Gun Review: Kimber Super Carry Pro HD

 

Competition. Carry. Is it possible to buy a pistol which satisfies the IDPA-driven need for speed and accuracy with self-defense safety and concealability? Over the last few months I narrowed my search for one handgun to rule them both. I set my heart on a high quality an-all steel 1911 with a four inch barrel. And there she was, lingering inside the gun show loophole: a month-old Kimber Super Carry Pro HD. Kimber’s first all steel 4″ carry model. All it took was two checks, my background and my money . . .

Size & Weight

Carrying the all-steel Kimber Super Carry Pro HD requires commitment. The 35-ounce handgun weighs slightly more than a box of Aunt Jemima’s Original Pancake & Waffle Mix, a 32-ounce product that seems carefully designed to encourage shoppers to swap their handbasket for a cart. Although the Pro HD’s barrel is 1″ shorter than my Custom II, the smaller gun weighs just three ounces less. With a full magazine, the two guns feel equally heavy.

The Super Carry Pro HD is an ergonomically sound firearm, as is. Which makes it a perfect starting point for people who can’t leave well enough alone—or need to raise their game. The Pro HD’s grip-safety is Kimber’s no-bump standard; I’ll change it out for the memory bump version. While I’m at it, I’ll replace Kimber’s ambi-thumb-safety with a smaller, smoother Wilson Combat tactical thumb-safety.

The bobtail on the Super Carry Pro HD requires a slightly different cut grip that a normal bobtail. Luckily, the folks at VZ Grips will contour their grips to fit the Super Carry Pro HD at no additional cost. My favorite grip is the Elite Tactical Carry in Black Cherry. As you can see above, it looks great on this firearm, and fits perfectly.

Fit & Finish

Super Carry Pro HD’s curved bobtail makes this gun special. The parkerized steel mainspring housing is equally appreciated. The good news: we finally have a Kimber with a metal mainspring housing. The bad news: the serrations are practically non-existant.

The deep black KimPro II finish over the Pro HD’s slide and frame is gorgeous. The finish gives the 1911 the sort of elegantly bad-ass look that you’d expect from a gun carried by James Bond’s CIA counterpart (Felix Leiter). Caution! Slippery when wet! I suspect the Pro HD’s “self-lubricating” coating has some Teflon in it.

Like all coatings, it’s not very thick. Touch ups are easy enough using a Birchwood Casey Presto Gun Blue Touch Up Pen. The stainless steel under the coating blues very nicely to a deep dark black.

The Super Carry Pro HD’s Carry Melt treatment removes all the guns sharp edges, especially around the muzzle. While gunmakers sell “de-horned” guns on their ability to minimize clothing snags—a reassuring advantage for life’s big uh-oh moments—smoothing out the rough bits also makes holstering a weapon predictable and easy. That’s a huge plus for competition.

Sights & Controls

The Super Carry Pro HD wears tritium night sights atop a well-designed cocking shoulder. (The set-up’s similar to my Custom II’s 10-8 Performance sights.)

While I applaud Kimber’s decision to offer night sights with a cocking shoulder on the Super Carry Pro HD, the white paint job leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not the most visibility-enhancing choice.

That said, if you’ve ever practiced racking your slide one-handed on your holster, shoe or blue jeans—an important self-defense skill to compensate for an injured arm—you know that a handgun’s rear site design is mission critical. The Pro HD’s will git ‘er done.

Trigger

The Super Carry Pro HD comes with a solid black aluminum trigger. It feels exactly like the triggers on my Tactical II Ultra and Custom II models. If you want to know why 1911s are the first choice for IDPA competitors, the Pro HD is a case in point. It’s as crisp as a freshly chilled head of Iceberg lettuce and cleaner than an OCD toilet seat, with a reset firm enough to shame a Sleep Number Bed showing 100 on the clock.

Range Report

The Pro HD’s recoil spring felt a little “mushy” during both initial range outings. As this example was a “floor model” from a gun show, I suspect the gun had spent much of its short life locked open (i.e. with a fully compressed recoil spring). In theory, this contributed to the felt recoil and, yes, out of battery issues.


