Cleaning the Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost 

How to Clean and Field Strip a 1911 LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP

Welcome, fellow firearms enthusiasts, to this comprehensive guide on how to clean and field strip the legendary Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP. We will share our knowledge and experience to help you become proficient in maintaining this exceptional handgun. Cleaning the Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost and proper maintenance ensures optimal performance and longevity, whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a new owner. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost

The Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP is a high-quality, semi-automatic pistol renowned for its accuracy, reliability, and exceptional craftsmanship. Before we dive into the cleaning process, let’s briefly familiarize ourselves with the key components of this iconic firearm.

  • Slide: The slide is responsible for chambering a round from the magazine and returning to its original position after each shot.
  • Frame: The frame is the core structure of the pistol that houses the trigger mechanism and provides stability.
  • Barrel: The barrel is where the bullet travels when fired.
  • Recoil Spring: Located beneath the barrel, the recoil spring absorbs the energy generated by firing, allowing the slide to return to its original position.
  • Magazine: The magazine holds the ammunition and feeds it into the chamber.

Tools and Safety Precautions

Cleaning Tools

Before proceeding, ensure you have the following tools:

  • Bore brush and cleaning rod
  • Brass or nylon cleaning brushes
  • Cleaning solvent and lubricant
  • Cotton patches or cleaning swabs
  • Disposable gloves
  • Gunsmithing mat or soft cloth
  • Safety glasses

Safety Precautions

Properly clearing a handgun before cleaning is an essential safety practice that should never be overlooked. First, ensure that the firearm is unloaded by removing the magazine and visually inspecting the chamber to confirm the absence of any rounds. Next, engage the slide to the rear, lock it open, and visually inspect the chamber again to reconfirm its empty status.

Proceed by releasing the slide, allowing it to move forward, and then pulling the trigger to decock the firearm. Finally, always point the gun in a safe direction, away from yourself and others, and perform a final visual and tactile inspection to ensure no ammunition remains. By diligently following these steps, you can minimize the risk of accidental discharge and maintain a safe environment while cleaning your handgun.

Disassembly: Field Stripping the Kimber 1911

Field stripping the Kimber 1911 is relatively straightforward and can be done with simple steps.

If you have the Barrel bushing tool your Kimber came with, you should use it until you are comfortable removing the barrel bushing without it.

  • Place the tool over the Barrel bushing, push down, and turn until the bushing is on the ledge of the plug.
  • Place thumb over plug and push. Be advised that the plug is under pressure from the recoil spring, so keep the pressure as you complete the bushing turn. Once the spring pressure is removed, turn the barrel bushing clockwise and remove it. Remove the plug and recoil spring.

Retract the slide to the takedown notch. Once aligned with the notch, you can either push the slide stop from the backside of the pin to start its removal. Or you can push the slide stop up towards the notch and pull it out. Either way, you do it; it should come out fairly easily.

Once the slide stop is out, the slide will easily forward off the frame.

remove slid from frame
Bring the slide forward and remove it from the frame

Once the slide is removed, remove the guide rod and simply slide the barrel out the front of the slide

Unassembled Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost

Cleaning the Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost 

Now that your firearm is field stripped, it’s time to clean each component effectively:

Barrel Cleaning:

  • Attach the bore brush to the cleaning rod and apply a suitable solvent to the brush.
  • Insert the brush into the barrel and scrub it back and forth several times to remove fouling.
  • Attach a cleaning patch to the jag and apply the solvent.
  • Run the patch through the barrel to remove any remaining residue. Repeat this process until the patches come out clean.
  • Wipe the barrel with a clean, dry patch to remove excess solvent.
  • Clean the outside of the barrel with a CLP wipe or a patch with bore cleaner.

Slide and Frame Cleaning:

  • Use a brass or nylon brush and solvent to clean the slide and frame. Pay close attention to areas with carbon buildup or fouling.
  • Wipe down the slide and frame with a clean cloth or patches to remove any remaining solvent and debris.

Note: After each use, you may not need a brush if you clean your Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP. I only use a brush on stubborn deposits and seldom have them. You can use a patch dipped in bore cleaner or CLP wipes for cleaning. I find Q-Tips or pipe cleaners helpful for cleaning the rails effectively.

Recoil Spring and Guide Rod Cleaning

  • Inspect the recoil spring and guide rod for dirt or debris. Clean them with a brush or cloth dampened with solvent.
  • Clean barrel bushing, slide stop lever, and spring plug.
  • Ensure the spring and guide rod are dry before lubricating.

Magazine Cleaning:

I do not clean my magazines after every shooting. I’ll typically clean magazines between 5 and 10 trips depending on where I was shooting and how many rounds were shot.

If you do want to clean your magazines more frequently:

  • Remove the base plate, and take the spring and follower from the magazine.
  • Clean the magazine body, follower, and spring with a brush and solvent.
  • Wipe each component with a clean, dry cloth to remove any residue or excess solvent.
  • Reassemble and function check the magazine.

