Today, we’re taking a close look at the Kimber Ultra Carry II Two-Tone 1911, chambered in 9mm. I’ve always felt that, the 1911 was made for the .45 ACP, so you’ll have to excuse my bias on this – buy I’m learning, so be patient with me. More often than not, I can be “caught” packing a handgun in 9mm these days, so like I said, I’m learning. I think!
I get this question all the time, and there really isn’t any pat answer I can give to folks, but we’ll try once again! “What is your favorite gun?” And, when folks use the term “gun” it can mean any number of different types of “guns” – to include revolvers, semiauto pistols, shotguns – in any number of variations, bolt-action rifles, semiauto rifles, etc. I do have as my one and only firearm, if it ever came down to it, and I could only own one handgun, it would be the good ol’ 1911 in .45 ACP. However, these days, I’m leaning away from it for a number of reasons, more on this, later.
I got my first 1911, a full-sized Government Model, in .45 ACP during a trip to visit family down in Kentucky. For years, I didn’t even realize I had family down there, until my grandmother – who raised me – took me on a train trip to meet those folks, and there were plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins that I never knew I had. Keep in mind, that this was long before the Gun Control Act of 1968, and buying firearms across state lines–without paperwork–wasn’t a problem. It was on my second solo trip down to Kentucky, that one of my cousins took me to a fellow who bought and sold firearms. No FFL paperwork was required at that time. I found a 1911 Government Model in .45 ACP on his table of handguns and did a deal – traded him something for it, along with some cash. My first, but not last 1911, was mine. To this day, I don’t know what happened to that 1911, but its been a lot of years since then.
For those new to firearms, or to the 1911, just a little bit of history on it: It was adopted in 1911 – and was designed by John Moses Browning. He is still a legend, when it comes to many of his gun designs. It wasn’t until 1985 that the 1911 was replaced by the US military, with the Beretta Model 92 (M9 in military form). And, to this day, there is still controversy over the 9mm replacing the .45 ACP. And, also to this day, there are still a few military units who use the 1911 – mostly SpecOps guys. They know a good thing when they see it. So, the 1911 is still the longest-serving handgun in US military history. And, we can’t even begin to count the number of makers turning out 1911s these days – probably a hundred or more to choose from. The number of variations? Who knows, one can’t keep track of this, but its probably safe to say, the 1911 is the most customized handgun in history, bar none!
As I’m rapidly approaching my 70th year on this earth – only a few more years to go. So I have found that my daily carry needs have changed. I used to love carrying full-sized handguns, especially the 1911 in .45 ACP. I was younger and dumber – but I loved carrying the 1911 police duty and during private security work. There was just something reassuring about that big old .45 caliber bullet, and the 1911 – they were made for each other. I don’t feel the need to carrying full-sized handguns these days, so I carry some sub-compact and even micro-sized handguns concealed, and I ALWAYS carry a spare magazine, no matter what semi-auto handgun I might be carrying.
We’re told that with today’s modern JHP and similar loads in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP that they are all just about equal when it comes to man stopping. The FBI is supposedly the lead law enforcement agency, when it comes to such things. Many local and state law enforcement agencies tend to copy whatever guns and ammo the FBI uses, for a number of reasons. I’m okay with that, but my feeble mind refuses to believe that, a 9mm in any configuration is equal to the .45 ACP with JHP or similar bullets when it comes down to stopping a bad gun. I know, I know, the FBI has done scientific research on this, and when it comes down to it, there are only a few points difference between the stopping power of the 9mm, .40 S&W and the .45 ACP, when it comes to putting bad guys down. We also have to keep in mind that, the FBI has been all over the board on this, from the .38 Specail to the .357 Mag, to the 9mm, to the 10mm, to the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP. And they are now packing 9mm handguns, with jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammo.
Kimber 1911s really set the 1911 industry on their heads, when Kimber came out with a “custom” 1911 right from the factory. It had many of the bells and whistles that we 1911 owners wanted, right out of the box, including a match-grade barrel, extended single side combat safety, and a slightly extended mag release lever. It also had an extended “beaver tail” grip safety, and combat hammer, and the ejection port was lowered and flared. They also came with decent combat sights, and it was selling for about the same price that many other factory standard 1911s were selling for, without all these features that Kimber offered.
