“As far as I can tell, this is the last Kimber 1911, .45 ACP in the Universe.” My friend and the owner of Shooters Den, Tom McElwayne, might have been exaggerating just a bit, but in the current gun-buying craze he was pretty close to the truth. Let’s just say, I was extremely pleased when I opened the case for my first look at the new Kimber 1911 Stainless Pro Carry II in .45 ACP.
The purpose for buying this pistol, other than some enjoyable range time, is as a personal defense firearm. More to the point, I have been asked by some friends to begin conceal-carrying at various gatherings. Because of the type of events, I will be wearing a sports jacket and I intend to use Galco’s Miami Classic II Shoulder System.
So I needed a pistol with a 4″ barrel that would fit this system.
I also wanted the pistol to be chambered to .45 ACP. A lot of people I know seem to choose between calibers 9mm or .38 Special, but I have always preferred a bit more frontal area in pistols and revolvers that might have to be used for self-defense. Also, because of my Dad’s and father-in-law’s time in the armed services (see TTAG review), I have an affection for the model 1911.
Finally, and most importantly, I routinely achieve excellent accuracy with the newer model 1911s. I’ll write more about that shortly, but the following target shows the best 25-yard group (0.6″) obtained with the Kimber Pro Carry II during my first range session.
Pro Carry II Components
When you field strip a 1911, you learn two things (at least I did):
1) The 1911 has a very simple design.
2) You really need to have the common gunsmith’s tool on hand to reinstall the recoil spring. I know it’s not required, strictly speaking, but it’s a lot easier to disassemble than reassemble without that tool.
The frame and match grade trigger (4.5 lb. pull) are made of aluminum, with a stainless steel slide. All of these parts have a satin silver finish.
The 4″ carbon steel barrel has a left-hand twist rate of 16″. As an aside, the twist rate of 16″ is standard for most handguns, though discussions over the best twist rate for different bullet weights (for best accuracy) are common (for example, see here). The Pro Carry II comes with a single seven-round magazine.
The commander-size Pro Carry II has a bushingless barrel.
The sights are fixed, low profile.
The Pro Carry II is equipped with black synthetic grips with double-diamond checkering and the standard 1911 thumb safety and grip safety.
The grip safety has the so-called beavertail tang extension which protects the shooter’s hand from the ring hammer spur.
As a kid, with small hands and a weak grip, I had difficulty releasing the grip safety on my Dad’s 1911 service pistol. That’s not a problem any more. I suspect I wouldn’t have the same difficulty today, but the thickness of the Pro Carry II’s grip safety made it easy to disengage for my wife, Frances.
One thing to note is that though the back strap is checkered . . .
the front strap isn’t.
Neither Frances nor I found that to be a problem when we fired the Pro Carry II with sweaty hands. This may have been due to the combination of the back strap checkering and the well-checkered grips.
When we headed to the range, we took three types of ammunition supplied by Neal Emery of Hornady: ‘Custom’ 200 grain XTP; ‘American Gunner’ 185 grain XTP; ‘Critical Defense’ 185 grain FTX. The muzzle velocities for the three loads (recorded using my LabRadar) were 929, 887 and 1018 f.p.s., respectively.
The following video shows Frances and me shooting each of these. From the bench, I am shooting the ‘Critical Defense’ load. Offhand, I shot the ‘Custom’ ammunition. Frances is shown firing the ‘American Gunner’ loads.
The take home here is that the compact, light (28 oz with empty magazine) Pro Carry II is very easy to control and bring back onto target from full recoil.
Both of us found the Pro Carry II to be small in our largish hands, but with a grip thickness of 1 and 1/16th inches…
and grip width of 2″, we found it very easy to control.
So after all the ammunition boxes had been emptied and converted to noise, here were our observations/conclusions:
- The best accuracy of the day was the three-shot group (0.6″) shown in the previous photograph. That was obtained using the ‘Custom’ 200 grain ammunition. However, we also had our only feeding problems with that load. Three times the nose of the bullet of the last last round in the magazine jammed on the mouth of the chamber.
- Both the ‘American Gunner’ (1.7″ diameter) and ‘Critical Defense’ (0.8″ diameter) ammunition also provided excellent accuracy and ran smoothly.
- The accuracy with the ‘Critical Defense’ loads was very encouraging; this is the ammunition I plan to use for concealed carry.
Even with its small size and weight the Kimber 1911 Stainless Pro Carry II in .45 ACP was a pussycat to shoot for both of us. In fact, I think I may have to find the other “last Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP in the universe” for Frances. Otherwise, I have a feeling I won’t be getting much practice time with my concealed carry firearm.
Specifications: Kimber Pro Carry II
Caliber: .45 ACP
Height (90 degrees to barrel): 5.25″
Barrel Length: 4″
Overall Length: 7.7″
Weight: 28 oz (empty magazine)
Finish: Satin Silver
Recoil Spring: 20 lbs
Guide Rod: Full-length
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * * * *
I really appreciate the form factor of a 1911, compact or not. On this particular pistol, the stainless steel, paired with the black, heavily-checkered grips results in a very good look. I have seen photos of other stainless Kimber 1911s, equipped with wooden grips, and I’m not as impressed as I am with the appearance of the Pro Carry II.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The satin silver finish has been done very well on the Pro Carry II. As I’ve already stated, the ‘stainless’ appearance is very attractive. The heavy double-diamond checkering on the grips, and the checkering on the back strap made a tight fit for both Frances’ and my [long-fingered] hands. The front strap isn’t checkered, but we didn’t have any difficulty controlling this compact 1911, even with the heaviest of loads. When fired, the Pro Carry II does not have any ‘Colt rattle’.
Accuracy * * * * *
Given its main application as a concealed carry, self-defense firearm, the standard, plain Jane, low profile sights are perfectly adequate. They did not interfere with accuracy and the smallest groups were well under 1″, more than good enough in a personal defense pistol.
Reliability: * * * *
The only problem encountered during any of our range work was with the same ammunition type (‘Custom’), and at the same time in the sequence (last round in the magazine). I hate to ding the Pro Carry II for the feeding problem, because it appears that it was due to a pistol X ammunition-type interaction. Almost every gun has an ammo brand/type it doesn’t like. That’s why it’s important to test your personal defense gun to make sure you’re using the right ammo for your gun.
Overall * * * * 1/2
The Kimber 1911 Stainless Pro Carry II in .45 ACP is an impressive firearm. I like 1911s, so they will always get a leg up from me. However, this stainless model with the black grips just plain looks cool. More importantly, it handles well, will fit the shoulder rig I intend to use for concealed carry, and is as accurate as any 1911 I have fired. I hope I never have to use the Pro Carry II for its intended application, but if I do, I will be well-fixed for the situation.
Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; links to other articles can be found here.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and video courtesy of Frances and Mike Arnold.