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Kimber Custom II Pistol

.45 ACP stopping power and rugged, no-nonsense design make this Model 1911 suitable for tactical and patrol officers.

October 01, 2002  |  by Roy Huntington

Other Goodies

A weapon-mounted light is a critical accessory on an entry handgun and the Kimber is delivered with the classic SureFire Model 610R light that was designed by John Matthews, president of SureFire, and Bob Weber. The 610R has been used by LAPD SWAT on its handguns since it first reached the market more than 20 years ago.

The light mounts on the front of the trigger guard and locks via a special longer slide stop. Rugged and street-proven, the 610R might even be called a bit "old fashioned" but if it works, it works-and LAPD SWAT says it works.

The Meprolight sights ensure low-light capability.

Since the mount requires several minutes of installation, each SWAT officer is supplied with two (count 'em, two) Kimber Custom II pistols. One has the light mount and the other doesn't. One is for SWAT duty, the other for uniform carry.

As you might expect, the two guns also come with not one, but two holsters. For SWAT use, the Safariland Model 6004 Level II Retention Light Mount holster can handle the Kimber and light duo. For uniform duty carry, the Safariland 6004 makes carrying the "un-lighted" Kimber safe and secure.

Getting to Know 'Em

The Custom II’s trigger is lightweight, the safety is slightly extended, and the checkering is top-notch.

Gary Paul Johnston (a former 30-plus-year cop and SWAT commander) had the opportunity to visit with the LAPD and handle the new Kimbers during their delivery at the LAPD's new Davis Center range facility.

After a briefing on the pistol by SWAT armorer Jim Moody at the downtown SWAT headquarters, Johnston and the team members went off to the range.

According to Johnston, during five hours of shooting, thousands of rounds of Winchester .45 ACP factory ammo went through the Kimbers. The pistols performed as expected and the officers seemed delighted with their new guns.

Shooting the Custom II

Dwight Van Brunt, marketing manager of Kimber, sent Police magazine our very own Kimber Custom II LAPD SWAT gun for testing. Fit, finish, and function seemed very business-like, and while the Custom II is not something you'd want to put ivory grips on, there is nonetheless an austere beauty about the pistol.

That .45 ACP on the chamber spells serious medicine.

A basic check showed very tight barrel to slide lock-up, positive safety engagement, and a grip safety that does what a grip safety is supposed to do. The grips offered a positive hold, even during some sweaty range time, and will no doubt hold up well in the field. Our test gun did not have the attached lighting system.

An assortment of .45 ACP ammo, from Winchester's premium lines, Black Hills, Federal, and Remington, to rot-gut garbage ammo we keep on hand for function testing went through the gun with no problems. Kimber pretty much has the 1911 design figured out.

According to Van Brunt, when Kimber elected to make the 1911 series, it went at the manufacturing process a bit differently. "We spec'd the pistol to the ten-thousandth," he says. "If you allow a bit of slack here and a bit there, you soon end up with a sloppy final product. We don't allow slop. Period. Parts are either exactly on the mark, or not. It's either right or it doesn't go into a Kimber."

We believed him, and the LAPD SWAT Custom II proved his point.

Accuracy was combat-ready at 25 yards. It was easy to manage three to four inches if we took our time at that range. But we had the most fun up close, where the action would probably occur anyway. Fast holster work was a pleasure for those of us who were familiar with the 1911 design and even those testers with limited experience shot the pistol just fine.

Bottom Line

What we have here is an all-steel design that has been refined and proven for almost a century. Tens of thousands of officers and soldiers have carried Model 1911s safely, both on-duty and off and the single-action trigger pull makes hitting a target a much-simplified matter.

Factor in the .45 ACP chambering, bold sights, ergonomic fit and control placement, plus Kimber's enhanced Mark II firing pin safety, and you get a serious fighting pistol.

The extended safety makes it easy to carry the Kimber Custom II in the preferred cocked-and-locked mode.

Several agencies have recently moved to the 1911 design, including the Tacoma (Wash.) Police Department (see Police magazine, August 2002, page 62). To address the perception that the "cocked and locked" carry method would concern the public, Tacoma conducted a test and found exactly no one noticed the big Kimber auto on a traffic officer's hip in cocked-and-locked mode. So there you go.

Proven design, reliable performance, and .45 ACP power make a compelling argument for the 1911. That may be the reason the LAPD SWAT team chose the Kimber Custom II for its officers.

Custom II

Capacity: 7 + 1
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Weight: 38 ounces
Width: 1.28 inches
Trigger Pull: 4 pounds
Magazine: 7-shot box mag.
Safety: Grip, thumb, firing pin
Sights: Meprolight Night Sights

Roy Huntington is a retired officer and the former editor of POLICE. He is an internationally recognized firearms expert and the editor of American Handgunner magazine.

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