Gun makers are turning up the power level on pocket-sized pistols. And Kimber’s new Micro 9, chambered in 9mm, looks to be one of the better guns of this new breed.
As long as there have been handguns, the public has craved models that are easily carried and concealed. In the mid- to late-1800s, defensive-minded citizens might have gotten some degree of reassurance from purchasing a Remington double derringer in .41 Rimfire Short or a Smith & Wesson No. 1 revolver in .22 Short. In the early 1900s, the Colt Vest Pocket Pistol in .25 ACP might have been the choice for discreet carry. None of them was considered a powerhouse.
More recently, small pistols in .380 ACP have been extremely popular. Kimber jumped on the trend with its Micro .380, a single-action pistol that appealed especially to 1911 enthusiasts. It was a good pistol, but many shooters still yearned for something a bit more powerful. So, this past year, Kimber unveiled the Micro 9 in the ubiquitous 9mm Parabellum.
I’ve never been accused of being stylish, but even I could see that the new Kimber Micro 9 Crimson Carry was a very attractive pistol. While that might not count for much in a gunfight, there is always a pride-of-ownership factor to be considered when showing off your new armament to fellow devotees.
This model features a two-tone finish with a matte-black steel slide over an aluminum frame. The grips are rosewood with an integral Crimson Trace laser.
Like the Micro .380 before it, the Micro 9 is an exposed hammer, single-action pistol with the thumb safety, slide stop lever and magazine release all positioned as you’d find them on larger 1911 pistols. The idea is that for 1911 shooters, there would be no fumbling or confusion under stress about how to operate this smaller pistol.
This pistol is not a true 1911, however. There is no grip safety; the barrel is flared at the muzzle to eliminate the need for a barrel bushing; and the barrel tilts on a cam instead of the toggle link found on 1911 designs.
The trigger is curved and serrated. The trigger pull was advertised at 7 pounds, but I found the trigger on my test gun broke clean at about 5 pounds after a short amount of travel.
The fixed sights are metal and all black. I would have preferred a 3-dot configuration, but the sights are dovetailed, so swapping them out would be an easy operation. As it is, they are large enough to be truly useful; they’re not the rudimentary sights found on many pocket pistols.
Despite the lack of a grip safety, the Micro 9 is a safe pistol. Unseen from the outside are a safety notch on the hammer (should the hammer inadvertently override the sear), a disconnector that prevents the trigger bar from engaging the sear when the slide is out of battery, and a firing pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving until the trigger is fully depressed.
The Micro 9 comes with only one flush-fitting, six-round magazine. That’s a disappointment. This model with the laser grips has an MSRP of nearly $900. That’s rather pricey for a pocket pistol. Kimber should include a second or even a third magazine.
GETTING A GRIP
The Micro 9 is chambered for the 9x19mm, which is a significant step up the power scale. The gun is a bit larger than its .380 predecessor. It features a 3.15-inch barrel, compared to the 2.75-inch tube of the .380. It is 6.1 inches in length, compared to 5.6 inches, and it weighs 15.6 ounces empty, compared to 13.4. That’s still very small and light for a 9mm.
The pistol’s short grip frame necessitates curling the pinky finger under it, but this is a way of life when opting for a pocket pistol. Kimber does offer a seven-round magazine with an extended baseplate. To my way of thinking, if you need an extended magazine to feel comfortable in holding your handgun, you should probably just buy a gun with a larger frame.
There is a wide range of 9mm loads available, and more top-quality loads are being introduced regularly.
Some of the ammo I tested was specifically designed for short-barreled handguns. The Federal Premium 150-grain HST Personal Defense JHP load was the heaviest 9mm bullet I’ve fired. The load keeps recoil down by reducing velocity with the heavy bullet while maintaining consistent penetration and expansion. Low-flash powders are used.
At the other end of the scale was the DoubleTap Lead-Free 77-grain DT JHP, also designed for short-barreled pistols. Instead of a heavy bullet, it uses a light-for-caliber bullet at high velocities to minimize recoil. It is designed not to over-penetrate, and it, too, uses low-flash powders.
Federal also offers a practice-and-defend ammo package that includes 100 rounds of its American Eagle 124-grain FMJ practice ammo and 20 rounds of its Federal Premium HST JHP rounds in the same weight.
