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Why I Like Mini 1911s

Why I Like Mini 1911s

According to the Sheriff, Kimber's latest compact pistols--the Aegis II in 9mm and the Ultra RCP II in .45 ACP--demonstrate the reasons for choosing a mini 1911 for self-defense.

The Ultra RCP II (TOP) and Aegis II (BOTTOM). To enlarge this photo, please click HERE

There has definitely been a recent trend towards lightweight short-barreled auto pistols for self-defense. Let's face it, when it comes to concealed carry, a handgunner needs a reliable pistol that functions 100 percent of the time, is slim in profile so as not to snag on clothing, is comfortable to carry, and is accurate at self-defense distances. No pistol meets these criteria better than an ultracompact 1911.

Two of the newest mini 1911s are from Kimber, and I got an exclusive hands-on look at them.

Those folks at Kimber continue to amaze me. For quite a number of years they have built some of the nicest 1911 pistols it has been my pleasure to shoot. The two Kimber 1911s I've been testing recently are good examples of that.

Features that make the 9mm Aegis II mini 1911 good for self-defense include its lightweight aluminum frame, thin rosewood grip panels, and 30-lpi checkering on the frontstrap.

A number of defensive handgunners rely on a 1911 pistol as their first choice for a defensive handgun. And more and more handgunners want to go to the compact version of the great old pistol for greater concealability. There are definitely many pros to choosing a mini 1911, and the two brand-new Kimbers I tested (the Aegis II and the Ultra RCP II) illustrate these pros nicely.

The Aegis II

The Aegis II is chambered for the 9mm cartridge. It has a 3-inch, cone-shaped barrel that functions without the need for the conventional barrel bushing. The barrel also has an integral feedramp that facilitates proper feeding and functioning.

As further aids in concealment, the Aegis II has an aluminum frame with a shortened grip frame, the hammer is spurless, the thumb safety has been bobbed, and the magazine release button has been smoothed, rounded, and shortened. The frontstrap is done in 30 lines-per-inch checkering, and the frame has a high relief cut under the trigger guard for more finger room.


In addition, the Aegis II has a beavertail grip safety with a memory bump on its lower edge for more positive functioning. The grips are very nice rosewood in the thin, concealment style. The slide is finished in Kimber's black matte finish while the frame has the silver hue of brushed aluminum. The top of the slide has been flattened, and the front and rear sights are dovetailed into it. The sights are the popular combat variety, which Kimber calls the Tactical Wedge, with the also popular three-dot tritium treatment. Even with its shortened grip, magazine capacity is eight rounds. Overall weight of the handgun is 25 ounces. Finally, the Aegis II has had all of its sharp edges slightly rounded and smoothed for shooter comfort and ease of concealability.

 Kimber Ultra RCP II Semiautomatic PistolKimber Aegis II Semiautomatic Pistol
Model:Ultra RCP IIAegis II
Operation:Recoil-operated single-action autoloaderRecoil-operated single-action autoloader
Caliber:.45 ACP9mm
Barrel Length:3 inches3 inches
Overall Length:6.8 inches6.8 inches
Length Of Pull13.75 inches13.75 inches
Weight, empty25 ounces25 ounces
Safety:Manual thumb safety, grip safety, passive firing pin blockManual thumb safety, grip safety, passive firing pin block
Sights:Sight troughTactical Wedge (with tritium dots)
Stock:Black micartaRosewood
Magazine Capacity:7 rounds8 rounds
Finish:Polished frame, KimPro II black slidePolished frame, KimPro II black slide

I found the Kimber Aegis II to be a good-looking pistol that carried very well when slipped into a pants pocket or the side pocket of a jacket. Even though the thumb safety is bobbed, I had no trouble getting it to function reliably.

For my test purposes, I ran five different 9mm loads through the pistol. The ever-popular 124-grain 9mm bullet weight was represented by the Federal Hydra-Shok and Hornady XTP hollowpoint ammunition. In the 115-grain configuration I tested the Winchester Silvertip, the Remington UMC JHP, and a full-metal-jacket load from Magtech.

The Aegis averaged between 3.25 and 4.00 inches at 25 yards with a variety of 9mm defensive loads, which is plenty accurate for personal protection.

The hottest of these loads was the 115-grain JHP from Remington UMC; it averaged 1101 fps over my PACT chronograph. The most accurate loads were the two 124-grain hollowpoints from Federal and Hornady; they averaged 1029 fps and 999 fps respectively.

