Gun Review: Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URyIuDSQUFw

Life is all about balance. It’s a Zen thing. Yin. Yang. Black. White. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Name your poison. Like in anything else in life, all guns are a study in the art of compromise. Large calibers = big holes, but come with (more) expensive rounds and fewer that will fit in your average sized magazine. Then you’ve got size. And contrary to what Cosmo magazine would have you believe, bigger is not always better. It depends on what you wanna do. Capice? Thus we have the study in compromises du jour, The Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II.

One wag defined compromise as the fine art of nobody getting what they really want. I used to believe that. Until now. Nope, self-defense fans, the Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II (henceforth “the Kimber” or “the Crimson Carry” cuz I’m tired of typing a name only a Microsoft product marketing manager could love) is that rarest of rare bird – a compromise that delivers on the promise of being the best of all possible worlds.

Let’s take a step back, and review our criteria, so we can make a case for (or against) a given weapon’s suitability-to-task. First of all, you can use just about anything for self-defense. Baseball bat, frying pan, framing hammer…you name it. But the self-defense cognoscenti look for the biggest bang for the buck. Handguns are a particular favorite for those in the know. Why? Because you have that “carry it with you” factor that leaves bats, pans, and claw hammers in the dust. But that begs some questions: How big is too big to conceal? How heavy is too heavy to carry with you all day? What about rounds in the mag? How few is not enough? Is accuracy a factor? Distance to target? Stopping power?

The right answer to each of these questions is quite simple, and surprisingly universal, to wit: It depends on the personal needs/preferences of the shooter. Anybody that tells you otherwise is a liar, a scoundrel, or selling you something. (Or quite possibly, all of the above.) For me (and your results may vary), I want a lightweight, semi-auto that shoots .40 cal or larger, with at least 8 rounds capacity, is accurate between 20 and 50 feet, feels good in my hand, and is reliable as the sun coming up tomorrow.

Per my stated requirements, I’ve found that of all the guns out there, a 1911 feels best in my big hands. Again, your results may vary. But deciding on a 1911 is like ordering a Coke at a well-stocked soda fountain – Do you want Coca-Cola? Diet Coke? Caffeine-free Diet Coke? Diet Coke Plus? Coke Zero? Vanilla Coke? Cherry Coke? Diet Coke with Lime? You see what I mean. So I narrowed it down to an aluminum-frame “Commander-style” 1911 with a 4-inch barrel, and a capacity of 8+1. The Kimber in question fits those requirements to a T.

Shooting the Kimber was a revelation. I took my trusty Springfield Loaded, steel-frame 5″ barrel with me for a side-by side, shootin’ comparison. Only there was no comparison, once I solved one nasty little problem. The laser was off. And I mean waaaaaaay off.

The Kimber comes factory-equipped with a pair of custom laser grips, courtesy of Crimson Trace. Squeeze the grip, see a dot. The idea is, wherever that red dot sits, that’s where mister bullet meets mister target. That’s the idea. The reality is, there are two teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy hex screws on the laser that adjust where it goes. And for some reason, it was NOT adjusted. Fortunately, I was able to use the tiniest damn Allen wrench I’ve ever seen, and adjust it. Here’s the thing…features = mo’ money.

And in order to keep the cost down on a laser grip-equipped pistol, Kimber apparently figured that no-dot iron sights would be good enough. Um…I’m not sure on that one. My first (and probably only) upgrade to the Crimson Carry would be to replace the iron sights with something with a LOT more visibility, just in case the laser goes buh-bye at precisely the wrong time. Say some fiber-optic/tritium jobbers. With my tired old/Vari-Focus®-equipped eyes, brighter is better. And while the laser is a huge deal, I’d like to know I can shoot without it. Even some white paint on the sights would be a help.

When reviewing a product or service, writers will tell you, it’s a lot easier to be snarky, vitriolic, and downright nasty about something you hate, than it is to shower something with praises. (It’s also a lot more fun.) On that count, I’m afraid that absence of decent sights on the Kimber is the only weakness I found. And I looked. Boy, how I looked. Trigger? Like buttah. In fact, it’s so good and so smooth, I found myself double-tapping without really thinking. It was almost TOO good, but I’m not complaining. Hit me with some o’ that trigger love and I’m one happy camper.

