Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kimber Stainless Target II (9mm)

I bought this Kimber Stainless Target II about 8-10 years ago.  It was about $900 at the time and came with one magazine. The gun currently runs around $1100 in my area. I've only seen one in the local gun stores so that price may not be the norm.

I bought this pistol many years ago when I was shooting a local IDPA style match a couple of days per month. I had used a Springfield M1911, a Browning Hi Power, a Sigma and a S&W Model 10.  It was fun running through a bunch of my different guns but I wanted to actually compete with my peers instead of just dusting off my collection gun by gun. This is an easy gun to compete with and can make you look better than you normally would. Of course that is true of most good M1911's.

The gun is reliable. It runs absolutely everything that I can find to put through it. I was making a lot less money when I purchased this handgun and most of the 9mm ammo that I used was Silver Bear. The Kimber probably has at least a couple of thousand rounds of steel cased ammo through it. Over the last few years I mostly bought WWB but I've shot everything from Blazer to Fiocchii. I've used Speer Gold Dot 124 gr HP (+P) for a self defense load over the last couple of years. I would estimate that this pistol has over 8,000 rounds through it and has only had a couple of jams over the past decade.
Kimber recommended a 600 rnd break in period when I bought this gun. That's ridiculously high but it wasn't necessary with this handgun.
During one period I ran over 1,000 rnds through the gun without a cleaning or a malfunction. I eventually got bored with the test and ended it.
As I said earlier, this is a very reliable pistol and I would definitely buy it again.

I have two 9mm M1911's and about 12 magazines for the pair of them. 10 of the mags are made by Kimber and the other two are Springfield magazines. They all work well in the Kimber and I have very few complaints about them. They average about $28-$33 each.
The magazines are all 9 round, stainless steel and have witness holes down the side.
I've read that the 9mm magazines began as .38 Super mags. As the .38 Super is a longer bullet something has to be done to get rid of some of that empty space in the magazine. Kimber has a rib running down the back (inside) of the magazine to take up some of that space. This pushes the bullet a little further forward in the magazine. The only problem that I see with this setup is you may find the first bullet partially hanging out of the feed lips when pulling the magazine out of a tight mag pouch. I've seen this before with .45ACP M1911's using mags without the rib in back so it may not be a factor.  Other manufacturers use a different style of feed lips and that seems to help with this issue.
I have one Kimber mag that causes the slide to not lock open after the last shot. I can live with that and it's numbered and used as a training mag.
Springfield uses a different approach to taking up some of the empty space in the magazine body. They have a rib running down the front of the magazine and this pushes the bullet further back. I like this idea better in theory. It allows a little more of the feed lips to grip the top round. I've only had these magazines for a few months but they seem to work well. I've had the Kimber mags for years so I'll reserve judgement on which ones I like best until after some more range time.

 The Kimber mag is on the top in the photo on the left. The rib down the center of the Springfield magazine is easily noticeable on the bottom mag.

Note the spacer inside the Kimber magazine in the bottom photo.

The Stainless Target II has a bevelled magazine well and it's probably about the same as it's competitors.

The gun comes with an attractive aluminum match grade trigger and I have no complaints with it. Unfortunately I don't have  a scale. According to the factory the trigger pull is 4.0 - 5.0 lbs. I would guess that it's on the low side but I'll be honest.....I'm not one of those guys that claims to be able to simple pick up a handgun and guess trigger pulls. I usually judge the pull by, "It's pretty good," "Meh," or "Damn, that sucks ass."
Actually I'm a little pickier than that but I don't obsess over it. Good is good.  I will say that I shot Colt .45's for years in the military and have owned four M1911's. I've done all of the gun swapping that we all do when BSing at the range.  In my limited experience the Kimber has the best trigger that I've found coming from the factory in this price range.

The sights are adjustable and work well. They seem to be on par with the other  adjustable target sights on the market. They are serrated to reduce glare. The sight radius is 6.8"

The grips that come on the gun are black rubber and while they aren't that attractive they work OK. I'm not crazy about them but don't have any complaints about how they work. I, and my family, shoot in the summer and it gets very hot at the range. I cannot remember ever having any slippery grip problems with this gun.

Kimber calls this "Satin Silver." I think that it's more of a matte finish and it's reasonably attractive. I have not seen any wear on the finish despite using a kydex holster. This is a tight gun and there is no rattle at all.

