Kimber’s Master Carry Pro is designed to be a practical carry pistol. It even has carry in the name. Everything about the slick single-action is designed to help with concealment and comfort while it is carried, and speed its use when it isn’t concealed. It is a .45 ACP 1911 with a 4 inch barrel that weighs in at a modest 28 oz empty. Most importantly, it also shoots well. And, as an extra bonus, it doesn’t look bad either.
Kimber’s Master Carry pistols come in 3 sizes. The Custom is a full size 1911 with a 5 inch barrel. The Pro has a 4 inch barrel and the Ultra has a 3 inch and a shortened grip. When it comes to picking out a pistol for concealed carry, size really does matter. I live in a state without open carry. If you print, according to some interpretations of the law, you are no longer concealed. I’m also not a small guy, 6 foot 230 lbs., but unless its winter, and I am not taking off my coat, I have a hard time concealing a full size 1911. Conversely I am able to conceal a pistol that is a lot bigger than a little .380 pocket gun. With three options in the Master Carry line, you can pick the appropriate size for you and your circumstances. The Master Carry Pro is at the upper end of the size of pistol I personally feel comfortable concealing, and is even a bit thinner than the typical compact polymer pistol.
The Carry Features
So what makes this a carry gun other than having carry in the name? Well there are a number of little things that add up to make this one of the nicer 1911 style pistols for tucking out of sight (and for getting untucked, too).
The most obvious and probably the best for making this 1911 concealable is the bob tailed grip, which Kimber refers to as a “Round Heel Frame.” I like to carry in the waistband in the small of my back, most of the time. The hard 90 degree angle on most 1911s sticks out and up pretty far, especially in a holster with any cant. The bobtail on the Kimber really cuts down on this. It also helps to keep your shirt from getting hung up when you draw. After carrying the Master Carry Pro for a while, I don’t think I will carry another 1911 without a round heel frame in the small of my back. It really does help.
This is hard to describe. It feels different, too. The first time you hold a rounded heel framed 1911, and see how your palm conforms to the shape ever-so-slightly, you’ll understand.
It feels smaller, yet you get used to the feel very quickly–so much so that if you switch between this frame’s grip and a typical 1911 grip, you’ll hardly notice. The Master Carry Pro still has a full length grip. The Kimber magazines hold 8 rounds, so it there isn’t that much missing.
The other things are a bit less obvious. The sights are low profile and their sharp edges are rounded off. They are also tritium night sights, a big plus in my book for a carry pistol. The overall finish of the gun is smooth and rounded making it less likely to get hung up when being drawn from concealment. It also does not have an ambidextrous safety. I do not like an ambidextrous safety on a carry gun. It is one more thing to get snagged on the holster or clothing when drawn, but that’s my opinion. I am also right handed. If you are a southpaw then changing out the safety is easily done.
Fit, Finish and Grips
This is a Kimber and (like all of the other Kimbers I have seen) the fit and finish is top-notch. Kimbers are not cheap and they do not feel cheap either. The MSRP on the Master Carry Pro is $1,568 and it feels and functions like a pistol in this price range. The finish is flawless and so is the fit. The slide to frame fit is tight and rattle free. There are no tool marks to be seen on the outside and very little on the inside. This is a tight pistol that feels good in your hand.
If I had one piece of criticism it would be the lack of checkering or texture to the front of the grip frame. Front strap checkering is common on much less expensive pistols. That is the only thing that I find obviously missing from the Master Carry. And it may be becasue of the logistical challenges posed by the button for the laser. And the texture on the G10 grips still allow for a rock solid hold.
The Master Carry pistols come with Crimson Trace laser grips. These are the front activation type. They also have a very nice grip texture. The texture is deep and provides a positive grip that is not too aggressive. They are thin enough that the grip doesn’t feel overly big. The laser is mounted on the top of the grip on the right side. I did find that my finger would obscure the laser when I had my finger off the trigger and next to the slide, but that is a stance I take frequently when I’m on the range being photographed, and not one I tend to use when drawing a pistol in self defense, so I’m not terribly worried about blocking the laser with good trigger form.
