Without a doubt, the best shooters I know carry 1911-style pistols. For many serious operators, the 1911 is nearly a religion, with John Moses Browning and Col. Jeff Cooper as its patron saints. The fascination with 1911 pistols is easy to understand—this venerable design has proven itself over and over again. Elite military and law enforcement units still flock to the century-old design for those who regularly place themselves in harm's way. The 1911 is not a fluke or a fad. Simply put, it's a time-proven tool for combat.
For these reasons, many civilians who carry concealed firearms also trust their fate to some variation of a 1911. While many will argue that a full-size, steel-frame, 5-inch-barreled 1911 is relatively easy to conceal, most manufacturers offer a wide variety of downsized alloy-frame models for easier carry.
Chopping the 1911 into a 3-inch gun is not a new concept. There are a number of subcompact 1911s on the market. Unfortunately, not all of them work well. The miniaturization of the 1911 is not something Browning had in mind when he worked out the design, and the truth is that downsized 1911s don't always perform as reliably as their original counterparts. There's a lot more to building a 3-inch 1911 than just lopping some steel off the slide, barrel and frame—at least if you want the gun to run like your life depends on it.
I have shot my fair share of substandard micro-1911s, and struggled with the common feeding and extraction issues. Quite frankly, when the Kimber Ultra Covert II arrived to test, I wondered if it would be similarly problematic. Without a doubt, I was pleasantly surprised. It seems that Kimber has figured out how to build these smallest of 1911s, and just plain make them work.
The Ultra Covert II is a product of the Kimber Custom Shop and is a high-end pistol all the way. All Custom Shop guns are built by hand and get extra attention from Kimber's in-house gunsmiths. The list of standard features on this gun is very impressive. Kimber starts with a machined aluminum frame and stainless steel slide, both with a carry-melt treatment. The Ultra Cover II's frontstrap and backstrap are nicely checkered. Both hammer and trigger are skeletonized, and the beavertail grip safety has a large "memory bump." Don't be fooled by the 3-inch barrel. It's match grade and has a cone-shaped taper, which allows for increased accuracy by eliminating the need for a barrel bushing. The sights are Tactical Wedge 3-dot Meprolight tritium night sights. What's more, the excellent sights are backed up with Crimson Trace Lasergrips that are included.
This well-equipped pistol is also very easy on the eyes. The frame is finished in a Dark Earth KimPro II finish, and the slide is matte black. Its external controls are also black, which nicely offsets the tan-colored frame. The Crimson Trace Lasergrips are supplied in a digital desert camo, which completes the unique look of the Ultra Covert II.
This Kimber is just big enough to handle quite well, even in my large hands. All the controls are easy to operate. I appreciate the omission of an ambidextrous thumb safety, which I find undesirable on a carry gun. The grip safety is well-tuned and easy to disengage. I tend to have issues with grip safeties at times, but never with this gun.
The trigger is a very good for a 1911, right out of the box. Great triggers are one of the real strengths of the 1911 platform, and the Ultra Covert II will not disappoint you. There is minimal take-up and a crisp break at less than 5 pounds, with no noticeable overtravel.
This Kimber shoots better than it should for such a small pistol. Recoil is not unpleasant in my opinion. I passed the gun around to other shooters who were similarly surprised. Accuracy was very good and is undoubtedly more limited by the short sight radius than by any other factor. This gun is clearly much more than "combat accurate;" it is more accurate than you would expect from a 3-inch gun. I had very good results with the Federal 185-grain Expanding Full Metal Jacket, and would likely choose this load for carry. But if you want to go with full-boat 230-grain jacked hollow points, they work just fine, too. Recoil is a bit sharper with the heavier bullets but still nothing to worry about for most experienced shooters.
The Lasergrips are a great addition to a small gun like the Ultra Covert II. At realistic combat distances, a laser is a very effective tool. They work very well, and they look great, too. I also appreciate the inclusion of an external power switch to disable when desired.
Shooting the Ultra Covert II was remarkably boring; no stoppages whatsoever during the testing period. I simulated some stoppages to practice clearing techniques, but the gun never choked without my help. This is the kind of reliability I had yet to see in a 1911 this size. I am sure that Kimber's extra attention to their Custom Shop guns helps a lot in this regard.
The Ultra Covert II is easy to carry. It is small, light and thin. What else could you ask for? If you want a 1911 in .45 ACP, this is about as small as they get. In the right holster, a gun this size just disappears.
There are any number of great concealment holsters on the market for 1911s. About the time I got this assignment, my friends at Tucker Gunleather contacted me about a new holster design—the Silent Thunder line. Tucker Gunleather offers a variety of premium leather and Kydex holsters, but the Silent Thunder line is a little bit of both. They are constructed primarily of Kydex, but they have a premium cowhide lining inside the holster to protect the gun's finish, speed up the draw and eliminate the telltale sounds made by Kydex holsters. Silent Thunder holsters are available in both inside the waistband and belt models, both of which I found to be well designed for easy carry. The Ultra Covert II carries well inside the waistband, but is also small enough to carry outside the belt with just a short cover garment.
The Kimber Ultra Covert II is a high-quality 1911 carry pistol in a very small package. The standard features are top notch. Fit and finish are very good, and functionality was perfect in my testing. Kimber has produced an ideal subcompact 1911 for carry.