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Review: Kimber Ultra+ CDP II

by Walt Rauch   |  June 4th, 2012 16

The Kimber Ultra+ CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol) II from the Kimber Custom Shop is for those who find they are better suited having a 1911 with a short slide assembly while retaining the full-sized grip. The Ultra+ CDP II provides this, along with numerous practical and attractive features found on, well, a custom 1911.


The Ultra+ CDP II has a stainless steel slide that has the Kimber Carry-Melt treatment, which does just that: “melts” and blends sharp edges.


Steel night sights are mounted in dovetail cuts and can be drifted for windage. The sights have white dots in their faces, which change to a strong green color in dim light or darkness. The front sight is slightly ramped, and the rear sight slopes upward front to rear and on both sides of its square-cut sight notch. The rear sight, additionally secured with an Allen screw, retains the firing pin block and its spring.

The pistol features an enlarged ejection port for reliability, and the steel night sights are dovetailed into the slide.

The ejection port is ample, and the slide is scalloped at the right rear of the port to further aid in the ejection process. An internal extractor is used.


Eight diagonal grasping grooves give a good gripping surface for manual movement of the slide. There is no barrel bushing since the barrel has an annular ring at its muzzle. The ring wedges in the slide opening, thus serving to stabilize the barrel.


The frontstrap is checkered at 30 lpi, and the same checkering is found on the underside of the trigger guard as well.

The forward portion of the 18-pound, dual, non-captive recoil spring system fits into a retaining bushing in the lower opening of the slide face. To remove the assembly, Kimber furnishes a .04-inch diameter, 2.75-inch long takedown tool. The short leg of the L-shaped tool is placed in a hole in the guide-rod body, which is only accessible when the assembly is almost fully compressed (a small paper clip also worked for me). The assembly is removed rearward. When this is accomplished, the slide can be removed.


The fully ramped and throated barrel has two locking lugs and can be removed when the barrel link is fully forward. The barrel chamber is notched at its top rear, serving as a visual loaded-chamber indicator. With a match chamber, the chamber is cut to minimum dimensions. By doing so, accuracy is increased but at a cost; carelessly reloaded and “bargain” ammo won’t cut it due to variation in case dimensions.


The 7075-T7, 27-ounce aluminum frame wears the premium KimPro II finish. The frame is full length, and the flat frontstrap is relieved beneath the trigger guard, which allows for a better full-finger grip.


The supplied tool or an improvised one such as a paper clip is used to retain the dual recoil springs once they are compressed.

“Gripability” is further enhanced by the 30 lpi checkering on the frontstrap and under the trigger guard, along with 25 lpi checkering on the flat mainspring housing.


The insertion of the supplied, blued Kimber seven-round magazine is aided by slight beveling of the magazine-well opening. The magazine has five inspection holes on either side, and the solid base plate is drilled for base pads. The grooved magazine catch behind the trigger guard required firm but not heavy pressure to release the magazine.


The Ultra+ CDP II has an ambidextrous thumb safety with grooved and extended finger pads. The safety moved positively when operated from either side. A long, grooved and skeletonized match trigger with overtravel screw gave a clean-breaking 4.5-pound pull weight.


The well-fitted beavertail grip safety protects the web of your shooting hand from any hammer bite from the grooved and rounded hammer. Nicely checkered double-diamond rosewood grips attached with four stainless steel Allen screws complete the good-feeling and effective grip area.


I was not satisfied with my first efforts at accuracy testing but lucked out on my second range visit when I met with A.J. Stuart and Ted Murphy, both of whom are rated Master in the IDPA Custom Defensive Pistol division, which is home to .45s and 1911s.


After remembering that a short-barrel 1911 requires a hard, two-handed grip for best accuracy, at 15 yards A.J. and Ted tied, with their best five-shot groups being 2.25 inches using Cor-Bon Performance Match 230-grain jacketed roundnose and Black Hills 230-grain jacketed roundnose. I almost topped this, except my fifth round of Hornady SXT-XTP 230-grain hollowpoint was a flyer. The first four were in 1.75 inches.


In review, the Ultra+ CDP II is assembled with the relative care of crafting a finely made Swiss watch. While the gun is durable and reliable, it will not tolerate a poor grip or questionable ammo. Also, for long-term use, spring strength cannot be allowed to deteriorate. In fact, the Kimber instruction book recommends that the recoil springs be changed every 1,800 rounds.