Lubrication Inspection and Reassembly

Proper lubrication is crucial to the smooth functioning and longevity of your 1911 LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP pistol. After field stripping and thoroughly cleaning your firearm, it’s time to inspect the components for wear and tear, apply lubrication, and reassemble the pistol. This section will guide you through the lubrication inspection and reassembly process to ensure your Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost remains in optimal condition.

Inspect for Wear or Defects

Before applying lubrication, inspect the various components of your pistol for any signs of excessive wear, dirt, or damage. Examining the slide, barrel, frame, recoil spring, and other critical parts. Look for shiny spots, finish wear, debris, rust, or excessive carbon buildup that may hinder the pistol’s operation.

Pay particular attention to the slide rails, inside the top of the slide, barrel hood, and frame rails, as these areas are prone to friction. Inspect the magazine catch, thumb safety, and trigger assembly for any signs of wear or malfunctions. If you notice any issues, address them accordingly before proceeding.


Selecting the proper lubricant is crucial to ensure smooth and reliable operation. For the 1911 LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP, it’s recommended to use a high-quality firearm-specific lubricant that provides adequate protection against friction, heat, and corrosion. Avoid using household oils or other generic lubricants as they may not offer the necessary properties for firearms. I use Hopps #9 for regular lubrication.

Lubrication is important to ensure smooth operation and protect against corrosion. When applying lubrication, I apply accordingly;

  • I apply a very light layer of lubrication in any areas I clean. I’ll apply the lubrication to a cleaning patch first and then wipe the areas I cleaned.
  • For areas like the rails, and harder-to-reach spots, I will typically apply the oil to a Q-Tip and apply it with that.
  • Finally areas with heavy wear or signs of friction, I will apply a slightly heavier layer of gun oil, or if it looks like a persistent issue, I will try light gun grease.

Focus on the moving parts and areas that experience friction during operation. Apply a thin lubricant layer to the slide rails, barrel hood, barrel bushing, and other contact points. Remember, a little goes a long way, so avoid excessive lubrication, as it may attract dust and debris, potentially leading to malfunctions.

Be sure not to overlook lubricating these areas:

  • Slide rails
  • Barrel bushing
  • Barrel hood
  • Barrel link pin
  • Recoil spring and guide rod

Reassemble Your Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost

Once you’ve completed the lubrication process, it’s time to reassemble your

After lubrication, follow these steps to reassemble your Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions, or here are my steps:

Insert the barrel and recoil spring assembly into the slide.

Once the above components are installed, you will place the slide back on the frame. I find this process much easier if I don’t push the plug and recoil spring back into the slide until the slide stop lever is installed.

  • Align the slide with the frame’s rails and carefully slide it back onto it.
  • Push the slide back until the takedown notch aligns with the slide stop hole.
  • Insert the slide stop from the opposite side and push it fully into place.
  • Perform a function check by ensuring the slide moves freely, and the trigger functions are correct.

Tips for Care and Maintenance

After reassembly and function check, take a microfiber towel and wipe your firearm down.


Properly storing your pistol in a secure and dry location is important. Regularly inspect and clean your firearm to prevent dirt, debris, and moisture accumulation. Additionally, periodic reapplication of lubricant is necessary, especially if the pistol is exposed to extreme conditions or heavy use.

Ammunition Selection and Training Consideration:

Use quality ammunition appropriate for your firearm to maintain reliability and accuracy.

Training: Familiarize yourself with your firearm’s manual and seek professional training to ensure safe handling and operation.

Cleaning the 1911 LW Shadow Ghost Conclusion

Congratulations! You have completed cleaning and field stripping the Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP. By following these steps and incorporating regular maintenance into your firearm care routine, you will ensure the longevity and reliability of your 1911 LW Shadow Ghost.

Remember always to prioritize safety when handling firearms. Keep your workspace organized, wear safety glasses, and follow all recommended safety precautions.

With proper cleaning, lubrication, and regular maintenance, your Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP will continue to deliver exceptional performance and bring you countless enjoyable shooting experiences.

Now, armed with knowledge, keep your firearm in top condition. Stay safe and happy shooting!

Cleaning the Kimber 1911 LW Shadow Ghost FAQs

How often should I clean my Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP?

It’s recommended to clean your firearm after each use, especially if it has been exposed to moisture or corrosive environments.

Can I use any cleaning solvent and lubricant?

It’s best to use cleaning solvents and lubricants specifically designed for firearms. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for compatibility.

Do I need to field strip my Kimber 1911 Custom LW Shadow Ghost .45 ACP for routine cleaning?

While a field strip is unnecessary for routine cleaning, it allows for more thorough cleaning of individual components and ensures proper maintenance.

Can I use compressed air to dry my firearm?

Compressed air can blow out excess solvent or debris, but ensure you do not apply excessive pressure, which could damage delicate components.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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