Reviewed: Kimber’s Advanced Tactical SOC II .308

Kimber's Advanced Tactical SOC II offers quite a retailer bang for the precision shooter’s bucks.

Reviewed: Kimber’s Advanced Tactical SOC II .308

Breathe, relax, aim, stop, squeeze: BRASS. The acronym remains foundational to Marine Corps marksmanship, and from the first minutes of class work, snapping-in on barrels, and finally, trigger time on alpha, bravo, delta and B-modified targets on cheesecloth backers, BRASS fundamentals were drilled into our brain-housing groups. While I began shooting at a young age and was blessed to be born to two crack shots, ultimately, Marine Corps marksmanship training and great shooting mentors are what propelled me to next-level long-range shooting and forged my appreciation for precision rifles. It’s always a good day, then, when I get to line up behind one, especially for testing and evaluation — as was the case recently with Kimber’s latest, greatest precision rifle offering, the Advanced Tactical SOC II.


Kimber: More Than Meets the Eye

Jack Warne, along with his son Greg, founded “Kimber of Oregon” in 1979. To some of us, 1979 wasn’t so long ago, and in terms of some other well-known brands, Kimber is still young; of course, you wouldn’t know it considering the brand’s growing list of homerun firearm models. You also may not realize Kimber’s roots date quite a bit further back, nearly to the end of WWII.

Born and raised in Kimba, South Australia, Jack Warne was ready to spread his entrepreneurial wings by age 23, and did in 1947 by starting up Sporting Arms Limited, also known as Sportco. Jack sold Sportco to Omark in 1966, assuming a general manager position there and relocating to Oregon. While Jack worked for Omark until the mid-1980s, he also moonlighted with his son. The two focused heavily on premium rifles chambered in .22LR, and in 1979, Kimber was born. Who knew the roots of Kimber began 32 years prior? As for the company name, you may have recognized a correlation between Kimber and Jack’s rural Australian hometown of Kimba — it is so.

Unfortunately, as we have experienced recently with companies like Colt and Remington, Kimber of Oregon fell on tough financial times. The company was sold in 1989 and by 1990, it had filed for bankruptcy. With the company effectively liquidated, Jack Warne stepped in again, this time with investor Les Edelman. Warne and Edelman worked tirelessly to recoup Kimber of Oregon’s tooling and partnered soon after to form the Kimber of America we recognize today. While the world lost Jack Warne in 2019, and his son, Greg, previously in 2006, their drive to produce world-class performance firearms still powers the Kimber of America machine, the Advanced Tactical SOC II as a prime example.


Kimber’s Advanced Tactical SOC II

While Kimber is known worldwide as a premium producer of more traditionally styled bolt-action rifles and handguns like the M1911, the company has moved leaps and bounds into modern sporting firearm platforms. We see transitioning examples in a variety of composite-stock rifle offerings and even more in striker-fired handguns like the EVO and, most recently, the R7 Mako. The push to innovate makes a tactical-inspired modern sporting rifle a perfect addition to Kimber’s long-gun lineup.

As it benefits retailers, the Advanced Tactical SOC II places Kimber’s reputations for reliability and accuracy in fresh tactical-inspired, match-rifle styling, uber-popular with today’s demanding shooters. Those of us who keep watch for industry trends have seen substantial growth in this niche of rifles for several years now, and it has been a boon for retailers who have jumped onboard by offering such systems.

Like any great rifle, it has to start with top-shelf bones, and Kimber played it smart. The SOC II’s foundation is a billet-aluminum chassis system designed and built by master-builder and world-class long-range shooting icon Scott McRee. Several elements of McRee’s chassis that push it to the top echelon include the folding stock — locked out, it’s rock-steady — embedded, patented M-LEV cant-indication system, rubber pistol grip, 1913 mil-spec tripod mount and an M-LOK system, perfect for attaching accessories. The SOC II’s chassis comes standard with a Cerakote finish. My test rifle was finished in Sniper Grey with assorted black components.

While the folding stock is solid, it is also adjustment-rich. Also precision machined from billet aluminum, the stock boasts separate cheek-weld plates with four-point comb adjustability so shooters can achieve perfect elevation and cheek weld. The cheek-weld plate on either side can be removed to further mitigate weight. The stock features an adjustable length of pull but comes set at 13.7 inches — it was quite comfortable for me right out of the box. A final point of adjustment is the butt pad — the heel can be adjusted for a customized fit in the shooter’s shoulder.

McRee’s chassis are solution-based. From the beginning, as an elite competitive shooter, he made his chassis everything he wanted to change about the platforms he used; of course, the chassis designed for Kimber’s SOC II is no exception. As a side note, whether for aesthetics or for a hunter or operator, the chassis includes a night-vision mount up front.

No less important in a precision rifle is the barreled action. I was excited to see the Advanced Tactical SOC II employs Kimber’s ultra-popular 8400 stainless-steel action, complete with a Mauser claw extractor and three-position, Model 70-style wing safety. The stainless-steel barrel, also Cerakoted, measures 22 inches and features a match-chamber, four-groove rifling, 1:10 twist rate and 5/8-24 threading for a muzzle brake — my test rifle came with the brake installed. Underneath, Kimber opted for a crisp, comfortable 2.5-pound match-grade trigger — yes, it breaks like ice. Also underneath, the action accepts detachable AICS-style box magazines. Topside, the action on my test rifle also featured a 20-MOA scope base.


