Kimber Gold Combat raises the bar for accurate 1911s
by R.K. Campbell
Contributing Editor

A number of years ago I decided to broaden my horizons and collect gold coins. My family felt that this gun thing was driving me to distraction. In truth, there is nothing more challenging than getting the most out of a precision instrument. Now, I am not a renaissance man by any means but I love a good book, an old Jeep, old watches and knives. At any rate I worked my way up to eight nice coins. My local gun shop is also a pawn and jewelry shop. They acquired one interesting 1911 pistol after the other and my gold coin collection was depleted. I do not miss the coins at all. I never would have worked up to James Bond’s money belt of 32 gold Sovereigns anyway.

However, I do own a Gold Cup .45 and also the pistol covered in this report. There isn’t a trace of the precious metal in the Kimber Gold Combat but, as the saying goes, the piece is “good as gold.” Let’s take a hard look at the Kimber Gold Match and where it fits in the scheme of things.

The Custom II is Kimber’s base gun or bread and butter pistol with a suggested retail of about $800. The Custom II is a very good service pistol with good features. You have to work at it to realize you need something that shoots better than this one. After all, it is good enough for LAPD SWAT. The Custom Shop offers several upgrades on the Custom II including grip strap checkering and Meprolight night sights. Modified Kimber pistols are used by the US Marine Corps and others are in service in police holsters across the nation.

There is a steady demand for high-end 1911 pistols. The demand is surprising in some ways because the pistols are pricey. But the performance of these pistols cannot be faulted. Among the more impressive handguns is the Kimber Gold Combat. My personal pistol is representative of the breed. It has given excellent service, never failing to feed, chamber, fire or eject when using either my own handloads or factory ammunition. The pistol is consistently accurate with quality ammunition. The Gold Combat is noticeably tighter in barrel and barrel bushing fit than the Custom II. This enables an appreciably more accurate handgun. There are highly tuned, tightened handguns that may prove more accurate with one load or the other, but the Gold Combat is among the most consistent handguns I have seen with one load or the other. From the Cor-Bon 230 grain Performance Match accuracy load to a good service load such as the Winchester 230-grain SXT, the pistol exhibits high accuracy.

The pistol has a number of desirable custom features. These include Meprolight self luminous iron sights. The green glowing tritium is a welcome addition to any handgun designed for 24-hour carry. The pistol features a memory groove grip safety and an extended, ambidextrous slide lock safety. In the past, a robust and effective ambidextrous safety was an elusive goal. The Kimber version works fine and has survived hard use in thousands of manipulations. The pistol also features front gripstrap checkering, checkered rosewood grips, and a magazine chute. The combination of front strap and grip checkering make for excellent purchase in all firing conditions.

Anyone stricter than I on 1911 construction is a purist but I like the additions found on the Kimber. Each one has a purpose and they are well designed and work well. This handgun is easier to use than most and the more you use the piece the more you will appreciate the Gold Combat. On the range the grip checkering and frontstrap checkering make for good adhesion and the magazine chute is an aid in rapidly replenishing the ammunition supply.

Slow fire accuracy is the easy part. The Kimber Gold Combat is very accurate, with several groups with my personal handloads registering a 1˚-inch group for five shots at 25 yards. This is exceptional performance, even for a semi production piece from the custom shop. Naturally, like all quality handguns, the Kimber prefers one load to another, but a combination of good fit and a match grade barrel lead to good accuracy. A smooth five-pound trigger compression also is an aid to a good shooter.

The advantage of this piece is that it is a first class combat pistol. The Gold Match fills the hand and we are ready to make a minute-of-mackinaw hit in good order. For practice I usually use a hardball (230-grain/830fps) equivalent load, and at this power level the pistol is very controllable. From a one hand shoulder point at 7 yards the entire magazine may be quickly dumped into the K zone of a target in good order.

At ten yards firing as quickly as we are able to bring the sights back into alignment, we were able to fire several three-inch groups for five shots. This is a shooter!

I have carried the Kimber in several holsters depending upon the climate and the expected scenario. For the past few months I have carried the piece in a D and D Gunleather holster (D and D Gunleather, PO Box 1638, North Bend, WA 98045; online: from Dave Workman. This is a well made holster, of excellent design and execution, I recommend it to anyone in need of a concealed carry holster.

The Gold Combat with a current suggested retail about $2,000 is among the most accurate 1911 handguns I have used to date. It is no mean feature to ring the gong every time at 25 yards. Both practical and intrinsic accuracy are there in spades. I have not fired from rollover prone in some time but the Kimber practically invited me to do so. Using the Black Hills 230-grain JHP I fired a 4˚-inch group at a long 50 yards. I feel that this is at the edge of this shooter’s ability. This is nearly the accuracy I once expected from a Magnum revolver! I simply cannot shoot up to the Kimber’s potential.

Test Results
Ammo Group Size
Black Hills
185 gr. JHP 2.0
200 gr. SWC 1.75
230 gr. FMJ 3.0
230 gr. JHP 2.2
230 gr. JHP+P 2.5
200 gr. JHP 2.9
230 gr. FMJ 3.1
230 gr. XTP 2.5
Montana Bullet Works 200-gr. LBT 1.5
Sierra 230 gr. MATCH 1.75

For more information, or to review all of the Kimber 1911 pistols available, contact: Kimber, One Lawton St., Dept. GWK, Yonkers, NY 10705; phone: 800-880-2418; online:

Finally, if you want to continue shooting the Kimber and your other firearms, support the Second Amendment Foundation!

ON THE COVER: Meprolight night sights are an essential component of the Kimber Gold Combat. The sight picture is excellent.
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