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Gun Test: Kimber Solo Crimson Carry

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Gun Test: Kimber Solo Crimson Carry

The Kimber Solo has established itself as one of the leading 9mm subcompacts with its no-compromise, all-metal (alloy and steel) build, its familiar, intuitive operating features and a size that defines the 9mm pocket pistol category.

A mere 5.5 inches in length, 3.9 inches in height and a scant 1.14 inches in width, the Solo weighs only 17 ounces unloaded. It is, within fractions of an inch, the same size as the Colt Mustang, the Sig Sauer P238 and the Kimber Micro Raptor .380 ACP models, making this one of the most compact 9mm semi-automatic pistols on the market.

Over the last four years, the Solo has established itself as a hard-hitting 9mm pistol with a standard complement of 6+1 cartridges, or 8+1 with an extended-capacity magazine that also increases the length of the grip by a full inch for a more secure grasp. Since the Solo is just slightly larger than a .380, building a micro 9mm pistol suitable for pocket carry or very discrete holster wear demands cutting some corners—not in quality, but literally the corners of the gun.

Since its introduction in 2011, the Solo has not been surpassed for compactness or ease of carry by any other 9mm. Still, when you pick up the Solo, it is not too small, nor is the safety, magazine or slide release reduced in size to the point of being awkward. In fact, the ambidextrous thumb safety is remarkably easy to operate. Its unusual “V” shape is angled to be easily activated by the side of the thumb on the draw and the reset. The V-shaped form actually reduces the effort required to work the safety while still being quite small and having a positive detent when set or released. The angle and rounded corners also make it less likely to catch on clothing, particularly when drawing or reholstering.

The Solo is built to handle ammunition in the 124- to 147-grain range, which is pretty much what you want for defensive use. As might be expected, the little 17-ounce pistol has a commensurate kick. It’s nothing that isn’t manageable or detrimental to maintaining accuracy (with practice), but this is no lightweight. The addition of the Crimson Trace Lasergrips, made especially for the Solo in a distinctive diamond pattern with a rosewood finish, takes the gun’s accuracy up another notch, with pinpoint accuracy out to 21 feet in moderate daylight and easily up to 50 feet in low indoor light or nighttime situations.

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