Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911: Paring Down The Premium Pistols
You’ve decided you want an upscale 1911 but not quite custom shop; thus, you’re trying to decide between a Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911. Both are known to be great pistols, but which exactly is going to be better?
It depends partially on which Sig or Kimber 1911 you mean. Overall, both are great. Is this a barbecue gun? A carry gun? An all tacticaled-out home defense handgun?
There will be something for everyone in both companies’ lineups, no doubt about it, but there are going to be certain details that may send you to one or the other. Let’s get into it.
Kimber 1911 Range Has Class For Not Too Much Cash
Thing about the Kimber 1911 line is that Kimber pistols tend to have a serious dollop of class in their appearance. They clean up pretty darn good. The basic Two Tone line is a very handsome lineup of pistols indeed, and that continues all the way through to their custom shop guns. They don’t really make a plain-Jane, GI spec model to speak of; they leave that to others.
So…what sets Kimber apart from others?
First is their nomenclature. The thing with Kimber is they have three frame sizes – Ultra (Officer frame) Pro (Commander frame) and Custom/Target/other, which is the Government frame with the 5-inch barrel. So, you get the size of 1911 you want. All you have to do is pick the features that go with it.
Second is the available features. Want simple but elegant and at a value? The Two Tone and Stainless line give you that, and list for less than $1,000. 9mm rather than .45 caliber? Most of them can be had in that chambering. A tactical powerhouse? Try the TLE/RL II or Warrior lines. Competition gun? Say hello to the Gold Match line. Lasers? They got ’em. Railed? You bet. 10mm for hog hunting? There too, and so on and so forth.
That’s the beauty of Kimber; they make a 1911 for just about anyone’s tastes. You just may have to be prepared to spend; entry level Kimbers are just under $1,000 but the MSRP can climb to almost $3,000 for their custom shop guns.
Sig 1911: Made With Swiss Precision…In America
The first thing you’ll notice about a Sig 1911 is the slide. They machine theirs a bit differently, so it resembles the P226 and related guns. That means finding a Sig 1911 holster can take some doing!
As with their other all-steel pistols, the Sig Sauer 1911 line is made with the utmost of precision for a factory gun. They have acquired a reputation as being some of the strongest 1911 pistols out there as Sig Sauer generally does their best to make hard-working guns that you can count on to save your bacon.
However, they don’t have an architecture the way Kimber’s products do; they have individual models so you have to know what you’re looking for. They have Government, Commander, Carry Commander and Officer frames available, so they have them all. A few models are available in 9mm, at least one in .357 Sig, and all can be had – of course – in .45 ACP.
There are a couple of railed models, a couple of target models, and some concealed carry models as well. The question is what you want in terms of adornment, as each model has its own finish, grips and other accoutrements.
Price of entry is a little steeper; the cheapest is just over $1,000 MSRP. The range tops out a bit sooner than Kimber, though.
Reasons You Might Want A Sig 1911
There are some great reasons to get a Sig 1911!
Some people are just big fans of the Sig Sauer brand, which is certainly understandable. There’s no denying that Sig build quality is excellent, so a Sig 1911 – it stands to reason – will be pretty good too. We certainly have never found any Sig 1911 that’s been through the office to be lacking in build quality, materials, fit or finish.
Current models include only one (1) that is offered in .357 Sig. So if you wanted a 1911 in that chambering, Sig Sauer makes one. Other than that, it’s the standard .45 ACP in almost all models, 9mm in only a few, and a couple in 10mm IF caliber is a consideration.
Then there’s curb appeal, so to speak. Appearance is part of what makes an object attractive to us (read “The Botany Of Desire”; it turns out plants have even evolved to look good so things ate them and thus propogated the species!) though what looks good to Person A is different than what looks good to Person B.
This isn’t to say Sig 1911 pistols are prettier than Kimber pistols, but to say that SOME people will think so. If YOU do, then you’re going to prefer the Sig pistols. The patina effect that Sig Sauer’s finish produces is certainly interesting, and they have very modern grips.
Other features are a by-model proposition; some Sig 1911 pistols come with SIGLITE night sights and others do not. However, pretty much all of them have either Novak-style slide cuts, so changing the sights is easy if you find you want a different set.
In other words, a lot to like.
