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Last summer I had a chance to spend several days wringing out a number of new guns from Kimber. I wasn’t surprised at the level of quality-Kimber has always had a good crew of hunting and shooting guys on board who are really fussy about what they offer and how it functions. But there were some nice surprises.

Varmint Models
In the prairie-dog fields, which were crawling with dogs, the new Model 84M in .22-250 ($1,001) proved deadly. Topped with one of Leupold’s precision-engineered 6.5-20x Vari-X III varmint scopes, 1/2-inch groups were accomplished using Winchester’s USA-brand 45-grain jacketed hollowpoint varmint loads (confirmed at about 3,950 fps on a chronograph). Even the standard wood (A-grade Claro walnut) on these rifles is gorgeous.

These guns feature a sporter-style stock with a heavy fluted barrel (a must when you’re trying to keep your barrel cool during long shooting sessions on dogs). The 84M in .22-250 weighs just 7 pounds, 5 ounces. Of the several guns I tried, all had super triggers-crisp and creepless. The Model 84M is also available in .308-a great choice if you don’t want to lug a heavy beanfield rifle to your deer stand. We also tried the new 84M Long Master VT ($1,122)-a heavier (10 pounds), bull-barreled version of this rifle in a laminated stock. This rig is designed strictly for shooting dogs off a bench, for which it is ideally suited. [pagebreak] Classic .22 Rifles
While I enjoyed shooting dogs with the .22-250 out to as far as I could see, the most fun I had was crawling into .22 range of a couple of hot spots and drilling dogs with Kimber’s Classic 22 ($1,085). Accuracy was incredible; we honestly shot dogs out to 150 yards using Winchester’s Power Point ammo and Leupold’s 4.5-14x Vari-X III scopes. Here again, beautiful wood, great triggers and classic styling, right down to the Mauser claw extractors, make these rifles a must buy. And for those looking for a classy gun to put under the tree for a young shooter, Kimber is making a Youth Model ($746).

Augusta Shotguns
The biggest news, however, is Kimber’s venture into the shotgun business with its new Augusta over/under line. I had a chance to shoot a couple of boxes of AA trap loads on hand traps with this gun and I found that it points beautifully.

We shot the field version ($4,500 to $5,000), but these guns are also available in sporting, trap and skeet models. Kimber is having these guns made in Brescia, Italy. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because that’s also where Beretta and Perazzi shotguns are made. And these guns reflect the Old World eye for fit and finish that Brescia is famous for.

The new Augustas have all the bells and whistles-Pachmayr pads, Hi-Viz sights, interchangeable choke tubes-and all are back-bored to .736. But what you’ll really like about these guns is their fit. They’re slim waisted, not clunky. The lines are elegant and sleek and the guns are well balanced. For now, all models are available only in 12-gauge. An Augusta in 20-gauge (or 28-) would be a grouse hunter’s dream.