Kimber’s Summer Guns–Form and Function

CORRECTION!

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.

Want a handsome 1911 that is meant for carry? Check out the Stainless II Classic Engraved.

Want a handsome 1911 that is meant for carry? Check out the Stainless II Classic Engraved.

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

Yonkers.

Yonkers.

New York

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
The engraving shows very fine detail. Unlike the deep cuts made by hand engraving, lasers create depth with line density.

The engraving shows very fine detail.

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?

The engraving creates many grip surfaces, but others are cut in a traditional fashion, like this slide cut.

The engraving creates many grip surfaces, but others are cut in a traditional fashion, like this slide cut.

Bling

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.

Ergonomics

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.

The mainspring housing is engraved. The front strap is not.

The mainspring housing is engraved. The front strap is not.

Walnut and Micarta.

Walnut and Micarta.

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.

 Shooting

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.

Five from the holster at 7 yards.

Five from the holster at 7 yards.

Five slow shots from the same distance.

Five slow shots from the same distance.

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.

Kimber knows how to tune a trigger.

Kimber knows how to tune a trigger.

This one breaks under five pounds.

This one breaks under five pounds.

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?

The flat black rear sight above the stainless of the slide.

The flat black rear sight above the stainless of the slide.

The front post allows for precise aim. Those who prefer dots may want something wider and brighter.

The front post allows for precise aim. Those who prefer dots may want something wider and brighter.

Thoughts

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.

What are your thoughts on the gun? Comment below.

What are your thoughts on the gun? Comment below.

Traditional take down.

Traditional take down.

The sight picture and the bobbed hammer.

The sight picture and the bobbed hammer.

The controls are substantially sized and easy to access.

The controls are substantially sized and easy to access.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Douglas Mac Arthur Sr December 18, 2015, 11:40 am

    I own a Kimber Crimson Pro Carry. Shoots fine, carries well and fits well in my hand. Carried it when hunting, slat water fishing and outdoor range. No problems. However my local gun shop owner states he has no interest in Kimber. He says they rust quickly, parts are imported, they are not worth the cost. He does not deal in Kimber, won’t buy, sell or trade. Will not take on consignment. Does he know something about Kimber that I am not aware of ?

  • Jim Wing October 12, 2015, 11:43 pm

    first, having been born & raised to age 17 in Upstate NY I STRONGLY disagree with your idea about boycotting Kimber because of it’s gun laws..I have most recently resided in CA (another shithole gun state ) for the last 33yrs ( not by choice, I worked for the Feds and they sent me here) and I know many states/people that won’t do “gun-business” with CA because of it’s laws,rules, and stupid procedures..It makes us “gun-folk” mad, but nothing changes, and when it does it’s for the worst usually thanks to Brown & Frankenstien..We don’t need to support ANY State or economy that doesn’t like us and move to some place that does..( I’m moving back to Northern AZ, asap ) Next: newer model Kimbers suck !! They are Series 80 operation, which sucks..They are look great, but are WAY overpriced and have POOR customer service when they break..The model in your Guns America article is a flat-out copy of Wilson Combat’s Texas BBQ Gun..I use guns as tools of self defense & shooting fun, if I want some tattoo’d/engraved beast, I’ll spend the extra $1500 and get a Wilson, which is produced by free gun loving folks like myself

  • joseph September 22, 2015, 9:22 pm

    I to have a kimber, eclipse custom. I’ve had my kimber for four years and about 2000 rounds though the girl, It can be used for back up when hunting just don’t get busted with it on you. If you guys have had stove pipes it’s not the gun it’s crapy ammo that your using, I wont trade it for anything.

  • Ed September 22, 2015, 5:48 pm

    I live in NY & I hate it. I hate the Gun laws, especially the phony excessive laws that were created out of LIES just like Vietnam lies about an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin- Proven to be a Total Lie. The Bush Lies about WMD’s that cost US a fortune & made those jerks RICH. And the Grandest Lie of all – THE PHONY SANDY HOOK SCHOOL “SHOOTING.” Not 1 kid was killed. As a matter of fact, no kids attended that school at that time. The school was shut down & it was all a FEMA FALSE FLAG OPERATION TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS. Which they did….ON LIES. I can no longer buy an AR-15, an AK-47 or any rifle that these jerks can call an assault weapon. RESEARCH Folks & see how you are lied to every day of your lives. When are folks at GUNS AMERICA going to stand up for us? When is the NRA going to stand up for us & denounce their obvious LIES? I have contacted many different organizations about these FACTS & NOTHING is done whatsoever. Of course magazines that cater to cops & military would probably be totally in line with what BIG BROTHER tells them to do or how to act or what not to say. Since when is AMERICA willing to put up with the lies that take away our guns? Apparently whenever it’s on TV & the Federal Government tells them what to believe in ……ALL LIES.
    As for Kimber…. I’m not buying an Overpriced gun with plain black sights in back & up front without a rail underneath & no other significant changes except for fancy scrolling done by a CNC machine. KIMBER- WAY OVERPRICED. Let’s see if you folks actually do something about the LIES……….