The Ultra Carry II Two-Tone I tested came in 9mm – I got it in a trade at my local gun shop some time ago, it just appealed to me, being a compact 1911, and chambered in 9mm. You see, I’m learning to like other calibers in the 1911. Weight of the Ultra Carry II is 25 ounces empty, and the magazine capacity is 8 rounds. (This, while most other similar sized compact 1911s only hold 6 or 7 rounds.) Still, that extra round or two was nice to have. The frame is brushed aluminum, and the slide is carbon steel, highly polished. The barrel is right at 3-inches and that’s as short as you can go in a 1911. The barrel is match-grade, stainless steel and fitted perfectly. Sights are low profile combat, easy to pick-up.
I liked the beautiful Rosewood grips that are partially checkered and partially smooth. They make for a fast, no snag draw from under clothing. The trigger is match-grade, aluminum, three-hole, and the trigger pull was right at 4 pounds. The hammer is a speed, combat-style hammer, and the main spring housing is checkered plastic. The front strap was left smooth, and I added a strip of friction tape to it – like I do that to most 1911s for a better hold. The sights are all-black and I added a touch of orange finger nail polish to it, so it was faster for my aged eyes to pick up. The gun was used, but looked “as-new” when I got it. However I swapped out the recoil spring for a brand-new one – just in case the one in the gun was getting old.
This gun was, once again, a personal purchase. I carried it daily for several months, in between carrying other handguns for articles. I used a Safariland belt slide holster, about as small as I care to go with a holster, that still holds the gun snug against my body. I also carried a spare 8-rd magazines on my off-side. The gun concealed quite well, over the summer months, with only a button down shirt covering it. I never fully button my button down shirts – they are used un-tucked as a covering garment.
I did my accuracy testing at 25-yards, because I knew this little compact 1911 had real potential. Using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest, over the hood of my wife’s SUV, I had great results. From the nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition I had a great selection of 9mm to run through this little Kimber. From their HoneyBadger line, I had their 100-gr all-copper +P round as well as their 125-gr all-copper subsonic load. Both of these use the all copper bullets that are fluted. However, they perform like JHP when it comes to doing damage, and a little deeper penetration. I also had Black Hills 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 115-gr EXP (Extra Power) hollow point, and their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P load. In well over 500 rounds of shooting – some just killing rocks and punching paper and other targets of opportunity, there was not a single malfunction, of any type.
Best accuracy was from the Black Hills 124-gr JHP +P load – and it came in right at 3.25-inches if I stayed on my game. I usually shoot several groups with the same load, to make sure I’m getting the best accuracy I can. Some days, I’m off my game, and I’ll return in a day or two, for the accuracy testing part of testing a firearm. The 125-gr HoneyBadger subsonic load came in hot on the heels of the 124-gr JHP +P load, and everything else was still under 4-inches – keep in mind, this is a 3-inch barrel gun, and I was shooting it at 25-yards, over a rest. Nothing to complain about here, except…
I just couldn’t shake the feeling that, although this Kimber is considered a “compact” 1911, it is still too big for a 9mm compact – in my humble opinion. There are several similar compact 1911s on the market today, that are actually reduced in sized, compared to the Kimber, and they are chambered in 9mm. When it comes down to it, I guess I’m saying the Kimber is “too big” for the 9mm round. Still, its not a bad choice, but I’ll go with one of the other smaller compact 1911s in 9mm. The Kimber is meant for the .45 ACP if you ask me – just my two cents worth. However, you can’t go wrong if you select this little 1911 – even if it is “only” in 9mm – for self-defense.
Today, I’m leaning more and more, towards either a Glock 19 or the newer Glock 19X – both in 9mm, as my one and only handgun – if it came down to that. II’m really falling for the Glock 19X if that were the only handgun I could own, heaven forbid!