Kimber, of course, has been manufacturing firearms since 1979. The company is based out of Yonkers, New York, with an additional location in Ridgefield, New Jersey. Kimber was originally founded in Oregon in 1979 by Jack Warne and his son, Greg. Previous to starting Kimber, Jack Warne worked for Sporting Arms, an Australian-based gun manufacturer, according to Gunocracy.com. According to Kimber, the company is now the one of the world’s largest manufacturers of 1911 pistols.
Rimfire rifles led the way, followed by centerfire rifles, then pistols and finally revolvers. Shooters and hunters were attracted by classic lines, dependability and accuracy. In turn, demand fueled growth and encouraged continual product improvement. Today more than ever, the reputation of the Kimber brand reflects the original purpose—and Kimber is known as America’s leading manufacturer of premium production firearms.
The lineup of 1911-based pistols in 2020 is impressive. While I enjoy the look of a highly-polished, well-blued 1911 pistol, I have an affinity for stainless steel when it comes to a piece that would be carried IWB and in the hot and humid Georgia summer temperatures. It just so happens that Kimber has the Stainless II model that fulfills that affinity. And, although I like the “Commander” length 4.25” barrel, my preference leans more toward the 5” “Government” model barrel.
The Kimber Stainless II is not my first Kimber. What began this Kimber journey was a Kimber Pro Crimson Carry II lightweight 1911 that I had purchased from a close friend of mine. My second Kimber purchased was the KIMBER K6S .357 MAGNUM REVOLVER.
A purchase for a Kimber Lightweight “Artic” in 9mm (see, NEW KIMBER LIGHTWEIGHT 1911 9MM PISTOL – THE KIMBER “ARTIC”). The 10mm had caught my eye as a viable self-defense cartridge and a Kimber “Camp Guard” was purchased to evaluate the 10mm cartridge and the Kimber Camp Guard 10 1911 pistol (see, Kimber Camp Guard 10 – Product Review).
But this article is not about those Kimber firearms. This article is about the Kimber Stainless II 1911 in .45 ACP and I suppose I should get to it.
The overall look and feel of the Kimber Stainless II is not unlike that of any 1911-based pistol. The 1911 has always been an extremely good-looking pistol even its simplest form let alone when customized by engraving or other “improvements.” The grip angle lends itself to natural pointing of the pistol. The Kimber Stainless II 1911 is very plain, which signifies that the pistol is ready for go and not necessarily for show. Some may say that the Kimber Stainless II is an “entry-level” 1911.
At 2 pounds 8.8 ounces unloaded with a magazine inserted, and 2 pounds 13.2 ounces with a magazine of 7 rounds inserted, the Kimber Stainless II is not a lightweight pistol. While not so comforting for those who carry a 1911 (you do get used to it), the assistance with recoil management is well worth the weight.
The fit and finish is excellent, as would be expected with a Kimber firearm. The Kimber Stainless II has a satin-like finish throughout the pistol that is offset only by a blackened hammer, rear sight, and fiber front sight.
While the original design of the 1911 pistol still holds a near and dear spot in my heart, I still have scars from “hammer bite” and when extended ‘beavertail’ safeties began appearing on 1911 pistols I was immensely grateful for this break in tradition. Polished feed ramps and lowered and flared ejection ports enhanced reliability. Then, we started seeing better sights, extended slide locks, extended magazine release buttons, and even extended magwells. Oh my! Pretty soon we were immersed in discussions about full-length guide rods, ambidextrous thumb safeties, front strap serrations. All this without nary a complaint about the original design not being changed. The old traditional 1911 platform had just been made better through enhanced components. Manufacturers, custom or not, listened to those who love the 1911 platform and just keep making them better. The 1911 is now available in lightweight versions, medium length versions, short versions, long versions, and there is even polymer and a double-barreled version. There are both single-stack and double-stack versions, by jiminy!
