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Weapons UnderGround >> Problems with Kimber 1911's


5/22/08 10:37 PM
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Calbert
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I was wondering if anyone had any knowledge of widespread problems with 1911 pistols made by Kimber? I have a Springfield G.I. model that I was considering trading in and paying the difference for a Kimber Custom TLE 2. However, every time I mention Kimbers to gun owners that I know, I get the "DON'T DO IT!" response. Most of them claim to have repeated malfunctioning problems with Kimbers including ammo misfeeds, stove piping, etc. I asked my shooting instructor over email about this and he says that people may have some problems but it's probably an insignificant percentage considering how many Kimbers are in circulation. He also says that he suspects many of the problems people are having are mostly operator errors, and he says that L.A.P.D. S.W.A.T. uses Kimbers which is a pretty hard group to satisfy. What do you guys think? Are Kimbers known to be temperamental even when handled properly?

C.J.
5/29/08 12:35 AM
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Skpotamus
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I worked at gun shops all through college and we had more kimbers come back with issues than any other manufacturer of 1911's. (I got bit myself with a Custom II and a BP Ten II that went back to see Kimber several times without getting fixed before going to live somewhere else, it should be noted that my Para Ordinance's, my S&W 1911's and my Springfields all run without any problems).

The biggest issue's were the external extractor Kimber put in their Series II pistols didn't work for shite. They went through 4 different generations of extractor hook design without it ever really working right. In april of 07 I believe, they finally scrapped the whole idea, retooled all their productions lines and went back to internal extractors like most 1911 manufacturers. Typically, the extractors were too tight (mine were tight enough that I couldn't slide a shell under them by hand, and were not adjustable for tension, which caused failures to feed).

Add that to their crappy customer service and they got a pretty bad wrap for quite a while (they even have crappy service with dealers trying to get guns fixed and I caught them in a flat out lie about my gun).

I think the guns kimber is putting out now are running ok, but you can get 1911's that run just as well a LOT cheaper and with a better reputation.

I'm a big fan of looking at what is being used in competitions to see what lasts. Most serious competition shooters shoot more rounds thru their guns in a weekend than most casual shooters do in a lifetime. In the 1911 realm, I see really high dollar custom jobs ($2k+), a LOT of Para Ordinance's, and a lot of springfields.


YMMV
5/29/08 2:43 PM
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rocknroll
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Edited: 05/29/08 2:44 PM
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Calbert,Have you been over to the 1911 Forum?They have a Kimber section.

Here is the direct link to the Kimber section:
http://forums.1911forum.com/forumdisplay.php?s=9fc3b00b7ee9df7e0a8737f7f88da384&f=27

I first purchased my Kimbers back in 2001.I purchased 2 Stainless Gold Combat models. One for my Dad and one for me.His has been absolutely flawless from day one and is the best shooting and most accurate 1911 that either him or I has ever shot and between the two of us, we've got almost 100 years of shooting experience.Mine, on the other hand, did have ejection issues.This topic has a long history and you would be well served to spend some time over on the 1911 Forum.The short answer is that Kimbers are a great bang for the buck and if you're a 1911 guy, there are few better deals. They're known for being very accurate out of the box. That accuracy comes from these guns being much much tighter than most with the expectation of them looseing up. The amount of play in a Springfield or Colt as compared to a Kimber will be 4 to 5 times greater. For someone to buy a Kimber and want to use it as a main carry gun, that person should put 2-4 thousand rounds through it first, all with proper cleaning and maintence. So for some, a Kimber may be a little high maintenence, but for others, the small amount of attention that they need is a happily made trade-off because of what you get out of it. That being an accurate, smooth extremely well made 1911.
6/2/08 12:22 AM
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sreiter
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i have failure to return to battery issues
6/15/08 6:06 PM
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xsjadoroll
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Edited: 06/15/08 6:10 PM
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I have been around kimbers and other various manufactured 1911s all my life. I have never heard of all those problems mentioned a few posts above. I have a few myself, and they all function flawlessly. They are the tightest manufactured, and by far the most accurate out of the box. I'd say go for it.

Also, the statement "kimbers came back more than any other company" or however it went, I have heard pretty much the opposite from all my local shops.
6/15/08 7:17 PM
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Skpotamus
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I worked in gunshops for 7 years. 4 years at pretty much the only gun shop in a town of 75K that had a pretty active USPSA and IDPA group. It was my job to know as much about the various guns and gun companies as I could. I was also the guy that had to contact the companies to ship back broken or defective guns. During that time, I saw one colt, 1 springfield armory loaded and 6 kimbers of various models return to the factory for issues. The 1911 we sold the most was the Springfield Milspec.