This is my third Kimber. Each has had its own break-in issues—which smoothed out after 500 rounds of ball ammo. The Super Carry Pro HD with factory magazines proved to be no exception; I experienced a few failures to feed (FTF) shooting Winchester White Box 230gr FMJ ammo.

Specifically, an FTF on round seven in my third string, another on round eight of my sixth string and one more on seven on my tenth string. Note: in almost every “out of battery” instance I was able to hit the slide and fire the round.

Like my Custom II and Tactical II Ultra, the new Super Carry Pro HD is much more accurate than its operator—as you might expect from a Kimber with a bushingless match grade bull barrel. For an OFWG with a bad back, my groups at seven, 10 and 15 yards were more than acceptable. Thanks to the Kimber’s heft and balance, re-acquiring the sight picture is a near-instantaneous process. For self-defense, minute-of-bad guy is a done deal. For competition, confidence is high. [Report to follow.]

Super Carry Pro HD Reliability Modifications

I believe that all the failures to feed that experienced in my first two outings can be traced back to one simple design flaw: the Super Carry Pro HD simple operates too fast with the factory recoil spring, using standard magazine springs. Once I fitted Wolff’s Improved XP Recoil Spring and started using the Wilson Combat 7-Round, Heavy Duty Magazine (47C-HV) my FTF issues cleared up instantly. And completely.

After several IDPA BFFs demonstrated how one pound of additional spring force could affect the “felt recoil” of any 1911, I now use Wolff’s recoil springs in all my 1911s . Once I installed the extra power recoil spring in my Super Carry Pro HD, I immediately noticed the difference. I wish Kimber would pay attention to little details like this.  

Conclusions

At $1625 msrp, you might expect the Kimber Super Carry Pro HD to be perfect straight out of the box. For some, it may be. But for 1911 aficionados, the people who have the coin for these firearms, little things are a big deal. With the Pro HD there are a few nits to pick. For example, Wilson Combat’s 47D magazines’ nylon follower is simply a better design than Kimber’s stock mags.

But then high-end 1911 buyers tend to view any pistol as a starting point. And with a few minor tweaks (recoil spring, new magazines), I wouldn’t hesitate to call this weapon Kimber’s finest dual-role 1911.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber: .45 ACP
Height 90° to barrel: 5.25 inches
Weight with empty magazine: 35 ounces
Length: 7.7 inches
Width: 1.28 inches
Magazine Capacity: 8 + 1 in the chamber
Recoil Spring: 22 pounds
Full-Length Guide Rod
Frame: Stainless Steel; Matte Black / KimPro II Coated;
Slide: Stainless Steel; Matte Black / KimPro II Coated;
Barrel: Steel, match grade bull barrel; Length: 4 inches; Twist Rate: 16 (Left Hand)
Sights: Fixed low profile night sights, 3-dot with cocking shoulder, Radius: 5.7 inches
Grips: G10 / Checkered with Smooth Border
Trigger: Aluminum, Match Grade; Factory setting: 4 – 5 pounds
MSRP: $1,625.00

RATINGS (Out of Five Stars)

Accuracy: * * * * *
Shooting .45 ACP ball ammo this gun is deadly accurate.

Ergonomics: * * * *
It’s a 4″ 1911 with a curved bobtail and “Carry Melt” treatment. What more could you ask for in a carry gun—other than capacity?

Ergonomics Firing: * * * *
Crisp trigger and reasonable recoil. All the controls are right where they should be. A joy to shoot.

Reliability: * * *
Like any 1911, you’ll need to break-in the Super Carry Pro HD. After 500 rounds it’s nearly perfect.

Customization: * * * * *
It’s a 1911 so (almost) everything is customizable from the grips to the barrel.

Overall Rating: * * * *
The Super Carry Pro HD is Kimber’s top of the line in 4″ 1911s. You could spend over $2800 for a “Bill Wilson Carry” or save $1200 for a few mods, a good holster and lots of ammo.