When looking for a carry 1911, the word “Kimber,” among other names, seems to pass over a lot of lips. That’s not surprising since Kimber has a high-ranking among 1911 aficionados. Kimber is known for its high-quality, accurate, and reliable 1911 pistols. My shooting companion and friend carries one, and I purchased a Pro Crimson Carry II (like that shown below) from him. I find; however, that operating a laser under stress is more than this old brain can handle and the Pro Crimson Carry II has never been carried.
I was looking; however, for a full-size 1911 to insert into my carry rotation. I wanted nothing fancy; just simply a 1911 that would provide me with some of the bells and whistles but not be so “endowed” that I would not want to carry it. The Kimber Stainless Steel II seemed to fit the bill.
You see, I like a full-sized 1911 pistol. I had better, since I have carried one for many years with the latest being the Rock Island Armory 1911 FS Tactical, which is an excellent pistol for the price. It has been a reliable companion; being subject to the wear that only a “Kybrid” holster can inflict on a pistol’s finish. I was ready to move up to a better pistol and move away from “Kybrid” holsters.
I would be remiss in saying that stainless-steel, regardless of the firearm, is my first choice when I can afford it. But, first, let’s look at the Kimber Stainless Steel II “basics.”
- Height (inches) 90° to barrel: 5.25
- Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 38
- Length (inches): 8.7
- Magazine capacity: 7
- Recoil spring (pounds): 16.0
- Full-length guide rod
- Material: Stainless steel
- Finish: Satin Silver
- Width (inches): 1.28
- Material: Stainless steel
- Finish: Satin Silver
- Front serrations
- Length (inches): 5
- Material: Steel, match grade
- Stainless steel match grade bushing
- Twist rate (left hand): 16
- Fixed low profile
- Fiber optic front sight
- Radius (inches): 6.8
- Rosewood, with Kimber logo
- Aluminum, match grade
- Factory setting (approximate pounds): 4.0 – 5.0
- Product #: 3200328
- UPC: 669278323282
A Little More Detail Would Help!
Fit n’ finish on the Kimber Stainless Steel II is darn near perfect, not that anything is perfect. The finish is a ‘satin’ stainless on the slide and frame with the only contrast being the sights, the top of the hammer, and grip panels.
Unlike many 1911 pistols these days, the thumb safety, slide lock, and beavertail safety are all the same satin stainless finish as the rest of the pistol. In some ways, I like it, as it gives a “spartan’ appearance to the pistol, and business is what this pistol is all about.
Weight, if you read the specifications, is 38 ounces. I measured 2 pounds 8.8 ounces with an empty magazine and 2 pounds 13.2 ounces with a full seven rounds of 230-grain JHP from Sig Sauer. For some, that may be a burden, but you will like it when you pull the trigger and feel the tad bit of a push of recoil against the palm of your hand. The skeletonized aluminum trigger does have an over-travel screw, but no adjustment is needed. The trigger is excellent.
I am not a fan of fiber front sights, and the Kimber Stainless II has them up front. However, they seem to be robust and are well protected from damage. The rear sight is a target-style sight that is void of dots or other markings but is of a low-glare finish. For a serious carry piece, the sights might be exchanged with a good set of night sights.
Now, some may argue about the use of full-length guide rods, but I have seen them aid in the accuracy department even on new 1911 pistols that don’t have them. Case in point was my Ruger SR1911 CMD-A “Commander” in .45 ACP. Accuracy was “meh” when brand new. I installed a Wilson Combat one-piece full-length guide rod and accuracy improved. My shooting companion tried a FLGR on his old M1911A1 and accuracy was boffo. If a pistol comes with a FLGR, it stays. If it is a two-piece FLGR, I swap it with a single-piece unit just to keep things simple.
Fit and finish on this pistol is excellent. There is absolutely no play between slide and frame. Except for the slide serrations, every edge has been rounded to reduce sharp edges and corners
The Kimber Stainless II is built on the “80 Series” Colt, which means it has the chief modification over the “70 Series” 1911, which was the addition of a firing pin block safety. On the Series 80, a pivoting link is actuated by the trigger pull, pushing the firing pin block up and unblocking the firing pin. Thus, the firing pin can only move IF the trigger is pulled.
