In the 1990’s I was growing up as a gunsmith. Around 1996, Kimber was making a real arrival on the 1911 scene. I remember being angry, because Kimber was building guns almost as well as I was making customs, and could charge less for them.
I was not yet to the point where I understood economies of scale yet, I was a teenaged “gunsmith”. I was legit, and had built some incredible guns, but I wasn’t nearly as educated or proficient as I needed to be to call myself one of the better custom makers in my craft in my area.
It was an awkward time for me, and I remember thinking, “Hey, that gun I just built for Joe Schmo cost me 1250 in parts, not to mention labor, and Kimber is selling theirs which is substantially similar for $999. What gives?”
I thought I was out of a job, and I started looking for reasons to downsell the Kimber. I was looking for casting bubbles in the parts, and finish concerns, and subpar internals, but I couldn’t really find any. They had custom trigger jobs, nice flats, even better rounds, and the gun looked complete as it was. I couldn’t compete. I realized some time later, that the factory customs were in a whole different category than the stuff I was making, but, from day one, I realized the Kimber’s had something many 1911’s didn’t have: a distinct place in the custom carry world.
Here was a manufacturer that essentially made this industry, albeit on the backs of custom makers like Terry Tussey, Bill Wilson, Ed Brown, etc. (yeah I missed a few of the pioneers, but we all know what you did to contribute). Guys like this were manufacturing one-off guns to the highest specifications and large scale manufacturers were looking for a way into a big market as they saw it. Enter the Kimber. Now, there were others, and even some of the makers like Ed Brown, Cylinder and Slide, Wilson Combat, Les Baer, STI/SVI were doing them, but Kimber took it mainstream. These guns were the first of their kind: the 1911, with all the trimmings, at a normal price, without a 6 months wait. There were concerns at some points, with availability and a bad batch here and there, but for the most part, Kimber had succeeded at bringing the custom 1911 to the masses.
Around the same time, Alloy frames on the 1911 were starting to become a reality. After years of trying to make it wark, with gunsmoths all over the place overworking the frame to slide fit, or softening the material too much and heavier .45 loads coming out, there were issues.
Fast forward to the present: Kimber has made, what I think, may be the quintessential Alloy framed 1911 from factory that at least should turn your head, if you are looking for something along those lines.
Kimber Super Carry Pro
The Kimber Super Carry Pro is a gun that takes the idea of a full grip frame, and a shortened slide, and pairs it with a lighter weight and heavily modified frame mated to a stainless steel slide. It’s a 28 ounce gun, where many of its competitors are 6-10 ounces heavier, and not nearly as easy to carry.
The Kimber Super Carry Pro has the requisite Kimber MELT treatment, which removes anything that ever thought about being considered an edge on the weapon, and removes a large bulk of the chance that the gun will bind in a holster or chafe you while carrying. It’s functional, and a guess somewhat attractive to Kimber fans. I personally think it destroys the looks of the classic 1911, but I can’t knock the functionality, and that’s all that matters in a carry gun.
A distinctive feature to match the melt treatment is the “bobtail” treatment on the rear of the frame which rounds the mainspring housing and the frame surrounding it to significantly cut down on the mass in the hand, and the chance of snagging. It allows for a faster gun on target from holster to point of aim, and it reduces the chance of excess hang-ups. In concert with the melt and the rounded rear frame, the Kimber Super Carry Pro is essentially a smooth gun, the Scales it uses in place of rear slide serrations and frontstrap checkering, are also smoothed over, and the mainspring and beavertail are distinctly lacking in adornment and grip texturing. Everything here is focused on reducing sang capability; that may do a lot for the claim that this is one of the finest off the shelf 1911’s for carry in the world. But in reality, the gun may be too smooth. The .45 isn’t a particular nightmare of a recoil machine, but in a sweaty palmed stressful situation, this gun may begin to slip a bit. The “scales” aren’t nearly as aggressive as I had hoped for, and are deceiving in the pictures. The scales DO however make their way onto the top of the slide to reduce glare and help with one handed slide manipulation.
