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Old February 17, 2011, 01:25 PM   #1
shanzlik
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Kimber Super Carry Pro - review

How Super is the Super Carry Pro?

The Kimber Super Carry Pro is one of Kimber's newest pistols. Since I like carrying a 1911, its combination of features was hard to pass up once I saw and handled it in person at one of my local gunshops. Despite the hit or miss reputation of Kimber in online reviews, I decided I would take a chance on my first Kimber and bought one of the first Super Carry Pros available locally several months back.

Intended for concealed carry, one of its most notable features is the rounded heel and mainspring housing. This makes the grip less likely to "print," or show through, your concealing garment than the same size pistol with a more traditional grip. Other features on the Super Carry Pro that can be beneficial on a carry pistol are the flush fit 8 round magazine (one included), serrated frontstrap and MSH, ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, 3-dot tritium night sights with a cocking shoulder for one-handed use, "carry melt" treatment to smooth sharp edges, aggressively checkered grips, loaded chamber indicator port in the top of the slide, and lightweight aluminum frame.

The lightweight government frame of the SCP is made from 7075-T7 aluminum and has a satin silver "KimPro II" finish. It is nicely machined and as mentioned, lightweight compared to a steel frame. The magwell is beveled for easier magazine insertion and the trigger guard has a high cut to help you take a higher grip. The grip safety is a high rise beavertail style, and while the fit is good, it could be a bit better for a pistol in this price range. The MSH fit was better.

Since this pistol does not use a ramped barrel, the feed ramp is also aluminum. This is worth mentioning because after the 850 rounds I have fired through this pistol, there are visible wear marks on the ramp. My steel framed 1911s do not show anywhere close to the same degree of wear with similar or higher round counts. A ramped barrel would also have prevented the problem.

The slide is stainless steel with a matte black "KimPro II" finish that Kimber says is self-lubricating. The benefit of that seems unclear because you still need to lubricate the moving parts. It has a flat top cut and "Super Carry" pattern serrations both across the top and on the rear sides. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and ejection was not an issue. This pistol does not use the "Kimber Firing Pin Safety" so commonly used in the Kimber lineup. Since you still have the grip and thumb safeties, this is not an issue.

The "match grade" trigger is a solid aluminum piece. Trigger pull weight felt a bit high though, even without the extra safety, and I'm not sure I'd call it "match grade". It's not a deal breaker, but it is heavier and less smooth than the factory STI triggers, for example. The Colt Combat Elite factory trigger also has a better feel to me. Trigger feel is subjective and may vary from pistol to pistol, so your experience may differ. For the record, Kimber states it comes from the factory set at 4-5 lbs. I do not have a trigger gauge so I couldn't verify that on my pistol.

The barrel is a bushingless, single piece, 4" long, "match grade" part with a polished breech face. Kimber states it also has a "match chamber" for what that's worth. I don't know what criteria they use to designate it as match quality, but my example does exhibit very good accuracy in informal off hand practice at the range. It is up there with the more accurate pistols I have shot. I don't shoot from a pistol rest, don't shoot pistols for measured group size, and don't practice beyond 15 yards with a pistol much, so I can't speak to those areas. What can I say, I favor rifles for those tasks and I don't write reviews for a living.

The finish has held up very well in range use, and despite the 850 rounds through it, the area around the ejection port has also held up well. I have not been able to test the finish in carry usage or for holster wear due to reliability issues that do not give me the confidence to carry this pistol.

That brings me to reliability. Before I even bought this pistol, I knew Kimber said their pistols needed a 500 round "break-in period." That was the main reason I had never bought a Kimber before the Super Carry Pro. I am one of those that feels you should function test a pistol with at least a couple hundred rounds of FMJ and at least 50 rounds of your carry ammo with zero problems before you carry it, but you shouldn't need a "break-in period" for reliable function on a pistol designed for carry use. Since "Carry" is in the name, that's how I feel about the Super Carry Pro.

I took a 250 round box of FMJ 230gr PMC to the range and proceeded to run it through my SCP. I wound up with an average of about 1 malfunction per magazine, typically a failure to feed the next round all the way into the chamber. That means that with 8 round mags, I had about 25-30 failures, or only about 88-90% reliability.

