Kimber Custom II 1911 pistols are “What All Other Guns Should Be,” or at least that is what Kimber’s magazine ads claim. Most Kimber owners are perfectly satisfied with their purchases. However, I have met some who will avoid Kimbers at all costs. They say this company occasionally insults the intelligence of individuals who purchase a Kimber (instead of dropping four figures on a custom build, of course).
Haters of Kimber pistols sometimes give me the feeling that they think Kimber-owners should leave the firearms community altogether for bringing such shame upon themselves and their families. This intensity caused me to wonder if there was any truth to this belief: Are Kimbers really a pile of trash, or are they truly what all other handguns should be?
Kimber Custom II
By Francis Borek
I walked into a local gun store fully expecting to purchase a rifle, but the brand new Kimber Custom II Two-Tone pistols on sale for $719 changed these plans. As I held the pistol, Kimber’s advertisements raced through my mind alongside all the negative comments I had heard about these handguns over the years. I am unapologetic about how the slick look of the pistol helped convince me to drop the cash on a full-size Custom II Two-Tone.
The pistol comes in a large black plastic and foam-lined case, wrapped in a sealed bag and slathered in oil. Along with the Custom II and the case, I received one seven-round magazine, a bushing wrench, a chamber flag, a manual, a small tube of oil, and a decal.
I immediately took issue with Kimber’s inclusion of only a single magazine. I just dropped a lot of money on a semiautomatic handgun that proclaims itself to be what all other handguns strive to be, yet the Custom II only ships with one magazine. Many people simply toss away factory mags or use them only for practice, but it still feels cheap to me. Because of this, I purchased a few extra Chip McCormick eight-round magazines.
Where to a Kimber Custom II for Sale
The Custom II is Kimber’s flagship model and the company’s basic 1911. The Two-Tone variant is considered new for 2016. Its moniker is the Custom II because when Kimber introduced it, only custom-built pistols possessed many of its standard features.
The front sight and rear sight are fixed and low profile. Rounded to make drawing slightly easier, they are surprisingly not a three-dot affair. The front strap is smooth, while the mainspring housing is flat, checkered, and polymer. The slide is polished black carbon steel, with front and rear slide serrations. Kimber states that the barrel is a stainless, match-grade barrel. Both the trigger and hammer are skeletonized.
The Custom II also features a full-length guide rod and recoil spring, which helps improve accuracy. The downside is that it makes disassembly and reassembly a pain. The frame is polished stainless and helps add quite a bit of heft to the Custom II. Rounding out the Custom II are the smooth/checkered rosewood grips. These are attractive stocks with the bonus of giving sweaty hands a secure enough grip for lengthy shooting sessions. Slide-to-frame fit is good, with a minimal wobble.
A bone of contention with many shooters is the inclusion of metal-injection molded parts, specifically the safety and slide release. While more traditionally made parts are preferred, they are an easy replacement for the experienced shooter. For shooters entering the world of the 1911s, this shouldn’t cause problems.
On the Range
I’m certain we have all heard from gun store experts or read from internet commandos that Kimber builds its pistols to extremely tight tolerances. This means it’s mandatory to fire at least 500-1,000 rounds through them before you decide to put one in any self-defense or competition role. With that in mind, I expected the Custom II to be a jam-o-matic during the first 250 rounds. What happened left me pleasantly surprised and vindicated in my decision to purchase the Custom II.
Advertising for the Custom II shows it having a trigger pull of four to five pounds, and the trigger does feel to me to be in the five-pound range. The trigger has a small amount of take-up with a minuscule amount of creep. Certainly not match quality, but better than many pistol triggers I have encountered over the years on both hammer and striker-fired pistols.
Without a doubt, this pistol shoots better than I do. With Federal White Box 230gr FMJ ammo, my best five-round group of the day came in at around one inch while standing at 10 yards. With Hornady Critical Duty, a five-round group came in at just over 1.5 inches. Certainly not “match grade,” but then again, I’m not a match shooter who spends every minute at the range with the same gun. The accuracy I experienced was perfectly fine for home defense and a lot of fun on the range.
But what I really enjoyed during that range session was the total lack of failures. The Kimber had no failure-to-feeds and no failure-to-ejects. A week later, I was back at the range, with another 250 rounds to finish a break-in procedure that I now felt was unnecessary. I expected the same results with the same type of ammunition, and that is what happened: excellent accuracy and no failures.
While my experiences may infuriate the people I spoke of at the start of this article, they are the truth. I’m still not completely convinced that the Custom II is what every other pistol should be, but I feel they are very competitive offerings in a crowded market. With an MSRP of $837.00, it is priced similarly to models produced by Colt, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, and SIG-Sauer.
Yes, it is a 1911, a hammer-fired dinosaur from the turn of the century. However, with its controls placed exactly where God and John Browning intended, this dinosaur can still hang with the best of them. It also retains a distinct grip frame and angle which many still praise to this day.
Haters are going to hate, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Custom II Two-Tone is a classy, high-quality, and downright attractive offering from Kimber that works as well as it looks.
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