Kimber’s Super Carry Pro is a compact (but definitely not a subcompact) 1911 with a host of custom features and a middleweight price tag. It’s got drop-dead good looks, exceptional accuracy, full magazine capacity and authoritative stopping power. I’ve been able to spend some time with the Super Carry Pro to see how well it lives up to its awesome looks and $1300 tab. Did I mention it’s pretty damned reliable, too? . . .
CCW guns attempt, often unsuccessfully, to be all things to all shooters. Many of the features that make a gun easy to carry also make it difficult to shoot well, because every design choice confers an advantage to one characteristic and exacts a penalty from another. Searching for the Golden Mean of 1911 concealability and combat utility, Kimber followed conventional wisdom by choosing a shortened barrel and alloy frame. They also thought outside the box by rounding the 1911’s traditionally squared-off grip frame for greater carry comfort and concealability.
Their result brings you the firepower of the Government Model, but in a package that’s lighter than the Officer’s Model and almost as compact. Its 4-inch barrel is at the smaller end of the 1911 breed, right between the 3.5-inch Officer’s Model and the 4.5-inch Commander, but the full-length grip frame gives it the same 8+1 capacity as the mighty 5-inch Government Model.
Ergonomics and Shooting Comfort
As its name ‘Super Carry Pro’ would suggest, this gun isn’t a service pistol, a range toy or a race gun. It’s designed specifically for concealed carry, and it’s heavily customized for comfort and concealment. In fact, there’s really nothing about it that isn’t selected for its intended use.
It falls almost in the Goldilocks zone of carry guns: small enough to conceal under sensible clothing, yet big enough to pack a mean fistful of whoop-ass with 9 rounds of .45 ACP. The mid-length 4-inch barrel carries lighter and presents a little quicker than the full-size Government Model, and the rounded grip frame won’t print as clearly through your clothing or jab you in the ribs.
The whole gun has gently melted edges for carry comfort and snag-free presentation, and the front strap and the slide cocking serrations have a unidirectional fish-scale texture that grips your hands but not your clothing. All of the controls (except the sharply grooved trigger) are gently rounded at the edges to avoid scraping your skin or snagging your jacket liner. The controls snap to attention with smooth precision, requiring neither too little nor too much force to actuate.
The magazine well is gently beveled for easier magazine insertion, and even a slight beveling helps to speed up reloads. The supplied 8-round magazine drops free on command, and it has a nifty removable baseplate so you can completely disassemble it for cleaning. My old Chip McCormick ‘Shooting Star’ mags can’t do that, and they’re a bitch to clean.
I’ll talk about the trigger later; suffice for now to say that it’s got a little too much takeup and the grooves are a little too sharp for my tastes.
I did a creditable job of fanning the trigger and swapping magazines, but not of keeping my rounds on target; compact alloy-framed .45s really aren’t made to be bullet-hoses. The slightly beveled magazine well really speeds up your reloads, though.
Recoil and muzzle flip were stiffer than I expected, given that the Super Carry Pro is only minimally lighter and shorter than the soft-shooting Taurus 24/7 G2 I reviewed earlier this year. It isn’t very helpful to compare alloy-framed single-stack apples to polymer-framed double-stack oranges, however. Polymer guns always seem to shoot softer than alloy-framed guns, and the chunky Taurus’ double-stack grip does a better job of spreading the recoil forces over the shooter’s hand. And besides, nobody would seriously think of concealing a full-size 24/7, but nobody would think twice about concealing the Super Carry Pro. It’s what it was designed for.
The otherwise-ubercomfortable Kimber has two ergonomic problems I’d make them fix if I were king: the trigger grooves are too sharp, and the right-side safety lever plate grinds into the bones of my thumb.
When I used an Isosceles stance and a ‘thumb high’ two-handed shooting grip (as currently taught by most shooting instructors) the left-side safety lever plate ground into the first knuckle on my right thumb and eventually beat it the color of a raw New York Strip steak. Accuracy and shooting enjoyment predictably suffered.
