Kimber America is a proud sponsor of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. In 2010, Kimber and RMEF co-branded a line of 84L rifles. This year, Kimber donated $50k to the wilderness preservation organization and co-branded a new 1911, the Kimber Camp Guard.
The Camp Guard is a 10mm 1911 with the RMEF logo carved into Rosewood grips, sitting beneath twin peaks. Those are some damn good grips! They’re 1.2″ wide and fill my size large hands for a solid grip.
Just in case you need a bit more purchase from your purchase, the Camp Guard’s front strap sports 30 lines per inch checkering. The New York/Montana manufacturer also serrated the rear of the pistol’s mainsprings housing.
Kimber rounded the heel of the Camp Guard’s full length grip; a feature found on many high end 1911s designed for everyday carry. One you don’t often see in a hunting pistol. In fact, the Camp Guard blurs the lines between high fashion and backwoods. It’s an everyday-carry-in-the-woods gun.
The Camp Guard’s magazine well is slightly beveled, but there’s no swelling of the entry point and no dramatic funneling. Nor does there need to be. The magazines drop free and easy, and there are no snags or catches loading a new one into the pistol during fast reloads.
The Kimber web site says the stock magazine holds eight rounds. Our T&E Kimber mag easily held nine rounds of 10mm ammunition. FWIW it wouldn’t hold 9+1 with any magazine I tried.
The Camp Guard’s brushed stainless frame supports a matte black slide. As you’d expect from Kimber, the finish is even and bereft of tool marks.
The slide is adorned only with a simple Kimber script on the left side, with the model name in small print below the ejection port.
The finish on the Camp Guard’s slide is even; there’s the same amount of shine and polish on the flats, cuts and rounds. That’s where a lot of mass produced 1911s fall down: their polishing machines can’t polish all the different textures evenly. Kimber can because they use a human hand.
The Camp Guard’s rear sight is a drift adjustable ramp style, serrated at the rear.
Whether for hunting or for defense, the 3 dot tritium sights are the right answer for a gun that might come to use in the failing light of a backcountry dusk. The top of the slide is flattened, another welcome feature. A flattened slide top helps make the sights pop when you press the gun forward.
The Camp Guard’s thumb safety hangs tight off the left of frame. And only on the left side. Kimber’s custom shop caters to Devil-handed buyers, or customers who prefer an ambi-safety.
The Kimber Camp Guard features a full length guide rod and a one-piece ramped barrel.
Some folks make a big deal of the ramped barrel, especially when firing the 10mm cartridge. The argument: segmented ramps don’t fully support the cartridge. When pushing 10mm to it’s maximum pressures, the setup can cause case bulging and failure. At least that’s the theory.
It’s not my experience. I’ve shot many hundreds, and more likely several thousand full pressure rounds through the classic Colt Delta Elite, segmented ramp and all, without issue. That said, my brass lasts for more reloads in guns like the Camp Guard. I don’t know if that’s due to the ramped barrel or just better barrel quality and chamber dimensions in general.
Kimber says the trigger should break at four to five pounds. On my Lyman scale, the Camp Guard’s trigger sat at four pounds even. It breaks after a small amount of pre-travel, followed by a solid wall, then the snap of the hammer. I felt no grit or sloppiness in the trigger. It’s a lot more than merely adequate for fast, accurate shooting off-hand or from the bench.
Quite a few 10mm 1911s are used as hunting pistols, and for good reason. Beyond just the energy the round delivers at reasonable hunting ranges, the 1911 is legendary for its ability to be tuned into a precise auto-loading pistol.
In this, the Kimber Camp Guard performs admirably, but not spectacularly.
Using the Freedom Munitions 180gr RNFP — a fine Hill Country whitetail deer round — the Camp Guard scored an average five-round group size of 2″ at 25 yards, for four firing sets off bags.
The SIG SAUER 180gr Elite-V Crown JHP printed the best group size at 1.6″, but none of the groups fired through the pistol shot worse than 2 1/4″ with any commercial load. That 2 1/4″ group was the 220gr Buffalo Bore cartridge, which would still be plenty accurate at any reasonable distance the round would be expected to perform at.
