Made in their Custom Shop, the Super Carry line of Kimber pistols was designed and developed to be the finest, heavy-calibered, 1911-formatted, concealed carry handguns available today. Offered in several variations, all share common features yet all are different enough to warrant their own model designation. Those with “Custom” in their name have 5-inch stainless steel match-grade barrels with corresponding length stainless slides. Those with a “Pro” in their title come with a 4-inch bushingless bull barrel and slide of the same material and length, while those carrying an “Ultra” as part of their moniker have bushingless barrels shortened to a mere 3 inches in length with slides abbreviated to match.
Additional custom features common to all of the models in this line include fixed dovetailed, tritium-equipped night sights — the rear unit nicely melded for comfortable concealed carry and equipped with a “cocking shoulder” for one-handed slide manipulation. The rear face of this sight wears horizontal serrations and the tritium inserts provide for a white 3-dot sight picture during daylight hours and an easy-to-see green-dot setup for lowlight use. All Super Carry pistols wear ambidextrous-safeties with extended paddles and beavertail grip safeties with elevated pads for secure activation. Ejection ports are all aggressively lowered and flared and each pistol’s exterior surfaces have been subtly subjected to what Kimber calls its “Carry Melt,” so no sharp edges remain anywhere that could cut or abrade during use or carry.
Each model wears attractive grips fashioned from a laminate of Micarta and wood aggressively checkered except for a smooth border at the rear. Frames on most Super Carry models are made from lightweight aluminum except those having a HD (for Heavy Duty) in their title, which designates these pistols as having stainless steel foundations.
All wear Commander-style hammers and solid mid-length triggers equipped with overtravel screws. All have recessed slide- stop pins with a beveled recess to prevent inadvertent slide-stop displacement (a problem occasionally experienced by a lefty using a thumbs-forward, two-handed grip, or a righty who uses the protruding slide-stop pin as an outside-the-trigger guard index point), and all are finished in Kimber’s proprietary KimPro II finish in either a black and silver or totally black configuration.
All come with special frame and slide serrations that Kimber refers to as a “Super Carry” pattern that, for lack of a better term, I’d have to describe as “fish scaled.” This “fish scale” covers the entire front strap on all Super Carries and also functions as the cocking serrations on the slide. Additionally, this pattern appears on the top of all Super Carry slides, running between front and rear sights, and also appears and adds some gripability to each model’s back strap/mainspring housing. Although I’m partial to the coarser feel of checkering on my 1911s, I found that Kimber’s “Super Carry’ treatment provides for a positive grip and secure grasp of slide and is quite attractive, to boot. The frontstrap on all Super Carries has also been cut high under the triggerguard to provide for a higher grip, bringing the centerline of the bore closer to the hand for improved recoil control. Oh, and Super Carries come in only one chambering—that would be for the time-proven, street-reliable .45 ACP round.
One of the newer additions to the Super Carry line is the Super Carry Ultra+, the “Ultra” indicating that this particular pistol has the short bushingless 3-inch barrel and correspondingly shortened stainless slide, while the “+” identifies it as having a full-length aluminum grip frame capable of utilizing full-length, 8-shot magazines. Unique to this frame is the addition of the rounded heel treatment developed some years back by renowned gunsmith Ed Brown, which consists of a rounded mainspring housing mated to a like-modified frame providing for a more comfortable and easier to conceal pistol. This “Bobtail” treatment is more comfortable, as the full-length frame provides plenty of room for all three digits of the shooting hand and also removes that sharp rear edge that tends to poke one’s side when this piece is carried IWB. It’s also easier to conceal, as it makes the girth of the grip just a tad smaller, while the rounded surface of the back strap tends to print less than a squared one on outer concealing garments. I packed a highly customized Colt Lightweight Commander for about a decade while working narcotics back in the ‘70s, and, had this modification been available back then, I would have had it. I find this grip shape—for me, anyway—to be about as comfortable as it gets for one of John Browning’s .45s.
With its 3-inch stainless upper and aluminum lower, the weight of the Ultra+, with magazine, sans bullets, is 27 ounces. The addition of 9 rounds of .45 ACP ammunition brings the weight of the Ultra+ to a “pretty-feathery-for-a-gun-in-this-chambering” 34 ounces. The Ultra+ stands 5.25 inches high, is 6.8 inches long, and measures 1.28 inches across its widest point—its grips. Its magazine chute is lightly beveled and its magazine release is slightly extended but not so much as to create a potential for inadvertent activation.
