One of the Hottest .45s on the Block
Soldier of Fortune | Gary Paul Johnson | March 17, 2008
After a long search for a .45 ACP caliber 1911 duty pistol, in 2002 the LAPD's SWAT team adopted a special version of the Kimber Custom II. Equipped with a few custom features over and above what already comes standard on a Kimber 1911, the LAPD Kimbers were issued to all of L.A.'s SWAT cops and are still providing excellent service.
Taking note of the LAPD's Kimber acquisition, the United States Marine Corps' Det-1 had ample opportunities to see and shoot these pistols, as the LAPD SWAT Team frequently trained at Camp Pendleton and a number of the SWAT cops were also former Marines. Getting ready to become part of SOCOM, Det-1 wanted a suitable CQB 1911 pistol for its 87 Warfighters to deploy with in Iraq; so, like the LAPD, it selected a Kimber pistol. Also adopted by Det-1 was a special limited edition MCSOCOM Knife designed by Strider.
As with the LAPD Kimbers, Det-1 specified a number of special features, a few of which are listed here: Front and rear slide-cocking grooves Slide dovetailed front sight Flat mainspring housing Lanyard loop Standard recoil spring system Novak LoMount night sights Being fortunate to receive test samples of both the Kimber LAPD SWAT and Det-1 pistols, I test fired them over a period of several months and found them to perform to perfection. Because of their unique markings, neither of these pistols was produced for commercial sale; but Kimber does offer commercial pistols based on them.
Read more gun reviews from Soldier of Fortune
Called the TLE (Tactical Law Enforcement) II, the commercial counterpart of the LAPD Kimber 1911 has virtually all of the features of the SWAT model, and can also be had with LaserGrips from Crimson Trace. However, as great as the TLE II is, Kimber's commercial counterpart to the Det-1 pistol has a lot more to talk about.
The Kimber Warrior
Following the Det-1 pistol and the demand it created, Kimber introduced what amounts to a commercial variant of that gun. Appropriately called the Warrior, this Kimber embodies many of the features found in the Det-1 gun, as well as a number of others inspired by it.
Featuring the same stainless steel match grade barrel, the Warrior also has identical internals to those in the Det-1. But unlike the USMC pistol, the Warrior comes with Kimber's firing-pin safety. On the outside, although early Warriors came with Novak Lo- Mount tritium night sights, a more or less look-alike set of Kimber Meprolight night sights later replaced them. Forward slidecocking grooves are present, as are all other features now standard on Kimber 1911 pistols.
In addition to the normal features found on Kimber 1911 pistols, the Warrior comes with a light rail that is integral with the dust cover portion forward of the trigger guard. Reinforced to last the life of the gun, this dust cover is made to true M1913 specifications in order to properly mount any tactical pistol light, such as those from Insight Technology, Laser Devices, SureFire, and others.
The Desert Warrior
As a tribute to the Det-1 pistol, the Kimber Warrior proved to be extremely popular, so popular, in fact, that Kimber followed it up with a version that was to become even more sought after. Called the Desert Warrior, in addition to all the features of the first Warrior this gun comes with a different color.
With its sights left black and its barrel left in brushed steel, the Desert Warrior is finished in the same tough synthetic coating, but this time in a desert tan color KimPro II finish to compliment its coyotebrown grips. Only the pistol's external controls and sights are rendered in a contrasting black KimPro II. Like its predecessor, the Desert Warrior's frame rail will accept all tactical pistol lights mentioned.
If you stop to think about it, the LAPD and the USMC chose the Kimber design because of its many special features and its reputation, and then added other features to fit their needs for the SWAT and Det-1 pistols. In turn, in no small part due to the reputation of the LAPD SWAT Team and the United States Marine Corps, Kimber chose these pistols after which to pattern the TLE II and Kimber Warrior pistols. However, Kimber wasn't done.
The Tactical II
Introducing a lightweight 1911 frame, Kimber unveiled its Tactical II. A full-size 1911 pistol, the Tactical II uses a 7075/T7 aircraftquality alloy frame to bring the gun's weight down to 32 ounces vice the standard 38 ounces for the all-steel 1911. All other aspects of the Tactical II and its compact siblings are custom grade and these pistols are outstanding. However, now there is a new Kimber on the block that is proving equally exciting.
The Custom Covert II
The company's latest masterpiece combines some of the best features from Kimber's LAPD SWAT pistol with the Tactical II. Called the Kimber Custom Covert II, this 1911 is not only from Kimber's Custom Shop but is also fully suitable for concealed carry and covert operations.
Along with all Kimber's standard custom features, the Custom Covert II encompasses the 30 LPI checkered front strap of the LAPD SWAT pistol, the standard recoil spring system and lanyard loop of the USMC Det-1 pistol, and the 7075/T7 alloy frame of Kimber's Tactical II. Let's take a closer look.
Starting up front, the Custom Covert II comes with a dovetailed front sight with a Meprolight tritium dot and a rear sight with two such night-sight dots. Equipped with forward slide-cocking grooves that match those on the rear, the Custom Covert II can be "pressure-checked" by modern standards to verify that the pistol is loaded.
Beneath the muzzle is a conventional recoil spring plug that signals the omission of a full-length recoil spring guide rod, which I for one consider useless at best in a conceal carry combat pistol. The ejection port is lowered and flared and the upper rear of the chamber has a small cut to allow the presence of a shell casing to be seen (light permitting) to indicate a loaded chamber. While unnecessary, in my opinion, these latter features are in vogue throughout the 1911 industry.
Arriving at the rear of the frame, we find a Kimber "Commander"- style speed hammer with an excellent let-off and an extended Kimber thumb safety. The single thumb safety is refreshing to me, as I see little need for an ambidextrous thumb safety. Even so, one can be added with little effort.
Kimber's well-designed grip safety comes next and this part operates Kimber's firing pin safety system; the timing of our sample grip safety proved excellent. Also superb is the checkered flat mainspring housing topped off by a GI-style lanyard loop. A perfectly flared magazine well mouth helps speed re-loading and the 30 LPI checkered front strap gives the Custom Covert II excellent purchase during rapid fire. A Kimber lightweight match-style long trigger completes the package. Well, almost.
Unlike any other 1911, the Kimber Custom Covert II comes standard with LaserGrips from Crimson Trace; but these Laser- Grips aren't standard. Instead of being rendered in matte black, these LaserGrips come with a molded-in USMC current-style desert camouflage pattern. Oh, but did I forget to mention the finish on the frame?
While the slide of the Custom Covert II is finished in a smooth matte black, the frame is rendered in a tough KimPro light gray that matches the gray used in both the current USMC desert camouflage, and the gray in the Army's ACU pattern. In addition to being quite durable, this finish is very easy on the eyes.
With no surprises forthcoming during test firing, the Custom Covert II not only never malfunctioned but also printed very tidy 5-shot groups, with most hovering around 2 inches at 25 yards handheld. This is plenty of combat accuracy from a pistol that has to work every time all the time.
In spite of its lightweight frame, the Kimber Custom Covert II exhibited no significant increase in felt recoil or muzzle flip, and was very easy to control during rapidfire strings on various targets placed at about 25 yards. From ten yards we had fun swinging the alternating strike plate of Action Target's steel Hostage Target. As with all Action Targets, this one is made of 500-series steel, so with proper eye and ear protection you can shoot pistol up close to your heart's content and rifle past 100 yards.
Instead of being just another 1911, the Kimber Custom Covert II is another Kimber masterpiece equipped with real-world usable features.
This article first appeared in the February issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.