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By David Kronenfeld

I’ve always been a 1911 fan. Perhaps it comes from my childhood memories of flipping through my great grandfather’s World War I scrapbook and idolizing his service in the War to End All Wars. My favorite picture is of him and his childhood sweetheart who he married just prior to shipping off to France. While Jeff Cooper would not have approved of his trigger finger placement, it’s an image that left an indelible imprint on my impressionable young mind. I’m also a fan of 1911s chambered in something other than .45 ACP . . .

Sure, that may make me a heretic, but a 1911 doesn’t have to be a .45. That’s why the Kimber Stainless Target II in 10mm was my first 1911, a gift from my grandfather several years ago. The Stainless Target model carries a $1,108 MSRP, but can often be found in the mid $900s range if you look hard enough.

Although relatively unnoticeable, the 10mm model’s grip is slightly thinner than a traditional .45ACP 1911. The gun’s stock grips are black diamond checkered synthetic and do an excellent job of helping the shooter control the bite of the 10mm recoil.

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The rear strap comes checkered from the factory; however, the front strap is smooth stainless steel which is my only real gripe with the gun’s standard options. The smoothness makes gripping the gun with sweaty hands or during a long range session without gloves a bit of a challenge, but it is not something so material as to seriously affect performance.

Another area where some shooters might consider upgrading an already nearly perfect gun is the safety. While it functions flawlessly for right handed shooters it is not ambidextrous and the addition of an ambidextrous safety would be a nice, albeit probably unnecessary, upgrade for most shooters.

The stainless steel slide and frame make maintenance incredibly easy. Breakdown requires a traditional 1911 breakdown tool and cleaning the gun is like any other 1911. Mine seems to like Rem Oil and I’ve never had a malfunction no matter how dirty I get the gun. Sure, breaking it down isn’t as easy a Glock or other polymer pistol, but once you get the hang of it; it’s a very straightforward process.

This particular model features a 5” steel match grade barrel along with adjustable target sights. The rear sight is etched to reduce glare though I plan to upgrade to night sights at some point in the near future. Although the gun could easily be open carried or in a shoulder holster, it’s designed more as a target or trail gun which makes the lack of standard night sights less of a requirement. Use as a target or trail gun also negates some of the issues associated with the weight of a full size 1911. This one weighs in at a healthy 38 ounces empty, but the weight is so well distributed that the gun feels much lighter when shooting it.

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The gun came with only a single 9-round magazine and I purchased two additional factory Kimber mags. The groove along the length of the magazines makes it easy to distinguish them from traditional .45ACP 1911 magazines which is particularly helpful when you’re at the range with multiple 1911s in different calibers.

Ammunition is widely available from all the major manufacturers as well as multiple custom shops. While not as widely available as 9mm or .45ACP, I’ve never had a problem finding it. Prices can range from a hefty $38/box of 50 for American Eagle at my local range to <$20/box for reloads. Given my work schedule, I’ve found the best solution to cheap ammo for range time has been to find someone local who will reload my spent cases.

Enough with aesthetics and accoutrements, though, the real question is – how does it shoot? Short answer – like no other handgun I’ve ever had the pleasure of firing. The gun delivers incredible performance and punches well above its price point. I’ve put a couple thousand rounds through it with nary a malfunction.

The gun is a delight to shoot from its crisp 4 lb. trigger to the deadly accurate sights to the ease of grip. The 5” barrel not only enhances the accuracy of the gun, but the increased weight tames the recoil of the 10mm to a very manageable amount. I would argue my Kimber Solo transfers more recoil to the shooter than this gun. I often take new or novice shooters to the range and never hesitate to hand them this gun after a few magazines of .22LR and 9mm. Many don’t even notice the change in caliber and most list it as the easiest to shoot. This is usually backed up by the results on their target 7 – 10 yards down range. The gun easily outshoots my limited skills and delivers incredible groupings out to 25 yards (the farthest I’ve shot with it).

In summary, this is an amazing value proposition for someone who wants either a non-traditional 1911 or a trail gun for hunting or hiking in bear country. Not only is it a joy to shred paper with this gun, but it also instills the necessary confidence in the owner to trek afield with no worries about whether he or she will be able to hit a dangerous animal because of recoil or lack of accuracy. If I could have only one handgun, then this would be it.

 

Specifications:

Caliber: 10mm
Height: 5.7″
Length: 8.7″
Width: 1.28″
Weight: 38 oz.
MSRP: $1,108

 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * * *
1911s exude style.

Ergonomics: * * * * 1/2
The addition of checkering to the front strap would have made this a five star rating.

