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Thread: WANTED: DEFINITIVE answers as to whats wrong with Kimber 1911's.

  1. #1
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    WANTED: DEFINITIVE answers as to whats wrong with Kimber 1911's.

    Ive read a lot of hate here and elsewhere about Kimber 1911's. I dont recall ever seeing exactly what the problems with them are/were.
    So..IF you can specifically state whats wrong with them, known problems, unique problems, past problems that were corrected, ect., please chime in.
    I DO NOT WANT BS ANSWERS THAT DONT INCLUDE FACTUAL INFORMATION. Dont come here to bitch & moan, if you can answer the question, please chime in.
    If not- STAY OUT.
    DISCLOSURE: EARLY 1990's..I want to say 1992-93...I ordered one of the first Kimber 1911's in my geographical area. The gunshop hadnt even HEARD of them. Took awhile to get it, was a very low serial number...just over 1000.
    Shot the hell out of that gun. I was into 1911's heavily then, as were many. After a few years, about the only problem I had was the FP STOP would slide down enough to jam the gun. Did it twice months apart in two matches. One I still won, it cost me one. I tried a few different mags, it would NOT run with Chip McCormick Shooting star mags. The black Colt factory mags ran well. Had the gun about 10 years and sold it and soon after went all Glock & never looked back. So, Ive had some experiance with them, but apparently something has changed. This is for informational purpose only, as wont be going back to the 1911's again. Someone asked me this and I flat dont know.
    Thank yall for any info you may provide.
    " Be NOT ye afraid of them..
    Remember the Lord, for He is GREAT & TERRIBLE!
    FIGHT for your bretheren..for your sons & for your daughters,
    for your wives & for your households"!

  2. #2
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    Early Kimbers from OR were good. After they moved to NY, got into MIM and external extractors, guns were crap. As a dealer, I was returning at least 1/3 guns to them for issues. Also the Swartz safety had some timing issues, probably in part because users didn’t understand how it worked and were damaging it reassembling guns. Currently they seem to be running. Seen a bunch at USPSA matches the last couple years, and they don’t seem to be having problems. During time period they were problematic, customer service went to hell too. After Cohen left as CEO, they seemed to improve quality wise.

    I think a lot of people that had bad experiences with them have not forgiven or forgot.

  3. #3
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    It's tough to put a finger on what makes the Kimbers so much less reliable, but they just are/were. Back when I used to take lots of classes, it was the kimbers that brought the classes to a stop the most. 1911s were always problematic, but kimbers took it down another notch. When you're hot and tired and have to stop drills for some kimber guy, it gets old.

    As to WHY? Like any other 1911 that won't run, it's not always simple to figure out the reason(s).
    "You people have too much time on your hands." - scottryan

  4. #4
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    I was working in a gun shop around 2008 or so. We would get pistols broken right out of the box. Like hammers broken as soon as you open the box. Obviously garbage MIM process. They were a nightmare to deal with for warranty work. Everybody dreaded having to call them. I don't know what they are like now, but I would never own one after dealing with them back then.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by czgunner; 06-30-21 at 23:28.

  5. #5
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    Those are great answers, thank you both. Mine come to think of it, was from Yonkers NY. Does anyone know if they started the serial numbers over when they moved from OR to NY?
    If Im remembering right, mine was serial number 1029. How many/how long did they mfg in OR?
    " Be NOT ye afraid of them..
    Remember the Lord, for He is GREAT & TERRIBLE!
    FIGHT for your bretheren..for your sons & for your daughters,
    for your wives & for your households"!

  6. #6
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    I also had an Oregon Kimber that was reliable, accurate.
    That was ca. 1994.

    The recent negatives as previously stated;
    MIM
    Schwarz Firing Pin Safety
    Shit Q C on assembly
    Poor CS

    Add:
    Kimber uses MIM parts in their rifles. Ironically, the rifle MIM parts are well executed and seem to be GTG. I don't know why this is such an issue with their 1911's.
    While I'd always prefer tool steel "bits" in a gun, if a manufacturer is trying to meet a price point, MIM can work.
    I've worked on and have owned their "Montana" rifles, which after bedding and trigger work shot well for a light gun.
    Last edited by gaijin; 07-01-21 at 05:37.
    A true "Gun Guy" (or gal) should have familiarity and a modicum of proficiency with most all firearms platforms.

  7. #7
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    I don't make enough money, to buy all the ones I want.

