October 3, 2016

Kimber Eclipse Target II 45 ACP, $1393

We compared two full-size 1911 handguns in the June 2013 issue to see which model offered the most bang for the buck. This Personal Defense test pitted two pistols of disparate price points to see if the less expensive model offered enough to consider it versus a fully equipped modern handgun. Tested were the Rock Island Armory Standard GI No. 51421 45 ACP, $410; and the Kimber Eclipse Target II 45 ACP, $1393. Here’s an excerpt of that test.

A difficult question often posed to the staff concerns subjective aspects of the handgun. Is the Italian Beretta a better handgun than the U.S.-made pistol? Is the pinned and recessed Smith & Wesson revolver the better shooter than the modern slip-barrel revolver? Among those that seem to invite the most comments is the difference between GI 1911 pistols and the semi-custom factory pistols. By semi-custom we mean pistols with high-profile sights, a custom grade beavertail safety, extended controls, and claims of superior fitting in the barrel, bushing, and barrel hood. The plain old GI pistol that served without complaint in two world wars is seen as the underdog in such a match up. The GI pistol cannot possibly play on an even field with the modern enhanced 1911, can it? The answer is, it depends.

It depends on what you are doing and what you expect from the pistol. How many shooters can take advantage of the advanced features, and how many of these shooters can shoot up to the pistols’ capabilities is the question. But there is also the bottom line, and the bottom line is often personal defense. Many shooters swear by the 1911 GI pistol and want nothing else. One of our raters is quick to point out he knows the 1911, and as much as a person can feel emotional attachment toward an inanimate object, he loves the 1911, including all its eccentricities.

The 1911 is individual enough that hand-fitting can make a difference. The closer the tolerances, the less slop and the less eccentric wear on the pistol. On the other hand, the GI pistols were fitted well in the locking lugs and barrel bushing, and that was all that mattered for acceptable accuracy. One of our testers had a conversation with an importer regarding the Philippines-made pistols. The businessman did not like the rater’s review of a certain pistol. The importer noted that the rater liked the RIA pistols, but not another pistol brand with more advanced features. The importer noted that the pistols come off the same assembly line — or at least the same factory, and the more advanced pistol went on for special handling. Also, the more expensive pistol had more features — yet, our tester did not like it.

Our tester replied that yes, the RIA was a fine GI pistol, mainly because what features were on the pistol were done well. The other pistol included more stuff, but it took more finesse and greater skill to fit a custom beavertail and ambidextrous safety, and the pistol with superior features just didn’t come out as well, in the opinion of our testers.

Kimber Eclipse Target II

The Kimber Eclipse is a great pistol with much to recommend it. The combination of adjustable sights and extended safety made for a first-class 1911 pistol in this price range.

In other words, you may purchase a good GI-grade pistol on the cheap, but if you are going to obtain an advanced-grade 1911, then it may not be advisable to go cheap. So can the discriminating 1911 shooter be happy with either a bargain-basement 45 ACP or a customized factory pistol at three times the price? To answer a number of questions concerning the performance of the 1911 pistol, our South Carolina test unit obtained both a Rock Island GI pistol and a Kimber Eclipse Target II. There are plenty of other pistols that could have stood in for these choices — the High Standard GI pistol might have just as easily been selected as the baseline, or the Springfield Loaded Model as the advanced pistol.

But, in the end, we wanted to know if the Kimber Eclipse II would so outshine the RIA GI that buying the more affordable handgun would seem like a waste of money. Or would the simplicity of the GI show us that spending more on the Eclipse was just spending more?

Kimber Eclipse Target II 45 ACP, $1393

The Eclipse is among the most popular Kimber pistols. Its appearance is striking. The flats of the slide are brushed stainless, while other parts are treated to a black-out treatment. Before we go any further, it is obvious that a large component of the popularity of this pistol lies in pride of ownership. This is a pistol that the user will derive some joy from simply in having in the safe. Performance is the bottom line, however, and the Kimber pistol certainly has that as well.

The pistol demonstrated excellent fit and finish. As one of the raters noted, the less slop in the fit of a pistol means the less chance for eccentric wear, and in the long run, the greater the longevity of the pistol. The fit of the barrel bushing was tight, so we had to use a tool for disassembly. The barrel hood was well fitted, and the locking lugs mated with precision. The slide rolled smoothly over the link. This pistol was fitted with adjustable sights, allowing the owner to zero the pistol for his choice of load. The grips were nicely checkered and well fitted. The ambidextrous safety was well designed and operates with a positive action. The beavertail grip safety was ideal.