The two malfunctions I experienced with the Kimber Aegis II occurred with the 115-grain Winchester Silvertip loads. In each case the gun failed to feed the last round in the magazine. This didn't occur every time I fired a magazine of the Silvertip ammunition, and it could be that I inadvertently touched the slide stop with my shooting thumb. Winchester Silvertip is good ammo and the Aegis II averaged 3.50-inch groups with it. I would want to do some more testing before I could place blame for those two malfunctions on either the ammunition or the gun.

The Ultra RCP II

The slick little Ultra RCP II in .45 ACP also has an aluminum frame, though this one has had black anodizing applied. By the way, RCP stands for "Refined Carry Pistol." In common with the Kimber Aegis II, the Ultra RCP has a 3-inch barrel with an integral feedramp, a bobbed hammer, and a bobbed thumb safety. Magazine capacity is seven rounds. It also weighs in at 25 ounces.

Like the Aegis, the .45 ACP Ultra RCP II's concealment treatments include a bobbed hammer and thumb safety.

However, the Ultra RCP II has had some innovative concealment treatments added to the mix. The grip safety is a bobbed, concealment type that flares out at the bottom, instead of having the distinctive bump to it. The mainspring housing is smooth and has been rounded at the bottom. The grips are made from thin pieces of black micarta and have three grooves in each panel. The frame's frontstrap has also been given this three-groove treatment.

The most interesting thing about the Kimber Ultra RCP II is the sights--or maybe I should say lack of sights. Instead of the conventional front and rear sights the Ultra RCP has one long groove (Kimber calls it a sighting trough) down its length. The purpose of this sighting arrangement is to minimize the possibility of conventional sights hanging, or dragging, on the pocket lining or concealment clothing.

The most distinctive feature of the Ultra RCP II is its "trough" sight that runs the full length of the slide.

For testing the Kimber Ultra RCP II, I assembled five popular .45 ACP loads. The lightest weight cartridge was the Magtech 165-grain SCHP round, which averaged 1016 fps. The other four .45 loads were all of the conventional 230-grain configuration, including Hornady's FMJ-FP, Winchester's JHP/SXT, Black Hills's JHP, and also Winchester's standard JHP load. Of the four 230-grain .45 loads, the Winchester standard JHP loading gave the highest velocities at 796 fps while the 230-grain Black Hills load gave the best accuracy. At a mere 25 ounces, the Ultra RCP II was surprisingly comfortable to shoot; the felt recoil was not anything to get real concerned about.

Shooting Kimber's Mini 1911s
Factory LoadVelocity (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)Extreme Spread (fps)25-yard Accuracy (inches)
9mm Aegis II, 3-inch Barrel
Magtech 115-gr. FMC105431784.00
Remington/UMC 115-gr. JHP110125623.75
Winchester 115-gr. Silvertip109010273.50
Federal 124-gr. Hydra-Shok10298203.25
Hornady 124-gr. JHP/XTP9999213.25
.45 ACP Ultra RCP II, 3-Inch Barrel
Magtech 165-gr. SCHP101621587.25
Black Hills 230-gr. JHP77292


Hornady 230-gr. FMJ/FP76112286.25
Winchester 230-gr. JHP/SXT78819526.50
Winchester 230-gr. JHP79615396.75
NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of 25 rounds measured 15 feet from the guns' muzzles with a PACT chronograph.

I did, however, have trouble getting used to the pistol's unconventional sights. At close range, shooting fast to simulate a combat situation, I was able to keep my shots in about an eight-inch circle, which would certainly take care of most gunfighting scenarios. However, as I moved on back to 25 yards it became increasingly difficult to place my shots with any precision. While it's true that most gunfights occur when the shooters are mere feet from each other, it would be very little consolation if one finds himself engaged at longer range. I think these sights would take some getting used to before they would be effective at much more than 15 yards.

But that's the beauty of the Kimber family of 1911 pistols. Kimber builds guns in all different sizes and with all sorts of different sights so that the customer can choose what suits his particular situation. The business of a sight trough, while not a new concept, is certainly interesting and may be just what some shooters have been searching for.

The lack of conventional sights did not hamper the Ultra RCP's defensive accuracy. The Sheriff kept all shots in the target at close self-defense ranges.

The results of my testing of these two new compact pistols have certainly been in keeping with what I have come to expect from Kimber. The guns are well-made, quality pieces. Having somewhat small hands, I particularly like the thin, concealment grips. I find I have a very positive grip on the gun and can reach the magazine release button without having to shift the pistol in my shooting hand. One thing's for sure, the Aegis II and the Ultra RCP II exemplify the good qualities of a mini 1911.

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