The short 3-inch bull barrel on the Ultra+ is made from stainless steel, it is fitted bushingless to the slide, and is touted as being of “match grade” for enhanced accuracy. A notch in the barrel hood is present and serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator. Because of its bushingless design, the Ultra+ does not fieldstrip like a Browning original, but requires the use of a supplied “takedown tool,” a pin that holds the recoil spring assembly in a depressed state for disassembly and subsequent reassembly. The Operations Manual that accompanies each Kimber firearm details this process quite adequately, and once this procedure has been undertaken a couple of times it becomes second nature. Should you lose your “takedown tool,” a properly bent paperclip will suffice. Kimber recommends replacement of the Ultra’s recoil spring assembly every 1,800 rounds. I would follow this advice closely as it has been my experience that short-slided pistols, those that employ either shorter than normal single-wound springs or dual spring assemblies tend to lose their resilience quicker than conventionally sprung guns and, when this happens, slides become sluggish and often fail to return fully to battery.
Fit of slide to frame exhibited absolutely no movement either laterally or vertically when in battery, and pressure on the barrel hood also produced no movement, indicating a good fit of barrel to slide and frame. My RCBS Premium Trigger Pull Gauge measured the Ultra+’s trigger pull as being right at 4 pounds for ten releases, breaking cleanly with minimal (and adjustable) overtravel. The “melting” treatment to the Ultra’s exterior was nicely done, leaving no sharp edges present to cut or abrade. A wise old pistolsmith once told me “You should be able to rub your carry piece all over your face and it shouldn’t hurt you.” And, although I didn’t try this with the little Kimber, I think it would have passed his test.
The Ultra+ comes finished in an attractive two-tone application of a proprietary, thermally cured phenolic resin Kimber calls “KimPro II.” Being Teflon based, this finish is slick and self-lubricating and extremely resistant to moisture and salt. My personal Kimber Custom Shop Rimfire Super wears this same two-toned finish and still looks great after several years of use. In field stripping the Ultra, I noticed several areas of wear inside the slide and on the frame rails where contact is close, so would expect this finish to show some eventual wear, but since the underlying metals are stainless and aluminum, I wouldn’t concern myself with any corrosion issues.
All in all, I found the Super Carry Ultra+ a classy, well-assembled snub-nosed .45—but how well would it shoot?
To test out the short-barreled Ultra+, I assembled seven different commercial .45 ACP offerings from three different manufacturers—Winchester, Hornady and CCI’s Blazer Brass brand. Bullet weights ranged from 185 to 230 grains, with both jacketed hollow-points and full metal-jacketed projectiles represented. To get an idea of the velocity loss experienced when launching these rounds from a 3-inch tube, I also chronographed all rounds out of one of my 5-inch guns. I debated at what distance I was going to shoot the Ultra, thinking that 25 yards might be a tad too far for this short-barreled piece, and ultimately shot it on paper with targets placed 15 yards out. Starting with some 230-grain FMJs from Winchester’s USA line, I was quite pleased to see the first five rounds out of the Kimber form a nice, relative tight 2.33-inch group just slightly right to my point of aim. Recoil was a mite snappy, as expected, but the Ultra+’s full-length grip and rounded heel made shooting this abbreviated pistol easy and comfortable.
I should note, due to the tight tolerances these hand-fitted guns are built to, Kimber recommends a 400- to 500-round break-in period firing quality factory 230-grain FMJ ammunition, cleaning and lubricating with every 100 to 150 rounds. So, after subjecting the Ultra+ to a thorough cleaning and relubrication, at my next opportunity I returned to the range with a good supply of hardball, and a holster rig from Wild Bill’s Concealment. Over the course of the next couple hours, I put a total of 150 rounds of Winchester FMJs and another 30 or so rounds of miscellaneous JHPs I had from previous range sessions through the Ultra without a bobble or a misstep of any kind – except for an occasional failure to go to slide lock at empty, which could be traced to one particular magazine.
All shooting was done from the leather at 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards, and I found the Kimber quick to respond from Wild Bill’s Speed Scabbard and easy to hit with all the way back to the 25-yard line. I performed single-round draws, double-taps and several Mozambique drills, shot it strong-hand-only, weak-hand-only, and with both hands freestyle. I managed every headshot I tried with the Kimber, except for a single round that failed to find its mark from 25 yards out. With its short slide, draws from the holster were quick and clean, and I found its sights were easy to acquire. All in all, I found this a very enjoyable pistol to shoot.
After later comparing the velocities of all rounds fired through the Ultra+’s 3-inch barrel to those recorded from the 5-inch tube of my Caspian custom, I calculated that the longer-barreled gun produced, on the average, velocities that were about 10-percent greater than those recorded from the snub-nosed gun.
The Kimber Super Carry Ultra+ is a classy, super cool, major-calibered pistol that’s lightweight and compact, yet it’s easy to shoot. Its full-length “bobtailed” frame makes it fit comfortably in the hand and allows for a full 8+1 carry, while its short slide deploys quickly from an OWB scabbard that conceals easily under a short jacket, vest or windbreaker.
Properly broken in it proved reliable and easily accurate enough for its intended task. And if 3 inches seems a mite short to you, the same gun also comes in a 4- or 5-inch version. To find out more call 800-880-2418 or visit kimberamerica.com.