Gun Review: Kimber Stainless Pro Carry II 1911 Pistol in .45 ACP

“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.

Courtesy of Galco Gunleather

 

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.

Range Session

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Both the ‘American Gunner’ (1.7″ diameter) and ‘Critical Defense’ (0.8″ diameter) ammunition also provided excellent accuracy and ran smoothly.
  3. 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
Capacity: 7
Recoil Spring: 20 lbs
Guide Rod: Full-length
MSRP: $1016

 

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. 

 

comments

  1. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Nice review and a nice looking pistol.

    But who muffed it up by putting a guide rod in there?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Been that way for years with all bushingless Kimber pistols.

  2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    I just dunno why so many smash on Kimber. One of my relatives has an “officer” in .45 ACP, and I’ve always thought it’s not only a beaut, but shoots great. TEHO, of course, but I like Kimbers. And I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if somebody offered me one.

    1. avatar guest says:

      It’s the little kimbers that don’t run.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Lol, an Officer *is* one of the smaller Kimbers.

        1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          Their .45’s seem to work ok (after the obligatory 500 rounds of factory ball for ‘break in’).

          A shooting buddy and his spouse have the Micro 9 Kimbers…his went back three times and hers went back twice…they consider them range toys only…definitely NOT carry firearms…they’ve lost any ‘trust’ they may have had in this particular model pistol.

      2. avatar Mark H says:

        My Ultra (3″) runs fine.

        The only Kimbers that had problems were when Kimber tried to cheap out and go to an External Extractor.

      3. avatar BeoBear says:

        Not so. Officer size 1911’s were notorious for being unreliable for many years but that has changed. At least for well built guns.

        My sister has a Kimber Ultra Crimson Carry II .45 acp that had a few hiccups out of the box but after a break in period runs great. It’s a joy to shoot. It feels great and the night sights and laser grips make it a formidable carry gun day or night. The addition of a rail for a light would be the one thing I think they need. It’s also accurate as a modern 1911 of any size should be.

        I have an officer size STI .45acp that is a phenomenal gun. It has run perfectly out of the box with no break in required. If I remember correctly the only malfunction it’s ever had was a failure to feed from a wonky round that didn’t want to ride the magazine follower like the rest. My STI is now no longer made so it’s relegated to range shooting but as soon as it’s fiscally possible I intend on purchasing a Kimber Ultra Covert II as my main carry gun.

    2. avatar Ron says:

      I’m not exactly sure either, it could be a recent history thing, sort of like with Remington. I have a Kimber 1911 from about ~15~ years ago and it’s the most reliable semi auto pistol I own.

    3. avatar R says:

      Personally, I take issue with the “Custom” phrasing that goes with them. Kimber has no custom shop. It doesn’t exist. “Kimber Custom Shop” is a business entity and nothing more. They just run with a 25 million dollar marketing budget to get everyone to believe they are worth the money, which they aren’t. Ask anybody who really builds 1911’s for a living (like Chambers Custom). There are good brands that compete with them, but Kimber themselves is a bit of a sham.

      1. avatar Binder says:

        They were one of the first to offer custom features on a factory pistol. Way back in the day, that was a big deal as you usually bought a “standard” 1911 and had work done on it.

    4. avatar Hannibal says:

      I think it’s not so much that they’re not good pistols, but that they’re not as good as their price- and the price is based more on marketing than innovation, engineering or manufacturing skill.

  3. avatar WI Patriot says:

    For the $$$ they could’ve, at the very least, checkered the front strap…
    My SiG 1911RCS outpaces this gun in spades…

    1. avatar Binder says:

      Some people don’t like the front strap checkered. Never understood the need for a pistol that resembles a cheese grater. Some nice grips is usually all you need.

  4. avatar CentralVirginian says:

    I’d let Galco keep their $250 rig and purchase a Mitch Rosen express line shoulder holster for $150. Save $100 and get a better product.

    1. avatar guest says:

      Or spend 90 and get the galco lite.

      1. avatar CentralVirginian says:

        Not so much, the goal was to name higher quality products for less money, you’ve named a cheaper lower quality product.

        1. avatar guest says:

          A Lexus might be “better” than a toyota, but they do the same thing and the Toyota does it for less.

        2. avatar CentralVirginian says:

          Your example doesn’t translate to holsters, you’ve recommended cheap soft steerhide Galco junk that has an msrp of $112 which is far from a bargain for what it is.

        3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Geez, old guys.
          Galco, and Rosen, and .45s.
          Just get a Glock and an Alien Gear
          I don’t know why new technology you fear.

          I kid, I kid. To each their own, and I wouldn’t turn down any of it if it were being given to me. I never met a gun I didn’t like. I know Rosen does great work on holsters, if you like that. Galco does fine work too. I own some of their products and have no Galco specific complaints. I’ve never tried a shoulder rig. I don’t like appendix holsters no matter who made them and I’ve tried both cheap and expensive. Even putting a Sweat Shield behind them doesn’t totally solve the problems. Maybe when fall rolls around again I’ll try a should rig and see how they do. Maybe I’ll add a 1911 and a fancy Rosen holster to my things I haven’t bought yet list.

