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Kimber Super Carry Pro - a review

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by G27RR, Feb 17, 2011.

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  1. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    How Super is the Super Carry Pro?

    The Kimber Super Carry Pro is one of Kimber's newest pistols. Since I like carrying a 1911, its combination of features was hard to pass up once I saw and handled it in person at one of my local gunshops. Despite the hit or miss reputation of Kimber in online reviews, I decided I would take a chance on my first Kimber and bought one of the first Super Carry Pros available locally several months back.

    Intended for concealed carry, one of its most notable features is the rounded heel and mainspring housing. This makes the grip less likely to "print," or show through, your concealing garment than the same size pistol with a more traditional grip. Other features on the Super Carry Pro that can be beneficial on a carry pistol are the flush fit 8 round magazine (one included), serrated frontstrap and MSH, ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, 3-dot tritium night sights with a cocking shoulder for one-handed use, "carry melt" treatment to smooth sharp edges, aggressively checkered grips, loaded chamber indicator port in the top of the slide, and lightweight aluminum frame.

    The lightweight government frame of the SCP is made from 7075-T7 aluminum and has a satin silver "KimPro II" finish. It is nicely machined and as mentioned, lightweight compared to a steel frame. The magwell is beveled for easier magazine insertion and the trigger guard has a high cut to help you take a higher grip. The grip safety is a high rise beavertail style, and while the fit is good, it could be a bit better for a pistol in this price range. The MSH fit was better.

    Since this pistol does not use a ramped barrel, the feed ramp is also aluminum. This is worth mentioning because after the 850 rounds I have fired through this pistol, there are visible wear marks on the ramp. My steel framed 1911s do not show anywhere close to the same degree of wear with similar or higher round counts. A ramped barrel would also have prevented the problem.

    The slide is stainless steel with a matte black "KimPro II" finish that Kimber says is self-lubricating. The benefit of that seems unclear because you still need to lubricate the moving parts. It has a flat top cut and "Super Carry" pattern serrations both across the top and on the rear sides. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and ejection was not an issue. This pistol does not use the "Kimber Firing Pin Safety" so commonly used in the Kimber lineup. Since you still have the grip and thumb safeties, this is not an issue.

    The "match grade" trigger is a solid aluminum piece. Trigger pull weight felt a bit high though, even without the extra safety, and I'm not sure I'd call it "match grade". It's not a deal breaker, but it is heavier and less smooth than the factory STI triggers, for example. The Colt Combat Elite factory trigger also has a better feel to me. Trigger feel is subjective and may vary from pistol to pistol, so your experience may differ. For the record, Kimber states it comes from the factory set at 4-5 lbs. I do not have a trigger gauge so I couldn't verify that on my pistol.

    The barrel is a bushingless, single piece, 4" long, "match grade" part with a polished breech face. Kimber states it also has a "match chamber" for what that's worth. I don't know what criteria they use to designate it as match quality, but my example does exhibit very good accuracy in informal off hand practice at the range. It is up there with the more accurate pistols I have shot. I don't shoot from a pistol rest, don't shoot pistols for measured group size, and don't practice beyond 15 yards with a pistol much, so I can't speak to those areas. What can I say, I favor rifles for those tasks and I don't write reviews for a living.

    The finish has held up very well in range use, and despite the 850 rounds through it, the area around the ejection port has also held up well. I have not been able to test the finish in carry usage or for holster wear due to reliability issues that do not give me the confidence to carry this pistol.

    That brings me to reliability. Before I even bought this pistol, I knew Kimber said their pistols needed a 500 round "break-in period." That was the main reason I had never bought a Kimber before the Super Carry Pro. I am one of those that feels you should function test a pistol with at least a couple hundred rounds of FMJ and at least 50 rounds of your carry ammo with zero problems before you carry it, but you shouldn't need a "break-in period" for reliable function on a pistol designed for carry use. Since "Carry" is in the name, that's how I feel about the Super Carry Pro.

    I took a 250 round box of FMJ 230gr PMC to the range and proceeded to run it through my SCP. I wound up with an average of about 1 malfunction per magazine, typically a failure to feed the next round all the way into the chamber. That means that with 8 round mags, I had about 25-30 failures, or only about 88-90% reliability.

