Range Review: Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II

posted on August 15, 2018

If you are a Kimber fan, chances are you fall into one of two camps: you are a 1911 lover or you’ve used one or more of the company's hunting rifles.  Though Kimber is a strong player in both the handgun and sporting-rifle markets, it does venture into other product areas. One such outlier is the Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II rifle. SOC stands for “Special Operations Capable,” and the company certainly got the “capable” part correct. This rifle mates Kimber’s proven short action with a medium-heavy barrel and a folding, aluminum, chassis-style stock. The result is a compact and accurate package that is loaded with features.

Though this is a tactical-style rifle, its core is the action that has proven itself reliable in the hunting fields. Kimber’s action is a bit of a hybrid with a Remington-style round body that is simple to bed and a full-length, non-rotating extractor that gives it tremendous leverage when it comes to getting an empty case out of the chamber. Though often described as a “CRF” or Controlled-Round Feed action, Kimbers are actually push-feed actions that offer controlled extraction. The SOC feeds from a five-round AICS detachable-box magazine, which means that cartridges feed directly into the chamber rather than having to negotiate the angle of a staggered internal magazine, another reliability aid. Our test rifle didn’t like to feed reliably from a full magazine but, with four rounds, reliability was 100 percent.

The Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II uses an oversized “tactical” bolt knob, along with the standard three-position M70-style safety on the cocking piece. Forward is “fire”, the middle position is “safe” but allows the bolt to cycle and the third position locks the bolt. Our test rifle’s trigger broke at 3.25 pounds with no discernable creep, and Kimber’s triggers are adjustable, though they can be tricky for the novice to adjust. The pistol grip is an Ergo Grip, and any AR-style grip can be substituted with the removal of a single screw.

The Advanced Tactical SOC II is chambered in either .308 Win. or 6.5 Creedmoor, and our test rifle came in the latter. Both the action and barrel are made from stainless steel and treated wth Kimber’s matte black KimPro finish. The 22-inch barrel is of a medium-heavy profile that tapers from 1.15 inches at its midpoint to .835 inch nearest the threaded muzzle’s shoulder.  This barrel profile takes some doing to heat up, and its rigidity is no doubt a contributor to the rifle’s accuracy. Unlike some of Kimber’s extremely-lightweight hunting rifles, the SOC is heavy enough for true precision shooting. As mentioned, the barrel is threaded 5/8-24 TPI for the mounting of muzzle devices, including suppressors.

The barreled action is mated to an aluminum, chassis-style stock built by McRees Precision, a product that itself retails for $800. The Flat Dark Earth-anodized McRees G10 is a rigid but lightweight setup that offers numerous adjustment points, so the end-user can tune the stock in to their particular needs. A series of hex screws allow for length-of-pull adjustment as well as the ability to raise and lower the comb to accommodate various scope designs. The position of the front sling swivel/bipod stud on the Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II can also be adjusted to one of four locations threaded into the chassis. QD-style sling attachment points are located at various positions on the chassis and can easily accommodate right- or left-hand sling configurations.

A spring-loaded mechanism allows the buttstock to fold 180 degrees just behind the pistol grip. When folded, the stock is held positively and, when locked into the shooting position, there is zero wobble. A Picatinny-rail section is located just forward of the magazine to allow the rifle to be mounted to a tripod rest, and a second rail section bridges over the barrel and allows the mounting of thermal or night-vision devices forward of the “day scope." A patented bubble level milled into the tang of the chassis helps detect whether the rifle is canted, which can be a problem when shooting at long ranges.

There is a tendency at present to mount scopes for long-range shooting that resemble the Hubble Telescope but, on this compact rifle, we felt that doing so would compromise the package’s overall portability. With that in mind, we used a set of 30 mm Nightforce rings to mount a 2.5-10x32 mm NXS Compact to the factory-installed scope base. This is an incredibly capable scope in a small package that, unfortunately, has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II is ideal for suppressor use, so we direct-thread mounted a SilencerCo Omega to the rifle and used it throughout our testing.

With the comb adjusted and the included nylon stock pack attached, the SOC II was very comfortable both at the bench and in the prone position. Using Hornady’s 140-grain ELD-M Match load, it was immediately obvious that this was an extremely accurate rifle straight out of the box. The first round downrange landed in the white of the target, just outside of the black target ring.  Since I couldn’t see it through the 10X scope, I assumed that the second round went into the black. It wasn’t until the third shot enlarged the hole into a small cloverleaf that I realized what we were dealing with. The first three-shot group at 100 yards measured 0.20 inch, and the largest group recorded was 0.27 inch. I cannot recall testing a more accurate out-of-the-box rifle.

Just before beginning this test, I’d spent the morning installing a new MGM Steel target at 385 yards, which is the longest safe shot available on my personal range and was anxious to give it a proper initiation. This particular Nightforce optic uses .25 MOA adjustments, so I dialed the appropriate DOPE into the scope and assumed a prone position behind the rifle on a Harris bipod. A light breeze pushed my first two shots to 9 o’clock, so I made a correction that put the third round into the target’s center. Even with the windage correction, the group was no more than 3 inches across. The rifle performed with similar excellence throughout the balance of our time on the range.

This rifle weighs 11.5 pounds and, with the stock folded, is only 32 inches long, making it very portable. The SOC II could be easily stowed instead a pack when traversing in rough terrain and would fit easily among gear stowed in a vehicle. A very impressive coyote-brown, nylon soft case with pockets and MOLLE tabs galore is included with the rifle and is probably the nicest accessory I’ve seen from a big manufacturer.

The Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II is a capable and incredibly accurate rifle that, candidly, hasn’t received the attention that it deserves. No matter what you read, a rifle that shoots consistent 0.25-MOA groups with factory ammo is a rare bird. A rifle that combines that level of accuracy with the features of the SOC II is worth a serious look. The fact that Kimber hasn’t focused its attention on the tactical precision-rifle market is apparently no indication of its ability to produce great firearms of that genre.

Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II Specifications

Model: Advanced Tactical SOC II
Manufacturer: Kimber Manufacturing, Inc.
Website: kimberamerica.com
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor (Tested)
Action Type: Bolt-action
Capacity: 5-rounds, accepts AI-style magazines
Barrel: 22 inches stainless, threaded 5/8-24 TPI
Rifling: 4-groove 1-in-10-inch twist, right-hand 
Sights: Picatinny optics rail
Trigger: Single-stage adjustable, 3.25 pounds
Stock: McRees Precision G10 folding chassis-style
Length: 42.5 inches (Adjustable)
Weight: 11.5 pounds
MSRP: $2,449


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