Join Date: Aug 2017
First time at the range with my Woodland Night (multiple failures)
Long story short - it was a disappointing trip on several fronts.
A summary for those that don't care to read my whole long-winded post (TL;DR) :
This is my first Kimber, I only had time to shoot 42 rounds before the range closed - and had several FTFs, a few ejected casings that hit me in the forehead, one instance of the slide remaining in battery after the last round in the mag was spent, the way too easy to move CT laser switch turned itself on several times while firing (slightly annoying), and the finish around the ejector port appears to already be chipping after less than 50 rounds! Yikes ... Read below for more details but before anyone asks - I read up quite a bit on this forum and the 1911 forum before taking it out and, so yes before I fired a single shot, I did strip it down, give it a good cleaning, and oiled it generously everywhere the manual said to - paying special attention to the rails. I also worked the slide quite a bit at home after cleaning and lubing before heading out to the range. I only had 115g 9mm ammo on me when I got to the range late on a Sunday and the highest grain they had available behind the counter was 124g Blazer Brass FMJs. So I shot the 124g Blazers exclusively this first time out. The gun was definitely wet (looking back, maybe even too wet?) and I can assure you that there was no limp wristing going on.
Now for the whole sordid tale ..
First, life happened and I wasn't able to get to the range until just before closing and only got to spend about 35 minutes there before they called the lanes cold. Out of those 35 minutes, my wife was also there to give her new S&W .380 (M&P Bodyguard) a go.
We split a lane and I gave my wife most of the time since I'd rather her get comfortable with her new EDC faster, and I'm obviously more concerned with her ability to protect herself than I am getting to play with my new big boy toy. So unfortunately I only got to to put 6 mags / 42 rounds through my new Micro 9, when I'd hoped on getting in a good 100 - 200 rounds.
The Woodland Night is my first Kimber and I bought it as a impulse buy at the gun show over the weekend. I almost never impulse buy anything this expensive and would have normally done lots of research first but we were there mainly for my wife to buy a new ultra sub-compact EDC and I just happened to come across this little beauty that I decided in the moment that it must come home with me.
It's been probably 10 years since I have added any guns to my small collection and was really only browsing at what was out there in the wide world of 9mm's these days since I've been out of the loop/market for several years. I picked up several dozen 9mm's .. the latest Glocks, some Walthers, Sigs, Desert Eagles, Springfield, S&W, and many others but nothing felt as good or 'just right' in my hands until I spotted the Woodland Night and picked it up. It was light and slim enough to easily CC but still somehow felt substantial and not cheap like many others that size do to me. The slide action and trigger felt nearly perfect for my tastes and something about the color combination just did it for me. The salesman took notice of my interest and seized the opportunity to do what opportunistic and apparently less than completely ethical salesman do. He took the spark I had for it and fanned it until I had to have it (including telling me things about the gun and Kimber that I later found out to be outright lies). But I'll leave that alone for now. He didn't force me to buy it, it was my decision so I take responsibility for it.
Either way, with it being my first new, or even new-to-me, gun in a long time .. plus with it feeling and looking as good as it did to me, I was obviously pretty darn excited about it.
The excitement started to fade some after I got home and started researching Kimber on the whole and learned of its (I'm sure debatably, esp around here) somewhat contentious reputation it appears to have earned over the last few years among several in the community in terms of reliability .. and even more specifically for me, the QC issues that the Micro 9 seems to possibly have in particular. I also wasn't enthused to learn that Kimber only offered a 1 year warranty on a gun in this price range.
Now no gun or manufacturer is perfect, of course. And anytime anyone is building or manufacturing a product at any real scale, especially a product with moving parts, combustion, umpteen end user variables, and so on - a certain percentage of that product is going to go bad or have some inconsistencies in manufacturing/QC. I get that. I also know that internet forums, discussion groups, YouTube, etc. are almost always going to consist of and represent a mere micro-fraction of the overall number of consumers who actually purchased and use a particular product. Plus I know that people who buy a product and it ends up working as expected are statistically far less likely to seek out discussion forums or share their experiences with others than if something went wrong or fell short of their expectations. ESPECIALLY when someone pays more towards the higher end of the spectrum or believes they are (or should be getting) a premium level product. When something goes wrong - most people under these circumstances will tell everybody or anybody who will even possibly listen.
