Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm Review

The Kimber "Aegis" Ultra lives up to its namesake in Greek Mythology. It truly is an excellent "shield" for self-defense. What does this fine pistol offer that other 1911 sub-compacts do not for concealed carry? Col Ben gives his opinions and evaluations on each of his 10 criteria for this pistol. Read his review to learn what makes this a great option for personal protection and concealed carry.

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Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm Review

Do you know what an “aegis” is, its historical significance, and what it represents? Well quite frankly I did not know and had to research it. Of course, I have heard the word used as in “negotiations are conducted under the ‘aegis’ of the U.N.,” for example. I also remembered visiting the Vatican Art Museum in Rome, Italy and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence where there were aegises displayed on ancient sculptures. I thought they were just part of their toga or a cloak. But, how does that apply to a handgun?

Well, suddenly the lightning bolt hit me. Make that a “thunder” bolt. I learned from classical art, Homer’s Iliad, and mythology that an “Aegis” was first associated with the Greek Thunder and Sky God Zeus and his daughter Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare (and their Roman counterparts Jupiter and Minerva.)

I learned that an “aegis” was an animal skin worn over the shoulder as a shield they used for protection in battle. I then recalled the many ancient Greek and Roman sculptures draped with the goatskin shields and it finally made sense to me.

The Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra 1911 pistol is meant to be a “protector” or shield for self-defense under the “aegis” of our U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment… a symbol of power and protection. Lessons learned for this old geezer.

Thanks to Kimber America for sending me this Aegis Elite Ultra sub-compact 1911 9mm with a 3-inch barrel to review. I want to test and evaluate it to see if it fits in my top 8 sub-compact 1911 9mms for carry. I have recently reviewed several sub-compacts and 1911s in depth on this website and others. For my Top 8 list, I excluded several for concealed carry considering their excessive height, weight, barrel length, width, capacity, manageable felt recoil, and MSRP. I included some of them in my Top 21 Concealed Carry Guns in the second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.

Now with this recent Kimber sub-compact 1911, I want to analyze, compare, and rank it among my top 1911 sub-compacts for recommendation or not and for inclusion on my final Top 8 list. Then I’ll publish that final list with my opinions soon on this website to help you make your own decision. Stay tuned friends.

The Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm Review Plan

Initially, for this review, I want to present the specifications and features of the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra 3-inch 9mm. Then, I will give my ten criteria and range test results and my opinions on it to help you analyze your handguns and make the best selection for yourself. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. Below, I’ll also suggest a quality, custom leather holster I like for this 1911 sub-compact 9mm.

Know that I am not on the Kimber America payroll, have not been paid or compensated by them in any form for this review, and not given any gratuities nor influenced to say certain things about the gun. I want to be as objective as possible, honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to help folks sincerely. Also, please know that manufacturers do not buy advertising on my personal website. I have even turned down several guns to review, because of data indicating the gun may be unreliable, had several recalls, accuracy problems, and safety concerns.

I was very anxious to shoot the Kimber Aegis and to compare it factor by factor to my other quality sub-compact 1911 9mms, to see if it ranked in my top concealed carry pistols and in my top sub-compact 9mm 1911s. Based on my personal hands-on range test of the gun and my analysis, I want to give you my opinions with pros and cons and issues and/or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun or allow me to carry it.

  • Is this a pistol I would recommend for concealed carry?
  • Would it make it to my TOP EIGHT list of 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm handguns for concealed carry?
  • Does it have any unique or special features that make it stand apart from the usual 1911 sub-compact 9mm?

Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm Specifications

Model NumberUltra Model; #3000357
Caliber9mm
Barrel Length - Finish3.00"; Stainless Steel; Bull; Bushingless
Sights - RadiusFront: Red Fiber Optic; Rear: Green Fiber Optic; Steel; 4.80" Sight Radius
Weight25 oz (empty mag)
Frame - FinishAluminum Alloy; Matte Black - Satin Silver
Slide MaterialStainless Steel; Kim Pro II Finish- Self Lubricating & Resistant to Moisture
Trigger - MaterialSingle Action Only; Aluminum; Skeletonized
Trigger Press4-5 # estimated- To Be Reviewed
Trigger TravelTo Be Reviewed
Magazines - Capacity1 mag- 8 Rounds; Steel
Height4.75"
Width1.28"
Overall Length6.80"
SafetiesBeavertail Grip Safety; Memory Bump; External Manual Thumb Safety- Left Side
GripsG-10 Cyclone-Patterned; Precision Machined
OtherLimited One-Year Warranty- from date of original new purchase; No Rail
MSRP$1,041

Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm Features

  • X-Style (AEX) Rear Slide Serrations to Enhance Grip
  • Attractive Two-Tone Silver Stainless Steel and Matte Black Finish
  • Comfortable Thin Profile and Lightweight for All-Day Carry
  • Front Strap Checkering- Fine 24 Lines Per Inch
  • Full-Length Guide Rod and 16-Pound Recoil Spring
  • Rounded Edges, Thin Grips, and Altered Controls
  • Built-in Custom Shop for Shooters with Small Hands
  • Vortex Venom Red Dot 6 MOA Milled-Installed: OPTIONAL- Aegis Custom & Pro Models Only

Holster for the Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm

Kramer Handgun Leather makes a beautiful, high-quality OWB MSP Paddle Leather custom holster, so you can easily and frequently remove the gun and holster. The paddle is reinforced with strong plastic which acts as a spring and helps keep it gripped tight to your side. It has great workmanship, is very comfortable, extremely durable, has fine retention, covers the trigger, and conceals well. The Kramer Handgun Leather OWB holster has a nice FBI forward cant and rides high for easy draw. I really like the bevel-edged leather welt on the bottom front side that locks the paddle into the waistband for security and control. And it has a removable snap-closure belt loop to help secure the holster in the pants. The Michigan State Police and other agencies use this holster, and it works well for the range and home use, as well as for concealed carry. The 1911 Aegis Ultra 9mm is shown below in the high-quality KHL OWB Paddle holster, with a matching single mag pouch.

Kramer has agreed to offer my readers a 15% discount through July 1, 2018, for their holsters. When ordering, mention Col Ben and/or use the discount code “ColBen15.”

Kramer Leather Custom OWB Horsehide Leather Paddle Holster & Matching Mag Pouch with Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra 9mm
Kramer Leather Custom OWB Horsehide Leather Paddle Holster & Matching Mag Pouch with Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra 9mm

My Criteria And Considerations for the Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm Review

Here are just ten of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Kimber Aegis 1911. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, and customer service. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion.

I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of ten points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria, preferences or subtract any of mine.

Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.

My General Impressions: Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm

The Aegis 1911 9mm sub-compact is a quality 1911 gun with fine custom craftsmanship, very nice ergonomics and a reasonable price. According to Kimber, the Aegis originated in their Kimber Custom Shop based on customer ideas and requests and ideas from their machinists and craftsmen. It is a blend of most requested custom modifications and other enhancements, like the flattop slide to help in pointing and getting a flash sight picture. The attractive and quality black finish on the slide blends very well with the silver frame.

This 1911 is a very fine gun with extras not usually found on production guns. Kimber finely machine checkers the front strap with 30 lines per inch (LPI) which allows the shooter an enhanced non-slip grip without very aggressive checkering like on some 1911s. This also helps prevent snags.

This Aegis is excellent for concealed carry with its lightweight frame machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, which is coated with the durable and attractive KimPro II finish. The slide is also coated with the KimPro II finish.

Dovetailed into the rear of the slide are Tactical Wedge Fiber Optic Sights which are low profile, very sturdy, and help with a nice sight picture. Front sights are Fiber Optic Red, and Rear are Fiber Optic Green. The slide has unique X-Style (AEX) rear cocking serrations and a lowered ejection port for easy ejections. It has a spurless hammer that won’t jab your side nor snag on clothing. There are also rear vertical serrations below the extended beavertail on the mainspring housing.

