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What's happening to Kimber quality?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Preacherman, Jan 9, 2004.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    I've noticed a steady decline in the quality of Kimber 1911's on the market. I've owned several (Series 1 Custom Combat, Series 1 CDP, etc.) which were great, had no cosmetic flaws, and functioned fine out-of-the-box with any and all ammunition I fed them.

    However, during the past year, I've handled and fired several of the Series II Kimbers, and been anything but impressed. The Kimber mark on the slide has been sloppily executed: the fit and finish overall has been less than stellar (reminded me of the bad years at Colt): and there were several units that choked on standard hollowpoint ammunition like Golden Sabers, Gold Dots, etc. Most recently (yesterday) I saw a new batch of Kimbers at a local store that looked like a frosted chocolate finish on the frame! Really fugly.

    Also, I'm informed by more than one high-end gunsmith (most notably the guys at Clark Custom Guns) that they have a lot of work coming in to tune the Series II Kimbers, and particularly to fix problems with the grip-safety-activated firing pin disconnect.

    Yesterday, I looked at a bunch of new 1911's: Kimbers, Colts, S&W's and Dan Wessons. The Dan Wesson was probably the value champion: good prices, excellent finish, and a good reputation for reliability. The Colts were also really nicely finished, much better quality than a few years ago. The Kimbers just weren't in the same class - even the S&W's were better fitted and finished.

    Anyone else noticed anything about Kimber quality in recent months?
     
  2. HD

    HD member

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    i always catch hell on another board because i say kimbers are crap...
    they have done nothing to prove me wrong as yet... no local shop will stock kimber ... (70 mile radius)
    the return rate for people who insist on buying kimber has been between 60-70% consistantly ...(this includes people who realise they bought a real POS and resell it for some other po' bastich to get stuck with ...)
    most defective guns get 2-3 trips to factory with little or no improvement...
    new colts are actually better than kimbers ...(weird , huh ?)
    nope , no kimbers for me ...
    tho i might take one for .05 0n the dollar just so i could afford all the parts to try to make it work...:D

    encl. photo of real 1911 colt for those who've forgotten...
     

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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2004
  3. 45shooter

    45shooter Member

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    I currently have 5 Kimbers. 3 of these are Series I pistols (Custom, Custom Target and Ultra Carry) which I had obtained when they first became available. They are all totally reliable (I did have to tune the extractor on the Ultra Carry) and well finished pistols.

    Recently I purchased the TLE and TLE RL (both are same pistols except one has light rail) series II pistols. I have now shot just over 3,000 rounds in the TLE and abour 5,000 rounds in the TLF RL and I am very happy with both. I believe these series II pistols are just as reliable and accurate and series I pistols. Maybe the finish on the new pistols are not as good... but thats just maybe.
     
  4. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

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    You know alot of people buy guns and don't necessarily shoot them or anything right away, maybe never.

    That sounds pretty close to a 100% return rate to me.

    Any relation to Kel-Tec? :D No that would be more like a 200% return rate. (two trips back to the factory).

    For all you Kel-Tec owners, I'm just joking! :evil:
     
  5. 45R

    45R Member

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    Heres my Kimber. She eats just about anything and yes the finish on these pistols are a little less to be desired. I had to send the pistol back in the first 6 months due to abnormal wear. Kimber refinished the entire pistol for me and its been perfect ever since.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    We sell about 4 Kimbers a month and I know of over 20 in my "shooting circle." None have ever had a Series 2 issue and they are finished much nicer than any Springfield Loaded I have ever seen (or owned). I have 2 Series 2 Kimbers and have never had any problems. My Stainless Target II has over 20K rounds thru it and my Pro CDP has about 6K. The rate of return to the factory is very small, nowhere near 60% and probably less than 2%.

    We also rent a Kimber Custom II at the range where I work and its been flawless through about 8K so far. Far more accurate than the Colt 1991A we also have.
     
  7. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

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    "Far more accurate"?

    :D
     
  8. Bren

    Bren member

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    Well I remember buying my first Kimber, at that time Colt was Crap and springfield wasn't much better.

    I could inspect 10 colts in a row and it was shamefull how badly they were fit and I'm not talking about sissy inspections like markings and finish, I'm talking about how sloppy the gun was built.

    The Kimber was a shooter a totally reliable, since then I've had close to a dozen over the years in all sizes but 3" and haven't had any problems other than Extractor tension from the factory.

    I won't buy a "II" nore will I ever by a Colt, buying a Colt now would be like paying off a theif! :uhoh:

    We sell lots of Kimbers and I don't see your return rate, not even close.

