KIM­BER KHX CUS­TOM

RE­FINED 1911 FOR PER­SONAL DE­FENSE

Gun World - - Contents - By Todd Bur­green

The KHX Cus­tom com­bines the time-proven .45 ACP car­tridge with a carry plat­form that ben­e­fits from nearly a cen­tury of re­fine­ment ... and, it’s pleas­ing to the eyes.

John Moses Brown­ing’s 1911 pis­tol has, be­yond a doubt, earned the right to be called a leg­end. The early-20th-cen­tury de­sign is still go­ing strong more than 100 years af­ter its adop­tion by the U.S. mil­i­tary.

Colt was the main provider of 1911s to civil­ians for the first part of its ex­is­tence and of­fered other mod­els and cal­ibers aside from the full-sized .45 ACP Gov­ern­ment. How­ever, Colt’s cat­a­log was nowhere close to what to­day’s con­sumer can ac­cess in terms of 1911 mod­els. Many might lose sight of this with the plethora of cur­rent 1911 man­u­fac­tur­ers now in the market. These fea­ture 1911s in shapes and sizes that would bog­gle the mind of Brown­ing him­self.

One com­pany that has con­stantly sep­a­rated it­self from the com­pe­ti­tion is Kim­ber. Kim­ber’s at­ten­tion to de­tail and in­sis­tence on ac­cu­racy, com­bined with re­li­a­bil­ity, are at the root of its rep­u­ta­tion for ef­fec­tive­ness.

I do not in­tend to re­hash all the well-known 1911 de­sign char­ac­ter­is­tics. The 1911’s slim frame width makes it an ideal carry gun, and its sin­gle-ac­tion trig­ger pro­motes ac­cu­rate shoot­ing of the pow­er­ful .45 ACP hand­gun car­tridge. Kim­ber only builds upon these bul­wark 1911 char­ac­ter­is­tics with its KHX Cus­tom. In the stain­less steel KHX Cus­tom, Kim­ber is of­fer­ing an­other take on the clas­sic, full-sized 1911. While Kim­ber of­fers more-com­pact 1911s in this age of con­cealed carry, the full-sized KHX Cus­tom at­tracts at­ten­tion with its all-busi­ness air.

The KHX Cus­tom mea­sures a to­tal of 8.7 inches long and 5.25 inches high. A 5-inch, match-grade bar­rel rides over a full-length guide rod. A snug, match-grade stain­less steel bush­ing sur­rounds the bar­rel and guide rod. The full-sized KHX weighs 38 ounces—thanks to the use of stain­less steel in its frame and slide. The stain­less steel slide and frame pro­vide pro­tec­tion against wear that a per­sonal-de­fense hand­gun is sub­jected to. Kim­ber’s KimPro II matte-black fin­ish serves as ad­di­tional wear pro­tec­tion.

The KHX Cus­tom com­bines the time-proven .45 ACP car­tridge with a carry plat­form that ben­e­fits from nearly a cen­tury of re­fine­ment. A 9mm vari­ant is also of­fered. The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the .45 ACP car­tridge and the 1911 plat­form is seam­less. Many might for­get that Brown­ing is not only the cre­ator of what might be con­sid­ered the ideal hand­gun—in the form of the 1911—but also the de­signer of what could be the ideal hand­gun car­tridge—the .45 ACP. The KHX Cus­tom rep­re­sents porta­bil­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity, con­trol­la­bil­ity and lethal­ity. This is a per­fect com­bi­na­tion for a per­sonal-de­fense hand­gun.

THE KIM­BER KHX CUS­TOM REP­RE­SENTS A GOOD BAL­ANCE OF FEA­TURES FOR DAILY USE AS A DUTY OR CON­CEALED-CARRY WEAPON AND SERVES AS A RE­MINDER OF THE REA­SON THE 1911 PLAT­FORM HOLDS A PROM­I­NENT PLACE IN THE U.S. CIVIL­IAN MARKET.

