As John Browning’s masterpiece 1911 approaches its centennial, the classic shows no sign of losing popularity among shooters from law enforcement SWAT to military special operations and anyone who wants the ultimate in combat handgun stopping power and reliability. When one pauses to reflect on the handguns that were the 1911’s contemporaries and those that were designed decades later, few have survived or lasted as long.
Why does the 1911 continue as the handgun of choice among knowledgeable military and law enforcement professionals? The reasons are pretty straightforward. The 1911 can be carried cocked-and-locked, which is the fastest system to get into action and on target, and it’s also one of the safest. As the pistol is drawn, the safety is swept off and as the pistol comes on target, the shooter’s finger goes into the triggerguard, all in one smooth motion. As long as the safety is on, the pistol cannot be fired, a distinct advantage over double-action-only (DAO) or systems that lack an external safety.
There are documented instances of bad guys getting their hands on a police officer’s cocked-and-locked 1911 and being unable to make it go “bang” because they couldn’t figure out the safety, giving the officer time to get to his back-up gun and eliminating the threat. Nobody ever accused these cretins of having an IQ above room temperature. These are a couple of reasons that we carry a 1911-type pistol when on duty at the police department. As far as safety is concerned, in addition to the active safety, today’s modern 1911 has several passive safeties.
Once the active safety is clicked off, the grip safety still ensures that the pistol will not fire unless it is properly gripped. There is also a disconnector that prevents the pistol from firing unless it is fully into battery. Many years ago, my partner at the police department told me that my cocked-and-locked 1911 made him nervous because of the cocked hammer. When I pointed out that my 1911 had more inherent safeties than his department issue pistol (a highly popular police issue handgun), he was incredulous until I explained that not only did my pistol have the safeties already mentioned but the holster thumb break physically blocked the hammer from falling while all he had was a trigger safety. I didn’t make a convert that day, but I did make a fellow officer understand why I preferred a 1911 over all the others and continue to do so to this day. It is still on-duty with me every time I head out onto the street. I also carry a 1911-type when I’m off-duty.
The popularity of the 1911 is so apparent that there are more manufacturers of the classic pistol than ever and one of the premier makers of 1911 pistols is Kimber, whose pistols are in use by such elite organizations like the LAPD SWAT. Some departments like the Tacoma, Washington PD issue Kimber 1911s as a duty handgun. Kimber 1911s have an enviable reputation for quality and reliability. Although most military and law enforcement personnel use full size 1911s with a 5-inch barrel, for concealment a shorter barrel is in order.
Kimber’s Pro Covert II fits that requirement to a “T” with a bushingless 4-inch match-grade bull barrel that is ideal for concealed or off-duty carry. Why a shorter barrel? When carrying a pistol concealed underneath a jacket or vest in a close-fitting belt slide, the most likely thing to print is the barrel, although the grip may also show itself to someone who knows what to look for, but this is less likely because the grip is much higher up and out of the way than the barrel’s muzzle.
Kimber Pro Covert IIs all come with a number of custom features at a very reasonable price. Standard features include an extended safety lever, a high ride beavertail grip safety, a beveled magazine well, and magazine and slide releases that are also slightly oversized. Our test pistol came with Crimson Trace Lasergrips and fixed tactical wedge tritium night sights. Our test pistol also came with a full melt treatment. All sharp edges have been radiused and smoothed for ease of carry. Fit and finish was superb with zero play between slide and frame that moved as if on ball bearings.
The grips were in a digital desert camouflage pattern, which is similar to that of the US Marine Corps. The slide was a matte black and the frame hard anodized flat dark earth. Although some may consider aluminum frames to be less reliable than steel, Kimber frames have been tested with over 20,000 rounds without any meaningful wear. That is just about a lifetime of shooting for most folks.
With all that said, for a concealed carry pistol, the Kimber Pro Covert II is an excellent choice. Kimber’s motto is “Continuing the Legacy.” We presume the legacy in question to be that of John Moses Browning, father of the 1911. Our Pro Covert II maintains the finest tradition of the 1911. We tested it with Black Hills, Extreme Shock and Remington ammunition. The Pro Covert II has a full size grip, which we prefer because shorter grips always leave the pinkie of our admittedly large shooting hand dangling below the grip, so a 1911 like the Pro Covert is just what the rangemaster ordered for us.
The Pro Covert II came with an 8-round stainless steel magazines. A note on magazines: At one time 8-round magazines had a reputation for being less reliable than the original seven rounders, which may have been true 25 years ago, but no longer has any merit. We have been carrying our duty 1911 with 8-round magazines for over six years and have yet to experience a failure of any kind attributable to the magazine. Our Pro Covert II functioned with 100 percent reliability over the nearly 200 rounds we put through it for test and just for fun, so anyone with concerns about the Kimber 8-round magazines should just shoot the pistol and put any concerns to rest.
Our test Pro Covert II shot like every Kimber 1911 pistol we have ever fired with total reliability and excellent accuracy. The match type trigger broke at 4 pounds with no creep or backlash. Just about perfect. We should note that the Pro Covert II has a firing pin safety that is activated off the grip safety, not the trigger, which is essentially the same as the 1930’s Colt Swartz safety. The Pro Covert II is slightly lighter than standard steel-framed 1911s and the barrel an inch shorter, so felt recoil had a bit more of a snap to it than standard 1911s, but nothing that couldn’t be dealt with and this is an observation, not a criticism. The steel slide on the aluminum frame gives the Pro Covert II a slightly top-heavy feel, but again this is merely an observation.
We tested the Pro Covert II at 15 yards. Some test fire combat pistols at 25 yards, but this isn’t the real world. To paraphrase Jeff Cooper, “Most gunfights take place at conversational distance,” so 25 yards is fine for slow-fire pistol matches, but real world tactical use is much closer and we compromise between too close and too distant by testing our handguns at 15 yards. We achieved our best group using Black Hills 230-grain JHP ammo.
The Pro Covert II strikes a balance between standard-size 1911s and with the 4-inch barrel is just the right length for concealed carry. The aluminum frame makes it lighter than steel-framed 1911s of similar size, another plus for concealed carry. As far as we are concerned, Kimber’s Pro Covert II is just about as good as it gets in a 1911-type pistol for concealed carry or for off-duty use.
As John Browning’s masterpiece 1911 approaches its centennial, the classic shows no sign of losing…
by Ralph Mroz / Feb 2, 2009