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kimber mountain ascent caza
Photo: Brian McCombie

The Kimber Mountain Ascent Caza combines lightweight trends with surprisingly moderate recoil. It’s an ideal rifle for the backcountry hunter.

Kimber America has made such a strong name for itself as a manufacturer of 1911 pistols that some people are surprised to discover the company also makes rifles. 

In fact, what we know today as Kimber America began life in 1979 as a rifle maker. Kimber didn’t even begin making handguns until the mid- to late-1990s. At the same time, the company continued to produce high-end rifles and in 2001 launched what would be its signature bolt action: the Model 84M that borrowed heavily from both the Mauser 98 and Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifles.

The 84M action is still the basis of Kimber America’s growing line of hunting rifles, including the gunmaker’s newest rifle, the Mountain Ascent Caza, debuted in April 2023 at the NRA Annual Meetings.

Kimber Mountain Ascent Caza Review

Note: As of yet, the Caza model isn’t available to purchase online. But you can look for dealers near you here.

About the Rifle

kimber mountain ascent caza

I received a Mountain Ascent Caza to test out, chambered in the workhorse 30-06 Springfield (Sprg.). It was a truly accurate rifle that lived up to its SUB-MOA accuracy guarantee, plus featured an amazing trigger, a very smooth action, and great looks.

The “Mountain” in the rifle’s name signifies the lightweight nature of these Caza. This is as nimble a rifle as a backcountry hunter would want strapped across his or her back when climbing steep slopes and hiking rugged terrain.  

The Caza I received weighed in at just five pounds, five ounces before I added a scope. That’s very light and, frankly, given the rather stout recoil of the 30-06 Sprg. cartridge, I expected a real kick! into my shoulder. The Caza recoiled solidly, but I’ve fired other 30-06 bolts that weighed three pounds more than the Caza and rocked back harder.

Kimber Mountain Ascent Caza in Action

Credit for that relatively moderate recoil begins with the Caza’s one-inch Pachmayr Decelerator butt pad. It absorbed! And the Caza’s radial muzzle brake provided a big assist, too, porting gasses up, down, and sideways for a smoother, more balanced push into the shoulder than muzzle brakes that only direct gasses to the sides. 

The Caza’s trigger was definitely match grade. Mine averaged two pounds, eight ounces of trigger pull, and there was no uptake in the trigger, no hesitation, and zero grind or grit. Squeeze and the trigger broke.   

Technically, my Caza had an 84L action, the “L” denoting that this rifle was chambered in a long-action caliber. The Kimber bolts feature a full-length Mauser-style claw extractor with its controlled-round feeding system, plus dual locking lugs.

The Caza held four rounds of ammunition loaded into an internal magazine (no floor plate). 

Would it be sub-MOA?

kimber mountain ascent caza rifle
Photo: Brian McCombie

Before I headed to my outdoor shooting range, I mounted a Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×50 rifle scope onto the Caza. The VX-6HD turned out to be an exceptional scope, with edge-to-edge clarity, very precise .25 MOA elevation and windage controls, and a handy side parallax adjustment. It also featured an illuminated reticle. 

The glare reduction coatings on the VX-6HD lenses really helped when I had the sun in my face during my shooting. I didn’t use it, but the VX-6HD also sported Leupold’s CDS-ZL2 ZeroLock® elevation dial, allowing a shooter to zero the elevation dial.The scope was secured by a pair of rock-solid Talley Manufacturing 30MM scope mounts.

For my accuracy testing, I ran four brands of 30-06 Sprg. hunting ammunition: Federal Premium Terminal Ascent, 175-grain bullet designed for longer-range hunting; Remington Premier, 150-grain Scirocco Bonded bullet; Sierra Gamechanger, 165-grain Tipped Game King bullet; and, Winchester Ballistic Silvertip, 165-grain poly-tipped bullet.

The Federal, Sierra, and Winchester all pegged three-shot groups of one-inch and under at 100 yards from a sandbagged rest. The Caza and the Sierra Gamechanger matched up best with the Sierra hitting groups of .75- and .76-inches, plus four shots at .82-inches.

Varied Performance with Changies in Ammo

Remington Scirocco’s top group came in at 1.25-inches. Yet, I also had groups where two shots came within an inch of each other, but one round would fly off three inches from my intended point of aim. I center-punched the bullseye once only to have the next shot hit four inches high.

Initially, I assumed the problem was me, yet I didn’t have this problem with the other brands of ammunition. Which isn’t necessarily a knock against the Remington Premier. Some rifles and certain brands of ammunition simply do not match up well, and the proof is in the inconsistent accuracy—inconsistency of the kind I experienced with this brand fired through this rifle. 

Four Shots = Hot Barrel

The Caza featured a 24-inch stainless-steel barrel manufactured in a slim, Sporter configuration. During my shooting, the barrel got very hot after four shots, not surprising given the barrel’s relatively narrow profile. And the hotter the barrel got, the wider my groups became.

That’s pretty much the norm with rifles, and I found myself frequently letting the rifle cool down for five to 10 minutes at a time. Which will not be a problem during actual hunting, where a shot or two is usually all a hunter gets.

The Caza’s safety was a Winchester Model 70-style wing-style safety. This type of safety has three positions versus the usual “Fire” and “Safe” system found on the majority of American hunting rifles. 

With the safety pushed all the way forward, the Caza was ready to fire. In the middle position, the trigger was disengaged but with the bolt still operable, so the rifle could be loaded or unloaded. At the rear-most position, the trigger was disengaged, and the bolt locked in place. 

The rifle’s composite stock was finished in a camouflage pattern designed by camo maker Pnuma. I liked the look of the green, brown, and gray pattern, which promised to blend in nicely no matter the vegetation. 

Kimber Mountain Ascent Caza: An Heirloom Quality Rifle

The Mountain Ascent Caza is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 270 Win. 308 Win., and 300 Win. Mag. Of note, the Casa in 6.5 Creedmoor weighs four pounds, 14 ounces, the 308 Win. version four pounds, 13 ounces. That’s lightweight!

The Mountain Ascent Caza is not inexpensive. But it is well made, accurate, and rugged, the kind of rifle a hunter passes down to his or her grandchildren, who eventually gift it to their children.

In a world where so much is made to be disposable and almost instantly out of fashion, Kimber America is making rifles like the Caza to last and that is a true success story.

SPECS: Kimber Mountain Ascent Caza

  • Action: Kimber 84L Bolt
  • Chambering: 30-06 Sprg. (As Tested)
  • Receiver: Stainless Steel
  • Stock: Reinforced Composite, Pnuma Finish, Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad
  • Barrel Type: Stainless Steel, Sporter Contour, KimPro II Black Finish, 1:10 Twist
  • Barrel Length: 24” 
  • Magazine: Internal, 4 Rounds 
  • Trigger: Match Grade, Factory Adjustable
  • Sights: None
  • Weight: 5 lbs., 5 oz. (As Tested)
  • Length: 45.25” w/Brake Installed 
  • Accessories: Radial Muzzle Brake, 3-position Wing-Style Safety, 3 Sling Studs (2 Front, 1 Rear), Kimber SUB-MOA Accuracy Guarantee
  • MSRP: $2,394
How To Apply for Hunting Tags Out West
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