I say all of that to say that I usually take a few random word of mouth reports ("this brand sucks .. I'll never buy a ____") or what might appear to be a disproportionate amount of negative experiences with a company or product on the internet with a grain of salt.
So even though I saw numerous posts on the web and on this forum about people having several problems with Kimbers or saying how their quality has gone downhill and that they wouldn't ever buy one again or use it as their EDC, I also saw just as many or more posts all over from Kimber owners who reported that they had no problems at all, had owned them for years, and were extremely happy with them.
After reading all of this, I was concerned but still cautiously optimistic before heading out to the range last night, as I really wanted to like this gun and to be happy with my purchase. I still do want to. But last night didn't help.
I also didn't put a ton of stock into it but felt it worth mentioning that the guy behind the counter at the range last night (a range that sells a large variety of arms from most of the big names, including Kimber ; and is also one of the larger, cleaner, better run ranges in my area) told me that over the last couple of years, he sees more Kimbers come back to the store with reports of issues or requests for refunds than probably any other manufacturer. He also told me that multiple of the more seasoned competition shooters that either practice or compete at that range that formerly only shot with Kimbers (full size 1911's I'm sure) have since switched to something else after an issue cost them or someone they know a competition. Again, all circumstantial .. anecdotal .. whatever you want to call it. But yeah, the word would certainly seem to be out there regarding Kimbers supposed declining quality or reliability.
Slightly more context .. I've been shooting for 20 years now, both pistols and long guns, and have owned lots of nice firearms over the years. Berettas, Walthers, Colts, S&Ws, Glocks, Brownings, Remingtons, the list goes on. Now I was never stellar at shooting or anything, was never in the service or had a career that included formal training with them, like I'm sure a lot of you have. But I did grow up around a lot of 'gun guys', have been shooting umpteen times over my lifetime, and have had various military, veteran, law enforcement, or local gun shop owner friends and acquaintances over the years that I've either talked guns with or have been shooting with at least a time or two.
I'm trying to convey that while I'm definitely no expert (or even close), was never super versed in the technical or advanced aspects, and was never a GREAT shot (I'd say when I was shooting more often, I was probably between average to decent, at best) - guns and shooting are not new to me, and I'm not a total idiot or entirely ignorant about most of the basics.
But life has been extra busy for at least 5 or 6 years now and I've only made it to the range maybe twice or so in the last 5 years. So I'm definitely rusty, at best. I'm also not too proud to realize that it's possible that I could be doing something wrong, forgotten something, or picked up a bad habit along the way, that while may or may not be the cause of some of the issues I've had so far, it might be at least exaggerating them?
My other rub though is that in the 20 years that I've been shooting and owning firearms, I can count on one hand the amount of issues, misfires, jams, and the like that I've had out of thousands of rounds shot. Which have mostly been semi-auto pistols and rifles.
Most of the guns I've owned I've bought used and have only purchased a handful brand new .. however, before now I've never gone through any kind of 'break in' ritual with any of my previous guns, new or not. I didn't use any special ammo, I cleaned them but probably not before the first time I shot them and certainly not after every time I shot them. And again, they've all been reliable a good 99%+ of the time.
I don't know if I've just been lucky up to now, or if I'm possibly just unlucky and got a 'late Friday' Micro 9, or if last night will turn out to be an isolated instance.
Perhaps a bad magazine (didn't have time to try a different mag yet), maybe an especially dirty box of Blazers, maybe I over oiled it (it was weeping out the rails by the time I was done with my 42 whole rounds). I read lots of comments on here saying run it wet your first few times out, 'you can't oil it too much', and the like. But now I'm wondering if overdoing it may have been contributing to the nose diving on the 1st round of a reloaded mag that I'm pretty sure was what was primarily happening on most or all of my FTFs.
And in addition to a field strip, thorough cleaning, and generous oiling of all parts the manual suggested (with the sample oil Kimber included in the box), and giving the slide a good workout before heading out - while at the range, I also made sure the top round was fully seated, as well as smacked the back of the magazine against my hand every time I loaded one up to try and make sure the rounds were properly seated and aligned in my mag before inserting it .. after reading that tip on here as well. I also feel certain that it wasn't an issue of the magazine not being fully inserted. After reading everything I did beforehand, I tried diligently to dot all of my i's and cross all my t's.