Okay, I figured, I am a little concerned but I am only halfway through the "break-in period." I ran another 250 rounds of FMJ from various brands and had the same pattern of failures, but it improved to about 90-95% reliability. At this point I had run 500 rounds, and I was starting not to like this pistol.

For my third range trip, I switched to JHP ammo from Winchester, Hornady and Speer. I also switched from my usual oil lubricant to a grease to see if that would help. I ran about 150 rounds of 230gr JHP through, and it seemed to run about 97% with four failures. I switched back to FMJ and ran another 100 through, with four failures.

The total round count was up to 750, with about 94% reliability (somewhere close to 50 failures all together). I was starting to HATE this pistol now. The only other time I've had such an unreliable pistol is when I took a chance on the Diamondback DB380 when it first came out.

Back home, I stripped the pistol down and gave it a good cleaning, and switched back to an oil lubricant. I also replaced the factory spring with a Wolff spring for 4" Kimbers and headed back to the range. I took another 250 round box of 230gr FMJ, and proceeded to run the first hundred through the Kimber. I had two failures, with one in the first 50 rounds and one in the second. Okay, that's it, the best I could get in a single range trip was 98% reliability. Not wanting to let a range trip go to waste, I stayed around a fired the rest of the ammo through my STI Shadow and Colt Combat Elite with nary a problem.

If a freshly cleaned and lubricated pistol with a new spring can't manage to make it through 100 rounds problem free, I am not wasting any more ammo on it. Nothing appears to be wrong with the extractor, ejector, etc. No burrs on either the slide or frame. Not a magazine problem*. That leaves me having to try giving Kimber a call and see if they can fix it. Even if they do, I won't ever have confidence in this pistol and will probably sell or trade it. I have two Colts and four STIs, and none of the six needed a "break-in period" or had reliability problems. It's not the "tightness" of the Kimber assembly either, as my STIs are all at least as tight if not tighter than the Kimber.

Would I recommend this pistol? It's probably obvious by now, but I have to say no based on my sample. The Super Carry Pro turned out to be Super Frustrating. For the price, it should exhibit a little better fitting, have a more durable feed ramp or a ramped barrel, and should not have the reliability issues that mine has. However, if those issues were solved or are not an issue on your example, I would say it would make a very good carry pistol. It conceals well, shoots very well, and could be a great carry pistol if Kimber put enough QC/QA into it.

*All shooting was done using the factory KimPro Tac-mag, Wilson magazines, and some Colt factory magazines. The only time I could discern a specific magazine didn't work well with the SCP was with the Colt magazines. They work in my other pistols but showed the most failures to feed in the SCP. The failures showed up randomly enough with both the KimPro and Wilson magazines that I do not attribute any failures specifically to those magazines. I mentioned the fit of the grip safety earlier, and it may have contributed to the tendency of this pistol to leave a wide "v" shaped blood blister in the web between my thumb and forefinger when shooting a lot of rounds. I don't have any other pistols that do that.
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Old February 17, 2011, 01:26 PM   #2
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Kimber Super Carry Pro

Caliber: .45ACP

Frame: 7075-T7 aluminum
government length
"Super Carry" pattern serrations on frontstrap and mainspring housing
high cut trigger guard
beveled magwell
rounded heel

Slide: stainless steel
flat top style
"Super Carry" pattern top and rear cocking serrations
oversized ejection port
enlarged firing pin stop to lock extractor in place

Barrel: 4" bushingless, single piece, non-ramped
LH 1:16 twist
loaded chamber indicator port in the top
polished breech face

Mainspring Housing: rounded with "Super Carry" pattern serrations

External Safety: ambidextrous extended thumb safety

Grip Safety: high rise beavertail

Sights: Tritium three dot night sights with cocking shoulder

Guide rod: full length

Hammer: commander style

Grips: micarta/laminated wood fully checkered with border

Capacity: 8 + 1

Magazine: KimPro stainless steel Tac-Mag
Teflon coated stainless steel follower
quick change floor plate (only the flat stainless steel floor plate included)
one included with purchase

Other: "match grade" chamber, barrel, and trigger (solid aluminum style)
lowered and flared ejection port
recessed slide stop pin with beveled surround in the frame
"carry melt" treatment
22lb recoil spring, manual recommends changing every 800 rounds
checkered, slightly extended magazine release
does not have the "Kimber firing pin safety"
manual states there is a 400-500 round "break-in period"

Finish: KimPro II "self lubricating"
matte black slide
satin silver frame

Length: 7.7"

Height: 5.25"

Weight: 28 ounces

Website: http://kimberamerica.com

MSRP: $1,530 (as of Feb. 2011)












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Old February 17, 2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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Nice review... Can't believe they want you to run 500 rounds for break in though. That seems pretty high.

