How Super is the Super Carry Pro?
The Kimber Super Carry Pro is one of Kimber’s newest pistols. Since I like carrying a 1911, its combination of features was hard to pass up once I saw and handled it in person at one of my local gunshops. Despite the hit or miss reputation of Kimber in online reviews, I decided I would take a chance on my first Kimber and bought one of the first Super Carry Pros available locally several months back.
Intended for concealed carry, one of its most notable features is the rounded heel and mainspring housing. This makes the grip less likely to “print,” or show through, your concealing garment than the same size pistol with a more traditional grip. Other features on the Super Carry Pro that can be beneficial on a carry pistol are the flush fit 8 round magazine (one included), serrated frontstrap and MSH, ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, 3-dot tritium night sights with a cocking shoulder for one-handed use, “carry melt” treatment to smooth sharp edges, aggressively checkered grips, loaded chamber indicator port in the top of the slide, and lightweight aluminum frame.
Frame: 7075-T7 aluminum
“Super Carry” pattern serrations on frontstrap and mainspring housing
high cut trigger guard
Slide: stainless steel
flat top style
“Super Carry” pattern top and rear cocking serrations
oversized ejection port
enlarged firing pin stop to lock extractor in place
Barrel: 4″ bushingless, single piece, non-ramped
LH 1:16 twist
loaded chamber indicator port in the top
polished breech face
Mainspring Housing: rounded with “Super Carry” pattern serrations
External Safety: ambidextrous extended thumb safety
Grip Safety: high rise beavertail
Sights: Tritium three dot night sights with cocking shoulder
Guide rod: full length
Hammer: commander style
Grips: micarta/laminated wood fully checkered with border
Capacity: 8 + 1
Magazine: KimPro stainless steel Tac-Mag
Teflon coated stainless steel follower
quick change floor plate (only the flat stainless steel floor plate included)
one included with purchase
Other: “match grade” chamber, barrel, and trigger (solid aluminum style)
lowered and flared ejection port
recessed slide stop pin with beveled surround in the frame
“carry melt” treatment
22lb recoil spring, manual recommends changing every 800 rounds
checkered, slightly extended magazine release
does not have the “Kimber firing pin safety”
manual states there is a 400-500 round “break-in period”
Finish: KimPro II “self lubricating”
matte black slide
satin silver frame
Weight: 28 ounces
MSRP: $1,530 (as of Feb. 2011)
The lightweight government frame of the SCP is made from 7075-T7 aluminum and has a satin silver “KimPro II” finish. It is nicely machined and as mentioned, lightweight compared to a steel frame. The magwell is beveled for easier magazine insertion and the trigger guard has a high cut to help you take a higher grip. The grip safety is a high rise beavertail style, and while the fit is good, it could be a bit better for a pistol in this price range. The MSH fit was better.
Since this pistol does not use a ramped barrel, the feed ramp is also aluminum. This is worth mentioning because after the 850 rounds I have fired through this pistol, there are visible wear marks on the ramp. My steel framed 1911s do not show anywhere close to the same degree of wear with similar or higher round counts. A ramped barrel would also have prevented the problem.
The slide is stainless steel with a matte black “KimPro II” finish that Kimber says is self-lubricating. The benefit of that seems unclear because you still need to lubricate the moving parts. It has a flat top cut and “Super Carry” pattern serrations both across the top and on the rear sides. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and ejection was not an issue. This pistol does not use the “Kimber Firing Pin Safety” so commonly used in the Kimber lineup. Since you still have the grip and thumb safeties, this is not an issue.
The “match grade” trigger is a solid aluminum piece. Trigger pull weight felt a bit high though, even without the extra safety, and I’m not sure I’d call it “match grade”. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is heavier and less smooth than the factory STI triggers, for example. The Colt Combat Elite factory trigger also has a better feel to me. Trigger feel is subjective and may vary from pistol to pistol, so your experience may differ. For the record, Kimber states it comes from the factory set at 4-5 lbs. I do not have a trigger gauge so I couldn’t verify that on my pistol.
