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Old 09-19-2005, 01:20 PM
MAGTF MAGTF is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 90
Frames: aluminum vs. steel for IDPA

Need some advice selecting a Kimber. I plan to use it for IDPA and home defense. I'm debating between the TLE or the Tactical. I like the extras that come stock on the Tactical (magwell, ambi safety), but it is a few ounces lighter than the steel-framed TLE. Otherwise, they are very similar.

Will I notice the difference in recoil/speed of re-acquiring sight picture?

Today I shot a 4" Tactical and a 5" Eclipse at the local range and could really tell the difference in recoil. Was that primarily due to the shorter barrel, or the aluminum frame?

Thanks in advance.

Semper Fi - MAGTF
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Old 09-19-2005, 03:37 PM
BTS BTS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Colorado
Posts: 145
The difference in recoil was because of the lighter aluminum frame more than the shorter barrel. The aluminum frame can drop almost 10 ounces off of a similar sized pistol. The lighter the weight of the gun, and all other things being equal, the increase in felt recoil.

If I was looking for an IDPA gun and would be shooting the snot out of it, I would go for the steel frame. Increased weight means less felt recoil which you already noticed. A steel frame is also considered a bit more durable than aluminum and will generally last longer than an aluminum frame.

That said, my primary range gun is aluminum framed 4 Pro Carry. I just love the darn thing.

Good Luck
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Old 09-19-2005, 04:43 PM
Brass Balls's Avatar
Brass Balls Brass Balls is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,391
I agree with BTS. Weight is a plus for a range/competition gun and for home defense it's not a drawback either. To me the only thing the aluminum frame is better for is carry due to it being about 25% lighter. While I do prefer to carry an aluminum framed full sized 1911, I shoot my steel framed models much more frequently.

The TLE/RL would also be a good choice because it would be nice to mount a light when it is in HD mode.
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Old 09-19-2005, 04:47 PM
Quint57 Quint57 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Jupiter, Fl
Age: 54
Posts: 124
I also agree with Brass. I carry the full size Tactical and use it for IDPA but plan on getting the TLE for matches and continuing to carry the Tac as my primary defense gun. I have shot my son's Custom and appreciate the extra weight.
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Old 09-19-2005, 08:49 PM
jip jip is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 7
My personal experiance with any aluminum pistols is they do not stand up
to prolonged shooting. I even had a Colt (series 70) Gold Cup frame crack
on me. For IDPA I would choose a steel frame pistol. Don't forget you will
probably want to be practicing as well as shooting matches. Apart from
the extra weight helping recoil. It will last longer and wear less. IDPA is
a lot of fun and a TLE11 is ideal.

There is nothing wrong with aluminum framed pistols, they make carriing
a much more cumfortable experience, some of them are also very robust.
But "full power" defense or "service" loads over 1000's of rounds can cause
what is known as fretting (like warping) to occur.

I personally will practice a lot with any handgun I carry, so for my personal
use an aluminum framed pistol is not for me, but I readily accept a lot of
peaople who use them are totally happy using them.

As far as I am aware the only exception to this are the new scandium framed
1911's from Smith and Wesson The resulting alloy of aluminum and scandium
is virtually as strong as steel in theory. I don't know if they have been around
long enough to have 1000's of full power ammo through them.
It will be interesting to see their performance over time.

Safe Shoot, and stay behind cover :-)
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Old 09-19-2005, 09:17 PM
Quint57 Quint57 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Jupiter, Fl
Age: 54
Posts: 124
I have to comment on the aluminum that Kimber uses. When I first got my Tactical and after reading these forums, I was concerned that the frame was going to crack if I shot it too much. I was expressing my concerns with one of the local gun shop owners who is a retired engineer and metallurgist from Pratt & Whitney. He told me that the 7075-T7 aluminum that Kimber uses is also used in the aerospace industry and not to worry about it cracking or wearing out. Now I have no idea what other types of aluminum are used in the gun industry but I can speak for my Kimber. I currently have over 8000 rounds through the gun without a problem. Maybe I am just lucky, I really don't know.

The only reason I will be using the TLE is for the added weight. (and to get another 1911 )
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