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This is a heads up for you guys out there on the verge of buying a new Kimber of any type.

Kimber seems to be in a phase of quality control problems and I would avoid buying one right now.

I just worked on a Custom Classic - an older gun - but it was the most problematic 5 inch gun I've ever worked on - I just replaced the slide with a Caspian unit and the problems are solved. We don't have enough space for me to outline what was wrong - suffice to say I would never have been happy with that gun so the slide is gone.

I talked to Dick Heinie yesterday and he is contemplating freezing sales of his Kimber sights because he has had so many complaints about the guns not shooting to the sights - some as much as 5 inches high at 25 yards.

I talked to Ken Hackathorn last night and he said he knows a guy who just bought 3 Kimbers and promptly took them back to the dealer. Kimber did not complete the breech face cut - there was no cut opposite the extractor to accept the cartridge rim. Obviously the guns could not have been test fired.

The last Kimber Pro Carry and Compact I worked on where nothing but problems - I will not work on them again.

I have agreed to work on a few Custom Classics for customers on my list - I will honor those requests but I will not work on any more Kimbers until I am sure they have things under control. Don't hold your breath.

Life is to short for this nonsense - and my time is too valuable. My reputation as a 1911 pistolsmith has been earned through blood, sweat, and tears and I will not compromise it by working on pistols that may be so far out of spec that Houdini couldn't fix them.

One last note; I can't remember the last Springfield 5 inch gun that didn't run like a sewing machine when I got done with it. Do yourselves a big favor - either build on a Springfield, Caspian slide and frame, or 70 series Colt.

You may save yourself and your pistolsmith alot of heartache.
 

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Mr. Vickers

Thanks for the Heads Up, as a "Kimber Victim" I understand well.

As a point of information, I notice the new Colt Series 80`s was not on your approved list.

The last 2 Colt Stainless Model 1091Z Custom Shop ( Full size 1991A1, 2001 year CNC production )Guns I bought, were, in my non Master Smith opinion outstanding in fit and function.

Could you please expand on your omission...?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Blackjack on 2001-04-19 16:21 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Blackjack on 2001-04-19 16:22 ]</font>
 

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Crap! I've got a Kimber Stainless 5" that I love. Very accurate and reliable. I was planning on getting a blued one and sending it to Dane. Hopefully, that's not out. The SAs are nice but I don't like the square cut of the frame. The Colts are a bit hard to come and quality seems to vary. Plus, I've come around to the idea that the more parts (i.e. firing pin safety) the more chance of something going wrong, especially when the problem can be remedied through heavier firing pin springs.

So, Dane, what's your recommendation?
 

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I will not compromise it by working on pistols that may be so far out of spec that Houdini couldn't fix them.
Just call me Houdini :grin:

Just kidding of course :lol:

A bad gun is a bad gun and I don't want to work on one any more than Larry does.

I just got an email from Dick Heinie saying he was infact stopping the sale of the Slant Pros for Kimbers.

I suspect I have rebuilt more Kimbers than anyone but the Kimber Custom shop. I started with Kimbers day one and haven't looked back.

Yes, some of their guns can be a problem. Yes, their barrel fit sucks. Which in turn makes getting the guns to shoot POA difficult.

I still think they are the best value on the market quality wise. I build my best grade guns on the Jericho (read Kimber, CMC or Nowlin) frames and Caspian slides.

I may switch frames when Gary at Caspian changes his front strap design.

I have dozens of Kimbers in shop now. I will continue to work on them, and put Heinie sights on them, because Dick knows I won't complain.....to him :grin:

I respect Larry's and Dick's opinion. I just haven't seen the problems to this point they have. {although I do have one list member who has a gun that is not shooting POA with Heinie's. I just haven't had a chance to fix it yet) I may see problems in the guns sitting in the safe now. I suspect Kimber will stand behind their products, if I have a problem with them, or more importantly, YOU have a problem with them.
 

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Geezzzzeeeee, I forgot to add.

Kimber's very seldom shoot to POA from the box on the fixed sighted models. Since day one..better but still not good from the samples I see. If your gun does not, fitting a new set of Heinie's sights, or Novak's for that matter isn't going to fix the problem and will usually make it worse. A barrel refit done correctly and a recrown usually will.

Some of the most accurate guns I have ever seen have been Kimbers with a Brown bull barrel fitted. One of the most accurate Kimber barrels I have seen, is now fitted correctly into one of my (well, Luigi' stole it so it must be his now :smile: ) personal guns.

Bottom line is Kimber barrels can be made to shoot POA with any good sight and Kimber quality control, IMO, is no worse or better than anyone else's in the last 20 years.

The way I look at it is you get a frame, slide, small parts, a good barrel and the mill work done for $600. Then you take it to guys like me, Larry, or Dick and have us put it together correctly.

