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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Backround:

I'm new to handguns, new to this forum, and am in the process of deciding on my first handgun purchase. I have been extensively researching makes/models/caliber,etc. relative to my intended use, and although I've shot less than 400 total rounds with various handguns, I'm faily confident a full size 1911 is the way I should go (currently MN doesn't have "shall issue" CCW permits, but it almost passed in the last legislative session, and looks to in the next one. However, I've got a lot of skills to develop before I even think about carrying, and by that time, I figure I could purcahse something that would be easier to conceal).

In light of this, and my burgeoning interest in handguns, I'm seeking some advice on that first gun, and by posting this message in the Kimber forum, I suppose I'm hoping to be told what I want to hear
. I want a dependable, accurate, precision machine that will last indefinately, and that won't need a lot of fine-tunning OTB. Further, I'd like to get involved in local IDPA competition after improving on some basic skills, so I'd like a good gun for that. I want to buy Quality, but a Wilson (or finely customed Kimber)is certaily more expensive than I'm willing to pay for and is beyoned needs at this point.

Currently, I'm leaning towords the basic Kimber Stainless Classic model. While I keep hearing of the quality and reliability (better in the late models?, rumer has it) of Kimber, this forum has made me a little nervous. I mean, the lifetime warranty of the Taurus, for example, really says a lot to me, even if it is a cheaper product. Should I be worried about a chip blowing out of the barrel, initial doublings, a bad disconector, or sights falling off with a new gun? Is this an issue with all manufactures, such that sometimes one gets a lemon (and, if so, any way to tell in the gun shop)? Since I'm so wet behind the ears, should I consider a cheaper gun for my first purchase and later move up to Kimber or other product? If I decide on the Kimber, should I instantly purchase Wilson or McKormick(?) mags? I belive the Classic models don't come with three-dot sights, so am I going to need to purchase some immediatly, or is that not that big a deal (remembering how new I am to handgun shooting)? Anything else I should be thinking about? The more I read the more questions I seem to have.

Thank you all for reading this message, and I appreciate any insights you give. It's been great reading these forums and learning of this 1911 community. Refreshing too, as with other gun-related sites, commentary, and magazines - MN has elected Wellstone and Mark Dayton, and Ralph Nader recieved a good vote here, so I'm constatnly surrounded by greens and liberal zealots who think I'm crazy for believing in limited government and that the right to protect oneself is the most elemental human right. Anyway, I digress, but glad to have found this site.
 

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My Custom Classic had one FTF on about the third mag I ran through the gun. Since then it has been totally reliable, no matter the bullet style, and I'm at over 2,000 rounds more or less. Mine is the matte-black finish as I'm not a big fan of the stainless steel but that's just a preferrence thing. Based on my experience, I own both, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Kimber Custom Classic and Colt 1991A1.

The mags that came with both Kimber and Colt have always functioned fine but I invested in several Wilson 47D's and use them 99% of the time, especially when I carry. The Wilson mags really do allow for noticeably smoother feeding.

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Steve333
 

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You basically hit the mark by considering a base line Kimber, they are good guns. IMO the quality of Kimbers has fallen off a bit over the last two years (fit and finish) but they are still a fine weapon. I'm not a big fan of Kimbers current stainless guns so I would probably opt for a Kimber Classic Custom. However, don't limit you choices to just that one gun. I would recommend you take a good look at a Springfield loaded, specifically the gun that comes parkerized and with Novak night sights (PX9109L). Also check out a stock Colt. Since you don't have allot of experience with 1911s, or handguns in general, a stock Colt Government Model might be the best gun for you to learn on. You'll be able to decide what you like and what you dislike about the 1911. Whatever you decide I would recommend Wilson Combat mags, they reek of reliability, especially for a carry gun. Also, don't worry too much about concealing a full size 1911. With the right gun leather and wardrobe it's no trouble at all.
 

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I am also from Minneapolis and have recently gotten back into handguns. Obviously, I think you are on the right track looking at 1911's.

