By Phil White of Gunner’s Journal
I was at Cott Firearms last week just taking a look to see what was new and as always checking for any good used gun buys. Well I didn’t see anything that got my attention but out of curiosity I took a look at the Kimber Pro Carry II in 9MM. I’ve been reading more and more about the 1911 platform in 9MM and frankly I was getting pretty curious about this combination of the best handgun ever made chambered in this old caliber.
As many of you probably know when Colt designed the Commander model for the Army for use by the officer corp as well as those in support positions this is the gun they designed and it was designed for the 9MM from the start. The Colt Commander is 1/4 inch longer than the current trend of CCW 1911’s with 4 inch barrels such as this Kimber Pro Carry II and the Springfield Champion LW and soon (around April 08) the Rock Island Armory Tactical which Armscor calls a midsize gun. I’m sure if anybody else comes out with another 4 inch 1911 in 9MM it will be Rock Island Armory. They are a very innovative company that pays attention to their customers like no other! This is the only 4 inch bull barrel full frame 1911 I know of in 9MM. The Springfield is available only in 45 with the exception of the smaller 1911 designed around the 9MM
I know who wants a 1911 in 9MM. Well sir, I do. After succumbing to this little beauty I’m a convert. It does fill a useful niche. If you’ve read my blog at all you know I’m a 1911 45 ACP devotee in the extreme but lets keep an open mind on this one. No, I’m not getting into the endless 45 ACP vs 9MM debate. I’ll say this–over the last several years ammo makers have come a very long way in making the 9MM a much more effective load than it was even ten years ago. I use the Winchester Ranger “T” series 127 grain +p+ for my Hi Power and now this Kimber. It feeds very well and the ballistics on this round are impressive. I trust this load to do the job simple as that.
The Kimber holds 9 rounds of 9MM in the magazine with one up the pipe. Weight on this gun with the alloy frame is 28 ounces. So, ten rounds at your disposal in a lightweight highly concealable 1911. What more could you ask for in a daily carry gun that will ride with you eight or ten hours a day. Riding in a Milt Sparks 55BN in winter and a Sparks “Heritage” IWB in warm weather and you’re set.
These days there is certainly one reason for using a 9MM that has nothing to do with the caliber debate and that is the cost of shooting. At MidwayUsa 500 rounds of 45 ACP cost $126 whereas 9MM is $76 for 500 rounds. That is a substantial savings and allows those of us without unlimited funds to shoot a lot more for the same money or shoot the same amount for a considerable savings. From what I’ve been told ammo prices are going up two more times by February next year. Not good but then there isn’t much we can do about that except adapt by reloading more.
On to shooting this fine gun. After bringing the Kimber home and giving it a complete cleaning and lube with Militec I put it all back together. There is one thing to let you know about when taking this pistol down for cleaning. The gun comes with a very slim hex wrench that slips into a hole in the guide rod in order to capture the compressed spring so you can remove the guide rod and then the barrel. There is nothing at all hard about it and just adds a small step to disassembly. Incidentally the Kimber uses a single 22 pound spring which changes out like any other 1911so you don’t have to fool with buying two specialized springs. The instructions for taking down the pistol is in the manual. You really need to read this before attempting to disassemble the gun for cleaning. I removed the rubber grips which came with the gun and put on a set of Mil-Tac G10’s with the 1* logo on them. For those not familiar with this it means One Ass To Risk. This is something Gary Paul Johnston came up with many years ago as a uniform patch for the SWAT team he worked with. Mil-Tac is the only company licensed to use this logo. I also picked up two additional magazines made by Metalform with a removable base and pre drilled for a slam pad. These are very good magazines no matter the caliber but I was especially impressed with the way these were made. Quality throughout at $13 from Brownell’s if you care to order extra mags for your guns. I was lucky enough to get my mags right away. Yes, the 9MM mags are less expensive as well:-)
I gathered up a few hundred rounds of 9MM in various brands and types of bullets and headed for the local police range. I used a reduced size B27R target. All shooting was done from 10 yards and 25 yards. I started at the 10 yard line as I usually do and tried for the smallest group I could manage without slow firing. I noticed right away that recoil was actually pleasant. Just enough to let you know you were shooting a major caliber. Getting back on target was very fast with this gun in no small measure to the excellent sights that Kimber uses as well as the reduced amount of recoil compared to the larger calibers. This is the first target after 50 rounds at ten yards. Firing and reloading stopping only to reload the mags.
I don’t shoot slow at all from ten yards. I practice like I would if engaging a real target. As you can see this little gun is an excellent natural pointer as most 19111’s are. These first 50 rounds were all ball ammo from Winchester in the white box Wal-Mart variety. Next I loaded up the mags mixing Federal 9BP’s with Cor-Bon 125 Grain +P’s, Speer Gold Dots and some older plain hollowpoints. Everything feed to perfection with all mags no matter how I mixed up the ammo. I fired a total of 200 rounds with no malfunctions. Next I backed up to 25 yards and did some slow fire. I fired 20 rounds from this distance at the head. All rounds were fired standing without a rest. This is the target.
