(Updated) Armchair Quarterbacking: KIMBER

I’ve developed a love/hate thing on Kimber last couple of years. But lately it’s been more hating than loving. I have my reasons. So I have some serious criticisms for Kimber.

Kimber needs to worry more about their quality control and less about their cosmetics. For example, I really want to like their new Super Pro Carry HD. But I just can’t bring myself to like them, let alone like them enough to actually buy one. They need to forget all the fancy milling and machining of all the cosmetic touches and just do some good old fashioned checkering.
Your full length guide rods… get rid of them. Use the original Browning designed guide rods and bushings and stop being too fancy.
The “II” in the names of everything. Isn’t it time to stop that? All your guns are “Juniors”. Time for them to grow up.
Your Warrior series guns. The finish is too bloody slick and your grips flat out suck.
Here’s a Pro-Tip for you. Serious shooters don’t consider laser grips as a replacement for tritium night sights. Real shooters will want both. Which is why serious shooters are actually turned off by your Crimson Carry guns.
Your Aegis series guns. Just do some normal slide serrations on those things. Your looking like Taurus. Come on. And those grips? They don’t have any grip.
Make all of your 1911’s available in 9mm. All of them.  Yes, even those.  A 9mm Tac Custom Junior would sell like hotcakes.   Some .40 cal options would be great too.

I’d like to see a “GI” model from Kimber.    Simple, basic, with a regular blued finish, not any spray and bake applications.  Maybe even a Parked finish.  Something that would qualify for the Wild Bunch competitions (A new branch of the Cowboy Action stuff) or those guys that want a traditional/classic style from Kimber.

I like your rifles. Every one of them. I don’t have any items to criticize with your rifles. I’ve sold a bunch, but I can’t quite bring myself to buy one. I’d be most interested in buying one that you could be making, but your not. I want a version of the Montana with a blued action and barrel, in .308, with an 18″ barrel, and a rail up top for mounting a scout scope. Keep the weight under 5 pounds. Call it the Kimber Montana Scout.  I’d buy one in a heart beat.


Reasons for Kimber Hate:

1.  Some time ago we got in a number Tactical Custom II’s.  We opened each box to inspect them, and each one in the batch had serious flaws.  The slide release, safety lever, and on some the beaver-tail safety all those parts looked like they had been kicked around the factory floor, swept up after a few months of being stepped on, then assembled into new guns.  We had to ship all the guns back.

2.  Now, this happened on several guns, but one case in particular involved a customer.  I sold a Kimber 1911 Custom, I don’t remember which model.  The customer came back the next day and showed me his barrel.  I admit I don’t normally look down the barrel of ever new gun I get in.  The barrel had these waves inside.  These waves matched the locking grooves on the outside of the barrel/chamber.   The customer was not happy.  Neither was I.  We inspected some other guns, and they too had these waves inside.   What irked me the most was that Kimber insisted that “this is normal” and later that “this will not effect accuracy”.   So instead of being straight up and taking care of it – they were making excuses and brushing it off.   Eventually we got the issue sorted out, but I’ve not purchased a Kimber since.  And neither has the customer in question.


18 thoughts on “(Updated) Armchair Quarterbacking: KIMBER”

  1. I agree with you on the 1911s. Forget the Cosmetics and and fancy names and start focusing on putting out a high quality product. My friend told me the other day he had a Kimber. Except he said it like he expected me to drop my jaw or something. I just kinda shrugged my shoulders and remembered everything I’ve heard/read about them lately. I want to like Kimber. I like the name and the American feel they have. The 1911 is an American icon and deserves to be made domestically with good CQ. Kimber has the American icon thing going for them but they also have me unsure about buying their guns after hearing and seeing negative experiences. My point of bringing up my friend is that their marketing is still good with some people. “Some” people still think they are putting out a high quality product. They need to capitalize on that instead of having the newest style of serrations on the inside of the trigger guard.

