Deputy David L. Wood
As I write this, strapped on my side in a Safariland duty holster is the pride and joy of my handgun collection, a blue steel Kimber Custom II in .45 ACP. Call me a traditionalist but with the possible exception of .38 super, 1911s are supposed to be chambered in forty five.
I am a deputy sheriff in southwest Texas. I work all hours and much of the time alone out here in this desolate, unforgiving, border country. Many times the only immediate back-up I have are my defensive weapons. They have to (as Clint Smith would say) run. This Kimber does. I’ve owned various makes and models of John Browning’s timeless classic and this pistol is the only one to date that literally “takes a lickin’ and keeps on a tickin’.” I’ve run thousands of rounds through it and it just keeps on goin’ like the Energizer Bunny.
I’ve been a lawman in Texas for almost eleven years. I am a state certified firearms instructor and an avid gun enthusiast. When allowed to carry my choice in side arms the resounding winner has always been and always will be a cocked and locked 1911. Col. Cooper, among others has long recommended this pistol, provided one achieves the necessary skill to handle it properly.
You already know the reasons why or you wouldn’t be on this site. There is no need for me to reiterate. But what you may not know is how certain 1911 variants have performed in the field.
Allow me to educate you on the few I’ve carried and shot in the real world.
The Les Baers and Wilson Combats are no doubt fine pistols, but they are a little out of my public servant price range. So these will not be expounded upon. However the Colts, Springfields, and Kimbers, three top names, will.
The vast majority of 1911s I’ve owned have had a horse on the side of the slide. Sound familiar?
Colt has apparently gone through various stages of inconsistent quality control. Overall they have produced good products, but their have been exceptions and unfortunately I have had some of the latter.
My first Colt was a beautiful 70 Series Government Model. I was a fool to give it up. But as nineteen-year-olds often do, I traded it when the Series 80s came out thinking rather, naively that “new” meant “better.” Wrongggggg! I had one blue steel, two stainless Governments, and they were all finicky about ammunition. I don’t mean I was experimenting with exotic bullet shapes. All of them had trouble digesting various brands of factory hardball. And yes, I had them polished, ported, honed, slicked, tensioned and tweaked and they still had trouble.
The sights would come loose. The rear sight would begin to slide in its oversized dovetail following a couple hundred rounds. And then even the front sight went.
I had a Combat Commander that wasn’t finished when it left the factory. The extractor hadn’t been stoned and rounded properly and the gun just locked up tight about every third round. It didn’t require much to fix, but when you shell out six hundred bucks for a brand new Colt, you expect it to do better than that.
Then there’s the satin nickel Commander I had, beautiful gun. But looks don’t save your butt in a gun battle. After about four hundred rounds the hammer started falling to half cock quite frequently. Its trigger work needed work. These were all brand spanking new guns. Colts no less. I had a stainless enhanced Government Model once. After about a thousand rounds one of the ejector posts sheared off. A thousand rounds means just about “broke in” but shouldn’t mean “broken.”
So I decided to try a Springfield Mil-Spec. Now this gun resembled the 70 series Colt in quality and workmanship, but after about five hundred rounds, I was cleaning it and the whole ejector fell out. It wasn’t pinned like they are supposed to be. It had simply been lock-tighted in. I called Springfield and they said what I knew they would, “Send it in and we will fix it for free.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being without one of my guns for two or three months. My attitude is, “It should have been done right to begin with.” I can understand parts breakage after a lot of service and wear, but not after just a little use.
I was in a quandary. These aren’t just “nice to have” guns. I am betting my life on them. They have got to work. I could care less about academic accuracy, I need a semi auto that goes “bang” each and every time I press the trigger. 99 percent reliability just don’t cut the mustard when your butt is on the line.
As previously stated, I can’t shell out fifteen hundred bucks for a pistol. And, by gobs, you shouldn’t have too. I hear raves about Wilson and Les Baer but c’mon, a month’s clear wages for a handgun? Hey… my kids gotta’ eat too.
So I vowed to try the Kimber. I have never looked back – Good looks, accuracy and most importantly, reliability. What good is the rest if it don’t shoot and shuck? Nope, Kimber isn’t paying me and they didn’t give me the gun. I paid over eight hundred bucks for it with night sights and tax, half the price of those high dollar ones I mentioned earlier.
I live and work in the real world. I don’t make a lot of money. If I win the lottery I’ll probably be calling the boys in Arkansas or putting in my order to Baer, but I still have my doubts if they are going to be a hair better than my Kimber.
Lets just put it this way: the Kimber is the one I’ll be riding the river with.
Deputy David L. Wood, Edwards County Sheriffs Office, Rocksprings, Texas U.S.A.
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