While the world continues to fill with new 1911 manufacturers due to the fantastic original design and readily available precision machining centers, Kimber continues to focus on meeting market demands for an Every Day Carry (EDC) 1911 with their Aegis Elite Pro (which I will abbreviate down to Pro for the remainder of the article).
I shot the new Pro at the 2018 SHOT show and was impressed with the feel and performance for a smaller 1911. The primary thing that stands out about the Pro is the rounded butt, which should significantly reduce the printing from the point of the grip when carried concealed. The Aegis series of guns can be had in 9mm or 45 calibers and with barrels ranging from 3” to 5”.
When firing the Pro I was surprised that the reduction of the heel of the grip was barely noticeable in the feel of the gun or in control when rapidly engaging plates. The overall look and feel reminded me of an old S&W Model 39 I had once owned, though the trigger of the Pro was much better.
The grooved curved front surface of the trigger reminded me of the feel of an old Gold Cup match trigger. The Pro’s trigger broke at an average of 5 lbs, with just a small amount of take-up and over travel. It proved very shootable on the range, and for a carry gun, the weight and take-up were just right, not too light, not too heavy.
The rounding and blending on the back of the Pro was very well done. All the edges were smooth and comfortable between the frame, mainspring housing and grip safety mating surfaces. The G10 grips were also very nicely contoured to match the bob-tailing of the frame and had a good texture for shooting without being overly aggressive that may result in cover clothing hanging up on them. The left-hand grip was also nicely scalloped out to allow easier access to the magazine release. I am also a big fan of the Allen head grip screws.
The magazine well had a nice bevel on it to aid in reloading the provided 9-round magazine. I wonder why manufacturers still provide 9-rounders with guns when there are excellent functioning 10 round magazines available. I tested the gun with the factory and two other brand magazines and it functioned flawlessly with all brands.
Around on the front side of the grip is a nice 24 line-per-inch checkering to lock the hand in place when firing. The checkering functioned well but seemed just a bit unfinished at the top with two lines of horizontal machining that had no vertical to make checkering. Maybe they’re just accent lines, but they provided no real purpose and left me wondering.
The sights on the little Pro were really outstanding. They were generously sized fiber optic models to allow rapid target acquisition and provided a very clean sight picture. I also really liked how the fiber optic was protected but also allowed for plenty of light transmission.
The single-sided thumb safety is slightly extended and enlarged to allow rapid manipulation but not so big as to be a disadvantage or gouge you when carrying up against your body all day. Operation was crisp and positive with little chance of it being accidentally disengaged in normal daily wear.
I’m not quite sure how to describe the checkering pattern on the sides of the slide. It’s called Aegis Elite X by Kimber. It was not quite as aggressive as I would have liked for ensuring a positive grip when racking the slide due to the slide’s slick Kim Pro II finish, but it did the job every time without fail during my testing. I also recognize that compromises must be made. An aggressive pattern may rub you raw depending on your holster choice when carried all day, so functional and comfortable is probably a good choice.
Speaking of things being a little smooth, I was very impressed at the finish of the inside machined surfaces of the stainless steel slide and frame. There were almost no signs of machining marks present and some surfaces–like where the tip of the disconnector contacts the slide–was polished to a shine.
The bull barrel of the Pro makes the caliber of the gun look bigger than a 9mm when viewed from the business end. The enlarged barrel does away with the need of a barrel bushing in the lockup of the barrel and the full-length guide rod eliminates any spring binding, making for smoother functioning in the short slide’s action.
The finish on the Pro is designed to take the wear and tear of daily carry and use. The stainless frame has a satin finish and the slide has the Kim Pro II finish. Many of the corners and edges of the Pro are also rounded or broken ever so slightly to remove wear points and make for a smoother overall feel to the gun.
Caliber- 9mm or 45
Weight- 35 oz
Height- 5.25 inches
Length- 7.7 inches
Barrel- 4 inches
Capacity- 9 round magazine provided (9mm) + 1 in the chamber
MSRP- $ 1021
Accuracy- I shot the Pro off of a sandbag at 15 yards for the accuracy testing. The average for 5 five shot groups using CCI 115 grain ball was a very respectable 1.8”. The short sight radius didn’t seem to hinder the Pro from shooting good groups partly due to the nice sight picture and the good trigger.
The smallest group shot was a 1.3” with Speer Lawman 147’s, though the gun definitely hit a different point of aim with the 147s compared to the 115-grain bullets. As I have found with most guns, they like some bullets and don’t perform as well with others. The Pro didn’t seem to like the Hornady Critical Defense 115 FTX loads and groups averaged about 3”.
All in all, for a short barreled defense oriented pistol keeping most groups less than 2” at 15 yards will do quite nicely.
Function- The Pro ran as you would expect a Pro should. It functioned perfectly with the factory 9-round magazine and with it loaded as up as 9+1, it also ran with my favorite stainless steel 10 round McCormick mags.
Many short barreled, heavy sprung pistols have issues when they aren’t held firmly enough to allow the slide to make a full cycle. To see if the Pro suffered from these issues I also tested it with different ammunition strong hand and weak hand only. Even with the lightest recoiling 9mm I would think to carry, the Hornady Critical Defense Light’s 100-grain FTX bullets, it continued to function without fail. It appears Kimber has it figured out and got the spring combination right on the Pro.
I shot several boxes of assorted ammunition at steel silhouettes at distances from 15 to 45 yards and found it easy to keep the steel ringing if I didn’t get sloppy on the trigger. I was pleased with the ability of the little gun to get hits on 12” steel out to 45 yards.
The fit, finish, function and design all get a big thumbs up. Obviously the Pro isn’t the smallest, lightest, highest capacity carry style pistol on the market, but for the person who wants a steel 1911 along with them every day, this would be a great choice. The rounded butt and shorter barrel both aid concealment and reduce weight. The 10+1 possible capacity, natural shootability of a good 1911 trigger, and the sights are certainly something you can have some faith in.
The only thing I would like to see different on the Aegis Elite Pro would be if they were able to undercut the grip a bit more under the trigger guard to allow the shooters hand to be higher in this area. It’s been done in competition circles for decades, so maybe it’s time for production. As many good things as Kimber has done with the design of this gun, it would be one more to set it apart from the rest.