View Full Version : Kimber or smith and wesson?
08-06-2005, 05:40 PM
I am considering buying a new 1911 Kimber CDP Custom or Pro butI have heard that Kimber quality has gone down the past year or so. this has me wondering if i should consider a SW instead. any comments, opinions, or other suggestions would be appreciated.
08-06-2005, 06:51 PM
If you are going to use it as a base gun for customization by a reputable 'smith, then either will do. If you want a light rail gun to build (which I know you didn't list), Kimber is the choice. But if you want a really good base gun (ie., something to have customized), I'd go with a Colt new model Series 70 or even a new 1991A1. I think they are still the best base guns out there to build on. If you don't plan on sending it to a custom smith and want something out of the box that is ready to go, I'd have to take the Smith these days. Smith continues to make product improvements on their 1911's, and the forged frames are of excellent quality. I don't like some of the cosmetics and the silly internal FP safety, but all in all, they're pretty good out of the box. The external extractor will be less of a problem over time for a non-custom pistol than the original internal extractor. I have seen too many internal extractors not properly tuned of late and unless you're going the custom route, the external is probably better. (Never thought I'd ever make that last remark, but some of the stuff out there these days is pretty bad -- the 1911 was designed when labor was cheap and technology expensive. Today it's the other way around and the factories don't seem inclined to want to pay skilled craftsmen to properly tune internal extractors, so it's pretty much hit or miss.)
I know longer trust Kimbers out of the box and would only consider getting another Warrior as a base gun, not for out-of-the-box use. (What this means is, I'd essentially keep the frame and slide and toss out everything else and have all the small parts replaced by the smith with premium parts.) I know people who have had great pistols from Kimber (including us), but I think lately the folks at Kimber aren't putting the TLC into them that they once did. Two of the last three Kimbers we owned were problematic. This includes one of the new Warriors that was very disappointing. (And as with all things made by man, YMMV.)
Also, I would buy no pistol with a full length guide rod (FLGR). Stick with the original short guide rod on whatever you get. The FLGR can be problematic, does nothing for the pistol except increase cost and make it harder to take down for cleaning. Don't let anyone tell you they increase accuracy either. I've seen them hurt accuracy -- recently a friend of ours could not get his Kimber 1911 9mm to shoot consistent groups and we tried a number of different types of ammunition, both factory and reloads. The pistol would put two shots in one place, two more in another, and two more in a third group. It did this every single time for many hundreds of rounds. Additionally, while having negligible rearward recoil, the pistol, unlike most 1911's, had an irritating amount of upward recoil that hindered recovery for fast follow up shots.
We were at our wits end (I would have dumped it several hundred rounds ago had it been mine) when I finally suggested switching out the full length guide rod for a standard short guide rod and Wolff recoil spring. Voila! Both problems disappeared! Recoil was straight back and less abrupt, and the groups closed up into one tight cluster. It's been great since -- in fact we shot it quite a bit today with no problems (I might try to buy it from him now that we have it working properly).
08-07-2005, 10:14 AM
Go with the Smith. I've had both and the Smith is cheaper and shoots just as good or better with fewer malfunctions. I have the Sc model now and love it.Dollar for dollar the Smith can't be beat.
08-10-2005, 08:28 PM
As was asked earlier...what are you buying the handgun for?
There has been some good information given to you here. Maybe we can help answer your question better/further with some more clarifying information from you regarding your interest in these weapons.
08-10-2005, 08:39 PM
I'm with you on the guide rod thing. I pulled the one for my CDP II and replaced it with a short guide rod and a Wolff spring before I left the store. That shiny piece of stainless steel continues to reside in mint condition in the firearm's little delivery box!
08-10-2005, 10:03 PM
If you are looking for an out of the box using pistol, get the S&W. If you want a light weight carry peice, thier scandium 1911 should be real light.
08-11-2005, 06:17 AM
I should have also mentioned the SIG 1911. It too has an external extractor and the folks I've spoken with that have a new Sig 1911, really like them.
08-11-2005, 08:55 AM
Does Sig have a lightweight version as well?
08-11-2005, 09:45 AM
I dont know. All the ones I've dealt with were steel.
08-11-2005, 12:51 PM
I forgot to mention in the earlier post that Smith and Wesson uses excellent small parts (small parts = sears, hammers, safeties, etc.) in their 1911's.