KHX FEA­TURES

The KHX fea­tures hexag­o­nal tex­tur­ing on the front and rear sides of the slide. Not only is this aes­thet­i­cally dis­tinc­tive, it also serves to give users more grip pur­chase when ma­nip­u­lat­ing the slide. In ad­di­tion to the side tex­tur­ing, the top of the slide fea­tures unique hexag­o­nal pat­tern­ing. The front of the grip is also “golf ball” stip­pled.

An­other added nu­ance to the KHX Cus­tom is the in­clu­sion of Hogue Laser En­hanced MagGrip G10 grips and match­ing main­spring hous­ings. The grips also form an ex­ter­nal mag­well and con­tin­u­ous-wrap grip sur­face. A premium skele­tonized, alu­minum trig­ger, with a pull weight that av­er­aged 4.25 pounds (per my scale) serves to con­nect the shooter to the KHX Cus­tom. A green fiber-op­tic rear sight and red fiber-op­tic front sight with a 6.8-inch sight radius round out the KHX Cus­tom pack­age.

The Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom is equipped with fea­tures more likely to be found on full-blown cus­tom 1911s cost­ing much more. The parts and fit­ting used by Kim­ber are key rea­sons for the KHX’s per­for­mance level. The thumb safety is not an ambidextrous de­sign, thus ac­com­mo­dat­ing the Hogue laser grips.

The bar­rel, frame and slide are hand fit­ted, along with blend­ing the parts to­gether. One strik­ing as­pect is the pol­ish­ing of the throat and feed ramp. The Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom typ­i­fies why the 1911 is still as pop­u­lar as ever. Kim­ber de­liv­ers the KHX Cus­tom with an eight-round mag­a­zine. A bumper pad is pro­vided due to the ex­tended mag­well. Ku­dos should be given to Kim­ber for mak­ing the higher-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine ship stan­dard. The front and rear fiber-op­tic sights’ con­trast­ing col­ors make for eas­ier ori­en­ta­tion when aim­ing in low-light con­di­tions and as­sists in con­cen­trat­ing on the front sight dur­ing the day­light. The sights are de­signed to of­fer fast tar­get ac­qui­si­tion while still al­low­ing pre­cise shot place­ment as the sit­u­a­tion de­mands or as tar­get dis­tance in­creases.

HAM­MER TIME

In this day and age of high-ca­pac­ity poly­mer hand­guns, the 1911 has turned into an afi­cionado’s weapon that at­tracts users with its nat­u­ral han­dling, great trig­ger and po­tent .45 ACP cham­ber­ing.

Is the 1911 a prime weapon for all sit­u­a­tions or users? Of course not. How­ever, no one can ar­gue that there is a more in­stinc­tive-han­dling weapon than the 1911. The trig­ger and grip size/an­gle cause it to be the most ac­cu­rate hand­gun in most ar­se­nals—which is why hostage res­cue units and other spe­cial pur­pose mil­i­tary/LE teams still use it. It is ac­cu­rate and con­ducive to pre­cise shot place­ment. A 1911 should be trained with to en­sure that func­tions are nat­u­ral and in­stinc­tive if hav­ing to de­ploy it in haste—the same as any other per­sonal-de­fense weapon.

I’ve owned and tested nu­mer­ous 1911 mod­els from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers over the years. Re­fresh­ingly, the Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom had no is­sues per­form­ing straight out of the box. The first range ses­sion con­sisted of more than 400 rounds with­out clean­ing or adding any lu­bri­ca­tion to the KHX be­sides what had been ap­plied leav­ing Kim­ber’s fa­cil­ity. While the bulk of fir­ing was with SIG Sauer 230-grain FMJ am­mu­ni­tion, an as­sort­ment of premium am­mu­ni­tion was also proofed through the Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom: Hor­nady Cus­tom XTP, Winch­ester PDX-1, Fed­eral HST and SIG Sauer V-Crown 185-, 200- and 230-grain JHPs. These were used to ver­ify re­li­a­bil­ity, no mat­ter the bul­let pro­file or the weight de­sired for pos­si­ble use. Fir­ing was at a steady pace, run­ning the Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom on plate racks, duel­ing trees and other drills. Dur­ing fir­ing, its high de­gree of ac­cu­racy was noted. It fired groups into one jagged hole at 7 yards and came close to this per­for­mance at 15 yards. If the shooter does their part, the KHX Cus­tom eas­ily groups in­side a tar­get’s nasal cav­ity at 25 yards.

