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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My experience with Kimber began 6 months ago, with me being new to the brand at that time. I had long wanted one of the sleek 1911 hot rods that they are known for and have such a reputation for. I assumed from what I had read for years and from people I knew who had shot them since way back, that there would be little chance of getting a gun with a problem from such an esteemed manufacturer.

For my first Kimber, (though I am a lifelong gun owner with a decent collection, and an avid shooter, I also do restorations on antique double guns) I selected an Eclipse Pro II, new from a local dealer. I took it home, cleaned it, read the manual, and read everything I could find here. I followed the recommendation by the factory to run 400-500 rounds for break-in before relying on the gun for defense. Right off the bat I began having Premature Slide Lock (PSL) issues. Reading here enlightened me to the possibility that I may have received one of a run of guns with out-of-spec slide stops. A call to Kimber and a new replacement slide stop was quickly sent out, no charge, and without even the slightest reluctance.

The replacement slide stop seemed to solve the PSL problems for a while. Pretty soon I had put somewhere between the recommended 4-500 rds. for break-in, so I decided to experiment with different brands of JHP defense ammo for carrying. This is where the wheels came off- the gun performed horribly with every brand of JHP I tried (Failure To Feed). The rounds were nose-diving and not even making it to the feed ramp. More suggestions obtained here prompted me to purchase and try a Wilson mag and Wolff XP recoil spring. Neither of these helped at all. The last straw was when KRUZR spotted a significant machining defect on the breech face when I posted a pic of it here. I resigned to sending the gun back to Kimber.

When I called Customer Service and explained my problem, the CSR was practically sending me a RMA label before I could even finish explaining my problem. There was no reluctance whatsoever on their part to attempt to fix the problem and cover all shipping costs. I sent the gun back on their dime and waited anxiously for a month for it to return.

When the gun returned I was very excited, but somewhat skeptical after all the problems I'd had before. They had replaced the slide, tuned the extractor, polished the feed ramp, and perhaps some other things. Having a new slide, I started all over again with the break-in period (starting to get expensive!). The gun did well with the ball ammo during the second break-in. When I switched to JHPs, it did OK for a short while, then all the old problems returned - nose-diving, PSLs, sheesh. By this time I'd had enough. My confidence in this gun was ZERO and there was nothing that another trip to Kimber was going to do to change that. I could hardly get through a single mag without a stoppage of one kind or the other. I checked the extractor tension just to be sure, but it was fine. I resolved to ask Kimber to either replace the gun or refund my money.

When I called Customer Service again and explained my saga and my frustrations (which I did in a professional and respectful manner), I was asked point-blank - "What would you like us to do to resolve the issue?" Their question was a sincere one, not rhetorical or passive-aggressive, etc. I calmly explained my loss of faith in this gun, and that I would like them to either replace it or refund my money. Further, if they replaced it, I wanted to exchange it for the 5-inch model instead of another 4-inch one, since the full-sized gun enjoys a slightly better reputation for reliability (right or wrong). I was referred to a supervisor (Ann) who agreed to replace the gun with the additional agreement that it would be an Eclipse Custom rather than an Eclipse Pro. Another RMA was sent to ship the gun back at their cost. I was told it would take "a couple of weeks" for them to provide the new gun, as it would be that long before they made another run of that model.

After two weeks, I got a call that was to inform me they had received my old gun back and had agreed to replace it (?!), and that it would be "a couple of weeks" (I thought we had already established that). I said OK, and reset my "waiting clock" for another two weeks. After three more weeks passed (now five since I sent the gun back) I called and asked the status of my replacement. Again I was given the "a couple of weeks" vague answer, and when I pressed for a clarification I was told that there was no way for them to tell me when they could send me a gun - it could be months. At this point I began to get upset for the first time, and asked to speak to the supervisor again. I calmly explained that I was not willing to wait indefinitely for a replacement gun, and that if they could not give me a reasonable estimate as to how long it might take then I would like for them to refund my money or come up with another model that was currently on the line. Ann agreed to check into it and get back to me right away. She called back to say that my replacement gun would be shipped by the end of the week.

