January 03, 2011
When it comes to compact auto pistols for self-defense, Kimber's three-inch-barreled, 25-ounce Ultra Raptor II flies high.
Seems like new .45 ACP 1911 semiautomatic pistols just keep coming. Sometimes it's hard to believe that so many companies can offer so many versions of this classic pistol and sell enough of them to make a go of it. I guess it's a testament to just how great the old Browning design is. It's dependable, rugged, and can be extremely accurate.
The Ultra Raptor II's three-inch match-grade stainless-steel bull barrel is fitted directly to slides; there is no barrel bushing.
One of the newest versions is the Kimber (Dept. ST, One Lawton St., Yonkers, NY 10705; 800-880-2418; www.kimberamerica.com) Ultra Raptor II. After spending several days carrying and shooting this little beast, I can tell you that it is one reliable and accurate pistol.
This pistol obviously is not intended for bullseye matches, but my review sample is one of the most accurate short-barreled .45s I have fired. I'll get to the accuracy results of my thorough shootout with it in a moment, but first I want to tell you about some of the unique and not so unique features of the Ultra Raptor II.
The Ultra Raptor II, like all Kimber 1911s, is a recoil-operated autoloader. It is a Kimber Series II pistol, which means that it utilizes Kimber's Series II firing pin safety. In operation, this system is engaged when the grip safety is depressed. That action raises an internal push rod that pushes the firing pin block up and allows the firing pin to move forward when the trigger is squeezed. Kimber's Series II firing pin safety is not operated by the trigger, as many other manufacturers' 1911 firing pin blocks are, so it does not affect trigger pull.
Kimber Ultra Raptor II
.45 ACP Semiautomatic Pistol
|Model:||Ultra Raptor II|
|Operation:||Recoil-operated single-action autoloader|
|Barrel Length:||3.0 inches|
|Overall Length:||6.8 inches|
|Weight, empty||25 ounces|
|Safety:||Manual thumb safety, grip safety, passive firing pin block|
|Magazine Capacity:||7 rounds|
|Finish:||Matte blue with lizard scale serrations on slide, frame, and grips|
The Ultra Raptor II comes with a three-inch ramped match-grade stainless-steel bull barrel that is fitted directly to the slide. It does not use a barrel bushing. The mainspring housing is the flat style. The beavertail grip safety is bumped and grooved, and the thumb safety is ambidextrous. The trigger is blackened aluminum.
The slide is steel and the frame is alloy, and the little Ultra Raptor II weighs in at 25 ounces (unloaded). Sights are green three-dot fixed dovetailed Meprolight night sights. Magazine capacity is seven rounds.
The Ultra Raptor II does not utilize Kimber's external extractor, which many of the company's newest models have. (The full-size five-inch-barreled Raptor and the four-inch-barreled Pro Raptor do feature the external extractor, which provides both tactile and visual indication of a loaded chamber.)
A Kimber spokesman told me the reason for going with the internal extractor on this version is that the Ultra Raptor II does have a loaded chamber indicator. Kimber calls it a Loaded Chamber Indicator Port, and it is a small opening on the top of the barrel hood. When a round is in the chamber, the rim of the case can be seen through the port.
Fit & Finish
The Raptor's defining characteristics are what Kimber refers to as the "lizard scale" checkering on the frontstrap and the rear of the slide, the "feathered" checkering of the zebra wood grip panels, and the "large scales" on the top of the slide. A description of these unique styling features does not do them justice, so take a good look at the photos. To me, they are definitely good looking. The checkering pattern on the frontstrap provides a sure grip without cutting into the fingers the way some of the sharper checkering patterns do.
When I conducted the usual 1911 fit drill (pushing down on the rear of the barrel and trying to wiggle the slide from side to side), I found that everything was very tight. The slide-to-frame fit allowed for just the slightest wiggle, and the barrel hardly moved at all.
To put the Ultra Raptor II to a sweeping shooting review, I rounded up 15 factory loads from Black Hills, Federal, Hornady, Magtech, Remington, Speer, and Winchester. Bullet weights varied from 165 to 230 grains (you can find all the load details in the accompanying chart).
|Shooting Marlin's .17M2 Model|
|Factory Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||15-foot Accuracy (inches)|
|Federal 165-gr. Hydra-Shok||990||21||53||1.48|
|Magtech first Defense 165-gr. SCHP+P||968||36||75||1.35|
|Federal 185-gr. FMJ-SWC Match||702||22||51||1.22|
|Hornady 185-gr. HP XTP||805||11||25||1.12|
|Magtech 185-gr. JHP +P||1010||25||68||1.30|
|Speer 185-gr. Gold Dot||924||14||40||1.60|
|Winchester 185-gr. Silvertip||860||15||47||1.13|
|Black Hills 200-gr. SWC Match||770||26||45||1.25|
|Hornady 200-gr. Lead SWC||775||9||22||1.17|
|Federal 230-gr. Hydra-Shok||765||18||47||1.46|
|Hornady 230-gr. FMJ/FP||760||10||21||1.30|
|Magtech Cleanrange 230-gr. FEB||753||23||65||1.10|
|Magtech Guardian Gold 230-gr. JHP||886||14||32||0.97|
|Remington 230-gr. Golden Saber||770||17||44||1.20|
|Winchester 230-gr. SXT||800||20||50||1.48|
|NOTES: Accuracy is the average of hour five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 15 feet. Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured 15 feet from the gun's muzzle.|
I determined to fire the pistol at a self-defense shooting distance of 15 feet. After all, I reasoned, this pistol is designed for legal concealed carry and personal protection, so its accuracy at our standard review distance of 25 yards is not really practical.