This is also the first review I've seen that mentions reliability as an issue. But, that's probably because you are not getting paid to review it. Either way, thanks again for the post.
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Old February 17, 2011, 02:39 PM   #4
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You're right, all the magazine reviews have been positive. I think one may have mentioned a couple rounds not feeding but that was it.

I haven't come across any other real life owners. It could just be mine, but since that's the only one I have that's all I could base my opinion on. I do think the concept and features are great, and if it had worked right I would be carrying it instead of having bought the STI Shadow I carry now.

Glad you liked the review, thanks.
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Old February 17, 2011, 04:52 PM   #5
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Sorry it didn't work out for your. Good review, however.
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Old February 17, 2011, 05:56 PM   #6
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One more thing... Were those pictures taken after 850 rounds? I know you said you haven't carried it, but if so, the finish has held up VERY well. If only a nice finish equaled a reliable pistol.
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Old February 17, 2011, 07:00 PM   #7
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Those were after 750 rounds, before I took it to the range for the last hundred. There is wear on the internal parts, but the finish has indeed held up well. I'll try to get some of the internals posted on here a bit later.
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Old February 17, 2011, 09:55 PM   #8
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Just remembered one other thing - you need a take down tool to get the spring and guide rod out. None was included in the box from the factory, or it was lost before purchase at the gunshop, so I used a paperclip with a short right angle bend on one end.
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Old February 19, 2011, 11:17 AM   #9
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I too am sorry to hear of your Kimber misfires. I have 2 Kimbers, and I have ran about 3000 rounds through each gun with never so much as a blip. I have used high end to low end ammo and all fed perfectly.

One Kimber is the Grand Raptor and the other is the Ultra CDP, both have been flawless pistols
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Old February 19, 2011, 11:52 PM   #10
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Here are some pictures I took today after the 850 rounds. The most wear is visible inside the slide and frame as expected. Some spots inside the slide do seem to have taken more of a pounding than I've seen on other pistols.

Some minor marks are also on the exterior frame and slide, and the only unexpected exterior mark is where the finish flaked off (it appears, not sure when it happened) of the front strap in one spot. Pretty solid finish on the exterior.











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Old February 19, 2011, 11:53 PM   #11
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Maze51 - those Grand Raptors always sort of caught my eye but I never bought one. Glad your Kimbers are working out well.
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Old February 20, 2011, 08:53 AM   #12
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Nice review. Sounds like a typical Kimber. I've shot and owned plenty of them. Reliability is not something they're know for these days.
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Old February 20, 2011, 08:57 AM   #13
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I just saw the price on the Kimber. Wow! More expensive than a Dan Wesson. I'm really glad I bought my Vbob, best $1500 I ever spent on a handgun.
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Old February 20, 2011, 12:05 PM   #14
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Excellent review; both text and photos. I'm sorry to read that the pistol did not work out for you.

Quote:
I just saw the price on the Kimber. Wow! More expensive than a Dan Wesson. I'm really glad I bought my Vbob, best $1500 I ever spent on a handgun.
I was reading another post you made today about your VBob where you wrote you haven't shot it yet. I'll be interested in reading how that first trip goes. I about pulled the trigger on an order for a Valor yesterday, so some recent input would be nice.

Regards,
Greg
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Old February 20, 2011, 12:11 PM   #15
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thats a great looking pistol, but i'm not a fan of the bobed 1911. i know its all the rage today, but i just dont like it.
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Old February 20, 2011, 12:45 PM   #16
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How does an aluminum frame "flake off".