I'd like to see Smith and Wesson come out with standard and light rail models with Heinie Slant Pro sights with Trijicon tritium inserts (no white outline on inserts), and dump the silly internal safety -- it would give the competition ulcers! They could make them in both all steel and scandium, and with flat or arched mainspring housing (both included and with recessed lanyard attachment points). Unfortunately, I doubt they are progressive enough to see the value of such a pistol. With some minor tweaking and open-mindedness on Smith's part, they could put their competition in a world of hurt. Colt dumped their internal safety on the new Series 70's, and Kimber did on the Warriors and 25th Anniversary models. Smith could do the same.
08-11-2005, 02:37 PM
As good as new S&W's are, I would buy a scandium 1911 before I would buy any one elses 1911 right now, except of course some of the semi custom expensive numbers like Les Baer and others. I would note that if you want to spend $2,000.00 on a 1911, those Les Baers are worth every penny.
As much as I love 1911's, I dont carry them these days. If I am carrying semi autos, I normally carry HiCap Glocks that weight less and are more durable and wont make me cry if I lose one.
08-11-2005, 03:02 PM
Like I said in my earlier post, the Sc (for scandium)model is a really nice pistol. Mine has yet to malfunction and is a delight to carry.
08-17-2005, 05:11 PM
Mr. Sundles -- why do you say Glocks are more durable than 1911's?
08-17-2005, 08:54 PM
Perhaps I shouldnt generalize so much as not all 1911's are created equal. Ive seen (and so have those in the 1911 fixing/customizing business) many many 1911's choke for various reasons. The guys that work with 1911's for a living can tell you exactly where which versions of 1911's will fail. Lets face it, the 1911 is a 100 year old design. More recent renditions certainly are more durable than a lot of early colts.
The Glock is an ugly gun that simply works right out of the box and will usually work for a few hundred thousand rounds. Having said that, I've had two Glocks that needed to go in for repairs. Nothing made by man can be 100% flawless. Just today I sent a mod 19 to Robar instead of returning it to the factory to fix an extractor problem. Robar cares about what you tell them, while the factory warranty center doesnt believe any Glock ever fails.
Dont get me wrong, a tuned and properly executed 1911 is a thing of beauty and like no other combat pistol in existence, but out of the box durability would favor the Glock simplicity and ruggedness because of design and materials--IN GENERAL TERMS.
08-18-2005, 10:42 AM
"The Glock is an ugly gun that simply works right out of the box and will usually work for a few hundred thousand rounds."
"but out of the box durability would favor the Glock simplicity and ruggedness because of design and materials...."
I would agree with those statements if you are talking about 9mm. In this original caliber, Glocks routinely go 200,000 rounds or more. However, this has not proven to be the case with the 357 Sig, 40 S&W and 45 acp. All of these are in the 40,000 round range. That doesn't mean there aren't examples in each caliber that have surpassed that number, but when looking at a large sample size, 40,000 would more likely be the norm for service life.
However, for 99% of the population, including military and LEO, 40,000 rounds is a very large round count and it would not stop me from buying a Glock (or any other pistol with a 20,000 to 40,000 round life on the frame) in any of these calibers if that is what I wanted.
Also, plastic is not necessarily superior to steel -- it's cheaper, both in cost of raw material and in manufacturing. We may benefit from it's weight reduction, which is surely all the rage with us feeble folks today who can't carry the weapons our forefathers did, but it's not superior to steel. Just look at your Glock or XD and see what is on the slide rails at critical wear locations.
Glock has done a marvelous job of marketing their product and have a large number of devotees conviced that if anything happens to a Glock, it's owner (ie., the shooter) or ammo related. They remind me of Japanese companies who are sheer masters of hype when if comes to convincing people of their product's superiority. Today, perception is everything, even if it doesn't mate up with reality. NYPD would not have a trailer set up with full time folks repairing their Glocks, if Glocks were as 100% durable and reliable as they claim. I personally find the hype a bit nauseous, since I have experienced or witnessed Glocks fail on a number of occasions -- and they weren't operator induced . All things man made fail at times. Period. I also don't fully appreciate a pistol that won't let me use inexpensive lead bullets for practice.