Shown below is the inside of the slide and the frame. Not a machining mark to be seen.
Kimber ships this gun with custom hardwood grips, making it both practical and attractive. Add in the full-length guide rod, and you have a gun that is both attractive and reliable. For a carry pistol, I prefer the Hogue wrap-a-round finger grove grips using Wilson Combat stainless hex-head grip screws. While the grip may change, the existing panel mounting screws are fine. I simply need a little more grip to work with over the standard grip panels. But, the standard grip panels are just fine if you like them. However, I wanted a set of grip panels that would set the Kimber Stainless II off as a special pistol, but I still needed the pistol to convey that it was for business and just not for show. It took me a while to decide on a set, and I actually ordered two sets of grip panels for it; one was chosen and the other to be mounted on a different 1911 at a later time. The chosen grip was the Altamont 1911 Govt. Finger groove Silverblack Checkered Engraved with mounting screw Pattern M#5 – Nova (Item# SCREW-L90-M05). See below for the result.
I like a wraparound grip and the pattern of this grip is excellent, provides an excellent gripping surface, and adds a bit of class to an already classy pistol. The Silverblack Checkered Engraved finish just pops against the stainless-steel of the frame.
The checkering and texturing of the grip is perfect. The fit of the grip is most excellent. Wraparound finger-groove grips can be tricky as each side has to match up perfectly when installed. There is no gap where the two halves meet in the front strap.
Also, the grip does add a bit more reach to the front strap of the pistol. And, the grip adds approximately ¼” to the base of the grip, but does not add more grip width. For my long fingers, this is ideal.
Break it Down! I Mean In!!
Some would consider the Kimber Stainless II an entry-level pistol, and if you regard price as an indicator of what is “entry Level” you just may be right. But, because Kimber builds high quality, semi-custom pistols, their guns are tightly fitted with very close tolerances. This requires a break in period for all moving parts to uniformly wear against each other and loosen up a bit. Kimber recommends a break in period of 400-500 rounds using standard ball ammo, with cleaning and lubrication after every hundred rounds.
During this break-in period, you may or may not experience malfunctions like feed failures, jams and other problems. These should clear up during the break in period and leave you with a well fitted and functioning gun. I have had 1911 pistols break in without a whimper and some that took some tweaking.
Kimber states that Kimber fixed sight pistols are regulated to shoot point of aim at 25 yards. For this trial evaluation, ‘combat’ distance (7-yards) is the call of duty for today. Longer distances come later.
The Kimber Stainless II 1911 is equipped with a full-length, one-piece guide rod, which some might rail about. Personally, I am fine with them and have seen improvements in accuracy after installing them. The guide rod in the Kimber Stainless II 1911; however, does not have a hole to place a pin or paper clip as some manufacturer’s do. This is really not a problem; the Kimber simply breaks down like any other 1911.
- Keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction and your fingers outside the trigger guard, unload the firearm and visually inspect that the magazine well and chamber are empty and the hammer down; depress the recoil spring plug with the supplied wrench and then turn the barrel bushing clockwise (toward the right side of the pistol) until the recoil spring plug and recoil spring are free.
- Remove the recoil spring and plug. If the recoil spring does not remove easily, remove the plug and leave the spring for Step 6. Note that the open end of the recoil spring always goes into the plug.
- Cock the hammer and move the slide toward the rear until the semi-circular tab on the back of the slide stop aligns with the semicircular disassembly notch in the bottom of the slide.
- Holding the slide in that position, push inward on the protruding end of the slide stop pin (on the right side of the slide) and remove the slide stop from the left side.
- Slide the slide assembly forward and off the frame.
- Remove the recoil spring through the opening at the front of the slide if unable to do so in Step 2.
