By Dan Adair
I take back anything I ever said about my disbelieving that new Kimbers seem to “by and large” have a tendency to lock the slide back before you’re done having fun… Today, a buddy of mine was up from Billings, and he had with him a friend’s brand spanking new Kimber Stainless Target Custom. My initial feelings towards the gun was that the sights left a lot to be desired and the slide felt a bit gritty (even after cleaning/degreasing and adding a generous amount of Tetra Gun grease).
The very first Target Models I saw had Bo-Mars on them, but then I live in the same valley that the Kimber Sales guys live in, so we see a lot of the new Kimbers before the rest of you do. (For example, I saw a Pro-Carry in a local shop once that had absolutely no markings on it except the serial # and the “Kimber” that’s tattooed on the drivers side.) The guy who’s the owner of this piece has shot it very little, and trusts us enough to “break it in” for him. So we took it to the range today with 200 rounds of 230 gr. FMJ stuff that’s my SIG practice ammo. We also took along our old Kimber Classic Customs that our FLGs have done very little work to.
The new Kimber would lock the slide back usually every other mag, and usually between rounds 3 and 6. When it did it, the slide stop would be just barely engaged. The mags we were using were Wilson 8 rounders that have always been 100% reliable in our Kimbers. Another thing I noticed was that when you dropped the slide on the first round, it feels a little crunchy (not like my throated stock barrel that’s nice and smooooooth). Towards the end of the session, we decided to put some old 230 gr. Federal Hydrashoks through it. I like to cycle my carry ammo at least monthly. This was a bad idea… 4 rounds out of 16 fed. With half the FTFs being the nose (meplat) of the bullet hanging up between where the ramp in the frame ends and the ramp in the barrel starts, and the other half being the case mouth hanging right on the top of the throating in the barrel. It did it with every mag we had (Wilsons, Springfield, Mec-Gar and McCormick). This company’s QC has definitely gone DOWN HILL!!! All the guys I know that bought Kimbers back in the days when all that was available was the Classic Custom never had stuff like this happen. I’m definitely not going to recommend Kimbers “without reservation” to anyone that’s a friend of mine anymore. A brand new gun shouldn’t need a different slide stop and a throating job right out of the box.
My old Kimber Classic Custom has been one of the best 1911s I’ve ever owned (I’ve owned 7 others.). Its serial # 10XXX out of the New York factory, and in its life and at least 20,000 rounds its had less than 25 FTFs. That’s why this new Kimber was such a shock. I would have put one of the slide stops out of one of the old Classic Customs into the Stainless Kimber if I had thought to bring a bushing wrench. I had an extra McCormick slide stop in the “parts and mags drawer” in the gun safe that I sent back with the gun. I’m sure the owner will make use of it, if he can live with the mis-match in finish.
For more info on dealing with the premature lock-back, click here.