Kimber America Stainless LW 1911, by Pat Cascio

Longtime readers of SurvivalBlog will know that I’m a dove for a well-crafted 1911 – in any configuration. But my state of mind has changed over the years. And in today’s world climate, that means political wars and, of course, many wars. I would not choose a 1911 as the only weapon in an apocalyptic situation. Like I said, I would opt for a gun with a large clip. Still, I love the 1911, and have used one in law enforcement and as a civilian. To this day I cling to the year 1911 for a day or two – just because!

I remember when the first Kimber Guns came on the market, and they had everything the wiser owners of a 1911 wanted, and at a slightly higher price than what the basic 1911 bone stock sold for. So the success was immediate! I had one minor complaint at the time, and that was the cheap black rubber handles that appeared in the factory size in 1911 – and most owners promptly exchanged these cheap rubber handles for nice wooden ones.

The only complaint I have about the Kimber concerns one of the die-cast metal parts (MIM): the thumb guard! I removed more than one of these vaults when I removed the vault from the gun – and you could see the defect in the vault – a few small cavities created by the casting process. I think Kimber would have done better to push the handle of the extended combat safety back slightly – relieving the thumb safety – only mine did. In most of 1911, I replaced the slide stop lever with a forged one – just to make sure it wouldn’t break – I don’t do that anymore because I didn’t have an MIM or the cast iron slide stop lever wouldn’t let me fall off.

With the MIM, the consumer can save substantially on a few small parts, and is often ready to mount them on a 1911 with little or nothing. If you know anything about firearms, you know that with the 1911s, many parts can’t just be left in place – they have to be fitted by hand. In the years I worked in the gun industry, several of my customers brought me a 1911 they had put a coin in and it didn’t work – they had no idea how to put the coin in – they just assumed all the pieces had fallen in.

These days I can usually be caught with a 9mm comparison rifle for my daily needs. I feel nothing now that I’m just an ordinary citizen, semi-retired and living in the outback. So my threat level is not what it used to be. But mostly I have a compact or subcompact 9mm that has a lot of ammo in it. I have every confidence in a .45 ACP cycle when it comes to ending a threat. However, in a 1911 one-column magazine, you are limited in the number of bullets you can fire. A 9mm with a good JHP pattern or a special pattern would work very well in my humble opinion. Nevertheless, if I found myself in a hostage situation or similar threatening situation, I would take the 1911 cartridge – I have complete confidence in the 1911 and the .45 ACP cartridge.

One of Kimber’s newest 1911 models is their stainless steel LW pistol, the one discussed in this article. The name is a bit misleading, as the frame is made of lightweight aluminum and the slide is made of stainless steel. Also, this gun is available in 9mm or .45 ACP – that is, if you find it, it’s a limited edition and not always for sale.

The Stainless LW I have is a full size government model with a 5 inch barrel. I would have preferred the fly/check rod to be 4.25 inches long, but you get what you get. The rifle weighs just over 31 ah, so about half a pound lighter than all stainless models – believe me, the lighter the better, and I can shoot with it. The barrel is the same quality/size, and the breech has angled teeth on the front and back (sides) of the breech.

The lining is also up to class. Visits – oh, a big improvement over the 1911 Kimber base. The front viewfinder has a red optical fiber and the rear viewfinder has two white dots, as opposed to an all-black viewfinder. We have a complete recoil spring/recoil guide – and I could do without it – pretty easy to change out if you want, and it doesn’t need to be attached to the barrel – it’s a hands-free affair. It smoothed out nicely on the slide. I love it!

some additional specifications

The frame, as mentioned, is made of lightweight forged aluminum, and it’s silver anodized – not a perfect match for the sled. I found no flaws in the aluminum frame – very well finished – inside and out. The hammer is a kind of prolonged oval fight. The Beavertail safety – which doesn’t have a bulge like many others – but builds up at the bottom to provide a secure grip when you squeeze it while pulling. The housing of the main spring is plastic and checkered. Of course, when the manufacturers started using plastic instead of steel for the mainspring housing in 1911, I wasn’t sure they would last long. Takfar, I’ve never had a single loser. The vault is slightly beveled to allow for safe reloading. The issue of the magazine has been slightly extended. – Very good! The trigger is match style aluminum with three holes and is set at 4.5 pounds – with a little indication of what you press on it – great work by Kimber.

The cocobolo wood handles are beautiful – half checkered, half smooth. However, I traded them for a pair of Code Zero 1911 pens (my own design) made by Mil-Tac, because I love the way they hold you in all weather conditions. I also applied skateboard tape to the front straps of the frame – again, this keeps the backing tight without being too abrasive. The front strap is smooth. I wish it was a cage, but considering the price this gun sells for, it would be more expensive if it was a cage.

The gun comes with one 8 cartridge magazine with the Kimber name on the bottom – very nice magazines, that’s for sure. And, you can find almost any 1911 magazine to add to your 1911 rifles. Now it says the slide/frame/run adjustments are perfect. There was no movement to be seen between the three pieces – a sign of a good fit for these pieces. To be fair, I have had some expensive 1911s from manufacturers that were not as well equipped as this gun. However, I was worried that I would have trouble functioning because of the tight fit. I only carried this gun for a few days and it was in a Blackhawk Serpa Hip holster, the gun rolled well, high and tight on my hip. I like him much better. If I were camping, I’d go for a 1911 Sickles tactical hip holster.

My test drive

After taking the Kimber apart, inspecting and lubricating it, I took it for a test drive. I had .45 ACP ammo supplied by Black Hills, including 230 grams of FMJ ammo, 185 grams of Barnes Tac-XP+P, 200 grams of half-lead knife, 230 grams of JHP+P ammo and 135 grams of HoneyBadger loads. With the current ammunition shortage – which may continue for years – I don’t shoot as much ammunition as I used to in my gun tests. I fired just under 250 rounds during the test. Kimber ate everything I gave him to eat – with two misfires in a room full of half 200-gram lead cartridges – he only needed a little push on the back of the sled to get those two cartridges full. These are soft lead bullets, and I had many years in 1911 that these cartridges were not loaded or chambered at all. Kimber recommends a long run-in period before you can be sure the gun is 100% functional. And, those lead loads were used in the beginning, but after those two problems, it was powered 100% of the time. So I can’t blame the gun or the ammo.

Black Hills 230-gr JHP + P-load – You knew there was something powerful about this gun – it let you know with the recoil pulse. Everything I fired during the accuracy portion of shooting was fired in groups of 25 yards by about 2 inches when I put the rifle on a rolled up sleeping bag. Some bands were a little older than 2 years, but not many. The 200g weights for the semi boys are grouped under the 2 inch. And I know this rifle is capable of firing in groups of about 1.5 inches once I get a little more time behind the trigger. I was totally impressed with the precision, of this 1911 factory. Again, I didn’t have to – no matter how tight the barrel/foil/frame was, I knew it would be a good shot. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a tight 1911, and it showed in the accuracy portion of my tests.

Now the bad news: Like I said before, there are only a limited number of these guns. I bought it at a small store, and the label said it was no longer available – and the full retail price is only $720. But I got it for $625. I’m sure if you look around you can still find him. I wish Kimber would make it a regular production. Honestly, for a gun of this quality I would have expected a few hundred dollars more. If you’re selling a 1911 model, visit ….. …if you find one!