January 01, 2009
I always look forward to visiting with my friend Dwight Van Brunt from Kimber. He's nearly always got something interesting to show me. The last we met up, the "something interesting" was Kimber's regular-production .38 Super pistols.
You might recall that a few years ago Kimber's custom shop produced a competition pistol in .38 Super. It quickly sold out. Customers asked for more, and Kimber responded with the Pro Carry HD II, a four-inch-barreled carry gun with fixed combat sights and stainless finish, and the Stainless Target II. I chose the Stainless Target II to evaluate.
Kimber's Stainless Target II is a 38-ounce, full-size 1911 with target adjustable sights that are dovetailed into the slide. The slide also features front and rear serrations for ease of operation and a lowered and flared ejection port. The magazine well is beveled for smooth reloading. The frame also features a beavertail grip safety. The trigger group has a match-grade, aluminum trigger. In addition to these features, the Stainless Target II has a full-length guide rod, a Commander-style hammer, black rubber grip panels, an extended combat thumb safety, and a flat mainspring housing. Three nine-round .38 Super magazines were supplied with the pistol.
I found the overall fit and finish of the Kimber .38 Super was quite nice. In addition, the target trigger broke clean at approximately 4.25 pounds. The adjustable rear sights reminded me of the good Bo-Mar sights we used to use on our bullseye and PPC pistols.
A SUPER .38
The .38 Super cartridge was introduced at the Camp Perry Matches in 1928 as an improvement over the original .38 Colt Auto cartridge. Colt had discovered its 1911 pistol would take higher pressures and give higher velocities than the previous models and it could boost the .38 Super cartridge another 200 fps. In its original form, the .38 Super cartridge pushed a 130-grain FMJ bullet right at 1300 fps.
It was developed to give lawmen a more effective tool against the growing number of gangsters and bank robbers. Rangers, FBI agents, and other savvy peace officers used the 1911 pistol and its new cartridge to great effect. The .38 Super has always been a special favorite along our southern border, partially due to the fact that Mexican handgunners are not allowed to own a pistol in .45 ACP caliber. And on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border a 1911 in .38 Super, especially with fancy Mexican silver grips, is still the sign of a Border Bravo, a shootist, a fellow you'd do well to leave alone.
The .38 Super cartridge was just about dead when IPSC shooters found that they could make Major caliber designation using the .38 Super and heavy handloads. They qualified for Major caliber, yet the felt recoil was less than with the .45 ACP cartridge. Now that this good cartridge has a new lease on life, I expect a lot of shooters are going to evaluate it for their handgunning needs.
For some reason, most of the ammunition companies have reduced the power of today's .38 Super cartridge to 1150 to 1200 fps. This just about duplicates what happens with the 9mm cartridge and makes one question the choice of the .38 Super in the first place. With today's 1911 pistols there is really no reason to reduce the power of the .38 Super cartridge. To my knowledge, only Cor-Bon manufactures .38 Super ammo like it ought to be made. Cor-Bon's 115-grain JHP load averaged 1476 fps in my gun, and the 125-grain JHP loading gave 1353 fps.
THE STAINLESS TARGET II PERFORMS
For my evaluation, I used the two loadings from Cor-Bon, the Remington-UMC load with a 130-grain FMJ, the Winchester 125-grain Silvertip, and the Winchester 130-grain FMJ. All loads functioned reliably and gave serviceable accuracy, with groups running from two inches to 3.25 inches at 25 yards. I used my PACT Professional chronograph, with the sky screens set approximately 15 feet in front of the pistol's muzzle, to obtain the average velocity for each load. Full details are listed in the accompanying chart.
The tightest groups came from Winchester's 125-grain Silvertip ammunition, but my favorite ammo was the hefty Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP load that averaged 1353 fps. The felt recoil was negligible in the 38-ounce Kimber 1911; the rubber grips and smoothed edges on the grip frame kept my shooting hand from taking a pounding. While this Cor-Bon load puts the .38 Super right up into .357 Magnum territory, the Kimber pistol was much more comfortable to shoot than a medium-frame revolver would have been.
|Target II .38 Super|
Model: Stainless Target II
Operation: Recoil-operated autoloader
Caliber: .38 Super
Barrel length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.7 inches
Weight, empty: 38 ounces
Safety: Beavertail grip safety; extended combat thumb safety
Sights: Adjustable rear; post front
Stocks: Black rubber
Finish: Stainless steel
After the formal tests were out of the way, I enjoyed an afternoon of busting rocks on 25- and 50-yard backstops. The flat-shooting .38 Super was easy to get on target at 50 yards, and the good Kimber sights gave a sharp, bold sight picture.
As a defensive round, the .38 Super gives near .357 Magnum velocities with the good 125-grain JHP defensive bullets. In terms of one-shot stops, this should qualify the .38 Super right up there with the .357, which, the last time I checked, was running in the high 80/low 90 percentile.
In addition, the .38 Super also excels as a hunting cartridge. It can be used for all manner of small-to-medium-sized game animals. With an FMJ load, it does a great job on turkey. Switching to a good 125-grain JHP loading, the cartridge is just about right for javelina, exotic sheep and goats, small feral hogs, and small whitetail deer. For the hogs and the deer, though, distances should be very close and shot placement very precise.
When we discussed the .38 Super and Kimber's new 1911 in that chambering, Van Brunt told me that though the following for the .38 Super is not broad it is intense. And that sums it up pretty well. Defensive shooters, handgun hunters, and competitive shooters can all find a reason to add a good .38 Super to their battery.
Leave it to Kimber to produce a tough, accurate, reliable 1911 pistol in .38 Super with a suggested retail price of only $974. Of course, there are some very nice, dependable 1911s out there today. When you look at all the features that are available and compare suggested retail prices, Kimber is right up there at the top and always worthy of your consideration. All in all, you can take this Kimber Stainless Target II out of the box and start winning matches.
|SHOOTING KIMBER'S STAINLESS II .38 SUPER |
|Factory Load ||Muzzle Velocity (fps) ||Standard Deviation (fps) ||Extreme Spread (fps) ||25-yard Accuracy (inches) |
|Cor-Bon 115-gr. JHP||1476||30||42||3.25|
|Cor-Bon 125-gr. JHP||1353||5||8||2.75|
|Winchester 125-gr. Silvertip||1159||18||45||2.00|
|Remington-UMC 130-gr. FMJ||1220||12||29||2.25|
|Winchester 130-gr. FMJ||1189||19||33||2.25|
|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 gun's muzzle.|