Kimber Aegis II 1911 Pistol Review

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NOTE: This product review was made possible by GunsForSale.com.  To get up-to-date information on where to find Kimber 1911s for sale, please visit GunsForSale.com.

It seems there’s always room to modify the 1911 to suit the needs of a wider number of users. The idea behind the Aegis II addresses the needs of those with smaller hands or generally smaller in stature. The pistol comes in three sizes. The Ultra Aegis II has a three inch barrel and weighs in at 25 ounces. The next size up is the Pro Aegis II with a four inch barrel weighing 28 ounces. Other than size the pistols are identical. All three are chambered in 9MM.

Just because a 1911 is compact doesn’t mean it helps someone with small hands. Kimber obviously spent some time changing the exterior design to help shooters who have never before gotten along very well with a standard 1911.

Aesthetically Kimber makes a fine looking 1911 and the Aegis II series is no exception. I know when I received this test pistol my first impression was “this is one gorgeous 1911!”

Kimber’s modifications to this particular pistol are numerous. As far as the basics go, the weight is only 31 ounces rather than the usual 38 ounces. The weight reduction on this full size 1911 comes from manufacturing the frame from aluminum (the slide is still steel). Flattening the top of the slide further reduces the weight further, dropping an additional 2 ounces from a normal slide. The frame is fitted with slim fluted Rosewood grips making the grip much smaller. The grip panels are very well done and are darn good looking. The front strap is cut 30 lines per inch providing the user with an excellent grip. The rear of the trigger guard is also undercut providing a higher more secure grip.

The trigger is aluminum and a bit smaller than a medium length which is the one feature that really helps those with smaller hands reach the trigger.

Another interesting change is the magazine release. If you notice in the picture above the release is smooth with beveled edges and an angled cut toward the front. After shooting this full size sample Kimber sent I can’t really see how this change really helps but I suppose their testing showed otherwise. It’s as easy to manipulate as a standard release so no harm no foul.

Next up is the thumb safety. The safety is very similar to the original GI thumb safety. I checked this thumb safety against an old GI one I have and the difference is the Kimber protrudes to the side a bit further giving the shooters thumb a better purchase. If you have small hands you don’t need the longer version so often used these days. Even with my fairly large hands I had no trouble manipulating it even resting my thumb on top of it as I usually do when shooting.

The sights are Meprolight Tritium which are standard on most Kimber models. Meprolight makes an excellent set of sights that are much brighter than any other brand.

Specifications
Caliber 9mm Luger/Parabellum
Capacity 9+1
Trigger Solid aluminum, match grade. 4.0 – 5.0 lb trigger pull
Barrel 5″ match grade
Twist 1:16 (left hand)
Finish Satin silver / Blue
Grip Rosewood
Weight 31 oz. (without magazine)
Overall Length 8.7″
Sights Tactical Wedge Tritium night sights, fixed
MSRP (Price) $1,277

Since this pistol comes from the custom shop the trigger is match grade, as is the barrel and bushing. The slide to frame fit is done by hand. Internal parts are also hand fitted in the custom shop. I used my trigger pull gauge on this sample and it broke crisply and cleanly at 4.2 pounds.

Range ready with my Rafter L #1 holster and double mag pouch

Range Time

After a thorough cleaning I took this beauty to the range along with a couple of hundred rounds of Remington and Blazer ball ammo.

Kimber supplied this test pistol with three magazines, which was much appreciated. Its a real pain shooting a lot of rounds with only one magazine ☺ Each magazine holds nine rounds (plus one in the chamber).

I was somewhat surprised while shooting the first 50 rounds. I had difficulty with function when loading all nine rounds in the magazine. When I racked the slide the top round nose dived locking everything up. Tight springs do that sometimes. I went back and loaded the mags with eight rounds and this took care of that problem. To sum this part of the testing up I had eight malfunctions in the first 100 rounds. Most were stovepipes with two being double feeds which is very unusual.

