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Preview – Kimber Micro 9

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

A Mini 1911 That Actually Works

If one were to plot 1911 reliability on an X axis and size on the Y, your graph would show a steep gradient, with 3-inch-barreled guns crossing over into the range toy zone. These days, government models from the big names are usually good to go right out of the box, but as the venerable design shrinks, the frequency of stoppages goes up.

The cause is directly related to the size of the weapon, the round it’s trying to feed, and the empty case it’s attempting to get out of the way — smaller guns have less working space in which to shuffle things around, and less time to get everything happening in the right order.

Kimber’s Micro 9 solves some of these engineering problems by throwing out the 1911 operating system, in favor of a playbook written by the Colt Mustang and revised by the SIG 938. While it might look like a 1911 on the outside, its internals are completely different — a good thing in a gun you might have to trust your life to.
First Impressions

This is a good-looking piece. Our photographer is usually unimpressed by the hordes of black, polymer-framed pistols that traipse through the studio, but the Kimber elicited a small squeal of delight when first unboxed. Don’t judge; it’s a girl thing. There are two finish options available, an all-stainless version and an ’80s, retro, two-tone look with a blued slide. In both cases, the aluminum frame is smooth and well-contoured with no flaws in the Type III anodizing of either of our test samples.

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We’ve come to expect checkering on the front strap of an expensive-looking handgun, but despite it’s absence, the gun doesn’t squirm around too badly in the hand. We would, however, like to see a little more aggressively checkered grip panels as the rosewood versions, while attractive, tend to lose traction when sweaty — and there’s not much real estate to hang on to. The Micro’s flat mainspring housing is finely checkered, but again, on a pistol this small there’s not a whole lot of surface area in contact with the shooter’s palm.

Controls are, at first glance, typically 1911, with a fully functional slide stop, left side safety, and magazine release in the locations you’d expect. The slide stop sits neatly between the thumbs, eliminating the chance of inadvertently bumping it during firing, causing the slide to lock the rear, or to fail to engage after firing the last round in a magazine. It also has a sizable ledge, so that getting the gun back into action after a mag change is a lot easier than many full-size guns, should you choose not to sling shot it. Sorry, lefties, but like JMB’s original, the mag release isn’t ambi, and you’ll have to use the index finger of your strong hand.

Kimber’s lockwork is a major departure from the 1911 blueprint. You’d be forgiven for thinking the trigger is a plain-Jane government-pattern affair, but it actually pivots on a pin, rather than sliding horizontally, operating a single trigger bar in the left side of the frame. We were surprised at just how much effort our trigger pull gauge registered, as it feels like it breaks around 5 pounds, rather than the 8 that appeared on the display, but it turns out that the diminutive grip forces the shooter to use the distal joint rather than the pad of their index finger. That increased leverage makes the pull seem much lighter than it is. Reset is short, crisp, and tactile.

While field stripping is fairly 1911-ish, there’s no barrel bushing to contend with, simplifying the design. Pulling out the slide stop and running the top end off the frame reveals further departures from tradition, as the ejector is a spring-loaded finger that rides in a groove in the slide’s underside and serves double duty as part of the drop safety mechanism. When the pistol is in battery, it presses against a slide-mounted firing pin plunger, pushing it into the firing pin’s path and preventing the gun from firing until the trigger is being pressed, even if the hammer drops. Pull the trigger and the ejector cams down, allowing the firing pin plunger to descend out of the way. The familiar 1911 disconnector is also dispensed with, relocated to the left framerail, while the safety not only blocks the sear but also lifts the hammer out of engagement with it. It’s all very familiar to users of the Mustang and 938, but one side benefit of this is that the Micro can be loaded and unloaded with the safety applied.

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