- Using a bushing wrench, turn the barrel bushing counter-clockwise until the lug aligns with the opening and then remove the bushing from the front of the slide.
- Remove the full-length recoil spring guide rod from the bottom of the slide by lifting the guide rod head away from the barrel and then withdrawing it towards the rear of the slide. If the barrel link interferes, invert the slide and rotate the link to its full forward position. The guide rod can now be lifted over the link.
- Tip the barrel link forward to clear the recoil spring tunnel, then pull the barrel forward and clear of the slide.
Kimber recommends 400 to 500 rounds before the pistol is considered broken in. According to the Kimber User Manual; “Before firing the firearm for the first time, field strip and clean the firearm following proper procedures (see Disassembly, Cleaning and Lubrication and Assembly instructions in this manual). For proper break-in, fire 400-500 rounds of 230 grain (or heavier) full metal jacket, high quality factory-fresh premium personal defense ammunition. Clean and lubricate the firearm after every 100 rounds or after each shooting session, whichever is first, or more often as needed, such as when the firearm is exposed to dirt, moisture or perspiration. During this time, you may experience malfunctions like feed failures, jams and other problems. These should clear up during the break in period and leave you with a well fitted and functioning gun.”
Before all of this happens; however, the pistol must be properly lubed, and Kimber has micromanaged that to the point of lubrication recommendations; to wit:
- Use a premium lubrication product such as Shooter’s Choice FP-10 or similar quality oil. Grease is not recommended. If the lubrication product contains Teflon, shake well before using as the Teflon settles
- Lubricate the following parts:
- Slide and frame rails; 3 drops on each side.
- Disconnector on top of frame; 1 drop.
- Barrel hood; 2 drops spread across surface.
- Barrel locking lugs inside slide and on barrel; 1 drop on each lug.
- Barrel link; 1 drop behind link.
- Slide stop pin; 1 drop spread across surface.
- Outside of barrel; 3 drops spread across surface.
- Cocked hammer; 1 drop in between the hammer and frame.
- Guide rod; 1 drop spread across surface
A one friend of mine said that he liked to shoot a new 1911 dry. I am the same way, and then I reload. However, that is not what he meant. He meant shooting a new pistol with no lubrication. He said that the pistol ‘bedded’ itself better than slicking things up. I told him that was like running a new engine with no oil. For myself, I ensure that all ‘slidey’ and other contact surfaces are properly lubricated.
For the first range outing, I kept things simple; 50 rounds of 230-grain FMJ from Georgia Arms, and 20 rounds of Sig Sauer V-Crown 230-grain JHP for some defensive load testing.
I was surprised. There were no FTEs or FTFs. I was expecting several, given what I heard about new Kimber pistols.
Accuracy? The only thing that I can tell you is that the pistol is more accurate than I can make it be, being an old soul with wobbly hands, shaky knees, and I can no longer see out of my left ear or hear out of my right eye. With that said, once I figured out what the pistol was telling me, the 10-ring was a remnant of its former self. The Kimber Stainless II can make you look like you know what you are doing.
Note that the provided Kimber magazine was used, although I deemed it inferior to most. The Wilson Combat 8-round magazines with bumper pad work extremely well.
I first ran a magazine of 230-grain FMJ for establishing the POI from my POA. Once that was established, I went to work with the rest of the box on some “Mozambique Drills.”
The last little exercise is to run a magazine or two through the “Mozambique Drill” with defensive ammunition (Sig Sauer V-Crown 230-grain JHP).
The Sig Sauer V-Crown 230-grain JHP ammunition ran like they were made for this pistol. They also run fine in my Rock Island Armory 1911 FS Tactical. They do not; however, run fine in my Glock G41 or G21. I sure would like to find out if a standard barrel rifling would make a difference, but that’s a topic for a future article.
There is very little take-up in the trigger. Trigger pull weight is at a 5 pound, 7.2-ounce average over five pulls of the Lyman digital trigger pull gauge, and which I consider a bit heavy for 1911 trigger. Brand new, there is some grittiness, but I suspect that to smooth out after proper lubrication and some use. I do believe in running with a stock trigger in a firearm that may be used for self-defense, and I do believe that this trigger will meet my expectations.
