In this article, we’ll take a close look at the Kimber Ultra Carry II SP 1911. This is one of the smallest 1911 based handguns chambered in .45 ACP on the market.
Limited, Discontinued Splash 1911
I’m sad to say, it appears that Kimber has discontinued this particular base model 1911 and gone to some upper crust, more costly, smaller 1911s. It’s too bad! The gun under review here is the Ultra Carry II SP, and the SP stands for “Splash”. It was a limited product run available for sale at a SHOT Show a few years ago. I believe these guns were done up in five different “Splash” colored frames. They were, if the information I received was correct, limited to only 300 guns in each color. The sample I have has a “Splash” of red on the anodized aluminum frame.
An 1911 in .45 ACP- Good For Me and Military Service Since WW1
Long-time SurvivalBlog readers will readily know that if I were limited to just one handgun for the rest of my life, heaven forbid, then it would be a 1911 in .45 ACP in one guise or another. There simply aren’t many handguns on the market with the long history of the 1911. It has served in every major conflict our military has been in since WW1, and it continues to serve today with SpecOps warriors.
Many 1911 Manufacturers, But Kimber Top In USA
There are so many different manufacturers producing the 1911, I can’t begin to list them. Additionally, each maker has more than one model. I can’t count the number of different 1911s that Kimber produces either, because they are constantly coming out with new models. Kimber, I’m thinking, has at least 70 or 80 different models, and they are the number one maker of 1911s in the USA, too.
First Kimber 1911– Extra Features and MIM Production
It wasn’t all that many years ago, when I read about the first Kimber 1911. I was blown away by all the extra features it had, many of which were previously only available through a custom shop or special order from the factory. They offered an extended combat safety, lowered ejection port, extended beaver tail grip safety, match grade trigger, match-grade barrel, and many other features that no other 1911 maker was producing. Yet, Kimber was doing it and keeping the price down at the same time. Some of this was done through the use of MIM (metal injection molding), which is a form of injection that allowed smaller parts to be produced much less expensive than casting, and they were pretty much “finished” when they came out of the MIM machine. Not much fitting was required, and MIM is stronger than cast parts, too.
Needless to say, Kimber caught the 1911 buying public by storm and every other 1911 maker by surprise, too. Everyone had to play catch up or get left behind. So, we have Kimber to thank for bringing all the other quality 1911 makers on board with similar 1911 products.
I was trained as a military armorer, as a secondary MOS, and learned to really work on 1911s, as well as M-16s and even the grand ol’ M-1 Garand, so I know my way around a 1911 and love working on them. I’m more than a little aware of the work involved in customizing a plain Jane 1911. It is painstaking work; yet here comes Kimber, turning out custom-grade 1911s from the factory at a price that was insanely low! Wow!
Partial To “Commander-Sized” 1911
I’m more than a little partial to a “Commander-sized” 1911 with a light-weight aluminum frame and barrel/slide length of 4”–4.25” in length. They just seem to balance in my hand better than the full-sized 1911s with a 5” Bbl and all-steel frame. Plus, I can shoot a “Commander-sized” better and faster than a full-sized 1911, and it is easier to pack on my hip all day long because of the light weight.
Kimber Ultra Carry and Ultra Carry II Overview
The Kimber Ultra Carry and Ultra Carry II were in the Kimber catalog for a lot of years. It has a 3” Bbl and slide, with a match-grade bull barrel and with no barrel bushing; it’s not needed with the bull barrel. The frame, in light-weight aluminum, keeps the weight of the empty gun down to about 25 ounces. Kimber said the gun could hold up to more than 25,000 rounds of ammo without any appreciable wear on the frame. That’s impressive.
Trigger Pull and Mags
The Ultra Carry II has the firing pin block. It doesn’t give the best trigger pull, if you ask me, compared with the Ultra Carry, without the firing pin block. Still, there is nothing to complain about on any Kimber, when it comes to trigger pull. Most come in around five pounds or under, and they break crisp and clean. The Ultra Carry II also has a shorter frame, so the gun takes the shorter “Officers” magazines. Some hold six rounds, and some hold seven rounds. The first Ultra Carry came with one 6-rd mag; my sample came with two 7-rd mags.