The new 5-inch Eclipse arrived as promised, and the first trip to the range was encouraging. It ran reasonably well for the first couple hundred rounds, but then I began to get the dreaded PSLs again, and one or two FTFs. I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated, and resolved to either fix the gun myself this time, or sell it off. My first steps were to polish the feed ramp and barrel throat, and a little inside the chamber mouth - primarily at the top where the most contact with the bullet nose occurs on feeding. Then I filed back the slide stop lug until there was just enough left to contact the mag follower without jumping it. Finally, I used a small carbide burr in a Dremel to make a very small detent in the face of the slide stop for the plunger to engage. My next trip to the range with 50 rds. of ball, and 50 generic Remington JHPs went perfectly. However the next trip to test a box of Ranger Ts yielded about 6 or 7 PSLs in 50 rds. My detent was probably not bold enough. Finally, I decided to spend the money for a Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Slide Stop, which has a precision detent milled right in from the factory (done to specs that are known to work, vs. my guesswork). I also called Kimber again, and the CSR immediately offered me a new slide stop and/or an RMA to send the gun in for repair. I told him I didn't want to send the gun back, I was just reporting the continuing PSL problem as customer feedback. He sent out a new slide stop anyway. Meanwhile, the Wilson slide stop was a drop-in replacement with no fitting required, and I ran a box of 50 Ranger Ts, 41 Remington generic JHPs, and 50 Rem. Golden Sabers without a single problem (except one very slight FTRB with one of the Rangers, but not a single PSL in the bunch). At this point I finally feel like I have a gun I can trust to defend my life with, and it is one of the most fun guns to shoot that I've ever had.

So, what's the summary of my experiences?

The Ugly: The first Eclipse Pro was an abomination - a slide that had a big chunk of metal missing out of the extractor cut/breech face due to a machining defect, a horrible refusal to feed JHP ammunition of any brand even after the slide was replaced, it constantly hit me in the forehead with brass, even after I asked them to fix that as well when the slide was replaced, and the constant PSLs that continued to occur even after the slide stop was replaced, and the replacement then further modified. The trip to Kimber for repairs made absolutely NO improvement in any of the problems I sent it in for. This caused me to lose faith in their ability to fix problem guns.

The Bad: The replacement gun continued to have PSL problems, despite the fact that it is right off the latest production line. The first gun had PSLs 6-months ago. Kimber will offer a replacement slide stop without hesitation, but in my experience, it will only fix the problem for a short while. They really need to get a handle on this problem. It isn't rocket science - another manufacturer's part not even designed specifically for the Kimber fixed the problem immediately, so it's purely a design issue. Customers shouldn't have to resort to buying parts from a competitor to make the original manufacturer's product function properly.

The Good: First, Kimber makes some of the best-looking, best-feeling 1911s out there. Next, both of the ones I've had were incredibly accurate, and made me look like a better shooter than I really am. They were both easily the most fun-shooting guns I've owned. Unfortunately, this only made the pain of the reliability problems sting all the more. Next, I never once experienced the SLIGHTEST bit of reluctance from anyone at Kimber EVER to offer to do whatever it might take to resolve any issue. The fact that they were unable to fix my gun notwithstanding, I cannot find any fault with their willingness to resolve any issue that I presented, including my request to just replace the gun rather than attempt another fix. (Continued).
 

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Discussion Starter #2
To finish my first post (sorry about the length):

So, after 6-months of trials, buying enough ammunition for three separate break-ins instead of one, and spending additional funds on aftermarket parts to resolve the issues that Kimber could not, I finally have the Kimber I dreamed of owning when I first purchased one back in May. I am totally thrilled with the gun as it stands now, but not with what it took to get there. I hope it will continue to perform at its present level, but I have enough confidence in it now that I won't be testing it and will just shoot to maintain proficiency or for fun now. I write this review as honestly as I possibly can for the benefit of others who are contemplating a Kimber for the first time. I have noted the existence on the forum of some posters who always defend Kimber unequivocally, and even blame all the gun's problems on the owner. Similarly, I have noted posters who bash Kimber unequivocally, and do not give them any credit for anything good (and I always wonder what in the heck they're doing even reading a forum dedicated to a brand they clearly hate??). In the end, I find that I can't agree with either of these camps, and feel that Kimber is a brand that produces a neat gun, but has a significant reliability problem that they need to address post-haste. Perhaps they are producing guns so fast that they have slipped in their QC measures, I can only guess. I'm sure that there are a bunch of owners who get good guns right off the bat, but that was not my case - twice, in fact. But the story has a happy ending. The Eclipse Custom (with aftermarket parts installed to make it reliable) has now earned the right for me to trust it, and a place of honor on my nightstand and as a trusted daily-carry gun.
 

