Over the last few years we've seen a growing interest in what are now collectively known as “Micro 9” concealed-carry pistols. These diminutive polymer-framed, striker-fired semi-automatics offer the features and ammunition capacity similar to those of a compact 9 mm pistol with a smaller profile more like that of a 9 mm pocket pistol. Several gun makers have recently released new Micro 9 options, so it should come as no surprise that Kimber Mfg. Inc. is joining in this year with the release of the new R7 Mako pistol. Like the shark it's named after, this pistol is intended to take a bite out of the competition. Here are a few reasons why the Kimber R7 Mako pistol deserves a closer look.
1. Loaded with Popular Features
Kimber was careful to dot the I's and cross the T's with the features of the R7 Mako while infusing it with their own sense of style and design. The slide and barrel are stainless steel with treated with a matte black FNC finish. The grip frame is compact and comfortably shaped with more aggressive texturing for added purchase. It ships with two double-stack magazines. One is flush fit to the grip and holds 11 rounds while the other is slightly extended to hold 13 rounds. This is Kimber's third striker-fired gun but the first one with a polymer frame.
This up-to-date striker-fired carry pistol features stainless-steel components and an ergonomic polymer grip.
2. Intuitive Sighting Systems
The R7 Mako ships with a set of ready-to-use TruGlo tritium night sights. The front sight has a bright orange ring around the tritium lamp that matches the rounded cut out in the rear sight. They are quick and easy to work with. These sights are taller than usual which allows them to seen (co-witnessed) through a micro red dot optic if one is installed. This allows the sights to serve as a back-up if the red dot is damaged or the battery dies.
The extra tall night sights can be co-witnessed with an optic.
Pistols with slides that have been milled and drilled for micro red dot optics, or “optics ready slides,” are far more common than they were just a couple of years ago. Having an optics-ready slide is a plus since you can choose to install an optic or just leave the filler plate in place. But there's some homework involved in finding the right optic for your particular gun, getting it installed, finding the right screws and paying for the optic, some of which can be fairly expensive.
The R7 Mako is available with a “no fuss, no muss” optic solution. It can be purchased with a Crimson Trace CT-1500 micro red dot installed at the factory, which is the version tested for this review. This optic is light weight and it has brightness sensors that automatically turn it on when needed without having to press any buttons. I've worked with this optic on a few different pistols now and it provides a clear, useful sight picture.
This gun is a bit heavier than some in this class, it weighs in at 22.7 oz. with an empty 11-round magazine and optic installed. This is because of the closed-top slide design that protects the lens of the optic from the hot gases and debris that escape the chamber.
3. Just-Right Lighter Trigger
Although I've spread around a good deal of ink emphasizing the need for proper hand-to-grip fit for shooting comfort, one should not overlook the importance of a good trigger pull. The trigger and how it feels is where the rubber meets the road, and Kimber knows this.
In place of the more common polymer options, the R7 Mako has a flat-faced aluminum trigger with a trigger safety blade in the center. Flat-faced triggers got their start in competition circles but are quickly gaining popularity as defensive-pistol options. The flat shape and squared-off edges make it easier for the person pulling the trigger to feel if the pad of the trigger finger is in the right place. It may sound less comfortable to work with than a rounded trigger, but that's not the case. The more I work with flat triggers, the better I like them.
This pistol is listed as having a factory-set trigger pull of somewhere between 5 lbs. to 6.75 lbs. But the gun I worked with had a trigger pull of about 4.5 lbs. with a clean break and a clearly noticeable trigger reset. It handled more like an aftermarket upgrade than a factory trigger.
4. Thoughtful Ambidextrous No-Snag Controls
The R7 Mako's other two external controls, the slide stop and magazine release button, are both ambidextrous. This means they can be operated left- or right-handed without making any modifications to the gun. Why more defensive pistols are not configured this way is beyond me.
The double stack magazines provide 11- or 13-round capacities.
These controls also have a no-snag design to make the gun easier to draw and to help prevent an unintentional release of the magazine. Some companies flatten the controls so much that they become difficult to operate. In this case, Kimber built out a little ridge that protects the slide stop that does not get in the way of using it. The magazine release buttons rest in a depression that shields them from being bumped but makes them easy to use. Like the trigger, these controls are well thought out and more intuitive to work with.
5. Satisfying Shootability
At the shooting range, the R7 Mako proved to be utterly reliable using a total of four factory magazines and firing a mix of practice-grade and defensive-grade ammunition in a variety of bullet weights. The controls cycled smoothly, the trigger was a pleasure to work with and the gun handled nicely. Firing from a bench rest at 7 yards, using the factory installed optic, the pistol tapped 5-shot groups that averaged 1.25" in size.
The R7 Mako ran reliably with all of the ammunition tested.
The new Kimber R7 Mako has a suggested retail price of $599 with night sights only, or $799 with a factory installed Crimson Trace CT-1500 micro red dot sight. Holsters are already available, including the ANR Design kydex in-the-waistband holster shown here. To learn more, visit kimberamerica.com.