Kimber Solo 9 mm Pistol Review
Article first appeared at Shooting Illustrated.
The debate over the ideal concealed carry gun has, over the years, been a subject of division, angst and likely a few fist-fights. It’s been going on for years, ever since pocket guns came about, which was a long time ago. There have been some great ones produced over the years, and when you think they’ve built the best that can be had, another one comes along.
Being a longtime fan and user of “little guns,” I’m always on the lookout for them. Back in 2011, I was introduced to the Kimber Solo 9 mm pistol and almost immediately took a liking to it. A combination of looks, the compact size and the fact that such a small pistol was accommodating the 9 mm cartridge was quite interesting.
The short barrel (2.7 inches), and hammerless design were one thing, but when I tried the trigger pull for the first time, I was hooked. The Solo is a striker-fired pistol, and I’m not sure I’ve ever fired one quite as smooth. When pulling the trigger, there’s a short, light take-up, then a bit heavier but smooth pull before the striker break, which is quite crisp. After dry-firing the Solo a bit, it has a great feel making the transition of live fire a cinch. The Solo’s trigger pull feels much more like a smooth double-action revolver than a striker-fired pistol.
The Solo is a single-stack pistol, making the grip-frame very thin, just the way I like ‘em. They come from the factory with two magazines. One is a short six rounder, and the second being an eight-round mag with a finger extension. When plinking or practicing, the longer magazine is very easy and comfortable to fire, but obviously not as concealable as the shorter, six-round mag. The eight-round mag with finger extension makes the otherwise sleek Solo look a little ungainly, but it’s worth it when firing the gun extensively.
That brings up another topic on the compact little nine – recoil. I’ve known a few shooters who find the Solo to be a little snappy, depending on the ammunition being fired. Female shooters occasionally have a hard time at first, but I’ve found that most get used to it pretty quickly. One thing some female shooters have a hard time with is the Solo’s slide – the pull-back is pretty stout, even with the serrations on the back of the slide. Also, the magazine release on my particular gun can be a little tough to depress, though the magazines do fall from the mag well nicely.
Anyone obtaining a Kimber Solo, whether new or used, MUST refer to the owner’s manual regarding ammunition. The company recommends certain factory loads, including Federal Premium Hydra-Shok JHP, Hornady TAP and Remington Golden Saber BJHP. They also recommend only 124-147 grain ammunition for proper function of the firearm.
Some shooters express concern that the short 2.7 inch barrel won’t provide enough tube and rifling to make the projectile effective. No question about it, you’re going to lose velocity with the shorter barrel. This is an issue that must be considered by the shooter. The Solo is an extremely concealable, relatively powerful little gun. If the shooter demands full effectiveness from the 9 mm, then a longer barreled, less comfortable pistol should be considered.
As for me, I’m not uncomfortable with the Solo and pack it quite frequently. It’s absolutely better than no gun at all. Anyone comfortable with a .380 ACP as a backup or concealed gun should have no problem considering a Solo. It’s a great example of give and take.