August 26, 2022
The 1911 has been with us for more than a century. One would think that everything that could be done to this category of firearm has already been attempted. The new product development team at Kimber may disagree. Each year Kimber, in Troy, Alabama, pushes the aging platform further and further into the future while maintaining many of the attributes that have made it a classic. This latest evolution is the Scorpius, which is part of the Rapide family. The Scorpius combines time-tested features with new and interesting lines. The Scorpius begins as a full-size 1911 with a stainless steel frame—nothing too exotic about that. But that’s about where the traditional lines end.
The slide and frame are aggressively milled with functional and aesthetic patterns, creating a modern overall look and feel. The entire gun is finished in a black KimPro II finish, and then the flats of the frame and slide are polished to reveal the stainless steel underneath. The net effect is a striking two-tone look that immediately sets the Scorpius apart from traditional 1911s. The differences don’t end there. Let’s start with the frame. The frontstrap is the most unique element, with a machined gripping pattern that Kimber calls Stiplex. Stiplex, known in the custom gun world as “golf ball” checkering, is essentially a series of small ball-end mill cuts that create a pattern like traditional checkering but is less abrasive and easier on the shooter’s hands.
The trigger guard is undercut in a unique way to allow for a high grip on the pistol. Instead of checkering, the mainspring housing is cut with three rectangular shapes, which are a repeating theme on the Scorpius. An extended magazine well is attached to the mainspring housing via a hex screw, and the inside of the frame is beveled to match. The frame is cut for a high beavertail grip safety, which further aids a high hold and protects the shooter’s hand from any chance of being bitten by the hammer. A raised pad on the bottom of the grip safety ensures the gun will fire with any reasonable grip. On my sample, the grip safety had to travel all the way forward before the trigger would release, but I had no trouble with this on the range.
The extended manual safety is ambidextrous, and while easy to reach, it is narrow enough that it doesn’t get in the way. The magazine release is in the traditional location and is checkered, as is the slide stop. The slide stop pin cut on the right side of the frame is flush fit in Hostage Rescue Team style. The black aluminum trigger is skeletonized and serrated as well as being adjustable for overtravel. Kimber’s spec is to break between four and five pounds. The trigger on my sample gun was in the middle of this range at a very clean 4.4 pounds. There was a short take-up and then a distinct wall. I could not detect any creep whatsoever. This is one of the better factory 1911 triggers I’ve used. Rounding out the controls is a delta-style hammer.
Before I get to the top half of the gun, I’ll address the grips. They’re black G10 and are cut with a variety of patterns that complement other surfaces on the Scorpius. The squares and rectangles on the side of the panels match the mainspring housing and the window cuts on the top and sides of the slide. The Stiplex ball pattern matches the frame’s frontstrap, and the rear grip cuts match the cocking serrations on the slide.
There’s a lot going on visually, but the grips are comfortable and functional. My fingertips fit nicely into some of the geometric features, which gave me a little more purchase than usual. Finally, the left-side grip panel is relieved to ensure the magazine release is easily accessible. Kimber’s engineers made use of the company’s many CNC machines when creating the slide. For starters, the slide is flat-topped along the sight radius. The cocking serrations, both front and rear, are like nothing I’ve seen.
A series of three rectangular window cuts that grow longer as they moved toward the rear are present on both sides and on top of the slide, showing off the black barrel underneath. In theory, such cuts reduce slide mass and therefore recoil, but they are mainly for looks. The ejection port is lowered and flared back to allow reliable ejection of spent cases. Dovetail sight cuts hold both the front and rear sights securely in place. The sights are fixed TruGlo TFX Pro day/night sights. These steel sights use a combination of fiber optics and tritium to make them highly visible in any lighting conditions. There are two green dots on the rear sight and a single green dot encircled in orange on the front. The rear notch is U-shaped.
The sights are fixed, but the rear is drift-adjustable for windage if a correction is necessary. These sights retail for more than $100, so this is a nice upgrade on a factory handgun. Overall, I would rate the sights as excellent. The internals on the Scorpius are more or less traditional when it comes to a 1911. The extractor is internal, and the frame-mounted ejector is fixed and pinned into place. A standard coil recoil spring, guide and plug arrangement is used, an arrangement of which I am a fan. Full-length guide rods were all the rage on 1911s 20 to 30 years ago but have now mostly disappeared. Kimber also maintained the 1911’s traditional barrel/bushing arrangement in lieu of a bushing-less bull barrel. A slot that serves as a loaded chamber indicator is cut into the barrel hood.