When the original kimbers came out, they were great guns. Kimber makes them too tight to be reliable out of the box in most cases, hence their recommended 500 round break in period.

During the time I was in those shops, Kimbers went to the Series II guns, that had the external extractors, because they were cheaper and easier to make (less hand fitting and tuning required). During this time, I bought a Kimber, as did several of my friends to shoot in our gun games. Neither of us could get our kimbers to run. We had failures to feed like it was the guns job. I checked the extractor tension by taking off the slide, and sliding a round under the extractor by hand. The standard for tension is that the round shouldn't fall out if you shake it slightly. I could barely get the round under the extractor. On an internal extractor (regular design) gun, you simply remove the extractor and "tune" it by bending it slightly until you get the desired tension. The external extractors on the Kimbers couldn't do this, hence hte pain in the butt issue of sending it into kimber for repair.

After several return trips to Kimber and some frustrating phone calls telling me to shoot more rounds through it (after I had put over 1000 rounds downrange with the gun still unable to feed a full magazine), I told kimber off and got rid of the gun, as did my friend.

This issue was pretty widespread. Kimber went through 4 generations of extractor hook design for their external extractors trying to get them to work and still had enough issues that in April of 2007, they retooled their entire factory to go back to the more expensive and time consuming internal extractor design.

A simple google search for "Kimber extractor" gives you a lot of links to pages with problems including some gunsmiths recommending to NOT buy the external extractor guns. Something I agree with. If you get a kimber, get an internal extractor model.

Since the switch, Kimbers have been a lot better, but they still make their upper end models too tight to be reliable out of the box in most cases. My father in law just bought a SIS model and it's having issues. He can't get through 2 magazines without a failure to feed. When cycleing hte gun by hand, with no magazine, it's the most stiff gun I've ever tried to cycle. A call to kimber told him to shoot "at least 500 rounds through it before you should expect proper functioning as per our manual". None of the other competition pistols he's bought have required this. However, the kimber is ridiculously accurate.

In conclusion, Kimber experimented with a gun design change to make it easier to and cheaper to build, failed and re-designed their guns back to the original design as a result. If you get a new kimber, you should be fine, but check to make sure it doesn't have the external extractor. The external extractor can be easily identified by looking at the rear side of your ejection port. If you see a cut out notch with a bar about 1/2" long with a small hole behind it, you're looking at an external extractor.

Even if you have an internal extractor kimber, expect a break in period before it functions properly. Kimbers manual recommends 500 rounds. Once you get through this period, you will have a ridiculously accurate gun that will run well as long as you keep it clean.
6/16/08 1:51 PM
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xsjadoroll
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the external extractor has not been used in yeeears
6/16/08 4:35 PM
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xsjadoroll
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I think the bottom line is, they have improved everything they have faulted on, its the best bang for the buck 1911


go for it!!
6/16/08 10:03 PM
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Skpotamus
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Kimbers with external extractors are still in gun shops. Anyone looking at a Kimber should make sure they get the internal extractor model.
7/26/08 2:07 PM
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T0ki
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Skpotamus - Kimbers with external extractors are still in gun shops. Anyone looking at a Kimber should make sure they get the internal extractor model.


Skopatamus has double-tapped the correct in the HEAD. I almost got burned until I went on the AR15.com forums and read up on the whole extractor thing. I was about to buy one with the internal extractor and did not know it.
8/1/08 8:35 AM
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Jerry Bohlander
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Correct me if I am wrong, but I read that the external extractor was a problem with the 3 an 4 inch guns. I have a full size (5 inch) TLE/RL with the external extractor. Have 3000-4000 rounds through it. The only time I had any problem was when the recoil spring started to fade. Replaced it and no more problems.
8/1/08 4:23 PM
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Skpotamus
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The problem was spread out across the board on Kimbers. A lot of it had to do with which extractor hook design you got (they went through quite a few different designs trying to fix it).


Eventually, they went back to the more expensive manufacturing process, retooling their lines to do it. Last time I checked in with a gun shop, if you get an external extractor model that has problems, they swap out your entire slide with an internal extractor model.
11/19/08 4:05 AM
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1911fanatic
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Tactical Custom with a chitty external extractor. Even with Wilson Rogers 47Ds, it was acting up. Kimber fixed it under warranty. No problems since.

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