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Woww....

This is sort of typical lately in the Kimber sub forum.

I used to be rather a fan of Kimber but lately I don't believe you could give me one.
 

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It's too bad people have to go through stuff like this. I have 3 Kimbers with no problems - heck, a 4" CDP is my carry gun. But I don't know if my next 1911 will be a Kimber as I've been eyeing the Ruger SR1911 (if I could even find one). I will say this - 2 of my 3 were bought used and are series I. If I buy more they will likely be the same.
 

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I have been wondering the same thing about Kimbers production, maybe they are trying to go too fast to keep up with demand, and they are falling short. Its good to here you were taken care of by Kimbers CS. It's also nice to read an honest post about them, without the two camps you speak of. Excellent post!
 

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My experience with vh20 began 6 months ago, with him being new to the brand at that time..... :D

I'm glad you finally got the gun running like it should and all the metal that should be on the breech is actually there. ;)

The question now is what is the difference dimensionally between the Kimber and the Wilson Slide stops. Compare the back side where they engage the plunger. The dimension from the slide stop pin to the back face of the slide stop would be interesting to compare.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Kruzr - yes, 6 months ago you came to my aid with the voice of reason and experience. If I haven't told you before, I'm very grateful for all the help and advice you gave me when I was stressed over the gun. I was treated well - Thanks! I will do as you say the next time I break the gun down for cleaning. It might be a while, because I've been shooting so much lately that I'm ready to take a bit of a break and relax (and let my wallet take a break from the ammo counter). I will post back when I get those dimensions after my next session (a week or two, probably). I now also have a brand new in-the-package Kimber slide stop that arrived yesterday (the one they promised to send anyway), so I can compare that one as well.

Thanks also for the comments from others.
 

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After 45 years of shooting pistols, quite a few 1911's, I bought my first Kimber in July, an SS UC II. I already had two SA, A SIG, and an STI 1911's.

The reason for the purchase was simple - I had a burglary in February and had ten pistols stolen. The only one recovered was an XD c 45. I didn't really want it back as I had rebuilt my collection, [w/o an XD] so the day I picked it up, I cleaned it and took it to my LGS to trade. I wanted a small 45, maybe another Kahr, but they didn't have one I liked except the Kimber. I knew about the reputation, but decided to take a chance since the gun was already half paid for with the trade. I guess I was lucky, because after junking the standard mag, the Kimber has been perfect. I started shooting HP's after 100 rounds with no problem at all. It turned out to be a beautiful pistol that actually works.
 

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As people visit forums to find opinions on quality, Customer Service and other aspects of a brand, it's important to remember context.
Many, many THOUSANDS of Kimber owners have never heard of this forum, and have no knowledge of its presence. With their trouble free ownership of their weapons, there is little or no need to find a forum of any kind.
People FIND forums to help with problems. People post in forums to share information, good news and unfortunatly bad.
Up to 22,000 threads, on Kimber Forum, just a fraction of the number of Kimbers produced, and most report positive experiance with Kimber.
 

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Vh20,

I hope I don’t offend you but as you posted and I have seen others post when reporting a premature slick lock they stated that the replacement part they received from Kimber solved the problem for only a short time. This always leaves me scratching my head; I simply don’t understand how a part such as a slide stop can fail after working for a few rounds without some other factor changing. Definitely bullet profile can and does play a factor in these types of malfunctions but aside from that some mechanical dimension would need to change for the malfunction to suddenly reappear after apparently being fixed.

Now on to my real question and it is, did you have other people including experienced 1911 shooters shoot your pistols before determining that it was a faulty slide stop causing your malfunctions and not an occasional thumb bumping your slide stop at exactly the wrong moment? You mention that you are an avid shooter and have been shooting for a while but you neglect to mention you experience with a 1911 prior to purchasing this Kimber. The well placed detent in the Wilson BP slide stop will help to stop this cause of the malfunction and I’m just wondering if an accidental bump wasn’t the main cause of your repeated and random malfunctions instead of a part being out of spec.

