Posted by: reformedmusings | January 15, 2012

Kimber Compact CDP II .45 ACP in the wild

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″.

The Search

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.

Kimber Compact CDP II

The Buy

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 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.

The Holster

I also needed a holster. With over a decade of experience, I’m still sold on the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2:

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!

The Range

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.

Somewhere around 21 rounds (I forget) at 10 yds., 2-handed offhand

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.

Minor Issue

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.



  1. After going to several gun shows, multiple gun stores, reading blogs, etc., I came to the same conclusion you did. I settled on a Kimber compact CDP II with a Milt Sparks VM2 holster. It will be 5 more months before I get either, but I’m happy with my choice. Your blog helped. Thanks.

    • Hi, Kim! Thank you for stopping by and telling me about your search and its outcome. I am happy to have made a small contribution to your effort. You are definitely experiencing a serious case of deferred gratification, though. 🙂

      Please try to stop by after you’ve had a chance to break the Kimber in and let me know what you think.


  2. I commented before, but I have a question. I am waiting on my Kimber Compact CDP 2 which I ordered on Feb 6th of this year. Also waiting on my Milt Sparks VM-2 which I ordered on the same day. I’m thinking I’ll get the holster 1st.
    Anyway, I ordered two magazines for the pistol. They arrived and now I’m wondering if they will fit the Kimber, since it has the shorter grip of the Ultra. What I ordered was the Wilson Combat 7 round magazines. Do you think these will fit? Since you already have your handgun, I thought I would ask.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Kim,

      It depends on which Wilson magazines that you purchased. Their full-size magazines (models 47D and family) hold 7, 8 or 10 rounds and their “Officer” models (models 47OX and family, same grip size as the Compact) hold 6, 7 or 8. Commonly, though, you only see 8-round full-size and 7-round Officer-size at resellers. So on the surface, it sounds like you’ll be fine.

      Note that even a full-size magazine will work in a Compact, but it will protrude a bit from the bottom of the grip.

      • Thank you for your prompt reply. I found the magazine paperwork that came with the magazines. It’s 47-OX. I appreciate your knowledge. Even though I’m a 23 year Navy and Marine Corps Veteran, I’m new to Kimber.

        • Excellent! People have played a lot with the M1911A1 platform and its accessories in the last few decades. It takes a while to get the lay of the land. I think that Wilson magazines are about as good as it gets. I have a bunch of them. I generally use the original Kimber mags in the pistol for carry because they fit flush, but the two backup mags I carry are Wilsons. Never had an issue with any of them, and they can stay loaded for months at a time.

          Thank you for your service!

  3. I especially appreciate such a comprehensive and complete review from “reformedmusings” on the handgun I intend to purchase, and then carry – most probably for the rest of my days. But I should say that I also learned a great deal from the post from Kim Pennebaker and the responses thereafter, as they mimicked some of the very same questions which were in the back of mind as I was trying to come to a decision on this particular model. Irregardless of whether or not either of the two of you knew you were being questioned, thanks to both of you for your revealing and insightful answers!

    • Happy to have been of service! Thanks for taking time to write.

  4. Very nice review of the Kimber Compact CDP II.

    I’ve had one for a couple years now as well, and absolutely love it. Even though it’s a lot more money than other popular makes, I went for this one because a) I don’t get to the range anywhere near as often as I should to practice, and b) the Kimber (compared alongside a Glock and Sig), gives me an impressive natural and effortless accuracy. It also has the perfect weight (enough so that recoil isn’t an issue, but light enough to carry).

    A couple comments on holsters. I actually prefer a kydex, for IWB carry, because it basically adds nothing to the carry’s feel of thickness. I do have leather holsters, and would recommend taking a look at this site, as an alternative to the ones recommended in this article: . The guy does great work, is honest and conscientious about getting it right for you.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment! I will check out Bear Creek.

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