For many years Kimber was a name that was associated with finely made hunting rifles. Today it is a premier handgun manufacturer that is closely associated with the Colt/Browning 1911 design. It is now almost a decade since I shot my first Kimber handgun, a Custom model that I still have today. The pistol surprised all of us at Handguns with its high quality of fit and finish and its impressive performance. The pistol was a standard 1911 with a 5-inch barrel and several custom features.
Since then the Kimber pistol range has expanded to include a variety of pistols based on the 1911. There are compact, subcompact and lightweight models to name just a few. Kimber also has a custom shop that produces high performance pistols from the basic production guns. One of these is the Eclipse Target II, a striking looking auto pistol that commands attention.
The pistol that I received for evaluation is the second version–the first was called the Custom Eclipse II.
ACTION TYPE AND FEATURES
As with other Kimber pistols, the Target II employs the usual 1911 lock work and the Browning swinging-link barrel locking system. The pistol has the usual controls of slide stop, button magazine catch and thumb safety all positioned on the left side of the frame (Figure 1). The single-stack magazine holds eight rounds of .45 ACP ammunition (Figure 2). All the major components are forged of stainless steel.
The pistol’s custom features include a full-length recoil guide rod system, an aluminum target trigger with backlash adjustment (Figure 4), a slotted round hammer (Figure 5). The grip safety is of the beavertail design with an extended hump while the speed safety has an arched lever for faster disengagement (Figure 6).
Other refinements include a finely checkered, straight mainspring housing (Figure 7) while the frontstrap is also finely checkered (Figure 8).
The front and rear of the slide has angle cocking serrations (Figure 9) while the sights are of the low-mount adjustable target type. The front is a square post with a luminous Tritium insert (Figure 10) and the rear assembly is fully adjustable for both elevation and windage (Figure 11) The rear sight leaf has a Tritium luminous bar below the notch for low light shooting.
Field stripping is a typical 1911 type with a full-length guide rod. The pistol takes down to the usual six basic components.
FIT FINISH AND APPEARANCE
The pistol came in a tough, padded, lockable plastic carrying case. Accessories included a trigger lock, trigger adjustment and a barrel-bushing wrench. As previously mentioned the Target II has a very striking appearance . All the rounded metal surfaces are blackened stainless steel with the flats finely ground to a bright finish.
Every aspect of the pistol displays a high quality of workmanship. The fit of the barrel/slide/ frame is tight yet functions smoothly and effortlessly. All the controls functioned positively and smoothly. The single action trigger had crisp pull that consistently broke at 41/2 pounds.
I shot the pistol just before Christmas last year on two occasions. The weather on the first session was atrocious, being cold and overcast with periodic rain and hail squalls. As a result, I was forced to retreat to the Ballistic tunnel at the Petersen ranch range where the artificial light conditions were not the best. The benchrest groups were rather disappointing varying between three and four inches. Convinced that the pistol was capable of better performance, I returned several days later when weather conditions had improved.
I could use the rifle range on my return visit since this particular day was cold, clear and sunny with no wind. Using the ammunition listed in the accompanying accuracy chart, I set up the targets at 25 yards and settled down with the pistol firmly braced in my Millett BenchMaster Shooting rest.
From the start it was obvious that the better lighting conditions were a key factor as I suspected. This time the sights were clearly defined. The excellent trigger and comfortable grip made the pistol a pleasure to shoot. On several occasions it displayed a definite tendency to shoot four and one groups. This is evident with the best group of the day shot with a Winchester 230-grain BEB. Four shots were in a tight 1 1/8-inch cluster with a single flyer that turned it into a 2 1/8 inch (Figure 13).
On the combat range the pistol put all my ten shots in the ten ring of a B27 center (Figure 14). The pistol was very comfortable to shoot, displaying minimal recoil with the fine checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, enabling me to retain a firm grip throughout the exercise.
|KIMBER ECLIPSE TARGET II|
|Action Type:||Locked breech
|Capacity:||8 + 1|
|Overall Length:||8.5 inches|
w/ black edges
As this Kimber is designated as a Classic Target model, I decided to finish the day with a little one-handed target practice. While the normal distance in competition is 25 yards, I made allowances for my advancing years by conducting this exercise at 15 yards. I surprised myself by keeping all but three of my ten shots within the nine and ten rings of a NRA 25-yard slow-fire target (Figure 15).
It has been almost 30 years since I did any serious target shooting, but this Kimber impresses me as having all the qualities of a serious competition centerfire auto pistol. Its sights and trigger are as good as any that I have previously shot in competition.
The Eclipse Classic Target II was perfectly reliable with all of the ammunition that I fed it. It displays an excellent quality of fit and finish that matches the striking appearance of the pistol.