But what about weight? The Springfield full-size clocks in at a chunky 44oz. unloaded. The Kimber, at around 28oz. That doesn’t sound like much. But it’s like the difference between lightning and lightning bug when it comes to feel. Does the Kimber have more kick than the Springfield? Yep. Is it so much more that it makes me prefer the heavier gun? Nope. And interestingly, it didn’t seem to have any significant effect on my groupings. In fact, I’d argue that the Kimber’s lighter trigger offset any disadvantage found in shooting a lighter gun with a shorter barrel.

Now there is one thing you’d want to know up front about 4″ bull-barrel-equipped 1911s. Whereas it’s possible to field-strip a standard 1911 with no tools, a bull-barrel requires one small tool for disassembly. A paper clip. Yup. A lowly paperclip (albeit a bent one) is required to act as a stop on the guide rod in order to take this puppy appart for some TLC.  Oh, sure, you can use a supplied “wrench” but a paper clip is really all you need. Which is cool (paper clips are, when last I checked, in ready supply) and a little UN-cool, in that you have to have a tool to field strip the Kimber. On the other hand, it reduces your parts count by one, and I found that the bull barrel has a very solid feel to the way it fits hand-in-glove to the slide. With one fewer part than the standard model, I think the accuracy factor might go, ever so slightly, over to the bull barrel camp. Not bad.

I’ve frankly never been much on two-tone anything, but the dark slide coupled with the brush aluminum finish on the frame is growing on me. The faux rosewood grips look great, and (once you get the laser sighted in) the laser is a way cool thing to have.

Did I say “way cool”? I meant “if you’re gonna have a self-defense gun, you really NEED a laser grip.” Here’s why…studies show that when you get into a situation where you have to use your gun for self-defense, a couple of things happen. If you’re lucky, training kicks in. Mostly, though, it doesn’t. Instinct takes over. You end up just “goin’ for it.” point shooting wins out over sight picture. grab n’ go beats plan and prepare. So when it’s time to defend yourself, what could be more natural than grabbing your gun and shooting at the little red dot? Of course, you may not remember that you’re controlling where that little red dot goes, but as long as it’s painting the bad guy, no worries. RF once pondered the possibility that the laser might contribute to the tunnel vision effect experienced by many shooters. In my experience, the opposite was true. Focusing my attention on the laser dot broadened my field of vision and kept my focus down range, instead of on the gun sights.

Okay…one last nit. Kimber…guys…what’s with the product names? I mean, I get you have different series of guns, and you’ve got a name for your full-sized, mid-sized, and compact guns. But really…can’t you come up with something that falls a little more trippingly off the tongue than “Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II”? (Can I get an “Amen” from the TTAGencia out there?) There’s gotta be a better name for something this cool. “The Kimber Defender.” “The Kimber Dragon.” “The Kimber Nightwing.” Think about it. When you have a name that looks as if it was coined by a panel of actuaries, it’s time to get some real marketing people looking at a renaming project.

With a trigger smooth as silk, a virtually idiot-proof laser targeting system, handsome looks, and some impressive attention to detail, the Crimson Carry is all that and a side o’ fries. Is it the perfect carry gun? Too soon to tell. I’m gonna avail myself of the opportunity to carry it daily for 30 days and see. But I can already tell you this. If you think that you’ll have to compromise anything to get a kick-ass pistol for conceal carry, think again. The Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II will change your mind.

Specifications

  • caliber – .45 ACP
  • height – 5.25″
  • length – 7.7″
  • width – 1.28″
  • weight – 28 oz.
  • magazine capacity – 8 rounds
  • recoil spring – 22 pounds
  • full-length guide rod
  • aluminum frame/satin finish
  • steel slide/matte black finish
  • bull barrel – 4″ length
  • twist length – 16 (right hand)
  • black, fixed/low profile sights
  • sight radius – 5.7″
  • Crimson Trace laser grips
  • Aluminum match grade trigger – 4 to 5 lbs.
  • Street price – around $1,200.00

Ratings (out of five)

Style * * * * *

If you like 1911s and aren’t a hide-bound traditionalist, you’ll appreciate the styling. And lasers are cool.

Ergonomics * * * * *

Comfort, thy name is 1911. And this one’s as good as they come.

Ergonomics Firing * * * * *

Surprisingly easy, with a sweet trigger (factory-fresh, no less), bull barrel, and the feel of a custom, hand-tuned pistol.

Reliability * * * * *

No choking on roundball, JHPs – you name it. I didn’t feed it the really crap stuff, but why would you put kerosene in a Ferrari?