This does not mean that I don't like Glocks -- I recommend them to folks all the time, as I think they are one of four or five handguns today that are GENERALLY accurate, reliable and durable out of the box. However, for my hands, Glocks just don't feel right. The ergonomics are all wrong, but YMMV. Folks who were raised with revolvers seem to love them. Those raised on 1911's, Hi-Powers, Sigs, Beretta's, Smith & Wesson autos, etc, tend to find the grip angle all wrong. The finger grooves also don't fit my hand. Additionally, if you want your Glock to work in areas with fine sand, you better put the grip plug in place, or your trigger mechanism is going to lock up very quickly. This is a fact and you can take it to the bank, irrespective of what special operations unit uses them or any other hype you may hear. Glock's don't do as well in sand tests as 1911's. Actually, nothing does real well in sand, not even AK's, but some firearms do a bit better than others. However, that's another story.
Getting back to 1911's, they are one of the few handguns in the world that can also ROUTINELY go 200,000 rounds on the STEEL frame models (the alloy frames start cracking in the same round count range as the larger caliber Glocks, or even less). As for reliability, the older 1911's tended to work out of the box just like Glock's do now, but with FMJ, which is what they were designed to feed. However, a properly tuned 1911 is a wonderment, or possibly more accurately, a wonderwork. It has great ergonomics, is easy to control with proper training (my wife is 5'1" and her two favorite pistols are an out-of-the-box series 1 Kimber Compact CDP, and a customized Colt CCO -- both lightweight frames. She also has a couple of full size steel frame models, one customized, and the other being customized), and it inspires confidence. It can be personalized too - like the medieval knight's or samurai's swords. For some of us, this is worthy of consideration.
Don't get too hung up on round counts unless you are in one of a select few elite units who actually put 25,000 rounds or more a year through their pistols. If you have a 35,000 round Browning Hi-Power frame, you're good to go. Almost none of us can afford or have the time to put 25,000 rounds a year PER HANDGUN. (I'm not talking coyboy or other reduced loads either. I'm talking 25,000 rounds of factory equivalent defense ammunition. In a 45, that would mean a combination of 25,000 rounds of Winchester 230 gr. FMJ and Speer/Black Hills/Winchester 230 gr. JHP) If you are carrying a Kel-Tec 32 or 380, which are known to have their trigger springs break BEFORE 1000 or 2000 rounds, then round count will certainly be a concern. For most duty pistols, round count is not even a consideration for most of us. Truthfully, there are very few police officers who even put 2,500 rounds a year through their pistols. In the old days when I competed with a 1911, I did the same thing competitive trap shooters did at the time -- I used one, had one in reserve, and one in the shop. Except the last didn't happen but once, and I found that with routine spring replacement (think of it as changing the oil in your car -- it improves the life), the pistol was literally like the Energizer Bunny -- it just kept working. I still have one of those pistols I competed with -- the one with the most rounds. I shot it a couple of weeks ago and found that it needs to finally go to the 'smith for repairs -- the speed safety is worn out. The only other "broken" or worn out part I ever encountered with it was a firing pin spring and a bad sear (gunsmith's fault too!). However, I have changed out the plunger tube spring at least once.
The problem with the 1911 today is that it simply costs too much for a factory to build it correctly, since it was designed back when labor was cheap and technology was expensive. So in order to get many of them to run right, you need to send them to a qualified custom gunsmith and be prepared for a long wait and laying down a lot of hard earned currency. Our last two pistols have been at the 'smith for over two years now. I didn't mind this so much when I was thirty, but at 54, I figure I'm spending too much of my time waiting, instead of using.
As with Tim Sundles, I also don't like taking my custom 1911's to certain locales, since I cannot have them on me all the time, and they are therefore more susceptible to theft. As for the weight of carrying a 1911 every day, I haven't found that to be a problem. My usual everyday carry is a 1911 in a Milt Sparks rig with two spare mags, along with a S&W snubbie in the pocket or IWB with one speedloader. If I'll be out into the wee hours, I add a SureFire light. I've worn this combination day in and day out for quite a while now, and I haven't noticed any physical problems. (CCW is not about comfort.) I do have to modify my dress at times, and there are certain occasions where I cannot use this setup, but overall it has worked for me in about 90% of applications. If you're bigger than me and in good health, there is no reason you can't do the same. I actually find Glocks harder to conceal, and far less comfortable for IWB carry.
The problems I see with off-the-shelf 1911's these days are as follows:
1. Improperly tuned extractors (#2 problem if using a Pareto chart, but very serious and probably the number one reliability issue)
2. Poor triggers (blame lawyers) (#3 problem)
3. Improperly tuned speed safeties -- they should go on easy, and come off hard, not the other way around! (#1 problem -- this is almost universal)
4. Improperly staked plunger tubes
5. Too much "gee whiz" needless stuff like full length guide rods, over sized slide releases, white dot sight inserts, etc., instead of sticking to the basics and doing the aforementioned stuff right.