A weapon such as the KHX Cus­tom should be fired as it is de­signed to be used—from the hand while stand­ing. This is the true mea­sure of ac­cu­racy, com­bin­ing trig­ger pull, grip and sights. It was re­fresh­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the sub­dued re­coil of the steel­framed KHX com­pared to lighter, al­loy-framed 1911s and poly­mer hand­guns. The Hogue grips of­fer ex­cel­lent pur­chase and keep the hands steady dur­ing re­coil, al­low­ing for fast fol­low-up shots. Sub­se­quent range vis­its only re­in­forced ini­tial im­pres­sions.

I took ad­van­tage of Echo Val­ley Train­ing Cen­ter’s Hesco Shoot House to ex­plore the KHX Cus­tom’s CQB per­for­mance; I paid spe­cial at­ten­tion to what the laser-equipped Hogue En­hanced grips add to the equa­tion.

Con­sid­er­ing the 1911’s pri­mary role as a fight­ing/de­fen­sive hand­gun, com­bined with the lineage of the .45 ACP’s rai­son d’être, I de­cided to fur­ther eval­u­ate it us­ing drills I ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing train­ing at firearms schools such as Green Ops, Red­back One and TMACS Inc.

The nat­u­ral pointabil­ity of the KHX Cus­tom was con­firmed, along with speed get­ting it into ac­tion. The beaver­tail frame set­tles the Kim­ber 1911 nat­u­rally into your hand and pro­vides a point of ref­er­ence when draw­ing the pis­tol from a hol­ster. Con­di­tion 1 carry (“cocked and locked”) typ­i­fied by the 1911 al­lows a shooter to merely swipe off the safety and ben­e­fit from the lighter, shorter, sin­gle-ac­tion trig­ger pull.

LASER PROS AND CONS

Over the years, I have ex­per­i­mented with/ex­plored us­ing hand­guns equipped with lasers. The KHX Cus­tom al­lowed me to re­visit the topic. As with many ac­ces­sories, there are pros and cons that force a user to train and fa­mil­iar­ize them­selves in or­der fully to un­der­stand best prac­tices.

Grips with a built-in laser, as epit­o­mized by the Hogue En­hanced Grip, seem to be hold­ing sway with civil­ian cus­tomers. Most hol­ster types are still us­able, and op­er­a­tion is in­tu­itive with the Hogue setup.

THE KHX CUS­TOM COM­BINES THE TIME-PROVEN .45 ACP CAR­TRIDGE WITH A CARRY PLAT­FORM

THAT BEN­E­FITS FROM NEARLY A CEN­TURY OF RE­FINE­MENT.

A laser sight is best used with a tar­get fo­cus method, which comes nat­u­rally in a stress­ful en­counter. What can be sim­pler than plac­ing the dot where you want the bul­let to land? The caveat here is proper sight-in. Fif­teen yards seem to be the most-ad­vised zero dis­tance. Re­mem­ber: Un­like iron sights and slide-mounted op­tics, the laser and bul­let path only in­ter­sect once when us­ing a grip-mounted laser, con­sid­er­ing the off­set be­low and to the right of bore line.