  2. I totally agree with you George. I keep hearing the same thing from other people. Some will not buy the series II pistols due to the lack or quality in those models. I have a Kimber, but it is the SIS model. It shoots well with no issues, but I think that it was made before the serious quality issues. I actually picked up a SA Mil-spec this week and will be shooting it tonight. Nice to have a GI45 1911 to have fun with. Back on the Kimber Quality, time for Kimber to get back to how they used to make pistols.

  3. I have two Kimbers. One is my heavily modified primary carry 1911 and it’s awesome; it started out a Gold Combat II, so basically a TLE II with a nicer finish. It only has about half the original parts now but nothing NEEDED work from the factory, it was just my experiment gun. Oh wait, I tell a lie, my ambi safety broke around 2k rounds: the ears broke off on the pin. Naturally it was the only gun I had leather and ammo for at the time, so I had to run out and find a crappy IWB universal holster for my XD45 to avoid going unarmed for a week until a new part showed up.

    The other is an SIS Pro (one of the first made), and it’s a total dog with anything but ball. Hollowpoints knock the slide stop into premature slide lock on rounds 3-6. Besides trying every magazine I own (about six varieties) I’ve tried filing the stock part, installed a Wilson bulletproof slide stop, new plunger and spring, etc. The only thing I haven’t tried is drilling the slide stop to make a detent for the plunger; it’s easy to screw it up, slide stops are expensive little chunks of steel, and I’ve got plenty of other handguns that don’t need work to function reliably.

    I’m not going to buy another Kimber. Why should I when I can get more gun for less money from Springfield or STI?

  4. I would not recommend a Kimber 9mm. A buddy of mine has an STS in 9mm and it has helped several gunsmiths make the rent. I think it took a trip to Wilson Combat to get it run okay. The worst incident was when the Kimber magazine fell apart in the middle of a stage at an IDPA match. I really did like a Kimber Government model in 10mm but it was all sharp edges and had that series 80 firing pin block. IMHO for the price of a Kimber, a good gunsmith can customize the equivalent Springfield 1911A1 and have the better gun.

  5. Fortunately for me, I bought my first 4 Kimbers in the mid-1990s. My first, and best, is the original Custom Classic and it is as reliable as ANY of my 7 Glocks. That was when Kimber made a superlative 1911. I bought the next 4 shortly thereafter and have been pleased overall. My only “uh oh” moment came when I caved to temptation and bought the Warrior when it came out. I immediately broke the slide stop upon reassembling it before its first range session (lubed up the internals). Kimber’s customer service was outstanding and they overnighted a brand new part, but was I ignorant of their move to MIM parts! That’s the last Kimber for a long time.

    I recently completed my 4th K. Hackathorn class a weekend ago and (I doubt Ken would be upset with me for repeating his comments) he gave us his opinions on the various manufacturers’ QC………not good! While Kimber is feeling the hate these days, they’re all slipping (Sig, Gen4 Glock, SA, S&W M&P). Apparently, the outsourcing is catching up with the manufacturers and they need to get a handle on it fast. H&K is the only one that came away unscathed in Ken’s opinion even though they are total jerks….and I hate H&K!


    1. HK is quietly reimaging themselves. Putting out great product and backing them with great customer service. I had a meeting with the President of HK and he’s well aware of their image issues. They are now almost like a whole new company.

  6. Everyone has a Kimber story. Here’s mine:

    A friend allowed me to help “break in” his new $1500 Pro Carry II in Stainless. It is a sweet-looking gun, that is, until it mal-functioned several times for both him and myself. While I like the eye-candy portion and feel of the weapon, I just would not feel comfortable carrying the darn thing for SD when I can carry a Glock for 1/3 the money and many times the reliability.

    The other irony is that he bought the gun in WV, in a locale where people have a tough time paying the bills, yet the shop can’t keep them in stock. Go figure!

  7. I remember back in the stone age watching one of the first automated machining cells in operation. Staff would load a part into a holding fixture and mount that on the transportation robot. The robot would take it to the first machine which would pick up the fixture and do a series of operations. Next the robot would take it to an automated inspection machine. The inspection machine had a program that could tell not only were but why something was wrong. Part not located in the holding fixture correctly, cutting tool getting worn. there would be an adjustment or replacement of the worn tool. It things were undersize it would be rerun. If it was too far out of spec the part would be scrapped. The parts went anywhere from two to six different cutting machines and were inspected between each machining operation. I read of one gun manufacturer in Europe that was machining cast parts and if the automated inspection found anything wrong they wouldn’t waste any effort to save it. They would just scrap it. So I’m wondering just what the heck is going on with Kimber? The 1911 design is a bit fiddly but built to originals specs it gave a pretty good service life.