Reliability: * * * * *
I’ve run everything from reloads to cheap factory ammo to custom defense ammo without a single malfunction. I’d trust my life to this gun and I wouldn’t say that about every 1911 I’ve owned.

Customization: * * * *
The lack of a rail might lower the customizability factor in some shooters’ minds, but this gun comes with nearly everything you’d need and/or want.

Overall: * * * * *
This gun rocks. It’s not only extremely accurate on the range, but it also makes for a fantastic trail gun in bear country. I’ll say it again, if I could have only one handgun, then this would be it.

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41 Responses to Contest Entry: Gun Review – Kimber Stainless Target II 10mm

  1. My first 1911 was also a Kimber 10mm, though not the one in the article. I don’t regret it, and I still have the pistol, though all my other 1911s are in .45ACP, as Moses (Browning) intended.

  2. One magazine for 1100bucks? I wish Taurus would make a 10mm(for $600 less). Their 1911’s rock…BTW nice review(and a nice gun)-fps and muzzle velocity would be the icing on the cake.

    • Rock Island is the answer! Not exactly 600 less (retail is about 8 bills) but you get a super-reliable 1911a1 in 10mm with VZ grips and 2 mags, to boot!

    • I just put money down on the SS Target II and my reaction at getting one mag (looking in the box) was similar but then I remembered that Kimber mags kinda suck. I’ll grab half a dozen magazines from Tripp Research.

    • That happens to me too. I found the best way to edit, when the edit sign does not show is to close out the window completely back to your wall paper, then reopen and it will probably be there. Works for me.

  3. “A standard 1911 breakdown tool”?
    I’ve tossed several hundred thousand rounds through Colt .45s (what we used to call “1911s”) over the last half-century and have yet to hear of or use such a thing.
    But then, Kimber.

    • Colts are sloppy enough that out of the box you can do most field stripping with your fingers, but Kimbers come much tighter from the factory. I own both, there’s a huge difference in tolerances. The take down tool comes in hand with the snugger fit guns.

        • Every 1911 that’s come into my possession afflicted with a full length guide rod has not seen the next week come without the wretched thing being replaced with a spring guide.
          Every single example ran better after the replacement.
          Colts are “sloppy”, Kimbers are “tight”… The point of the gun is personal protection. “Tight” is bad. What you call “sloppy” is the way it was designed, in order to keep it able to fulfill its mission.
          I have a ’51 Commander .38 that a Kimber owner would call “sloppy”. It can pile bullets into a small ragged hole at nearly any distance- a non-1911 range buddy was astounded to take it with the military sights, stock 5lb trigger, and ordinary lead reloads, and toss a 17-round group at 35 yards that his hand could easily cover. And he’d never fired anything but Glocks in his life.
          “Tight” is not good in 1911s. “Good” is.

  4. I would really love to have a reliable semi-auto pistol in 10 mm for woods defense. Unfortunately, I have a hard time justifying almost $1000 for a woods defense handgun. I’ll stick with a nice revolver with a 6 inch barrel in .357 Magnum or even .44 Magnum if the location calls for it.

    And if I am willing to purchase a revolver from Taurus, I can even get a .357 Magnum revolver with an 8-shot cylinder, a ported barrel, and a street price of about $600 — all of which are compelling features in a revolver.

      • I didn’t realize the Glock 20 was under $600. That is interesting. And it even has a 15 round magazine! Hmm. I’ll have to seriously consider that.

        And I just discovered their Glock 40 with a 6 inch barrel in 10mm. Now that would be a serious woods defense semi-auto. I wonder how much more those cost at the local gun store?

        • Pick up a couple of Lone Wolf conversion barrels and the Glock 20 will fire .40S&W and .357 SIG with the same magazines. A wicked versatile pistol and my favorite Glock by far.

        • I’mm opposed to buying Gaston’s products, and I can’t stand the association with “glock people,” But I’ve almost bought a 20SF on more than one occasion. I know it’s going to happen eventually… If it’s used, works, the finish is a mess, and the price is right, I’ll probably end up with one. Might even go the 21SF route and have conversion barrels/springs since I’m already heavily invested in .45 ACP via 1911…

    • I’ve never owned a Taurus revolver so I won’t trash them. But I do own a couple GP100s and I can’t recommend them highly enough. I first bought a Wiley Clapp for carry and then picked up a 6″ stainless off of GunBroker this spring for $550. Both are very accurate, I’ve recently taken up shooting the 6″ at 100 yards with a rest and I can get most of my rounds on a 12″ target. Added a set of the old fashioned GP grips from Altamont and a HiViz fiber optic front sight and still have less than $650 invested (including shipping and transfer).

