Kimber Solo 9mm Subcompact Review

The Kimber Solo Carry 9mm Subcompact is actually referred to as a micro-compact. Designed to be the ultimate concealed carry 9mm pistol made, I can attest to the fit, finish and feel of this beautiful Kimber 9mm. The pistol has no sharp edges and feels smooth, feels like quality in your hands. Whether you buy the two tone model or the stainless Solo, it is the same pistol. The only difference is the finish of the aluminum alloy frame and on the stainless model the slide is engraved Solo Stainless Carry instead of just Solo Carry. It looks like a miniature 1911 and that is because the ergonomics of the 1911 have been built into the Solo. Take down is similar to a 1911 and the ambidextrous thumb safety is easily clicked up or down with a flip of the thumb. The safety is in the perfect spot for ease of operation on and off.

Kimber Solo 9mm

Kimber Solo 9mm

The magazine holds 6 rounds and looks like a typical Kimber magazine. I hope that Wilson Combat offers an 8 round magazine with extended grip. I have a few of their 8 round magazines for my Kimber Crimson Carry II and they are exceptional.

A quality built pistol deserves quality ammunition. The whole purpose of the Solo is to be the finest concealed carry 9mm pistol available. Do you want to trust the best personal defense concealed carry weapon made to perform the task of saving your life with second rate ammunition? The recommended ammunition to shoot in the Kimber Solo is top brand 124 grain and 147 grain JHP 9mm ammunition. The Kimber Solo will shoot just about any 9mm ammunition. I shot Wolf, Herter, Winchester white box, Sellier & Bellot, and Federal 115 grain Ammo and the Solo didn’t even miss a beat. For self defense concealed carry I used Remington Golden Saber 124 grain +P ammunition.

Check Price and Availability of Kimber Solo

The suggested Kimber Solo price is $725. I paid $699 for mine from Scheels Sporting Goods in Appleton, WI. Buds has them on reserve order for $699.00. The Solo is sometimes available in limited quantities on Gunbroker.com for $750 to $850.

Kimber Solo in the Hand

Kimber Solo in the Hand

Holding the Kimber Solo 9mm Subcompact, Notice how my trigger finger is pressed into the tip of the trigger. That tip is rather pointed. If I don’t make an effort to lift my finger up and press the top of the trigger guard then the trigger pull is mildly noticeable and makes my finger sore caused by the trigger tip. The radius of the trigger is rather small I think. The trigger pull is just what you would expect from a Kimber, exceptionally smooth. The trigger pull is rather long and firm at 7 Lbs. but the trigger is smooth as glass and is just another feature that makes you know the the little Solo is a quality pistol.

Kimber Solo 3 Dot Sights

Kimber Solo 3 Dot Sights

View of Solo Fixed 3 dot sights. The 3 dot is my favorite type of sight. The Solo has bright white, easy to see 3 dot sights.

Kimber Solo Target  Nice Group 15 Yards

Kimber Solo Target Nice Group 15 Yards

Kimber claims that the Solo will shoot 3 inch groups at 25 yards. My first range trips didn’t yield anything close to that. But my last target shooting resulted in a huge improvement. I am learning to shoot the small micro sized pistol. It is now obvious to me that the Kimber is indeed very accurate. I can shoot 6 inch and 8 inch groups at 15 yards. A little more practice and attention to the basics should tighten these groups even more. Here are two targets I shot at 15 yards using Golden Saber +P 124 Gr, and Sellier & Bellot FMJ 124 Gr ammunition.

Kimber Solo Target at 15 Yards

Kimber Solo Target Shot at 15 Yards

Kimber Solo Compared to Glock 26

Kimber Solo Compared to Glock 26

The Kimber Solo 9mm Carry is smaller than the Glock 26 and close to the size of the Kahr PM9.

Kimber Solo Take Down Align the Disassembly Notch with Slide Stop Tab

Kimber Solo Take Down Align the Disassembly Notch with Slide Stop Tab

For take down dis-assembly. Remove the magazine, check to make sure the gun is unloaded. Just position the dis assembly notch over the take down lever tab and push the take down lever out from the right side. Once started it can be pulled out from the left side. Then dry fire to release the striker and the slide comes off the front.