If you give it the proper attention, the Ultra+ CDP II will be a handgun for a fight, not a handgun to fight.



  • TYPE: 1911 semiauto
  • CALIBER: .45 ACP
  • CAPACITY: 7+1
  • BARREL LENGTH: 3.0 in.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 8.7 in.
  • WIDTH: frame, 1.25 in.; slide .875 in.
  • WEIGHT: 31 oz.
  • TRIGGER: aluminum match-grade, 4-5 lb. pull
  • SIGHTS: steel, dovetailed front and rear trititum 3-dot
  • PRICE: $1,331


Accuracy Results

  • Smallest Avg. Group: 230-gr. Cor-Bon JRN – 3.25 in.
  • Largest Avg. Group: 230-gr. Hornady XTP HP – 3.50 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (three types) – 3.37
  • Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 15 yards from a seated rest.


  • old man

    I bought a used cdp Kimber [blue finish] that I use as my ccw. It has a short berrel but up to 25 yards it shots like my pro crimson carry 5 inch. The green night sights are like spotlights in the dark. What this gun only needs is a laser to have every thing that I could or want to put on it. Eight shots in the top of a bud can at 25 yards laying on its side is the best I could do. Try one and you'll buy it.

  • Brian

    I've got the ultra crimson carry II and I'm just wondering if it's same gun sans the full size grip, ambi safety, night sights, frontstrap checkering, & carry melt treatment?
    Are both guns made with equal precision?

    • Alan_T

      Yes and yes Brian . Kimber's quality and precision and price is what propeled Kimber to the front of the 1911 line of manufacturers .

  • Edgeaffordi

    I had a Kimber Ulta CDP (same gun as in the review but with a shorter grip) and it was a well built and reliable gun. After awhile I started to realize that these short barreled 1911s don't really make much sense…at least not for me. Using my excellent Tucker Texas Heritage IWB holster I can comfortably conceal the barrel on even a 5" Government 1911. But if I were not careful the grip would poke out, like if I bent over to tie my shoe. It occurred to me that what I really need is a 1911 with a short grip and a longer slide. I am willing to give up a little bit of control to keep the grip from sticking out, but why give up barrel length when there is no need to other than the fact that gun makers tell us that it is cool to do so?

    Colt made such a thing called the CCO. It was an Officers frame with a Commander slide and barrel. This would give a bit more sight radius, a tiny increase in bullet velocity and, in my opinion, more reliability over some of the shorter slides that are oh so popular on 1911s.

    Unfortunately I seem to be in the minority here. There is no shortage of teeny tiny 1911s out there but it is hard to find the CCO sized models. I believe Colt discontinued theirs, but Dan Wesson offers one and I think Les Baer does as well (if you can afford it). Kimber has two Compact models which follow the same concept at the CCO but the slide they use is a bit shorter than Commander length I think.

    I'd like to see an article where someone spends a bit of time with the various 1911 configurations (Government, Commander, Officer, and CCO), shooting and carrying each for a week or so and then giving their opinions. I'd be willing to bet that the CCO configuration would open people's eyes.

    • JJ_1969

      I believe Nighthawk Custom's T3 is the same configuration (officer's frame & commander slide), and is even available with a Schuemann compensated barrel (and cut away slide to accommodate it), but the if-you-can-afford-it caveat applies with that as well (though the variety of finishes is impressive).

      I've carried one of their Heinie PDPs (commander length) and a recently-acquired Super Carry Pro HD from Kimber (with their bob tail treatment), and welcome the additional weight in a steel frame and the commander length slide over an officers sized 1911, let alone one with an alloy frame. I jumped on the Para Ordnance bandwagon straightaway when they first introduced their P12 (and carried one for years), and while the grip circumference wasn't comparable to any single-stack 1911, we just didn't have the options/combinations available back then that we have now.

      Kimber has the right idea with this latest mix-n-match approach. If they could take a modular approach to it as well – 4 frames (2 sizes, steel & alloy) and 3 slide lengths, they could truly tailor their line to just about every opinion out there.