Now I know some 1911’s that have custom fitted parts require a break-in time. I have to admit I was a bit frustrated. I kept on going though determined to break it in or fix it. I suspected the mainspring might be a bit much for the 9MM. In other words slowing the slide down to the point it wasn’t cycling all the way to the rear. My other consideration was the fully ramped barrel.

Funny, but at about round number 165 the malfunctions stopped. Now whether this was the magazines loosening up or just the pistol itself starting to break-in who knows. It stopped and that’s all that mattered at this point.

I continued with the session firing another 200 rounds with no malfunctions. I decided go for the acid test and mix the mags with various brands of hollowpoints. After firing 75 rounds of hollowpoints with no malfunctions I figured the problems were over and indeed they were.

The picture above shows an average group measuring just over one inch not counting my called flyer just to the bottom right. Darned if I didn’t push that one. It happens to us all☺ Accuracy was very good as you can tell from this target which was fired from the 10 yard line. Even moving back to 25 yards kneeling the groups averaged 2 ¼ inch.

Since I received the Aegis II I’ve fired 500 rounds. After getting past the initial problems there have been no malfunctions of any kind. I suppose this was just one of those times when the pistol indeed needed to be broken in.

Conclusions

If there is one thing you can’t fault Kimber on it’s the beauty of their 1911s. The Aegis series is a very desirable pistol especially for those with small hands. The thought that went into this design is obvious. It fits the intended shooter perfectly.

Considering the light weight, design features even the full size Aegis would be no problem in concealing. When wearing it for a several days in an IWB holster I found it to be very comfortable and the weight barely noticeable.

I have no reservations recommending the Aegis since it has proved itself reliable after the break-in period. Any of the three models should serve you well whether you have small hands or just like a thin 1911 that carries easily. As with any new gun always test it out at the range before carrying it or relying on it to protect your home and family.


Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • Arifonzie

    Nice review , but I wouldn’t be so forgiving regarding the malfunctions, especially as it came out of the custom shop. To me that is unacceptable. I have a hk usp compact that I have put thousands of rounds of all types through and since day one I have not had a SINGLE malfunction of any type.

  • Mobious

    It’s not a Kimber if it functions out of the box

  • Tony

    500 rounds, including numerous misfeeds within the first 200, is proven reliable?!?

    Please, at least take the gun out for a second range session before you declare it good to go in a review.

    • Phil

      Tony,
      It now has 900 or so rounds through it with no further problems. Many
      of the additional rounds have been hollowpoints of assorted types and
      brands mixed together in the same magazine.

      For those who have mentioned the reliability/break-in issue. I’m not
      real happy with any pistol that requires a break-in period. I agree
      with those who have said it should work out of the box! Like a Rock
      Island for instance.
      As I said it has proven itself reliable with all kinds of ammo since
      the initial problems. I wouldn’t have any problem carrying it at this
      point.

  • AZRon

    Just a thought on the beveled mag release:

    Possibly it’s done to eliminate trigger finger chafe for left-handed shooters.
    Or maybe cut down on the possibility of interference when re-holstering?

    • Phil

      AZRon,

      That is possible. Kimber doesn’t specify the reason for it.

      Phil
      Gunner

  • http://paulinhouston.blogspot.com Paul_In_Houston

    For the people with smaller hands, isn’t that exactly what the .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol) round was conjured for? Especially in a pistol designed specifically around it?
    -

  • Paul

    Looks like another good one from Kimber. I’ve used a Ultra Carry II in .45 for over 10 years and nearly 4000 rounds and it’s a great little carry gun. I can attest to the break-in period and Kimber is upfront with that in the manual (yeah, who bothers to read those things). Single stacks fit my hands better, so that’s what I go with.

  • Matthew Carberry

    I don’t mean this as a slam on Kimber or anything else but how is this appreciably “smaller”? It appears to be, at root, just a lightweight frame 1911 with now-standard factory smithing details and slim grips out of the box for $1,300.