I recently bought a Kimber Gold Combat stainless and couldn't be happier with it. It is essentialy box stock and has worked flawlessly. I did go out and buy a bunch of Wilson combat mags (you can't have too many), but the stock one I got works just fine.
Seeing as I was in a similar situation as you recently I'd like to pass some advice on to you.

First of all, this is by far my favorite gun forum and a great source of info, but take a lot of what you read in these forums with a grain of salt. Kimber makes an awful lot of 1911's and they are bound to have a few problems here and there, it's just an unfortunate part of life when it comes to manufacturing anything. However, overall their quality is really good and problems are not the norm.

Second, whatever gun you buy, I highly recommend J&S Custom guns in Lakeville, it is by far my favorite gun shop around, they are knowledgeable, their prices are good, and they do great work there if you want any tuning done.

Third, I have been shooting in a thursday night action pistol league at Bill's in Robbinsdale. It only costs $10 including targets, it's a lot of fun, and a great way to get better quick.

Fourth, buy the best gun you can afford, you won't be happy if you compromise and a pistol is something you should be able to own for a lifetime. Besides the real expense in shooting a 45 is the ammo anyway. (Galyan's is the cheapest around here)

Keep your fingers crossed on the CCW issue, although I'm a little pessimistic with all the liberals here. For an interestin bit of info take a look at www.packing.org they cite a little known law or legal precedent here that allows you to conceal carry to and from work only.
 

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I was a lot like you- extremely nervous about buying a 1911. I finally saw the one that I "had to have" in the Eclipse. I monitored this forum and e-mailed several people about my hesitation in the purchase. Everyone was great about advice, both good points and bad points. One of the big selling points for me was the info that Tacoma P.D. is now issuing Kimbers to its officers. If it can pass the cop test (monkeys with hammers) it should hold up to anything I can do to it. I made the purchase and so far have put 200 rds. through it and am very pleased. No malfunctions and very accurate. It also helps that it is easy on the eyes. I am still paranoid about it, from a lot of the horror stories in this forum but so far, so good.
 

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I was a dedicated revolver shooter and leery of trusting auto's for reliability, but heard so many good things about Kimbers I made the mistake of looking at one at a gun show. The feel of the classic gov't model in my hand did me in and a Classic Custom stainless went home with me. I only have a few hundred rounds through it, but it's been flawless. I do use Wilson 47d 8rd mags only, loaded up full, not a bobble even with a couple mags of JHP's. I don't think you'll go wrong with a base Kimber.
Manny
 

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Ditto Steve333's recommendations. I have alot of experience with the Custom Stainless as it's the rental gun at my range I've used most. Extremely rare to have failures with it, and that's even with factory mags and infrequent cleaning. If you like the features on the Kimber then I think it would be a great first gun for you. I don't like the features so I got a Colt '91, which has a little better fit and finish than the base Kimber.

No matter what you get, don't just "instantly" buy anything extra. I immediately bought a Wilson #47D before my first range session with the Colt and it turns out that, besides the extra round, it's not an improvement on the Colt factory mag. Try the gun as is for at least a few boxes, then think about adding stuff. Wilsons are the only other brand of magazine I have experience with and I recommend them, for no other reason than they have a better reputation than Kimber mags and are at least as good as Colt mags.

With either the Colt or the Kimber you shouldn't need any fine-tuning, unless you get one of the very rare lemons. You can conceal a Government 1911, too, so it may be the only gun you really need for a while. Good luck with your decision, I think you'll love the Kimber if you end up getting it!
 

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Peter C

I will join the others in recommending a 5 inch (full size) 1911 for your first one. The full size is the easiest to learn with, they generally function the most reliably, and as mentioned before they are not very hard to conceal with a good holster and the proper atire. Also, since you have fired other pistols, and seem to like the 1911 best, you should get a 1911. You will probably be disappointed with anything else, regardless of its quality or price.