To Bushing or Not to Bushing
The Master Carry Pro does not have a barrel bushing. It has a heavy match grade barrel with the full length guide rod. I honestly cannot tell much of a difference when shooting 1911s that have a bushing from those that do not. In theory the match barrel should add some weight to the front of the pistol and this little bit of extra weight should help with muzzle flip. However, I can’t discern the difference from another 4 inched barrel 1911 that has the bushing. I will say that disassembly of one without the barrel bushing takes a bit longer and can be a pain in the ass.
The Kimber Master Carry Pro ate everything we fed it. The cheapest FMJ we could kind to hot hollow point all functioned flawlessly. The Kimber made a number of trips to the range and had a box or two ran through it each time. I also didn’t clean it between trips. This is not something I would do with a piece that I was using as a daily carry of course, but I wanted to see how the Kimber handled a bit of abuse. It passed with flying colors.
The Master Carry Pro is light. Very light for a 1911. Empty it comes in at 28 ounces. This is mostly due to the aluminum frame. When you drop the hammer, you can tell this is a light gun. The recoil is modestly snappier than recoil from a full-sized, steel framed 1911. Muzzle flip is also a bit more pronounced, but not horribly so, and still manageable.
I did find that after shooting 50 rounds of the hotter hollow points, I had some hand fatigue. This is the cost of having a lighter pistol for carry. That is what this gun is designed for and I am happy to trade the weight for more felt recoil in a carry piece like this Kimber.
The Kimber shot respectable groups from 7, 15 and 25 yards. This is not a full length target pistol and it doesn’t group like one either. But it will shoot a 1 inch group at 15 yards and a 3 inch one at 25. That is with me behind the trigger. I am sure it is capable of tighter groups than I can wring out of it, but that misses the point.
I have shot a lot of 1911s. Most of my trigger time on the platform is with full size, 5 inch barreled guns. I shoot them better than I do the shorter ones. Of course that is how it is supposed to be. A longer barrel and sight radius is supposed to be more accurate. But for me, that is the least of the problem. I tend to shoot low with the shorter 1911 and I always shot low when firing fast or when point shooting. I attribute this to muscle memory from shooting the full-sized 1911s. Now I am not shooting all that low, just an inch or two. But this is where training comes in. I revert to my muscle memory when I am shooting a 1911 fast. If I spent more time behind the trigger of the shorter pistol, I am sure I would work that out. Remember friends, always train with your carry piece!
.45 ACP is forgiving, at least for those that are behind the trigger. If you find that you get some hand fatigue, as I did, from the hot rounds, look for something lighter. Find the slowest, lightest ball ammo you can get and slow down your shooting. Work from the holster. Practice magazine changes. Do tactical reloads, and force jams and failures so you can practice clearing stoppages. Then, at the end of the session, run a couple of magazines of hotter ammo, and leave with that impression on the brain.
As for the lasers
Crimson Trace makes nice laser grips. I find that shooters either love them or not. I ran into a man at Fed-Ex today when I was sending back a review gun, and he went on and on about the laser on his wife’s gun. You would have thought it was an actual laser-gun. I appreciate what a laser can do in low light situations, especially as a deterrent. A laser on a pistol is like a pump on a shotgun–there’s just no mistaking the message it sends. They can help you get on target fast, and I’d rather have one than not, even though I still find myself relying on point shooting and iron sights.
Yet it is an aiming device. I shot a couple of groups using the Crimson Trace laser. The rounds were all about 2 to 3 inches high, and slightly right from 15 yards. You can look at the photo here and see what the laser is capable of. I shot 5 rounds with the laser aimed right on the bull’s-eye, then shot one single round with the irons, which was much closer to point of aim. That said, I can’t come up with a good reason not to include a laser on a gun like this. There’s nothing that will force you to use rely on it, and it certainly isn’t in the way, and it isn’t even noticeable on the grips. Maybe every gun should be so well equipped.
The Kimber Master Carry Pro is a solid contender for a daily 1911 carry pistol. All of its features add up to make a very good shooting and concealable hand gun. You get 8+1 .45 ACP in a light weight package that has most of the features you look for in an everyday carry gun. That is assuming you are comfortable carrying a single action only pistol cocked, locked and ready to rock.