Kimber Aegis II 9mm, $1195
In Greek mythology the aegis was the shield of Zeus. In Kimber’s parlance, the Aegis II is much more offense-minded.
It’s a small alloy-framed 1911 chambered for 9mm and fed from a single-column magazine. The Kimber Aegis II differs primarily from the Springfield Armory EMP by being built on a frame with grip and magazine well of standard 1911 dimensions. The 8-round MetalForm 9mm magazine shared the same outer dimensions as a typical .45 ACP magazine.
But the Aegis offered a very distinctive look and feel of its own. The frame had a frosted silvery gray appearance that Kimber refers to as Satin Silver. The backstrap consisted of a 20-lpi -checkered mainspring housing that looked abbreviated seated below a full-size grip safety with raised platform. The front of the grip frame was checkered with a fine 30-lpi grid. We prefer manufacturers’ checkering on alloy models to aftermarket work because it is common for the original surface coating to be applied with a surface tension that plays a part in the integrity of the frame. Kimber’s checkering on the Aegis II was first rate.
The magazine release button was left smooth and contoured with a forward radius. In fact, the entire gun had been "melted," meaning that all corner edges of the frame had been smoothed to make it more slippery in and out of a holster or concealment garment. The rear-only cocking serrations were mild and widely spaced. The edges at the front and rear of the dark-colored slide were also rounded. The thumb safety was left side only and the contact area was minimized. Of our four pistols we thought that the Aegis was the most snag free.
The wood-grip panels sported three deep grooves on each side. The aluminum trigger was not relieved, giving the Aegis a sophisticated retro-look. The slide was flat-topped dropping away from the night sights front and rear. The ejection port was cut and flared. Like our other two 1911s, the Aegis worked from a bushingless bull barrel. All three of our 1911s were fit with a reduced-mass hammer. Instead of offering a skeletonized hammer with tang, the Kimber hammer was flat. Because this hammer sat flush when lowered, it could not be thumbed. In the event of a misfire the shooter will not be able to thumb back the hammer and attempt a second strike. Instead, he’d have to rack the slide and chamber a fresh round.
The magazine well was beveled to enhance reloading. But the bases of the two supplied magazines were left without an extended pad, offering a flush fit to enhance concealment. Extended base pads can help ensure seating of the magazines. Two holes were drilled and tapped into the bottom of the magazines, so adding "slam pads" as they are sometimes called would be simple.
The Aegis offered a strong natural index. The smooth grip panels played a lesser part in adding grip than did the checkering on the narrow frame fore and aft. The thumb safety, though minimal, was easy to find. Firing the Aegis aggressively, we had no trouble completing all strings in our action test in less than 2 seconds. Our test shooters landed hits in a narrow range of 1.83 to 1.99 seconds. We pushed two of sixteen shots just left of the A-zone and landed four of eight shots just above the cranial pocket.
From the bench the Aegis favored the hotter defense loads, delivering groups that averaged about 1.75 inches with both the Hornady and Black Hills hollowpoint ammunition. What we liked best about the Kimber Aegis was that it faithfully translated the best handling characteristics of a full-size 1911 into a package that was light, smooth and concealable.