This grip safety solved problems for those shooters who allow the palm to come off the grip safety when implementing a two-handed thumbs-forward grip. Using this grip with the GI pistol, the palm sometimes rose off the smaller grip safety, disengaging this important device and making the gun go on Safe rather than Fire. The Kimber safety solves this problem. The raters noted that the primary advantage of the Kimber’s slide safety seemed to be in applying it. It was much easier to quickly place the pistol on Safe due to the paddle-type shape.

Kimber Eclipse Target II

The Eclipse Target II is a handsome pistol well worth its price, our testers said. The Eclipse features extended controls that make using the pistol a joy. How much they matter depends somewhat on your shooting style. Some of what’s visible are double-diamond grips, a checkered magazine release, an extended beavertail, and a skeletonized combat hammer and trigger. Inset: The adjustable sights allowing tuning the pistol to your favorite load.

The trigger action was very smooth and completely free or any creep or backlash, breaking at a smooth 4 pounds. This helped the Eclipse excel in accuracy, as the table shows. The sights are fully adjustable, so point of aim and point of impact will at most be a temporary problem. This example also sports tritium night sights. To use, these sights seem at least as good as the legendary Bo-mar sights. (Unfortunately, Bo-Mar is out of business.)

However, when firing combat drills, drawing from a professional grade Wright Leather Works holster, the difference between the RIA and the Eclipse was far less. At close range, 3 to 5 yards, sometimes the simpler pistol was faster to an accurate first shot. At ranges past 7 yards, the superior sights of the Eclipse came into play, and sometimes the frontstrap checkering was an aid in controlling the pistol during rapid-fire strings.

The Eclipse also features a firing-pin block, which the RIA does not. Some decry the complication, while others prefer it. As long as the block doesn’t interfere with a smooth trigger action, we will take the increased safety. The beavertail safety on the Kimber did spread recoil out in the palm more so than the GI pistol, but the raters do not feel that a steel-frame 1911 with standard-pressure ammunition is a problem to control in rapid fire.

One obvious advantage of the Kimber is its barrel quality and fit. Beyond any question, the superior fit of the barrel, its locking lugs and barrel bushing added to the accuracy of the pistol. The smooth trigger compression was an aid in practical accuracy, while the fit and quality of the barrel aided intrinsic accuracy. In the end you get what you pay for, and the Kimber delivers in that area.

Our Team Said: In the end, the Eclipse proved itself with first-class accuracy, excellent handling, and excellent fit and finish. At long combat range, 15 yards or so, the superior sights of the Kimber began to be a greater advantage. Elsewhere, the frontstrap serrations aided in gripping the Kimber, and for those who use the thumbs-forward grip and sometimes raise the palm off the grip safety, the beavertail grip safety is an advantage.

The Kimber Eclipse is a great pistol with much to recommend it. The combination of adjustable sights and extended safety made for a first-class 1911 pistol in this price range.

Comments (20)

Do they make the gun with a 6-inch barrel

Posted by: Bryanedw | December 21, 2016 7:26 PM    Report this comment

I was looking at Kimbers but hedging due to the price, then the gunshop owner mentioned he had a used target II. There was no obvious wear on this gun, absolutely brand new plus a few hundred 0ff. After shooting this gun over the years, I would never have hesitated to pay the price knowing how it shoots. It shoots as good as it looks and it looks great!

Posted by: springerfork | June 15, 2015 3:08 PM    Report this comment

I hear the Kimber Target II has an adjustable trigger pull...Is that correct?

Posted by: Jboz | March 5, 2015 11:42 AM    Report this comment

I have the exact same gun, absolutely love it. It is more accurate than I am, however I still can't get used to leaving the hammer pulled back, i'm told it's safer but I don't think it is. Did they mention the trigger pull adjust feature?

Posted by: ktmRacer | January 22, 2015 9:59 PM    Report this comment

For whatever the reasons might be, it seems that the commentaries in this GunReports forum have considerably slowed down. I can't say whether it's due to the hacking problems that we chronically experienced or if it might have something to do with the subject matter that has been posted as articles. I looked in GunReports earlier this week, and there was a lot of new material posted, but it seemed like only a couple of articles moved me to make any comments. Hopefully, as the New Year comes in, and folks get back into the usual routine of normal activities, we'll see some thought provoking articles with some thought provoking comments, as well.

Whatever the case.....I hope that all of we who read and post here had a Merry Christmas, and that everybody has a safe and sane New Year celebration. Hopefully the New Year will bring with it prosperity and, not only a decline in the idiotic attempts by the hoplophobes to further restrict our freedoms and rights, but more in the way of pro-Second Amendment legislation and programs.....

Posted by: canovack | December 27, 2013 5:07 PM    Report this comment

I miss the weekly comments by you guys, gunreports must be taking some time off. I hope everyone had a good Christmas.

Did anyone get a genuine Red Ryder Range Model blue steel carbine action repeater with a compass in the stock and a thing to tell time B.B. gun?