The controls are pretty much the normal M1911 fare. The magazine release is where it's expected to be. It sets out a bit further than on the Government models but not so far that it's inadvertently pressed.  Mags drop free easily BTW.
The slide stop is just a slide stop. Nothing special there. I have medium sized hands and have to rotate the frame in my hand in order to reach it with my thumb (When engaging it) and I expect most will have to do the same.
The gun has an extended thumb safety. It has a very positive feel to it when flicking it on or off. It's still easy to manipulate without being overly stiff or loose.
The beaver tail grip safety works well and I've never had any issues with it. I make it a point to shoot left handed as well as with my strong hand and there's never been a problem with the grip safety.  Then again, I've never had an issue with any grip safety whether it's on a M1911 or a XDM. 

The gun comes with a 5" steel match grade barrel and stainless steel match grade bushing.
I've read some complaints from Kimber owners about their barrels rusting. I have not seen that and while this gun is not carried much it is shot a lot and only cleaned after 2 or 3 range trips. I might have a different story if it was a carry gun but as things stand today there have been no rust issues with this gun.

Unlike the .45ACP's the 9mm version comes with a 12lb recoil spring.  I finally changed it after getting two failures to go into battery during a local match. There have been no issues since then and honestly it's time for a lot of springs to be changed if I go by the round count instead of reliability.

There is a full length guide rod in this model. I was more familiar with the typical shorter rod that comes in the Government models when I bought this gun. Full length guide rods are now the norm for me.  As long as there's no reliability issues I don't care if the guide rod is short, long or two piece.

This pistol has an internal extractor. I like this due to the ease of cleaning and replacement if necessary. Internal or external doesn't really matter to me in the long run. I just want a gun that works. If all things are equal however I would pick an internal extractor.

The slide serrations work well. I don't really care about the serrations at the front of the slide but they are attractive and some might use them. The rear serrations give a good grip when your hands are wet or oily. They aren't the best serrations that I've seen but I have no complaints about them.

Take down is pretty standard for M1911's. A bushing wrench is a big help but you can take it apart without one.  Kimber did a good job on the internals as there are none of the  rough edges, tool marks, etc. that I've seen on other handguns. Of course for the price they should take care of this.

The action is smoooooth. Someone once described the Beretta 92's as having a very smooth feel when racking the slide. It was described as glass on glass. This Kimber is like that. I recently bought a new 9mm M1911 and have been sitting here comparing the two guns. The Kimber beats it hands down in every category except price and appearance.

Now for the specs:

Caliber:     9mm
Magazine Capacity:    9 rounds
Weight:    38oz
Height:     5.25"
Width:      1.28"
Barrel:      5" Match Grade barrel and bushing
Finish:      Matte Stainless Steel (Satin Silver)
Recoil Spring:    12lbs
Guide Rod:    Full Length
Extractor:      Internal
Trigger:     Aluminum Match Grade (4-5lbs)
Sights:    Kimber Adjustable (6.8" Sighting Radius)

Accuracy is very good and the gun will shoot better than I (and most others) do. I'll add some targets at a later date. Unfortunately I don't generally save targets and don't have Nutnfancy's attention to detail in this regard.

As expected recoil is minimal even with +P's.  9mm's from a full sized steel framed M1911 are a joy to shoot.

In summary this is a very good gun. It's reliable, accurate, fun to shoot and as the design has been around for over 100 years there is a huge aftermarket of parts, accessories and other goodies. It's an attractive gun without looking like something from Saddam Hussein's gun cabinet.
The downside's freaking expensive. You can get two used 3rd Gen Glocks and a new Kel-Tec PF9 for the price of one of these (And it only comes with one magazine).
It's also heavy when compared to other full sized service pistols. Some have no problem with carrying one concealed but I wouldn't want to do that on a regular basis. The break in period is a ridiculous 500-600 rnds. I understand that you're basically wearing in parts and it's a tight gun but.....500-600 rnds. Damn.

This is a great gun. I really like it and even though I buy a few new guns every year I always come back to this one. My wife and daughter hog it at the range, friends always want to shoot it when we get together and it's the most reliable M1911 that I've seen.
I consider M1911's to be in a class like Jeep Wranglers and Harleys. They are great but there's better models out there and you really have to want one. If you can put up with the price, heavy weight, limited magazine capacity and concentrate on the great feel, wonderful trigger and all around awesomeness of the M1911 then you'll be well satisfied.

More Gun And Knife Reviews On This Blog

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. I'm a newbie looking to get into match shooting and then sounds like a good fit for me. Especially the part where the gun shoots better that the shooter. I need all the help I can get.