Are the pics of the inside of the frame making it look worse than it really is? From my vantage point, it looks like the barrel lugs beat the hell out of the slide.
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Old February 20, 2011, 03:16 PM   #17
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The finish flaked off the one spot on the aluminum grip, the aluminum frame itself is okay (other than the feed ramp).

Yes, the lugs did beat on the inside of the steel slide quite a bit more than I would've expected. It is possible the finish was too thick there but it's hard to tell for sure. I think the fit is also off a bit but not enough that it shows up when manually cycling it.

In retrospect I do wish I'd gone the Dan Wesson or another route. The Kimber was sort of an impulse buy - not something I usually do. I was looking for another 1911 in the mid size range and when I saw this one I looked it over and liked the features, so I bought it. I knew Kimber's reputation but decided there were enough good reports I took what seemed like a small risk at the time.
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Old February 20, 2011, 03:23 PM   #18
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As a comparison, the inside of my STI Shadow look much better, particularly around the lug contact areas, and it has about 3x the number of rounds through it.

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Old February 20, 2011, 03:30 PM   #19
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i don't have much shooting experience with the 1911 but from shooting experience in general, it looks from your pics as if the inside of the slide is being excessively worn down. That leads me to believe that there is a problem with your gun, and that could be the cause of all your misfires. Again, just an observation. My gun has 1400 rounds through it and doesn't even have a fraction of the amount of wear that i see on the inside of yours. i would look into that, it seems like kimber should repair your pistol for you and then maybe it will be all good.
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Old February 20, 2011, 03:54 PM   #20
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I guess I'll try calling Kimber tomorrow and see what they say, then go from there. It's tempting to just sell or trade and move on to something I'd be happier with, but I guess this way I can add their CS to the review and maybe either keep it or at least take less of a loss on it.
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Old February 20, 2011, 03:58 PM   #21
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Those locking lugs are looking pretty beat up on that Kimber. That could possibly be what is causing the problems. If the lugs on the barrel were cut too large, or the lugs in the slide too small, the gun could be hanging up on them when they try to lock up.
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Old February 20, 2011, 07:38 PM   #22
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That's my thinking as well, Auto (based on speculation).

Quote:
Originally Posted by shanzlik
Yes, the lugs did beat on the inside of the steel slide quite a bit more than I would've expected. It is possible the finish was too thick there but it's hard to tell for sure. I think the fit is also off a bit but not enough that it shows up when manually cycling it.
But, again, there isn't a "finish" on the slide nor the barrel. Are you speaking of the "finish work"?

If it's Dennis that you end up talking to, be sure to tell him you've already performed their "break-in", different mags, etc. Based on the pics you've provided, I would insist on Kimber paying for shipping both ways and make things right.

$1,500? That's in Les Baer/Dan Wesson territory if you aske me.....
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Old February 20, 2011, 08:23 PM   #23
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I didn't pay MSRP, but yes, it was expensive, around $1,200.

What do you mean there's no finish on the slide? It's not bare metal (well, it wasn't until some of the KimPro II, which I understand to be a spray on finish, wore through).

I am aware there is no finish on the barrel.
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Last edited by shanzlik; February 20, 2011 at 08:31 PM. Reason: typo
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Old February 20, 2011, 08:23 PM   #24
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Wow, that sure is a nice looking gun! Looks good enough to make someone want to buy one even when they realize the risk of problems.

<sigh>

Don't feel bad. After reading the reviews a year ago I still didn't think I would have so many problems. After all I have earlier Kimbers (1997, 2001) that were good guns. A year ago I bought a Kimber TLE as a carry gun. It's spent most of it's time in the safe and has been expensive for ammo and replacement magazines while trying to get it to be reliable. So far, with 800 or 900 rounds through it, I still can't fully trust it.

I think I'm at the point where it works okay with FMJ or SWC ammo, but not JHP ammo. Of course that's not so good for a carry gun.

I wonder how many people that have reliable Kimbers are just shooting range ammo, not premium defense ammo.

I've been debating to keep experimenting with it, or to get a DW, Sig, or Springfield (or go back to my Sig P220)

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Old February 20, 2011, 08:30 PM   #25
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Ken - Oh, sounds like a similar experience for sure. Thanks.
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