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Kimber Super Match Review

After six and a half months waiting for the Kimber Gold Match Polymer I ordered I was advised that it would not arrive due to production cutbacks by Kimber. Through a rather convoluted series of events I ended up purchasing "Kimber's finest", the two-toned, 5" Super Match, and thus began the 10 to 12 week wait for that model. I was pleasantly surprised during week 6 when I got that long awaited call from the dealer that my order had arrived. I was told through word-of-mouth that this gun would either be a gem or a lemon for various reasons - I was impatiently waiting to find out.

My first visual inspection was somewhat anti-climatic. I had hoped for the dark rosewood grips but instead the grips looked blonde in the store lights and the finish was dull and dirty. First thing to do when I got it home was to clean it. After cleaning and replacing the stock grips with a set of cocobolos it was another story. This gun looks great and feels very right in the hand. It has a matte black slide treated with the KimPro protective finish and a bead blasted stainless steel frame. On the top of the gun are adjustable sights stamped with 'Kimber' along the side. The front strap has beautiful 30lpi checkering and 20lpi on the mainspring housing. As the eye follows the lines of the gun it is finished-off with an attractive and functional mag guide that seems to balance the overall contour. My other gun, a Kimber Royal Carry was problematic due to the officer's sized grip which cut into my palm with each recoil. With the full sized frame I could tell right away that I would be able to appreciate and utilize the balance and size of this frame.

This last weekend I had the chance to wring it out up in the high country of the California Sierras. Roughly 8500ft past The Dardenelles along hwy. 108 would be our staging ground for the shooting weekend. We brought many guns but I won't go into detail since this writing focuses on how the Kimber performed. After a late and final purchase of additional ammo I was ready to go.

We arrived late in the afternoon with limited light but quickly found a good place on the grounds to shoot. This was no time for patience, I had to shoot, even if it was only for 30 or 45 minutes. Before I continue however, here is a list of the various ammunition that was brought along for this fun test. All .45 ACP-- 150 rnds--Fiocchi 230 gr FMJ 1000 rnds--Speer Lawman 230 gr FMJ 300 rnds--Federal, American Eagle 230 gr FMJ 90 rnds--CorBon 230 gr JHP +p 40 rnds--CorBon 200 gr JHP +p 60 rnds--Remington Golden Saber 185 gr +p 40 rnds--Speer Gold Dot 230 gr GDHP 45 rnds--Federal Gold Match target ammo 185gr

Total: 1725rnds

In the first half hour I thought my fingers would bleed from the quick seemingly constant reloading of my 4 Wilson Combat 47D mags and the 1 mag provided by Kimber. The Kimber mag showed no name and I can only guess that it was a McCormick but I'm not certain. The follower was flat made of stainless steel which moved about quite freely from side-to-side. This magazine had a very notchy and squeaky feel to it in contrast to the smooth and finely finished Wilsons.

I began with the Fiocchi. The recoil was somewhat soft and not too exciting. I Think they were light loads but there was nothing to indicate it on the box. It took me a while to settle down from my intense anticipation so I was grouping horribly with six inch spreads at roughly fifteen yards. The Kimber quickly gobbled-up 50 rounds with no problems and I was beginning to see the sights better and settle down.I then moved to the Federal American Eagles.

These rounds have a much more significant pop to them even though they are not +p rounds. My groupings quickly condensed to about three inches and we moved back to about 25 yards--I was feeling pretty good. Another 50 rounds with no problems. It was getting a little hard to see but we stayed out longer just the same.

I was feeling a little cocky now because of the initial performance. The Kimber had not had a problem and was smooth, balanced, and seemed to distribute felt recoil evenly over the hand unlike my Royal Carry. I was quickly getting into a groove. In a word, it was fantastic! I had saved the box of Federal Gold Match from quite a few months ago because my Royal Carry would not feed this ammo for anything. The shells are about an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch shorter than normal rounds and the slugs are tiny copper jacketed plugs. They look like the semi-wad cutters I used to use in my Colt Python years ago. They have a flat stubby nose which tapers back then flares where the shell crimps the slug. The Super Match devoured these with only 2 FTFs, both of which occurred with the Kimber supplied magazine. The Wilson mags spoon fed baby with no problem and the SM was happy to swallow them up, now delivering 2 inch groupings at 25 yards. The two FTF rounds we re-inserted into a mag and fired off just to see if they'd work…I was elated!

After a 5minute break I loaded up the Remington Golden Saber 185gr +p and the CorBon 200gr +p. Again, no problems, but I could not settle the CorBons down and had many arrant shots. The Golden Saber on the other hand will be my choice for home defense. This was the first time I felt like I could shoot! The Remingtons, at 25 yards were tight 1.5in. groupings, a few consecutive shots actually were through the same hole, off by just enough so that I knew I wasn't simply missing the target altogether;) My spotter was a great help too! These rounds (Rem GS+p) are very aggressive and accurate. My friend's wife wanted to shoot both a regular load of Fiocchi and also the Remington +p to feel the difference. She shot from a squatted down position, gun held out in front of her with both hands and the Remington knocked her over…now that's entertainment:D We finished the late afternoon session and gathered around the fire pit with steaks and goodies discussing the session, our excitement, and my relief.

