View Full Version : Great Kimber Solo article in American Rifleman Magazine

American Eagle
September 21, 2011, 09:29 PM
Just got my American Rifleman magazine, and for those of you considering the Kimber Solo, you should definitely check the Kimber Solo article, or ask a friend who gets that magazine to lend it to you:

Here is the article summed up in a few words for those of you who don't have access to the magazine:D

The Pros:
1) Good trigger.
2) Cosmetically appealing pistol.
3) Ambidextrous magazine release.
4) 9MM in a very small and compact package.

The Con
1) Somewhat failure prone due to small size pushing the envelope of compactness for 9MM platform.
2) Spring must be replaced every 1000 rounds.
3) Very picky on the ammo it will take.
4) Very sharp recoil

IF YOU HAVE A KIMBER SOLO, feel free to comment on your personal experience with the pistol.

September 21, 2011, 09:54 PM
From what I have been reading from others the cons are not insignificant. And many reports suggest "somewhat" is not the proper word for being failure prone.

1) Somewhat failure prone due to small size pushing the envelope of compactness for 9MM platform.

2) Spring must be replaced every 1000 rounds.

:eek: I guess if its 1000 rounds this is truly the masterpiece of "shoot little, carry a lot" firearms.

All for around $900

September 21, 2011, 09:57 PM
I couldn't agree more, Roman. 1,000 rounds requires a spring change? Some folks do that in a weekend. I wouldn't go near this pistol. There are far too many better, proven choices out there.

Shadi Khalil
September 21, 2011, 10:05 PM
The spring change is the least of the solo's problems.

September 21, 2011, 10:16 PM
Keep in mind the reviewers tend to be "kind" so somewhat failure prone might be like saying the Taliban were somewhat "harsh" in their methods.

American Eagle
September 21, 2011, 10:21 PM
From the reviewer: Take it with a grain of salt
"although the pistol i examined worked well, earlier samples were troublesome" :eek::eek:

"Note that Kimber recommends changing the recoil springs after 1000 rounds"
He goes on to note that the spring takes a beating on this type of pistol:(

"I believe that Kimber's insistence on particular kinds of ammunition will not be acceptable to rank and file shooters.....Kimber needs to address this situation."

September 21, 2011, 10:30 PM
I haven't heard that Kimber insists that the Solo only fires certain ammo.

I know Carl Rohrbaugh says his pistol won't function with +P and that it wasn't built to take the beating that +P dishes out - but I wasn't aware Kimber had ammo recomendations that went with the Solo.

September 21, 2011, 11:30 PM
I got the rifleman too and they recommend changing recoil springs every 1000 rounds and said you have to give it a serious break in period. I personally dont trust this firearm as cool at it looks. Once they improve it which Im sure they will Ill grab one it looks like a Colt 1908 .380

September 21, 2011, 11:34 PM
I would rather carry my Hi Point than a Kimber...

September 22, 2011, 05:04 AM
I wish the American Rifleman would be a little more balanced in their reviews, but since Kimber had ads in their magazine, you know they won't be objective enough. AR used to be a better magazine, but it looks like it going the way of the other gun rags, at least in their reviews. :(

September 22, 2011, 06:21 AM
Seems like an awful lot of risk to assume for a gun at that price point. They are sharp looking though.

September 22, 2011, 06:33 AM
FWIW, Seecamp has ammo recommendations for their 380 and says this about the recoil spring in their 380 model:
The recoil spring only needs replacing in the .380. After a few hundred rounds, spring replacement is recommended.


September 22, 2011, 06:41 AM
mtnbkr, that's not the least bit acceptable either. Considering that these pistols are intended for use in the most exigent of all circumstances (backup carry), this is just amazing to me.

September 22, 2011, 06:54 AM
"I guess if its 1000 rounds this is truly the masterpiece of "shoot little, carry a lot" firearms."

No, not even close. You must be a newcomer to the world of little pistols. And it appears a few people haven't learned the basics of the trade-offs of how a pistol works. With a huge slide you don't need much of a spring. With a tiny slide you stress the everloving bejesus out of the spring.