    • Doug Mac Arthur December 18, 2015, 11:50 am

      I agree with Over Priced remark. I purchase my hand guns for form, function and reliability . Especially the ease of breakdown and cleaning. Kimber capturing the spring as part of the break down process is my biggest complaint.

  • Nick September 22, 2015, 1:59 pm

    If anyone’s worried about the ‘Man taking your gun during a self defense shooting investigation, then grab a Hi-Point from the pawn shop. I know that’s a dirty word for some of us, but hey, if you get it back, great! If not, then you lost $150! Beats losing a $500, $1,000, or $1900 XD, Glock, HK, or 1911, right? Like the saying goes, a cheap-o gun is better than no gun if it goes “bang” when you pull the trigger.

  • BRASS September 21, 2015, 5:27 pm

    I don’t find it attractive as one would think. Alone, a matte stainless finish can be and engraving on different finishes can be but somehow for me it doesn’t work.

  • Steve September 21, 2015, 4:58 pm

    I have a Kimber Ultra Carry and their workmanship IMO is top notch.

    • Nick September 22, 2015, 2:01 pm

      Love my Eclipse. After 11 years, it’s still beautiful and really accurate with good ammo for a Commander-size pistol.

  • Robert Ivan September 21, 2015, 4:34 pm

    In addition to my above comment, I am in total agreement with Michael, the .45 cal. is the best self defense round unless to move to a wheel gun if you follow the average encounter with an assailant. Approximately 5 to 15 feet away, 15 to 30 seconds from start to finish and if you’re very lucky, 2 well placed rounds.
    With regard to the 1911, for a regular production firearm excluding those made to custom levels i.e., Nighthawk, Ed Brown, etc., the Kimber is difficult to beat. Besides my 2 Kimber’s, my Sig Sauer .45’s would be my next choice (IMHO). The tolerences on the Kimber’s is second to none, again for a regular production handgun.
    To the article directly, the engraving is beautiful. Hard to believe is was hand done and not laser cut.

  • Robert Ivan September 21, 2015, 12:00 pm

    First and foremost, there is no handgun that is more important than my life. I would carry and do carry a Kimber .45. In the small chance that I am involved in a self defense shooting and live though it, the last thing I would be worrying about would be how the State Police are misusing my Kimber. I would be thanking God that I was still alive, go to my local gun store and order a replacement Kimber. My life is worth far more than $2,000.

  • Michael E. Hensley September 21, 2015, 4:35 am

    Bling Weapons are not all they Produce
    But if you desire Quality and a product that works, These work and work well and prices for the standards are in the Average range even less so than the SW competition, These are tough and a .45 beats a .38SP any day of the week.

  • Al September 15, 2015, 4:18 pm

    Just what I want, a $2,000.00 pistol sitting in the state evidence locker while some DA tries to decide if my defensive shooting of another human being is legal or not. No thank you. Don’t have that kind of money and don’t want to have two of these in my gun safe, one as a back-up to the one in the crime lab. My advice and what I follow is this: Carry a pistol that works well, shoots where you aim it, that you are familiar with, one you can reload quickly and last: doesn’t break your heart or your wallet when the crime lab destroys it by accident or some perp steals it from your car because the state doesn’t allow you to carry it everywhere you want to go. I have a beautiful 1950’s S&W .38Spl Bodyguard from my grandfather, I would cut my throat with broken glass before ever carrying this gun and take the chance that it ends up in the state crime lab. Carry guns are tools, not heirlooms. They should always be in great mechanical condition and shoot where actually aimed, function properly, but most of all, should be disposable and readily available to be consigned to the crime lab. There are numerous articles on the dramas that citizens have to go through just to get their state law enforcement officials to return weapons LEGALLY used in self-defense situations. And yes, some states return weapons quickly, but I am not interested in being one of those few in my state that get that drama. My carry gun is a $400.00 pistol that works great and I will not lose any sleep over it being in the crime lab awaiting some DA or LEO to dig it out of their in box, sign its release and action it.

    • Rod September 21, 2015, 4:35 am

      I agree 200% with everything you wrote ! IF and that’s a big IF…you should get it back, don’t be surprised if it looked like it was in Saltwater for 6 months!

    • Wonzo September 21, 2015, 7:49 am

      In response to the fellow above who doesn’t want his pistol confiscated and held “Don’t carry it as a CCW” case closed … besides this IS NOT a CCW pistol … Dumb Ass…!!!

      • Dc September 21, 2015, 5:28 pm

        Woke ther hold your horses ther Ritchy ritch not all of us have $2000 to blow on a safe queen or just a range gun. Think of us common folk once in awhile

    • Roy Gunther September 21, 2015, 11:24 am

      In my opinion you are correct. Very good answer!
      However it is a beautiful gun.

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