Kimber is largely known as a custom builder of 1911-based 9mm and .45 ACP semi-autos, and, of course, for the smallest 9mm semi-auto ever, the Kimber Solo. Building a .380-caliber pistol, however, wasn’t a part of Kimber’s plan until 2012, when the company introduced its very first .380, the Micro CDP, thereby expanding its custom carry sidearms to include the three most popular calibers, .380 ACP, 9mm and .45 ACP.
Since the Micro CDP’s debut, Kimber has developed an entire line of .380 models. All are essentially the same gun in terms of function and handling, but they are offered with an array of finishes, colors, sights and grip options, including the latest, the Micro Carry Advocate, a pocket-sized pistol that offers a little added capacity for peace of mind.
To best understand what Kimber has brought to the table with the Micro .380s, you have to start with the fundamentals of the design. The gun looks like a totally customized Colt Mustang, and for all intents and purposes that is exactly what Kimber is offering: a proven design that has been taken to the next level.
The measurements are close to the Colt’s with an overall length of 5.6 inches, a width of 0.94 inches (including 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 new .380 is meticulously finished and hand-fitted. The recoil spring offers a measured 8 pounds of 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), travel is short at just under 0.25 inches with no stacking, and the trigger’s reset is double quick.
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For better handling, the .380’s aluminum frame has an undercut triggerguard, a deeply curved and rounded beavertail, a finely checkered mainspring housing and, with the 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 well as on the vast majority of small .380 pistols, but rather right in line with the rest of the hand for a more secure grip.
The magazine’s 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 9mm 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 a brown/black color combo. The Advocate is two-tone with a smooth, matte silver frame and a matte black steel slide fitted with fixed, three-dot, tritium night sights (an excellent feature for a 24/7 backup gun). It is a lengthy list of features that make this Kimber one of the best go-to pistols in .380 ACP.
A backup gun is a second line of defense (unless, of course, one carries a .380 as their primary CCW) and holstering it as such presents numerous options. As a backup, guns are often carried in an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster and worn behind the hip so that the pistol is well concealed but still accessible. Other options are an ankle holster, to which a Kimber Micro .380 is well suited due to its size and weight.
The Micro Carry Advocate, however, has the longer magazine and is really an ideal candidate as either a primary carry gun or as a backup worn in a discreet belt holster, like the latest DeSantis Quick Snap that I used or the Galco Stinger. These represent two very different styles of carry, the Galco being an open-top design that retains the gun with a molded leather pouch that allows for a very fast draw. A single, wide belt loop places the pistol at a slight forward cant.
The DeSantis Quick Snap is so named for the two snaps that are used in its design, the first being a thumb-break safety strap and the second a quick release of the belt loop, making it possible to put the holster on or remove it without taking off one’s trouser belt. The thumb-break safety design is also regarded by many as an essential feature for ensuring secure retention of the gun. Both designs work exceptionally well with the Micro Advocate for concealed carry.
Handling any of the Kimber Micro .380s is an exercise in smooth operation. 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 out of the frame with only light thumb pressure.
Like the Colt Mustang, the Micro Carry 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 for two very different loaded-weapon carry conditions for use as a backup gun.
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To evaluate the Micro Advocate I used Sig Sauer’s 90-grain Elite Performance V-Crown JHP, Federal Premium’s hard-hitting 99-grain HST JHP and Sig Sauer’s new 100-grain Elite Performance FMJ, a heavier-grain-weight, full-metal-jacketed round with a bit more punch. Most .380 FMJ rounds use 90- to 95-grain bullets. Sig’s 100-grain .380 rounds, however, 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 most 2.75-inch barrels. Federal’s HST went downrange at an average of 901 fps, the lighter-grain-weight Sig Sauer JHP registered 919 fps and the heavier Sig Sauer FMJ cut the air at 834 fps.
Shooting from a defensive range of 7 yards, the best five-round group came from Federal’s HST, which delivered a spread of 1 inch and a best three rounds clustering at 0.59 inches. Both the Sig Sauer JHP and FMJ rounds spread five shots into 1.5 inches. Basically, it makes no difference what you shoot through this Kimber .380 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 Law Enforcement Targets B27 silhouette. This is what you need from a .380 in a close-quarters situation, and there is no doubt that with its 7+1 capacity, the Micro Carry Advocate definitely has your back.
For more, call 888-243-4522 or visit http://www.kimberamerica.com.