    We sell Dann Wessons too and DW does NOT have a good track record for reliability, infact they started off with guns that fed only ball and moved up to over throating and better cheapo internals.

    I'd say most returns on any 1911's are from people that don't know squat about how they work and the simplest things like an extractor tweak at the range would have stopped the whinning. Type II safeties can also deactivated easy

    The only guns I've seen with major machining problems (the kind unfixable to the average Joe with average tools) >> WERE COLTS! :barf:

    I'm not a big Kimber fan but in closing,,,, I have to call Bill$hit. Bren
     
  9. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    Yes, after 8K rounds, we could have used the Colt as a New Year's Eve Rattle.

    Bren is right, the only problems I've ever seen with Kimbers are the extractors need adjusting.
     
  10. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Simple.

    Their popularity is catching up to them.

    In order to meet the demand, quality is suffering.

    I've been noticing this for a couple of years, especially in the area of finishing.

    Kimber certainly isn't the first, and won't be the last, to suffer from their own popularity and success.

    Harley-Davidson about 20 years ago is a fantastic example of that.
     
  11. Kestrel

    Kestrel Member

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    Yep, I've seen the Kimbers go downhill. I wouldn't even consider one, now (ESPECIALLY with that series II safety). Springfield Armory has also gone way down with QC in their standard lineup. (Now, the custom shop Professional Model is a whole 'nuther story. It's superb.)

    The only factory 1911s I would consider anymore are Colts. Yes, they have had a lot of cosmetic problems that need attending to, but in general are better guns inside and out than the Kimber and SA.

    Other than Colt, it's Wilson, Ed Brown, SA Professional and custom guns based on a Colt.

    Steve
     
  12. sm

    sm member

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    Agree with Mike.
    Forgot what got them where they were, added too many choices as well IMO.
     
  13. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

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    You know what I see in this thread? I see some Kimber dealers with an agenda. :scrutiny:
     
  14. 9x19

    9x19 member

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    I've had good luck with the, admittedly small sample of, Series II Kimbers I own.

    I have four Stainless Target IIs in didfferent calibers, and so far they have all proven to be the equal of my original series guns (once I rid them of those wholly worthless FPS :D ).

    The Target II in .38 Super is a much better gun than the Colt I purchased last year in the same caliber. Ditto the 9mm version compared to my Springfield Loaded model of the same caliber.

    The Kimbers are fit very well, with tight but smoooooth slide fitting, solid barrel lock-up front and rear, and excellent trigger pulls.

    Colt is doing better than they have for a number of years, but they still have a ways to go to be the equal of Kimber, IMO.

    I've not yet seen a singel Dan Wesson worthy of its asking price, and that includes the limted edition Razorback which I passed on.
     
  15. denfoote

    denfoote Member

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    What Kimber quality???? :what:
     
  16. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    My local shop just got a large batch of brand new Kimbers, and I'm not really impressed with the stuff coming out of Yonkers lately. The finish on the stainless lightweight Pro Carry IIs looks like the old spray-on paint on the Gibbs Quest carbines. The Kimber logo on the slide has machining marks in the grooves that look like topographical maps.

    Conversely, all the late-model Springfields I've seen lately have been well fitted. Springfield QC seems to have gone up during the last 12-24 months, while Kimber's QC has been in decline.
     
  17. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    If they're still selling 40,000 guns a year I'd think we'd be seeing more, many more, posts containing complaints about new Kimbers. Let's see, a 70%(just to pick a number) return rate times 40,000 equals... wow, that's a lot.

    The ones at the local Master Dealer look okay, but the last one I bought was in '99.

    John...I don't have high expectations anymore anyway. Mediocrity rules. :)
     
  18. stans

    stans Member

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    Mike Irwin nailed it! When Kimber introduced their 1911, they set the 1911 world on fire. For the first time you could get a 1911 with forged receiver and slide, nicely fitted barrel, beaver tail grip safety, nice fixed or adjustable sights, nice trigger, and at a price that was just a little more than a box stock Colt and a lot less than the same 1911 from a custom shop. People could not get enough of them! They sold like hotcakes! With demand so high, production rates had to increase, so quality begins to suffer. Now, to keep the prices low, Kimber, as well as many other manufacturers, has turned to MIM to make many of the small parts. Unfortunately, MIM and cast parts are more prone to breaking than milled parts.
     
  19. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    The last 1911 I owned was an early Kimber (made in Oregon) and it was a tack driver. One day I was at the range shooting it, and the plunger tube came off of the frame. I then took it to a local gunsmith, who charged me 50 DOLLARS to put another plunger tube on. I asked him, "Who do you think you are, Bill Wilson?". I then realized that day that Glocks don't have plunger tubes :). I have been shooting Glocks ever since.