      I agree whole-heartedly with the officers frame / commander slide combination. I'd have a more difficult time, though, choosing between steel or alloy frame. At least it's an excuse to do more (investigative) shooting. LOL

  • Alan_T

    I'm not knocking the Ultra , if it works for it's owner , great ! But I stay with my Kimber Pro , because I think that if you're going to use a 1911 style pistol with a full size grip frame , you might as we go with the Pro / Commander size slide ( or even a full 5 inch slide ) since the hardest part to conceal is the grip and what little concealability you gain from such a short slide you lose in reduced sight radius , controlability , velocity and possibly reliability .

    • Wolvie

      I think people worry more about weight than size in some cases. That may be why a gun like this might seem attractive.

      Personally, I've found a really good belt and holster can pretty much cancel out the entire weight issue for most people.

      Regarding size, you are spot on…the grip becomes the problem as opposed to slide/barrel length.

      The other big issue with this type of gun is one of reliability. Any time you move away from the original design of a 1911, you run a big risk of sacrificing reliability. That, combined with the chance that people will shoot a 45 compact less (because of comfort) means they really might have an unproven gun riding on their hip and that could spell disaster in a time of need.

      I love the 1911 design…I just don't have a lot of faith in these types of subcompact models.

      • Alan_T

        Yeah Wolvie , some of these short slide 1911's work and some of them don't and you never know which one's which . Personally I don't want to wait untill I'm in a critical situation to find out . That's why I won't go shorter than a Pro Carry / Commander size ( and you should still make sure THEY are reliable ) . Well …… looks like you and I are in agreement , nobody needs to read any farther ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Jerry B

    I've learned that my Kimber Ultra eats recoil springs. I replace mine every 200 rounds or so, which is not all tha frequent given that I carry this gun as a CCW and don't shoot it all that often. Apart from this issue, I LOVE this gun.

    • Wolvie

      Wow! Seriously?

      You are only getting 200 rounds out of a recoil spring? Is it because you find after 200 rounds, there are reliability issues or are you replacing it as an insurance measure?

  • Alan_T

    Mmmmmmmmmm Jerry , are you using the right weight springs ? I know you love your pistol , no offense , but if you're going through recoil springs that fast , you should have a qualified gunsmith take a look at it . You don't want a catastrophic failure if you ever need your baby !

  • Tom

    A lot of people knock sub compact 1911s my Kimber RCP has never failed me and I dont believe it ever will. It has had over 2500 rounds of ammo shot through it without issue.

  • Bret

    I guess nobody caught that on the review that they said the slide was scalloped. Not fared? or fair the ejection port? Oh well. I agree with the grip as far as ccw. Although its probably fun to shoot. That being said. Any 1911 should be gone threw by a gunsmith, you wont be sorry. I had mine done with wolf springs, polished, throat ted, and ejector shaped and polished. This is called tuning. That tune up cost was the best $65 buck's I ever spent! Now with a couple wilson mags, she's unstoppable! Remember the 1911 is 100 years old and has not changed with the changing ammunition.

  • Mike

    Bought mine new about 4 years ago. One or two rounds out of every box of 50 either failed to feed completely or stovepiped upon ejection. Not good. I called the factory & they had me ship it back to them. They polished the feed ramp and bored out the chamber slightly, then sent it back to me at no charge. Has worked perfectly ever since. Kimber stands behind their work. If you have large hands you will not like the short grip. I like the size for personal carry, as I live in Florida and we don't wear large jackets with which to more easily conceal a firearm. Accuracy is just fine as long as you have a good grip. Much better than the Baretta Cougar that the Kimber replaced. Yes it was much more expensive, but you do get what you pay for.

  • hampsje

    I own this gun as my first .45 cal. gun. Absolutely love it! Easy to conceal as a CCW in my Galco IWB V-Hawk holster. This gun is dead on and easy to shoot. Also like the dual safety on either side of the gun if I had to shoot weak handed. Definitely a custom gun to carry if carrying CCW.

  • jeffreyafriedberg

    I would not use “trick bullets” in a Kimber. It matters Not how accurate or tight the gun is if the rounds won’t feed. I have two Kimbers, and unless you want to futz around with “tuning” and send them back to Kimber for “fixing,” numerous times, I suggest you get rid of it or hang it on the wall over the mantle. For this kind of money the thing should jump out of the box, wag its beaver-tail, bark, and fetch the morning paper.

    A .45 is already big. Yeah, yeah, I know, hollow points, pwRball, etc—so you just shoot the target extra times. The point is, you want a round to actually BE in the chamber when you pull that trigger, and not hear the dreaded, “click….”

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