Concerning which 1911 to get I will recommend any of the pistols in the same price range as the Kimber Classic Stainless. This means the Kimber Classic Stainless, the Colt Government (XSE model) and the Springfield Stainless Loaded. The reason I don't recommend the Springfied Mil-Spec, or the Colt 1991, is most people replace the spur hammer and the grip safety fairly quickly because they do not like the hammer bite these models can have. Otherwise they are excelent learning platforms, and excelent platforms for later custom work. When it comes to buying a first 1911, stick with Kimber, Springfield, or Colt if price is an issue. Avoid lower priced brands, used pistols, or military imports. Buy the one that feels the best in your hand and has the best trigger pull.

Going to the more expensive pistols I do not recomend any of the high priced ($1,000+) Kimbers. From my experience, observations, and reading, the most expensive Kimbers have the most problems. Paying more for an upper end Kimber does not get you more quality, or more reliable operation, it just gets you different cosmetics and features. If you decide you want to spend more than $1,000, wait until you can afford a Wilson, Les Baer, Rock River, etc., you will be happy you did.

Now concerning what you read on the web about problems with Kimbers. The advice you received to take these comments with a grain of salt was right on target. Here are some numbers to think about. The last information I read concerning Kimbers production was 60,000 pistols last year. This means if X% are perfect, Y have problems:

99% Perfect, 600 pistols with problems
95% Perfect, 3000 pistols with problems
90% Perfect, 6000 pistols with problems

Now human nature being what it is, if you get one of the problem pistols you will talk about it. If you get one of the few that can't be fixed easily, or fewer where the repair service is not what was expected you will talk more about it. In short the worse your experience is the more you will talk about it, and the internet is a great place to get any message across, good or bad.

Concerning magazines, I agree you can't have too many and Wilson magazines are pretty much the best. Though Chip McCormick, Metalform, Colt, and Mec-Gar (stainless only) are also good magazines. The blue Mec-Gar magazines tend to be made from thinner steel and the feed lips bend over time so I would avoid these. I would also avoid the really cheap Mil-Spec magazines that are at most gun shows, most of them live down to their price, so they don't last long. Usually the fed lips bend over time.

When it comes to sights, these are a real personal issue. At the lowest level, the base sights on the Kimber, Springfield and Colt are perfectly functional. White dots help a little in day light, but they don't show in the dark and they tend to get covered with powder residue or fall out (the dot) after several cleanings. Some people do not like one type of sight or another because of the profile or the view through the sights. For your situation right now, and overall, I think simplest is best. So don't worry too much about night sights or any other wonder sight until you are ready to carry. Sights are reasonably easy to change, and by this time you will have enough experience to make an informed decision.

I hope this helps.


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Str8_Shot

The best handgun for self defense, is the one you have with you.

[This message has been edited by Str8_Shot (edited 12-05-2001).]
 

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Apparently I'm the lone dissenting voice here. Even though most of my guns are 1911s -- and that's really all I shoot--I don't think it's a good first gun for the following reasons:

1. Full house .45 loads in a 1911 has pretty stout recoil. I think it's best to get used to recoil and gun handling skills by starting with a 9mm. The 9mm is a decent defense round and a good caliber to build confidence and shooting skills.

2. Carrying cocked and locked (the only way a 1911 should be carried) can be daunting for someone just starting to carry. The first time I carried a cocked and locked Browning Hi-Power I was sure I'd end up shooting my you know what off.

3. Although the 1911 has safeties, there are newer guns (e.g., the Steyr M series and the Walther P99) with more refined safeties, including a loaded chamber indicator and a trigger safety. These safeties help build confidence.

4. For some of us, the gov't model is a little big for concealed carry. High quality newer guns seem a little easier to carry.

5. The 1911 is more expensive to shoot, especially since 9mm ammo is so cheap. A box of 9mm ammo can cost $5 while I haven't seen any .45 ACP ammo for less than $10. The cheaper the ammo the more you'll shoot and the more proficient you'll get.