Rohrbaugh suggests replacing the spring every couple of hundred rounds. That's what Maria told me when I ordered springs 4 years ago. They're $4.95. Kahr springs last longer, but cost a whole lot more. Kahr tech support recommended replacing the PM9 spring every 1200 to 1500 rounds. The springs cost $23 and change. Everything is a trade-off.

You really think you're going to shoot a tiny gun a 1,000 rounds in one day? Ha. I shot my R9 101 times the first time out with it and that was more than enough. If you believe the posters on the Rohrbaugh forum, there are very few people who get through a box of 50 during one trip. If you want a range gun, buy a range gun.

What's the big deal? Buying a spring is the trade-off for having a tiny pistol. You simply cannot put enough mass into the slide of a tiny pistol and keep the weight down at the same time. It's one or the other. If you keep the slide light, the recoil spring does almost all of the work. If you put two or three springs in the slide the slide gets larger and heavier.

I don't believe Karl Rohrbaugh ever said the gun wouldn't work with +P, he said you shouldn't use +P because it would beat it up.


September 22, 2011, 06:58 AM
Recoil springs aren't that expensive and this isn't a gun the average shooter is going to put a lot of rounds through. Think about it, 9mm is at least $10/box for the cheap stuff. You're looking at replacing a $20-$30 part after every $200+ in ammo in a gun that is probably rather unpleasant to shoot for more than a hundred rounds or so. I suspect most shooters won't need more than one spring per year, if that.

Every 15-18 boxes (assuming 50rnds per), you pop in a new spring, run a few dozen rounds through it to test functionality and call it good.

Edit: JohnBT posted as I was typing this (darn interruptions). Point is the same, this isn't a range queen and folks aren't likely to hit the 1k round limit often.


September 22, 2011, 09:30 AM
It happens to me all the time. Should I have been typing louder?

I just checked the Kimber site and couldn't find a recoil spring for sale for the Solo. Hmmm, nobody has gotten a Solo to shoot enough rounds yet to need another spring? :)

There is an ammo statement on the Solo page www.kimberamerica.com/solo

Use 124 and 147 grain premium hollow point ammo. Lighter bullets may cause problems and cheaper ammo may have inconsistent velocities that might cause problems.

I don't see a real issue, all guns have favorites when it comes to accuracy and/or reliability.


September 22, 2011, 10:50 AM
... the ammo selection issue.

But, for me, there is no problem with the manufacturer being up front about replacing the spring at 1,000 rounds.
I simply consider it a matter of Kimber either:
that the 9mm ammo imposes a lot of stress on a small compact pistol.

Well, gravity sucks too; but there arn't many ways around it (yet).
As long as they sell replacement springs at a decent price, I don't see it as a major problem.

September 22, 2011, 10:54 AM
The spring change is the least of the Solo's problems.

Yep, when the Kimber Solo is discussed words like garbage and junk come to mind. But don't take my word for it:







The Pros
1) Good trigger.
2) Cosmetically appealing pistol.
3) Ambidextrous magazine release.

The Cons
1) Somewhat failure prone...<snip>
3) Very picky on the ammo it will take.

Translation: It's a pretty gun that's small and carries well, and Kimber buys a lot of advertising in our magazine. However, the gun is very ammo sensitive, and it's unreliable even with the ammo choices that Kimber recommends.


September 22, 2011, 11:03 AM
I'm curious, does Kimber include enough recoil springs with the Solo to get through their "Kimber break in"? ;)

September 22, 2011, 11:18 AM
IF the pros are in the same order as the article, I'd have to say if looks are at #2, there's not a whole lot else going on.
If I'm going to spend nearly $1000 bucks for "art", there are many other things I'd rather hang on my wall.
No thanks.

September 22, 2011, 11:45 AM
"I'm curious, does Kimber include enough recoil springs with the Solo to get through their "Kimber break in"? "

Don't be mean. ;)

It is a very good question, isn't it?

September 22, 2011, 12:45 PM
What advantage does the Kimber Solo have over the Kahr PM9?

I wasn't convinced about how revolutionary the pistol was [according the Am. RIfleman's article]. Striker-fired light weight pocket pistol. Kahr has done this for a decade. Kimber just threw a thumb safety on it. I know my K9 has a 7lb trigger pull, just as the Kimber does. Again, what advantage does the Kimber Solo have?

