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Whats the deal with Kimber?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by matai, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. matai

    matai Well-Known Member

    It seems like everybody is always trash talking Kimber, but supposedly they are the largest manufacturer of 1911's. If that's true, they must be selling a ton of em.

    I understand there was a time where they had a some issues, but is this still the case?

    Is there any reason not to buy a current production Kimber?
  2. Sapper771

    Sapper771 Well-Known Member

    I have noticed that kimbers are sometimes hit and miss. Either they are loved , hated, or tolerated. I have owned only one custom shop Kimber, and I will never own another one again. Poor customer service was the major issue, not to mention a so called "custom shop" pistol that couldnt get through a whole magazine without several malfunctions. It went back twice, and still didnt get fixed. I sold it to a shop that had in house gunsmithing and got a glock.
    I have only owned one, so my experience is limited. I have a friend that has a series I kimber and it shoots great. I also have another friend that has a Series I kimber that doesnt run at all.

    If I could recomend one 1911 manufacturer it would be Springfield Armory. If your SA pistol doesnt work, they will pay for shipping both ways, kimber will not.
  3. benderx4

    benderx4 Well-Known Member

    All show, no go. Google it.
  4. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    I don't have to "google it"...I carry a Kimber UCC II daily. Out of the box it shot 3/4" groups at 7 yards and 1 1/2" groups at 25 yards. And still does. Over 3,000 rounds through it without failure.
  5. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    Some years ago the Ford Taurus was the best selling car in the country, but it wasn't the best car in the country.

    I have a flawless, uber accurate Kimber with more than 10 times that number down range. I also have one that is "okay," and had a third that, although accurate, required the services of an accomplished smith before it would run properly.

    IMO Kimber's shortcomings are lack of quality control and hit or miss customer service.
  6. ttheel

    ttheel Well-Known Member

    I will tell you my honest opinion. I believe the reason you seem to hear alot of negative is because they are the worlds largest manufacturer of 1911's. It is simple math. They make more so more is on the market so naturally you are going to hear more negative about a company that puts say 50000 guns on the market annually than a company that puts 2000 out. Just think about it. If 5% of Kimbers have problems out of the gate for one year then that means 2500 people just this year have had problems. Now lets say your High priced "custom" manufacturer puts out 2000 and they have a 5% problem rate, that is only 125 people. With today's internet, you are going to really here from people when they are unhappy with something. Naturally it is going to seem that Kimbers are worse because of the high production numbers(more people to complain). It is just the way it is. I will guarantee you that if say Les Baer was producing 50000 pistols per year then you would be hearing alot more negative about them especially if they still cost $2500.

    I am not scared of Kimber. I dont own one put I probably will some day. I spoke with a local gunshop owner and friend about Kimber's about 2 months ago. I mentioned to him myself that I heard alot of negative about them on some of these message boards and he said that all he could do was speak from his own experience. Selling virtually every major manufacturer of handguns today he said that as far as he was concerned Kimber was the best of the best. That he could not keep them in because folks wanted them so much and that he virtually never got a complaint about them and this was not the case in regards to many other gun makers.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  7. 9teenEleven

    9teenEleven Well-Known Member

    I bought a new stainless ii last spring. It has some issues at first. Customer service was outstanding. The gun has now gone through over 3k rounds without a single hiccup. It is the one gun I wouldn't trade or sell.
  8. 76shuvlinoff

    76shuvlinoff Well-Known Member

    My fullsize Raptor II (yep a series II ) is trusted enough to be my go-to middle-of-the-night, stuff goes bump, groggy-eyed *** bedside guardian. Just like the 870 and an 1894c over in the closet.

    Like those it had to eat up a pile factory rounds with a thorough mixing of cheap reloads to gain that spot.

    Can't speak for anyone else's misfortune real or imagined... but mine sure works.
  9. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    (I just wrote this in a different thread, I don't feel like typing it again, so I'll post it here.)

    The only Kimber MIM parts I have seen break are the pictures that have been posted on this board. Neither mine, nor any of the dozen or so owned by friends I shoot with regularly has ever had a problem. Same with the plastic MSH. Now I actually intend to replace mine with an arched housing with the lanyard loop when I happen across one, but I have never heard of a plastic one breaking.

    My personal extensive experience is as follows.

    In the army we had 87 WWII frankenguns of various manufacture and origins. I only shot them once, I don't recall any malfunctions of any kind. In the spring of 1992 we traded them out for new-in-cosmoline Berettas and I wept. I stole a handful of the G.I. magazines and I had all kinds of trouble with them.