    The biggest aid to shooting comfort, in my short-fingered experience, assuming you have a (now common on semi-custom guns in the $8-900 range) flat mainspring housing, is the slim grips. You can get them in Rosewood for $50-60ish from Brownell’s or Midway. Having a short or medium trigger installed if it ends up being necessary isn’t that much either.

    The only thing “new” I can see is the safety, which does look interesting, but put together that doesn’t seem to justify an extra $300 bones or so, particularly since the gun will need a break-in period so you have time to make those changes before carrying as opposed to needing them right out of the box.

    But I just don’t understand what happened to gun prices in the past decade…

    • Phil

      Matthew,

      As far as gun prices go they have skyrocketed in the last few years.
      Some in the industry have told me that metal price increases are
      responsible for a good deal of the price hikes in guns and ammo. I’m
      not sure I buy that but there ya go:-)
      Another reason is our current political situation. Gun prices went up considerably at the same time ammunition prices went through the roof.

  • Brian

    You repeated a paragraph there, just so you know. ;)

    Anyway, nice to hear it performs well. I’ve heard that a lot of 1911s require a break-in period, so that’s no surprise to me. As for the size of the gun, it’s nice to hear it handles well, even for someone with fairly large hands. I have fairly large hands too, so I had counted this Kimber out before. I figured it’d be too small.

    I’ll think about getting one of these in the future too. I love the 1911, and having it available in 9mm is a nice option. Plus, it’s a Kimber. I don’t think you can go wrong with that. :)

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Brian, thanks its fixed.

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    Is that mag pouch serious? What is the rational for having the magazines held in the pouch in different orientations? Magazines should be held in same manner in a pouch. No serious gunfighter uses that style.

    • Phil

      Federale,

      I took the leather out of the box about ten minutes before taking some photos. I was in a bit of a hurry and did indeed put one mag in the pouch incorrectly. If you notice the pouch is fitted so that both mags face forward.
      I do carry them both facing the same direction:-) Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • http://cmblake6.wordpress.com cmblake6

    A few things. Yes, it is gorgeous. For that kind of money, it should come out of the box working 100%. My Rock Island did. My Springer 9154 didn’t. A couple of strokes on the feed ramp area with the Dremel and some jewelers rouge and bingo. If that’s all it took, why didn’t the custom shop do that? If that’s a full size frame, why isn’t it 38 Super or 9×23? If it’s a straight 9mm, why not go with something like an EMP? That has the smaller frame engineered for the length of the 9×19 as opposed to putting a spacer at the back of the magazine to fill in space that doesn’t need to be there, obviously. I’ve heard of so many Kimers that needed breaking in, and I’ve owned guns that cost 1/3rd as much that were perfect right out of the box. Does anybody else see something wrong with that? What I’d almost be willing to buy for a 9mm 1911 would be an EMP with a “Commander” top, a “CCO”. I love the 1911, I own three. All three use full length cartridges. The biggest thing is that the shop should polish the innards so that it is an open-the-box-load-and-holster-knowing-it-won’t-let-you-down firearm for that price.

  • Cameron

    It’s a shame that Kimber pistols won’t just work out of the box. They are incredibly good-looking. For me, though, a pistol that will not function out of the box (after, of course, cleaning factory grease and oiling properly) is never something I am going to own. If cheaper pistols can work immediately, so can Kimbers. There is nothing inherently unreliable about the 1911 design when it’s well-made and well-maintained. “Break-in periods” are bunk, and none of the ~35 guns owned by myself or my family have ever needed them. It should work immediately. If a company advises a 200-500 round “break in”, those rounds ought to come complimentary with the gun.

    You wouldn’t buy a car that needed 5,000 miles before it stopped randomly breaking down, or a knife you needed to cut a few hundred times with before it got properly sharp. Guns should be no different.

    All of this, of course, with great respect to Steve. I love the blog.