Trigger Time: Dialing In

Circling back to BRASS, from behind Kimber’s Advanced Tactical SOC II, my shooting experience with the system was exceptional. For range work, I mounted a Sightmark Pinnacle 5-30x50 first-focal-plane riflescope up top and Harris-style bipod down below, primarily because the chassis included a traditional sling-stud under the forend. For grouping, as well as long-range shooting, I chose Hornady 168-grain ELD-Match ammunition. Muzzle velocity from the SOC II’s 22-inch barrel averaged 2,644 fps with an impressive standard deviation of 10.8 and extreme spread of 26.

So, how does it shoot? Like a dream. My first trigger break was a surprise. It wasn’t until I went back and checked trigger weight with my Wheeler Gauge that I discovered the 2-pound pull. Even better, trigger break was consistent. The rifle is a tad heavier, weighing in at 11.5 pounds before adding an optic, bipod and full magazine. The extra weight and muzzle brake mitigated recoil enough for me to maintain my field of view through the shot — another pleasant surprise.

A quick disclaimer here: The test rifle arrived new, so I took my time, including first swabbing the barrel and then breaking it in. Muzzle velocity was measured with my LabRadar chronograph once I felt the barrel was seasoned and on-target grouping settled down. At the end of it all, with nothing more than a squeeze bag under the stock and less-than-ideal bipod up front, I easily garnered several sub-half-MOA five-shot groups.

My only suggestion for improvement is based on the tripod. For exacting shot placements from rifles more than capable of delivering the sub-half-MOA goods, or even quarter-MOA, I most often go to a wide-stance Accu-Tac bipod like the FC-4 G2. Unfortunately, without an adaptor, the use of a sling stud made an Accu-Tac incompatible. My suggestion would be for Kimber to also offer the SOC II with a Picatinny rail for bipod installation. I feel reasonably comfortable suggesting that I could have accomplished a quarter-MOA group with an Accu-Tac or similar quality bipod. That said, even loading the bipod I used, I couldn’t quite get there. After several tight groups, I set my scope’s zero stop and recorded my ballistic data for DOPE as my quick-start on the long-distance range.


Going Long

It took a few trips to a private range to catch optimum shooting conditions. The air was cool, dry and near windless. A light 5-mph wind moved at 6 o’clock. If anything, the subtle breeze would helped. The range extended to 2,000 yards with significant distance breaks. Targets were set at 500, 1,000, 1,800 and finally, 2,000 yards. For the SOC II .308 Win., I restricted my testing to 500 and 1,000 yards, using the closer steel simply to verify my adjustments before doubling the distance. That said, it didn’t take long to find the sweet spot, a half-MOA group with 3.3 mils of elevation and .1 mil left windage. In long-distance shooting, 500 yards should be a chip shot, and for the SOC II with Hornady’s factory ammo right out of the box, it was.

After taking time to observe wind downrange, or lack of it, I dialed up to 10.7 mils and kept windage at .1 mil left. First shots at 1,000 yards landed on steel but to the right. My DOPE called for .3 mils left, but .5 mils left gave better results. I hammered out a sub-MOA five-shot group with my less-than-favorite bipod. I absolutely believe the group can be tightened up — the rifle is capable of better, perhaps with load development work, a stronger bipod and overall, a better day of shooting for the guy on the trigger. Still, I was thoroughly impressed.


Final Shots

Over the years, I have undertaken a handful of custom .308 bolt-action projects with precision accuracy as the end game. Shooting a production rifle capable of sitting comfortably among my own top-performing DIY projects was pretty exciting. In a world of big-corporation rifles touted as precision firearms, the Kimber Advanced Tactical SOC II actually lives up to its promise. And while the rifle does weigh in at more than 11 pounds, it’s compact enough (especially with the folding stock and shorter 22-inch barrel) and light enough to be easily be considered for match shooting as well as hunting — although I wouldn’t want to sling it over my shoulder for an all-day, high-mountain trek.

As a precision long-range shooter who has spent countless hours behind match-grade rigs like the SOC II and who has taken deer, hogs and other critters with them, I really didn’t find anything to dislike about this rifle. The trigger pull and crisp break reminds me of Timney’s 510, a staple go-to in many of my own projects. I also definitely appreciate the rugged durability of the SOC II’s finish, but I would have loved to opt for a Picatinny bipod mount rather than the sling swivel. Of course, in fairness to Kimber, my personal preference with this rifle would be to surgically beat down steel. For hunting, the sling stud is the right call, and it’s a quick and easy change for a retail shop or customer to make after the purchase.

As a message specifically targeting retailers here, precision shooting continues to trend upward, and the demand for chassis-platform match rifles continues to increase, especially while shooting enthusiasts are still clawing to get out of their homes and away from crowds. Even better, in a world where match-grade rifles can easily top $10,000, the Advanced Tactical SOC II comes in at roughly $2,500. Your customers won’t know what to do with the extra cash in their wallet, but you do — accessorize with the right optics and tools to help them achieve their goals.


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