By: Ben Findley
So, what specific criteria do you use to select your carry gun? I have reviewed many subcompacts concealed carry (CC) guns in depth in the past few months, including several on this website. I included the Kimber Solo subcompact 9mm with a 2.7″ barrel in my Top 21 CC guns in the 2016 second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” But now with the recent introduction of the new Kimber Micro 9, I want to analyze, compare, and rank it among my top subcompacts for recommendation or not in this article.
The Kimber Micro 9 Pistol is built by the Kimber Custom Shop and is in many ways similar to a miniature 1911 style pistol. It has the same great single-action trigger, as well as external thumb safety, magazine release, and slide release, as well as the same great single-action trigger. It also has some extra features like a match-grade trigger, lowered and flared ejection port, beveled magazine well, stainless steel barrel, slide, and sights, checkered rosewood grips, etc.
Several readers and students have asked what criteria I use to analyze my recommended handguns, so I want to give my criteria and range test results for the Kimber Micro 9 Pistol to help you analyze your handguns and make the best selection for yourself. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. I was very anxious to shoot the Micro 9 and to compare it factor by factor to my other quality subcompact 9mms to see if it truly ranked in my top subcompact CC pistols. I requested the Micro 9 from Kimber and they were nice enough to loan me one for testing and evaluation purposes.
Know that I am not on the Kimber payroll, have not been paid by them for this article nor influenced to say certain things about the gun. I want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to sincerely help folks.
Specifically, I wanted to know how accurate it is out of the box, without modifications? And the big questions– what about the trigger press? Is the trigger smooth and crisp? What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Is it reliable? Are there special desirable or extra features for this particular gun? Does it have rounded and smooth edges to help with concealability? Can I easily handle the recoil? What are its pros and cons? Are there any issues or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun? Are there holsters, magazines, and accessories available now for the Micro 9? Is this a subcompact gun I would recommend for CC?
Below I start with two charts that list the Specifications and some Features for the Kimber Micro 9, Two-Tone 9mm pistol. Then I give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns.
Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated the gun against each of my criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process.
I wondered if there were holsters, flat base and extended mags, and accessories readily available now for the new Micro 9? Searching around I could not find any extended mags nor even several leather holster options CURRENTLY. But, I found the high-quality, well-made leather Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) pancake Belt Scabbard Holster manufactured by Kramer Leather (shown at top in this Review) and it fit the Micro 9 very well and looks great. You can see the fine craftsmanship in the stitching and handwork. It is high quality and made of very durable horsehide. The holster fits the Micro 9 perfectly and it has very good retention, while allowing it to ride high, close to the body, at a slight FBI cant. It was also comfortable and concealed my gun very well. Kim, one of the nice owners at Kramer Leather, is offering a 15% discount on holster orders for readers of my Micro 9 Review, if you order through the end of November 2016. Just enter “COLBEN15” (all caps) when you order online at their website below or call them.
Kimber Micro 9 Pistol Criteria & Considerations
Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Kimber Micro 9 subcompact. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
- Accuracy and Reliability- Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
- Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe);
- Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and
easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
- Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry); for subcompact pistol ideally prefer 3.0″-3.5″.)
- Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
- Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs;)
- Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
- Capacity -adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer about 7-8 rounds or so (for subcompact) in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
- Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
- Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location & function to drop mags freely; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like a third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; safety factors, etc.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Kimber Micro 9 Two-Tone 9mm RANGE TEST
I used high-quality Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown premium JHP ammo in 115, 124, and 147 grain weights, so I could try different ammo to see how it cycled. While I only fired about 250 rounds total to evaluate this gun (usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days) to decide if I want to carry the gun or not, I had the information I needed after shooting it. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. While this old codger is not a top expert shooter, I wanted to put the gun through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions and performance with quality JHP ammo without any reloads. Thanks to Sig Sauer for providing various Elite Performance ammo to test and evaluate the Kimber Micro 9.
This Kimber Micro 9 in Two-Tone looks great and the quality appearance, fit and finish are exceptional. The Micro subcompact 9mm has nice ergonomics. It was comfortable in my hand and the grip texture was just right for me. As expected, my pinky finger did not fit the smaller frame and it dangled some. But, I can get accustomed to this and hopefully an extended mag with an extra round will be available soon, per my Trade Relations contact there.The checkering on the rosewood grip was good and, combined with the stipling on the backstrap, enhanced my solid purchase on the gun. No problems for me reaching all the controls. It even has an ambidextrous thumb safety. The single-stack mag was nice, but I wanted it to hold more rounds. The slide was very easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise were suprisingly very manageable for this subcompact. The 16 pound recoil spring and full-length guide rod probably helped. Below I present my evaluation for each of my criteria after my range live-fire testing.
The Kimber Micro 9 single action subcompact gun impressed me as a very attractive, accurate, and reliable (with limited rounds fired by me) carry gun, after my range live fire. I had no malfunctions or stoppages at all with the various types and weights of ammo fired.