I look forward to hearing back from you when you have had the chance to measure and compare both the Kimber and Wilson parts and report back on their dimensions. Also I’m glad to hear you finally have that pistol you trust and enjoy and thank you for writing a detailed and unbiased review of your experience with Kimber.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Emorr - no offense taken, but I did state that I had another experienced 1911 shooter watch me shoot and he confirmed no contact. I even tried with my hand so far down the grip that it was ridiculous - and it still happened. I also shot his CDP Pro with the same ammo and in 50 rds. not one problem, but mine gave a PSL about once every loading. I know that sometimes it can be the shooter, but really - believe me, sometimes it just isn't.

edit:Oops! I DID state that, but not in this thread! It was in the other thread I started about slide stop troubles. I updated it to report the success of the WC slide stop, and related the fact that I had someone watch me, and I also shot his gun. This was in response to another guy also suggesting that it might be my grip.

The reason that the slide stops work when new and not after a while? I can only guess, but I can tell you this FOR SURE - when they are new they are hard (or at least hard-er) to install and remove. They are tight. After a trip to the range they pop right out/in with no trouble. All of the ones I've had are black (not really blued, as they are sometimes called). The black finish is not slick like bluing, but has a bit of texture to it, like 1000 grit sandpaper. After a trip to the range, the finish is worn off around the pin where it goes through the frame and link, and also on the face that the plunger rides against. There will be a silver, slick track where the slide stop has ridden up and down against the plunger. The "grip" provided by the texture of the finish is gone, and the slide stop can be more easily moved. I have a hard time reconciling this as an actual cause, since all finishes wear on contact regardless of manufacturer. But it may be that the grip provided by texture of the finish allows an out-of-spec slide stop to "get-by" for a little while until it wears away? I don't know, and can only speculate.
 

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Well that’s what I get for being too lazy to read your other threads on the subject. Thanks for that clarification and your theory on why the parts works for a little while.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Emorr - No, the mistake was mine, and I take responsibility for it. I would not have expected you to have read my other thread, and I apologize for indicating I had already clarified your point. In my mind I knew I HAD, but I didn't realize that it wasn't where you would have seen it. When I realized why you didn't "get it" I was embarrassed! So, I made the edit to indicate the fault was mine. (Sorry!)

As to my "theory," it's just that, and I don't even know if I believe it. It's just all I can think of, and I have definitely observed that the stops are tighter and harder to get in/out until they've been to the range once. Harder to get in/out = harder to move = harder to dislodge prematurely.

Also, I just had a thought - the next time the subject comes up where inadvertent contact with the slide stop and thumb is suspected, a great test would be to put a little substance, like stockmaker's inletting black, or even lipstick applied liberally on the underside of the slide stop. Any contact with the thumb during recoil would leave an obvious transfer on the skin, and settle the matter. Just a thought, maybe it's been done forever?

Last off-the-wall thought: Have there been many reports of PSLs with stainless Kimber slide stops? Even though my Eclipse is stainless, the slide stop is still black.
 

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So, I was gifted a new Kimber Pro Carry II, in 45acp. The two-tone model. Haven’t shot it, getting an ambi. safety installed. Left handed. Just a few question:
1) will the blued? slide rust easily? Will the barrel rust as well? Or, are they both SS?
2) Kimber pro-tec mags, or Wilson 47D mags??

Thank you!
 

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Your story is not uncommon. On the other side of the coin, Kimber is the biggest producer of 1911's in the world, so a Bad one is going to get out here and there.
There decision to go with cheap MIM parts to make more money some years back , turned me off on their brand.
I prefer Colts or Springfields now.
 

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So, I was gifted a new Kimber Pro Carry II, in 45acp. The two-tone model. Haven’t shot it, getting an ambi. safety installed. Left handed. Just a few question:
1) will the blued? slide rust easily? Will the barrel rust as well? Or, are they both SS?
2) Kimber pro-tec mags, or Wilson 47D mags??

Thank you!
I can't speak for anyone else, but my first 1911 was a Pro Carry II back in 2008. The blued slide has never shown a hint of rust.
 
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