December 27, 2010
Of the three new Super Carry models from Kimber, one stands out.
In the thick and drool-worthy catalog that Kimber puts out, there is a section simply denoted as "Super Carry." You won't find a lot of pistols there, but the three you do find will be more than worth your attention. They come out of the Custom Shop, and they have some very nice features in common.
First of all, they are made--regardless of model--with an aluminum frame, Kimber starting with 7075-T7 alloy "lumps" that are carefully machined into fully featured frames. They also have night sights, with the rear sight sculpted to provide a cocking surface. If you need to work the slide one-handed, the sight is there for you. This is a feature becoming more common in defensive training circles, and departments such as LAPD have been teaching it for years.
The slide stop pin head is shortened and the edge of the frame beveled, so the pin doesn't protrude as much but you can still get the pistol apart for cleaning.
The frame is "lifted" at the frontstrap. That is, the curve that transitions between frontstrap and trigger guard is made more severe. The result is that you can get your hand higher on the frame. The grip safety is likewise shaped so as to allow your hand a higher hold on the frame. All Super Carry models have ambidextrous thumb safeties.
The checkering--which Kimber terms Super Carry serrations--is a very aggressive, machined-in pattern that looks like fish or snake scales. Clearly, the CNC machining stations at Kimber take an end mill and bring it to the surface to machine the aluminum at an angle. Then it is lifted, moved and dipped in again.
The four-inch barrel on the Super Carry Pro uses a bushing-less lockup.
The slides are stainless steel but then given a black Kimber KimPro II finish, which contrasts nicely with the satin silver KimPro II finish on the frame. And the grasping treatment on the frame and the rear of the slide sides is also applied to the top of the slide to cut down on glare when sighting.
The Super Carry guns are also all "melted," the sharp edges on them knocked off enough to keep from abrading your hands or clothing but not enough to look like they have been given the "bar of soap" routine--a treatment I find I like less and less as time goes by. The Kimber de-horning is just enough to make sure the gun doesn't cut, gouge, slice, dice or shred your hands or clothes.
The frame's serrations allow you to get a good grip--or adjust your grip--and hold the pistol solidly in your hand under recoil.
Inside the Kimber-machined slide is a Kimber match barrel: five inches on the largest model, four on the midsize and three on the smallest. The full-size Super Carry has a standard bushing and feed ramp. The Super Carry Pro has a standard ramp but uses a bushing-less lockup at the muzzle. And the Super Carry Ultra, the smallest one, has an integrally ramped barrel and lacks a bushing.
The magazine wells are beveled for fast reloads. On the big and medium-size models, the rear of the frame is rounded and cut smooth. The serrations stop at the edge of the curve. The curve allows your clothing to slide off the butt of the gun and not hang up and print. The Ultra, being so small, does not need the rounding treatment.
The grips are a special Micarta/wood laminate, checkered in the center panel and rounded on the large and medium models to match the contour of the rounded frames. They are held on via hex-head stainless steel screws.
The fire control is through a solid aluminum trigger with overtravel stop, and it drops a Commander-style hammer made by Kimber. None of the three Super Carry models are "II" models. They do not have the extra firing pin safety that some find objectionable. This makes it better for some shooters but prevents the pistols' sale in jurisdictions that require a firing pin safety.
The Pro features grasping grooves on the rear of the slide but not the front. The thumb safety on all Super Carry models is ambidextrous.
The result is a strikingly good looking pistol, and we all know that looks are what matter, right? Seriously, it's the shooting and handling that count, so I requested a test sample to put through its paces.
Kimber sent me the midsize Super Carry Pro, a Commander-size lightweight .45 ACP pistol. At 28 ounces, it's everything in size and weight you have come to expect in that class of pistol. It's heavy enough that shooting isn't onerous, big enough that aiming is easy, and it's a lot more forgiving of ammunition variances than the really compact pistols can be.
It's all this while being light and compact enough that packing it all day is no big deal. Back in the mid-1980s, the first of the aftermarket aluminum frames became available. Tired of packing a full-weight Government model, I used one of those early frames to build up a lightweight Government model. It was great to carry, and I've been fond of aluminum frames for 1911 carry guns ever since.
|Accuracy Results | Kimber Super Carry Pro
|Bullet Weight (gr.)
|Muzzle Velocity (fps)
|25-yard Accuracy (inches)
|Speer Gold Dot HP
|Black Hills LSWC
|Black Hills JHP
|WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors, Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. NOTES: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards off a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of five shots measured on a CED M2 chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: FMJ, full metal jacket; HP, hollowpoint; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; LWSC, lead semi-wadcutter.
The Super Carry serrations are interesting. As you attain a firing grip, the serrations don't hinder getting your hand in position. Once you tighten your grip, they dig in, and your hand doesn't move. But if you need to make an adjustment, you can loosen your grip, reposition and re-tighten, and you're locked back in.
Super Carry serrations on the top of the slide cut down on glare to improve sighting and are a nice styling cue as well.
Compared to traditional checkering, this is a big step up. With 20 lpi checkering, you're pretty much glued to the pistol (and bleeding, if it has been done right and your hands aren't toughened up). Checkering at 30 lpi is easier but still "sticky" in trying to slide your hand over it to grip the pistol.
Now, the ability to shift your grip is not unique to the Super Carry serrations, and a bunch of other designs offer much the same tactical engagement. But I find it gratifying that the designers and manufacturers have noted this detail and have come up with various methods to give us what we need.
I noticed that the full-size Super Carry, the Custom, has the grasping serrations on the front end of the slide, too. I prefer the looks of the Pro, as the shorter slide lacks those forward serrations. Of course, considering that the serrations are directional, they are not likely to slice and grind your holster on the draw like other styles of forward serrations can be prone to do.
I used a Galco concealment holster and a double mag pouch to carry and test the Super Carry Pro. As expected, it rode easily and comfortably. Match a good holster with a lightweight pistol, and you have an all-day carry combo.
I had a good selection of ammunition to run through the Super Carry Pro, and in testing it with the supplied Kimber magazines I had no problems.
|Kimber Super Carry Pro
|black KimPro II-finished stainless steel slide; satin silver KimPro II-finished aluminum alloy frame.
|fixed, dovetailed 3-dot w/night sight option
|4 lb. as tested
|Kimber Manufacturing, KimberAmerica.com, 914-964-0771 x 267
The recoil is what I had expected. While a lightweight 1911 is a bit sharper in recoil, the midsize models do not punish you for your efforts.
The Pro consumed all the ammo I had to feed it, and it didn't hesitate. It shot to the sights at normal ranges, but this particular one is sighted in just a smidgen left at 50 and beyond, enough so that I drifted my shots off the scoring rings at 50 and 75 yards when trying it out on a patrol rifle qualification course. If it were mine to keep, I'd adjust the fixed, dovetailed sights the small amount needed to get it on at 75 yards. But that's just me.
As is typical, the Super Carry Pro showed definite likes and dislikes in ammo. While we would all like to have a pistol that shoots everything brilliantly, I can tell you after decades of trying that there is no such beast. So while this particular one likes Hornady XTP (and most pistols do), if yours doesn't, just try something else.
Given the light weight of the Super Carry series, the question becomes, which one to get? The biggest one will be easier to shoot but harder to carry--at least compared to the other two Super Carry models. The Super Carry Ultra is more compact since not only are the slide and barrel shorter but the frame has been shortened as well. While that makes it easier to carry, it makes it more difficult to shoot.
The author believes the Super Carry Pro strikes just the right balance between shootability and convenient carry.
My vote is for the Pro. It's small enough to make it easy to carry but not so small that it's tough to shoot.