After shooting the gun for the first time, my first rounds fired rapid fire at 5 yards all hit in a nice 2.5″ group, considering my declining eyesight. Not great, but acceptable for me. My next rounds fired quickly from 7 yards also hit within the same group area (See below.) I felt comfortable in case I have to defend myself up close. Over different up-close distances, for me the accuracy was acceptable, but shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency. Below are my hits for my first few rounds at 5 and 7 yards with the Micro 9. For all rounds fired, there were no malfunctions or stoppages and the Micro digested all the quality Sig Sauer V-Crown ammo just fine.
RANGE TEST RESULTS for each of my 10 Criteria:
- The Accuracy of the subcompact Micro 9 was very acceptable for me at distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards, with my aging eyesight. My groups at each of the up-close encounter distances were about 2.0-3.0 inches for the first time I ever fired the gun, after first cleaning it. Groups were smaller for me at all distances using the 124 grain HP ammo. I fired about 250 total rounds. The 6.8# trigger press I experienced was crisp, soft and acceptable. The nice grip surface and crisp match-grade single-action trigger really helped my hits. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, & shot high-performance Sig Sauer V-Crown 115, 124, and 147 grain JHPs… 10.
- The Trigger Press averaged about 6.8 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was right at the upper limits for my press range for my carry guns. It will improve after break-in and shooting it more. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this is very close and no problem. Of course, this is personal preference and a training issue, but I know some of my recommended and actual 9mm 1911-style single-action carry guns have lighter presses. I analyze and compare 21 of my top 21 CC guns in my recent book. I liked that the trigger press was crisp and easily identifiable. The polished feed ramp helped… 9.
- The match-grade, solid aluminum Trigger had a tactile and very identifiable click and reset. I liked the fairly short and positive reset and very crisp trigger. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. I did like shooting it. It has an excellent soft and smooth trigger for a small gun… 10.
- The 3.15-inch Barrel with its 16 pound recoil spring most definitely helped control muzzle flip and recoil. Very nice recoil control. The steel barrel was of high quality and the short barrel helped make it very concealable… 10.
- The 3 dot sights were medium-sized, distinguishable, and helped my sight acquisition, sight alignment & sight picture. The sights are dovetail mounted. The sights were certainly acceptable, but with my impaired vision and color blind eyes, I prefer the bright green fiber optic front sight for a better lock on to the front sight and wanted larger sight dots. I wish it came standard with night sights… 8.
- The overall 15.6 ounce unloaded weight was very light and nice for CC within my desired range, but with the lightweight comes some disadvantages… which can be overcome. The weight is certainly very acceptable… 9.
- It was easy and comfortable to shoot the 9mm Caliber. The Micro has a closed-breech design. Felt recoil was lower than I expected and the recoil was very easy for me to control. It digested the various weights of 9mm ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage. The lightweight aluminum frame made it comfortable for carry and the recoil was not a problem… 10.
- There was only one 6-round magazine included and I could find no other magazines specifically designed for the Micro 9. Communication with Kimber indicated that an extended magazine with added capacity would be forthcoming very soon in 2 months or so. So, wait and be patient to get your extended mag in two months. I prefer at least 2 mags be included as a standard offering with an option to purchase an extended mag with the added rounds. Like most, I want more capacity, but there are tradeoffs with a single stack, subcompact single action 1911-style gun. Carry a second mag just in case… 8.
- The Ergonomics of the Micro 9 were very nice. Aside from its outstanding appearance and great fit and finish, the grip was very fine and the texturing just right for me. The grip’s body was ample to allow me to acquire a firm and comfortable grip, but (as expected) my pinky dangled below the grip. This was not a problem for me and my medium-sized hands. I was able to easily reach all the controls without changing my grip or with a minor rotation. The 1 included mag was polished with a smooth finish and it dropped freely from the mag well… 9.
- Miscellaneous. As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the Micro 9 before I shot it. I did NOT have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was very easy and quick to do. Just cock the hammer, move the slide rearward, take out the slide stop pin, and remove the slide. The price of the gun is comparable (within $80 or so) to the Sig 938 (both have about a 3″ barrel; 6″ length; 16 oz; with Sig 7 rounds (some with 6- mine came with 1 7-rounder & 1 6-rounder) & Micro 6 rounds.) Some Sig 938s have G10 grips and there are some different items received in the box (Micro) or case (938.) The Micro does not include accessories like some others, e.g. a holster, mag pouch. But, there are several nice features for this very quality gun. There is a one-year warranty for the original purchaser, rather than a lifetime warranty for all… 8.
Total Points = 91 out of 100 Possible. I certainly RECOMMEND this handgun for consideration as your concealed carry subcompact gun. I especially like its accuracy, outstanding fit, finish, and appearance, light weight for easy carry, and small size for concealability.
Its felt recoil was very manageable for a small subcompact 9mm and its rounded lines prevented snags. I wish it came standard with more rounds capacity, included more than one 6-round mag, and had night sights. But its many other features makeup for most of those preferences. I want to shoot it more to see its long-term reliability before I buy it and carry it. I was very impressed with its accuracy out of the box, its low muzzle flip and recoil for a subcompact 9mm, and that I had no malfunctions or stoppages whatsoever with the 200 rounds I fired.
These are just my opinions and ideas, so handle and shoot it for yourself. I hope this review of the Kimber Micro 9 Two-Tone, single action 1911-style subcompact 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting myself only about 200 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time.