    Okay, I figured, I am a little concerned but I am only halfway through the "break-in period." I ran another 250 rounds of FMJ from various brands and had the same pattern of failures, but it improved to about 90-95% reliability. At this point I had run 500 rounds, and I was starting not to like this pistol.

    For my third range trip, I switched to JHP ammo from Winchester, Hornady and Speer. I also switched from my usual oil lubricant to a grease to see if that would help. I ran about 150 rounds of 230gr JHP through, and it seemed to run about 97% with four failures. I switched back to FMJ and ran another 100 through, with four failures.

    The total round count was up to 750, with about 94% reliability (somewhere close to 50 failures all together). I was starting to HATE this pistol now. The only other time I've had such an unreliable pistol is when I took a chance on the Diamondback DB380 when it first came out.

    Back home, I stripped the pistol down and gave it a good cleaning, and switched back to an oil lubricant. I also replaced the factory spring with a Wolff spring for 4" Kimbers and headed back to the range. I took another 250 round box of 230gr FMJ, and proceeded to run the first hundred through the Kimber. I had two failures, with one in the first 50 rounds and one in the second. Okay, that's it, the best I could get in a single range trip was 98% reliability. Not wanting to let a range trip go to waste, I stayed around a fired the rest of the ammo through my STI Shadow and Colt Combat Elite with nary a problem.

    If a freshly cleaned and lubricated pistol with a new spring can't manage to make it through 100 rounds problem free, I am not wasting any more ammo on it. Nothing appears to be wrong with the extractor, ejector, etc. No burrs on either the slide or frame. Not a magazine problem*. That leaves me having to try giving Kimber a call and see if they can fix it. Even if they do, I won't ever have confidence in this pistol and will probably sell or trade it. I have two Colts and four STIs, and none of the six needed a "break-in period" or had reliability problems. It's not the "tightness" of the Kimber assembly either, as my STIs are all at least as tight if not tighter than the Kimber.

    Would I recommend this pistol? It's probably obvious by now, but I have to say no based on my sample. The Super Carry Pro turned out to be Super Frustrating. For the price, it should exhibit a little better fitting, have a more durable feed ramp or a ramped barrel, and should not have the reliability issues that mine has. However, if those issues were solved or are not an issue on your example, I would say it would make a very good carry pistol. It conceals well, shoots very well, and could be a great carry pistol if Kimber put enough QC/QA into it.

    *All shooting was done using the factory KimPro Tac-mag, Wilson magazines, and some Colt factory magazines. The only time I could discern a specific magazine didn't work well with the SCP was with the Colt magazines. They work in my other pistols but showed the most failures to feed in the SCP. The failures showed up randomly enough with both the KimPro and Wilson magazines that I do not attribute any failures specifically to those magazines. I mentioned the fit of the grip safety earlier, and it may have contributed to the tendency of this pistol to leave a wide "v" shaped blood blister in the web between my thumb and forefinger when shooting a lot of rounds. I don't have any other pistols that do that.
     
  2. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Kimber Super Carry Pro

    Caliber: .45ACP

    Frame: 7075-T7 aluminum
    government length
    "Super Carry" pattern serrations on frontstrap and mainspring housing
    high cut trigger guard
    beveled magwell
    rounded heel

    Slide: stainless steel
    flat top style
    "Super Carry" pattern top and rear cocking serrations
    oversized ejection port
    enlarged firing pin stop to lock extractor in place

    Barrel: 4" bushingless, single piece, non-ramped
    LH 1:16 twist
    loaded chamber indicator port in the top
    polished breech face

    Mainspring Housing: rounded with "Super Carry" pattern serrations

    External Safety: ambidextrous extended thumb safety

    Grip Safety: high rise beavertail

    Sights: Tritium three dot night sights with cocking shoulder

    Guide rod: full length

    Hammer: commander style

    Grips: micarta/laminated wood fully checkered with border

    Capacity: 8 + 1

    Magazine: KimPro stainless steel Tac-Mag
    Teflon coated stainless steel follower
    quick change floor plate (only the flat stainless steel floor plate included)
    one included with purchase

    Other: "match grade" chamber, barrel, and trigger (solid aluminum style)
    lowered and flared ejection port
    recessed slide stop pin with beveled surround in the frame
    "carry melt" treatment
    22lb recoil spring, manual recommends changing every 800 rounds
    checkered, slightly extended magazine release
    does not have the "Kimber firing pin safety"
    manual states there is a 400-500 round "break-in period"