I conceal carried the Kimber 98% of the time these last four days using an Eagle shoulder holster with two mag pouches on the opposite strap. The fully loaded Kimber with mag guide was surprisingly easy to conceal and the weight was nominal. Of course any gun designed for CC will be easier, but if your preference is to shoot a full sized 1911 yet you are concerned with concealability, I strongly urge to you to try it before you dismiss it.

The next day we took a 7 hour hike up a rocky stream which fed a larger river. We were rock hopping, making our own trails through thick brush around impassable areas and traversing the shallow rapids when necessary for most of the day before someone asked me "did you leave your gun at home", at which point I simply pulled open my shirt to expose the beautiful cocobolos with the rest neatly and comfortably tucked-up underneath my left arm:cool:they were amazed! This gun did not print from any direction unless I were leaning forward with both hands outstretched, then the outline of the muzzle could be seen by anyone who would know what to look for. BTW, I am 5'7" about 158lbs with a slim muscular build - so you do not need to be the Hulk to pull this off. I did it by wearing a 't' shirt tucked in and the shoulder rig over it. I then wore a long sleeve button-down, loose fitting casual shirt, unbuttoned with the tails hanging out.


Late in the day it happened - I suppose I was asking for it. I was standing on a heavy log in the water while holding a branch and the log did the 'ol rollover. Never did a log roll event before and I must have looked like a cartoon character tryin' to run on marbles. My hand slipped down the length of the branch I was holding and was quickly impaled on a broken branch stump at which point I did a reverse swan dive into the drink that would have made Greg Louganis proud. I had posted a question not long before leaving for this trip about what to do if n'when I swam with it...wasn't planning on testing it out though. If you had seen me, you'd quickly realize that it didn't really qualify as swimming;) Later that evening I took it apart for the second time to dry it and clean it. A little tip: when your gun gets wet, you can take it apart and blow the parts dry by using a compressed air bottle normally used to blow the dust out of computers and electronic equipment - it works great. Then finish up with a normal cleaning and a thorough oiling.

The next day we went far off in the woods and proceeded to spend about 600 rounds using every type of ammo from the list. Only 2 FTFs, surprisingly with the Speer Gold Dot, a high quality and strongly recommended round. However, again both of these occured with the Kimber supplied magazine. My accuracy with these was about 2.5" to 3" at best, within about 20 yards. Since I was consistently better with the Remington GS I eliminated these rounds from any future purchase list. Note: one of the FTF's was clearly my fault as I was beginning to fatigue and laid out a really sloppy and loose shot. All the other rounds were flawless with the Speer lawman 230gr FMJs proving to be the most crisp and accurate load among the non+p ammunitions. At 25 to 30 yards the Speer Lawman produced 2" to 2.5" groupings and I feel that the limitations were because it was towards the end of the day and the shooter was getting tired.

There were other sessions all of which went perfectly, however at this point the only one worth mentioning is the tactical session conducted far off the beaten trail amidst patches of snow covered ground, mountain meadows, and sparse woodland - elevation around 9600ft.

This test employed the Corbon 230gr+p, the last few rounds of the Remington Golden Sabre 185gr +p and the Speer Gold Dot GDHP and, the Speer Lawman 230gr FMJ. The object was to shoot in just about every configuration I could come up with in order to simulate desperation defensive tactical shooting with the intent of inducing an FTF or some other malfunction. First the Super Match was fired with the grip at different angles to the ground, i.e. vertical, horizontal, perpendicular etc. Single shots first, then double taps. The gun was shot upside-down, and also at 90 degrees with the ejections going straight up. All shots were done one-handed so as to avoid the advantage of extra reinforcement, expecting a limp-wrist related FTF. Only the above mentioned ammunition was used. Finally, entire mags were unloaded in rapid fire succession using these same configurations. The gun was rapid fired at a target while running and also in a controlled fall to the ground while squeezing off as many rounds as possible towards a fixed target. I was surprised I hit the target at all-- actually did quite well, but more importantly, with one exception, there were no malfuntions! The exception being two FTFs during normal stance rapid fire of the entire clip using the Speer Gold Dot loaded in the Kimber supplied mag. This combination clearly does not work. Incidentally, yes I did shoot the Gold Dot from a Wilson mag…no problems.

So, in total I had a little over 1200 rounds without any problems whatsoever. Never did the gun fail to lock-back, eject, or feed with the exceptions of the oddly shaped and small Federal Gold Match ammo and the Speer Gold Dot/Kimber mag combination - those failures totaled 5 FTFs, 2 and 3 respectively. No malfunctions occurred when using the Wilson mags. So the verdict is in...I had a great time, and I'm thrilled that I have a "gem". My hand is healing quickly and the SM is breaking-in nicely. Note: During this weekend, the gun was cleaned after about every 300 rounds (plus once after Rambo took a dip:rolleyes:.

Shucks! in six months I'll have to do it all over again with my Rock River Limited Match that's on order;) The RR's performance will determine which one of the two I keep. In the mean time, I have without a doubt, the finest .45ACP I have ever fired and the peace of mind that accompanies owning a fine 1911.

keep the brass flyin' guys 'n gals,