June 22, 2017
When it comes to choosing a new 1911, Kimber's CDP, (Custom Defense Package) offers shooters a way to have it all—accuracy, reliability and good looks—in one incredible package. The CDP is a line of Kimber 1911s that comes with the bells and whistles you need and none of the fripperies you don't. There's an ambidextrous thumb safety and a spined grip safety for better engagement. The grip safety on the CDP is raised and enlarged to keep the Commander-style hammer off your hand. The flattop slides have three-dot night sights, as well as lowered ejection ports for reliable ejection and unmangled brass. Some of these—the ambi, the grip safety, the Commander hammer, night sites—cost extra back in the day, but today they're standard on the Kimber CDP.
Unlike the old days, when you basically rolled the dice on accuracy, you won't find that with a Kimber CDP. Through modern day manufacturing practices married with hand fitting and finishing, at Kimber, the quality and value out of the box is unmatched. And with modern-day companies like Kimber your direct access to real people, by simply picking up the phone, makes getting answers to questions, concerns and requests just as easy as opening the box.
Here's a tidbit from the old days that I'll bet no one has mentioned: Why was 20 lines per inch (LPI) popular for guns built back then? Yes, they offered a really nonslip grip (if they didn't make you bleed), but they were also much easier, thus less expensive, to produce than 25 or 30 LPI. Back then, checkering was done by hand, and it was pricey. Thirty LPI was a lot more expensive than 20 LPI.
The CDP models offer 30 LPI checkering on the frontstrap and under the triggerguard as a standard feature.
Ever wonder why early IPSC 1911s were two-tone? It was mostly fashion, but back then we didn't have many options for finishes that resisted rust. Bluing didn't do much, especially once you had accomplished a few thousand draws in practice. You'd wear the blue off where you grasped the frame and where the leather holster rubbed on the side. The KimPro II is a modern sprayed-on finish that protects from rust and stands up to thousands of draws and holster work. When the first spray-on finishes came out, we all experimented with bright colors. (Hey, we'd been in a black-and-white world all our lives — color was new!) You can now see competition guns done in bright colors and splashy paint jobs, but for daily carry, dull colors are preferred. The CDP gets a Satin Silver KimPro II coating on the slide and a charcoal gray on the frame. It would take a Herculean effort to wear down the KimPro II on the frame using your bare hands and practicing draws.
Kimber offers the CDP in five sizes, from the full-sized Custom CDP down to the Ultra CDP, with its 3-inch barrel and short frame. You can have the CDP with rosewood grips, or some of them are available with Crimson Trace Lasergrips. You can even have two of the five CDPs in 9mm if you want, something unheard of back in the day. The slide on the Custom CDP comes with forward cocking serrations. I don't like them, but they aren't a deal-breaker. I can live with them for the performance and the package cost of the Custom CDP.
And that's the real capstone of the CDP. Adjusted for inflation, you are getting a better 1911 that's ready to go out of the box than you could have gotten when muscle cars were king. The MSRP on the custom CDP is $1,173. That equates to $198 in 1971 and $355 in 1981, which is when I had my first IPSC gun built. I spent more than $355 on labor alone to have my 1911A1 built, never mind the cost of the pistol itself and the parts that went into it.
The level of quality you get, for what you pay, a Custom CDP is a positive steal compared to the "good old days." And the Ultra CDP? You could not have gotten anything like it back then. A 1911 with a 3-inch barrel was a literal masterpiece, a demo build that a gunsmith would do to show the world, "I'm here, I'm this good, and you should hire me." Now, it is a standard catalog item, and you don't have to worry about the quirkiness of a one-off build. (That's right, some of those masterpieces were more show than go.)
Why am I telling you this? Because there are still guys to be found frequenting gun shops and gun shows who pine for the past. "I remember when a brand-new Colt Gold Cup only cost XYZ dollars." Dude, you were making $7.50 an hour back then, if you were lucky. I know I wasn't. They complain about the cost of a new 1911. "A grand or more for a .45 is outrageous. I spent a hundred bucks for my Remington Rand." I spent $178 for my Ithaca in 1978, and compared to a CDP, I was robbed.
It's good practice to look to the past for lessons, but don't live there.
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