Editor's Note: To view detailed photos of the Kimber Solo, visit our photo gallery, "Kimber Solo Pocket Pistol."
There aren't too many things to get excited about in the world of cop guns these days. Anything "new" seems to be a variation on an old theme, even though the manufacturers' PR departments tout their new offerings as the gun that will revolutionize police work.
That said, there was one particular gun introduced at this year's Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show that was pretty darn cool.
This cool gun was not a duty pistol that fit everyone's hand because of its "Transformer" hand grip. Nor was it a never fails to fire tactical black patrol rifle that sees around corners and automatically illuminates the suspect with alternating green and red lasers. It was a small and easily concealable gun that will make a great backup or off-duty carry pistol.
What makes this concealed carry pistol, the Kimber Solo Carry, so noteworthy is its caliber. Instead of the somewhat anemic .380 ACP or the borderline .38 Special, this one is offered in 9mm.
Kimber has built this gun from the ground up and has six new patents pending on the engineering. It fits into the palm of your hand and weighs only 17 ounces, making it very easily concealed. It slides into a pocket holster in your jacket or pants pocket or in an ankle holster and you'd be hard pressed to see any printing, as the gun is only 1.2 inches wide. The slide is manufactured from stainless steel and the frame from aluminum. The gun is only 5.5 inches long and 3.9 inches in height, which adds to the concealability.
The Solo Carry's barrel is also manufactured from stainless steel. It is 2.67 inches long, has a 1/10 twist and 6 lands. OK, maybe that's overkill in barrel specifications for a gun with a 2.67-inch barrel. After all, it's not a sniper rifle, but the accuracy of this little gun is really uncanny. More on that in a moment.
Kimber's new Solo even looks as good as it shoots. The aluminum frame is coated with Kimber's KimPro II treatment. KimPro II is a premium coating that's self-lubricating and extremely resistant to the elements and salt.
Salt is a major concern for a concealed gun. Often we wear them next to our body where the salts from perspiration rub off on the gun's finish causing rust. You don't want a rusty gun. KimPro II and a number of other new high-tech finishes protect you from the job of continual maintenance against rust and from having gun oil all over your clothing.
Kimber's Solo Carry reminds me a lot of the Colt Pony in its size and general look. Kahr Arms sued Colt over the offset barrel lug design, so the Pony is no longer produced. The Pony was chambered for
.380 ACP, which I believe is a problem. Even with the new premium ammo produced these days, I'd much rather launch a 9mm round when the need arises.
If you're a 1911 shooter, the Solo's controls will be very familiar to you. The slide release and ambidextrous safety are in the same spot and easily manipulated.[PAGEBREAK]
While just about any high-quality premium ammo will run the gun well, Kimber recommends ammo from three manufacturers. The company's testing results show that Federal Hydra-Shok JHP (jacketed hollow point) in 124 grain or 147 grain, Remington Golden Saber HPJ (high performance jacket) in 124 grain or 147 grain, or Hornady TAP (tactical application police) HP (hollow point) in 124 grain or 147 grain are the best performers.
Any of the recommended bullets are top performers. My former agency used the Federal Hydra-Shok 147 grain as its issued duty ammo for many years. Its down range performance was astounding. I can't remember a single recipient walking away with a smile on their face or walking away at all.
How Does It Shoot?
I have to agree with Kimber's ammo choices. I tested the gun with all three. Groups were just at or less than three inches at 25 yards when fired from a well sandbagged rest.
But the Solo seemed to like the Hornady TAP 147 grain the best, resulting in a 2.5-inch group. Considering the gun's 2.67-inch barrel, its 4.9-inch sight radius, and its 7-pound trigger pull, that was pretty impressive.
Considering the number of personal injury lawyers out there just waiting to mine your agency's general fund, a 7-pound trigger pull is about normal for a duty pistol these days. But this trigger is somewhat unique in that it's preloaded to 88.6 percent. That means the trigger pull is constant throughout the length of travel. It feels more like a 4-pound pull because there's no stacking at all.
The sights are substantial. Both the front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide. Windage can be adjusted by drifting the rear sight left or right. Three-dot sights are standard; however, they are not night sights. (Note to Kimber: make night sights available for the Solo Carry as soon as possible. Most gunfights cops get into are at night or in low light. We need them.)
While shooting 147-grain premium 9mm ammo in a 17-ounce gun isn't what most folks would call a barrel of fun, I was surprised at how well the recoil impulse was mitigated due to the gun's design. The grip angle is the same as most 1911s, SIGs, S&Ws, and Berettas, leaving the wrist in a neutral position. The line of the bore rides very low when gripping the gun. Both of these design features minimize perceived recoil and reduce muzzle flip, allowing easy reacquisition of the target through the sights and fast follow-up shots.
After lubricating the gun as specified in the owner's manual and shooting 50
rounds of each of the recommended ammo types, for a total of 300 rounds I experienced no malfunctions at all. Again, impressive performance for a small, powerful gun with a very short length of slide travel.
Plenty of Accessories
I can't remember the launch of a new gun that was accompanied by holsters. It's nice to be able to secure your gun properly for safe carry in something other than a gun rug. The gun rug comes standard with the purchase of the Solo Carry but, in this case, they were smart and thought ahead to get the prototypes to Galco for holsters. Galco's inside the waistband, inside the belt, and belt slide holsters are ready and waiting.
Kimber also plans on making premium wood grips available in the near future. The standard plastic grips are black with a half circle of checkering for a positive hold. They do the job they were designed to do but wood grips from the manufacturer would be nice.
Even nicer are the grips produced by Ed Strange at Wicked Grips. These custom grips are made with some of the most rare and spectacular woods on the planet.
Also in the very near future you'll see Crimson Trace Laser Grips. I've seen the prototypes and the production models are in the last phase of testing. They may even be available by the time you read this article directly from Crimson Trace or as an option from Kimber. The Solo Carry Lasergrips are zeroed at the factory and offer a four-hour battery life. They're finished in a rosewood look.
Dave Douglas retired from the San Diego Police Department five years ago as a sergeant and the department's rangemaster. He held positions in various assignments there including patrol, investigations, bombs and arson, and training. He's a long-time contributor to POLICE Magazine.