    • Phil

      Cameron,

      I agree Cameron they should work right out of the box. Of all the Kimbers I’ve shot over the years I’ve never seen one that didn’t need some break-in. No offense taken:-)

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    Federale: The symmetrical double magazine pouch is a very old-school design that is not original to this leathersmith. A lot of serious shooters used to use this general design decades ago. I supposed it appealed to leathersmiths because they did not need to make separate left and right hand models.

  • Phil White

    Guys I wrote a comparison between the Kimber and Rock Island over on my blog at “Gunners Journal” This may give you an idea of my views on both pistols.
    http://gunner777.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/rock-island-armory-vs-kimber/

    Your feedback is welcome!
    Phil

  • Cameron

    I meant to put all respect to Phil, not Steve…brain fart. Sorry to rob you of credit for a well-written article, Phil!

    • Phil White

      Cameron,

      LOL–not a problem Cameron. I haven’t been writing on here very long. Glad you liked it!

      Phil

  • Brad

    What kind of ammo did you use?

    I am waiting from my Kimber Tac Pro 2 9mm that I ordered a few weeks ago. I called Kimber and they said to use 124 grain for the first 200 rounds and then switch to the 115 grain. I prefer the 115 gr. because its cheaper and easier to find. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Phil White

      Brad,

      Kimber said to use 124grn. Hum I wonder why? That’s another one of those conditions for break in function I suppose. Anyway, I use Cor-Bon DPX 9MM +P 115 grn. These have a Barnes solid copper bullet with a very large cavity hollowpoint. These sell for about $36 per a 20 round box. Even though they are expensive you need to shoot enough of them to ensure reliable function. At minimum two boxes should be fired and more if it’s affordable.
      For this review I used a lot of Remington ball in 124 grn. as well as 115 grn, Blazer. Also used were Winchester ball, Sellier & Belliot and finally the Cor-Bon DPX.

  • Matthew Carberry

    As far as “break-in” goes. The only time I bought a new car off the lot the owner’s manual (yeah, I read ‘em) recommended to not drive the Jeep too hard for the first few hundred miles to allow the parts to “wear in” together.

    Obviously you can’t polish every bearing surface on a car like you can a pistol but I can see recommending a certain ammo weight and velocity to get the new springs compressed properly and the parts “used to each other” before really putting the gun through its paces.

    Still, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go bang every time even if you’re babying it a bit at first.

    • Phil White

      Matthew,

      Very true. Any new gun should work as is out of the box. Granted some are ammunition sensitive, even so it shouldn’t be that hard to find the right ammo.

  • Brad

    Thanks for the info Phil, I appreciate it.

    Did you have any malfunctions with the 115 gr. after the break in was done with the 124 gr.

    • Phil White

      Brad,

      You are very welcome! No there were no malfunctions after that initial problem with any weight bullet and that’s up to the current 950 rounds.

  • Brian

    I can see why it’s so frustrating to have to go through a “break-in” period, but I don’t think it’s so bad. The way I see it, it gives you some time to become familiar with the pistol. I don’t find it off-putting at all, considering how good it is after that period.

    • Phil White

      Brian,

      I can see both sides really. As long as it breaks in and works fine then there’s no problem. If it turns out to be something else then off to the factory it goes for up too a month. This one fits the Kimber mold and for that I’m glad. It is a very nice pistol no doubt about it!

  • Andrew (European Correspondent)

    When Kimber starts putting a finish on their carbon steel barrels – among many other things – I’ll consider them to be acceptable carry firearms. Until then, the two Kimbers I have, which I’ve put forth the effort to refinish myself because Kimber fell down on the job, will be my last purchases from the brand.

    • Phil White

      Andrew,

      What type of finish did you apply Andrew? I’m just curious about the need for a finish of some sort on the barrel?

  • Brian

    Oh, they use carbon steel barrels, and they don’t put any sort of finish on them? I didn’t know that…. Hmm…what kind of finish did you have put on yours, Andrew?

