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Kimber Stainless Raptor II
A Custom Shop 1911 In 45 ACP Gun Review


By Dan S. Defense

The Kimber Raptor series comes to us from the Kimber Custom Shop. The Kimber Raptor line is quite diverse. Kimber Raptors come in three form factors, ranging from the sub-compact Ultra Raptor, to the full size Grand Raptor, and with different options, the current line has seven different versions for you to choose from.

In this review we will focus on the full size, 45 ACP Kimber Stainless Raptor II. We'll cover key data points, range report, ammo selection and concealed carry report and tips.

The Kimber Stainless Raptor II is a handsome firearm, with a distinct look. From the flat top slide, with its reptilian scales, to the matching wood grips-this is a firearm that will stand out in any collection. The Stainless Raptor II, as other Raptors, is entirely built in the Kimber Custom Shop, by skilled gunsmiths and high quality parts.

While not a full custom handgun, since parts are made in a production line, it's still feel as good as many custom guns, thanks to the attention and hand fitting done at the Kimber Customer Shop. Because it's built well, with a match grade barrel and match grade trigger, this Kimber shoots as well as it looks, but more on that later, when we describe how well the Raptor II did at the range.

The Kimber Stainless Raptor II, as its name implies, it made from stainless steel. Kimber than gave it a distinct look, by first by giving the frame and slide a brush polished finish, and then adding the distinct reptilian scales, both on the slide top and the front and rear serrations.

The latter is a point of contention to some who think that front serrations are an abomination, while others see it as a useful add-on feature. I have guns with and without front serrations, and I don't really mind their existence, or lack of. I will say that on this handgun, the front scales fit very nicely with the overall look and I think Kimber did a fine job with the overall design. As an aside, if I'm not mistaken, the first gunsmith to design the scale look was Ed Brown, a well-known and respected master gunsmith, but I couldn't swear to it, so it's a fact (or assumption if you prefer) that you may opt to examine further.

The Kimber Stainless Raptor II isn't light or small. Being made from stainless steel and quite a bit of it too, it weighs a hefty 38 oz. when empty. Add a magazine loaded with sell defense ammunition, and you end up with a heavy self-defense handgun. Polymer gun users (e.g. XD, Glock) will baulk at this weight, but as you'll see later, what comes in as a disadvantage (for some) in the carry category, comes in as a plus, when it comes to shooting this pistol.

Additional relevant data points include its overall lengths which comes to 8.7", a 5" match grade barrel and typical 1911 slim width of 1.28". The Raptor II comes with good, bright night sights and handy sight radius of 6.8". From an accuracy or ease of use perspective, keep in mind that more is better, when it comes to sight radius. Finally, the Raptor II comes with handsome wood grips, a full length guide rod and 16lb recoil spring.

Shooting the Kimber Stainless Raptor II is simply fun and enjoyable. The full size 1911, with its sufficient weight to dampen recoil, long sight radius, fine trigger and high grip, makes shooting seem too easy. This handgun is highly accurate, generating groups that put most production guns to shame and doing so with ease. I attribute this level of accuracy to the fine trigger and overall weight.

As mentioned before, a heavier handgun with a good trigger is far easier to shoot well than a light handgun. The eight round magazine performed well. It was easy to load all eight rounds and it fed each and every round properly. The wood grip and front and rear grip checkering allowed for a superb grip, which remained firm even after my hands started perspiring. The sights are clear and easy to see.

The Raptor shot to point of aim and the ambidextrous safety locked and released with confidence. I'm generally cautious when it comes to ambidextrous safeties, because they can release during carry, but with a good holster that problem is pretty much covered and it allows easier weak side shooting.

The Kimber loaded and ejected each and every round I fed it. From range ammo made by non-US firms, to Winchester and Remington range ammo to high end self-defense ammo from Speer, Federal, Corbon and Winchester-the Kimber liked them all and delivered them on target with superb accuracy. If I was to sum up the range report with one sentence, I'd say that this handsome handgun shoots as well as it looks.

The Kimber Raptor II seems to be very generous with ammo selection and I found no brand that needs to be avoided. Still, there must be one or two that work better with this specific handgun (more accurately, with the one I have) and I'd say that the Federal HST 230gr, the Winchester Ranger Bonded 230gr or if you refer something lighter, the Wilson Combat Custom 185 gr ammo worked better than the rest. That doesn't mean that I'd feel anything but secure with Speer Gold Dot or Corbon DPX-it's just that these cartridges worked a bit better.

Carrying this handgun properly, which means with decent comfort and accessibility, requires a good holster and even better belt. I use IWB holsters in summer and OWB in winter. My favorite holster, belt combination comes from "Haugen Handgun Leather", by Jerry Evans . I have been using several of Jerry's holsters for many different handguns and they are simply perfect. Another favorite is "CrossBreed Holsters", which also offers a good belt and holster combo. Jerry's work is very pleasing to the eye, and the CrossBreed is pretty ugly, but I trust both with my life.

In summary, the Kimber Stainless Raptor II is a strong and handsome self-defense handgun. It offers quality, reliability, accuracy and even good looks. If you intend to carry the Raptor, be sure to get a good holster and a great belt. If you are in the market for a classy, high end but still affordable 1911, we strongly recommend you give this fine firearm a close look.

Until next time, stay safe by staying alert!

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