    I traded a guitar to a friend of mine for a Auto Ordnance 1911 which would have been manufactured around the early 90s. It was a nightmare. Everything about it was terrible. The sights, the slide, the trigger, and to top it off, the front sight popped out two days after the front sight on my new Sigma did the same thing. I got rid of both of them.

    I bought a new Colt 1991 A1 in about 1995. Very vanilla and spartan. I liked it just fine, but I don't recall anything special about how well it functioned. It was much like the G.I. ones I had used in the army. I left the country for a while and wound up selling it.

    I bought a used Para Ordnance P-12. Again, not bad, but pretty unremarkable. I went through a phase where I carried a Beretta, a Sig, a Glock, etc, and I came back to a Kimber 1911. I shot it, and all of the function was so fluid and perfect, I suddenly felt like it was what I had been looking for all this time. It was how I WISHED all of those other 1911s had worked. I let all of my friends shoot it, even those who weren't fans of the 1911 or .45s in general. They ALL loved it, several bought them, and most of my friends who carry now carry Kimber 1911s.

    My dad asked me for suggestions for a 1911 and wound up buying a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec, and he will need to get the slide machined if he was a selection of sights. A good friend of mine went in on a group buy from Para Ordnance for some wide-frame 1911s with custom colors and graphics dedicated to a particular military unit. When he got his, the cavity under the bushing, where the plug sits was squeezed so out-of-spec that the plug wouldn't come out. He had to send it back to the factory to get it re-shaped. Both of them said they really wish they had just bought a Kimber.

    Here's the thing. Kimber sells several TIMES more units than the next 1911 manufacturer. (BATFE posts these statistics if you want to check.) When you sell many more TIMES the number as your competitors, there may well be a higher percieved number of malfunctions. Added to this, on boards like this, NEGATIVE experiences with a particular gun get much more bandwidth than POSITIVE experiences. ("I bought a new gun this weekend, I took it to the range, I shot it, cleaned it, and took it home." is pretty boring.) Even if there is a higher NUMBER of problems, it doesn't mean there is a higher RATE or likelihood of problems than another manufacturer.

    In all fairness, I try to look at all options in a given price range when I buy a gun. If I had to replace my Kimber tomorrow, I might look at a STI Spartan, a Dan Wesson, or some similar ones. But I have never had any more success between me or my friends with any brand or model than with Kimber 1911s. If the MIM parts REALLY give you the willies that much, they are all easily and cheaply replaced. (I haven't bother or worried about it in over 10,000 rounds.)
  10. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    Not a good analogy. The Taurus was at a lower price point than the competition. Kimbers are not.

    To the OP, Kimbers are semi-custom guns, offering alot of the features people pay big money to get done to a stock 1911 in a complete package that is much less than the cost of modifying a stocker.

    Kimber has had lemons, but as with most anything, the people who have problems with something are those who scream the loudest. Part of it is that folks are less tolerant of problems in a $1,000 gun than in a $400 gun. Part of it is that it just seems to be en vogue to bash kimber. I know several people who have bought much more expensive 1911's with tons of problems, but they are embarrassed to admit that their $3,000 nighthawk won't run.

    Lastly, there are alot more Kimbers out there. That means that the same percentage of problematic guns equals a larger number.

    I love my Kimber, and would buy another in a heartbeat if I were in the Market for a new 1911.
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    My experience with Kimber has been very good. That is all I have to go on.
  12. gc70

    gc70 Well-Known Member

    Kimber is a long-term, major manufacturer of mid-range 1911s.

    Long-term: Kimber has been making 1911s for a decade and a half. Like any sizeable company, the quality of its product has varied over time. Whenever the quality of a company's product goes down, some people latch onto that and will never admit that the company later restored the quality of the product.

    Major manufacturer: Kimber makes a lot of 1911s. Like any major manufacturer, some percentage of its products inevitably have problems. The greater a company's sales volume, the more people encounter the inevitable percentage of problems - and the more often we hear about those problems on the internet.

    Mid-range 1911s: Kimber does not make the cheapest 1911s available in the market, nor does it make total custom guns. People who buy the cheapest guns available seem willing to tolerate a degree of problems. People who pay more (in Kimber's price range) expect more and are less tolerant of problems. People who pay huge sums for custom guns rarely talk about problems.

