Kimber TLE II Experience
This was my experience with this gun, from what I've read it doesn't seem to be typical of Kimber...
The Kimber TLE II is really a stunning firearm. From the night sights to the black finish, lightweight hammer, that combined with the sheer weight of an upgraded traditional 1911 style .45 makes for awe inspiring when opening the case and removing it from the plastic for the first time. The stock 7 round magazine on the other hand was definitely lacking, both aesthetically as well as function. The other complete blunder that I believe Kimber made was the plastic mainspring housing. I used the Kimber mag as well as my Wilson combat 8 round mags and the 8 round Chip McCormick Shooting Star and the Wilson ETI magazines. After disassembly I noticed some burrs on the rail. Only 3 small ones which were grinded out after the second trip to the range. They also have a full length guide rod.
Shooting was an amazing experience… at first, I could just about shoot the wings off of a fly at 10 yards. The trigger broke cleanly at 4.5 pounds with only negligible amount of travel, that combined with the 18 pound recoil spring and beaver tail grip safety made recoil control feel like the gun was a natural extension of my arm. It also felt very solid every time it was loaded or racked, very tight gun. I primarily used Winchester white box and Magtech ammo. On the third magazine I experienced a failure to feed, the bullet didn’t get all the way out of the magazine at round 5 of the Kimber magazine and multiple failures to eject. Failure to eject a spent casing was the worst and most consistent problem I’ve had with this gun. Sometimes it would get ½ or ¾’s of the way out and other times it would barely get out of the chamber. I had this experience on all magazines as I continued through to an 830 round break in period. Keep in mind all the mags were brand new. Then after round 50 had no issues until round 78 with a failure to completely return to battery and a failure to feed and another failure to eject . After the first day I was done at round 100. I went consecutively the next few days trying to get up to the break in period, 500 rounds with these guns. Some days I got a full 100 others I got frustrated and left after round 50. I fully expected it to come around after it was broken in. I cleaned it after every day I shot it. Had no issues the second and third day , then on the 4th and 5th I had a few problems. Failures to return to battery and to eject.
After the break in, at 550 rounds I called Kimber, they weren’t rude nor were they friendly… my attitude was probably the same. They said shoot another 250 rounds through it and if you have issues after that we’ll get it fixed, also make sure the rails are really wet. I’m of the school of thought that it’s a gun and it should fire unless something’s broken or an excessive amount of debris is blocking something. My revolvers don’t jam, my glocks don’t jam, my other 1911 has never jammed (even after severe neglect). I know I know tisk tisk) Seriously, I said? and yes, they were. So I figure what the heck, I’ll try it. Even though I had already cleaned it I rewet the rails, and this I believe is why I stopped experiencing failures to return to battery. Though my fingers and wrist got really dirty from all the oil and gun powder I got through the next 150 rounds with one failure to eject and then all the failures stopped… for the next two hundred and thirty rounds, then another failure to eject. I checked the ejector after every time at the range to make sure there was no brass caught in there as well as my magazines by taking my trusty Springfield mil spec to test the magazines. Even though the Kimber was all over the board as far as it had every issue with every magazine I still wanted to know if perhaps a mag caused some of the problems. I even had the range gunsmith look it over, he didn’t find any reasons for the failures or things stuck anywhere.
So I called Kimber and found out about shipping, etc. At this point I was pretty much through with it. I had spent $1025 after taxes and the CA registering fee, I wasn’t about to pay for shipping to Kimber. I put it up for sale for 800 and got that for it a couple weeks after. I decided that even though I have a few trusty .45’s that I just didn’t want a gun around that I couldn’t trust. Give me a .22 I can plink with all day rather than a .45 I can’t get through 50 rounds without issue. It did still shoot like butter, and you could get 1” groups with consistent but minimal practice, which is great for bragging rights. When it comes to trust and protection, and trips to the range I’ll take a 4.5” inch spread with a gun that kicks like a mule any day with something that will fire. I really, really wanted to like this gun. I feel bad for our LAPD Swat team since this is what is issued for their sidearm. I’ve read of another SWAT department that chose these guns and it’s been too long to remember exactly what department and where but I do remember them talking about their break in period and all the issues that had. IMHO it’s just not normal or okay for a new gun to have issues like this. You’re bound to run into one that’s got an ejector issue and just needs it tuned, or a burr that needs to be filed away, but for goodness sakes, issues upon issues with no specific cause, it’s just not normal or okay. My Les Baer gets delivered today… can’t wait to get my mitts on that.