Grips and Sights
The basic Ultra Carry had rather plain rubber grips that did the job, but they were not ideal for concealed carry. This gun is meant to be concealed. Rubber grips will get caught on clothing; your clothing will win on the draw and pull the gun out of your hand, and that’s not a good thing.
Very nice plain black combat sights came on the basic Ultra Carry and were usable, but I prefer three dot white sights or night sights. My “Splash” model came with night sights. Plus, we have ultra thin G-10 grips that are really sweet and grooves on the front strap that really didn’t do anything to keep the gun secured in my hand. Skateboard friction tape was placed on the front strap for a firm hold under any weather condition. That’s the only change I made to the “Splash” model.
Kimber Custom Shop Did Gun Up Right
The Kimber Custom Shop really did this little gun up right, if you ask me. Anyone who has been around compact or sub-compact 1911s, knows that it is a very difficult balancing act to make these little .45s run reliably. Anyone can reduce the length of the slide and barrel and cut the frame down a little bit; however, it takes real skill and perfect timing to make these guns run 100% of the time. The slide is recoiling back extremely fast, and it needs to pick-up the next round of ammo in the magazine. That sounds easy, but it’s not, not when it comes to a gun as small as the Ultra Carry II. I’ve owned quite a few sub-compact 1911s over the years. Most didn’t work, not without some gunsmithing on my part. And even at that, some still didn’t work and I got rid of ‘em!
Black Hills and Buffalo Bore Ammo For Testing
As always, I had a great supply of .45 ACP ammo on hand. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 135-gr Honey Badger solid copper round, which is not a hollow point. Instead the bullet has flutes cut into it. This baby is screaming at over 1,300-FPS out of a full-sized 1911, and it penetrates deeply and does as much damage as a JHP round does. I also had their 230-gr FMJ load, 230-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, and 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P load. From the great folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 160-gr TAC-XP low recoil standard velocity round, and this is an all-copper hollow point with very little recoil. I also had their 255-gr Hard Cast FN +P load, which is the ultimate hard-hitting and deep penetrating load for a .45 ACP, as well as 230-gr FMJ FN +P ( a hot load), 160-gr TAC-XP +P all-copper hollow point, the same in 185-gr, and their 200-gr JHP +P load.
So, I had a great selection to run through the little Kimber Ultra Carry II for this article. Needless to say, some of the +P loads really get your attention in a 25-oz 1911. There are not loads you want to shoot all day long. Still, I managed to put more than 300 rounds downrange in my testing.
Accuracy testing was conducted at 15 yards over the hood of my Jeep Wrangler. That’s a fair enough distance for a pistol with a 3-inch barrel. I could easily keep all rounds within 3-inch groups or less, and many of the loads were down there at two inches, if I did my part. There was one stand out in the crowd, and that was the Buffalo Bore 200-gr JHP +P load. I managed a few groups under two inches with this load, even though it is a handful to shoot in this little gun. I would carry the Black Hills 135-gr Honey Badger load because it is light recoiling and it penetrates deeply; however, it is quite an earful when the bullet leaves the barrel, very loud. It is breaking the sound barrier; there’s no doubt about it.
I had one failure on one round to fully chamber, and that came with the 160-gr TAC-XP low recoil load standard pressure round. However, it was probably just me not having a firm grip on the gun. I believe this because I fired this load numerous times and didn’t have any feeding problems. The little Kimber Ultra II Splash kept perking along without any problems.
Great Performers and Ideal Pick in Small 1911 for Self Defense
I’ve owned several other basic Ultra Carry and Ultra Carry II 1911s in the past, and they were all great performers and an ideal pick in a small 1911 you want to carry for self defense. Just make sure that you run several hundred rounds of ammo through it, the ammo you will be carrying for self defense, before you trust your life to the gun. That’s just common sense. And pack a spare magazine, too.
Gun Market For Kimber Ultra Carry and Ultra Carry II 1911s
The used gun market is awash with used Kimber Ultra Carry and Ultra Carry II 1911s. Some are as low as $500, and some of the upper end models are quite a bit more. However, all you’ll need is the plain Jane version, though many folks elect to swap out the all-black front and rear sights for night sights or three dot white sights. Trash those cheap rubber grips and put on a nice pair of wood or G-10 grips. Other than that, the guns are good to go. Check ‘em out at your local dealer or the next gun show. I think you’ll be impressed with these little 1911s.