Pros/ Cons 3" 1911


June 28, 2007, 06:25 PM
To those that have 3" 1911s...How are they? Reliability? Can you carry 230gr and still shoot it comfortably (within reason of course). I have looked at the Kimber Ultra Carry.

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June 28, 2007, 06:36 PM
Well, I've owned at least seven so far. Had trouble with two (both bought used, one Charles Daly and one Para). Both had feeding issues, both were resolved with extractor tweaks.

Both were sold because they were steel, not due to reliability issues. Both were reliable when I sold them.

All the others were bought used as well. These days, I prefer alloy framed 3" 1911s. Kimber Ultra Carry Stainless is my current love. :)

Feeds anything that I can fit in the mag. Current carry ammo is Winchester Ranger 230 +p, but I'm eyeballing the Taurus Total Copper (Barnes X-bullet 185 gr HP) round.

June 28, 2007, 06:50 PM
I have the Kimber Ultra CDP II (internal ejector) and I really like the fit/finish and handling. I find it to be just as easy to conceal as my S&W M&P 9mm Compact, and a bit more re-assuring. Also with the aluminum frame it tends to be just as light. It carries 7 rounds in the clip and 1 in the chamber - so only 1 less than my full sized 1911.

I find the SA trigger to increase my accuracy, and I carry my 1911 in Condition 1 (Cocked and Locked), but usually choose holsters that prevent AD. Although, I believe the newest versions of 1911 makes all have firing pin safetys that make an AD very unlikely.

Double Naught Spy
June 28, 2007, 07:48 PM
1. Short sight radius makes accurate shooting at longer distances 15+ yards more difficult to do well. The guns can still be very accurate (my Kimber Ultra Elite is from a bench and well-steadied shot), but as quick as the sights can be on target, they can be off. With the short sight radius, aiming errors are magnified.
2. Reliability - things such as 2 stage systems are used to affect the recoil timing to be more along the lines of a 5" 1911, but not all systems work equally well and the springs tend to wear out faster.
3. Multi-stage springs tend to be more difficult for gun breakdown. This isn't a serious problem and usually just adds a step or two to the process, but it also may require a special tool depending on the make and model.
4. Recoil tends to be more pronounced in the tiny 1911s. You don't have the muzzle length and dead weight to absorb recoil and lessen muzzle climb.
5. Because of the short barrel and ammo typically designed for the standard 5" barrel, it can be hard to find defense ammo that reliably expands (given that many brands are somewhat iffy with standard length barrels and full velocity) and you may have to go to a lighter bullet to get the needed velocity. I have found the Speer Gold Dot 185 does well from my Kimber. The 230 gr bullets tend NOT to do very well at all with expansion, regardless of brand

On the good side, they are quick out of the holster (shorter length means less to draw) and quicker on target (also because of less weight to move). If you can get good with a 3" 1911, then a 5" is is like the difference between driving a tiny zippy sports car with sports steering and suspension and then going to a Cadillac. The Caddy doesn't corner as well and is a bit slower, but the ride is more comfortable (shooting). Both will get you from point A to B.

June 28, 2007, 09:01 PM
I just got back from the range with my Kimber Ultra CDP, found that I could easily group in 5-6 inch radius at 10 yards with concentration in moderately rapid fire. For 5-yard draw and fire drills I was consistently in center mass. I'm not sure I'd use a gun like this for work over 10-yards.

Springs are recommended to be changed every 1800 rounds with this gun, but the standard bushing is gone on the front and you can easily take down the gun without any tools and very quickly.

I find this to be my most accurate compact gun (I have j-frames, M&P compact as well). And 230-gr ammo is no problem. I put 150 rounds through this one, and 100 rounds through my full size 1911 today, and have no hand fatigue at all.

June 28, 2007, 09:40 PM
I own two full size Kimbers but decided to get a Colt Defender (3"). 100% reliable even with 230gr hollow points. My wife just started shooting and can handle it. It did have to go back to Colt because of a loose plunger tube but they turned it around quickly. Do a search on the 1911 forum for it and you will find most owners are very satisfied.

I should add that I am satisfied with my Kimbers and you would not go wrong as long as you get the internal ejector. All their current production is now internal ejector but some dealers still have new guns with the external ejector in stock.

June 29, 2007, 01:33 AM

Picked up mine about 3 weeks ago, and loving it.

Been thru 500 rounds, 230gr FMJ, and 20 rounds of 230gr JHP. Had jamming problems at first (FMJ) with the Colt factory mags, but was told to get Wilson Combat mags and, thru 450 rounds with them, only 3 feed jams, (limp-wrist IMO, my bad) but was easily cleared and fired the remaining rounds.

And, with 7 in the mag, and 1 chambered, 8, JHP, no jams thru 20 rounds.

I really love and trust this little gun and, it for me, is accurate far greater out than 15ft, more like 40ft, COM every time.


June 29, 2007, 05:07 AM
The little 3"ers are cute and attractive... but they are known to be more troublesome than full size or Commander models... not to say they can't be reliable, just that they are more prone to problems. I wouldn't worry about longer-range accuracy with them... these are close range defense guns, not target shooters.

