Gun Review: Kimber Camp Guard 10mm 1911

Kimber Camp Guard 1911

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.

Kimber Camp Guard grips (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard in hand (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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 Camp Guard front strap (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard rear (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard slide (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard rear sight (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard trigger(photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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 Camp Guard stripped (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard fast fire(photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard malfunction (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard ammunition (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard in holster (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard fast fire (photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Kimber Camp Guard 1911(photo courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Kimber Camp Guard 10mm 1911
Caliber: 10 mm
Height: 5.25″
Weight with empty magazine: 38oz
Length: 8.7″
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
Grips: Rosewood
Trigger: aluminum, 4-5lb pull weight
MSRP: $1,228.00

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.

comments

  1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    please de- burr the trigger adjustment holes. i can’t unsee it.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Not my gun to de-burr but I’m glad someone actually sees what my photos focus on. This alone would have kept it from my 5 star category.

      1. avatar Woody From NY says:

        I have owned 2 Kimbers. I have had problems with 2 Kimbers. I will never buy another Kimber again. I have had issues with 1 Dan Wesson, and a Ed Brown. Brown has horrible customer service, Dan Wesson was a pleasure to deal with. Kimber told me my “Raptor” was rusting 23 days after purchase because I was sweating while it was holstered. The fact it couldn’t make it through a mag without a failure didn’t seem to be something they were interested in resolving for me either. There is a special place in hell for Kimber as far as im concerned. Not only that, they love to come out with endless new models but they’re basically all the same guns with different finishes. I don’t know how they are still in business let alone expanding. SAD

        1. avatar little horn says:

          this

        2. avatar Michael says:

          Count me as a very dissatisfied former Kimber owner. Not impressed at all with them. $1200 gun and the mags don’t work out of the box…..hahahahaha

        3. avatar Mark N. says:

          Kimber is rather infamous for stoppages due to the performance of its mags, although they work fine after the gun is broken in. My 4″ was horrible for 1400 rounds–which is when I bought a new recoil spring from Wolff (and not from Kimber). It hasn’t had an issue since. Which I really can’t explain, as the gun was supposed to have a Wolff spring from the factory.

          But I am sticking with McCormick mags, which load 8 instead of Kimber’s 7 and are highly rated for reliability.

        4. avatar Werner Nieder says:

          Good write up Woody!

          We considered purchasing one of their pistols
          but the reviews indicted too many issues.

          Sad, because it is one of the most beautiful designed
          handguns on the market today.

          This should not be the case for a firearm with a price
          generally over a thousand bucks.

      2. avatar Splic3r says:

        I honestly don’t understand how you wouldn’t dress the burrs after tapping or drilling something out that is that visible

  2. avatar Amfivena says:

    As a New Englander who values my rights protected by the 2A, any gun with ‘Yonkers, NY’ on the slide is a double hell-no.

    1. avatar johnny go lightly says:

      So hold off until next year. They are moving to brand new 38 million dollar facility in Alabama.

    2. avatar Rad Man says:

      We MA FFLs can’t sell Kimbers. Not AG approved.

  3. avatar BLoving says:

    Nice tomahawk. Details?
    🤠

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Made about 8 years ago by Justin Gingrich. He’s all famous now, but I’m pretty sure this is the first hammer-poll that he ever made. I can’t remember exactly what he charged me for it at the time, but I remember thinking it was ridiculously cheap. I bet his prices have gone up a bit. I use it constantly on the farm.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    Camp Guard? I thought one needed a Mauser K98 and a big dog for that.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Nein! Arbeit macht frei!

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Nein. Arbeit macht mich müde.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Haza!

  5. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Not a bad price for a good quality 1911.

  6. avatar Chadwick says:

    And yet I didn’t see any Kimber 1911s in the rmef calendar this year. Shame.

  7. avatar FlamencoD says:

    Two Kimber reviews in about a week’s time – nice! My Kimber Pro Carry II Two tone 9mm’s instruction manual has break-in instructions. I would imagine this isn’t any different, which is probably why after enough rounds for break-in you were seeing a noticeable improvement. My Kimber only had 1 malfunction during the break-in process. None with the factory supplied mag (the one malf. was w/ a MecGar mag on its first use). Been flawless since. As I think I said in your other Kimber K6S review – I love my Kimber and want to buy another one someday – possibly this 10mm Camp guard if I find myself camping or out in the woods more frequently than I have been the last few years.

  8. avatar Conservatarian says:

    My Ruger 10mm SR1911 has yet to show any sign of any malfunction whatsoever with an assortment of ammo including full house loads(likely for less money I think). It sure slings the brass tho! At first I couldn’t find the casings until I consciously watched where they were going! hehe. Yep, they go long way! 😀

    1. avatar Windingo54 says:

      I was going to say pretty much the same thing before you beat me to it. My SR1911 may not be as pretty as the Kimber but it has been completely reliable through 500 rounds of mild to hot ammo and has the Bomar style adjustable sights which are better for normal hunting and target shooting conditions IMHO. With a little sight paint they worked just fine for me when I used it to finish off a 300 pound pissed off bear that decided he wanted to take hold of my hounds. For self defense at close range the night sights would be nice though. Not to sound like the stereotypical Glock fanboy that posts in every single custom gun review but the Ruger is lot of gun for $500 less than the Kimber. But, Thanks to capitalism and the 2nd amendment there are so many new and fun guns that come out every year to suit any fancy. To each his own as they say!

  9. avatar Jim Wilkins says:

    “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.”

    I beg to differ. I don’t know how many grizzlies you have seen killed to warrant that opinion. Maybe you could enlighten us.

    I have seen a few killed, including on Kodiak Island. None of them were angry until after they were shot. The resilience and ‘Toughness’ of those fine animals should engender more respect.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I would love, LOVE to have one of these. They are a site to behold.

    Having said that, HOLY COW! I cannot justify $1,000 on a semi-auto pistol.

  11. avatar James69 says:

    But they look great in your safe!!! and then on arm$list for $1,400.00

  12. avatar Ed says:

    Hmmm…finger on trigger?

  13. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Unlike ARVN rifles RMEF’s weapons have never been dropped

  14. avatar Aaron says:

    it’s disgusting that an expensive gun won’t run correctly with its OEM magazine.

    Kimber sucks donkey-bolls.

  15. avatar IAmNotTheHulk says:

    I paid $1k for my Gen1 Colt DE, run a flat wire spring and full length guide rod. This is a tack driver. Only complaint is it could use some softening on the edges, particularly the grip safety. I added Magpul rubber wrap around grips to help soak up recoil on hot loads like CorBon Hunter 10mm. Fantastic pistol. But if I wanted another it would likely be the Ruger.

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