Customize this * * * * *

The 1911 is to guns what a Jeep is to SUVs. Customize away, baby! (And start with the sights.)

Overall Rating * * * * 1/2

I’m deducting a half-star for the vanilla iron sights. If you’re under 40, you won’t care. If you’re over 40, figure you’re gonna wanna upgrade those sights, pronto.

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About Brad Kozak

Brad Kozak is an iconoclastic, curmudgeonly graphic designer/marketer/writer/musician/advertiser/conservative creative guy. In 2007, he completed a gradual transition from a conservative semi-pacifist to a proactive, armed citizen, willing to exercise his Second Amendment rights to protect his family and property. His idea of “gun control” is hitting where he aims.

24 Responses to Gun Review: Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II

  1. avatarihatetrees says:

    Weight is a serious issue with any cc weapon. There's no right answer for everyone, but north of 32 oz with a 5" barrel will be a problem for many.

    I like the feel of shooting an ACP, especially in 9mm. The trigger, the ergonomics, the grip angle, the safety.

  2. avatarKen says:

    I'm 62 and have the over 40 eyes syndrome. I recommend the XS Big Dot Tritium front sight and have it on every gun I carry, including my Kimber Compact. Back sights vary with the gun – I just don't like the XS v back sight. But XS will sell just the front sight.

  3. avatarTom says:

    We have the smaller version Ultra Crimsom Carry II, After reading this I just may have to make another visit to my local dealer. By the way, I think the Ultra Carr is also a great pistol.

  4. avatarTommyJohn says:

    Years ago I purchased the Kimber Pro Carry II & then added the Crimson Trace Laser Grip to it. It is a great gun & love the point and shoot aspects of the laser. Very functional for a cc handgun. It has been a pleasure to own & shoot. Kimber makes a great 1911!!!

  5. avatarJohn says:

    Kimber does make very high quality pistols, but at the same time they seem too expensive for me.

  6. avatarJC says:

    Does the laser affect holster choice? I like the laser grip from Crimson. It looks like it might get in the way for a lot of 1911 holsters, by not seating all the way in…any results yet?

  7. avatarmike wandrick says:

    Bought my Kimber procarryII with crimson trace last year, a nice gun, fun to shoot and anyone would be proud to have one. One objection, the gun came with only one magazine but I plan to get two or three more soon so I shoot more without having to reload the one magizine.

  8. avatar.45StayAlive says:

    I’ve owned a Kimber Pro Carry II equipped with the Crimson Lasergrips for more than 3 years now (the Pro Carry II is basically the same pistol you tested, but all black, and the Lasergrips I installed are also black). Of my 7 pistols, it’s my favorite. In addition to the Lasergrips, I sent it to Wayne Novak to have his wide-notch tritium sights installed. I carry it everywhere.

  9. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I prefer the ball peen hammer to the framing hammer cuz that lil ball will ruin a badguys whole day. I love all Kimbers and own most of the styles. I just added the truglo TGO fiber optic sites to my Kimbers and they are awesome. They glow in the dark and work like fiber optic sites in day light. I’ve owned Kimber’s for as long as I can remember and never had a problem.

  10. avatarDanni says:

    I purchased a Pro Carry II some time ago, and I just got laser grips for it for Christmas. It is my current carry pistol since the laser grips upgrade, though I am waiting for my Solo to arrive (hopefully in the next month or so). I am a big fan of Kimbers. They immediately fit my hands and point straight. Can’t ask for much more than that.

  11. avatarMike M. says:

    I guess I was lucky. I purchased the exact same gun and the laser was dead on out of the box (and still is). My son and I went to an indoor range and they had a rifle lane that went to 75 ft. We used a target about the size pasted on the large target in the video. Out of 16 shots my son put four in the target and several just outside the target area. I put 12 on target with 4 shots just ouside the target area. I had never shot a pistol at this distance and was amazed at the accuracy. I had been telling my son earlier that I truly belived the Crimson Trace Laser had drastically improved my accuracy. He saw this when he tried to put it on target the first few times. Believe me at 75 ft. you do not need much movement to send the laser bouncing all over the place. It ‘s easy to see why so many people miss when it’s a life or death situation and your adrenalin is pumping. It is hands down my favorite gun and I love the look of this particular model.

