Pros: Thin, small frame-size for .45, accurate as a tack-driver, lightweight, good-looking in a utilitarian way.
Cons: Expensive gun, expensive ammo, expensive accessories, not the easiest to break down and clean.
First of all, I'm not a collector or firearms expert... so this won't be the most detailed or informational review. I'm just a guy that was looking for a reliable daily carry gun for CCW use... and found it with my Kimber Ultra Carry II.
Most folks looking to buy a handgun are either looking for a full-size frame, large capacity magazine service pistol (Glock 17 style), or a compact and thin model for concealed carry. While there are many manufacturers of high quality service pistols (Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Dan Wesson, Para Ordnance, etc), it's a smaller market when you limit it to those best suited to CCW use. Kimber is a well known and quality builder of large frame .45 semi-autos for competition and service duties, however their subcompact models are also worth a look.
When looking for a low profile, compact yet powerful pistol that will be reliable, simple to operate in all conditions, and consistantly accurate, there's not a lot of options. The Springfield XD, Smith & Wesson M&P, Kahr Arms carry pistols, and smaller Glocks are all polymer frame and striker fired guns which are accurate enough and good pistols in their own right, yet usually fall a bit short in the build quality and fit and finish area.
Kimber's Ultra Carry II is on their low end at $850 street price, but still has all the features that make it shoot like a Kimber. The matte black finish isn't as sexy as a Ultra Covert II or Ultra CDP with their wood grips and coated frames, but you'll save $250 and still have a very accurate firearm!
--- Features ---
The UCII is designed with concealed carry in mind, both front and rear sights are rounded and beveled for a smoother draw and less edges to catch or snag. All aluminum alloy frame is lighter than stainless or steel, but more durable than polymer in the long run.
I'm a big fan of the 1911 pistol layout which has been around since John Browning's first design over 100 years ago. Kimber has kept all the features you're used to seeing on a 1911 including thumb safety, prominent beavertail on the grip, and exposed (although shortened for carry duty) hammer. The Kimber UCII also has a grip safety which I appreciate, a good firm grip should absolutely be required before firing a compact .45ACP!
Weight unloaded is 25.3 ounces w/magazine installed, and I must mention it does only come with one magazine which frustrated me a bit. Any CCW intended gun which has a 7 round magazine should at least come with 2 mags in the box! (Note: As mentioned by a fellow writer, many pistols now come with only 1 magazine in the box, this isn't just a Kimber issue. I'm used to Springfield and S&W including multiple mags with their polymer pistols.)
Fully loaded the UCII has a very balanced feel in my hands and the 1911 grip size is perfect for my average guy-hands. The factory grips are textured polymer and have enough traction to firmly grasp the gun and I don't see a need to change grip panels other than an upgrade to Crimson Trace LaserGrips at some point.
--- Shooting and Accuracy ---
First experience shooting with a match-grade gun, I was very impressed with the accuracy and smoothness of the UCII. Right out of the box I was able to place 2 magazines of Blazer .45 230GR FMJ in a 2" hole at 12' distance. That is pretty amazing since I've never used an alloy framed .45, not to mention this one has a 3" barrel and is quite light.
Factory sights are target style and finished in black with a deep notch but no white dots or night sights. For quick acquisition and getting on target fast this sight design actually works very well! If you're concerned about low-light use, a simple bolt-on set of C/T Lasergrips would be the easy answer.
Follow up trips to the range confirmed the inherent accuracy of my UCII, 500 rounds through it now and it still makes me appear a better shooter than I am. Distances up to 7 yards you could sign your name in holes with a little practice and consistant practice. The trigger is a thing of beauty with a perfect trigger pull of 4-5lbs and consistant, smooth travel through its range. Trigger reset is also short enough to make follow-up shots quick but not so short you'll double tap without intending to.
I've run Blazer FMJ, Winchester FMJ and JHP, and Fiochi FMJ through at the range without a single failure to load, eject, or fire. My choice for defense ammo is Federal Premium 45 ACP 230 Grain Hydra-Shok JHP (900 FPS) which the UCII fired without any hiccups whatsoever.
--- Cleaning and Maintenance ---
One of the only complaints from some Kimber owners is the difficulty in takedown and cleaning for most of their bull-barrel .45 models. Compared to my Springfield XD 9mm and Sig .40, I agree the Kimber is a pain. The difference in a Kimber is to remove the slide-stop you'll need Kimber's fancy little tool which looks like a little Allen wrench and slips into the guide rod to aid in slide removal. 1st time is a bit of learning experience but with a little practice it's pretty easy... just go slow and have a clean and empty area to work at in case you drop anything.
I can safely and consistently break down my XD in less than 4 seconds, the Kimber is more like 45-60 seconds once you're familiar with the process. Not a big deal really, but it's also a little more risky to do in the field, on the tailgate of your truck, etc. Lose your take-down tool and you'll be hard pressed to get it back together unless you have a paper clip or other small pin handy.
--- Concealed Carry Use ---
The whole point of a CCW pistol is to be accurate, trust-your-life reliable, and easy enough to carry that you actually will... instead of leaving it at home.
After 3 weeks of use and a few hundred reliable rounds downrange, the UCII very quickly replaced my old daily carry Springfield XD9 4" Service. While an excellent workhorse and very reliable, my XD9 was heavy, fat, and large in every way. The UCII is thin, has the shorter Officer's carry grip, the smoothed edges, sights, and 3" barrel makes it much easier to draw or replace in a holster.
My choice for all-day comfort is a Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster which has been great for the last 2 years, once it breaks in (about 2 weeks of steady wear) you won't even know it's there.
--- Bottom Line ---
Quite possibly the favorite gun in my collection to shoot, Kimber's UCII is a powerful and compact addition to your CCW options. With so many popular pistols from Kahr, Bersa, Sig, and Ruger out there in handy CCW size, it's hard to recommend one above all the rest! The one thing that sets Kimber's offerings apart is their 1911 design, it will be a selling point or something you would rather avoid... it just depends on your experience and what you're comfortable with. Those tiny polymer little pocket semi-autos just don't fit my hand well and I don't shoot them very well.
I enjoy shooting the compact UCII enough that I'd love to add a full-size 5" barrel Kimber someday, but that $1,000+ sticker puts a damper on impulse buys...
Thanks for reading!