Kimber Solo Field Stripped

Kimber Solo 9mm Field Stripped

The Kimber 9mm Field Stripped. Taking the gun down is quick and easy. Make sure the pistol is unloaded. Just position the dis assembly notch over the take down lever tab. Push out the take down lever from the frame. Pull the trigger to release the striker, then move the slide assembly forward. Remove the recoil spring assembly, remove the barrel, and the pistol is field stripped.

Kimber Solo Scratches Installing Slide Stop During Assembly

Kimber Solo Scratches Installing Slide Stop During Assembly

Not a happy camper! When installing the take down lever it is required to pickup the retention spring in a groove on the take down lever. You can see the damage I did to my $700 Kimber Solo during reassembly. Maybe the stainless model with shiney frame won’t be as prone to show these scratches. Damn! that irritates me.

Kimber Solo Scratches Installing Slide Stop During Assembly

Kimber Solo Scratches Installing Slide Stop During Assembly

The retention spring must ride in the groove, otherwise the slide will lock open when fired. When I installed the take down lever I press in and rotated up to catch the spring. That is when the scratches occurred.

Kimber Solo Installing Slide Stop Scratches Frame

Kimber Solo Installing Slide Stop Scratches Frame

Here is where the damage was done. I don’t think it needs to be rotated up. Just align the notch and press the take down lever straight in. I tried it that way and it seems to work. Will know for sure after firing at the range. If the slide doesn’t lock open then the retention spring is OK.

Kimber Solo Trigger Finger

Kimber Solo Trigger Finger Pulls Against Point of Trigger

My only complaint is the trigger radius. My finger has to be firmly against the top of the trigger guard or the sharp edge of the trigger hurts my finger. There is a lot of space below the trigger between the end of the trigger and the trigger guard to allow for a slightly longer trigger with a greater curve radius. It is a small gun with a trigger designed for small fingers. The trigger pull is exceptionally smooth and even with my one complaint I really like this little gun.

  • Kimber 9mm
  • 9mm Kimber
  • 9mm 1911
  • Kimber 9mm 1911

I just found this Comparison Chart comparing the Kimber Solo to several other subcompact pistols. This excellent chart is by los on the Defensive Carry Forum. I got permission from the originator to publish the charts on my site. Here is the link to compare the Solo to other small subcompacts: Kimber Solo Comparison Charts.

I shot my new Kimber Solo 9mm subcompact pistol today. It fed 55 rounds of 124 grain Sellier & Bellot FMJ ammunition (cheap ammo) without a problem. I noticed that the slide release is actually a slide stop. I couldn’t easily release the slide with the slide release lever. The slide must be pulled back and allowed to slam forward. Anything less can cause failure to feed the round and it won’t make it all the way up the ramp. I only had this happen once and quickly learned to let the slide slam home. NOTE: After firing a few hundred rounds the slide release now works as a release and not just a slide stop.

The recoil seems a little more forceful than any other 9mm that I have shot. That is probably because of the short grip, and the 124 grain ammo probably also added to the recoil. I usually shoot 115 grain in my other 9mm pistols which are all larger than the Solo. It also seemed louder to me, maybe that is the short barrel, 2.67 inches the shortest 9mm barrel made, or maybe just my imagination.

I anticipated better accuracy than what I achieved with the gun. Shooting at an outdoor range on the shortest line, at 15 yards my first shots were all over in a 12 inch spread, I won’t call it a group. After shooting a few 5 round magazines I was tightening the groups and was getting close to 6 inch groups after 50 rounds. Keep in mind that I am not a great shot and I am pleased when I shoot 6 inch groups at 15 yards. Kimber claims the Solo will shoot 3 inch groups at 25 yards. Maybe so, but not with me shooting. I would like to try it on a 7 yard range which is a more realistic self defense distance.

Kimber Solo 6RD and 8RD Magazines

Kimber Solo 6RD Magazine and 8RD Magazine

Another complaint I have, other than the tight finger curve of the trigger, is the magazine or lack of magazines. Kimber only supplies one magazine with the guns they sell. This little 9mm with only one magazine is a pain. Shoot 5 rounds, reload, shoot 5 rounds, reload. I ordered 4 each 6 round magazines from the Kimber Store at $21.95 each. The 8 round magazines are priced at $23.95 each but are not in stock. At least the magazine prices are reasonable they just can’t keep them in stock. I see 6 round magazines selling on Gunbroker at $50.00 each and Ableammo has them listed at $75.00 each.

