It’s difficult to keep up with all the various 1911 handguns that Kimber America produces these days. However, they produce and sell more 1911 handguns than any other maker – or so I’m told. However, there are several 1911 makers in the Philippines that produce a lot of 1911s. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that Kimber is the largest producer of 1911 handguns in the USA.
I still remember when Kimber first came on the scene, and their very first 1911 was a full-sized Government Model. This pistol had all the bells and whistles than 1911 lovers wanted, and paid gunsmiths to perform on a stock-box 1911. You can check out the history of Kimber on the Internet for more information, or their web site. The only thing I didn’t care for, and everyone else wondered about, were the cheap rubber grips Kimber was putting on those guns – when everything else was first class in all respects. Most buyers of the first Kimber 1911s simply replaced the cheap rubber grips – I know I did. Otherwise, these were some of the finest, if not “the” finest production 1911s to come out of any 1911 factory, and you didn’t have to do anything to them. They were ready for combat right out of the box.
Long-time readers will know that I love the 1911, and even with all the new guns I test, or purchase for my own use, I still would grab a 1911 as my one and only handgun – if that’s all I could have – for the rest of my life. However, my thinking is starting to change. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks – but there are several other handguns on my list, if I could only own one for the rest of my life. However, for the time being, a 1911 would still be my first choice – in .45 ACP – of course.
It didn’t take Kimber very long to realize that, they were really onto something, with a “custom”-featured 1911, right out of the box, and buyers wanted more than just one model. I can’t begin to keep count, but I think Kimber is probably producing around 100 different models. (The line-up changes all the time.) It is safe to say though, that they are producing full-sized models, Commander-sized models and Officers-sized models – so there is something for everyone and every need. If you can’t find what you want on the Kimber web site – then it is probably just a figment of your imagination and no one is producing it.
I tend to favor 1911 handguns, in the “Commander-sized” range with a 4” barrel – right in the middle as Goldilocks would say, “this one is just right” for me. And, I prefer a lightweight model – one with an aluminum alloy frame. Today’s aluminum-framed 1911s are tough and they hold up for all the shooting you want to do – this wasn’t always the case in the past. And, in the past, you were careful about your use of aggressive JHP bullets, as they would chew-up the Aluminum feed ramp on your 1911 – to the point, they wouldn’t even feed full metal jacket bullets. Kimber overcame this with their Aluminum-framed 1911s and there is no problem feeding these guns with all the Jacketed Hollow Point ammo you care to shoot through them.
My favorite Kimber is their Pro CDP. Mine is the Pro CDP II – which means it has the little plunger that keeps the firing pin locked until you completely apply pressure to the grip safety – if you don’t full engage the grip safety, it won’t allow the plunger to push up and release the firing pin. I haven’t found the CDP II versions to be a problem. However, many 1911 owners complained about this feature, so Kimber went back to their original 1911s without the plunger – they don’t have the “II” designation on the slide. No big deal one way or another in my humble opinion.
The CDP is the Custom Defense Package that Kimber produces, for those who want the ultimate in a factory customized 1911. By doing this custom work at the factory, it saves the buyer well over $600 – if you had to return it Kimber or send it to a custom 1911 gunsmith to have this package applied to your gun.
The CDP Specifications
Let’s check out some of the specs on the CDP package: First off, the gun comes with a match-grade stainless steel barrel, that is perfectly fitted to the slide/frame. There is also a carry/melt treatment, where all the sharp edges are removed – when Kimber first offered this package, they removed way too much material, and everything was absolutely rounded – and the guns just didn’t fit in a well-molded holster – it was too loose of a fit. Kimber corrected this problem, and the carry/melt treatment is perfectly done now. There is also an ambidextrous manual safety – I can take or leave this feature, but the safety is there on the right side of the frame if you need it. The frame is made out of aluminum alloy, and has a charcoal gray, almost black, KimPro II finish on it – tough stuff. The front of the grip frame – front strap, if you will – is checkered 30-lines per inch – done on a machine, but done perfectly. There is also checkering under the trigger guard – why? I have no idea.
When we check out the slide, we see it is made out of stainless steel, a nice brushed finish to it, and it has the KimPro II finish as well. The top of the slide is flat – nice! Fixed low-profile 3-dot Tritium night sights adorn the slide – outstanding sights. And, Kimber has changed the style over the years. Grips are beautiful Rosewood. However, I swapped them out for a pair of “Code Zero” 1911 grips (of my own design), being produced by Mil-Tac knives. The trigger is a premium match-grade aluminum version, and it breaks at between 4-lbs and 5-lbs – outstanding job on the trigger pull.
With the aluminum frame, the gun weighs in at only 28 ounces unloaded – and it comes with one 7-round magazine. I don’t understand why Kimber only includes one mag when you are paying so much for a gun. I know a lot of 1911 owners have their own preferences when it comes to 1911 mags, however, I’d still like a second magazine when I spend close to $1,200 for a handgun. We also have a full-length guide rod – and this makes disassembly a bit more difficult – however I’ve never had to break down a firearm in the middle of a gunfight. The recoil spring comes in at 22 pounds – a bit heavy, but with the Aluminum frame, it is needed to help tame the recoil. I always keep plenty of extra recoil springs in my 1911 spare parts box at all times – just in case one needs replacing.
Ammo for My Tests
I always have a great selection of .45 ACP ammo on-hand, for testing through 1911s. From Black Hills Ammunition I had the following: Their new HoneyBadger 135-gr all-copper fluted load, 200-gr Match Semi Watcutter, 230-gr FMJ, 230-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P. From the folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 185-gr FMJ-FN low recoil standard pressure load, their 255-gr Outdoorsman Hard Case FN +P load and their Barnes TAC-XP +P load. This was more than enough to run through this Kimber for our testing. In all, I fired 300 rounds in my test, and accuracy testing was conducted over the hood of my Dodge Ram pick-up, with a rolled-up jacket as a rest – it is the perfect height. Shooting was done at 25 yards.
After a good warm-up, with all the various loads, at targets of opportunity, I was ready to get behind this Kimber and see what it could do – BTW, this gun was purchased with my own funds. It wasn’t a factory-provided test gun.
I only had a very limited amount of the Black Hills 200-gr Match Semi-wadcutter on-hand, and it is always a good performer. I had zero malfunctions with any of the ammo tested. However, this Kimber had its preferences when it came to accuracy. The overall winner was the Buffalo Bore 185-gr FMJ FN low recoil standard pressure load…it came it at 2 ½ inches – outstanding accuracy, and it was a soft shooting round. The next best round was the 230-gr FMJ from Black Hills, and it came it at 3-inches…everything else was at 3 ½ – 4 inches – one load almost broke 4-inches – still more than accurate for combat use, but I would have thought all the loads would have come in around the same group size.
The Buffalo Bore 255-gr Outdoorsman +P load let me know I had a powerful round there – great for defense out in the wild against 4-legged critters. I like the HoneyBadger load for self-defense, and even though it was at that 3 ½ inch mark, at 25-yards, its worth carrying – ditto for the 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P loads from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore. I felt I was on my game with the accuracy testing, but who knows, maybe another day, with the same loads, I might have had different results. I try my best to keep my shooting tests down to one trip to the range, instead of several trips.
All things considered, this Kimber “Commander-sized” 1911 is a winner, and it never bobbled with any of the ammo – just kept going and going. I still think I’ll make another range trip and run some of this ammo through the gun once again and see if I can do better.
Kimbers are still a bit difficult to find in many gun shops, but check around, if you love 1911s, you’ll love the many different Kimbers out there for sale!