In today’s world of super high capacity, polymer framed, modern, and commonly seen and carried firearms, we often enjoy a touch of elegance. Kimber is typically found at the low end of the high end makers of 1911 handguns. The tolerances are tight, the lines of their guns are refined, and Kimber enjoys a reputation for quality that is well earned. Kimber’s Ultra models are super compact 1911 handguns that are well suited for concealed carry and personal protection.
Though 1911 handguns are typically heavier than their more modern counterparts, the Ultra Carry II is built on an aluminum frame, which helps carve some of the weight down. The Ultra Carry II also enjoys the weight reduction and aesthetics of a skeletonized hammer and trigger. The model I own is the two-tone variant, with a satin aluminum frame, black carbonized steel slide, and beautiful rosewood grip panels. I have done no aftermarket work to the gun.
1911 style handguns are often considered unreliable, and that blanket assumption is often applied unfairly. Indeed, some hollow point ammunition may not feed reliably, due to the cavity shape in the nose of the projectile. Kimber 1911s in particular are often touted as prone to jam, but I have often found that the largest thing these owners have in common is that they fail to break their pistols in. These guns are built to extremely tight tolerances, meaning that the frame and slide are very tightly put together. This is why a break in period of approximately 500 rounds is often recommended. My own Ultra Carry II was not immune to this. After about 300 rounds, it started working all the kinks out and got just “loose” enough to reliably run. After the full 500 rounds, I haven’t had any hiccups at all with ball ammunition, and only experienced issues with Sig’s V-Crown hollow point defensive ammunition. I use Federal HST rounds for defensive purposes now, when I carry the gun.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some specs on the Ultra Carry II:
- Weight is listed as 25 oz with unloaded magazine inserted
- Magazine capacity is 7+1 rounds
- Recoil spring weight from factory is 18.0 lbs
- Comes standard with full length guide rod
- Barrel is a match grade, 3″ bushingless bull barrel
- Sights are fixed, low profile, 3 dot configuration
- Trigger comes from the factory between 4-5 lbs and is user adjustable to a degree
- MSRP is $837.00
I have carried my Ultra Carry II quite a bit, off and on, and can say that it is right at home inside the waistband riding in a Don Hume leather open top IWB holster. The beauty of a 1911 is that it is a narrow gun, and very unobtrusive to carry. The weight is mitigated a bit by the aluminum frame, but it is still a solid weapon. With 8 total rounds on board, statistically you are prepared for most self defense scenarios, and 1911 magazines are extremely slim due to their single stack design, so slipping an extra magazine or two in your pocket is not very difficult.
Shooting the Ultra Carry II is fun. If you predominately shoot striker fired handguns, such as Glocks, then the crisp, single action trigger will seem shockingly light and enjoyable. Recoil is manageable, even with the very short barrel and aluminum frame, and the checkering on the backstrap helps anchor the gun. The checkering on the Rosewood grip panels certainly looks nice, but it doesn’t do much to help securely hold the gun. There is no checkering or texture on the front of the grip, below the trigger guard, and I believe the gun would really have benefited from some checkering there. When only firing a few magazines’ worth of ammunition, the lack of grip texturing really isn’t that evident, but after an extended shooting session, or if your hands are sweaty, you may easily find yourself having to constantly readjust your grip on the pistol. Accuracy with the Ultra Carry II is as you would expect from a higher end 1911. It most likely will not win you any bulls-eye matches with the short sight radius and somewhat slippery grip, but for defensive purposes I found the Ultra Carry II to be more than adequate. I have also shot two coyotes with it, one of which was dropped in its tracks with only one shot. The other required a follow up.
A few subjective negatives should be mentioned however. I have fairly large hands, and even I cannot activate the slide stop/ slide release without altering my grip on the gun. Also, I feel that if you buy one of these guns new, you need to be prepared to put about 500 rounds through it to get it broken in. Unfortunately, that is the price you pay for tight tolerances, and Kimber is not alone in this. On the bright side, that’s a real good reason to shoot 500 rounds through your new gun, if you find yourself needing to explain it to a dubious wife or girlfriend.
If you are looking for a 1911 for strictly recreational purposes, I would recommend going with a full sized, or Commander sized model, rather than the Ultra Carry II. However, if you want a 1911 for defensive purposes, in the timeless .45 ACP chambering, that is small enough to conceal, large enough to control, the Ultra Carry II may be just what you are looking for. As always, thank you so much for reading. Stay safe, and keep shooting.