    Finish: KimPro II "self lubricating"
    matte black slide
    satin silver frame

    Length: 7.7"

    Height: 5.25"

    Weight: 28 ounces

    Website: http://kimberamerica.com

    MSRP: $1,530 (as of Feb. 2011)


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  3. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    Great review and thanks for posting your experience with the gun. I'm seeing more and more less than stellar reviews of the Kimber Super Carry line. That's disheartening because I know what those pistols sell for and for that kind of money, I personally would expect 100% reliability.
     
  4. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Glad you liked the review, thanks. I was definitely expecting more.
     
  5. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    And on a seperate note, if a company like Kimber is going to design and market a gun primarily for carry/self defense such as the Super Carry, I would have hoped that reliability would have been their number one priority rather than extra features. There are just too many other options on the market that have a proven record of reliability.

    BTW - how would you compare it to the STI Ranger II that you reviewed? Both mid-size/commander size 1911s that are similarly priced.
     
  6. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    The Ranger II (both of mine) has been vastly superior to the Kimber. Zero malfunctons with either one, and between the two I have maybe the same 850 rounds or so through them as I do the Kimber. The biggest difference is the lack of a rounded grip and the weight, since it is all steel.

    The weight helps with felt recoil and there's less muzzle flip. I have considered putting night sights on the .45 and carrying it in place of the Shadow during times I don't need to have a smaller pistol. That way I can take advantage of the longer barrel for higher velocities. I will probably do that some time soon, but I doubt the Shadow will be fully replaced (2K+ trouble free rounds on it now). With a good holster and belt, I don't think the grip difference or weight are enough to stop the Ranger II from being a good carry choice.

    In terms of value, you could have flipped the prices and the STI would still have won (based on my pistols).
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011
  7. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    Excellent review! Thanks!

    A few things to try that I use on Kimbers:
    -they like Wilson mags best, often even more than Tripp. Use only plastic followers. (Especially with a al frame K)

    -K's like Federal 230 FMJ, and Winchester JHP. (both usually at walmart) K's hate PMC, Blazer, Rem UMC ammo.

    -lube the outside of the barrel and inside of barrel bushing
    -feel free to lube heavy. I use ATF/Mobile1 mixed, then add Pink synth grease until I get the thickness I want. Still liquid that pours, but a thick liquid.

    -gently polish the ramp and throat with a dremel, cotton cone and Turtle wax chrome polish or even the orange dremel paste.
    -polish the recoil rod
    -I took the outside of the barrel down with polish (very little, I still have the machined finish) , I don't really recommend that, but it worked well for me.

    -Wolff or Wilson springs


    I knew imediately that you'd mention useing Colt or K mags with metal followers. Use only your Wilson 47d with a plastic follower next trip to the range. Some 1911's are picky. PMC deosn't feed in my K either.

    Or Trade it in for a DW VBOB or CCO!!!!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011
  8. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Kind of crazy the Kimber includes metal followers since they seem to be known for problems in their pistols. I wasn't aware of that issue. My Colt Defender doesn't have that problem and it's a similar setup with an aluminum frame. I did lube the Kimber like crazy and in the areas you metioned.

    A bobtail does look appealing. I also want a railed 1911 at some point, maybe an STI Duty One or the Colt XSE.
     
  9. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    I offered Kimber my advice and services for only 1.75 mil a year. I even offered a picture of myself for all thier adds.

    They decided to pass. :rolleyes:

    So all the Kimber fans are stuck with lame mags. Then again out of all dozens of 1911 mag co.s I've only seen two work consistantly. I'm a mag snob I guess?

    Kimber deos a few weird things:
    -I still don't get why the "tactical grip safety" isn't on all thier pistols, I love that feel. my CDP with the K bump safety is more comfortable than my Valor!
    - the slide deosn't need to say Kimber so large
    -old fashioned mags that are still way worse than Wilson
    -thinner front sights please
    -plastic msh?
    -ramp polish, it's like 1 min tops
     
  10. abuelo

    abuelo Member

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    Great review..A bit disheartening though, you would think that after spending that much on a gun that it would have a little more hand fitting and function better out of the box.
     
