New Kimber Ultra Ten II Is Compact, Light .45 Pistol

by Phil W. Johnston
Handgun Editor

We did a double take while reviewing the latest Kimber catalog. It doesn't seem possible that it's been six years since Kimber got into the handgun business but that's the case. Kimber introduced their Classic .45 ACP 1911 in 1996. Today, Kimber is the largest 1911 pistol manufacturer in the world! If you want a quality 1911, look no further. Fortunately, Kimber doesn't limit their production only to 1911s, either. The line includes some really great bolt-action rimfire and centerfire rifles, as well as a new line of quality stack-barrel shotguns.

Each year as we drift through the SHOT Show, we end up spending some of our time with Dwight Van Brunt, energetic vice president of Kimber. We have yet to hit Van Brunt when there's not a new Kimber hot off the presses and he is usually bubbling with enthusiasm.

One of Kimber's new entries this year revolves on a little gem called the Ultra Ten II. Featuring a polymer receiver, stainless steel slide and match quality 3-inch barrel, one might tend to throw this rig in the bin with all the other little .45s. We suggest that you read a bit further before doing so, however.

Up front, Kimber pistols are built in the United States and the Ultra Ten II is no different. The entire pistol is made here, including the polymer receiver. I suspect that like us, you prefer buying American.

The Ultra Ten II is Kimber's lightest .45, hitting the scales at a scant 24 ounces, empty, of course. Kimber relies on a machined aluminum insert in the polymer receiver to keep the weight down and take the punishment. The aluminum insert provides the bearing surfaces for the machined stainless steel slide. We imagine that the aluminum insert is pressed into the polymer receiver after it's machined but it looks like the two components grew as one, just the same.

The pistol is pretty much the way Browning designed it, but takedown is a bit different. Kimber relies on dual, captive recoil springs to keep things locked up and retard recoil, and there is no barrel bushing.

Takedown is simple and straight-forward. One simply makes sure the pistol is empty and then works the slide to the rear until the tool provided can be inserted into a small hole through the recoil guide. Then the slide can be released slowly until the tool takes up the tension in the springs. With the tension off, one removes the slide by pushing the slide lock to the left and out. The captive recoil springs and guide can then be slipped out toward the rear of the slide and the barrel is then free to be taken out toward the muzzle. Simple and quick, as John Browning intended.

The pistol gets part of its name from the dual stack magazines that are supplied (two) with the pistol. Each magazine holds 10 .45 ACP cartridges. Kimber manages to hold the overall width of the pistol to 1.18 inches in spite of the dual column magazine.

The magazine well walls measure .11 inch. The magazine well doesn't need to be beveled because the magazines taper toward the top end. While we appreciate the 10-round capacity of this pistol, we've got to admit that loading numbers nine and 10 takes a bit of work. We're glad we don't have to do this 12 hours a day.

Fixed Sights
The pistol is supplied with fixed sights-a Novak-style non-snag rear sight is slipped into a dovetail and secured there with an Allen screw. The sight can be drifted for windage changes but this one was spot on, out of the box. The front sight is pressed into a dovetail. This pistol tended to shoot about 2 inches high for us with 230-grain +P ammo, but the lighter Triton +P 165-grain JHPs were smack dab in the middle of the 3-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets.

The trigger is typical 1911 single-action and pretty good out of the box. Kimber says that this pistol will have a trigger that weighs between 4 and 5 pounds and the sample averaged 4 pounds, 15.3 ounces on the Lyman Digital Trigger gauge. The trigger on the sample was just a tad notchy but perfectly acceptable on this type of rig. If we could keep this one, we'd have a good gunsmith take it down to a crisp 3° pounds, but that's just what we're used to.

The Ultra Ten II is indeed one small .45! It measures 6.8 inches, overall, and stands 4.8 inches tall. We expected the light .45 to be a bit sharp with the hottest ammunition but the rig stuck in our hands nicely. Sharp checkering molded into the front and back of the grip frame helps.

Range Shooting
On the range, since we didn't have an insert for the Ransom Rest that would take the new polymer receiver, we elected to grab our shooting glasses and blast away off our BR Pivot shooting bench. We rested the Kimber on a veteran Dog-Gone-Good shooting bag. All shooting was done at 25 yards. When the smoke cleared, the Kimber managed to average less than 3 inches with all 100 rounds.

Two loads-Triton's Quick Shok (QS) 165-grain JHPS and Winchester's Ranger +P 230-grain JHPs-managed to account for at least one 1-inch group. Regardless, however, since this pistol isn't a target rig, the fact that it will routinely put 'em in the middle of a 3-inch target at 25 yards is surely good enough.

By the same token, the hot Triton +P load manages to account for 415 foot-pounds (FP) of instrumental energy, as well. The other three loads generated from 325 to 350 FP of energy. We've run the Triton loads into ballistic gelatin and this load is one impressive load. It's the load we'd stuff this one with for serious work.

Kimber says that this pistol must be broken in and we made no effort to do that. We simply pulled it from the box and began blasting away. The only work stoppages tended to show up when the rig was attempting to chamber round #3 from any of the three supplied magazines, early on.

We don't think this can be taken as criticism, however, because as Kimber predicted, the Ultra Ten II began getting better as things wore on. In fact, the last 20 rounds we ran through it on our dueling tree worked perfectly. We suspect that if this pistol was cleaned, lubricated properly, and well-broken in it would indeed feed and function with any load. Still, as we've said before, if you're using a semi-auto for serious work, you'd be well advised to find a flawless firearm and ammunition combination before you need them.

The Kimber Ultra Ten II is one of the smallest, lightest .45 ACPs in the business and it'll hold 10+1 +P Triton QS rounds in reserve. It'll put this load in the middle of a 3-inch target at 25 yards, to boot. Carrying a suggested retail price of $850, we'd put this rig at the top of our list and, weighing less than 2 pounds loaded, it would carry nicely. For more information about any of the Kimber family look 'em up on the Internet at:, or you can request a catalog from Kimber America at: One Lawton St., Dept. GWK, Yonkers, NY, 10705.

 Load Velocity/ES/SD
@ 15 Feet
@15 Feet
Smallest 5
Shot GP.
@ 25 Yards
Largest 5
Shot GP.
@ 25 Yards
Average 5
Shot GP.
@ 25 Yards
Cor-Bon +P
230-grain JHP
 811/83/20 fps  335.8 FP  2.20"  4.07"  2.90"
Hornady +P
200-grain XTP JHP
 888/86/24 fps  350.1 FP  2.09"  3.14"  2.56"
Triton QS
165-grain JHP
 1,068/38/13 fps  415.5 FP  1.09"  3.41"  2.46"
Ranger 230-grain
 798/63/18 fps  325.2 FP  1.28"  4.56"  2.93"

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