Looks like its not just my imagination. Law Enforcement Agency dumps Kimber as handgun of choice.

Perhaps if you’ve been following the Haus of Guns craze these past several months you’ve noticed we’ve been a bit tough on Kimber. The title of this posts even suggests pot-stirring especially to those who are defensive of their beloved “custom” 1911s.

Last winter the Kimber Solo was announced and I was beside myself giddy. To that point the only Kimber handgun I’d owned was the one we’re editing the handgun review video on today, the Ultra CDP II in .45 ACP (I’ve since owned a Custom II full sized and Custom Compact Stainless 1911) and it made me an instant fanboy. Stack on the thought of a 9mm pocket gun modeled after a 1911 in form and function and my excitement was almost too much to bear. This was when the wait started. I couldn’t get one and then when one came available I had funds tied up in other guns for review (See CZ 2075 RAMI).

The Ultra CDP II was and is my favorite Kimber of all time.

But after the gun had settled on the market a few months I started to hear many stories of disgruntled shooters. Their Kimber Solo failed, the finish is coming off, I had to send it back to Kimber immediately after shooting it, etc. Not the type of press you want if you’re a “premium” firearm maker and your new playboy 9mm that runs upwards of $700 isn’t living up to it’s premium and mega-hyped status.

Sitting on the Super Carry Custom frame, the .22 conversion is another win for Kimber.

Then we got our hands on the Kimber Super Carry Custom. A SWEET looking rig that feels incredible in the hand. The Super Carry we’ve had a lot of contact with has had and continues to have horrible difficulty with the “Kimpro II” finish wearing off. We realize it’s a carry gun and that’s what happens, but it becomes more difficult to justify dropping $1500 on a carry gun over guns that are more reliable and even hold their finish better at 1/3 the cost. To top it off, it only takes a few hundred consecutive rounds at the range to get the Super Carry Custom malfunctioning every few rounds, even with swapping out mags such as Chip McCormick, Wilson Combat, ProMag and Kimber factory mags. A polished feed ramp (which shouldn’t be a necessary addition on a gun that costs what it does) only seems to keep it reliable for the first couple hundred rounds.

call it normal wear and tear. But for a barely used solo, I call this a crappy finish with a fancy name.

It was almost as if the Kimber Solo CDP (basically a $900 version of the trouble laden Solo) couldn’t come out soon enough on the wake of the rabidly popular Kimber Solo (which guys seem to be leaving for the more reliable albeit uglier Sig Sauer P290 in the same price bracket). It did, and people are raving, but it only seems to be those who were hyper-committed to Kimber from the beginning? How will these rumors of failures and finish issues drawn in new customers/shooters who are even more guarded with how they assess value and the way their money is spent? I’m obviously speculating a bit based on my own experience, the experience of trusted friends and expressed feedback of many around me and on forums who have had similar frustrations. Will we ever see Kimber at the top again?

Feel free to disagree, hate me, dismember me and trash my reputation if you disagree. I doubt you can do any more damage than Kimber has done to themselves over the past 18 months. In my defense, I LOVE and have loved the Kimber Ultra CDP II as much or more than any other handgun I’ve owned, and the Kimber 1911 .22 Conversion we reviewed was spectacular, albeit a little testy on certain cheap ammo.

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6 Responses to Calling out Kimber on Quality…

  1. Chris Miller says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Ebbs. My super carry custom was sent back to Kimber because the finish came off and they fought me tooth and nail! They did not want to warrant their own finish! They even harassed and and accused me of using too harsh of cleaners, etc. I politely explained to them that no, the finish was literally “falling off” like old, cracked paint. Not just standard wear, and not just from abuse either. This finish had obviously not been “baked on” correctly (or whatever method is used to keep the finish ON). It was as if they coated right over a layer of oil and the finish just popped right off.

    Anyway… after fighting with these people on the phone, defending myself non stop, and begging to talk to management, they FINALLY agreed to take it back under ONE condition, and one condition only. The condition? The new finish they put on, would not hold any warranty. YEP! You heard it right. They were willing to refinish it as long as I never came back to them again – even if the finish failed.

    And that was all it took for me to decide I would never buy another kimber. Pretty sad considering the fact that I have been the owner of nearly $10 grand in Kimber firearms. No worries though… I know there are companies out there who still care about their customers and know how to offer customer service.

    Great post. As popular as HoG is though, and as many thousands of people visit this site every month, I highly doubt you’ll hear a word out of kimber. They are too big to care.

    • Eric Ebbinghaus says:

      “Great post. As popular as HoG is though, and as many thousands of people visit this site every month, I highly doubt you’ll hear a word out of kimber. They are too big to care.”

      Sadly you’re probably right. But MAYBE I can help steer people clear of spending their hard earned money on a company that appears to be more worried about making a buck and living off the name they created 10-15 years ago, than actually making a quality firearm someone can be proud of.

      Thanks for the additional comment, man it means a lot. Sad for me to see you lay it all out again.

  2. Chris Miller says:

    Well it makes me sad to write it all again and to have gone thru it in the first place. I believed a LOT in Kimber and I’ve recommended their products to a ton of people. The impression that I got from talking to 2-3 of their employees though, was that they don’t really care what we think. Sadly all of the employees I interacted with had the same poor attitude which can only be a reflection of poor management.

    Of course I hope I am wrong on all of this, and I hope they reach out and try to make things right with their guns that are having problems.

    I follow this site because you’re an authority on guns. I am sure you’ll keep us updated if you hear anything new on the subject. Thanks again for the post.

  3. That’s pretty disappointing news, but valuable nonetheless. Kimber has pretty much situated itself as the “holy grail” of all handgun manufacturers. I know many gun enthusiasts, myself included, are always dreaming about getting a Kimber 1911, often saying “when i grow up”. You guys are very right that’s its sad to hear this news, especially Chris Miller’s experience with their customer service. You’d think they’d be more loyal to the following they’ve developed, loyal to people who have expensively bought into the quality, and always defend Kimbers for their finickiness. Maybe I’ll just go with a Springfield Armory for my someday-1911!

  4. [...] been hard on Kimber lately. I feel like I’ve been objective, but I think some frustration has been poured into my [...]

  5. Christian says:

    I’ve owned my stainless II for about 6 years. Purchased it new and have probably 2000 rounds through it. I had a few problems during break in, but it smoother out. Mine was one of the external extractor versions and a couple of years back I contacted Kimber to inquire about a replacement extractor to have a spare. I was told they didn’t have these and to send the gun in to have the entire slide replaced with a new internal extractor version. I’ve been pretty much sold since that time that they take care of their customers. I recently placed a CDP II Ultra on layaway and started doing research and see lot of customer service complaints as well as reliability/durability complaints. I hope all goes well with my CDP Ultra II once I pick it up. A buddy of mine has a few Kimbers and had lots of problems with them. He is also a Sig fan, so him and I go back and forth. He picked up a new Sig Ultra sized 1911 the same time I put my CDP on layaway…I hope both are just as reliable.

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