The frame is machined for an almost perfect rounded contour where the trigger guard meets the front strap to allow a high grip hold on the Aegis for optimal control. The thumb safety has been reduced in size, is easily accessible, and positively and definitely engages and disengages. The magazine release is extended and is nicely checkered to help release a mag. Overall, it has been designed, shaped and sized for optimal access and functions fine with attention to details.

It was easy to takedown this 1911 9mm, and there was no barrel bushing. It has a nice bull barrel and a two-hole, curved skeletonized trigger with over-travel stop. And there is a skeletonized hammer. The slide was easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise was very manageable, partially due to the low 25 ounces with unloaded mag weight. My wife could also easily rack the slide.

Kimber 1911 Aegis Ultra 9mm: Red Fiber Optic Front- Green Fiber Optic Rear- Skeletonized Trigger - Extended Mag Release
Kimber 1911 Aegis Ultra 9mm: Red Fiber Optic Front- Green Fiber Optic Rear- Skeletonized Trigger – Extended Mag Release

Below I will get into more specifics and my opinions for each of my criteria, after my range testing.

Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm Was Very Accurate at 5 Yards with my Concealed Carry Drill - Easily 15 HITS in the Rain
Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra Sub-Compact 9mm Was Very Accurate at 5 Yards with my Concealed Carry Drill – Easily 15 HITS in the Rain

Range Test for the Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm

I recommend usually shooting at least 500 rounds over a couple of days to break-in a pistol (and to break-in you the new shooter to this particular pistol) that I am considering for self-defense… to be comfortable with its performance, handling, reliability, and accuracy.

500 is not a magical objective number; it could be 501 subjective rounds. I want to see how the gun handles BOTH the hollow point and full metal jacket ball rounds. Recognize for this pistol review I initially fired only about 250 rounds total to evaluate it, emphasizing hollow points. This can be a hefty price tag, but you need this before you bet your life on the gun. At about 200 rounds for many pistols, you might even notice a change in a trigger press. To decide if I want to carry the gun or not, I must shoot it more.

Would this sub-compact 1911 handle the premium hollow-point rounds without any malfunctions or stoppages? I had to answer this key question.

Below are my evaluations for each of my ten criteria for my concealed carry purpose. I wanted to put the gun through its paces with my Concealed Carry Drill with a mag change and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, and performance with premium, quality JHP ammo, and FMJ rounds.

I want to thank Sig Sauer for providing various Elite Performance fine ammo to test and evaluate the 1911 Aegis sub-compact 9mm. I shot high-quality and high-velocity Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHP ammo in 115, 124, and 147 grain weights and some in 115 grain FMJ to determine how well the gun cycled and handled different loads.

I used my standard Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate the Aegis after I initially thoroughly cleaned it. You can use my Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 5-yard distance best.

You can have my Concealed Carry Drill for FREE for your practice. Permission to Download, Print, and share “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” is granted when my website address and copyright are included and kept on it.

You can Download and Print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the Link at my website’s Articles Page at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com.

Range Results for the Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm

I easily and quickly landed all 15 rounds (with a mag change) in the 5 various-sized circles at 5 yards. I fired rapid fire with the Sig V-Crown 124 grain JHP and all hit in their 5 circle targets and within the 20 seconds time limit… actually in 19 seconds with mag change at 5 yards. See above photo. It was a challenge for this ole geezer with declining eyesight with my same Drill at 10, 15, and 20 yards. But, I found this Sig 124-grain JHP to be a very good self-defense round. These hits were acceptable for me for closeup self-defense encounters.

BUT, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities, goals, and proficiency. Use my Drill at various distances, e.g., 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 yards to challenge yourself, as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice, until you feel comfortable and safe with the Drill. Above are my hits for my 15 rounds at 5 yards fired rapid fire with a mag change with the Aegis sub-compact 9mm. I bypassed 3 yards for more of a challenge and given my available time constraints. I shot 250 total rounds through it. Hope my Drill helps you.