Like many 1911s chambered in 9mm Luger, the barrel is fully supported and integrally ramped. The barrel is made from stainless steel and coated with black PVD, an extremely thin industrial finish with good wear resistance and low friction properties. If stainless steel has a downside, it is its propensity to gall when not sufficiently lubricated. This galling isn’t some internet myth. I’ve had at least one all-stainless steel non-Kimber 1911 lock up on me within the first magazine, and I had to beat the slide off the frame with a mallet.
To prevent this from being an issue, Kimber’s KimPro II finish is applied to the internal components, including the frame and slide rails. This finish has good lubricity properties that help mitigate the friction of the gun’s moving parts. This was a smart move on Kimber’s part and evidence of the company’s attention to the little details that can make or break a firearm. The Scorpius feeds from a steel magazine with a metal follower and a polymer base pad. Factory magazines hold nine rounds, with the opportunity for an additional cartridge in the chamber.
This isn’t much capacity when compared to some of the double-stack 9mms on the market—including Kimber’s own R7 Mako—but this is a 1911, and its magazine dimensions are what they are. At 40 ounces unloaded, few people are going to carry such a handgun for self-defense, so the capacity isn’t much of a factor. Taking down the Scorpius for maintenance will be a familiar process to any experienced 1911 user. With an unloaded handgun, rotate the barrel bushing and remove the recoil spring and plug. Remove the barrel bushing and the slide stop, in whichever order you prefer. Then remove the slide from the frame and remove the recoil spring guide and barrel. Reverse the process to reassemble the handgun, pressing the slide stop straight into the frame to prevent from making an “idiot scratch” on the pistol.
Shooting this handgun was a very pleasurable experience. I love shooting full-size 1911s of any flavor, but the soft-shooting, all-steel 9mm versions are a thing of their own. Since the recoil is very light, you can feel the parts moving as the gun cycles, as if in slow motion. I’ve had world-renowned competitive shooters describe this phenomenon to me, but I never experienced it until I began shooting non-.45 1911s. I’m fond of saying that all I really care about on a handgun are good sights and a great trigger, and this gun has both. Add in the comfortable and familiar ergonomics of the 1911, and you have an extremely shootable handgun.
Mechanical accuracy ranged from good to great, with the 147-grain full-metal-jacket load from Federal American Eagle producing the tightest results on target. My best group of the day with that ammunition measured under one inch at 25 yards. This is a handgun that will shoot better than you if you let it. The Scorpius was 100 percent reliable with the three ammunition types I used. This comes as no surprise to me because I have met with Kimber’s engineering team in Troy and observed some of the preproduction testing the company conducts. Months and even years are spent perfecting these designs before they come to market.
Ultra-high-speed cameras are used to diagnose any function issues, and if something is identified, the team goes to work in addressing the problem. When I was on-site, they were working on testing the Rapide family of handguns, to which the Scorpius belongs. The futuristic looks of the Scorpius are what they are. Your personal taste will determine whether the aesthetics of this handgun are for you. Some of the hottest-selling higher-end models in the handgun market are polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols with radical cuts made to the slide and other steel parts. With the Scorpius, Kimber is applying this trendy style to its 1911 lineup.
The unprecedented longevity of the 1911 is a great testament to its designer. The gun’s popularity has kept consumer interest high and has driven the market to create new and interesting variants on the theme. As a serious player in the market, Kimber has been a big part of that innovation. The Rapide Scorpius is a handgun with modern looks built on a time-tested design.
Kimber Rapide Scorpius Specs
- Type: Hammer-fired, 1911
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 9+1 rds.
- Barrel: 5 in., DLC Finsih
- OAL/Width: 8.7/ 1.3 in.
- Weight: 40 oz.
- Construction: Stainless steel slide and frame, black KimPro II finish
- Grips: G10 Rapdie
- Sights: TruGlo TFX Pro day/night; orange-ring front, drift adjustable rear
- Safeties: Ambidextrous manual thumb safety, grip
- Trigger: 4 lbs., 4 0z. (tested)
- MSRP: $1,733
- Manufacturer: Kimber Manufacturing