If as Larry says..."can't be done". Believe him and get another gun....my second choice would be another Kimber for the dollars spent. Larry's or YMMV.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-04-19 19:18 ]</font>
 

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What's up with that damned lock Springfield is putting on their 1911's now? Something else that you gotta pay to have taken off, I guess.

Kimber hi-caps I owned flat sucked. Single stacks have served me well, but I don't build them, just shoot 'em.
 

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Yup...thanks for the headsup guys...:wink:
 

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This makes the Colt look better all the time, I suspect Kimber is suffering thru some of the same things Colt did some time ago. I never have been a Kinber fan and this sort of solidifies that opinion. Got to get me another Colt. Thanks for the tips.
 

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Gentlemen,

I think that we're dealing in the noise level here. I own two Kimbers, and both shot to POA out of the box. I have quite a few friends who own Kimbers, and theirs all do the same. None of us would trade our Kimbers for anything else.

I would imagine that only a tiny percentage of Kimber (or any other gun) owners send theirs to a smith for extensive work. While I'm not doubting anyone's personal experiences, I am saying that the numbers involved are not statistically significant when compared with Kimber's total production.

To use an analogy, my 4x4 is no Range Rover, but it gets me around in all weather, runs perfectly, and didn't cost me a Range Rover price. So it is w/my Kimbers vs. a custom gun. Just some perspective. :cool:

Regards,
TBob
 

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Let me quote form a Kimber employee who I think has said it best.

"The "Kimber QC is sliding" theme is an old and completely ignorant recurrence. Our guns are better everyday. Do we ever have a problem? Of course, but they are rare and we remedy them immediately"

"However it is impossible to argue that we have not substantially raised the bar of production 1911 pistls. The winners are the customers."

Here is some food for thought. I have shot on a competitive level professionally. I have carried a gun professionally in LE.

Not everyone has the ability or the means to carry a full house BCP, Heinie, or Vickers. DAMN few in actual need of a quality handgun have the finacial ability to purchasse one.

Six years ago a full house gun would cost you around $2500 from me. When Kimber came out I was able to duplicate that gun for around $1200 at almost the same level of quality as a full house gun. Half price...not quite the gun, but darn close. Things changed rapidly. Firearms classes went from 80% Glock to these days of 70 to 80% Kimber. I can build a darn nice gun that even a working man who has a need for and better yet can actually AFFORD . Larry Vickers gets to play and work in an atmosphere where he and his team mates get every toy. Cost is no object. They have two custom 1911 guns built for each of them. They shoot those guns to death and then the same 1911s are then replaced by our tax dollars.

In my neiborhood and with my mates money always counts. Kimber is a great buy. Kimber is a gun I would trust from the box with little modification or better yet ( only because I do it for a living) with some extensive fine tuning.

Kimber sells more 1911s than the next FIVE...yes, FIVE competitors combined.

That pretty much says it all.

Buyer beware, IS the smart saying.
 

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A lie [or in this case a rumor] gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. "
-Sir Winston Churchill
In an effort to end some of the rumor mongering nonsense that is being played out over this Kimber quality control question, I think it would be instructional if we could at least examine some of the issues being raised by Larry Vickers. If you have FACTS to add, then please feel fee to add them to the discussion. "Me too" and "I told ya so" comments do little to foster intelligent analysis of the claims being made. Let's look closer at the question, by examining the issues raised by Larry, point-by-point.

I just worked on a Custom Classic - an older gun - but it was the most problematic 5 inch gun I've ever worked on - I just replaced the slide with a Caspian unit and the problems are solved. We don't have enough space for me to outline what was wrong - suffice to say I would never have been happy with that gun so the slide is gone.
First, let met start by saying it does no one any good, to have someone allude to problems and then fail to explain the specifics of the problem. If you can't at least briefly explain it to us in a few sentences, then what can we assume about the fullness of your understanding of the problem? Or, as Einstein once remarked, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, than you probably don't understand the subject." This subject is not so complicated, that at least some (maybe even most) of our members will be able to grasp the meaning of what is said.

BTW, we do have more than enough space to allow Larry to outline the specifics of what he was contending. He can give us as much detail as he likes. If he feels like writing an entire novel, then we would be happy to accomodate him. :smile: He could begin by telling us exactly what was so wrong, that it necessitated replacing the Kimber slide with a Caspian unit? Did anyone try contacting Kimber? If the problem was so pronounced and the fault was so clearly the result of the manufacturing process, then why not at least try to see if Kimber will stand behind their product? What were the specific problems and what solutions were attempted?

I talked to Dick Heinie yesterday and he is contemplating freezing sales of his Kimber sights because he has had so many complaints about the guns not shooting to the sights - some as much as 5 inches high at 25 yards.
We should probably let Dick answer this one. However, I would add, Dane has commented that the Kimber factory guns (non Kimber Custom Shop) very often do not shoot to POA. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, Dane and other smiths like Tim Bacus, have come up with ways of making Heinie sights installed on a Kimber shoot POA. They have been doing this for several years now. It doesn't seem to be a problem with either their customers, or their Kimber pistols.