6. I believe the 1911 is more finicky in terms of ammo, mags, etc. than a newer well-made 9mm gun. The 1911 often has problems with extractor tension, loose plunger tubes, etc. If you want OTB reliability in a 1911 for less than $1,600, you'll have to take your chances. Some Kimber's, Springfields and Colts are reliable OTB, others aren't. IMHO, your chances of getting a problem gun in a medium priced 1911 is greater than with a Beretta, Steyr, HS 2000, or Walther.

7. The takedown on a 1911 is more complicated that some newer style guns.

My suggestion is to get a quality newer-style 9mm gun (Walther P99. Steyr M series, Beretta, Taurus PT99, and Sig, to name a few) with good safeties and use it to learn gun handling and shooting skills. If you stay interested in handguns you'll probably end with with a 1911 anyway. BTW, because of the lack of safeties, I don't think Glocks are good guns for beginners.
 

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Peter C.....
Colt 1991A1 Gov't Model, with Lifetime Warranty. Buy it, take it out of the box, shoot it, enjoy it. Yes, I own a Kimber Custom CDP, but the Colt 1991A1s are priced right and very dependable, even with the factory Colt magazines.
Regards,
Sam
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I sincerely thank you all for sharing your thoughts and wisdom, and for taking your time to write such thoughtfull responses. I feel like a kid on Christmas eve - the anticipation, excitement, etc.

dpetteys: have yet to go to Bill's as I'm waiting for my licence to purchase to arrive. Also, I don't have any friends that shoot hanguns, so the partner restriction is somewhat of a limitation for me, so for now anyway, its Armored-Fire, and probably the Metro Gun Club after I make a purchase. How would you rate the Frontiersman for price, knowledge, gunsmithing, etc.?

As part of a "Handgun Safety and Familierization" course I took last evening, I got to shoot the Kimber Custom Target and a Kimber compact (the CDP, I believe), as well as the Beretta 92 (again) and an H&K .40 (again). I have to say, its really difficult to enjoy other models after the solid fit and smooth, seemingly gentle recoil roll of the 1911. In this whole researching/learning process, I started out thinking the 9mm would be the gun, then the 40S&W, and now I'm not sure that I could buy anything but the .45 ACP (I'm also somewhat of a romantic, so its history/legacy is a turn-on). I think I just need to try the Colt now, as there is no place around that has a Springfield I can rent (does Bill's have one dpetteys?), thereby basically elimating that option.

Thanks again for all your insights. For now, I'll continue to research and glean info from the 1911 forum. I look forward to future correspondance.

Peter C
 

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Hey Peter C,
The frontiersman is fine, I bought my last .22 there. If you were looking for smith work or a custom pistol, I would steer you towards J&S though. J&S also tends to stock more high end stuff and 1911 parts.

I don't know if Bill's has any springfields to rent or not, but I'm going there tonight provided I get out of work on time. I'll take a look. I kind of don't think so though.

I don't know where you live, but the burnsville pistol range is another good place to shoot during the winter and is inexpensive relative to the other ranges around here.
 

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I have found your initial question very interesting too, as I am considering the purchase of a Kimber. As far as Kimbers Quality Control. Problems go, you might also wish to ask if their are any happy Kimber Owners out there who have had Trouble FREE Kimbers.

As I am sure there are many Kimber owners with Thousands and Thousand of Trouble Free Rounds threw their Kimbers.

As far a a 1911 Style I would personally choose a Kimber, Springfield Armory, or Colt and stay away from the other brand X’s. Unless you go with the High priced Stuff like a Les Bear, or Wilson that is Big Bucks.

Another suggestion would be wait & save for something like a Gun that will Shoot better than you, as when you get to be a Good IDPA Shooter you will be disappointed with that starter gun you mention.

Someone suggested a some other brand autos for that first “learner” gun, and if you can pickup a cheapo to learn with good. Like a Police Trade in Glock in 9mm

Also consider finding a IDPA Club where you might find someone with lots of guns, who may become your teacher, and let you shoot their guns if you pay for the ammo. This is how i started in Black powder Shooting in the 1960;s when I was REAL POOR.

Good luck in you search fore your first gun, and hopefully you will find that Club, and Teacher to take you under their wing to start you off right in shooting sports.

