I wrote about my Kimber M1911 .45 ACP loyalty in this post. I recently put that concept to the test. I decided it was time for another .45 ACP. My SS Ultra Carry has served well for over a decade, as has my SS Custom Target. Having covered the 3″ and 5″ barrel ground, I decided that the time has come for a 4″.
A friend suggested a Bill Wilson Carry Pistol. I respect Wilson’s pistols, but they tend to be pricey. In my mind, price must be commensurate with performance and competitive at that level. At just over $3,000 retail, the Wilson Carry Pistol isn’t any more accurate or reliable than a high-end Kimber that retails for less that half the price, plus the Wilson doesn’t come with night sights at that price.
Another deal breaker for that particular Wilson is the steel frame, which pushes the weight up to 35 oz. There’s no real advantage to a steel frame for other than a heavy-use combat pistol. That’s not what I was after. The alloy frame equivalent Wilson Ultralight Carry Compact at 26.5 oz runs over $3,600. I don’t think so.
Custom makers tout excellent hand-fitting, and that comes at a price commensurate with reputation. But a good CNC machine operation with hand finishing can produce the same quality with more consistency in far less time. That’s how Kimber revolutionised the M1911 pistol business in the mid-1990’s.
So, I quickly narrowed the field to a Kimber Custom Defense Package (CDP) II or a Super Carry. I really love the Super Carry lines and features, but it isn’t available in a Compact frame. I prefer the shorter Officers grip for my purposes, so that ruled out the Super Carry for a 4″ barrel. I already have an Ultra Carry in 3″ and don’t need another one in that length. So, the Compact CDP II from Kimber’s Custom Shop, weighing in at 27 oz with a stainless slide and Kim Pro II coated 7075-T7 aluminum frame, won the day. It lists for just over $1300 and includes Tritium night sights, 30 LPI front strap and trigger guard checkering, hand finishing, and carry melt. That’s a good value.
Now the bad news. Demand is so high that Kimbers run about a 5-6 month wait from the factory. I’m not into that much deferred gratification, so I poked around locally first, then on the Net. Compacts are sometimes hard to find, but I located one on gunbroker.com from Nelson Tactical for about $1,100 and had it shipped to Dennis at NOVA Firearms to handle the FFL duties. That all went very smoothly thanks to great folks at both ends.
I also needed a holster. With over a decade of experience, I’m still sold on the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2:
These leather holsters sport excellent craftsmanship as they make each one by hand to exacting standards. Their stability and comfort in use set the standard after a short break-in period. Again, though, the waiting list from Milt Sparks’ holsters runs 5-6 months. However, I called Allan Yoast (his number is on Milt Sparks’ order page) and he had several on hand. I actually received the holster before the pistol!
I broke in the CDP II using Prvi Partizan FMJ (full metal jacket) .45 ACP ammo from Serbia. Yeah, I know. But it was cheap in bulk, perfectly reliable, and uses brass cases. I also shoot Wolf for practice, but they use steel cases. Kimber recommends using brass cases for break-in, so the Serbs won that debate.
The pistol proved virtually perfect in operation. It ate FMJ and hollow points without issue. I think that I had one FTF in the first 350 rounds, then none thereafter. The trigger proved crisp though just a bit heavier than I like, probably in the 4.5 lb range. The night sights add a new dimension, but the dot in the front sight makes its acquisition quick. The Compact shoots to point of aim out to at least 15 yards and beyond.
The 30 LPI checkering on the front strap makes for faster follow-up shots. The rosewood grips contribute to a good handle on the pistol. The ambidextrous safety proved handy when shooting with my “weak” hand. The Tritium night sights work great in low light, and the white circles around the tubes helps in normal light against dark target backgrounds.
Accuracy is outstanding. I don’t shoot from rests, neither did I measure any groups. Not my thing these days. However, I can consistently put rounds where I want them on tactical targets at 15 yards, and can shoot out the center of a rifle bullseye target at that range – all two-handed off-hand. That’s with the cheap Serbian ammo.
I had one issue with the pistol that didn’t involve its function, reliability or accuracy, but got to be annoying. Although the pistol operated perfectly, it would eject cases into my forehead occasionally. It wasn’t often at first, but became more frequent the more that I shot it. I thought that it might be a loose extractor, but I checked and that wasn’t the case.
After thinking about it a while and coming up empty, I finally called Kimber. They listened carefully and knew exactly what the problem was. Kimber insisted on taking care of that issue, did it on their nickel, and covered shipping both ways. Since I was sending the pistol back for work anyway, I opted to have a trigger job done at the same time (on my nickel) to bring the trigger pull down to between 3.5 and 3.75 pounds.
The pistol worked perfectly upon return, with no more gratuitous brass hits to my forehead. Reliability remains perfect. As a bonus, the trigger was great before but is absolutely awesome now!
I now have over 650 rounds through the Compact CDP II and trust it with my life. Like my other Kimbers, it worked great from the first round. The workmanship on the pistol is first rate, equivalent to custom-mades costing much more. The worked trigger represents the height of perfection. The Compact CDP II proved to be another great M1911 from Kimber and an excellent personal defense pistol.