Product Review: Kimber SOLO ultra-compact 9mm

The more radical grip angle on the SOLO is a marked departure from that seen on many of its competitors

One of the industry’s best kept secrets unveiled at the 2011 SHOT Show was the new Kimber SOLO ultra-compact, single column 9mm pistol. I was told by a friend who works there that this 30-month project was kept from everyone until its release at the show. And while such guns appeared to be the rage this year, this one stands out as much more than just a surprise introduction.

Today’s “little” guns often function fine but often fail when it comes to ergonomics. That’s not the case here. The more radical grip angle on the SOLO is a marked departure from that seen on many of its competitors and as such, the gun fit my hand well and seemed to point a bit more as a true extension of the hand and forearm. Perhaps that’s because Kimber claims some parallels to the huge family of 1911’s they manufacture or because I’ve been shooting that Browning design for well over a third of its 100 years.

In any case, the SOLO’s longer tang overhangs the web of the hand more than most of these compact pistols, which should provide more comfort and less chance to be “tracked” by the slide when it cycles rearward. Further similarities to the 1911 include a checkered slide release, the position of the magazine release and its ambidextrous manual safety.

This is an aluminum frame gun with a stainless steel slide and barrel. Empty, it weighs 17 ounces and has a height of 3.9 inches and an overall length of 5.5 inches. It is only 1.2 inches wide. The guns I handled had flush-seated, six-round capacity magazines but shortly Kimber will offer an extended eight-rounder that should appeal to those with larger hands. Another version to appear shortly (I saw one that somebody drew from their pocket to let me know that it already exists in prototype form) will be a laser-equipped model.

More information is available on the Kimber website.

About the author

Tom Marx left the Chicago Police Department in 1988 to become an instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy. After several years of teaching full time both nationally and internationally, he shifted roles at Smith: first to a series of technical positions and then as Head of their Domestic Law Enforcement Operations. He left S&W to organize a Law Enforcement Division for Michaels of Oregon as well as to help design much of their police-related duty gear. Leaving Uncle Mike’s, Tom became Director of Intellectual Property for BLACKHAWK Products Group; focusing on the patent efforts for all of their divisions. Today, he is a consultant in various firearms, accessory and training matters. Throughout the years, Tom has continued to lecture and instruct both inside and outside the US with such diverse groups as ILEETA, IALEFI, WIFLE, LETC, NDIA, the NRA, and Team One Network. .

Contact Tom Marx.

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