Posted by: runner | December 27, 2013 3:37 PM    Report this comment

Thanks back to you, Bill W. I was in country with the 4th Inf Div 1969-70, usually flying hunter-killer missions plus spotting and directing artillery and air strikes. While most of my fighting was done from the air, I did appreciate my M16 for what it could do out the door of an OH-6. I also became quite fond of my M79 grenade launcher which could do some interesting things on enemy troops while the artillery was registering and I was adjusting.

You are correct in your observation that we old military types do tend to take a bit better care of our pieces than do those guys who never had the joy of firing a day of Trainfire and spending most of the night cleaning and lubricating their M1s (now I've definitely tipped my hand at my age).

Posted by: canovack | December 9, 2013 3:15 PM    Report this comment

canovack as a fellow Vietnam vet thank you for your service to your country. I also remember the bad press the M-16 received as I think part of the original problem was they were not issued with any cleaning equipment.

While I carried the M-14 which was known as a reliable weapon I always kept it clean and oiled. Perhaps it was that military training and belief that your weapon is your best friend and will keep you alive.

Since I have been removed from the military for 45 years I find that many gun owners these days take a very casual approach to gun maintenance. I figure that every trip to the range or even if you put a few rounds through your firearm should be followed by a good cleaning. I practice this because you never know when you might need your weapon to save your life.

Posted by: Bill W | December 9, 2013 1:30 PM    Report this comment

canovack as a fellow Vietnam vet thank you for your service to your country. I also remember the bad press the M-16 received as I think part of the original problem was they were not issued with any cleaning equipment.

While I carried the M-14 which was known as a reliable weapon I always kept it clean and oiled. Perhaps it was that military training and belief that your weapon is your best friend and will keep you alive.

Since I have been removed from the military for 45 years I find that many gun owners these days take a very casual approach to gun maintenance. I figure that every trip to the range or even if you put a few rounds through your firearm should be followed by a good cleaning. I practice this because you never know when you might need your weapon to save your life.

Posted by: Bill W | December 9, 2013 1:30 PM    Report this comment

'Good comment, clouddancer, as relates to weapons maintenance. We always want our personal defensive pieces to be as reliable as possible, and that reliability is usually always enhanced by keeping the pieces clean and properly lubricated. I recall that with all the bad press that the M16 rifle originally received in Vietnam, the one I was issued, with the 4th Infantry Division, never let me down.....likely because I was pretty scrupulous in keeping it clean and properly lubricated.

Posted by: canovack | December 8, 2013 4:03 PM    Report this comment

Interesting information and comments here. I cannot comment on this particular Kimber model but I have a Kimber CDPII 9mm. While the trigger was a bit rough from the factory, and also I had some failures to extract with the brand new pistol, after some clean up, this gun (carried for defense) is VERY reliable as long as I don't wait too long to clean after an extended practice session. I LIKE this gun.

Posted by: clouddancer | December 8, 2013 2:06 PM    Report this comment

Have owned a Kimber Eclipse Pro II model (not target) for about 3 years. It is a beautiful weapon and the trigger pull especially is great.

Posted by: RAR | December 6, 2013 7:50 PM    Report this comment

Thanks canovack and Bill W for the info. I will keep RB17 in mind as well as Ballistol. It is very interesting the many uses for Ballistol. It must be an amazing product! Triple K recommends it for their leather belts and holsters.

What I use: Hoppe's #9 for bore cleaning, CLP for cleaning and protecting metal, including bore protection. I have some Rem oil but haven't used it as the CLP does the job, and its' use by the military is significant recommendation.

Any cotton patches that I have used left lint behind. Now I use Outers bulk patches which seem to be synthetic and leaves no lint. They measure 1-1/2"X3" and with a cut to size guide on the package can be used on anything between .17 to .45 caliber.

What I don't like: Cotton patches.
Birchwood Casey Barricade. I applied it to a rust free bare metal Mosin Nagant barrel and front sight where the paint (I was surprised also) came off when I removed cosmoline with mineral spirits. I covered the bare metal with Barricade and it rusted overnight in my air conditioned home. That was completly unexpected because it claims to protect metal for more than 7 days exposed to a salt water mist. I covered the rusted areas with CLP and the rust did not get any worse. I later removed the rust and did a DIY blueing. Barricade got good reviews from all but one customer on Cabela's website. I guess it works OK on finished metal, but I don't want to take the chance.

No doubt there are many good gun maintenance products available and some that fall short. I just wanted to learn from the experience of others. Thanks to all.

Posted by: runner | December 6, 2013 3:57 PM    Report this comment

To Bayernwolf

I apologize for incorrectly using your name in my response to the Kimber post. From the way the post was displayed on my computer your name appeared at the bottom of the Kimber post that now appears to me to be written by runner who I thought wrote the post on cleaning. I have a sore spot for posts like that as it seems very prevalent today. While looking for a fishing boat I saw similar comments like Boat X is Junk. Go on Amazon and you will see the same thing.

