September 24, 2010
The dictionary defines "raptor" as a type of dinosaur as well as a type of bird, both of which were and are expert predators. Actually, the prehistoric raptor amounted to a mini-version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and pound for pound was one of the most efficient land predators the world has ever known.
The raptors of today are hawks and falcons, which, although much smaller than their ancestral namesake, are its equal as predators in the bird world. I say "ancestral" because it is well established that birds evolved from dinosaurs (a conclusion I came to at the age of 10).
Equally well established is that John Moses Browning's magnificent Model of 1911 pistol is one of the world's most effective handguns for personal defense. While some continue to enjoy referring to it as a "dinosaur," the original Model of 1911, unlike the first raptor, remains alive and well, even if arguably a little outdated by today's standards.
However, just as birds descended from dinosaurs, today's 1911-style pistols have come a long way in keeping current, and they are the tip of the spear in embodying the latest improvements in auto pistols. Pistols are by definition defensive tools rather than offensive ones, but in trained hands the modern 1911 is as formidable as a 300-pound meat-eating dinosaur or a 60-mile-per-hour set of razor-sharp talons.
Yes, the name "Raptor" certainly seems appropriate for the pistol that will never die, and one of the most formidable makers of modern 1911-style pistols has embraced it for such a gun. This is a pistol that brilliantly combines the old and the new while paying homage to the name. A beautiful marriage of substance and style, the new pistol is the Kimber .45 ACP Raptor II. However, I'm betting that virtually all who simply must own a Kimber Raptor will seldom, if ever shoot it, but instead they will keep it as an investment, as a collector would keep a piece of art. I suspect Kimber anticipated this, but let's take a closer look.
With its official title being the Raptor II (having a firing-pin safety), the pistol comes with Kimber's MeproLite tritium night sights, stainless steel match barrel and bushing, full-length recoil-spring guide rod and external extractor. It is finished in an elegant polished blue, and the sides of the slide are complemented with a matte-blue finish on the top, rear and lower-front portion.
In place of conventional cocking grooves on the front and rear of the slide, there are small oval recesses staggered in a pattern suggestive of scales or feathers. Hmmâ€¦but that's not all. On top of the slide, instead of the grooves sometimes found on high-end 1911s there are much larger milling cuts that serve the same purpose in diffusing glare, but these are definitely in the shape of scales such as found on a large reptile.
The frame of the Kimber Raptor starts off with all the now-standard custom features found on many Kimber II pistols. These include a skeletonized rounded speed hammer with match-grade sear, ambidextrous extended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety, 20-lpi checkered flat mainspring housing, lightweight trigger and beveled magazine well. Two lateral serpent-like grooves also adorn the hump on the grip safety, but again, it doesn't stop there.
The sides of the frame exhibit the same deep-blue finish as the slide, and the bottom and back of the frame are in matte blue. What's more, instead of a checkered frontstrap, the Raptor is embellished with the same scale/feather-like cuts as are found in place of slide cocking serrations. If all this weren't enough to link the past with the present, the grips of the Raptor w
ill cinch it. Made of two-tone cocobolo, these grips have a surface that is unmistakable as reptilian scales, and the texture is as positive as checkering, but in the center of each panel is the now-typical Kimber Oval logo.
With a crisp four-pound trigger and an excellent fit, the Kimber Raptor II is ready for the range, for formal-dress concealed carry or as an heirloom for your gun safe.
The Pro Raptor II
Not only is this unique masterpiece available in the top-end pistol thus far described, it can also be had in a compact version. Called the Pro Raptor II, this compact Raptor contains every feature of the flagship model except for its size, all-matte-blue finish and one other major difference: The barrel of the Pro Raptor II is bushingless. That is, the conical barrel of this model has no separate bushing; instead, its muzzle locks directly into the slide. However, differing from more conventional conical bushingless barrels, that of the Kimber Pro Series is machined in an eccentric pattern to better control the barrel position during cycling.
I suspect a few more Kimber enthusiasts will fire this version even if it is only slightly more Spartan than its larger sibling. While the fit of the Pro Raptor II was every bit as good as that of its larger sibling, its trigger let-off occurred at about five pounds. While I would prefer a lighter trigger for duty, this one performed fine and will probably become lighter with use.
|GROUP SIZE (inches)
|Black Hills 185-gr. JHP (1,052 fps)
| Cor-Bon 165-gr. PB (1,219 fps)
|Wolf 230-gr. FMJ (847 fps)
|Pro Raptor II
|Black Hills 185-gr. (1,007 fps)
|Federal 165-gr. PD (994 fps)
|Winchester 230-gr. JHP (833 fps)
|NOTE: Shooting results based on five 5-shot handheld groups at 25 yards
Both Kimber Raptor 1911s performed flawlessly in test-firing several boxes of ammunition, but the full-size deluxe Raptor took honors by averaging five-shot hand-held groups of about two inches at 25 yards. The Pro Raptor II printed five-shot groups averaging about 2.5 inches at the same distance. Neither pistol experienced any malfunctions during our testing and, while this was relatively brief, the results were typically Kimber.
KIMBER RAPTOR II
|Browning sort-recoil, semiauto single action
|5 inches (Pro Raptor II: 4 inches)
|8.75 inches (Pro Raptor II: 7.75 inches)
|40 ounces (Pro Raptor II: 38 ounces)
|Thumb safety, grip safety, firing pin
|Cocobolo with reptilian surface
|Polished and matte blue (Pro Raptor II: matte blue)
|Raptor II: $1,216; Pro Raptor II: $1,100