June 2016

Practical Target Guns: Kimber And Springfield Go Head to Head

Finicky adjustable sights are often the weakness of target guns that seek to cross over to more dangerous work, but in the Gold Target and Loaded Target tested here, those were not an issue.

Practical Target Guns: Kimber And Springfield Go Head to Head

Either handgun would be a great all-round choice, but the Springfield on the left is the better buy by several hundred dollars, we believe.

In this installment, we pit two practical target guns against each other. By practical target guns we mean accurate and useful 1911 handguns suitable for personal defense, hunting, and some forms of competition. They are not so specialized that they are not holster guns or unreliable for general use. Some target guns simply are not as robust as these handguns. 

Fragile sights that overhang the slide too far, as an example, are counterintuitive in an all-round packing gun. If an adjustable sight loses its zero in competition, you will lose the match. Losing zero in a personal-defense situation carries a stiffer penalty for failure. Getting down to the nitty-gritty, fiber-optic front sights are not always desirable in a hard-use handgun because they tend to be fragile, even if they deliver superior targeting performance.

On the other hand, a service pistol or a hunting pistol with adjustable sights is desirable given the wide range of bullet weights and velocity available with the 45 ACP cartridge. Gun Tests readers already know that the 1911 Government Model platform is a versatile, go-anywhere do-anything handgun; but the question is, can target per­formance translate to de­fensive reliability and handling? 

When the Na­tional Matches got into full force after World War One, improvements were undertaken on the 1911 handgun. Barrels were welded up and carefully fitted, and high-profile sights were fabricated. These improvements led to the Colt National Match pistol’s introduction in 1933. The National Match featured a hand-honed action and two-way adjustable sights. Law officers and outdoorsmen also adopted this relatively expensive handgun. Changes and modification led to the Colt Gold Cup. The sights were fragile in many renditions — not the case in the newest models — so the shooter wishing to own a service-grade handgun with target sights had to take the custom route. Expedients, such as fitting Smith & Wesson revolver sights to the 1911 slide, were not always successful, but the Bo-Mar sight was an excellent addition to any 1911.

High-visibility adjustable sights are a good thing to have, provided they are reliable in keeping zero, are not fragile, and aren’t likely to be damaged. Today, we have the best adjustable-sight 1911 pistols yet from the factory, and our two tests guns put them to excellent use. Here’s how they performed.

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