The Kimber Stainless II is a 1911, and the 1911 is one of the slimmest pistols on the market. If you do your homework and properly prepare your support equipment, the 1911 can be carried concealed quite easily, although the weight might bother you. Fully loaded, you are looking at around 48 ounces, and that is about 3 pounds of pistol when fully loaded to maximum capacity that you will be packing.
The Kimber Stainless II is a pistol that I do not want subjected to the harsh environment of a “Kybrid” holster. As shown below, the Kimber Stainless II looks at home in the Falco A112 Hawk holster, as it does in the IWB holster from Savoy Leather. An addition, the “Cumberland” holster from Simply Rugged Holsters is a good place to tuck a 1911 pistol inside the waistband.
Falco A112 Hawk Holster
The “Savoy” Holster by Savoy Leathers
There are many choices in IWB holsters on the market as is vertical and horizontal shoulder rigs, and if you do like Kydex, the holster world is your oyster.
There is really not much to upgrade on the Kimber Stainless II, unless you really want to, but I did succumb to two upgrades:
The Altamont 1911 Govt. Finger groove Silverblack Checkered Engraved with mounting screw Pattern M#5 – Nova (Item# SCREW-L90-M05).
Normally, I would install a Hogue Rubber Finger groove grip on a carry 1911. I really like the Altamont 1911 Govt. Finger groove Silverblack Checkered Engraved grip, even though it does add a bit of material to the front strap. The width and length of the grip has not changed and that is what matters when trying to conceal a full-sized handgun. Overall, the grip just fits my hand better than a standard 1911 grip panels.
Although I had mounted an arched mainspring housing with magwell, it was replaced with the Ed Brown arched mainspring housing, which I have come to really like on my 1911 pistols.
There is an abundance of 1911 pistols on the market, and some very fine all-stainless ones. For the price, Kimber leads the way with this high end, but affordable handgun. There is very little to dislike, and an awful lot to really like. In appearance, the Kimber Stainless II is similar to the Springfield Armory ‘Loaded” model, or the Remington R1 Enhanced Stainless with the front and rear serrations. It may also follow the traditional 1911 look with the left-side only thumb safety, as with the Ruger SR1911. If you have not owned a Kimber 1911 before, then you are going to be going on their reputation and what others say about it. If you have owned a Kimber 1911, or have shot one or more of them, then you have first-hand experience with them, and you can base your decision on that experience.
For me, the Kimber Stainless II is going into the carry rotation as soon as the requisite 500 rounds are fired.
Below: A comparison between the Kimber Stainless II, the Remington 1911 R1s Enhanced, and the Springfield Armory “loaded” stainless
If you want an all-stainless full-size 1911, and you like the Kimber family of 1911 pistols, this is a good choice and is a fairly budget-friendly 1911! Kimber also has the Stainless II in a Stainless Target LS (a 5” all stainless version in .45 ACP and 10mm), the Stainless Target II (a 5” all stainless version in .45 ACP and 9mm), the Stainless Pro Carry II (a 4” stainless slide/aluminum frame version in .45 ACP and 9mm), and the Stainless Ultra Carry II (a 3” stainless slide/aluminum frame version in .45 ACP and 9mm).
Kimber ships the Stainless II with one magazine, a cable lock, and owner’s manual (which you should actually read).
- Kimber Stainless II: https://www.kimberamerica.com/pistols/1911?layer&cat=378
- Altamont Grips: https://www.altamontco.com/
- Kimber 1911 Stainless 2 .45 ACP Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfI9vekb1a0
- Kimber Stainless II – 1911 Beauty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc96cRZVCwo
- Kimber Stainless II: https://www.kimberamerica.com/pistols/1911/stainless-ii
- Kimber Stainless II Family: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=CyrE3bw0bPw