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The popularity of pocket pistols has really taken off these last couple of years. The gun companies have introduced many new models to fill this desire with the Kimber Solo being one of those.
Many of these new pocket pistols are chambered in .380 that’s where the Solo differs. Chambered in 9MM this pistol packs a much bigger punch than any .380, which should be comforting to any shooter who desires this type of pistol.
The Solo is another product that is hard to come by. In fact I had to wait nine weeks to get this sample. When my local gun shop called and told me I had a gun to pickup I was pretty happy when I found it was the Solo. My first thoughts were this is one good-looking little pistol. My second thought was this thing is small!
There are more features with the Solo than you would expect from most guns of this size. The sights are plenty large without getting in the way or hanging up when you use a pocket holster. They have the standard three-dot configuration. The grips are recessed into the frame making the frame a bit narrower than the usual placement. The safety is ambidextrous and very similar to a 1911 type. The magazine release is also ambidextrous. The grip has an angle very close to a 1911, which suits me fine since I shoot and carry a 1911 most days. There is also an undercut below the rear of the trigger guard giving the shooter a bit more room for a secure grip
Speaking of the operating controls designed very much like a 1911 so is disassembly. About the only difference is there is no bushing to remove otherwise the slide is retracted lining up and removing the slide release as you would a 1911 then pull the slide off as usual.
While the controls are very much like a 1911 the pistol is striker fired. You get a little of both worlds with the Solo. The trigger pull is different than any other striker fired pistol I’ve shot. The trigger feels very smooth with a short takeup (5/8th inches) to release the striker. The striker itself isn’t fully cocked until the trigger is close to the point of release. There is no stacking of the trigger it’s uniform all the way through the pull. Trigger pull is slightly over six pounds but feels less than that.
The Solo has a stainless steel slide and barrel with an alloy frame finished in Kim-Pro. There are two other models with one being an all stainless version while the second is the same as my test pistol with laser grips and more pronounced dehorning.
As you can see from the picture above the slide is rather thick to handle the 9MM cartridge. There is also a loaded chamber indicator milled into the rear of the barrel hood. The Solo also uses a fairly large external extractor. The ejection port is beveled and lowered at both sides allowing plenty of room for ejected brass.
Caliber: 9mm Height (inches) 90° to barrel: 3.9
Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 17
Length (inches): 5.5
Magazine capacity: 6 rounds
Material: Aluminum Finish: KimPro II
Width (inches): .995 not including safety
Material: Stainless steel
Finish: Satin silver
Length (inches): 2.7
Material: Stainless steel
Twist rate (left hand): 10
Fixed low profile
Radius (inches): 4.4
Checkered / smooth
Single action striker- fired
Factory setting (approximate pounds): 7
Kimber advises the user to only use 124 to 147 grain premium hollowpoint ammunition. One thing I wondered about was using +P in these bullet weights but nothing is addressed on the website concerning hotter ammunition. With everyone getting ready for the SHOT show I was unable to get in touch with anyone to get a positive answer. I will say during my range time I used 115-grain ball in the inexpensive aluminum cased ammo with no problems. I also shot a fair amount of +P, which I’m sure increases wear but it had no problem cycling the +P loads.
There were a couple of issues I want to address that a potential buyer should be aware of. These are by no means deal breakers but should be noted. The way the slide is engineered there is a bump on the bottom of the slide internally which depresses the top round down for better clearance in cycling. Because of this the shooter must get a very firm grasp on the slide when chambering that first round. It takes a pretty aggressive motion to rack the slide without it hanging up half way back. The second issue is the ambidextrous mag release. While a nice feature it’s very hard to depress from either side and release a full magazine. While this is not something a shooter will commonly do it is an issue nonetheless. I fixed this problem by taking a look at the magazine cuts that engage the magazine release. I took a very mild file and opened the top of the dual magazine cuts a very small amount. I then used some 1200 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth the edges. This took care of the problem allowing a very easy release from that point on. I will say when the magazine was empty releasing a magazine was no problem before I worked on both supplied magazines.
One nagging thought before hitting the range was “this pistol is going to have some stout recoil”. As it turns out this wasn’t the case, which I attribute to the dual spring configuration and heavy slide.
Before heading to the range I did lube the Solo with Frog Lube with no other lubrication during the session.
I brought an assortment of ammunition for this session. I had Blazer 115 grain ball, Cor-Bon DPX 115 grain, Remington 124 grain hollowpoint, Remington 115 grain ball and finally the new Hornady Critical Defense with the FTX bullet. According to Kimber a break in of 24 rounds is needed. Out of all 275 rounds fired I had no malfunctions of any type. Groups fired from the 10 yard line averaged right at 2 ½ inches with the best results from the Hornday Critical Defense load which gave groups of 2 inches on average.
As I mentioned earlier the trigger pull is very smooth with a crisp let off and short reset. Surprisingly the recoil wasn’t bad at all allowing quick followup shots. The Solo is also more accurate than other pistols of this size, which I attribute to the excellent trigger and highly visible sights.
I really do like the Solo. In spite of the two issues I covered it’s a well-made accurate little pistol. It feels very good in your hand, especially so for those of us who shoot 1911’s. The thumb safety rides in almost the same position as the 1911 making transition to the Solo very natural. Even for those who don’t use a 1911 you’ll become proficient with it in short order.
I also like the fact the Solo has a manual safety. I’ve never cared for a striker fired pistol without one. I believe this is especially relevant with a pocket pistol.
The cost of the Solo is higher than most others of it’s type at an MSRP of $747.00. Of course some shopping around will save you approximately $100.00 perhaps a bit more. Apparently the cost isn’t a factor since Kimber is having a hard time keeping up with orders.
I would certainly encourage anyone in the market for a pocket pistol considers the Solo. It’s always best to find a gun shop that rents guns so you can try before you buy. I don’t buy many of the guns I review but this one may just have to stay here!