A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, May 19, 2008

Clark or Kimber?

The question over at the 1911 Forum from new member joaquin read:
Hello everyone, registered specifically to ask for help in deciding what my first 1911 will be. I practically know squat about the model, I'll probably be doing most of my study here in this forum so kindly bear with me. I have narrowed my options to 2 choices:

1. A brand new Kimber Gold Match II.
Click to enlarge
2. A 15 year old Colt Government Clark Custom Hardball (Keithville) being offered by a friend.

The Colt is in pretty good shape and is being sold to me at half the price of the brand new Kimber. I really don't know much about either of the two models, but these choices came about because the Gold Match is claimed to be Kimber's finest production pistol, while the Colt came along my way by chance. You are giving advice to a 1911 dummy so please be frank and direct so I won't be lost in 1911 jargon, I don't mind a baptism of fire.
Truth be told, I didn't know whether a troll was on board or not. The answer seemed all too obvious. A no brainer. Luckily the responses were 100% in favor of the Clark gun. Even the lone Kimber advocate eventually gave a qualified reversal of opinion. I finally responded myself. My response:

On one hand we have an expensive production pistol that came off the assembly line in Yonkers. The price of said gun is X

On the other hand we have a Colt that took a trip to Princeton or Keithville Louisiana and was worked over by a Bullseye gunsmith firm that has been modifying 1911s for Bullseye competition shooting for the past 58 years, and which produces the best Bullseye 1911s in the world. Said pistol costs X/2.

The Colt is not just a Colt. It is a Clark gun. The Clark gun is a competition gun. The Kimber is a production gun. That is a huge difference.

Clark Custom was founded by Jim Clark Sr. in 1950. Their work is exacting, innovative, and deceptively simple in appearance. They remain the only shop to give an accuracy guarantee of 2.5 inches with a 10 shot group at 50 yards, including flyers and the first shot. They will build your Bullseye 1911 to any specification you desire. If you desire something that will not allow you to compete, they will advise you of the issue. At Clark Custom, they know the regulations, because they compete themselves. A Clark Bullseye gun based on a Colt 1911 will start at about $1600. They hold their value well. They disappear from the used market quickly at $1200 years later. Clark offers three different Bullseye packages, plus bespoke work, so it is difficult to say just which package you are considering. I can say that in my area the going rate for a lightly used Clark Bullseye pistol built on a Colt ranges from $1200 to $1500.

The standard Clark Hardball package includes:
Accuracy job
Trigger Job with match aluminum trigger (4 pound pull
Bo-Mar Adjustable rear sight / Clark Hardball front sight
Reliability package.
Stippled front strap.
Function and machine rest test with target supplied.
Accuracy guarantee 2.5" - 10 shot group at 50 yards

I will say this.....If you buy the Clark gun, and if you can shoot well enough it will take you to the top of the Bullseye ranks. It will still be shooting accurately, punching out single holes at 25 yards when the Kimber is choked up with powder. I would expect the Kimber to be ammunition sensitive, shooting best with a particular load, and sometimes refusing to feed others. The Clark gun can be expected to feed and shoot anything you shove in the magazine, as long as it says .45ACP on the bottom. If you, as a shooter, can outshoot the Kimber's capabilities, the Clark gun will allow you to do it.......With the Kimber's favorite ammunition, in the Kimber's backyard, while wearing a Kimber T-shirt.

If you have a problem with the Clark gun, you can send it to Jim Clark in Princeton Louisiana, and he will make it right. Period. He doesn't care if you are the third owner of one of his Daddy's guns. If the pistol has his name on it, he will make it right. He does not want any pistol with his name on it representing his company poorly. When you call up Clark Custom, there is about a 50% chance that Jim Clark himself will answer the phone. You will not be talking to some sales rep or complaint representative. You will be talking to the man who will make things happen for you, or one of his best friends if Jim happens to be out of town.

To me, this question is a no brainer.........Buy the Clark gun. When someone asks which 1911 to buy, I usually inquire as to what they intend to use the gun for. In this instance I do not need to. You have presented two choices only. One is cubic zirconia, the other is a diamond. Buy the Clark gun.
Treat me with benign neglect." Ashton R. O'Dwyer, Jr. NOLA 2005
Xavier's Blog
Μολών λαβέ!

Click to enlargeThis morning, joaquin posted photos. Good buy joaquin!



Blogger Owen said...

excellent buy.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Whoo-hoo, check out the patterning on that front strap. Haven't seen that kind before.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats. That's a hell of a pistol.

4:43 PM  
Blogger nature223 said...

Clark work over on a colt versus a WHAT???...a Kimber???
not even a nice box stock Colt but a Kimber...I've seen their machining pretty much suck,a friend almost lost a toe to a Firing on closing,no finger even near the trigger.
seems they gave him a weak firing pin spring,and the firing pin hole wasnt even drilled correctly.
he "unloaded" that gun fast after that,and started carrying his S&W Model 57 41 Mag,as his gunstore gun....good thing he always remembered his Cooper rules and it WAS pointing in a safe direction when it A.D.'d into the wood floor.

no contest,Clark Custom Colt...

one more thing,MAN your having a serious lucky gun streak for finding one,congrats,it'll hold you in good stead.

6:00 PM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...

Was on active duty and in Germany when the US Army decided to convert from the Colt Mdl 1911A1 to the 9MM. Reason as I recall was for reasons of interchangeability of ammunition between units of the NATO military units.

I didn't agree with the reasons then and I don't agree with it now.

I wouldn't have criticized you either way because there was no "wrong" choice. You picked a good one.

Best Wishes in your shooting,

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first "gun memory" as a kid was about 1959 or 60. Some local folks wandered onto our farm, requesting a chance to deer hunt our woods. The leader of the group had a Colt Gov. model 45 strapped to his belt. Basic, plain jane model with a nice brown holster. His hunting partner had a Marbles "huntin' knife" strapped to his belt. They sure were purty (the gun and knife; not the hunters). I wasn't allowed to handle either of the tools but they let me gaze at them. These two items had been on my "short list of NEEDED things" since that fateful day.
Now that I'm 52; all I have to do is look up from my computer and gaze at that beautiful Colt with that Marbles Big Game Skinner next to it. Even now they take my breath away with their simple beauty.
My thought is that if I'm going to have tools like these; then they should be "using tools". I don't cotton to the idea of spending big bucks for something that is all purtyed up and only going to be used once or twice a year. My tools are well used and well cared for. Cleaned, oiled and within reach.
Now if I could just find a jeep like those hunters drove in on.....


6:37 PM  
Blogger Ed Skinner said...

Nice target.

8:47 PM  

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