According to Kimber, the Solo has been three years in the making. Now that they are getting into service problems are starting to show. I noticed on the Defensive Carry forum that Solos are showing signs of the finish wearing off the inside of the frame where the recoil spring sits. Kimber is analyzing this now.

My Kimber Solo shows the finish inside the frame wearing off caused by rubbing of the recoil spring. I talked with a Kimber service Rep and he said that was normal.

I also had a problem after shooting about 400 rounds. The locking lugs inside the slide are peening and chipping metal (Kimber Solo 9mm Slide Peening). The Solo has been returned to Kimber for repair.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cebur19 Mar 9, 2013, 11:15 am

    Thank you for your comment. Many people like Kimbers and many are Kimber “fan boys”. I gave Kimber a good try, I purchased a Kimber Crimson Carry II as my first 1911 style pistol and purchased the Kimber Solo. I now own zero Kimber products and this is why. The I owned the Solo for six months. After three trips back to Kimber for repair the gun was in Kimbers possession longer than it was with me. The barrel and slide were replaced twice along with various springs and parts. I liked the feel of the Solo and it was very accurate. After three trips to Kimber the finish on the gun was flaking off in several places. The gun looked like hell and was not representative of a $700 firearm. The clincher for me was that the paint problem was a common issue and after several customers complained Kimber had reluctantly agreed to refinish the gun for a charge. Pay $700 for a “high end” firearm and then shell out another $170 to get it refinished. The Crimson Carry II was super accurate but had the problem of brass ejecting into my face. One round damaged my glasses. I owned two new Kimbers, had issues with both. I made the decision that Kimber has nothing to offer me except a high priced hyped reputation firearm that did not perform to my expectations. I got rid of the two Kimbers and am very satisfied with my other Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Sig Sauer, Benelli, Remington, Marlin, Colt, and Ruger firearms.

    I don’t discourage anyone from buying any high priced gun including Kimber. I also don’t encourage the purchase of a particular brand. I simply write about experiences good and not so good that I have had with firearms.

  • SimonE Mar 8, 2013, 7:59 pm

    Well, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see the typical fanboy, anti-Kimber comments here.

    I have owned a Kimber Compact CDP for 16 years, and I can attest to the fact that it is the most accurate, most reliable of the many handguns I’ve owned and/or shot. Due to the exceptional experience I’ve had with it, as well as the disappointment I’ve found with the Shield and Nano micro 9s, I decided to purchase a Solo CDP.

    I couldn’t be more happy with the quality, reliability and accuracy of the Solo CDP. The craftsmanship is outstanding, and the included Crimson Trace LaserGrips, as well as the night sights, ensure rapid acquisition in any lighting condition, without the need for a special holster, or a less than natural activation procedure for the laser. Other pocket 9s feel and shoot like toys, comparatively. The only issue I have with Kimbers, as one reviewer pointed out, is the ease with which the paint will scratch. I’m sure I will wind up applying a CeraKote finish to my Solo CDP once it gets bad enough, as I did with my Compact CDP after owning it for 15 years, but then again, I’m pretty careful with my weapons and don’t toss them around.

    The only thing that made the whole Solo CDP carry experience even better was the addition of a Garrett Industries Silent Thunder Solo IWB holster. Ron and Sheryl Garrett make an amazing line of holsters.

  • cebur19 Jan 28, 2013, 7:46 pm

    I agree completely. The Solo has just one feature that is better than the Nano and that is the trigger. I carry the Beretta Nano and can attest that it is high quality and reliable. I have almost 4000 rounds through my Nano and it still looks like new. My Kimber Solo looked like it was carried in a tool box full of loose tools after the first few cleanings. I had two Kimbers and got rid of them. Will never own another.

  • Caligula Jan 28, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Kimber pistols are the most over-rated and over-priced handguns on the market. They may look good, but I’ve read and heard of plenty of problems with them. I read that Kimber suggests changing the recoil spring on the Solo after 1000 rounds – WTF? And supplying one magazine with a $700 micro-pistol is inexcusable and cheap! I’ll stick with my very well-made Nano and the two magazines that came with the pistol for $420 at my local gun shop.