    My response is that you can worry about 1911s, and the reliability and quality control issues which just about every low to medium end 1911 builder has, or you can buy a Glock and not worry about a thing :).

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
  20. Handgun

    Handgun Member

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    Frankly I do not see a decline in quality of Kimbers lately. I actually feel they are better. I agree that I have seen the Kimber markings on the slide with machining marks in them. But this is the only area that I feel is not as good as it used to be. In terms of fit, all the Kimbers that I have handled in the last year at my local shop have had better slide to frame fit than in the past.
     
  21. Lightsped

    Lightsped Member

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    Like with all makes/models of guns, the small percentage of complaints is often much louder than the many many people who are satisfied. Why? Well, the many satisfied folks do not have anything to write or complain about.

    Its like this with everything. Cars, motorycyles, electronics, etc....

    BTW, no problems with my new Pro Carry.
     
  22. Berg01

    Berg01 Member

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    Considering how much the Series II guns are maligned, why is it that I cannot find a mint Series I or II Stainless Target or a Pro Carry HD at bargain-basement prices? From what I have seen, the bad publicity has not affected resale values, and the guns are not flooding the used gun market. The few that you do see in the used gun case are going for top dollar!
     
  23. silent one

    silent one Member

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    Have 5 kimbers, both series 1 and 2, they all work flawlessly. I just make sure I clean and lube them after each range session.
    Maybe the reason we hear more about problems from some owners is because they sell so many of them. The percentage of shooters at my range who shoot kimbers has gone up dramatically in the past couple of years. That tells me Kimber must be doing something right. The accuracy and dependability of my guns is nothing short of phenominal.
    I also think that dollar for dollar you would be hard pressed to find a better 1911 style gun than a Kimber IMHO.
    Good luck, and be safe

    SILENT ONE
     
  24. MaterDei

    MaterDei Member

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    Notice how all the Kimber praise is coming from Kimber owners and the criticism from the non Kimber owners?

    Envy rears its ugly head. :neener:
     
  25. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Amazing if you post Kimber Sucks you get incredible response if you sa that yours is great compared to other 1911's you can hear the crickets chirp.

    Here is my post on my new TLE II for a couple weeks ago:


    New Kimber TLE II report after 400 rounds fired
    Back in 1999 I purchased my first 1911 pistol. It was a kimber series one custom classic target. To date I have about 10,000 rounds through it all at the range. It still as tight accurate and reliable as the day I bought it.

    I have added a few other 1911's since then 3 colts and one springfield.
    One springfield that I sold after a year due to many issues does not count (ported ultracompact champion POS)

    My colt gold cup series 80 That I bought last year is my other favorite besides the Kimber KKT I. I have read of the problems that others have had with Kimber guns here especially the series II with the schwarz safety.

    I wanted another 1911 but was undecided wether to get a kimber or a colt or even a springfield ( my last a milspec has been flawless).
    My gold cup has shown some durrability issues after only 3000 rounds.
    The typical colt ones: slide to frame fit was tight when I bought the gun, now its as loose as my series 70 from 1977. The front sight came loose after a couple hundred rounds, the ejector is also loose, and the firing pin has made a noticable divot on the hammer (gold cup is august 1999 producttion bought by me NIB in July 2002 ) The gold cup still shoots very well and has the best trigger of any 1911 I own.

    The kimber KKT has had no issues and I replaced the recoil spring 3 times.

    So I wanted a combat 1911 with fixed sights and I decided based upon my actual experience that the Kimber was the most durrable accurate reliable choice. So I bought the TLE II.

    After 400 rounds I am pleased to report that there are no issues with my new firearm. Its just as accurate and tighly made as the KKT I.

    I was a little skeptical about the schwarz system so I did some naive testing. I tried to depress the grip safety just enough so that the hammer would fall and the safety would not release the firing pin. Tested this by putting a pencil eraser end first into the barrel and dryfiring.

    If the hammer fell (grip safety released trigger) the pencil flew out the barrel. I found no difference in the amount of force needed to actuate the grip safety between the KKT I and the TLE II.

    I am very pleased with this firearm so far.

    BTW my round count is up to 700 rounds fired now.

    50 Gold dot hollow points, 550 200 gr LSWCs, and 100 Speer lawman ball.
    Not one single misfeed or bobble of any kind at all, even with the craqppy kimber magazine that came with the gun, or with Wilson, mecgar, or colt magazines.

    BTW the tool steel hammers on my colts are showing much more wear than the mim hammers on my kimbers.
     
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