  11. Lefty Wright

    Lefty Wright Member

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    A few years ago I bought a little Keltec P32. Not a great pistol, but a couple of hours with a dremel and some jeweler's rouge and it worked great. Over 700 rounds now with no failures. I expected to do some work since I paid a little less than $200 for the pistol. Seems to me the SuperCarry is around $1,400. I wouldn't expect to do much more than clean it. I don't think I'd have the patience to dump a hundred bucks worth of ammo into "breaking in" a $1,400 gun. They should be paying you.
     
  12. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Here are some pictures I took today after the 850 rounds. The most wear is visible inside the slide and frame as expected. Some spots inside the slide do seem to have taken more of a pounding than I've seen on other pistols.

    Some minor marks are also on the exterior frame and slide, and the only unexpected exterior mark is where the finish flaked off (it appears, not sure when it happened) of the front strap in one spot. Pretty solid finish on the exterior.

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  13. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

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    I can't believe Kimber didn't put a supported barrel in this. Aluminum is soft, it's going to take a beating there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  14. DasFriek

    DasFriek Member

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    The slide stop appears to be dragging and the feed ramp looks really rough, Thats the only two things i can see in the pics.
    It may help if you posted what type of failures you were having exactly?

    Sad to say my smaller 3.5" RIA CS Officers .45acp is 100% reliable and cost only $425.
    But ive always said its about the only Officers 1911 under $1000 that tends to be the most reliable out of the box. But mine took a little fine tuning which was just a step heavier Wolff recoil spring to get it there.

    I hope you can find the issue yourself as i highly doubt ANY company repair dept can fix an issue that only happens 2% of the times its fired.
    Its a shame such a great looking gun cant be trusted to do its intended role reliably.
     
  15. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Agreed, and unfortunately it's not something I thought through before buying it.
     
  16. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Failures were primarily not fully going into battery. Even with FMJ. The feed ramp was smooth when I bought it, obviously not so smooth now, and the picture doesn't show it as much as it showsin person (had trouble with the flash washing it out).
     
  17. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Few more pictures.

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    In contrast, with over 3x the round count, my Shadow has more finish worn off, but the wear is much more even. It's also had just 1 failure in 2,000+ rounds and I'm pretty sure I limp wristed that one at the end of a long range session.

    It also has zero feed wear problems because it uses a ramped barrel to go with the aluminum frame.
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  18. net4unner

    net4unner Member

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  19. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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  20. smalls

    smalls Member

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    Very nice review!
    I've personally never shot a Kimber, but from what I've read and heard, they are very nice looking, expensive paper weights.
     
  21. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    My CDP's ramp isn't pretty, but it hasn't worn or roughened up. Forged 7000 series Al isn't that soft.

    My metal mag followers gouged the frame up pretty good, lucky I caught that and switched to Wilson Mags before the K mags got to my ramp.

    I have noticed that brass will stick to the ramp more. I polished that off around 3000 rounds.
     
  22. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    The spring change usually does wonders for the Pro size Kimbers. Give Kimber a call and let them go at it, you wouldn't want to sell a problem gun to someone else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  23. Ankeny

    Ankeny Member

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    I had a Kimber Gold Match that was very problematic. It wouldn't go into battery. After two trips back to the factory, I had a custom gunsmith fix the problem. The chamber was a bit eccentric to the bore and there wasn't enough leade. Since that time I had a CDP Pro Carry II in .45 and I now have a Pro Ageis in 9mm. Both guns have run flawlessly with anything I feed them. I also see a lot of Kimbers in the IPSC circles. It seems like the quality is hit or miss, but there are obviously many thousands of Kimbers that are good to go. FWIW, if you want a robust 1911 over the long haul, aluminum alloy isn't the answer no matter who produces the pistol.
     
  24. 230therapy

    230therapy Member

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    http://10-8performance.blogspot.com/2010/05/1911-reliability-what-does-it-really.html

    Kimber needs to make this right. If they won't, call up customer service and keep asking for the next level of management. Be polite and you'll eventually get to the VP. Ask to have it made right, even up to replacing the weapon.

    I hope this ends up with a good result for you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  25. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    I'll give Kimber a call and see what happens. I wouldn't sell it without full disclosure, if it comes to that.
     
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