A Kimber .380 is more than a .380 ACP semi-auto; it is built to the same standards as Kimber’s 9mm, 10mm and .45 ACP 1911-style pistols. Kimber semi-autos are among the best in the world, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the company ventured into small-caliber territory with its very first .380 ACP, the Micro CDP.
Built to the same design tolerances as the subcompact Solo Carry 9mm, the Micro CDP expanded Kimber’s concealed-carry lineup to include the three most popular CCW calibers—.380 ACP, 9mm and .45 ACP, the latter with its 3-inch-barreled Ultra Carry II, Ultra Raptor II, Covert Carry II, CDP II, Aegis II, Ultra RCP II, Combat Carry VI, Master Carry and Super Carry 1911 Series.
It wasn’t long before Kimber designed a complete line of Micro .380s to take advantage of special features developed for its 1911s. The full .380 line was introduced in 2015. The standout model, if one of these superb new .380 ACP semi-autos can rise above the rest, has to be the Micro Advocate and its “plus-one” factor. While almost all .380s carry six rounds in the magazine, the Micro Advocate holds seven, giving this model a standard 7+1 capacity. All Kimber .380s are essentially the same gun in terms of function and handling, and the Micro line is offered in an array of finishes, colors, sights, safety and grip options, including the Kimber Micro Advocate.
To understand the Micro .380s, you have to start with the fundamentals of the design, and like Kimber’s 1911s, that begins with a Colt model, the Mustang. The similarities between the venerable little Colt .380 and the Kimber Micro series are unmistakable, but the special features of each model are uniquely Kimber. The measurements are close to the Colt’s with an overall length of 5.6 inches, a width of 0.94 inches (including the safety, slide release and grips), a carry weight of 13.4 ounces empty (0.9 ounces more than a Colt) and a slightly greater height of 4 inches, but with that extra round upping capacity to 7+1.
Like all Kimber models, this .380 is meticulously finished and hand-fitted; the recoil spring offers a measured 8 pounds resistance around a full-length steel guide rod; the 2.75-inch barrel is polished stainless steel; the black anodized hammer is skeletonized; and the match grade-trigger, made from solid aluminum, is factory set to approximately 7 pounds of resistance. While a 7-pound trigger pull is slightly greater than some would prefer (remember, this is a single-action pistol), its travel is short, just under 0.25 inches, there is no stacking and trigger reset is double quick.
To get a better grip on this little .380 the pistol’s aluminum frame has an undercut triggerguard, a deeply curved and rounded beavertail, a finely checkered mainspring housing and, with the Micro Advocate’s extended magazine, an extra 0.44 inches of grip length. The average person will not find their little finger resting under the magazine, as on the vast majority of small .380s, but rather right in line with the rest of the hand for a more secure hold.
The magazine basepad is also curved at the back to better fit the hand and eliminate any squared edges. In fact, there are no hard edges on the entire gun, much like the design of the Kimber Solo. This is part of Kimber’s “Carry Melt” treatment to minimize the pistol catching on clothing or holsters. Standard grips are beveled-edge G10 in either a distinctive purple/black or brown/black combo. The Micro Advocate is two-tone with a smooth, matte silver frame and a matte black steel slide fitted with fixed, three-dot tritium night sights, making this model an excellent choice as a 24/7 carry gun.
On The Range
Handling any of the Kimber Micro .380s is an exercise in smooth. The single-action trigger on the test gun averaged 6.8 pounds. The curved thumb safety stays securely locked until manually released, and there is a solid, audible “click” as it is disengaged and passes over a steel ball-bearing detent. The coarsely checkered slide release requires only moderate pressure to activate on the reload, and the checkered magazine-release button sends the empty on its way with only light thumb pressure.
Like the Colt Mustang, the Micro Advocate’s design is reminiscent of a small Model 1911 but with one very big difference—there is no grip safety. And while it is intended to be carried “cocked and locked,” the single thumb safety on the Kimber allows the slide to operate even when it is engaged. This facilitates checking the chamber with a light pull of the slide, clearing the gun or chambering the first round all with the safety set. Conversely, if the hammer is not cocked before the thumb safety is engaged, the slide will not retract, nor will the hammer cock, until the safety is released. This allows two very different loaded-weapon carry conditions.
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My test ammo consisted of Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance V-Crown 90-grain JHPs, Federal’s hard-hitting 99-grain HST JHPs and Sig Sauer’s new Elite Performance 100-grain FMJs, a heavier round with a bit more punch. Most .380 FMJ rounds use 90- to 95-grain bullets. Sig’s 100-grain .380 rounds split the difference between the average .380 and 9mm FMJ cartridges, which is 95 to 115 grains.
All three types of ammo clocked faster velocities than with most 2.75-inch barrels. Federal’s HST went downrange at an average of 901 fps, the lighter Sig JHP registered 919 fps and the heavier Sig FMJ traveled at 834 fps. Shooting from a defensive range of 7 yards, the best five-round group came from Federal HST, delivering a spread of 1 inch and a best three-round group clustering at 0.59 inches. Both the Sig JHP and FMJ rounds spread five shots into 1.5 inches.
Basically, it makes no difference what you shoot through the Micro Advocate at this range; it is very accurate. The important thing is that all groups were 1.5 inches or less inside in the center body mass of a B27 silhouette target. The gun is accurate, the trigger pull is smooth with a quick reset and the sights are easy to acquire under any lighting conditions.
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This is the kind of consistent performance you need from a .380 carry gun. With its 7+1 capacity, the Kimber Micro Advocate is another best-in-class pocket pistol for concealed carry.
For more information, visit http://www.kimberamerica.com or call 888-243-4522.