For many years I carried a Kahr PM9 pistol for personal defense. Introduced in the early 2000s, the gun measured just 1-inch wide, had a 3-inch barrel and weighed just over a pound fully loaded with the 7+1 extended, single-stack magazine. Carried in a Crossbreed AIWB holster, I went blissfully about my business without any concern that I was somehow inadequately armed.

Kimber R7 Mako Pistol

I wasn’t alone. It seems every manufacturer offered a 9mm subcompact, striker-fired, polymer-framed gun with a single-stack magazine. Sales became brisk among the CCW crowd. The little guns proved reasonably accurate, reliable and their light weight and slim profiles made them very easy to carry. Magazine capacity was the sacrifice we all made to have these easily concealed handguns. No one seemed to mind.

Then everything changed at SHOT Show in 2018. SIG introduced its P365, and shooters found they could have a tiny carry gun with a big capacity! SIG Sauer broke the code and found a way to cram a bunch of rounds into a tapered, double-column mag that fit into a very trim polymer frame. On top of increasing capacity, SIG also outfitted the P365 with a very nice trigger and night sights. Priced reasonably, SIG did all it could to keep up with demand, but it had sparked a feeding frenzy the company couldn’t satisfy! Other manufacturers were caught flat-footed, and it was a mad race to develop a subcompact with more capacity.

The new Kimber R7 Mako delivers 13+1 rounds of 9mm in a subcompact design.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Springfield Armory was the first to answer with the Hellcat, which became immediately popular. Ruger introduced its MAX-9, Taurus launched the GX4, and Smith & Wesson brought out its Shield Plus, a higher capacity redesign of its top-selling Shield 2.0.

Swimming With Sharks

Now, from the murky depths of the pandemic, Kimber introduces the brand new R7 Mako, a polymer-framed, striker-fired, subcompact pistol designed to take a bite out of the competition! With a healthy capacity of 11 for its flush-fit magazine and 13 for its extended mag, the R7 Mako provides shooters with a petite subcompact that is not only accurate but also reliable and possesses a number of features that concealed carriers will find noteworthy.

We put rounds downrange for a first look test of the all-new Kimber R7 Mako.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Kimber decision makers used the 2020 shutdown to study the existing crop of high-capacity subcompacts, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to conduct extensive surveys to see exactly what the consumer was looking for. The result of these efforts is the R7 Mako—a gun built from the ground up to satisfy the needs of the savvy concealed carrier, not a re-work of an existing model. When it comes to jumping in dark and unknown waters, sometimes it pays to not jump first!

The Nov/Dec issue of Combat Handguns features the all-new Kimber R7 Mako.

This full review of the new Kimber R7 Mako can be found in the Nov/Dec issue Combat Handguns. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected]

Kimber R7 Mako Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 3.37 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.2 inches
  • Overall Weight: 19.5 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Sights: U-notch rear, tritium front
  • Action: Striker-fired semi-auto
    Finish: FNC Black
  • Overall Capacity: 11+1, 13+1
  • MSRP: $599 (Optics-Ready), $799 (Optics-Installed)

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