In my view, the basic problem is that many gunsmiths (and do-it-yourselfers) don't understand the associated issues with this specific problem. If you take a gun that isn't shooting POA and replace the sights with parts that aren't changing the relationship between the sight picture and the barrel alignment (merely replacing like for like), then it stands to reason that the same problem as was shipped from the factory will still remain. Changing the sights doesn't change the problem. Fixing the related problem does.

I talked to Ken Hackathorn last night and he said he knows a guy who just bought 3 Kimbers and promptly took them back to the dealer. Kimber did not complete the breech face cut - there was no cut opposite the extractor to accept the cartridge rim. Obviously the guns could not have been test fired.
Obviously the guns weren't test fired. But then neither are any of the frame and slide sets from Jericho that everyone is using to build best grade guns with. These same sets are also labeled CMC, Wilson Combat and Nowlin. If the frame and slide sets that are coming are off the Jericho production line are now bottom of the barrel, then it would appear everyone would be left building guns strictly on Caspian, Colt or Springfield Armory parts. Clearly, that is not the case.

Third hand information from Ken Hackathorn is better than most second hand information from anyone else, but we are still only talking about THREE guns out of the TENS OF THOUSANDS of guns that Kimber manufactures. Until we can isolate something that approaches that of a real trend, we are only speaking to a statistical anomaly. Do the math -- the number will be measured in a fraction of a percent -- and a tiny one at that.

The last Kimber Pro Carry and Compact I worked on where nothing but problems - I will not work on them again.
Again we have another comment alluding to a problem, but no useful information about what the problem is. How can we draw any conclusion with so little information provided? If more information was provided, I am sure there are several gunsmiths onboard that could he help isolate and identify this pandemic problem -- if indeed one does exist at all.

My reputation as a 1911 pistolsmith has been earned through blood, sweat, and tears and I will not compromise it by working on pistols that may be so far out of spec that Houdini couldn't fix them.
How about Larry providing some actual numbers, so that others can have a more accurate gauge of what is really being spoken about here? Until he explains what his parameters are for being "out of spec", then we lack a basis of comparison.

If there was a real problem, than I suspect many of the very best pistolsmiths in this country -- many of whom are basing their best grade guns on the frames and slides that are rolling off the Jericho production line -- would be storming the doors of that very same plant. Until there is more substantive proof to the contrary, I think we better weight the facts more thoroughly, before we become party to spreading false rumors about an American company we know to be producing high quality firearms.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
-Sir Winston Churchill

DD

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Desert Dog on 2001-04-21 21:46 ]</font>
 

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So where does that leave us, those who are looking to buy a 1911??? I had thought of buying a Kimber last week, but then was told of this topic. Yes Kimber is an exellent value. And is still made in the U.S.. What does the folks at Kimber say about this? If I were still to purchase one, and it turned out to be that poorly finished. Would Kimber repair it under warranty? In the back of my mind, I still believe Kimber is a quality manufacturer. But money is still and important factor...
 

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Kimber will and has repaired every gun I have heard about having a problem. They generally ship small parts in question free of charge and have quickly returned any gun, any customer I know has had to return.

And those returns have been pretty small if you stick to the single stack guns.

Much ado about nothing. The sky is not falling and Kimber is still a good value and a good gun.
 

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but we are still only talking about THREE guns out of the TENS OF THOUSANDS of guns that Kimber manufactures.
A thousand attaboys will get you a pat on the back; one aw $&%* wipes the slate clean.

After trying to purchase a new car for five years I stopped visiting auto enthusiast sites.

Eddie
 

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My recent experience with Kimber service:

Having read a lot of the horror stories floating around over the past year or two, I finally got up the nerve to call Kimber about ordering a windage screw retaining nut for the Kimber-marked adjustable sight that came on a Gold Match (K039xxx) I bought in late 1999. It fell off sometime/somewhere during a day when I went hiking after shooting. The sight still worked, it just looked funny.

The customer service rep. said they'd cover it under warranty!! Great, no need to read them the credit card number and pay shipping on a dime part.

They sent me a new adjustable sight!!!!

Maybe I got lucky, but I'd trust them to fix a problem, too.

John
 

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My new Custom Classic runs great. Everyone that I know who owns one loves their Kimber! There's bound to be an occasional problem child when you mke as many guns as Kimber does. It's the same with any close tolerance manufactured product. From the replies here, it seems that Kimber takes care of these rare cases in acceptable fashion.
 

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So, in nearly three weeks, no updates or replies from Larry?

It really does chap me when someone makes claims and instead of specs, cites other people who also suggest there are problems and are doing something like curtailing sales supposedly. So, we are left with one guy suggesting there is a problem of significance and making claims for others.

All this may be true of course, but it is not exactly good documentation. If I were one of the other people, I would rather a 3rd party not be stating for me what my intentions are or are not concerning a product line I sell or service.
 
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