The barrel is a bushingless, single piece, 4″ long, “match grade” part with a polished breech face. Kimber states it also has a “match chamber” for what that’s worth. I don’t know what criteria they use to designate it as match quality, but my example does exhibit very good accuracy in informal off hand practice at the range. It is up there with the more accurate pistols I have shot. I don’t shoot from a pistol rest, don’t shoot pistols for measured group size, and don’t practice beyond 15 yards with a pistol much, so I can’t speak to those areas. What can I say, I favor rifles for those tasks and I don’t write reviews for a living.
The finish has held up very well in range use, and despite the 850 rounds through it, the area around the ejection port has also held up well. I have not been able to test the finish in carry usage or for holster wear due to reliability issues that do not give me the confidence to carry this pistol.
That brings me to reliability. Before I even bought this pistol, I knew Kimber said their pistols needed a 500 round “break-in period.” That was the main reason I had never bought a Kimber before the Super Carry Pro. I am one of those that feels you should function test a pistol with at least a couple hundred rounds of FMJ and at least 50 rounds of your carry ammo with zero problems before you carry it, but you shouldn’t need a “break-in period” for reliable function on a pistol designed for carry use. Since “Carry” is in the name, that’s how I feel about the Super Carry Pro.
I took a 250 round box of FMJ 230gr PMC to the range and proceeded to run it through my SCP. I wound up with an average of about 1 malfunction per magazine, typically a failure to feed the next round all the way into the chamber. That means that with 8 round mags, I had about 25-30 failures, or only about 88-90% reliability.
Okay, I figured, I am a little concerned but I am only halfway through the “break-in period.” I ran another 250 rounds of FMJ from various brands and had the same pattern of failures, but it improved to about 90-95% reliability. At this point I had run 500 rounds, and I was starting not to like this pistol.
For my third range trip, I switched to JHP ammo from Winchester, Hornady and Speer. I also switched from my usual oil lubricant to a grease to see if that would help. I ran about 150 rounds of 230gr JHP through, and it seemed to run about 97% with four failures. I switched back to FMJ and ran another 100 through, with four failures.
The total round count was up to 750, with about 94% reliability (somewhere close to 50 failures all together). I was starting to HATE this pistol now. The only other time I’ve had such an unreliable pistol is when I took a chance on the Diamondback DB380 when it first came out.
Back home, I stripped the pistol down and gave it a good cleaning, and switched back to an oil lubricant. I also replaced the factory spring with a Wolff spring for 4″ Kimbers and headed back to the range. I took another 250 round box of 230gr FMJ, and proceeded to run the first hundred through the Kimber. I had two failures, with one in the first 50 rounds and one in the second. Okay, that’s it, the best I could get in a single range trip was 98% reliability. Not wanting to let a range trip go to waste, I stayed around a fired the rest of the ammo through my STI Shadow and Colt Combat Elite with nary a problem.
If a freshly cleaned and lubricated pistol with a new spring can’t manage to make it through 100 rounds problem free, I am not wasting any more ammo on it. Nothing appears to be wrong with the extractor, ejector, etc. No burrs on either the slide or frame. Not a magazine problem*. That leaves me having to try giving Kimber a call and see if they can fix it. Even if they do, I won’t ever have confidence in this pistol and will probably sell or trade it. I have two Colts and four STIs, and none of the six needed a “break-in period” or had reliability problems. It’s not the “tightness” of the Kimber assembly either, as my STIs are all at least as tight if not tighter than the Kimber.
Would I recommend this pistol? It’s probably obvious by now, but I have to say no based on my sample. The Super Carry Pro turned out to be Super Frustrating. For the price, it should exhibit a little better fitting, have a more durable feed ramp or a ramped barrel, and should not have the reliability issues that mine has. However, if those issues were solved or are not an issue on your example, I would say it would make a very good carry pistol. It conceals well, shoots very well, and could be a great carry pistol if Kimber put enough QC/QA into it.
*All shooting was done using the factory KimPro Tac-mag, Wilson magazines, and some Colt factory magazines. The only time I could discern a specific magazine didn’t work well with the SCP was with the Colt magazines. They work in my other pistols but showed the most failures to feed in the SCP. The failures showed up randomly enough with both the KimPro and Wilson magazines that I do not attribute any failures specifically to those magazines. I mentioned the fit of the grip safety earlier, and it may have contributed to the tendency of this pistol to leave a wide “v” shaped blood blister in the web between my thumb and forefinger when shooting a lot of rounds. I don’t have any other pistols that do that.
Written and approved by G27RR over at “The High Road”