As regards its self-defense applications, I was curious about three factors. Would the pistol function with a wide variety of ammunition? How accurately could I shoot the pistol at defensive distances? What would the felt recoil be like in such a short-barreled, relatively lightweight .45 ACP?
Overall average accuacy for the .45 ACP UItra Raptor with 15 different factory loads was 1.28 inches for five-shot groups fired at a self-defense distance of 15 feet.
Functional Reliability: To test the Ultra Raptor's functional reliability with the various .45 ACP loadings, I fired four five-shot strings with each of the 15 factory loads over the course of one afternoon. I think that constitutes a pretty thorough shooting evaluation of a semiautomatic pistol. And I did not clean the pistol during all that shooting. I made sure it was properly lubricated, but I didn't disassemble the gun and thoroughly clean it until after all the shooting was finished.
Accuracy: As you can see from the shooting results chart, the Ultra Raptor II turned in some very good strings. In most cases the five-shot groups were pretty much just single ragged holes. Occasionally three or four rounds would be touching each other with the other one or two rounds just a fraction of an inch away (the enclosed target photo is one of those). Regardless, overall average accuracy was 1.28 inches. And that's for 60 individual five-shot groups. Again, the distance was 15 feet.
Felt Recoil: I don't much care for heavy-recoiling handguns, and some of the small compact .45 ACP pistols I have worked with produced enough felt recoil to make them uncomfortable for me. But after shooting this little Ultra Raptor almost continuously for a period of three hours, I can report that I was unaffected by the felt recoil.
Kimber's Raptor pistols get their name for the distinctive feathered and scaled cosmetic treatments on their slides, grip frames, and grip panels.
That says quite a bit in my book because I suffer from tendonitis in the elbow of my shooting arm, and an afternoon's worth of shooting generally puts me in a considerable amount of discomfort. Of course, the 185- and 200-grain loads had much less felt recoil than the hotter 230-grain loadings, but the little pistol was actually very pleasant to shoot with all loads. Muzzle flip with the hotter 230-grain cartridges was naturally more noticeable, but the Ultra Raptor was extremely controllable with all the ammunition.
Once I was back at my workshop and had tallied the results of all that shooting, I couldn't help but wonder what the short-barreled .45 could do accuracy-wise at the standard evaluation distance of 25 yards. So I made another trip to my shooting range and fired the five factory loads that had achieved the best average accuracy at the 15-foot distance. I was surprised by the results. The average of those 25-yard five-shot groups was 3.30 inches. That's not too shabby for a short-barreled and relatively lightweight little self-defense pistol.
When discussing the necessary attributes of self-defense pistols, Shooting Times handgun Editor Sheriff Jim Wilson has often stated that the key elements are a good trigger, good sights, and total reliablility. Well, this Ultra Raptor II has an excellent trigger. It's smooth, crisp, and lets off consistently at 4.25 pounds.
The sights are good, too. They were easy to pick up even in the bright light I encountered during the sunny afternoon I spent at the range, and in the low light of my workshop the Meprolight tritium inserts glowed. As for reliability, well, what more can I say than the Ultra Raptor II did not miss a beat during the firing of 400 rounds.
Back in the late 1970s when I worked at Gil Hebard Guns in Knoxville, Illinois, I became aware of the short-barreled, compact Detonics .45 ACP pistols. I wanted one immediately. But reports from the field were not enthusiastic, so I held off. Then when Colt offered its 3.5-inch-barreled Officer's Model .45 (introduced in 1985), I thought it was what I needed.
However, the shooters I knew who had fired the Colt reported that it did not function reliably with all .45 ACP loads, so I passed again. Kimber has worked out those functioning problems associated with short-barreled 1911s and has been offering top-performing mini-.45s for a number of years. Now with its distinctive styling, the new Ultra Raptor II stands apart from the rest of the field.
One hundred percent functional reliability, comfortable handling, excellent accuracy, and distinguishing looks make the Ultra Raptor II a real gem.
|How Kimber's Raptor Got Its Name|
|One of the first things that came to mind when I received the sample Ultra Raptor II was why Kimber named it after a bird of prey. That thought lead to wondering how Kimber names its guns. I contacted Dwight Van Brunt, Kimber's vice president of marketing and sales, and asked him. Here's what he said:|
"Once the specifications of the particular model have been finalized we move from a 'working name' toward something appropriate for the product. The Marketing Department brings names to the table, as do both Dennis Madonia and Winslow Potter from the Kimber Custom Shop. Members of the Sales staff offer up many good ideas.
"Marketing compiles a list of possibles, then consults with management and, in particular, owner Leslie Edelman, who is always heavily involved in the process and usually contributes his ideas as far back as the first cut. We try to reach a general consensus with Leslie having the final approval, then consult with Legal to determine if there are any conflicts.
"In some instances we have gone outside for suggestions, and in one case we actually had two others come up with the same name that was first on our internal list, leaving little room for argument.
"In this case, the 'family' name we settled on is 'Raptor' because of the feathered or scaled cosmetic treatments. The addition of Ultra (three inch) and Pro (four inch) follow designators within the rest of the Kimber 1911 line.
"I think 'Raptor' was Winslow's idea and one we all agreed on quite easily."
I will turn 45 years old in about month, and I have decided to celebrate this milestone birthday by buying a special .45 pistol. Guess what? I like this Ultra Raptor II so much that I'm not letting it get away from me. I've asked the folks at Kimber to send me the bill.