      Unfortunately Ruger doesn’t make an 8 shot, or even a 7. They did make a .357 Redhawk but for some insane reason it was still a 6 shot.

    • Give the RIA Tac Ii a look. It’s still a little more expensive than a G20 and isn’t as clean as the Kimber but it has performed flawlessly for me. I bought it as an anti-black bear gun.

    • Look on Gunbroker for Taurus 608-a used one (that looks perfect) for $300reserve. If I had $ I’d bid. 8 rounds sounds pretty good…

  5. The delta point red dot on my milled slide G29 just went during shooting this weekend. Hopefully I get a warranty replacement in time for hunting season. Suppressor sights wont cut it over 10 yards. May have to get it re-milled to accept an RMR. Thinking about picking one of these or Colt Delta Elite to hunt/carry in the woods this fall as a backup. Thanks for the review.

  6. It would be interesting to do a side by side comparison with a Glock 20 and a full steel frame 1911 like the Kimber or Dan Wesson Razorback. I wonder if a new shooter would notice the difference between steel and polymer.

  7. I have been know to carry my Eclipse Custom II 10mm, good gun, has front strap checkering and night sights right out of the box.

  8. “…delivers incredible groupings out to 25 yards…”

    Such as? A half inch? Two inches? Five? What do you consider an “incredible” group at that range?

    • Sub two and a half inch groups shooting offhand. I’m sure it would group tighter but for lack of skills on the part of the shooter (me). A quantifiable description would have been more helpful here. Thanks.

  9. Where are the pictures that inspired the love of the 1911? I think we would all be interested in seeing some of those!

  10. I’ve owned this very gun and, while it was really beautiful, it was totally unreliable. That’s using everything from standard 10mm plinking ammo like Blazer or AE to HP defensive rds to really hot Underwood +p+. FTE’s, FTF’s you name it. I love 1911s and Blocks are meh, but a G20 or 29 with hot defensive ammo will make steel targets rock like no other handgun caliber save big bore magnum rds. Glad to hear OPs works well tho.

    • I have a Kimber Super Carry 4″ and have had the same issues you describe. No FTFs or FTEs with the 10mm though. The 10 is newer than the Super Carry so not sure what the issue is. I tried the Wilson Combat mags recommended by another blog post on TTAG and they didn’t have much effect. Very frustrating for the price of the gun. Very accurate and a fun range gun, but not something I’d carry because I can’t rely on it.

  11. Beatiful but i would prefer an double stack mag as the glock in 10mm ownes.
    We need more 10mm gun”s white double stack.
    An Boberg XR45-S Onyx /All Black in that white double stack would an nice ccw gun ore for an open carry suppressor snubbie an interested basic …………..

  12. lol, that thing is IDENTICAL to my taurus pt1911, except mine actually has sights you can use, for half the price and runs like a champ. Kimbers are so overrated.

  13. I’ve always wanted a single-stack stainless 1911. But it won’t be this one. I love my Taurus PT1911AR. Could by another and still have money left over compared to this one…

    I’d rather buy two good guns and have enough money enough left over to buy almost 1000rds of ammo for them, than one overpriced princess gun with no ammo….

  14. Just got one of these used in excellent condition.
    I don’t usually spend a grand for any gun but made a good trade.
    I’m a firearms expert and gunsmith ive owned two import 1911s and two US made.
    The first was a bare bones RIA it was ok sights sucked and fit was way off even marginal loose breach. “3/5”
    The second was a CIA Elite good drift sights fit was ok but not durable. “4/5”
    The next was a Remington r11 fit was good goofy 3 dot sights performed a bit less than Elite but us made. “4/5”
    The 4th is this Kimber Stainless Target 2 fit is perfect, function follows of course.
    Adjustable sights and every part is match grade. “5+/5”
    Side note this Kimber and all like it are much harder to find barrels and other parts and more expensive too.
    I’ve not handled any Sig 1911s but read some reviews before you buy.
    If you can afford one get one if not star with a CIA its the best for the money much better than RIA or the Brazilian Taurus are good too.
    This is one of the few times in life when you really get what you pay for.
    Further note many other types of pistols are available much cheaper, Croation Springfield XDs are about the best service for the money.
    EAA has many good defense pistols like the Witness for about 300 very good value.
    High Point pistols are the cheapest US guns of note 45s are very good 9mm less so both rifles and pistols.
    Even Sig has budget guns for defense, Smith, Beretta, Ruger all good brands.
    Ergonomics is the main concern go down to a gun store and handle as many as you can decide for yourself dont believe any advertising BS.
    All guns fail, you are the only safety that you can trust so be safe and send some lead downrange as often as possible.

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