Opinions And Evaluations For Each Criterion

Here are my opinions and evaluations for each criterion.

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10

The accuracy of the Aegis 9mm was excellent and effortless for me at close and medium distances of 3, 5, 7, 10, and15 yards. Despite my less than average eyesight and average marksmanship, this senior guy was able to shoot decent groups. But, while my hits at 20 yards with this sub-compact were on target, they were larger 3-3.5″ groups, and I wanted smaller ones. But, no problem out to 15 yards, with the gun doing a lot of the work. All of my groups for my Drills of 15 shots each at the various distances were about 2.5 to 3 inches or so, drawing from my Kramer Leather holster. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain FMJ, 124 grain FMJ, and quality reloads. I had NO problems shooting hollow points. I had no feeding, ejection, or extraction problems at all and the gun functioned flawlessly. Certainly not great marksmanship by me, but it was really enjoyable and fun to shoot the 1911 Pro. The press was short, soft, and crisp, and the recoil was very minimal for this average shooter. Given my past experiences and my knowledge of 1911 9mms and extraction and feeding problems due to their short cartridges, I was indeed impressed with its reliability. I experienced no malfunctions, stoppages, feeding problems, extraction nor ejection issues, with various ammo brands, bullet weights, and magazines. This 1911 Aegis 9 mm was not at all finicky and digested every round and even a few reloads smoothly. Accuracy and reliability were BOTH excellent with all ammo used.

2. Trigger Press – Score: 10

The trigger press out of the box averaged about 4.95 pounds without modification for the Aegis sub-compact 9mm, with 10 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. All of the readings were close to my desired maximum press range of 5 pounds for this a single-action trigger pistol which is not “broken in” yet. After more rounds downrange, I hope the press lightens a little.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

The 1911 single-action, match-grade trigger was crisp, smooth and excellent, with no creep, minimal takeup, no stacking, with a short travel distance and short reset, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily. The reset was very definite and identifiable. This single-action trigger was excellent and consistent shooting with pretty much the same press each time. I really enjoyed pressing this short and soft trigger.

Match-Grade Stable Bull 3-Inch Bushingless Barrel
Match-Grade Stable Bull 3-Inch Bushingless Barrel

4. Barrel Length – Score: 10

The 3-inch Bull barrel is match grade, ramped, and hand fitted to the slide with very tight tolerances. This helps with stability, accuracy, reliability, and recoil was minimal. From this short barrel, I expected the felt recoil to be very noticeable, but it was not, and I had no problem at all managing the recoil. My wife also handled the recoil well. The barrel and slide are made from stainless steel, which helps with their rust resistance.

Nice, Comfortable & Durable G-10 Grips with Thumb Indention on the Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra 9mm
Nice, Comfortable & Durable G-10 Grips with Thumb Indention on the Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra 9mm

5. Sights – Score: 10

I really like the Aegis’ factory Fiber Optic Red Front and Green Rear sights. Although I am red color blind, if I buy this gun, I will change the front sight to a green one to compensate, but my wife really likes the red front. The dots were of sufficient size for me to pick them up quickly, not too small. I do like larger dots and a fiber optic and/or tritium front sight for quick sight access and follow-up shots. An easy-to-pickup green Fiber Optic front sight is my preference for a 1911 sub-compact for concealed carry. Also, night sights are important for concealed carry. Note that the 2018 Aegis is available in Pro & Custom larger versions, with an optional Vortex Venom Red Dot optical sight and 6 MOA.

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10

The lightweight Aegis weighed 25 ounces and was a nice weight gun for concealed carry. The frame and trigger were aluminum, and the barrel and slide were stainless steel. There was much less felt recoil and more stability than I expected from this sub-compact.