The Kimber Micro 9 is rated for +P loads, although it’s not recommended to shoot them on a regular basis. I tried a few DoubleTap 115-grain +P with Barnes TAC-XP bullets and also some DoubleTap 124-grain +P with Bonded Defense JHP bullets. These bumped velocities to 1,126 and 1,206 fps, respectively. Yes, the heavier load was faster. Those are impressive velocities out of a 3.15-inch barrel. However, recoil was more noticeable with these loads.
From the bench at 15 yards, five-shot groups regularly fell in the 1.5- to 2.0-inch range with most ammo tested. That’s good practical accuracy for a short-barreled pistol with limited sight radius.
More important than shooting tiny groups, the pistol proved to be very reliable. I did have a handful of failures to feed very early on, say, during the first 100 rounds fired. But I attribute those to the gun’s tight tolerances and the need for a short break-in period. Once cleaned and put back into action, the Micro 9 ran like a precision instrument without a hitch for the rest of the test.
Off hand, the Micro 9 was surprisingly manageable shot to shot. It’s not one of those guns you’d carry a lot but shoot very little. It was not in the least uncomfortable, which means you wouldn’t be discouraged from practicing with it often.
Most loads hit 1 inch or 2 high of the point of aim at 15 yards, which is fine. The sights were perfectly aligned for windage.
The Crimson Trace laser grips supplied with the pistol offered a good gripping surface. There is a tiny “on”/“off” power switch on the left grip panel. When carrying the gun, the switch should be left on, which allows you to activate the laser with the pressure switch on the front strap when taking a normal grip on the pistol.
The days were overcast during my shooting sessions with the Micro 9, and I had no problem seeing the red laser. The laser is adjustable for windage and elevation with a tiny hex wrench. This is a good thing, because I found that the laser was considerably off target as it came from the box. Once dialed in, however, it was dead-on, and I had no trouble keeping my 5-inch ball target rolling at 25 yards. Target acquisition with the laser was very fast.
Due to its size, the Micro 9 is considered a pocket pistol … but should you actually carry it in your pocket?
With a single-action pistol such as the Micro 9, the best way to carry it is cocked and locked: chamber loaded, hammer cocked, safety on. If you decide to carry it in your pocket, you’d better make sure your holster is designed— preferably molded—to keep that safety from disengaging. Even with a proper holster, I’d feel more comfortable carrying a pistol of this type in a jacket pocket less affected by walking or running.
With a handgun of any size, my preferred carry method is strong-side hip carry, with either an inside-the-waistband or belt holster. With the Micro 9, I tried a DeSantis Mini Scabbard leather belt holster and a Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster.
The DeSantis holster was a simple, but sturdy, design with none of the flop or wiggle you get with cheaply made holsters. It had a tension screw to adjust how tightly the pistol was held.
The Crossbreed holster was perhaps the most comfortable inside-the-waistband holster I’ve tried. It featured a molded Kydex holster attached to a leather backer with clips that allowed you to use it with your shirt tucked.
NO BELLY GUN
Some have traditionally viewed small handguns as strictly belly guns—not much use beyond a few feet. The new Kimber Micro 9 Crimson Carry is proof of the opposite. With its good sights, crisp trigger, highly visible laser, inherent accuracy and 9mm chambering, this is much more than a belly gun.
If a reliable pocket-sized pistol that operates like your favorite single-action 1911 is something that sounds like a good idea to you, the Kimber Micro 9 could be your next concealed-carry pistol.
- MAKE: Kimber
- MODEL: Micro 9 Crimson Carry
- TYPE: Recoil-operated, single-action semiauto pistol
- CALIBER: 9mm Parabellum
- MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 6
- FRAME: 1.05-inch-wide, brushed-finish aluminum
- SLIDE: Steel with matte-black finish
- BARREL: 3.15 inches, stainless steel, ramped
- SIGHTS: Fixed, black, in dovetail with 4.3-inch radius, plus Crimson Trace rosewood laser grips
- TRIGGER: Aluminum, match grade, 7 pounds (5 pounds tested)
- WEIGHT: 15.6 ounces
KIMBER MANUFACTURING, INC.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.