|Point of Origin
||Preset - SA
|Weight - Empty
with finger extension,
#1200038, available separately
In a world of poly framed pocket
pistols, the Kimber Solo's presence is welcome. It's smooth, it's
slick, it's all metal. In hand, it feels like a small 1911; grip
angle, slide actuation and ambidextrous controls. Even the low
profile fixed sights are 1911 like. In fact, the only hint that the
heart of a
striker resides inside is the Solo's trigger.
The Solo's thumb safety and magazine
release are ambidextrous and the right size and shape for positive
actuation and they are rounded to prevent them from getting snagged
on clothing or a holster. The slide stop is in easy reach for slide
release without shifting grip. The front of the trigger guard is
square enough for a steady two hand hold.
CNC crazy... Giant pictures to
Whoa, Dude! What's up with the
barrel? The Solo has a linkless lock up system, meaning the slide
stop pin rides inside of a cam that controls timing of the lock and
unlock sequence. Unlike many from the current crop of subcompacts
strikers, there is no rectangular locking lug perched atop the
chamber end of the barrel. The Solo is more like the CZ
75 SP01 with a captive slide stop pin and radial locking lugs on the
barrel and mating surfaces inside the gun's slide.
The slide does not have a fitted
barrel bushing, but rather a 0.577" opening to contain the barrel's
0.575" muzzle diameter. The raised portion of the gun's barrel,
between locking lugs and muzzle, measures
0.547" and has a leading and trailing taper to help manage barrel
position during cycling. The loaded chamber indicator port, far left
and through the barrel tang, does as it is named.
Traditional striker - 1) Trigger bar
2) Striker Safety Lever 3) Sear - no hammer 4) Firing Pin Block. Other points of
interest - 5) Strips round fro Magazine 6) Radial locking lugs. No
doubt because of the low reciprocating mass, the guide rod is
heavily, double sprung. The Solo has a lot of frame rail bearing
surface. Much more so than the little metal tabs often see on poly
Context is everything
Including an image of a full size 1911, alongside the
Kimber Solo, should preclude the need for further explanation of this
little gun's purpose in life - to provide highly concealable self
defense. Unlike most firearms competing for this market segment, the Solo
is smooth... slick even, and with control locations and function
reminiscent of a 1911.
The Kimber Solo is supplied with one six round magazine,
however, Kimber also offers an eight round magazine with finger
extension, Model No. 1200038A. In six shot configuration the gun is held two fingers on the grip
the pinky curled under the magazine. With the extended magazine, the
Solo is an all fingers on the grip proposition. I would carry a Solo
with the eight shot magazine... never. See gun's purpose in life
described in prior paragraph. I own a number of subcompact 9mm guns, all with an optional extended magazine
that basically collects dust.
So, in summation, six rounds should be enough for the gun's purpose,
Kimber has been considerate in providing greater capacity, quality
magazines for individuals who want them.
Shooting and ammunition...
five pages of the Solo's manual advising customer to use only premium
factory ammunition and to avoid handloads, remanufactured and
non-standard ammunition. The Kimber web site recommends three brands
and types of ammunition and cautions to use only SAAMI compliant premium
ammunition loaded with 124 grain and 147 grain jacketed hollow point
bullets. There must be many great stories behind those comments.
For me, with fifty years of handloading experience, a
firearm and ammunition manufacturer's FFL and lots of money tied up in
assembly and pressure checking equipment, I might take personal
exception to some of Kimber's wording. However, based upon the nature
and substance of handloading related comments and questions received at
Real Guns, I can understand the precautions Kimber is taking. A recent
email receive at Real Guns queried the use of .410 shotshells in a 416
Ruger chambered firearm, which the person assumed was not a problem.
All subcompact autoloaders are more sensitive to ammunition
selection than full size autoloaders, simply because the management of reciprocating
parts becomes more complex as barrel length and slide mass diminish.
Ammunition bullet weight and velocity must complement recoil spring rate selections,
as well as the
mechanical timing of feed and ejection related components. Kimber has
identified, for the benefit of its customer, the types of ammunition
that assure safe and reliable Solo operation: Federal® Hydra-Shok® JHP,
Remington® Golden Saber™ HPJ, Hornady TAP® JHP. All well recognized and
all reflective of quality defensive ammunition. Kimber goes on to
stipulate any premium ammunition that is SAAMI compliant is approved for
use. I would add that it is always good
to function and reliability check any ammo that will be used for self
defense in any firearm.
My favorite 9mm Luger defensive ammunition types for
short barrel gun applications are: Winchester Personal Protection 115
Grain Jacketed Hollow Point (1048 FPS), Speer Gold Dot 9mm Luger
115 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point (1193 FPS), Remington Golden Saber 9mm
Luger 124 Grain Brass Jacketed Hollow Point (1128 FPS), Speer Gold Dot
9mm Luger 147 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point (927 FPS). The photo above is
of bullets that were fired at approximately the same velocity generated
with the Solo and recovered from wet box testing.
Last and lasting impressions...
A notable quality of the Kimber Solo; no jams, failures
to feed, ejection jams, or failure to fire malfunctions were experienced
with any of this ammo. That is not a minor point for a subcompact 9mm
with hollow point ammunition.
The Kimber Solo is a well-made subcompact with none of
the warts or oddities frequently associated with sub size nines. The gun
has good grips, good sights and it is accurate. The latter not
anticipated because the gun is a little bit of a handful with its 17
ounce weight and performance hollow points. All of the ammo noted shot
1" to 1.5" five shot groups at 7 yards, 21 feet, which is the range I
would think is most applicable. And, yes, my nails do need to be
There are other features of the Solo that may not seem as
important, but are if you like to practice and target shoot a lot to
maintain proficiency. The KimPro II finish is attractive, durable and
powder and brass residue wipe off with a dry cloth. The mini 1911 feel
is welcome. Thumbing the safety and dropping a magazine are intuitive
and the feel of controls are positive and smooth.
Are there any issues? Sure. I am not a striker system
fan. I guess I have been spoiled by years of 70 Series type triggers, so
when I pull a trigger, that's the feel my finger expects. The Solo pull is not
very heavy, the factory 7 pound nominal is a realistic number, but it is
long and it feels like what it is doing, compressing and then releasing
a firing pin drive spring. Still, as strikers go, it is a very good
trigger and the first in my experience where required pressure is uniform. Once the initial slack is
taken up, there is none of the typical striker rollercoaster ride with
peaks and valleys within the pull.
As a second point, the Kimber is a premium brand with
precisely finished parts and quality material. While the MSRP is $747,
some folks have been waiting ten months to get their hands on one and
some dealers are charging as much as $200 above retail. The problem with
nice things; people rush to buy them. I suspect, over time, demand will
settle down and prices will drop a bit closer to either side of MSRP,
but I wouldn't wait for the Solo to go on sale. It's just too nice of a
gun on all counts.
For further details on the Solo and other Kimber
products, stop by Kimber America.