7. Caliber – Score: 10

The Kimber Aegis in 9mm caliber was easy and fun to shoot, and I managed the recoil well. Of course, shooting 9mm ammo is much less expensive, and modern ammo with improved ballistics gets the job done.

8. Capacity – Score: 7

I liked the 8+1 capacity of the Aegis sub-compact 9mm and mag. But, there is only 1 steel mag included as standard. However, Kimber was nice enough to send a second mag for my test and evaluation involving a mag change. I prefer three mags to be included as standard, but this adds cost for everyone to the package.

Unique Easy-to-Grasp AEX Serrations on Aegis Rear Slide
Unique Easy-to-Grasp AEX Serrations on Aegis Rear Slide

9. Ergonomics – Score: 10

The ergonomics of the Aegis 9 mm were excellent, and I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide lever, and magazine release. I could tell this is a custom and hand-fitted pistol and the high-quality craftsmanship was apparent. This was an almost custom-fitted gun for me and my medium-sized hands… and for my wife and her small hands. The slide, frame, match-grade barrel, and smaller parts are all hand fit to enhance accuracy and reliability. I had no slide nor hammer bites, and it felt very good to hold this thin profile pistol. The grip safety with its beavertail and memory bump were natural, comfortable, and I had no problems engaging the gun to fire it. The slide-to-frame fit was very solid, and it was easy for me to rack the slide.

Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra in Hard Case with 1 Mag, Lock, Instruction Manual & Bore Flag
Kimber 1911 Aegis Elite Ultra in Hard Case with 1 Mag, Lock, Instruction Manual & Bore Flag

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9

I easily disassembled and re-assembled the Aegis before I shot it. The nice hard plastic case included 1 mag, a lock, bore flag, and Instruction Manual. The Aegis looks beautiful, and it is a high-quality accurate and reliable handgun. The unique AEX slide serrations and G-10 grips are attractive and useful, along with the eye-catching silver-black frame-slide contrast. The 30 LPI checkering on the front strap really helps acquire a firm grip and looks nice. I like the quality and attention to manufacturing details. Extras and customer service are other factors. I will probably break my piggy bank and add the Aegis to my concealed carry arsenal.

Suggestions For Most Field Strips:

  1. Do NOT let the HAMMER drop when the slide is removed
  2. Do NOT dry fire the pistol when the SLIDE is removed since it may cause damage
  3. Do NOT depress the GRIP SAFETY at ANY time when field stripping and removing the SLIDE.

Total Points = 96 out of 100 Possible.

Kimber Aegis Ultra 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm Review Conclusions

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this high-quality Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra sub-compact 9mm pistol, for concealed carry, home defense, and fun plinking. This finely crafted 1911 9mm with attention to details is now ranked in MY TOP 8 SUB-COMPACT 1911 9MMS FOR CARRY. Stay tuned here for my final Top 8 comparisons and report soon. I was very impressed with its accuracy, reliability, and its very controllable recoil for a sub-compact 9mm. The fiber optic front and rear sights really helped my aging eyes when shooting it. Its many great, high-quality features as presented above are there, especially the accuracy and reliability. After a total of 500 rounds down range demonstrating these same results and characteristics, I would bet my life on this excellent pistol.

As always, these are just my opinions, and you should try it for yourself. Be sure to use the 15% discount code mentioned above for fine Kramer Handgun Leather holsters. I hope this review of the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra sub-compact 9 mm has helped you gain some information for YOUR decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using only 250 rounds of mostly premium ammo. I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it and have at least 500 rounds break-in range time through it for yourself. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what’s important to you ahead of your range live-fire time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, different magazines, over an extended break-in period.

Continued success!

Contacts:

Kimber Manufacturing
1-888-243-4522
Yonkers, NY 10710

Kramer Handgun Leather
1-253-564-6652
Tacoma, WA 98411

Sig Sauer for Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ ammo
1-603-610-3000
Newington, NH 03801

Photos by Author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2018 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].