My grip may not be perfect but I do know the basics of a proper grip and positioning of both my shooting hand and my support hand. I keep a firm grip with both hands every time I shoot. Limpwristing wasn't the issue.
It's quite frustrating to me that out of only 42 rounds - I had:
- 4 FTFs
- 1 instance of the slide remaining closed after I emptied the mag (almost positive the casing on that last round ejected but the slide didn't lock open, rather it just returned to battery)
- About 2 or 3 ejected casings that slapped me in the forehead
- The laser grip switch, which I intended and tried to leave off the entire time, kept turning on while I was shooting just from my normal grip
- And then the finish around the ejector port already chipping (after less than 50 rounds? I mean .. c'mon. i've read about others having this issue as well, and yeah I've seen it said also more than once that Kimber isn't known for its strong finishes - but please don't sell me a $700 small frame pistol that has a factory finish unable to withstand its first 30 minutes of 'normal' or typical use without chipping off .. this is just inexcusable IMO)
On the 4 FTFs : 3 of them happened on the initial round of a newly reloaded magazine. I wasn't riding or following the slide either. But from memory, I think all 3 times it happened on the 1st round, the slide closed or attempted to close to SOME degree but remained either mostly or partially open. I could look down into the ejection port and see the cartridge was lodged below the ramp. I think the nose was at a downward angle compared to the back of the cartridge on at least 1 of these instances, maybe more. But I do remember at least 1 of the times, it appeared the cartridge was about 'level' horizontally, but had also just not made it all the way up to the ramp and had I guess gotten lodged in a way that also held the slide open. The one and only time it happened not on the initial round was on round 3 I believe. This time was the only time I think the slide did close all the way (or at least it was close enough to fool me) but when it wouldn't fire .. after waiting several seconds, I racked the slide open and could see the cartridge sitting below where it should have been seated on the ramp just before the ejector flung it out.
Only other items of note that I can think of - I only used the 7 round clip that it came with. I know some have had issues with the Kimber 7 round mags in these but with a gun this size, it's just not comfortable to hold or shoot for me with the flush 6 round magazine. The dealer I bought it from did include a 2nd 7 round Kimber mag with my purchase but with the limited time I had, I didn't have time to take it out of the plastic it came in. But I will definitely be trying the other mags next time I'm at the range as I begin to try to troubleshoot and rule out any isolated sources of the issues. As well as trying other ammo, of course. I only tried the Blazer 124g FMJ last night.
I've already stripped it down again after I got back from the range last night and did another thorough cleaning. Another side note - it seemed surprisingly dirty having only shot less than 50 total rounds. But I spent a good 60 - 90 minutes trying to painstakingly clean everything thoroughly and then applied a generous amount of oil, albeit a different oil than what I used the first time (the sample Kimber provided in the box) - and I didn't apply quite as much as the first time, where it was weeping back out of the sides of the gun.
I go for my concealed carry class this weekend and my plan was for this to be my EDC. Naturally, the most concerning part of the various issues were the FTFs. It can't be my EDC if I can't count on it.
The finish chipping, the stray casing bonking me on the head, the laser turning on inadvertently, and even the slide not locking open after emptying the clip once (could have been my thumbs/grip), are all annoyances and not acceptable in my book for the price I paid - and I will certainly be sending it in to Kimber if I can't isolate the root of the issues myself and fast - but they're more irritations or gripes than causes for concern about the guns reliability as an EDC I think.
I'll report back after my next range visit, should be in the next day or two, when I'll make sure I have plenty of time to do some more troubleshooting steps.
But so far, I'm trying to decide if it still has the same or similar issues over the coming 100 - 200 rounds or so after trying other mags, other ammo, etc, if after I send it in and get it back from Kimber - if I'm ever going to really feel like I can fully trust it if and when I ever truly need it or if I'm just going to sell it and get something else that I feel should be more reliable.
Sorry for the long post. I type really fast so it didn't take me nearly as long to write this as it might seem on the surface. Bonus points for anyone that made it all the way through. Ha.
Last edited by ckisgen; 08-07-2017 at 11:56 PM.