    Other than that, MY statistical sample of 2 (TLE RL II, Ultra Covert), have worked just fine, for 11+ years each. Use the factory mags for range mags ONLY though.
    - Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape - Sam (Robert DeNiro) in, "Ronin" -

  8. #8
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    Clackamas Kimbers were good guns then Ron Cohan got a hold of them and ****ed them up.
    The simple fact of the matter is this, America has never not been great.
    - Mark Robinson

  9. #9
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    I believe my 1st Kimber 1911 was a 5" Custom Carry in the #3,600 range. It had several issues. The breech face wasn't fully milled out. Like there was a distinct ridge on one side that would stamp every piece of brass fired. I'm not sure if that was one of the reasons it had extraction issues (the extractor was miraculously properly tensioned out of the box), but I did have to polish the chamber. I recut the breech face myself, if only to save my brass from getting stamped every shot. I can't imagine it was helping, what with pushing on the round in the chamber from one side only.

    The other issue was far more problematic. It didn't matter whether I used the Kimber factory mags, WC, Shooting Star, factory Colt, 7 or 8 round, the gun would routinely lock up with a round halfway fed into the chamber. Didn't matter if it was 230 or 200gr, FMJ, SWC or JHP, factory or reloads, it would just lock up and it would lock up hard. You could smack the back of the slide all you wanted and it wouldn't budge. I tried replacing the mag catch with a WC and a Colt part, no luck. Whatever it was about the specs of that gun, the rim of the cartridge would ride up and slam into the top of the firing pin hole in the breech face, cutting a neat little half moon notch into the rim. Ultimately I radiused the top of the FP hole enough for the rim to no longer catch. To date it's the only 1911 I've ever had to do that on.

    My second Kimber was an absolutely gorgeous 4" alloy 2 tone Elite Carry. It's was one of the prettiest 1911's I've ever owned. It had it's own teething issues as well. I did a full tune-up/polish on the critical parts and by the 800 round mark it was pretty much "reliable". At the 800 round mark, the 2 piece guide rod broke and locked the gun up on the range. Replaced that along with the recoil spring. I now know you're better off replacing the recoil spring on short 1911's at around the 500-600 round mark, and having an extra spare on hand as reference for length at rest.

    So with the gun back in business I get another 300 rounds out of it. Suddenly it went from a repeater to a single shot. The MIM mag catch broke at the range. There was enough of a shard left to lock the mag in and chamber a round, but the mag would fall out under recoil on the 1st shot. So I replaced that with a WC part (and ordered extras). By that time the shine had worn off and I sold both guns, bought a Gen2.5 Glock 19C and a Gen3 34, and never looked back.

    I've had several more 1911's since and still have four right now, but none have been Kimbers.

    So my personal experience is 1st hand but still an anecdotal sample of two. My larger experience is 13 years running a timer as a CSO/RSO all over the country up to national and world championships. I've also squadded with every level of shooter, from complete new gun owner novice to world champions. There's not a gun manufacturer on the list I haven't seen choke at some point or another. Sometimes it's the shooter, sometimes it's the ammo, lack of maintenance and more often than not, the "upgrades" they've made to their gat. But sometimes it's a complete mystery and that was where I saw Kimber's more often than the others. One local shooter loved his Kimber SO much, he endured several years of mistreatment by it before the love faded. We tried everything to get that gun to be reliable for him (training, parts, ammo specs, the works) and it flatly refused.

    But I've also seen Kimbers run like a Singer Sewing Machine. I squadded with an up and coming female shooter (I'd describe her as petite) at a big regional match one time. She'd was running a Kimber Eclipse .45 and had shipped her match ammo ahead (because that much .45acp easily exceeds the FAA 11 pound ammunition limit) and it didn't arrive on time. So she ran the entire match with Walmart sourced WWB. Not a single hiccup. I would up squadding with her at several other matches and her gun never choked.

    What I've learned in all those years is that if you get a good Kimber, keep it. They can ship a perfectly serviceable gun. They just don't always do that. If you get one of the "mystery in a box" Kimbers, send it in for warranty repair and once it's returned, sell it. Even if they did manage to fix it properly (Lord knows what they actually did to make it work), you're never going to trust it. That's Kimber in a nutshell. JMO, YMMV

    P.S. I remembered that a buddy got one of the very early (sub #1K) Custom Carry guns and it never choked. But he was always running out of money and eventually sold it after I got my #3600 range gun. Hindsight being 20/20, I should've just waited till he was strapped for cash and bough his for less.
    Last edited by glocktogo; 07-01-21 at 12:04.
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  10. #10
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    My experience with Kimbers mirrors some of the comments above. If it was an Oregon or "Classic" without series-80 type firing pin safety they were generally good, functioning weapons.

    After the Yonkers move you could tell quality generally nose-dived. Many 1911 smiths ditched everything except the frame and slide and built from there. What I saw kept me from ever buying anything Kimber.

    Working retail and basic instruction I found the magazines weren't very good, either.

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