We erroneously reported that this gun was laser engraved. It isn’t. We apologize. If anything, our mistake is a testament to the quality and consistency of the work. The engraving is done with the aid of a CNC machine which allows for the precision.
Kimber puts out some cool pistols during the hot part of the year. As summer is officially wrapping up, we’re breaking them down. The Kimber Summer Collection is mostly made up of standard Kimber models with extravagant features and finishes. This year’s collection included full sized 1911s and micros. We took a look at the Bel-Air Micro back in August that is part of the Summer Collection. We are continuing this coverage with another from the Summer Collection: the Stainless II Classic Engraved Edition.
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /Search.aspx?T=kimber%20stainless%20ii%20engraved
Before I get into the meat of this review I want to take a minute and address something. Kimbers are made in Yonkers, New York. Every time I have written a review of a Kimber, or another firearm made in New York, readers comment about not buying the guns because of where they are made. I get not buying a product if there were some moral concerns about working conditions, or environmental practices of the company or a bunch of other reasons. But to not buy something that is made here in the good ol’ US of A because the state it is made in has strict gun control laws? We are talking about buying a gun, the very thing that New York wants to make illegal. I have a thought–keeping gun companies in business in states with Second Amendment restrictions is a good thing. At the most basic level, the employees have a voice and a vote. Money also talks. Tax on business is money. Employee’s spending wages is money. It is safe to speculate that there are some political contributions made to pro 2nd Amendment candidates and causes… that money might have the loudest voice.
In short, supporting gun companies in states that have strict gun control laws is a good thing. I get the knee jerk reactions to not supporting them. I also get the thought that they should just move out of the state. There is an old saying that I have found to be very true–it is easier to change something from the inside than the outside.
I am not saying everyone should go out and buy a Kimber and save New York! But supporting them and other manufacturers in the states with strict gun control laws makes a lot more sense than boycotting them.
Stainless II Classic Engraved
Here are some specs on the Kimber:
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Height 5.25
- Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 38
- Length (inches): 8.7
- Magazine capacity: 7
- Recoil spring (pounds): 16.0
- Barrel: 5 Inches
- Full-length guide rod
- Stainless steel Frame and Slide
- Frame Full-coverage vine and leaf engraving with stipple relief
- Accent-engraved mainspring housing
- Slide Front serrations and vine and leaf engraving with stipple relief
- French walnut with ivory Micarta checkered inlay Grips
Aside from the fancy grips and engraving, this is a Kimber Custom II in stainless. They have a number of pistols that are similar but dressed out in different ways. The MSRP on the Custom IIs start around $900 and go up from there. The Summer Collection Engraved has an MSRP of $1,905. What’s behind the price?
This Kimber has some bling to it. It is not overly fancy though. It could be gold plated and come with a Kimber branded grill for your teeth. This is classy bling on the Kimber, even classic. Guns of all sorts have been cut, carved, engraved or inlaid for centuries. It is a status thing. “Not only can I own this very nice gun but I can also afford to have it engraved”, is the mindset to have here. Is it for everyone? Nope. It is not for everyone that can afford it either. Love or hate overly fancy guns, they are a part of firearms history and will be around in the future.
The engraving on the Kimber is done by hand, and we initially thought it was done by laser. The engraving is not very deep, but is very uniform and the straight lines have the precision of a laser. The vine and leaf is pretty much all over the pistol with the notable exception of the front strap which is smooth, brushed stainless. I find it a little odd that the front strap is not engraved. The cuts provide some grip and would have been welcome on the front.
There is engraving on the main spring housing. You can feel it in your palm but it is not very prominent. Nothing like the common textures on this area. But this is not a common pistol. This is a fancy pistol that is not meant to be an EDC, although it is reliable enough to carry. It would look pretty slick under a jacket at a black tie affair.
Speaking of grip, take a close look at the grips on this Kimber. They are made from walnut and a fake Ivory called Micarta. Of course using real ivory is not an option. The texture on the Micarta is nice and does give a decent grip surface. I am not sold on the aesthetics of the grips though. To me they detract from the engraving. Some nice, classic double diamond grips in Ebony would look slick here. Of course changing grips on a 1911 is one of the easiest things you can do.
Of course it doesn’t matter how good a pistol looks if it doesn’t work. Well, assuming it is not a museum piece. But have no fear, Kimber knows how to make a good shooting 1911.
For this review I put around 500 rounds of various .45 ACP through the Kimber. It ate them all with out an issue. No failures to report on this one. Ball and hollow points both fed without an issue. It shoots, feels and functions like a correctly built 1911 should.
The trigger pull on the Kimber came in just a hair over 4.75 pounds. It is light and crisp with just a touch of take up. I did not feel any grit throughout the pull. The break felt the same on round 1 as it did on round 500.
The sights are plain black block fixed style. The edges are dehorned and they function well enough. This brings up a difference of opinion. This is a fancy gun–actually a special edition. Is it intended to be a carry gun, or even a target pistol? The black is a nice contrast to the stainless. When I look at the sights, I see a gun designed for a mix of precision and carry. The black on black is good for accuracy. The dehorned sights are good for carry. But is it too fancy for everyday carry?
This is a hard question to answer. And your answer, I think, will depend on your financial situation, and your dedication to functional modifications to 1911s.
Consider it this way: if paying $1,700 + for a carry gun is no big deal, then this may be a carry gun. If you want a gun that makes a statement, draws attention, and runs like a champ, this may be your gun.
On the other hand, if you want more aggressive texture on the front strap, deeper cuts on the mainspring housing, or faster sights, Kimber has other offerings in their catalog. This is a hybrid of form and function, and a delicate (and I think effective) balance of both. But there could be more aggressive textures, and there could be even more decorations. And the price could be much higher.
Is this a pistol for everyone? Nope. At its core it is a well made, good shooting, stainless 1911. Not everyone needs or wants an engraved gun. It is like smoking gold covered cigars. Yep, such a thing exists. But this Kimber isn’t really on that level. It is a $2,000 engraved pistol. The sky is the limit when it comes to having a pistol engraved, especially when you get into hand work. I like the gold cigar as an analogy for an engraved pistol. You can put gold leaf on a cheap dog turd of a cigar and it will still be a turd. You can put gold leaf on an expertly rolled cigar made of well aged tobacco that is perfectly blended. And that’s what I see here. This Kimber is an expertly made pistol with some extra bling.