When I fired the Kimber one-handed, or when I reverted to the old-school Modified Weaver stance and the ‘low thumb’ grip, this problem disappeared. If Kimber is listening, I’d suggest a slightly altering the safety lever plate so it’s more flush with the side of the beavertail grip safety.
The Isosceles stance and ‘thumb high’ grip didn’t exist 100 years ago, when marksmen were taught to blade their strong side toward their target and fire one-handed. John Moses Browning made very few mistakes, but no 19th-century firearms genius could anticipate that people would be using and handling his inventions so differently 100 years into the future. This is an example of how a century-old design doesn’t work well with modern training and technique, but a minor modification to a small part would eliminate this problem completely.
My second ergonomic ‘issue’ is this adjustable trigger. It’s a masterpiece of machining (even at high magnification) but it becomes a cheese grater after 100 rounds. A gunsmith could smooth this off in a heartbeat when he tunes the trigger, but a $1300 pistol really shouldn’t need a gunsmith’s attention.
I wore the Super Carry Pro in a leather IWB holster to evaluate how it carries. The first thing I noticed was that it’s not a trouser-drooping boat anchor like a steel-framed Government Model. In fact, the fully loaded Kimber is slightly lighter than an empty Government Model, and you’ll notice the difference the instant you holster it.
The Kimber’s reduced gravity suck makes it comfortable to carry right out of the gate, and the melted corners and rounded butt take its ride quality to the next level. The soft-edged safety switch and mag release won’t lacerate your kidney if you happen to carry under your shirt, and the rounded butt won’t jab you in the floating rib when you bend over or buckle your seatbelt.
Kimber’s got carry comfort nailed with the Super Carry Pro, but it’s still got a full-length grip and it will never hide like a J-frame.
It’s not a J-Frame but it does conceal quite well, and as a bonus you don’t even need to own a Shoot-Me-First vest to do it! The rounded butt will print if you lean over too far, but it’s entirely possible to conceal the Super Carry Pro under a loose shirt. This shirt was (deliberately) not quite loose enough, but it still kept the Kimber hidden all day.
Unlike a square-butt 1911, the Kimber’s rounded grip frame is much less likely to grab the fabric of your cover garment and fold it against your side. This is about the most egregious ‘printing’ you can ever experience, and it won’t happen with the Super Carry Pro unless you wear it to a Yoga class and attempt the Sideways Wilting Lotus or some shit like that.
The Super Carry Pro conceals better than other full-frame 1911s holding 8+1 rounds, but the round butt doesn’t make the extra half-inch of grip length magically disappear. If complete concealment is your primary concern you won’t be choosing the Super Carry Pro. In fact, you wouldn’t be choosing a 1911 at all.
The Super Carry Pro ships with excellent Meprolight tritium sights. I have poor low-light vision, but the Meprolight tritium inserts glow like dim green LEDs in low light.
The rear sight has a set-screw and can be drifted for windage, but I didn’t have to because our test gun shot precisely to point of aim with 230-grain bullets. The rear sight has a ledge shape that lets you catch it on your belt or pocket to cycle the action one-handed if you need to. Here’s hoping you never do.
The all-metal Meprolight sights are rugged, quickly visible under all lighting conditions, and snag-free. I’d love to retrofit my old Norinco 1911 with them, but such extravagance would almost double my old beater’s price tag. Oh, well.
The Kimber’s sharply-grooved giggle switch breaks consistently at exactly 5.0 pounds, and it’s adjustable for overtravel. (Our test gun had precisely zero.) The pull weight was remarkably consistent: my trigger gauge didn’t register even 1 oz. of variation through ten consecutive measurements. This is really good.
But it’s not perfect. Our Super Carry Pro’s trigger fell just short of perfection: there’s a useless millimeter of very loose takeup, and then another half-millimeter of slightly creepy tension before the sear finally lets go. Tuning this trigger would be another fairly cheap and simple gunsmith job, but I don’t think a $1300 gun should need it.