At 100 yards, I’d hammer wild pigs and coyotes all day long with the Kimber Camp Guard. Black bear and mule deer at 50 yards wouldn’t stand a chance — assuming you’re doing your job as the marksman.
I put 500 rounds through the Camp Guard, mostly trouble free. Mostly, but not completely.
Using the supplied Kimber magazine, the last round would tip up just a tiny bit too high and hang up, preventing the slide from returning to battery. It did this if I loaded 8, 9, or even just 4 rounds into the factory magazine.
During the first 300 rounds, the failure happened about one out of every three magazines, regardless of ammo. The malfunction did not occur when I used a Colt Delta Elite factory mag or a Wilson Combat 10mm magazine, regardless of the round.
On my fourth day spent shooting the Camp Guard, the issue disappeared. I made a point of using nothing but the factory magazine for the last 100 rounds. Nada. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it’s not the first time I’ve had that experience.
A few years ago I bought a Kimber Ultra Covert II in .45ACP. I bought it barely used from a shooter disappointed with its reliability. I discovered that it worked just fine with any magazine other than the factory Kimber magazine. After about another 1,000 rounds, it ran fine even with the factory mag. That seems to be the same issue here.
All in all, I shot hundreds of rounds of Freedom Munitions’ 180gr FBRN round, the 180gr SIG SAUER V Crown, as well the 220gr Buffalo Bore and Hornady’s 180gr XTP round. With a fair amount of speed and ease . . .
The Camp Guard’s only half an ounce heavier than a stock Colt Series 70 Government in .45ACP. With its 5″ barrel and not much extra weight, considering the high pressure cartridge required, I expected Kimber’s 10mm 1911s to give me a bit more snap. The Camp Guard soaks up recoil and keeps the muzzle down surprisingly well.
I haven’t quite pieced together why this Kimber stays down the way it does. It contains a full length guide rod and an uncomplicated round wire recoil spring. I wouldn’t consider any of the rounds I shot maximum pressure for the cartridge, but some were close, especially for commercial loads.
As it is, I could lay a full magazine’s worth, all nine rounds, into an 8″ circle at 10 yards in 2.53 seconds, from the draw.
A better marksman could do that quicker, and maybe farther away, but even against an angry Grizzly, that’s enough gun at those ranges. And “enough” against a Grizzly is enough against anything.
Considering it’s a 10mm Kimber, I was expecting a higher price. $1,200 MSRP isn’t bad; you can easily find the Camp Guard online for $150 less. With tritium sights, a flattened top slide, the carved grips and checkered front strap, the Camp Guard is an attractive, versatile pistol at an excellent price. And it helps the elk.
Kimber Camp Guard 10mm 1911
Caliber: 10 mm
Weight with empty magazine: 38oz
Magazine capacity: 8 (I fit 9)
Recoil spring (pounds): 18.5
Frame Material: Stainless steel
Frame Finish: Satin silver
Frame width (inches): 1.28
Slide Material: Stainless steel
Slide Finish: KimPro matte black
Barrel Length: 5″
Barrel Material: Stainless steel
Twist rate (left hand): 16
Sight Radius (inches): 6.8
Trigger: aluminum, 4-5lb pull weight
Style and Finish ****
The RMEF-branded grips work well against the pistol’s two-tone scheme. The finish is nice for a carry or hunting gun, but without gloss or flourish.
Customization * * * *
The 1911 is the original change-it-all do-it-all pistol. Sights, safety, trigger, barrel and handle can all be swapped with little difficulty.
Reliability * * * *
With aftermarket or another brand’s magazine, this pistol functioned flawlessly. With the factory-supplied magazine, not so much. Then, after a few hundred rounds, the factory magazine smoothed out and worked well.
Accuracy * * * *
A two-inch average group with commercial ammunition isn’t bad at all. Some shot even better. Not hitting the 1″ mark keeps the Kimber Camp Guard out of five-star territory, but the accuracy’s perfectly acceptable for hunting game at the 10mm’s reasonable performance expectation.
Overall * * * *
Kimber teamed up with RMEF to make a worthy pistol for hunting or for protection against bears, coyotes or man. It gets the basics right, with the huge bonus of taming the 10mm’s stout recoil.