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I decided I wanted to keep things simple for my 2023 African safari and went with two classic cartridges I knew would work—the 308 Win and 375 H&H Magnum. For buffalo, I wanted a traditionally-styled rifle, and I prefer the bolt action to the double because I know how to run one well and because of the increased capacity. I asked Kimber to loan me rifles chambered for both cartridges, and the 375 I selected was their Caprivi model.
Kimber offers two 375s. One is the stainless-steel, synthetic-stocked Talkeetna, which retails for $2,312. The other is the Caprivi, which is essentially the same rifle with a nice wood stock, carbon steel, and a higher price tag. You can’t look at the Kimber Caprivi and not imagine trekking mile after mile over the red dirt as you follow the track of a buffalo. It has an intrinsic appeal, and it’s just a damned good-looking rifle. Here’s how it performed on the range and in the field in Africa.
Kimber Caprivi Specifications
- Manufacturer: Kimber America
- Model: Caprivi
- Chambering: 375 H&H Magnum
- Barrel: 24-inch magnum contour
- Action: 8400 Magnum, Mauser-style
- Stock: Hand-rubbed AA-Walnut
- Sights: Ramped, hooded front, island-style three-leaf rear
- Finish: Matte black
- Trigger: User adjustable (3.2 pounds as tested)
- Safety: Bolt-mounted, bolt-locking, three-position
- Capacity: 4+1
- Price: $3,648
The Kimber 8400 Action
The Kimber Caprivi uses the Kimber 8400 controlled round feed (CRF) action. Many consider a CRF action mandatory for dangerous game. To each their own, but if you can operate a well-designed and well-made bolt-action of either the CRF or push feed (PF) design it really doesn’t matter. Some however believe if you short-stroke a PF action it will double feed. Actually, the “short stroke” term comes from operating CRF actions improperly. With a CRF action, if you fail to pull the bolt to the rear to the point the ejector engages the cartridge or empty case coming from the chamber—but to where the bolt face is behind the rim of the cartridge in the magazine box—and then push it forward, it will create a hellacious double feed. If you fail to fully cycle, close the bolt, and then try to cycle a PF action again, it too can deliver a double feed.
The key to the proper design of a CRF action is to have the tip of the ejector forward of the rim of the cartridge in the magazine box. If made this way, you cannot double-feed a CRF action. Many CRF-style rifles, including the Winchester model 70, do not conform with this design concept. The smooth CRF-styled action of the Kimber Caprivi however comes very close. If the cartridges in the magazine box do not slip forward under recoil, they cannot be double-fed. And, even if they do slip forward, your margin for error is less than 1/8th of an inch.
Another feature of true CRF actions that makes them less than ideal for dangerous game is that they must be fed from the magazine box. With the CRF-styled Kimber 8400 Magnum action, you can just drop a cartridge into the ejection port and close the bolt. If a buffalo is headed your way this is infinitely faster than loading the cartridge in the magazine box first. Ammo management is critical when dangerous game hunting. It’s one reason I chose the Kimber, and it’s also why I installed a Versacarry Ammocaddy on the rifle’s stock.
The Caprivi is fitted with a magnum contour 24-inch barrel outfitted with a ramped and hooded front sight and a three-leaf island express-style sight. This is a heavy barrel that tapers from 1.25 inches at the front of the action to 0.69 at the muzzle. It’s also fitted with a barrel band about eight inches from the muzzle. The 24-inch barrel allowed me to extract a lot of velocity from the 235-grain Buffalo Bore TSX load. Advertised at 2,950 fps, it averaged 3,001 fps out of the Caprivi.
However, I don’t like a 24-inch barrel on a dangerous game rifle. While hunting in the Eastern Cape, we had to negotiate some thick creek bottoms, and I’d have much preferred a shorter barrel. This might have slightly reduced velocity, but with the Buffalo Bore load, it wouldn’t have mattered. On the other hand, if this rifle were your one-gun solution for Africa—and it’s totally capable of filling that roll—the 24-inch barrel might be appreciated. It gave some muzzle heaviness to the rifle, which can aid in off-hand shooting.
The Kimber Caprivi Stock
The rifle is fitted with a hand-rubbed, AA-grade walnut stock. It’s not overly extravagant, but with good figure, an ebony forend tip, finely executed checkering, a comfortable cheekpiece, and a steel grip cap, I’d rate it as better than you’re average walnut stock. Fit and finish are very good, and the two stock bolts and inlaid rear sling swivel give the rifle that classic safari look.
If I was going to complain about the stock, my main grievance would be about the barrel. I like to be able to loop up tightly in a sling, and with the sling attached to the barrel as opposed to the stock, you can experience a point of impact shift when doing this. A forward sling swivel would have been appreciated, though I know some worry a hard-kicking rifle will drive a sling swivel stud into your support hand during recoil. That’s true, but not if you hold on to the damn thing like you ought to. And 375 H&H recoil is not all that violent, especially in a nine-pound rifle.
Other Details on the Kimber Caprivi
One thing I really like about this rifle is how the three-position safety locks the bolt in the safe position. This prevents it from accidentally being pried open by a branch when walking, and it ensures that when you move the safety to the fire position the bolt is fully closed and the rifle is in battery and ready to fire. Also, both action screws have steel sleeves/pillars, and the recoil lug is fully bedded, illustrating that there was some handwork that went into the final assembly.
The trigger mechanism is fully enclosed and adjustable. According to specifications it’s set at between 3.5 to 4.0 pounds at the factory. On my Timney trigger scale, it broke very consistently and crisp at 3.2 pounds with just an infinitesimal amount of take-up. It’s a good trigger. The only things I added to the rifle were the Swarovski Z8i 1-8X24 riflescope in a set of Talley lightweight rings, a Versacarry Ammocaddy, and the Galco RifleMann sling I use on almost every rifle I own.
How the Caprivi Performed on the Range and in the Field
This is not a range rifle. Yes, for a dangerous game rifle, you should practice with it on the range, but this is a field rifle, designed to be relied upon when you’re shooting at critters that might take a notion to stomp the fully and partially digested food right out of your body. Still, three-shot groups from the bench at 100 yards with the Buffalo Bore load averaged right at an inch.
Fully loaded, and with the Swarovski Z8i riflescope attached, the rifle weighed 10.5 pounds. That’s a heavy rifle to carry around. However, that weight helped tame the supercharged Buffalo Bore ammo. The rifle was not overly offensive even off the bench and was more than tolerable off-hand. Everything I pointed this rifle at, which included a buffalo, an impala, and a wildebeest, died, and died proper like. With the Caprivi, I’ve yet to miss anything I’ve pointed it at. This rifle is a bit pricey and would qualify as a dream rifle to go with a dream trip, like an African safari.
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I don’t really need a 375 H&H because I’m not sure I’ll ever hunt another buffalo, and lion and leopard seem more like a fantasy than a possibility. However, instead of returning this rifle to Kimber, I really want to buy it. It works, it’s rugged, it’s accurate, and it’s elegant.