  12. avatarwarren says:

    Got one love it also have a kimber custom II with a 5 ” barrel kimber makes a great gun

  13. Recently purchased the Kimber PCC II, originally drawn to the gun for looks and features. After several houndred rounds through this gun, it just gets better and better. Kimber has a love/hate reputation as evident from other forums. Count me in the love camp. I shoot a S&W MP 9mm in IPSC comp but this is my carry/home protection gun. Show the Kimber some love and get it a Wilson Combat mag.

  14. avatarBob Underwood says:

    I have the Ultra Carry Covert II. Love it, but holsters are a problem with the Crimson Trace laser grip. Example: With the Cross Breed the laser grip protrusion binds so tight that the draw is next to impossible. W/O the laser grip the Cross Breed is a dream. I have called Cross Breed for a fix recommendation. No word yet. Anyone have an idea?

    • avatarDAVE says:

      I HAVE A KIMBER ULTRA CRIMSON CARRY II 45ACP….I CC WITH A “BLACKHAWK” SIZE 5 , NYLON , INSIDE RIGHT , @ 2 O,CLOCK….WALK, RUN , DRIVE ETC…

  15. avatarT Boesch says:

    Why do the para-military folks avoid lasers? Well, it is extra stuff that can go wrong. Murphy will ensure that the battery dies or contact stops working at the moment of truth.

    Shot placement is #1. Kimber makes a good pistol – when their quality control is in full swing. MIM parts are okay if made and tested properly. The external extractor was weak and you really should get the slide replaced for free if you have one. But you might have to say you are LE to get them to change yours out.. all the while avoiding the blame of making a mistake.

    Get night sights. Take a class. Muscle memory is what counts. You can pull a laser around just as bad as hard sights. drop a bore sight in and see how much your handling, stance, natural point of aim, and proper trigger manipulation alter the little dot placement.

    Practice, practice, practice… confidence in our ability overcomes the tunnel vision created by fear. I have yet to hear an instructor say that a laser does the same.

  16. avatarLightbulb says:

    Bought a Pro Carry II and after 3 months and 400 rounds I think I finally have it working correctly.After paying close to a Grand?Would not feed anything reliably until I contacted Kimber and they sent me a new 22lbs. Recoil Spring.In comparing the spring that came in the gun with the replacement,I noticed that the original spring had 15 coils and was shorter than the replacement spring.The replacement spring had 18 coils-hmmm.The 9mm and 38 Super spring is an 18 pounder and has 15 coils.I think Kimber is somehow installing the Spring Assembly from the 9mm’s in the 45′s during Manufacturing.Now the gun shoots everything I put through it and is more accurate than I am.But I will have to put a bazillion more rounds through it without issue before I will trust it to save my life-the opposite of my expectations when laying out big bucks for this gun.And,Oh Yeah-the Finish is scratching off at the magazine well,the slide stop(from trying to reassemble),the left side of the muzzle,and the underside of the slide.I know this is a “Service Grade” Pistol,but really.So is my highly-blued High Power,which is almost scratchless after 15 years.Going to pick up a PX4 Sorm Compact in 45cal. and think about selling the Kimber while it still works.Either way,my first and last Kimber.

  17. avatarRobert says:

    No hearing protection? This guy is a moron.

  18. avatarSteve Dallas says:

    Happy birthday!

    Just had my 67th and was treated to $200 worth of gift cards. Woohooo!

    Heading down to my local GD to pick up my brand new Kimber carry II pro in layaway for 3 months.

    Thanks for the tips fellas. I’ll be checking out the recoil spring and having the sites changed to tridium.

    It’s taken me 10 years of looking at kimbers, not being able to afford em until I finally got old enough and save enough money to make the investment.

    This is my fourth 1911. I’m really looking forward to shooting it.

  19. avatarJeff says:

    I purchased my kimber pro crismon carry 2 a month ago. I’ve already put about 800 rounds threw it. Awesome pistol love it. Very accurate. I can only find one problem that maybe you can answer for me. The magazine holds eight rounds but if you chamber one round and put eight back into the magazine, the magazine will not go back into pistol with one in the chamber. Is this normal for this pistol or is there something wrong with it. All my clocks I can chamber a round and fill magazine. This is my first kimber so I was just wondering if its something they do to there pistols.

  20. avatarCurtis sabo says:

    The kimber dragon haha I like it way better. I have it every thing is great except for the sights. And when you pay 1200 ish for a pistol you would think you would get 2 mags….wrong! Oh well love it anyways. Great job kimber thanks

  21. avatarBob Pauls says:

    Very disappointed, overpriced for what it is.

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