    Since Kimber has a high sales volume in a competitive segment of the 1911 market and the internet is not flooded with Kimber horror stories, the company must be putting out a pretty good product.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  13. rellascout

    rellascout member

    I think Kimbers problems come directly from the fact they sell more 1911 than anyone else. When production numbers and moving metal become king quality suffers. This is a direct result of Mr. Cohens marketing approach. MOVE THE METAL.

    I agree with what other people are saying. They move more guns than anyone else so by pure volume they will have more reported problems than anyone else. The problem is that does not tell the whole story. Kimber was once a small company. Similar to say Dan Wesson of today. They turned out 3000 to 5000 "production" 1911s a year. Clackamas Kimbers where some of the best production 1911s ever made.

    They however unlike Dan Wesson choose to increase that volume. Mr Cohen wanted to move more metal. He created all sorts of models. New finishes. Cool checkering and SS cocking serrations and grips of all kinds. Each one of these cosmetic changes was renamed as a new pistol. Something for everyone. Bling Bling Bling.

    The problem was that whenever you ramp up production you run the risk of lowering quality. There are two things you never want to happen when you run a production business. No one buying your product and on the other end of the spectrum too many people buying your product.

    MIMber IMHO is a victim of their own making of the 2nd pitfall. They overproduce to meet an inflated demand. As a result they went to MIM parts. Cheaper and faster to produce. They do not have hands on the gun as much as they used to. You can't on the production line because you only have so many minutes you can put into the gun because another one is coming down the line. This is really true in the test firing part of the process. They fire a few rounds declare it good and move it out. For many types of pistols this is okay. In the 1911 world it is not. Remember Move the Metal!!!!

    All of these short cuts have taken their toll. Now back to what others have stated. Yes Kimbers defect rate might only be around 5%. The problem is that compared to other manufactures who are not MOIVING as MUCH METAL that is still high. I would bet Dan Wesson sees less than 2.5% of their 3500 guns come back to them with a factory origin issue. I know 2.5% does not seem like a lot but look at is closely. That is a 100% increase in the defect rate. (these numbers are purely for demonstration purposes as no manufacturer is going to give you this data.)

    This is exactly what has happened to Kimber. It does not mean you are going to get a bad gun. The reality is that with almost any manufacturer the odds are heavily in your favor but it does tell you a little about the company its goals and what they think of you as a consumer.

    The most troubling thing that has occurred with Kimber is that as the defect rate went up their customer service went down. The number of calls to the service center went up. The number of pistols in service at any one time went up. It is a snowball effect of ramping up production even if you kept your defect rate the same. Most companies do not compensate for this. So bad pistol becomes bad customer service, which become slower repairs which becomes pissed off customer.

    Now having said all this Kimber seems to have turned the corner. They are better than they used to be. I personally think you can point to a single change that has helped this turnaround. That is the departure of Mr. Move that metal, Cohen. Unfortunately for Kimber for many the damage done to their rep is too great to overcome.

    P.S. Again because of Mr Cohen you can take this story and replace Kimber with Sig Sauer and the story will ready with the exact same accuracy and truth. How many MIM parts where in a P220 in 2000. How many are there today? Unfortunately for Sig and their fans they have promoted Mr. Cohen.
  14. possum

    possum Well-Known Member

    the more of a product that you make, the more chance there is for issues. if you have issues with say for example 10% of your guns that you make and you make a 100, then that means you are gonna have 10 bad, of course kimber produces more than that by far, and more than any other comapny so of course they are gonna have a few more lemons than most compaines.

    i have shot alot and i mean alot of kimbers, and ran several of thier models through the ringer and then some, and i have never had an issue with a kimber that the malfunction was related to the gun.
  15. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    My analogy had nothing to with price and everything to do with quality. I agree, the Kimbers are over priced considering the quality.
  16. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    I seem to have a problem with duplicate posts today.
  17. rellascout

    rellascout member

    EddieNFL was so on point he said it twice. :) LOL
  18. 76shuvlinoff

    76shuvlinoff Well-Known Member

    I think guys that are tired of the bashing of their Glock, XD, SIG, Ruger, Smith, Taurus, fillintheblank bottom feeder just lay in wait for Kimber thread to pop up to turn the tables.

  19. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Me too EddieNFL. Except I posted one and it seemed to disappear.

    I did forget to state that I have only had my Kimber 3" for a year. But it will catch up to yours someday. I really enjoy shooting the UCC II. Even over my Colt 1911.

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