On the topic of gun cleaning solutions is like talking about your favorite beer. I will agree that Hoppes #9 is hard to beat. But I have been looking for a all in one solution and was using CPL. However, a few months ago I discovered Ballistol the stuff Hickcok 45 uses in his videos. The first time I used it was to try it out on my already clean Kimber 1911 and Ruger Mark II. I found the Ballistol removed some dirt the CPL missed in barrels of both guns. Ballistol was developed by the German Army prior to WWI and was used until the end of WWII. It is not only a gun cleaner, but it was used to clean and protect leather boots and slings, wood rifle stocks and as a general antiseptic for wounds on both humans, and horses. It has sort of a funny smell but it is totally biodegradable. When you wipe it on and wipe it off is tends to dry and leaves the surface of the metal smooth and slippery. While it might not beat Hoopes #9 as the best solvent for me it seems to outperform CPL. For me Ballistol is a good choice for a quick and fast clean and it is easy on you hands and won't hurt any surface you might drip it on.

Posted by: Bill W | December 6, 2013 12:58 PM    Report this comment

OK Bill W, I'm sure you want to apologize for not reading carefully!!! You attacked me for someone else's post!!!! But as insulted as I am I agree with you sentiment. I thought the same thing when I read mwp2634's post.

Posted by: Bayernwolf | December 6, 2013 11:38 AM    Report this comment

OK, runner, as far as cleaning solutions go, it's still damned hard to beat Hoppe's #9. That said, though, I have had good results with RB17, a completely biodegradable cleaner that comes in a squeeze bottle with a flip top. It's easy to use, and it's a bit on the viscous side, so it doesn't splash when running brushes through the bore. As far as lube goes, I am still using.....and am still quite fond of.....old military LSA. It's a medium grade lubricant that stays for quite awhile, and it can also be used to leave a thin film on metal parts as a protectant.

Most of my pieces have black composite stocks and forearms, so there really isn't a lot of care that goes into them, although that thin film of LSA leaves a nice sheen. I also keep silicone impregnated cloths near the gun cabinets and safes so that I can give the pieces a little rub-down after I have played with them. My old military relics enjoy a wipe down with linseed oil, now and again, but that silicone cloth still does a pretty nice job of quickly brushing off the stocks.....and that holds true for my wood stocked sporting pieces as well.

Posted by: canovack | December 5, 2013 7:44 PM    Report this comment

Don't you just love it when posters like Bayernwolf comments about a particular gun but only leave vague negative comments like "I have known people who received problem guns .... Even after "factory repair" one of these weapons was junk" Then he quotes his Pistol dude who says "they are not well made and not worth the money"

He is so typical of todays world of name calling. How about some details as to what was exactly wrong with the Kimber that the factory could not fix. Words like "Problem Gun" and "Junk" communicate nothing to someone who might read this review and may be interested buying this particular Kimber. How about some details and facts as to what lead your your pistol smith to question the quality of a Kimber 1911. Using his name as you did makes him appear to be no better than you.

I have owned a Kimber Eclipse Pro Target since 2003. Which is the Commander size version of this gun. I have put many rounds through my gun in the past 10 years using all types of ammunition except the steel case Russian stuff. I only use Kimber factory mags, and the gun is 100% reliable. I have never had a failure to feed, failure to fire, stove pipe, or any other mechanical problem with my Kimber. Fit and finish and overall quality as well as accuracy are excellent and mirror the comments made in the gun reports test. I receive similar positive comments from everyone who has fired my Eclipse Pro Target.

Posted by: Bill W | December 5, 2013 5:37 PM    Report this comment

I don't understand comparing these two guns as opposed to the Kimber versus an RIA Tactical II with equivalent features to the Kimber (sights, extended grip safety, front strap grooving) for literally 1/2 the price of the Kimber!!

Posted by: Bayernwolf | December 5, 2013 3:28 PM    Report this comment

I have known a couple of people who have received problem guns from Kimber. Even after "factory repair" one of these weapons was junk.

Teddy Jacobson, a pistol smith of some renown, says that Kimber weapons are not that well made and not worth the money.

He has customized A Colt M1991A1 for me that I would take over a Kimber any day.

Posted by: mwp2634 | December 5, 2013 2:56 PM    Report this comment

Apparently this report hasn't drawn much interest. So I will change the subject. I would like to hear from you experienced gun guys what you like and don't like for bore cleaning, lubricating and protecting metal, and protecting wood stocks. Throw in leather care if you like. Thanks to all.

Posted by: runner | December 5, 2013 1:15 PM    Report this comment

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