Exclusive: Perfecting the 3-inch 1911

Kimber’s Eclipse series of 1911’s has changed significantly over the years but one of my favorites will always be this Ultra II. It’s a favorite due to three key features: lasergrips, front strap checkering, and all-steel construction. It’s this combination on this pistol — you’ll find these features on other pistols, too — that makes a 3-inch barreled 1911 a virtually perfect carry gun. Let’s see if you agree.

Lasergrips. Crimson Trace makes some of the best and these came with this pistol. When you first holster this gun to carry concealed, you turn a small power switch at the base of the left grip panel. It’s such a small switch it won’t get accidentally bumped off and you can leave it on all day. To activate the green laser, you simply grasp the pistol. The middle finger of your gripping hand will naturally apply pressure to the activation switch on the front strap under the trigger guard, turning on the laser beam.

Front-strap checkering. Kimber’s 30 LPI front strap checkering, even though only engaging two fingers (remember: the middle finger rests on the rubber lasergrips switch), increases purchase, which helps you hang on and get back on target when shooting. I’m not sure there’s better front-strap checkering than 30 LPI machined into a steel frame. The front-strap checkering on plastic framed guns is okay; same for aluminum-framed guns. It’s just hard to beat the feel of finely machined steel.

All-steel construction. Yep, it’s heavier than aluminum or plastic and therefore comes with a cost when carrying concealed. But the advantage when shooting is significant. Less muzzle flip, more control, faster, more accurate shots. Plus strength and durability. Carried in a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe, it’s weight distributes nicely over a gun belt and the leather body shield, providing virtually all day carry comfort.

Like I said, you can get these features on other 1911’s and other makes/models of guns. But combined with Kimber’s excellent manufacturing, the 1911’s slim profile, and the 1911’s timeless fire controls, this combination is getting close to perfect.

— Mark Kakkuri

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