          My only real question is, why didn’t the author tell his friends “Don’t worry, I have always carried at our social gatherings.” I like any excuse to buy another gun, but why weren’t you already packing.

  5. avatar Mark N. says:

    Why did the author remove the recoil spring from the recoil rod? There is absolutely no reason to do so unless one is replacing said spring. Utterly unnecessary for cleaning, and yes, it is a real ordeal to put it back on. (When I replaced my recoil spring, I had a smith do it.) The take down instructions in the owner’s manual doesn’t call for it.

    The little piece of bent metal one uses to keep the spring compressed to remove the slide is easily lost. It can be replaced with a bent paper clip.

    Kimber, when I bought my Pro Carry II, had a longer than usual recommended break in period. Mine was longer than that even, 1400 rounds, with a polishing of the feed ramp to remove excess KimPro coating, and a replacement Wolff spring to be exact. Before that, it would fail to return to battery after about 75 rounds. Then it ran just fine. I haven’t tried a lot of different JHPs, but even the Speer flying ashtray rounds feed consistently. I did go with Chip McCormak 8 round mags, though, and haven’t had a nose dive since.

    The back strap is plastic. Which is fine if you need to smooth out the heel to keep it from scratching up your rib cage. But that’s what you get with a $700 gun, I guess.

    I would like front strap checkering, because I do have an issue with the gun sliding up in my grip after a couple of shots. A 4″ 1911 is quite a bit more lively in the hand than a 5″ model. There is an aftermarket front strap insert by Brownell’s, but the rubber grips will not hold it in place; you need to replace the grips with something hard, like wood. (I need to get the Kimber rosewood grips one of these days.)

    Would I buy another? Yeah, I kind of have a thing for small pistols. And once I finally got the kinks worked out, it has been reliable.

  6. avatar d says:

    Given Kimber’s history of QC problems, I pass on all things Kimber.

    Soooo many striker-fired guns are more reliable with higher capacity that 1911s.

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      I have owned Rock Islands, Citadels, Rugers, Springfield Armorys, Colts, Remingtons, Kimbers, and Dan Wesson 1911’s in .45, 9mm and 38 Super. Never had a operational failure in any of the full or commander sized pistols. I did have issues with 2 of the 3 officer models I have owned. The Micro 9 I had was magazine picky. The Browning 1911-22s I have owned have been 100%. Heck the Rock Island 22mag 1911 has been 100% . How you can beat a “reliability” of 100% with the 4 and 5 inch guns, I don’t know.

      I shoot the 1911 much better than I do any of the striker fired guns by Smith or Ruger. I did buy my first Glock back in February, shot it once and was not impressed so I traded it to my brother in law for some carpentry work. If a Glock works for you, great. Have at it. But don’t say a striker fired piece of tupperware is the only “real” option.

  7. avatar Mark H says:

    Kimber’s QC has been fine ever since Ron Cohen left to screw up QC at Sig. Their biggest issue was the stupid (cost savings) external ejector. Once they went back to a standard ejector the guns started working again.

    Their magazines are garbage though, like most cheap 1911 mags.

    Only real problem I have with the Pro is the stupid bushingless design. I can see it on the Ultras, but a Commander really should be built with a bushing.

  8. avatar petar says:

    $1000!! That’s like new car money. Well for me anyway.

    1. avatar CentralVirginian says:

      Right now they’re probably going for 1k, normally they go for 700-800.

  9. avatar VicRattlehead says:

    Looks a LOT like my commander sized Ruger SR1911, except for cheapened up on a few areas (grips, sights, backstrap), all for more money. Kimber is in NY though, IIRC, so I’m guessing the extra cost is probably to pay NY taxes.
    Still, nice looking gun and probably a great carry piece. Though my experience with Kimbers is limited, I have shot a few and never experienced a problem. I even own a micro 380 that’s been flawless, despite being one of my younger boys’ favorite guns to shoot (limp writing abounds!).

    1. avatar VicRattlehead says:

      *wristing*
      Stupid autocorrect…

  10. avatar strych9 says:

    “So I needed a pistol with a 4″ barrel that would fit this system.”

    I wish my wife was this gullible.

  11. avatar PWinKY says:

    What is it with 1911s and jams? I’ve got a Dan Wesson Heritage, and I’ve had 3 or 4 failures to eject in the first 500 rounds. Are they supposed to even out with more use?

    Here’s what I like about my Glocks: over a thousand rounds down the pipe and not one stoppage, ever. No break-in necessary. I feel pretty good about my Kahr too, only stoppages have been when I sat on the release and the mag wasn’t all the way in. I couldn’t trust a defensive pistol that jammed more than once.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Plastic guns for the most part are built to a fairly loose spec, while all steel 1911s are built tight, and need a break in period to get the pieces moving smoothly against one another. Being tight, they are more susceptible to one failure or another. But once they’ve gone through 500 (or many more) rounds, they can be very reliable, particularly with high quality mags, such as McCormick’s or Wilson Combat (the latter owns the former).