    • Phil White

      Brian,

      Kimber only list the barrels as steel. They don’t specify the exact type of steel used. I’m curious about the finish Andrew mentioned. I don’t have a basis to disagree with his statement by any means.

      Brian—I emailed my contact at Kimber and the barrels are 4140 Chromoly so they will rust if not taken care of. Of the Kimbers I’ve tested and owned i’ve never had a rust problem with the barrel. This is a comment on this type of steel” While these grades of steel do contain chromium, it is not in great enough quantities to provide the corrosion resistance found in stainless steel”.

  • Andrew (European Correspondent)

    Brian

    One has been Cerakoted and I electroless nickel plated another. The Cerakote is probably easier to have done and a lot of companies will do just a barrel for 10 bucks.

    Phil

    If you inspect enough Kimbers in gun stores, you will find some that already have rust on the barrel. Add 110 degree heat here in Southern Arizona and my corrosive sweat, and the whole think turned into a ball of rust.

    • Phil White

      Andrew,

      It hasn’t been all that humid yet but as we get into August here in Missouri it can sure happen if they aren’t lubed well. I can understand it out there. Cerakote is good stuff I’ve used it on a Rock Island.

  • Andrew (European Correspondent)

    Phil,

    Lube didn’t make much of a difference for me. In fact, I first discovered how horrible the finish on my Custom II was while doing some logging in Alaska, of all places. Even covered in oil, it still rusted.

    Check out these links. You’ll see that they start rusting even before the customer takes delivery. Kimber does oil the pistols before they leave NY.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=5&f=49&t=80171

    http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=232946&highlight=problems+Kimber

    http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f57/i-am-f-cking-pissed-rust-my-kimber-barrel-17187/

    http://glocktalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-1296781.html

    “Put lube on it” sounds nice for a safe queen or range toy, but I spend days at a time in the outdoors, and stopping to disassemble my pistol and scrub rust off of the barrel after 8 hours outside is not something I like to do. Nor do I relish the thought of scrubbing rust off a brand new pistol.

    Andrew

    • Phil White

      Andrew,

      Thanks for the links. I’ll have a look at them. I’ve had good luck with Militec inhibiting rust.

    • Phil White

      Andrew,

      I looked at the pictures in the links you posted and I have to say they look pretty bad. Granted you can steel wool the stuff off but where you are it would be a constant process.

  • Brian

    Thanks for the info, Phil. I never noticed that they simply list it as steel. So many companies use stainless steel barrels on their handguns that I had assumed Kimber does too. I figured that if it wasn’t stainless steel, that it’d be 4140 carbon steel. I’ve heard of rifle barrels being made from it, and it seems pretty common. You don’t really need to tell me about the chromium and such, though. I’ve done some research into all kinds of steels over the years, because I also collect swords and knives, and eventually plan to build my own forge. I’m no “steel expert” of course, but I know a thing or two. ;)

    And thanks Andrew. If getting a Cerakote finish is that cheap, I might go ahead and have that done too, if and when I get a Kimber. I also have very corrosive sweat. My skin will actually eat away at brass and bronze too, over a long period of time.

    • Phil White

      Brian,

      Your very welcome. Best of luck with the forge!

  • Brian

    Thanks, Phil, I’ll probably need the luck. :)

    • Phil White

      Brian,

      I collect knives also. I’d never take that step as much fun as it will probably be. Then again you know a lot more about steels than I do!

  • Brian

    It won’t only be fun. It’ll be hard work too, especially considering I plan on hammer forging by hand. I don’t want to get an air hammer unless I have to.

  • Robert Baker

    Can anyone send me a video link on the assembly / reassembly of the Kimber Aegis 9mm

  • Confused

    Kimber recommends breaking in this gun with Federal 230 grain 9mm ammo. Who makes or sells that? Can’t find it anywhere