February 06, 2018
Let's cut to the chase: The biggest issue with most factory 1911s is that they tend to be unreliable out of the box and require break-in periods or massaging from a gunsmith to get them to run right. This is the second Kimber 1911 that I've run hard in a year, and it's the second time that I've had a pistol run exactly like it should on initial usage. The first pistol was a Master Carry Pro in .45 ACP that I shot over 1,100 rounds with, without adding any lubrication, right out of the box. That includes taking a Gunsite 250 Laser Sight class. When I eventually had a malfunction with the pistol, a little lube helped it finish the day without a problem. With this Pro Carry II in 9mm, I wanted a more realistic test, so I added lubrication every 500 to 600 rounds. I'm over 3,000 rounds now with no malfunctions and no cleaning. I plan on cleaning it simply because it's so filthy that it's gross to touch, but it doesn't need it, per se.
I generally dislike torture or endurance tests on handguns because they seem to exist only to amuse a few. Three thousand to 4,000 rounds of ammunition represent a considerable amount of training dollars to the average shooter, and blasting just to blast doesn't make sense with a gun that's meant to be carried for personal defense. Is this the right gun for securing a landing zone in the middle of a sandstorm? Probably not. Is it the right gun for a citizen or LE everyday carry (EDC)? It's a great option if you're committed to the 1911 platform.
Practice and Persistence
There's never going to be a way to win the polymer-blaster-versus-1911 argument. I like both, I use both. They both have a well-deserved place in the holsters of prepared citizens and modern policeofficers. There are realities, though, and the first one is that the 1911 takes more practice to operate effectively under stress. Don't shoot the messenger, that's just a fact. I helped develop the Patrol 1911 program for my department and have overseen hundreds of students transition to the 1911. The manual safety and grip safety both require extra work to master.
On the flipside, because they require more work to master, many 1911 shooters are more dedicated to achieving a higher level of skill. For an EDC option, the 1911 is generally slimmer than a striker gun of the same size, and with an alloy frame such as on the Pro Carry II, you get a metal pistol that weighs only 4 ounces more than a similar-sized Glock 19. It's also important to realize that 4 ounces can add up over a lifetime of carrying, and the 1911 gives up six rounds to the Glock.
Then there are the intangibles. Shooting well is more than the sum of sight alignment and a good press;sometimes the feel of the gun can make a shooter actually shoot better. There is something sublime about shooting a well-built 1911, the interface between man and machine, the feel of the grip safety depressing and the reassuring click of the thumb safety disengaging.
Then, of course, there's the trigger. For many, the 1911 is the epitome of triggers. The old timers like to describe it as "breaking like a glass rod." Since the trigger should ideally have very little slack up front and very little overtravel behind, 1911 triggers can aid many shooters in exercising better trigger control. The fact that the 1911 is the only trigger that truly moves straight to the rear with no hinging or trigger-bar stacking also helps keep the sights aligned on the target during the trigger press. The trigger is also good for shooters who rely on a "surprise break" and "trigger reset" to place an accurate shot, as there is very little creep or overtravel.
I carried the little Kimber almost daily for a year, as its thin profile and 9mm chambering lends itself to office work and EDC, and I came away with a few observations on switching from a polymer, high-capacity EDC to an alloy-frame 1911 for EDC. The first observation is that even though the Kimber weighs slightly more than the Glock, it's an easier EDC when not in uniform. Its slightly slimmer frame and slide disappear under a regular T-shirt, especially when combined with a great holster, like the appendix-inside-the-waistband (AIWB) holster that I used from RDR Custom Kydex. When in the office, I used a Safariland model 568 open top holster with a paddle. I'm not usually a fan of paddle holsters because of security concerns, but I have to change in and out of a Sam Browne equipment belt often, so it's a compromise I'm willing to make.
Both holsters worked well for their intended roles, and the Kimber carried well, feeling light on the belt for my 10- to 12-hour days. With both holsters, drawing and firing the first shot was not hindered by the grip safety. With some 1911s, the grip safety is difficult to depress when drawing quickly; that was not the case with the Kimber Stainless Pro Carry II. It activated every time.
The stock sights are adequate. Solid steel with a serrated front and generous rear notch, they worked under all conditions, even rain and mud. When breaking in a Galco Ironsides holster, the front sight came out with leather stuck on it for the first two days, but as the holster broke in, that ceased. It happened during a class at Gunsite Academy, and every so often I'd have to stop and wipe it off. Gunsite's Chief Operating Officer, Ken Campbell, laughed and pointed out that he didn't mind waiting for me since it was proof that I was focusing on my front sight. The test pistol was a 2016 version, and one of the upgrades that Kimber made going into 2017 was a fiber optic front sight. I haven't shot those sights, but based on my experience, I imagine the upgraded version is great. Another observation about the Pro Carry II sights is that they were regulated perfectly for 12 yards, which is right about where I want my pistol sights set up.
All of the controls on the Kimber worked well and were fit properly. The plunger tube was staked well with no wiggle, and the detents worked fine. As previously mentioned, the grip safety was smooth and engaged consistently, never giving a false positive or dead trigger in over 3,200 rounds, even when drawing quickly. The thumb safety moved into and out of engagement with a positive click every time and stayed consistent, even when filthy. The magazine release never required a Herculean effort to depress, even with a full magazine providing tension, and the magazines, for the most part, were great. As with many 9mm magazines, these mags were testy when trying to get in that ninth round. They worked great though, so if your thumbs aren't up to task, get one of those magazine reloading devices and push on.
I conducted all of our Guns & Ammo protocol testing, with accuracy and chronograph results, but looking at the data doesn't really provide a good picture of the gun's capabilities. At 25 yards, from a rested position on sandbags, the pistol shoots under 3 inches all day long with quality ammunition. That's great, but it only tells part of the story. The real story is that this pistol makes shooting "practically accurate" very easy. From shooting fast at the 10 all the way out to slow fire on steel at 100, the pistol's combination of great trigger, great sights and great ergonomics makes shooting it even more enjoyable than carrying it.
While I don't usually get caught up in appearances, this pistol is a looker, with a matte-silver frame and slide and great-looking Rosewood stocks. The controls are also matte silver, and the grip screws are silver with Torx head, which looks striking against the luster of the Rosewood. The pistol has been subtly dehorned but is grippy where it needs to be. If it were mine to do as I pleased, I'd have the frontstrap checkered and call it a day. The pistol is fit together perfectly and the finish was flawless. I know we're supposed to be above such trivialities, but if someone is dropping a grand on a blaster, they deserve one that looks great, shoots great and runs great. Kimber checks those boxes with the Stainless Pro Carry II. If you're looking to class up your pistol game, take a look in this direction and don't turn away.
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