I volunteer at a Public Range in Arizona as a Safety Officer where most of our regular customers are more than willing to help new shooter,s and let them test fire guns also.

Also most of the Volunteer Safety Officers have areas of expertise that we freely share with customers. Our only payback is helping new shooter become better shooters, and safer shooters,

Pp

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Unless you're talking about .44 Magnum versus .22LR, recoil in full size handguns is mostly in your head. I used to teach people to shoot the M9 Beretta, which being a heavy 9mm has very little recoil. I had a really big guy who expected the recoil to be scary, so he shot like crap. Then there was a small girl who wasn't afraid of the recoil, and she shot expert. Neither had shot before, so if you're already comfortable with the .45ACP there's no need to go down to 9mm.

Although my first gun to shoot was the M9, I tried a Kimber as soon as I could and haven't left 1911 country since. The Colt 1991 is my first and so far only gun to own, although I'll probably buy other types of guns eventually for some variety.
 

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Just a note on starting with a 9mm vs a .45 The instructor who taught my wife tried to convince her to shoot a 9mm rather than a .45 for that exact reason, now my wife is 5'3" and 105 lbs, but she knew I shoot 1911s so she insisted on shooting a 1911 .45 she has never regretted that decision, the recoil is not a problem for her because that's what see learned on. BTW my order on Production 1911s would be Kimber, have owned and still own several, Springfield, have owned several, Colt have owned several.

my .02

good Shooting
 

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Peter C

I have read the replys to your post and you have received rather good advice from everyone. So I will add only one more thing that you need to do regardless of the pistol you choose. That is training.

The firearms course you are taking is the bare minimum to be safe,but it is not really adequate to become proficient. When you have purchased your pistol look for a local instructor that offers a basic defensive handgun class. These are usually more basic than defensive at least in the beginning, but they progress rapidly and you will have dedicated time with your pistol. I expect that the members from your area will be happy to recomend an instructor or two. So take a couple of classes and practice. The 1911 is not a very forgiving platform for operator errors.

I hope this helps.
Str8_Shot
 

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I have 2 Kimber 1911 pistols, and don't hesitate to highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a 1911 platform pistol.

But - & I hope I don't get flamed here - if I understand your position - I would stay away from any semi-auto pistol. I think you would be better served by a revolver.

Let me explain: it seems to me that you are going to be "self taught" in handguns. So am I, my father was never into guns period & the first handgun I ever shot was the first I bought at age 34. That was a S&W Model 686 6" .357 revolver, which I still own. It was on that gun I learned about gun safety, range safety & etiquette, sight alignment, controlling flinch, firearm maintenance, etc. I didn't have a mentor to guide me throughout the educational process; sometimes a neighbor might accompany me shooting or on occasion I would meet up with someone at the club's indoor range (I joined a Rod & Gun Club) but for the most part I was on my own.

Since then, I have bought 2 other revolvers & own only 1 other now, a Ruger Single Six that I bought to teach my wife to shoot, and may use for my step daughter if she shows interest. I have a bunch of semi-autos. It is my design of choice.

But the operation of a semi-auto is more comlex, from understanding the different trigger characteristics (SA, DA/SA, DA only), hammer fired or striker fired, the number of safeties and their operation, how to clear feed and/or ejection malfunctions, etc.

None of this is rocket science - obviously, from the number of enthusiasts on this board alone it all works rather well! But if you are learning about handguns from rung #1, I think a revolver would be a better basic teaching tool.

I would look for a used .357 Mag, with either a 4" or 6" barrel (4" preferred). You can shoot cheap, low power .38 Special cartridges while you are "training". Full house .357 loads will enable you to learn about recoil & control. Then when you are comfortable with a handgun, buy the 1911. If $$ are an issue, use the revolver as a trade-in.

Just my $.02, which may be more than it is worth! If you decide to go with a 1911, the basic Kimber in blue (Classic Custom) or stainless (Classic Stainless) are about the best value in a 1911 you'll find.

Whatever you choose, have fun deciding & welcome!
 
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