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.
Differences Between Sig 1911 vs Kimber 1911 Pistols
Let’s go over some minor differences. Sig 1911 pistols employ an external extractor, Kimber pistols use the traditional internal extractor. Does this matter? It depends on whom you ask; the real answer is that it doesn’t unless the extractor in question is junk to begin with, but some people argue about it.
Kimber Pro models, their Commander frame, comes with a 4-inch barrel. Sig’s have a 4.2-inch unit. Sig’s Officer frames have a 3.3-inch barrel; the Kimber Ultra pistols have a 3-inch barrel. Does it make a huge difference? Not enormous, but you may notice it a bit while shooting.
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
I’m not a 1911 expert, but I would say I’m an enthusiast that knows a little bit. I have handled and fired a decent cross-section of 1911 pistols from a number of different brands. Which would I choose between a Sig 1911 vs a Kimber 1911?
It would depend a LOT on the model and what I was looking for; each company makes more than one
At the moment, the only 1911 I really want is a Lightweight Commander in 9mm, which I feel is the best of all possible worlds for a 1911 pistol. Kimber makes several, Sig makes none. Therefore, I would get a Kimber if I had to choose between these two brands based on the 1911 pistol I currently want. In fact, the Pro Carry II is just a gun with an MSRP of $857, which is actually cheaper than even Colt’s LWC and they invented the thing to begin with.
If I were going on looks alone, I’d gravitate toward Sig’s Fastback Nightmare Compact. What would stop me is that it isn’t a lightweight model and it’s only offered in .45 ACP at the moment. But it appeals to me a lot on that basis.
Ultimately, 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.
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 price point, you’re close to custom-gun territory. What you’re paying for with a high-end 1911 (versus a factory gun) is the hand fitment; the barrel, slide, frame and bushing are custom-fit for each gun. For around the same amount of money for a top-end factory gun from Kimber or Sig, you could get into a 1911 from Dan Wesson or the Smith and Wesson Performance Center that IS hand-fit, as opposed to a Kimber or Sig that is not.
If I were looking to spend top dollar, I’d actually pivot to a semi-custom gun (like a Dan Wesson or S&W PC) for the same price point, or even pay a little more for one. But that’s just me. You get to decide what you like and what you want to do.
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.