  8. Hello again. I bought a Kimber Target II stainless in 9mm ( got a SAI M1A Scout the same day, another story ) and prior to this,had only wondered how they had the nerve to ask for the kind of money that those sell for. After shooting hundreds of rounds of 9mm through mine, I know that, to me, anyway, they are worth the money and I WILL buy another. Target sights, ramped barrel,everything fitted as if by my favorite custom builder (from back in my IPSC days)and no failure to function, failure to fire, or failure to eject. Feeds even from my .38 super magazines (had to try, pleasant surprise). My only complaint is waiting for delivery.

    1. Yes, most Kimbers are coming out just fine… but they are letting too many out of the gate that have problems.
      I don’t need a bunch of “Well my Kimber is just fine” comments. Those Kimbers are not the problem…. Hmmm… I should make another addition to the post.

      1. No offense intended, I do take your point. I realize that I have experience with one randomly purchased pistol, obtained new, that runs as I would (maybe unrealistically) expect any pistol to ( My SAI .45 required a “run-in” period that likely could have been avoided using Slipstream, but is fine now, and fills the bill for a more basic, “park” finish, fixwd sight .45 ACP) . As someone who sees more guns sold than I shall ever own, yes, I understand that from where you sit, you will know more about the number of sour apples. One need only go to other websites to hear of famous make lever action rifles, new form the factory, with barrels devoid of rifling, a new “tactical” bolt action with a rough black phos. finish in the bore ( as porous as the outside if the gun, and non reflective)and and number of other screw-ups. Usually, they are found out by someone who is not a first time buyer.Some, I imagine,are not. Would I buy a USED Kimber showing little to no wear?( usually offered at near MSRP).Never really thought about it- few show up used in my area. Maybe it would be time to say “show me the carfax” so to speak. IF I had a well established trade relationship with the dealer, in which a “problem child” can be brought back- maybe.

  9. I have the Stainless Target II in 10mm. I really like this one and my Custom it is all black. They are sweet. I would really like to get a 6″ 10 mm High cap gun. but the prices are absolutely insane to me. Guess I can try and get my Super Hawg Para .45 turned into a 10mm.

    But yes, Kimber needs to start making them tighter and better. Nothing wrong with a little fancy on the outside.

    1. No, nothing wrong with a little fancy… what’s wrong is when the fancy becomes the priority over function and accuracy.

  10. Some really good points there…they’d be wise to listen to you.

    It looks like a lot of the problems are from the later models created, of the “II” series. I picked up my Custom Royal I from a landlord who needed money for roof repairs years ago, and use it as my carry platform. It’s been very reliable with both ball and HPs, the only problems I had were when I put in an aftermarket extended slide stop. You guessed it, slide hung up a bunch of times so I switched back…no issues since then.

    I wouldn’t buy another (as pretty as they are) but I like the one I have. Definitely following your ATI posts with interest!

    1. Well, the problems are the second series… the problems stem from the lack of quality control and the insistence on these full length guide rods and bushingless systems. It was about two or three years ago that we started noticing QC problems, and they continually got worse. Last year was the worst. However I’m still not seeing any improvements. Nice new guns coming out – all so very pretty. But we’re getting lots of complaints.
      I’ve yet to have a Kimber from the last two years complete one of my handgun courses without absolute misery for the owner.

  11. I have a Kimber Ten II which has been flawless! However it is a BIG gun and out of production, (just try to find a 13 round Mag!) I also have several friends that have newer Kimber designs and I keep hearing them mutter “boat anchor”….Oh by the way when any company starts telling complaints that flaws are “normal” check their bottom line and don’t expect orders to get filled later on…can you say bankrupt boys and girls?

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