Simply because one hasn't experienced functional problems with a micro 3" 1911 doesn't mean all is well with it for a carry gun.

Since a 3" barrel is 40% shorter than the "standard" of 5", you've got to be very choosy about your defense loads if you want something that penetrates well and expands reliably.

If you're trusting standard .45 acp ammo from a 3" barrel, you are really compromising the terminal effectiveness of the caliber. Generally speaking, you are best off with Corbon DXP and Corbon PowRBall from these little 3" blasters...

commonly trusted .45 acp defense loadings fail to perform well from a 3" barrel.

June 30, 2007, 12:49 AM
Have 700+ rds. through Kimber Ultra Carry(original style, no FP safety and internal extractor). Reliable after first 300 rds.

June 30, 2007, 12:58 AM
I have the Kimber Ultra Raptor II (internal ejector), and I love it. compact, accurate ans ZERO issues. I'm glas I bought it and would recommend it to others.

June 30, 2007, 09:00 AM
I have a Kimber Ultra Carry II which I love, it's my daily carry gun in a pocket holster and I just got a Kimber Ultra RCP II which I haven't taken to the range yet. The recoil on them is not uncomfortable, the accuracy is remarkable and assembly/disassembly is a snap (A tad different from standard 1911's.)

June 30, 2007, 09:03 AM
I love the 1911 and fancy guns that are small for their caliber so the 3" 1911 has a special place in my collection. I've generally had no troubles with them other than the recoil spring life seems pretty short, generally leading to failures to go fully into battery where a little push on the back of the slide completes the process.

But for carry, I think you lose too much velocity with the 3" barrel and .45ACP so adequate penetration can't really be counted on. Sub 4" barrel for carry I prefer the .40S&W as it'll have 75-100 fps more velocity with a bullet of the same sectional density which will give significantly better penetration.


June 30, 2007, 09:31 AM
.. Sorry .. somehow doubled-posted.

June 30, 2007, 09:35 AM
If you're set on a 3", I would opt for the Colt. Colts are built the right way. I had less than satisfactory experiences with my Kimber Ultra Eclipse.

June 30, 2007, 10:20 AM
I was very disappointed with my Kimber Ultra CDP II at first, to the point I considered selling it. I sent it back to Kimber for rehab and since I got it back it has been a perfect shooter for 1400 rounds. Timing on the short 1911s is very critical and any slight imperfection like, rough breechface, weak recoil springs, burr on the feed ramp, or week mag springs will cause reliability problems. My Colt King Cobra and my Ultra CDP are the two guns my son will get after I'm done shooting and that won't be soon. Mike

June 30, 2007, 08:29 PM
Absolutely no complaints about my Defender:). It is my off-duty and back up gun. Perfect feeding using the Wilson 7-round officer length mags, but those shots to 20 yards can be troublesome; especially since I put on the XS Big Dot sights. I'm getting some Crimson Trace grips next week.;)

Ala Dan
June 30, 2007, 08:57 PM
Another Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II user checking in~!;)

Thus far, NO problems encountered and its my everyday CCW piece. :D

Harold Mayo
June 30, 2007, 09:55 PM
I've owned a couple that were absolutely reliable and have no problems with them in that respect. My reason for not carrying one is because of the expansion issue. 3" is just too short for .45 ACP and I don't want to hunt around for a particular round that does well out of that barrel length. I just carry full-sized guns.

June 30, 2007, 10:02 PM
I love my CDP Ultra. It has been 100% dependable and VERY accurate, not only at short range, but long range too. I shoot it better at 100 yards than I do my CDP Pro. I really like it. It replaced my CDP Pro. :)

June 30, 2007, 10:11 PM
I have Colt Defender and love it Use a 185 gr bullet or a compact load made for 45auto.
Corbon has a load in DPX just for 3" guns non +P I have those and 185DPX +P for use in my Defender and Officer .

June 30, 2007, 11:17 PM
One more vote for the Colt Defender. My factory ported model has been 100% reliable.

Old Dog
July 1, 2007, 03:33 AM
Eh. I've made the case for my SA loaded LW Micro-Compacts more than a few times hereabouts. I'll bet my life on the 3" platform, at least in the specimens I've owned.

M2 Carbine
July 1, 2007, 08:50 AM
I have three Kimber Ultras and friends have several more.
They are completely reliable and very accurate.

I own many good carry guns but my carry choice is the Tactical Ultra.

Walkalong I love my CDP Ultra. It has been 100% dependable and VERY accurate, not only at short range, but long range too. I shoot it better at 100 yards than I do my CDP Pro. I really like it. It replaced my CDP Pro.

100 yard shooting is fun with the small gun.:)

July 1, 2007, 09:10 AM
Loved my Cold Defender, but really love my ParaOrd Carry 6.45LDA. Either will serve you well. I carried and trained with 230's for the entire time I carried my Defender. It was not until I purchased my Para and did some reading, buying, shooting and testing that I found the right load, (in my experience) for a 3" .45ACP. For me, it's the Remington Golden Sabre 185gr JHP. Feels rifle like out of the Para, expands beautifully and groups better than the myriad of other cartridges I tried.

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