Slickguns Review: Kimber KHX Custom
Whether or not you’re in the know about Model 1911-style handguns, you’ve probably heard of Kimber. From their beginnings as Kimber of Oregon in 1979, to their rebirth in Yonkers, New York, in the mid-1990s, Kimber has been a major player in the firearm industry long enough to brag about it. Although they manufacture several different types of firearms, they are arguably best known for their 1911s.
The newest addition to Kimber’s handgun lineup is the KHX series in 9mm and .45 ACP. G&A spoke with Kimber’s director of product marketing, Winslow Potter, to learn the backstory of the KHX.
“Take consumer feedback and build what they want.” said Potter. “This pistol boasts the most desired features that shooters currently ask for.”
Let’s have a closer look.
Modern Touches The KHX Custom is a full-size, 5-inch, 1911-style pistol. But make no mistake, the KHX Custom is not a dressed-up version of the same old thing. This is a feature-packed, hard-use pistol.
When first picked up, a few details jump to one’s attention. First, and you might have already noticed, there’s no “II” behind the model name, which means that there is no firing pin safety. Potter let us know that Kimber will continue offering 1911’s with a firing pin safety but, again, the customer gets the choice.
The next item to note is the G10 Magrip with integral red laser developed by Hogue and Crimson Trace. Hogue called the color and pattern “G-Mascus Green Camo,” a play on the pattern seen on Damascus steel. The grips wrap around the backstrap and integrate a flat mainspring housing. There is a bit of a bobtail for carry at the bottom, as well as a magazine funnel to improve reloads. These grips look and feel great, while offering molded texturing to help control this heavyweight during strings of rapid fire. This was especially welcomed when testing the KHX in .45 ACP.
The pressure switch that initiates the laser in the Magrips is the same that’s been proven on other Crimson Trace Lasergrip models. It’s almost impossible to miss, and is located underneath the triggerguard on the frontstrap of the grip. The on/off switch is also small and rather difficult to turn on. (We feel that this is fantastic because it’s also hard to accidently turn off.)
It’s hard to argue against the value of the laser-enhanced grips, especially if you have have less than perfect vision. The projected dot encourages accurate aiming without as much dedicated attention to making a sight picture. This also allows the shooter to pay more attention to surrounding objects and threats with peripheral vision.
The slide noticeably wears a unique hexagonal front and rear slide pattern that is complimented by the same shapes on the flat top of the slide between the sights. You’d be hard pressed to grab the slide and not find an area that couldn’t provide confident manipulation.
Fiber-optic sights are installed on the KHX Custom with a red post up front and green dots guarding a square notch for the rear. While they’re not night sights, fiber optics continue to prove hard to miss in almost any light condition.
The finish is Kimber’s Kimpro and it adds another barrier to the corrosion-resistant properties of the frame and slide’s stainless steel substrate.
At The Range On the range, the KHX Custom did not disappoint. The Crimson Trace Lasergrips were zeroed at 10 yards, a distance felt by many to be adequate for self-defense. Of course, G&A’s .45 sample proved quite accurate at this range, but we test all duty-size pistols at 25 yards for comparison.
With a noon sun, the red laser was faintly visible on target, but the iron sights with fiber optics were intensely bright. This demonstrated the compliment that fiber optics provide a pistol equipped with a laser and vice-versa.
For accuracy testing, Hornady’s American Gunner 185-grain XTP, Federal’s 230-grain Train+Protect hollowpoint (HP) and Winchester’s 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) were used. These loads offer us all a good indication of how the Kimber KHX should perform. Velocity information was obtained first by firing a five-shot string with each type of ammunition over a ProChrono Chronograph set forward of the muzzle at 10 feet.
The Hornady XTP was the fastest load, but it also gave the highest extreme spread (ES) and standard deviation (SD) figures. Federal’s Train+Protect and Winchester’s legendary white box turned in more consistent results at slower speeds.
The KHX Custom preferred the Hornady load, resulting in our best-of-test group measuring 11/2 inches. Average group sizes were 23/4 inches. Federal edged out Winchester in group size with clusters spanning 21/2 inches and an average group size of 31/4 inches. Winchester’s best group measured 2.75 inches, which is not a bad result for shooting FMJ range ammunition.
Throughout our testing and another 300 rounds of good ol’ fashioned range shooting, the Kimber didn’t produce a malfunction or feeding interruption. Ultimately, we felt that the KHX was capable of slightly better accuracy results than those published. While the fiber-optic sights shine brightly, they can be more difficult to employ as target sights.
Parting Shot The Kimber KHX Custom 1911 was clearly produced to catch the attention of younger shooters. The youth expect a higher degree of custom quality as standard, as well as impervious corrosion and scratch resistance. Immediate usability for almost any shooting activity is highly valued when finally deciding to part ways with the money needed to purchase a quality modern 1911.
The Kimber KHX Custom is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but if these are the features you want in a pistol, the KHX is a great value. Good luck finding a similarly configured 1911 with such fit and finish for less money.
Kimber has found that elusive place with the KHX Custom where quality meets shootability and relative affordability. It’s a pretty sweet place to be if you’re a fan of 1911s.
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