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Review: Kimber Solo
In terms of pricing, it's pretty obvious that the Kimber Solo is marketed against the PM9. While I like the PM9 enough (there aren't really any great guns in this category of pistols), the Kimber Solo is really in an entirely different league of handguns. Don't get me wrong; the manufacturing quality on the little Kahr guns is quite high, but the two Solo's I've had the pleasure of handling have obviously had a lot more care taken in their manufacturing and construction than any PM9 I've owned or handled. This should be expected as the Kimber Solo is a premium gun coming from a premium company that has had several years to study and improve upon the competition. Thus, you would expect the Kimber Solo to be a superior design in just about every way.
And, yes, I do believe the Kimber Solo IS a superior design. I'm not just talking about functioning either; I'm also talking about ergonomics. The handling on this gun is better than any other firearm in this category (at least for me). The aluminum frame in the Solo lends itself to a superior balance that no other pistol in this class has achieved. A lot of people might not notice such a thing with a gun that only weighs around 18 ounces, but it makes every difference on the firing range and really makes the Kimber Solo a joy to handle and play with. If you like the the solid, purposeful feel of a 1911, you're probably going to like the feel of the Solo. Actually, while Kimber talks about how the Solo was inspired by the 1911, I have no doubt at all that it was highly influenced by the Colt 1903 (.32 ACP), which makes sense because the 1903 is a pretty classy pocket pistol in its own right.
The Kimber Solo is a striker fired gun. It has a single action trigger that feels very similar to the DAO triggers found on the Kahr guns. The primary difference is that the trigger is just a tad bit heavier and shorter. It also feels more refined, in that it lacks the sponginess often found in Kahr guns. Reset is almost unnoticable and is certainly shorter than on competing guns. In other words, the trigger on the Kimber Solo is better all-around than on the Kahr guns or just about everything else on the market. That says a lot, because the Kahr triggers are very, very good. It just so happens that the Solo is a little bit better. Will most people notice? Probably not.
Some people seem to find the Solo's ambidextrous mag release to be difficult to use for no discernible reason. My guess is that they're thumbs are pretty big and that they've never owned a 1911. I had no problems at all with the release except that you really need to push hard with the tip of your thumb to drop the magazine, but that's actually a good thing for a pocket pistol lest you end up with a magazine floating around in your pocket. However, like all small guns, if you're a big person with big hands, then the Kimber Solo might not work very well for you. I can get two fingers on the grip with medium sized hands, but if you're a giant then you are better finding a larger, more capable firearms.
In terms of carry, the Solo's dimensions are perfect for pocket carry, on par with anything Kahr has to offer. Remember, though, that this is an alloy framed pistol so it is a bit heavier than similar pistols from other manufacturers, and that extra weight can make a difference. My rule is that I prefer guns of 15 ounces for a pocket carry. The Kimber Solo tips the scale at over 17 ounces unloaded. For me, that's pushing it especially when you add in a loaded magazine. But, and I mean this in all seriousness, the Solo feels like a real gun. The design allows it to slip easily in and out of a pocket and it just disappears into a IWB holster. In fact, I can't get over how much I like the actual design of this pistol. It draws, feels, and points naturally.
To sum things up, the Kimber Solo feels like a classic American pistol. I haven't been able to say that about any other new gun design released in the last 20 years. From my end that's huge praise as I consider very few guns to be real keepers. The only thing I don't like about it is that the ambidextrous safety is too small. Even though the trigger does have a pretty long pull, at 7 pounds it is still quite light, so I would feel better if the Solo had a larger manual safety that I could engage while carrying. That caveat aside, if the Solo holds up it will likely have a permanent home in my collection, so I heartily endorse purchasing a Solo if you have the extra money. If you don't want to spend so much cash or have big hands then definitely look at the Ruger LC9.