Roughly 25 years ago, Kimber turned the 1911 world on its ear by offering 1911s straight from the factory loaded with what, at the time, were features previously only available from custom gunsmiths—combat sights, properly fit beavertails, extended thumb safeties, etc. Basically, you were getting the equivalent of full-house custom 1911s (not in fit, but in features) straight from the factory. And, perhaps most importantly, these tricked-out pistols, offering most if not all of the modern upgrades Jeff Cooper by that time had been promoting for twenty years, were priced far less than the similar gunsmith-produced pistols.
Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and Kimber continues to produce outstanding handguns, many of them 1911s, with cutting-edge features, at a price far below the guns coming out of the “custom” shops. For 2020, Kimber has introduced a plethora of new models and line extensions, but none of them has grabbed my attention like the Rapide Black Ice in 10mm.
Kimber introduced the original Rapide in 2019 to much acclaim, and the Black Ice version doubles down on the good looks while keeping the same performance. This is a full-size 1911 with a five-inch barrel, available in 9mm, .45 ACP, and 10mm.
At first glance, this pistol appears to be stainless steel, and in fact it is, but what you’re seeing is Kimber’s ceramic-based corrosion-resistant Kimpro finish over that stainless steel frame and slide. It provides a two-tone silver/gray finish that looks amazing in person.
The slide features lightening cuts on the sides and top that show off the black DLC finish on the barrel, which also is stainless steel. The last half-inch of the barrel is gently flared to more tightly mate to the match stainless steel bushing.
A brief aside on those slide lightening cuts—not only do they look very sexy, but I’ll let you in on a little secret known to dedicated competition shooters: Even though the gun weighs less, reducing the weight of reciprocating parts reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise.
The flat-bottom slide serrations front and back are very aggressive and have a nice line border for even more style. The top of the slide has been flattened, and the pistol sports Tru-Glo TFX day/night sights. These steel-body sights sport green fiber optic inserts for use during the day paired with tritium inserts (behind the FO rods) which glow in low light. The front sight has an orange ring around the fiber optic insert for even more visibility. The front face of the rear sight is vertical so you can rack the slide one-handed if necessary.
The Black Ice has a traditional recoil-spring system with a short recoil-spring guide rod. The 10mm is a powerful cartridge (more on that in a bit), but I’m glad to see Kimber didn’t burden the Rapide Black Ice with a monstrously heavy recoil spring. The 18.5-pound spring means you won’t have to phone a friend to rack the slide. I’ll let you in on another competition shooting secret: lighter recoil springs mean less muzzle bounce during shooting. This gun is built to run.
The extended aluminum trigger is stylishly skeletonized and has a serrated face. Trigger pull on my sample was a crisp five pounds. Every modern upgrade to the 1911 you can find on this pistol: ambidextrous extended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety, checkered slide release, checkered and slightly extended magazine release, and an extended oversize magazine well to speed your reloads.
There are style cues all over the Rapide Black Ice 1911, but they are all functional. The slide serrations don’t just look good, they work better than the traditional angled cuts. The rectangular texturing on the mainspring housing matches the cutouts in the slide, but they are sharp-edged and grip your palm. The same could be said of the interesting patterns on the black G10 grips. Kimber calls this their Stiplex texturing.
The trigger guard isn’t technically undercut, but it comes straight back to the front strap to get your hand higher on the pistol, and the front strap features ball dimple texturing which matches sections of the grips. Those dimples aren’t as aggressive as checkering, but between the grips and the texturing on the front strap and mainspring housing the pistol doesn’t move in your hand.
The pistol comes with just one stainless 8-round magazine, which is about the only complaint I have with the gun. Pistols should come with a minimum two magazines. However, finding quality 1911 magazines these days is easy; Kimber sells them, and you can find 8- and 9-round 10mm 1911 magazines everywhere (.40 S&W and 10mm 1911 mags are interchangeable).
The 10mm cartridge was originally designed (with input from 1911 guru Jeff Cooper) to be the ultimate defensive cartridge; as powerful as possible while still being controllable for quick follow-up shots. The standard modern load features a 180-grain bullet heading downrange at roughly 1200 fps, although you can find specialized loads with light 155-grain bullets all the way to super-heavy 220-grain hard cast offerings.
The 10mm has seen a huge resurgence in recent years, and there have never been more pistols chambered in 10mm, many of them 1911s. These days, 10mm pistols are being recommended for handgun hunting or as a bear deterrent as much as they are for defense against two-legged predators.
While you’ll get a decent amount of recoil with the Rapide Black Ice, it isn’t much more than what you’d find with the same pistol chambered in .45 ACP, while offering quite a few more foot-pounds of energy.
There is no other gun on the market which looks like the Rapide Black Ice at anywhere near its price. Similarly stylish 1911s from the Nighthawk Custom and Ed Brown custom shops retail for twice the cost of the Black Ice (or more). If you’re looking for something that looks and performs almost identically to custom guns, but at a factory price, check out the Kimber Rapide Black Ice 1911.
Kimber Rapide Black Ice 1911 Specs:
- Type: single action semi-auto
- Caliber: 10mm (9mm and .45 ACP available)
- Capacity: 8+1
- Barrel Length: 5.0”
- Overall Length: 8.7”
- Height: 5.25”
- Width: 1.3”
- Weight (unloaded, no magazine): 38 ounces
- Slide Material: stainless steel, silver/gray Kimpro finish
- Frame material: stainless steel, silver/gray Kimpro finish
- Safeties: grip safety, ambi thumb safety
- Sights: TruGlo TFX tritium/fiber optic day/night sights
- Trigger: 5.0 lbs (as tested)
- Accessories: 8-round magazine, cable lock, hard case
- MSRP: $1510.00
- Manufacturer: Kimber America; www.kimberamerica.com