Practically speaking you wouldn’t be making head shots at 25 yards but for the sake of testing accuracy it works. I was really impressed with the results. I had two flyers with one a little high and the other a little low left as you can see from the picture. Eleven rounds of the twenty went into the center hole. This is a better result than normal for most 1911’s I shoot at that range regardless of caliber. It just proves if you do your job this little gun will shoot up to a high standard. It is fitted with a match barrel and trigger. I loaned out my trigger pull gauge so I can’t tell you the exact trigger pull but it is crisp with little take-up. Since the first time through with the excellent results at the ten yard line I loaded up one mag to capacity and moved back to the ten yard line intending to fire the entire mag as fast as possible. All ten rounds went into the same large hole from the first time through. This really got my attention. To say I was surprised would be an understatement!
I’ve shot my Springfield Champion a lot but I have never equaled this accuracy at 25 yards with it. Whether it’s the quality construction of the gun or the 9MM round from a 1911 platform is something to be answered by additional evaluation. One thing I’m sure of is this is a very good carry combination that deserves your consideration.
I’m up to 550 rounds on the Kimber this week with only one problem which has nothing to do with the gun. I felt like I should pass this along so you won’t have the same problem. I was cleaning the Pro Carry and ran out of Wilson gun grease. I made a Wal-Mart run and picked up some “Shooters Choice” all weather high tech gun grease and applied it like I would the Wilson grease. When I went to the range I immediately had malfunction after malfunction of every type you can imagine. I was using the same ammo as before and the same mags. Nothing had changed except I used that shooters choice grease.
I tore the gun down and wiped it down removing the grease. I got it pretty dry then just lubed the gun as usual with Militec only. After that there were no more problems of any kind. The problem was obviously the grease. The question now is why? There are two reasons I can think of. The recoil impulse for a 9mm in this gun is not sufficient to overcome the extra drag from the grease. The second would be the grease formulation is just too thick to work well with any gun. No matter—I would stay away from this brand of gun grease period!
At somewhere just over 550 rounds the gun started failing to eject empties. The empty brass would stay in the barrel as well as jamming of various types. I was not a happy camper! I realize this can happen to the best of guns but it is very aggravating especially when you buy a gun that’s pretty expensive. I knew it was not a magazine issue since the Kimber mags and the Metalform mags are some of the best mags available and showed no signs of defects. I contacted Kimber and got an employee who was less than helpful. It’s probably the same person I have heard of on the forums as being a real—well you fill in the blanks:-) After a day or two I called back and talked with another person who was very helpful and an all around nice guy. I asked for a new extractor since I had determined that was the problem. I explained the extractor hook appeared to be partially broken off. They didn’t have any extractors in stock but he offered to pull one from the assembly area after I explained this was my carry gun. This is exactly what he did and I received the new extractor in four days which I thought was very good. The service from this employee was excellent. All he asked was that I send the old extractor back so they could examine it.
When I received the new extractor I got right to work and replaced it. It did need some minor tuning but very very little. I hand cycled the gun until it was tossing out every round. This is only an indicator so you have to go to the range and fire a 100 rounds or so to make sure you have it right. I did take the Kimber to the range this morning and fired 100 rounds and the gun functioned flawlessly. The rounds ejected better than when it was new and put the empties directly to my right about 5 feet in a circle about 4 feet around. I also tried several other brands of ammo other than ball ammo. I used some Cor-Bon as well as Remington and Federal JHP’s. They all functioned without any problem. Problem solved! I really love this gun for several reasons I’ve mentioned before. The more I shoot it the more I enjoy it. The cost of 9MM is almost half that of 45acp and as I’ve said with Winchester Ranger “T” 127 grn +P+ it’s very effective. Of course Speer Gold Dots are also fine rounds to use. To sum things up it was an unexpected malfunction but it happens and was taken care of in a timely manner by Kimber and I’m happy with this gun!
One other item you might be interested in is the Tactical Pro. This is the same gun as the Pro Carry II but has extra features. Most apparent is the gray frame. It also has an ambidextrous safety, night sights, 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, a magwell and a different trigger. The increase in cost is on average $250 more than the Pro Carry II.
Specifications: Height (inches) 90° to barrel: 5.5
Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 28
Length (inches): 7.7
Magazine capacity: 7
Ambidextrous thumb safety
Recoil spring (pounds): 22
Frame: Material: Aluminum
Finish: Gray anodized
Width (inches): 1.28
Frontstrap checkering (30 LPI)
Checkering under trigger guard (30 LPI)
Slide: Material: Steel
Finish: Matte black oxide
Barrel: Steel match grade
Length (inches): 4
Twist rate (left hand): 16
Sights: Meprolight Tritium 3-dot night, fixed
Radius (inches): 5.7
Grips: Black and silver laminated, logo Trigger: Premium aluminum match grade
Factory setting (approx. pounds): 4-5
Comments, suggestions, contributions? Let me know