowing for more customization to specific needs and wants.
|.300 WSM Custom Loads|
I also chose the .300 WSM because of the initial responses from several salesmen, hunters, and other wanna-be know-it-alls; they all remarked that the .300 WSM would be a bit much for a woman, referring to the punishing recoil levels mentioned above. Few things can finalize my decision-making process quite like being told I should not or cannot do something. I will ultimately go out of my way to prove you wrong.
I chose to top my 8400 off with a VX-2, 3-9x40mm Leupold scope (an older model) and I have been pleasantly pleased with the final result. Like I discussed before, the .300 WSM provides a great deal of versatility, especially when it comes to custom reload options. In fact, the only ammunition that has been through the rifle are custom hand loads, derived from a manufacturer’s published starting formula for a 150 grain bullet. I was delighted to find that the recoil was less than expected, yet remained effective. In fact, the starting loads produced velocities of 2800 ft per second, comparable to my favorite (and proven) .308 Winchester load at 2600 ft per second.