Firearms Review: The Kimber Solo
For the mission of a backup/pocket pistol, the Kimber Solo is high quality, functions reliably with a variety of loads in 9mm, and is snag free and corrosion resistant
With the advent of concealed carry in many states, the marketplace has exploded in terms of makes and models of small, concealable handguns. What traditionally was more of a “backup” gun market has become a new CCW carry gun. Manufacturers have rushed to meet the demand with new innovations, models and calibers to meet the demand.
KelTec, Kahr Arms, Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Kimber, and others have all developed small concealable handguns and law enforcement would do well to become familiar with all the makes and models out there.
One of the firearms that caught my eye is the Kimber Solo. This small, lightweight 9mm puts 7 rounds of 9mm into a small, highly concealable handgun. At barely 17 oz. it is hardly noticeable when you put it in a pocket or a small holster.
Solo Carry Stainless Specifications
What I wanted to evaluate with this gun, which represents a genre of small pocket guns, is its effective performance vs. a slightly bigger compact gun.
Now I absolutely hate gun writers who have nothing but glowing praise for any gun they happen to do an evaluation on. There is no such thing as a perfect gun and I am not here to sell guns or advertising.
My job is to do a solid evaluation and critique on each gun I test and see how well it performs its intended mission parameters. Your life or mine may depend on it someday.
Let’s examine the mission and evaluation process.
• Pocket Pistol – Backup to main gun, short ranges (0 – 5 yards), small/concealable, reliable, able to operate with one hand, accessible to the support hand only if main gun is under a takeaway situation, powerful enough to get the job done.
• CCW Mission – Most of the above except now this gun is a primary weapon. Ranges can extend to 25 yards or beyond.
Evaluation Parameters for CCW/Backup Guns
Fit and Finish
On initial examination, I was pleased with the handling characteristics of the Kimber when compared to other makes and models of small handguns. I liked the smooth contours and snag free construction. This is a big deal in a gun designed to be carried in a pocket or under clothing.
The small grip only allowed for a two finger hold of the firearm. The front strap was smooth instead of checkered and I am okay with that.
Using a competition electronics timer to start the time.
Start Position - From two handed, imminent threat position, finger off the trigger and alongside the frame, five yards, five shots, 2.0 seconds or less.
I was able to do five shots in the rectangle in 1.61 seconds at five yards.
The Kimber passed the test. However, I was working hard to do that. This test is where all testers noticed just how sharp the recoil was and how much more work it was to control the gun vs. say a Glock 19 or similar. This is not a flaw of the gun. This is a result of its extremely light weight vs. the caliber used. 17 oz. + 9mm = sharp recoil.
Further testing from one to 25 yards also brought out the controllability issues with even modest loads when compared to the Glock 19 and the M&P.
Velocity was reduced almost 100 feet below a Glock 19 and a Smith and Wesson M&P duty-sized gun as well. Again, short barrel vs. slightly longer barrel on compact or duty size guns.
If you did not prepare yourself before you shot, the gun would lift quite sharply and your second shot would be significantly higher or over from your first shot. As I shot it more and more, I was able to adapt to the recoil and control the gun under higher rates of fire.
However, it is significantly harder to control with just two fingers than it would be if you had the 8 round magazine with the little finger extension that would allow for all fingers to be on the grip.
Slide Stop — Worked and functioned as designed. No issues noted.
Magazine and Release — The release was horrible at first. It took two hands and a lot of strength to press it in to release the magazine. Over time, this became much easier but it definitely is not a good thing to have to use most of your strength to get it to release the magazine. My female students could not depress the magazine catch to release the magazine. The magazine exchange time took significantly longer than with a Glock 19 or Springfield sub-compact due to the smaller magazine and magazine well. This would be significant in a primary CCW carry mode but probably not the backup gun mode.
Trigger — Very nice, smooth and a definite bonus!
Nobody expressed interest in trying to carry it as a primary CCW weapon but liked it as a small backup gun to their main firearm.
I would not carry it personally as a primary CCW weapon. I found I had to work a lot harder to access it quickly, establish a shooting grip and try to shoot it fast and accurately. Reloading took significantly longer due to the small grip and magazine size. It will take significantly MORE training and practice to shoot this gun well at speed and you will not approach the speed and accuracy you would have with a slightly bigger firearm with more weight and grip size.
However, if you would like a high quality backup gun that slips easily into a pocket or elsewhere to complement your primary gun, this one would fulfill that task quite well.
|Back to previous page|