6. Lack of parts interchangeability between makes or even within makes -- Kimber is, in my opinion, really bad about the latter. Merely changing a mainspring housing can be a major project, even though you're using their factory parts!
7. Improper front sight height.
8. Improper sight installation -- not centered. This is easily checked at the factory, but doesn't get corrected.
9. Use of MIM parts to cut costs. They simply don't give the life expectancy of forged/heat treated parts made of good ordnance or tool steel.
7. Poor sights (still!), but much better than the old days. Get rid of the useless white outlines, whether on standard sights or around the tritium inserts -- it just clutters up and complicates the sight picture.
8. Gee Whiz stuff that is improperly installed
9. Poor workmanship on the part of the few people in the plant who actually assemble the products - they simply don't care, or are pushed too hard to be able to do it right. You shouldn't have to send your pistol to a gunsmith to have the extractor tuned -- it darned well ought to come that way!!!!! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/mad.gif /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/mad.gif And the sights should hit dead on with 230 gr. loads!!!! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/mad.gif NO EXCUSE FOR THESE TWO ISSUES FROM ANY FACTORY ON A PISTOL MEANT FOR SELF DEFENSE!
10. Poor magazines. This NEVER used to be a problem when Colt still cared, but now even "big name" (as in aftermarket) magazines have no life. They work for a while and then go south -- the springs are simply bad. Whether too thin, poorly heat treated, etc., it doesn't really matter if they won't work for YEARS as they should. The absolute most reliable magazines I've ever used in a 1911 LONG TERM are some old Colt 7 rounders I bought in the 60's, 70's and very EARLY 80s. I can leave them loaded forever, or use them regularly, it doesn't matter, and they just keep working. The mag lips haven't spread, the springs still work. I cannot say that for anything else I've tried in the last 15 years. However, I may have finally found a cure. I'll report back in a few months, once the results are in. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Magazines are simple devices, easily made, and the technology is there for enhanced spring life. This exists due to management decisions: poor manufacturing and cost cutting -- mostly the latter, but I can name at least one brand where the former issue is the cause, and another (a "big" name, I might add), suffers from both issues.) I recently bought ten new mags that are touted as the "best" 8-rounders, and every single one of them, out-of-the-package, gave some type of trouble. (Mag problems tied with #2)
(As an aside, mag problems exist on semi-auto handguns other than the 1911's.)
11. Needless internal safeties that weren't on the original design and aren't needed now.
Okay, that's the problems that come to mind with the current crop of factory made 1911's, though I may have missed a few. The other serious problem I see is too many guys think they're gunsmiths, when they aren't. If you're not on the list of 100 best 1911 gunsmiths, leave it alone! Sure, you can change the springs out, and even switch mainspring housings, but very few of us are qualified to "build" one. If you aren't willing to go the custom gunsmith route, buy something else, like a Glock, or Springfield XD, or Kahr, or Sig., but leave your 1911 alone. I have a nephew who is really into guns -- most of my nephews are into more girlie things, but this one likes guns, so I try to give him good advise. The trouble is, he doesn't always listen. He thinks he's a gunsmith, when he'd make a better plumber. Now that doesn't mean with proper training, he wouldn't excel at gunsmithing, but he hasn't had the TRAINING! He comes down here for a visit a few months ago and we're sitting around in the evening playing with a host of guns when I look over and see him pushing very hard on the hammer of a cocked 1911, trying to see if he can get it to drop. This is a custom 1911 he's playing with. It's my daily carry pistol. It works great. Now, for the first time since he was about six, I raise my voice ( a lot) and ask him real serious like to stop what he's doing immediately! I then ask him why he's doing it in the first place and he says he's just testing it. I said it doesn't need testing, and I don't know what gunshop commando taught him to do this with other people's pistols, but he isn't going to do this with mine. Of course, he quit and everything was fine, but this is an example of the stuff I see all the time these days. In his case, he simply cannot have a pistol or rifle without taking it apart and "messing" with it! Needless to say, he has many stories to relate on parts he's broken on H&K's, Walther's, etc. I'd love to leave my guns to him when I 'm dead and gone, but it pains me to know he's going to take a hacksaw to an original Belgian FAL!!!!!