Reasons To Get A Kimber 1911
For starters, there are more Kimber 1911 pistols than there are Sig 1911 pistols; Kimber’s product offerings are broader and deeper than Sig Sauer when it comes to this pistol platform.
As far as the looks go, Kimber 1911 pistols range from the conservative and very classy (Two Tone, Stainless, etc) to completely bonkers with slide and barrel porting, exotic finishes and grips for the most tactical of the already tactical. If you’re more of a walnut and steel kind of person, you’ll probably find Kimbers more appealing in that way.
Kimber only offers 10mm on select models, and .45 ACP or 9mm chambering for models of their 1911 pistol. Unfortunately, the most-famous .357 Sig alternative (that being .38 Super) appears to be out of their production lineup. While you could ostensibly get a pistol in .38 Super from their custom shop, it’s not in their current production pistols though there are some Kimbers on the used market in that chambering.
Kimber pistols come with Novak sight cuts, so sights are just as easy to change.
BUT…there is one area in which Kimber is a bit further ahead of the curve.
Kimber offers a number of models that come with Crimson Trace laser grips. There are a number of models that come with a red dot optic straight from the factory or milled for one and with raised-height sights, and at that, multiple models with these features.
Differences Between Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911 Pistols
Without detailing their entire catalog, the gist of it is really this:
Kimber has a broader and deeper catalog. More people are probably going to find something they like from Kimber, especially modern shooters who want add ons like lasers, optics and so on.
And if you like a Sig 1911, it’s really the only thing for you. Kimber has more to offer more people, but if only a Sig 1911 will do…there’s just not getting it anywhere else.
But let’s go over some minor differences. Sig 1911 pistols employ an external extractor, Kimber pistols use the traditional internal extractor.
Kimber Pro models, their Commander frame, comes with a 4-inch barrel; Sig’s are 4.2 inches. Sig’s Officer frames have a 3.3-inch barrel; the Kimber Ultra pistols have a 3-inch barrel.
Kimber, as some people are fond of complaining about, employs metal injection molded parts. What very few people who talk about such things actually understand is that it doesn’t matter if a gun has MIM parts; what matters is how well the parts are made, not just how they’re made. Kimber, as one of the largest 1911 producers there is, is not in the business of making poor components, so this aspect may be overblown.
That aside, what would set one over the other? Truthfully, that’s going to come down to you. Kimber has a wider and deeper product line, so more people are going to find a Kimber with the stuff they want rather than a Sig 1911. However, the people that want a Sig 1911 are interested in a specific Sig 1911.
Let’s say you wanted a Commander for concealed carry. There are more than 10 Kimbers in that frame size. Ergo, you’ll find more Kimber pistols with certain features than you will Sig 1911s.
Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911…Which One?
So, if you’re weighing whether to get a Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911, the question is really what you want in a 1911 pistol.
Do you want a GI-size gun? Do you want a Commander frame? Black finish, stainless, other? Railed? Non-railed? A match/target model? Some models come with lasers, a lot of them don’t. There are the regular stainless and wood models, and others with crazy finishes.
Do you want a bobcut, or do you not care? Do you want low-profile combat sights, a Novak-style ramp or target sights? Are you going to mount a red dot sight or will you be leaving the thing alone? It’s actually hard to nail down, because there are so many little variables. YOU have to know what YOU want in a pistol.
The Gunwriter Sounds Off
Having had my hands on a few of each brand, I’d say that they’re very decent mid-shelf 1911 pistols. The entry-level models of each are good, if you didn’t want to spend too much. However, I think which one is “best” will come down to which one you prefer.
There are a few Kimber models I like (the Kimber Pro Carry Two Tone, for instance) and there are some Sig Sauer 1911s I like, especially the Nightmare Carry Fastback.
Where I start to have reservations is at the top-end of the range, as Kimber and Sig both have non-custom shop guns with a sticker in excess of $1,200. At that point, frankly I’d rather save up a little more cash before buying a Smith and Wesson Performance Center SW1911 or Dan Wesson 1911. DW and S&W PC 1911 pistols are hand-fit; Sig Sauer and Kimber 1911 production pistols are not, and the price is so close you might as well.
But that’s my opinion; you might totally disagree.
That said, get out and handle both. Try to shoot both if you can. The one that feels best and shoots best for you is the one to acquire.
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