Kimber is probably not the first manufacturer you think of when the topic of pocket guns arises, but the truth is that they’ve been building subcompacts for over 13 years now and introduced two entirely new models in the last two years: the Solo Carry and the brand new Micro .380, which fit nicely into the pocket gun category.

When Kimber entered the 1911 market in 1993, they had just one model—the Classic Custom. It was a full-sized, steel-framed 1911 .45 pistol. But what made this gun such a resounding success was that it came out of the box with an extended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety, low-profile combat sights, lowered ejection port and a host of other refinements.

Those of us who had been using a 1911 for defense or IPSC competition were used to buying a gun and dropping it off at a gunsmith’s for installing these features, usually adding several hundreds of dollars to the cost of our new gun. Kimber was the first manufacturer to offer their guns with all of these upgrades.

Ultra Design

Always the innovator, Kimber engineers started with a fresh page when they decided to offer a subcompact 1911 pistol. Rather than using Colt’s Officers Model as a template for their new gun, Kimber designed their gun from scratch and introduced the Ultra in 1999.

The Ultra weighs 25 ounces, and that’s about a half-pound lighter than a steel-framed, Government-sized 1911. It uses a barrel a half-inch shorter than the Colt Officers Model with an overall length of just 6.8 inches and a height of just 4.75 inches. It is a gun that is small enough to carry in a coat pocket or rear pants pocket. Of course, I always recommend using some sort of holster like Galco’s Pocket Protector to keep the gun positioned properly.

For weight savings, Kimber machines the frame from aircraft-grade aluminum. For shooting comfort, it is outfitted with a beavertail grip safety to eliminate any chance of “hammer bite.” The frame is also fitted with an extended thumb safety to make it easy to engage and disengage when appropriate.

Kimber engineers designed the Ultra with a bushingless barrel. Just 3 inches long, the match-grade barrel is ramped and supported but uses a traditional swinging link. With the very limited space under the barrel, Kimber engineers had to come up with a novel solution to give the gun enough spring mass for reliable operation. One spring wasn’t going to cut it! The solution was two springs—a small, tightly wound spring rides around the recoil spring guide. A stainless steel cap rides over the guide rod and spring with a larger-diameter recoil spring wrapped around the cap, so there is no direct spring-to-spring contact. Even though the gun uses two springs, it is still easy to manually chamber a round yet the gun can handle even the hottest defense rounds. Besides ensuring proper functioning, the dual spring recoil system also makes the lightweight subcompact comfortable and controllable to shoot.

In 2001, Kimber added their Series II firing pin safety to most models, and the Ultra pistol became the Ultra II. This safety prevents the gun from accidentally firing unless the trigger is pressed—even if the gun falls on its muzzle. It does nothing to affect the trigger pull adversely.

If you think this pint-sized 1911 sacrifices accuracy for its compact dimensions, you’d be wrong. I own a number of these Kimber Ultras, and every one of them will print a five-shot group under 2 inches at 25 yards.

There are currently 17 different variants of Ultra II pistols in the Kimber lineup. Guns vary by sight options, frontstrap treatments, ambidextrous thumb safeties, etc. There are standard models like the Ultra II and the same gun with night sights called the Ultra TLE II. For those who prefer the extra weight and perceived durability, Kimber offers two Ultra models with steel frames: the bi-tone Eclipse Ultra II with its stainless frame, and the Super Carry Ultra HD. There is even an Ultra with a full-sized grip. The Super Carry Ultra+ features a bobbed and rounded butt and has the full-sized frame with a 3-inch barrel and slide mounted on top. Kimber even offers four models in 9mm. One, called the Ultra Aegis II, is a beautiful black-over-silver pistol that features night sights, fluted grips and a checkered frontstrap.

Stunning Sapphire

A brand new Ultra II was introduced in 2012 and became an immediate hit based on its stunning cosmetics. The Sapphire is the latest iteration of the Ultra II, and it’s chambered for the 9mm cartridge. Using the Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process, commonly used in the semiconductor industry due to its precise and consistent thickness, the highly polished stainless steel slide is coated with a brilliant blue color. Elegant borders and scroll are then engraved into the slide for accents. Smaller frame parts like the ambidextrous thumb safety, slide stop, magazine release, beavertail and hammer are also given the same PVD treatment and contrast nicely with the silver aluminum frame. Given the gun’s light weight and unimposing chambering, not to mention its stylish good looks, it will be a favorite with female shooters, though I have to admit that I’d like to own one, too!

Going Solo

Kimber surprised everyone in 2011 when they introduced their Solo Carry pistol without warning. A departure from their other 1911-based products, the new pistol is a striker-fired 9mm that is small, sleek and lightweight. It possesses good, usable sights, a very smooth trigger, an ambidextrous thumb safety and an ambidextrous magazine release as well. Kimber defines this gun as a single-action, striker-fired pistol. It has a long but smooth trigger pull. But the striker is loaded to nearly 90 percent, and the balance of movement cannot be felt as the trigger is pulled. Therefore, the best description for this action would be “single action, striker-fired.” My test sample’s trigger broke at 6.5 pounds, though it was so smooth it actually felt much lighter.

Like the Ultra pistols, Kimber machines the Solo’s frame from T6 aircraft-grade aluminum for weight savings and corrosion resistance. There’s a steel insert for the trigger bar spring and magazine release that prevents the softer aluminum from wearing. For painless carry, Kimber contours all of the edges to prevent cutting the shooter, clothing or expensive leather holsters.

I fell in love with the Solo Carry the first time I picked it up. It sits low in the hand and has negligible muzzle climb when fired. Kimber introduced an enhanced model of the Solo Carry this year called the Solo CDP (LG). This new gun features front- and backstrap checkering, tritium night sights and a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips. With this setup, the Solo CDP should be a great carry gun with awesome night-fighting capabilities.

Latest Micro
The latest creation from Kimber is the new Micro CDP, a lightweight, single-action .380 ACP pistol—their first model chambered for the .380 cartridge. Designed for true pocket carry, the Micro CDP possesses a miniscule height of just 4 inches and a length of just 5.6 inches. In fact, its stainless steel, match-grade barrel is just 2.75 inches long. But perhaps its best specification is that it weighs just 13.4 ounces with an unloaded magazine.

Kimber machines the frame from aircraft-grade aluminum for weight savings and finishes it in matte black. The Micro CDP’s slide is stainless steel, providing a nice contrast to the frame. Refinements for this tiny pistol include night sights, an ambidextrous thumb safety and checkered grip straps. The Micro CDP (LG) is supplied with Crimson Trace Lasergrips. The pistol is supplied with a flush-fitting six-round magazine and an extended seven-round magazine will also be available.

The Micro is a neat gun and will be popular with those who prefer a single-action gun chambered for the .380 cartridge. For more information, visit or call 888-243-4522.

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