    2. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      Geez man, you are not a used pistol or cheap pistol kind of guy. A lot of guns have a break in period, and it is often loner for ;less expensive guns. A lot of used guns have not been properly cared for and may not have been shot much. I am not concerned by failures during the 1st 500 rounds through any handgun. I am concerned if the failures don’t improve with round count and cleaning and weeding out ammo it doesn’t like. Failures should disappear altogether by 1000 rounds or so.

    3. avatar onestab says:

      Possible extractor tension.

      1. avatar Mark H says:

        Almost certainly the extractor has too much tension.

        1. avatar onestab says:

          I was thinking too little tension. Factory 1911s often have very little extractor tension. Too much tension usually causes failures to feed, not failures to eject/extract. Could also be the extractor ramp or the angle and/or sharpness of the extractor hook. Kimber extractors are MIM parts which are not overly good and always need to be tuned. Who knows the solution without having the gun in hand? Replace all innards with Wilson and Cylinder & Slide parts, and always use premium Wilson magazines.

  12. avatar EricB says:

    “ I have been asked by some friends to begin conceal-carrying at various gatherings.”
    My curiosity is piqued.
    Also, it sounds like you bought a rig, then needed a gun to go with it. I look for excuses to buy new guns too.

  13. avatar Steve Sherridon says:

    Shoulder rig? Impossible! I wore one for three months every day with a G19 and two spare mags. By the end of the day- I was in agony! (actually the agony set in long before the end of the day!)
    People don’t realise that with a shoulder rig – you have the weight pressing down on your shoulders/body every second you wear it -even when sitting! But a pocket holster or waistline holster you get 100% relief from the weight from the second you sit down…

    I can’t wear a shoulder rig now for more than an hour…Can anybody??

    1. avatar Dude says:

      Sonny Crockett can.

    2. avatar Binder says:

      I go all day with a Kahr K9 with a spare 16 rounds under my right arm. I think you may need to look at adjustment. I backpack, so a few pounds of property adjusted weight is nothing. Again you probably need to work on adjustment. I can’t tolerate a backpack that is not fitted right, much less slinging one on a single shoulder.

    3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      How do you get relief from the weight of your belt or waist rig when you sit down? when I sit my gun doesn’t rest on anything. The times I have sat in an arm chair and it rested on the arm it was a problem as the arm was pushing the gun up as my ass went down.

      1. avatar Steve Sherridon says:

        My M and P compact is carried inside my tailor-adjusted front left pants pocket. I get 100% relief of the weight whenever I sit down as then the pistol is resting on top of my left leg…It’s in there non stop everyday from 8am-2am….

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Ah, that makes sense.

    4. avatar BeoBear says:

      I have the same Galco shoulder holster as the author although mine is for a Glock 21. I chose Galco because their design was supposed to be comfortable compared to others. In my opinion they were right. I honestly forget I’m wearing it fairly often. The straps are a very soft leather and although they don’t look really wide they don’t dig in. At least in my case, I can’t speak for others. I also like that I can simply swap holsters and mag holder’s to switch it to an entirely new gun. I haven’t done that yet but I like the option.

    5. avatar SemperFlyBoy says:

      I wore a shoulder rig in Vietnam every day once I realized it was hard to draw your 45 with a safety harness strapped over your belt (that would have been my 2nd day in country, flying Medevac helicopters). Today it hangs in my reloading room. My Pro Carry II sits in my OWB holster now, when colder weather allows better concealment.

      1. avatar Steve Sherridon says:

        Semperflyboy: Would you say that you haven’t worn your shoulder rig since Vietnam because it’s just too uncomfortable for civilian edc? If I was in ‘Nam I would also have worn a shoulder rig…
        BTW Semperflyboy- Thank you for your service!!!

  14. avatar BusyBeef says:

    “common gunsmith tool”

    You mean a bent paperclip.

  15. avatar onestab says:

    I’ve had a Stainless Pro Carry (pre-Swartz safety) for many years. It’s as accurate as hell and a damn fine gun. The Micro 9 is not a true 1911. It’s a very nice looking gun (built on Star’s patent, I think). Different innards.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      First Starr, then Colt, and when Colt dropped it, along came Sig. It was so popular, everyone it seems got in on the game.

      1. avatar onestab says:

        Mark N. : Also Springfield Armory.

    2. avatar onestab says:

      I should qualify my glowing appraisal of my Stainless Pro-Carry: All the MIM parts have been replaced, along with the plastic mainspring housing & grips.

  16. avatar Jim says:

    Might be a good gun, but I will never buy a gun made in New York City (Yonkers), NY. Kimber needs to move to a free state.

  17. avatar silverwarloc says:

    This was actually the first gun I bought. Though, not the steel version. It shoots well. It’s a good EDC gun. CC is even better. No imprints. Outside of using cheap ammo, I have not any issues with the gun itself. I’ve shot close to 2000 rounds on mine. If Kimber could make field stripping this gun as simple as a Glock, I’d consider buying another one.

    1. avatar onestab says:

      Replace the full length recoil spring guide rod with a government length recoil spring guide. After doing this you will no longer have to use the bent paper clip for takedown.
      Field strips with no tools. Use a bumper washer to disassemble the captured guide rod & spring assembly. Use your original recoil spring. Voila!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email