Not to get too far off topic, but I'm thinking of making a switch in carry guns and much of this discussion is on point. I currently have two guns that I carry at different times. One is my Glock 29. It is a great in the woods gun and shoots well for me. The big downside I've found is the width of the gun for CCW. It's just a chunky piece. As Sundles mentioned, it is pretty much indestructible and has gone bang every time I've pulled the trigger with all sorts of ammo -- no small consideration in a carry piece.
My second carry gun is what I call my lazy gun. It's a Smith 642. When I don't feel like strapping on the Glock, I put the Smith in my pocket. The down side is that I don't shoot it nearly as well and there is no power comparison. It is better than being unarmed but there are many situations where I don't feel it (with me behind it) would be up to the task.
I've always been a fan of 1911s. They just fit me (much better than the Glock) and are MUCH thinner for IWB carry. After carrying regularly for a while, I don't believe the width of a gun is given nearly enough consideration in evaluating handguns. Also, when I pick up a 1911, it's pointed in the right direction. I simply haven't found a handgun with better ergonomics. Glocks seem to require more adjustment. I've been thinking of getting a Smith 1911 SC to replace the Glock and the 642 with the logic being that I won't ever compromise. I believe the Smith 1911 will be more comfortable to carry than the Glock but obviously a superior defensive weapon to the 642.
My concern is with 1911 reliability. I've just read so much about guns needing to be tuned and what not and I don't have time or money to mess around with that. The Glock is so utterly dependable that I hate to give that up, but if I could get that reliability in a more shootable and slimmer gun, I'd be all over it.
Money is more than tight so I'd have to sell the guns mentioned to make it happen.
Also under consideration is getting rid of the 642 and replacing it with a Glock 36 but even that is closer in width to my 29 than it is to a 1911. In the same category width wise is the HK USP Compact.
What would you experts recommend?
P.S. My Smith model 60 3" .357 would become my woods walking gun and the .45 would be for urban use if this came to pass. If I ever have to worry about big bears, I'll be investing in something more substantial.
09-11-2005, 08:28 PM
Chris, you're approaching the cold season. If you make a decision, change for the spring. It's soon sweatshirt or suitjacket time...
It's not the clothes, it's the comfort. I'm a slob and wear untucked camp style shirts all summer. I carry IWB year round and the Glock digs. Less bulk around my waist would help but that has been slow in happening.
09-11-2005, 08:55 PM
Does the pistol have to be a scandium Smith? What about a full size NIB Colt 1991A1, if the price was right?
As for the 642, maybe you just need to practice with it more. If it hits dead on with one of the three best loads for a snubbie, I sure wouldn't trade it off. Has it had an action job? That can help with controlling a lightweight snub. J-frames make great BUGs and are also good to grab when going to the convenience store late at night. Properly loaded, they'll get the job done if you do your part. A Smith in the pocket is not a bad way to travel.
09-11-2005, 09:07 PM
Steel, 10-4 that!
A snubbie in the pocket and a neck whip.
A wicked combination-
Doesn't have to be a Scandium, but I wasn't looking to carry almost a pound more in weight and I'm partial to Commander size guns. Right price might have a big effect though. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif
My thoughts on the Smith were that eventually I'd get a 640 in .357. Not that I want to shoot .357s in it but I thought it would be a more comfortable gun to shoot for both me and the wife. And with two other .357s in house and a Marlin 1894C on the top of the wish list once I start making money again, I like the idea of having all my revolvers capable of shooting the same ammo -- kind of thinking along the preparedness lines.
09-11-2005, 09:33 PM
For defensive use, I'd carry 38's in the 640. They are far more controllable - and for preparedness, control is essential. 38's are very accurate, and some of the new stuff performs very well -- actually better than most 357's in that short of a tube.
I'd carry .38s in the 640, probably those 135 grain Gold Dots. I just have a ton of .357 brass and ammo (and very little .38) and wouldn't mind having as much compatibility as possible. My first handgun that I purchased after a summer of baling hay at age 14 was a S&W 686 so I've had some time to accumulate brass. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif
I handled a Glock 36 today and it is indeed a much slimmer package than the 29 and by far the best handling Glock I've come across, but I'm reading some mixed reports on reliability. Looking at the feedramp, I can see why it might not work with everything.
Every other .45 out there that I know of is a thick double stack so the 1911SC is looking pretty good again.
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