When you get this gun in your hands, it’s definitely less grippy than it looks. I must admit though, the checkering and design of the grip panels is awesome. It has enough of a checkered area to provide adequate panel gripping surface, but the last 3.8” of the entire length of the grip is beveled and rounded to provide a snag free exit form a holster, and make the hand to holster, to point of aim transition a smooth and easy procedure. It’s a good design on the grips. By the way they are a pretty laminate made with micarta and laminated wood to imitate a straight rosewood color and grain pattern, with some hints of cocobolo. They are classic looking on a silver frame, and look great with the rest of the gun.
The frame is aluminum, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the slide to frame fit, it’s excellent and the frame is coated in the KimPro 2 finish with a satin silver finish, that looks like a matted hard chrome. There is a good relief cut on the frontstrap under the trigger guard to facilitate the highest handhold and help with recoil and pistol seating.
*Note: I don’t carry the Kimber, nor do I own it, and I have seen three or four friend’s guns, and haven’t noticed any real wear on the slide or frame. That said, I have personally seen (albeit 2 years ago) KimPro finish wear, and I have heard that the finish is not that durable from fellow shooters. I cannot comment on that specifically, because I haven’t carried the gun for more than a single day.
The frame seems to hold up over the course of the 3k rounds my “test” pistol has had through it, and I don’t see any discernible slide shake or fit problems. Stainless steel can be heat treated to match the hardness of aluminum, even if they are on different Rockwell hardness scales. The trick to maintaining slide fit and tolerance is to start with full contact, and use the proper techniques to ensure they stay that way. The KimPro finish helps with this mating, and the surface lubricity is good on it.
There are a few things I would do to this gun to make it a bit more “functional”, though I haven’t experienced a malfunction with the one I have used. I would trade the mags out for Wilson 47’s and the recoil spring for a high power one with some break in. The factory spring is a bit soft, and not to my liking. Now there is a reason perhaps for that, other than the tuning from factory, it may be to facilitate a one handed slide racking in case, I don’t know, you are shot in the offhand arm, and cannot use it to pull and release the slide. In that case you might need to use your jeans to rack the slide or change positions for your single remaining usable hand. The spring being a bit soft may facilitate that; the rear sight certainly does. The step machined into the low profile sight allows you a distinct purchase to pull back on the slide. It is details like these that make the Kimber such a popular choice. There aren’t any compromises, and despite the goofiness of some of the scenarios a clever sales guy can think up to sell you on the gun: the Kimber Super Carry pro can probably do it anyway.
The Gun is 7.7 inches O.A.L., and has a four inch ramped full bull barrel to increase accuracy, lockup and avoid failure concerns with the bushing. It’s thin at 1.28” which lends credibility to the 1911’s incredible ergonomics and ambidextrous nature. The trigger is just over 4 lbs, and the break is clean, the overtravel non-existent and the creep, long gone.
Lowered and flared ejection port (everyone has those now though) and an ambi thumb safety round out the usability of this weapon.
Accurate enough for just about anything combat shooting wise, the gun is capable of 2.5” groups at 20 yards off hand. It’s neither the most accurate nor the least I have tested in this price range or build style. It’s good at punching holes in targets, and I have never had feeding problems with this gun, though I have with other Kimbers.
The point of the Kimber Super Carry Pro is the lightweight ”full size” 1911 without the potential for getting stuck somewhere. At this it excels. Oh and it’s $1550, not $3k. Touche Kimber.
The final word on the Kimber Super Carry Pro
The Kimber Super Carry Pro is a gun fully worth the attention of any shooter looking for a custom 1911 with a lightweight frame for use as a carry weapon, it not only is good at doing that job description, it’s also one of the most well thought out carry 1911’s I have ever shot.