Please don’t mistake my slight disappointment with the Kimber’s trigger pull for actual disapproval; the Super Carry Pro has a fine trigger and it earns at least four stars out of five. But I expected five stars from a Super Carry Pro, and in light of its otherwise flawless fit and finish and its price tag you might expect it too.
Fit And Finish
I just said it and I’ll say it again: the Super Carry Pro’s metal machining, metal finishing, woodwork, and assembly is flawless. There’s not a burr, scratch, void, flat, toolmark, wiggle, rattle or blemish anywhere. Not even deep inside where nobody would notice.
The KimPro II finish is slightly slippery (hence the fish-scale serrations) solvent-resistant and very easy to clean. It’s also quite scratch-resistant. My holster’s thumb-break has a metal snap rivet that rubs against the left rear of the slide. It can quickly etch itself into bluing or polished stainless steel, but the Kimber has proven completely impervious to my mean old holster through weeks of daily carry.
300+ rounds of testing have yet to scratch this gun, with the exception of some slight rub marks on the alloy frame where the harder steel slide wears against it.
This target was shot offhand at 9 yards with 230-gr hollowpoints, and it’s typical of the Kimber’s accuracy. It often printed very tight groups (sometimes just one ragged hole) which opened way up when I knew I blew a shot. I don’t call many flyers unless I find myself fighting against a trigger, and this sometimes happened with the Super Carry Pro.
This target was shot offhand at 14 yards, and shows the groups opening up to 2″ as the short sight radius and longer target distance began to tell. It also demonstrates the Kimber’s slight distaste for my 230-grain lead handloads on the left.
Note: I thought I was shooting at 10 yards and 15 yards, but the marked distances at my shooting range proved to be off by 1 yard when I lased them with the Leupold 800-yard rangefinder I’m testing. I’ll save it for it’s own review (and I really appreciate how long Leupold has let me play with it!) but for now just know that it rocks.
I’m a really finicky bastard when it comes to triggers, and despite my mild disappointment the Kimber’s 2-inch groups at 14 yards are far more accurate than any defensive pistol ever has to be. (Karl Lippard is free to disagree, as soon as he sends us his Unobtainium-framed 1911A2 for our independent testing.) The Super Carry Pro delivers superior accuracy for a gun of its size and intended role. If you miss your target (and you shouldn’t) you’ll have only yourself to blame.
Our test gun appeared to be in new and unfired condition, except for possibly a few test shots at the factory. Kimber’s owner’s manual recommends a 400 to 500 round break-in period, with cleanings every 100-150 rounds.
Blasting through this quantity of .45 ACP presents a significant cost consideration for a (ahem) ‘non-profit’ blog like TTAG, and we eventually stopped after just over than 300 rounds.
I started the break-in period with some filthy cheap handloads. Their grimy lead roundnose slugs are powered by 5.7 grains of sooty Unique pistol powder, and they dutifully delivered an FTE at round 70 and another one at round 140 while sliming the barrel with lead. Cleaning sucked, and testing continued with a box of 230-grain plated HP handloads, a box of PMC hardball, a box of factory-reload 230-grain plated roundnoses, and a box of Hornady +P 200-grain XTPs.
Total malfunctions: those 2 early FTEs. Other than that? Perfect. The Kimber consistently failed to slide-lock with one of my 15-year old Chip McCormick ‘Shooting Star’ magazines, but it worked fine with the Kim-Pro magazine and with my other McCormick. That’s a magazine issue, not a gun issue.
Disassembly And Cleaning
Filthy handloads require frequent cleaning. I’ve disassembled many 1911s, but the Super Carry Pro’s bushingless barrel and one-piece guide rod don’t field-strip in the usual manner. I scratched my high speed, low drag (okay, bald) cranium for a few minutes until I realized I needed to RTFM. This was the right call, since it showed exactly how to use the included ‘disassembly tool’, which wasn’t actually included.