Un­con­ven­tional aim­ing meth­ods can be uti­lized with a laser (that is, eyes do not have to be di­rectly be­hind the weapon). Lasers are not nearly as “cool” as ad­ver­tis­ing or en­ter­tain­ing movies de­pict, with the laser dot hold­ing steady on the tar­get. In re­al­ity, the laser moves around—a lot—on the tar­get and re­ally ex­poses any de­fi­cien­cies the shooter has with trig­ger con­trol, breath­ing and steady hold. Proper trig­ger con­trol and re­coil man­age­ment are es­sen­tial. Light­ing con­di­tions are also a fac­tor for ef­fec­tive de­ploy­ment. Day­light use in­side most struc­tures poses no is­sue, with low light op­ti­mal for outdoors. Over­all, laser grips should be viewed as a tool that can en­hance per­for­mance in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

GOOD BAL­ANCE OF FEA­TURES

The 1911 de­sign is too well-known for me to at­tempt any new ex­posé story. How­ever, the Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom, with ev­ery­thing it of­fers as “stan­dard,” is wor­thy of Mr. Brown­ing’s ap­proval.

The KHX Cus­tom ar­rives ready to go, right out of the box. Kim­ber did an out­stand­ing job of in­clud­ing the right fea­tures for max­i­miz­ing per­for­mance with­out turn­ing it into a finicky or

KIM­BER DID AN OUT­STAND­ING JOB OF IN­CLUD­ING THE RIGHT FEA­TURES FOR MAX­I­MIZ­ING PER­FOR­MANCE WITH­OUT TURN­ING IT INTO A FINICKY OR FUSSY COM­PE­TI­TION GUN.

fussy com­pe­ti­tion gun. No one can ar­gue about the in­stinc­tive han­dling qual­i­ties of the 1911. The trig­ger and grip size/an­gle cause it to be the most ac­cu­rate hand­gun in most ar­se­nals.

The Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom rep­re­sents a good bal­ance of fea­tures for daily use as a duty or con­cealed-carry weapon and serves as a re­minder of the rea­son the 1911 plat­form holds a prom­i­nent place in the U.S. civil­ian market. GW

Kim­ber of­fers more-com­pact1911s in this age of con­cealed carry, but the full-sized KHX Cus­tom at­tracts at­ten­tion with its all-busi­ness air. (Photo: Kim­ber)

The fit and fin­ish of the KHX Cus­tom were im­pec­ca­ble, with no ma­chine marks ev­i­dent. It dis­as­sem­bled via meth­ods fa­mil­iar to any­one who has field-stripped a 1911. Note the full-length guide rod.

The KHX fea­tures hexag­o­nal tex­tur­ing on the front and rear sides of the slide. Not only is this aes­thet­i­cally dis­tinc­tive, it also serves to give users more grip pur­chase when ma­nip­u­lat­ing the slide.I

Any hand­gun cham­bered in .45 ACP will be well sup­ported with am­mu­ni­tion choices.

Mul­ti­ple premium am­mu­ni­tion loads were eval­u­ated in the Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom.

The Kim­ber KHX Cus­tom was fired ex­ten­sively, with no is­sues en­coun­tered dur­ing this eval­u­a­tion.

The Hogue En­hanced Laser grip is an ideal force mul­ti­plier in low-light con­di­tions. Non­stan­dard fir­ing po­si­tions are eas­ier to as­sume con­fi­dently—thanks to the laser-tar­get­ing abil­ity with the KHX Cus­tom.I

Con­trast­ing-color fiber-op­tic rear and front sights are pos­i­tive im­prove­ments over mere three-dot­con­fig­u­ra­tion sights. The top of the slide fea­tures unique hexag­o­nal pat­tern­ing.

Hogue Laser En­hanced MagGrip G10 grips are low­pro­file and of­fer a su­pe­rior feel to most grips while still of­fer­ing laser aim­ing. The KHX ac­cu­racywas im­pres­sive.

The metal plate per­fo­rated dur­ing KHX Cus­tom test­ing— demon­strat­ing .45 ACP pen­e­tra­tionpo­ten­tial.

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