The last thing any $1300 fighting handgun needs is a small, proprietary maintenance tool that’s going to lose itself before you even pick up the gun from your FFL. Is this a potential problem?
No, because the ‘disassembly tool’ bears a striking resemblance to a paper clip, and the manual tells you how to make one yourself in less than fifteen seconds. Problem
To field strip the Super Carry Pro, simply clear the weapon and drop the magazine, lock back the slide, insert the paper clip as shown here, and then slowly let the slide forward until the recoil spring tightens against the paper clip.
Now slowly let the slide forward until you can line up the notches and push the low-profile slide release/takedown pin out from right to left.
Pull the slide forward with the barrel, spring and guide rod inside it, and continue with a typical 1911 disassembly. Be careful not to snag the paper clip as you pull the compressed spring/guide rod rearward from the slide; it could injure you if it flew apart, and you might never find all the parts again.
You’ll find yourself handling it very delicately when you clean it, but (whew) it doesn’t get very dirty.
It seems that every 1911 review we’ve ever run has triggered a new round of skirmishes in the never-ending 1911 flame wars. I’m not going to touch the .45 vs. 9mm debate, or the 1911 vs. Glock/Sig/Whatever flame war, even though I know some of our Armed Intelligentsia will take up the fight anyway. I consider myself a reasonably neutral non-combatant in those hostilities, since I’ve carried both 1911s and polymer-framed wondernines.
By any standards, the Kimber Super Carry Pro delivers superior accuracy and very good reliability in an elegant and reasonably compact package that’s extremely comfortable to carry all day. It also puts 9 rounds of .45 ACP at your disposal, which is only a few rounds shy of what some double-stack .45s give you.
But the Super Carry Pro isn’t quite perfect: it delivers stout recoil just like other compact alloy .45s, and the design of its trigger and manual safety made it uncomfortable for my hands during extended shooting. It has a consistent, acceptable trigger pull, but it’s not quite as crisp as it should be. The trigger is close enough to perfection that you really notice the useless millimeter of loose takeup, and the slightly creepy break.
All factors considered, I think it’s an excellent defensive handgun, and a good choice for anyone who wants a 1911 for daily carry.
- Type: .45 ACP 1911-style semi-automatic
- Frame: alloy w/satin silver ‘KimPro II’ finish
- Slide: stainless steel slide w/matte black ‘KimPro II’ finish
- Height (inches): 5.25
- Length (inches): 7.7
- Weight: 28 oz empty w/magazine, 37 oz. loaded
- Capacity: 8+1
- Grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safety
- Sights: fixed tritium 3-dot
- Barrel: 4″ stainless steel with lapped bushingless slide lockup
- Trigger pull: 5 lbs
- Street price: $1300-1400
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * *
Much better than you would ever expect or require from a CCW gun. Two-inch groups at 14 yards are just the beginning of what this gun would do with a slightly better trigger, however.
Ergonomics (Firing) * * * 1/2
Flawless fit and finish and excellent controls reach for perfection, but a slightly creepy (and rather sharp) trigger and painful manual safety bring it up short. Recoil is brisk, as with any compact alloy-framed 1911.
Ergonomics (Carry) * * * * *
Lightweight, compact, and oh-so smooth. Big-bore carry doesn’t get much better than this.
Reliability * * * *
Only two malfunctions, both ammo-related and early in the break-in cycle. If I had the time and ammo to keep testing, I think it would earn another half-star.
Fit And Finish * * * * *
Styling/Aesthetics * * * * *
In your reviewer’s humble opinion, this is among the most elegant 1911s ever made.
Customize This * *
Holster and magazine options are myriad, but there’s no rail and you can’t even add Crimson Trace Laser Grips. You won’t want to add anything else.
Overall Rating * * * *
An excellent mid-priced 1911: very, very close to mind-blowingly awesome.