I do like my Kahr K9, even if I am using my M&P9C more [mag capacity] now. I am NOT a fan-boy of Kahr, but it is the only 'pocket pistol' in 9mm I am familiar with through experience. That is why it is my point of reference.

I was left scratching my head after reading the AM Rifleman article about what the fuss was all about.

September 22, 2011, 01:39 PM
What advantage does the Kimber Solo have over the Kahr PM9?

I agree. I've had a PM9 for 3 years now and it works great. It's my EDC and is very reliable and accurate. It wasn't cheap either, but it works flawlessly. At this point, the Solo seems to have too many problems (or design issues) for my taste. The PM9 is the answer that the Solo is trying to address.

September 22, 2011, 02:35 PM
For all the issues I have heard with it I would rather go with a tiny .380 (Bodygaurd, LCP, TCP) and save my money for a range gun. If you buy a 9mm for it's stopping power but want a tiny package to conceal and run into problems then you are probably better off with a .380.

Just my $0.02

September 22, 2011, 04:26 PM
Well, as noted there are several small single column 9mm variants, some that have no signficant reports of difficulties.

September 22, 2011, 06:01 PM
1) Somewhat failure prone due to small size pushing the envelope of compactness for 9MM platform.

Funny how other small 9mm designs (Walther PPS and Kahr 9mms) don't have these reliability issues.

September 22, 2011, 08:42 PM
Got a Solo in March. It went back twice and then Kimber replaced it. Then I traded for my EMP.
Note that the Kimber ammo list has significantly changed. Originally the were 115gr ball and several other brands on the list.
Believe me I liked the gun (size, design,feel in the hand.) and wanted it to work. It just didn't.

September 22, 2011, 09:32 PM
Just got my AR and haven't read it but it seems like an honest review, especially for a kimber product i they bother publishing a downside instead of praise that might as well be on a kimber add, ill ahve to check it out.

September 23, 2011, 08:20 AM
"Note that the Kimber ammo list has significantly changed. Originally the were 115gr ball and several other brands on the list."

Thank you for pointing that out. I haven't followed the trials and tribulations of the Solo all that closely.

As Arte Johnson (dressed as Wolfgang, the cigarette-smoking German soldier) used to say on Laugh-In, "Verrry interesting"

September 23, 2011, 08:26 AM
The Con
1) Somewhat failure prone due to small size pushing the envelope of compactness for 9MM platform.

I stopped reading right there... a CARRY gun failure prone :confused:

Sorry Kimber, I don't trust my life to "somewhat failure prone"

American Eagle
September 23, 2011, 08:45 AM
Well, the article tried to gloss over the Kimber Solo's shortcomings, so you have to read between the lines to get to the bad stuff.

For example: Reviewer claims the Kimber Solo is very reliable, but then he says
"although the pistol i examined worked well, earlier samples were troublesome"

BS TRANSLATOR---> I had to go through 4 or 5 Kimber Solos until I could find one that fired 20 shots without jamming in order to make a positive review.

He did that all throughout the article, such as stating that the springs will wear out at around 1000 rounds, but immediately trying to cover this up by praising Kimber as a gun company for their honesty and integrity because they decided to inform their customers of this instead of keeping it secret.:rolleyes:

September 23, 2011, 09:01 AM
Well said American Eagle...the AR article seemed apologetic for the gun's short comings.

First and foremost, I take exception to Kimber's "break-in" period...if they''re selling defensive handguns, then padnuh, it oughta work right out of the box. And too, giving some sort of "approved ammunition list" is bogus...and an excuse for producing a less than reliable defensive handgun. If you do the break-in as Kimber suggests, and find some anomalies...how in hades are you going to trust it in the future?...how long do you keep trying to "break-in" a faulty gun? Self defense is the ultimate expression of the word, "trust"...or am we just foolin' around?

It's quality control, Kimber, get it right or don't put it out on the street...and at a price of $750+...you've gotta be kiddin'...you should have accomplished that little detail at the factory...the price you're asking should cover that!

As to design...whether it looks "cool" or not, if it can't be relied on to the stated purpose, read: defensive pocket handgun, then the design has overstepped the limits...in this case, it would appear, in a couple of areas. If, as Kimber suggests, the springs wear out after a 1000 rounds, either they need to get a new spring vendor, or design a better pistol.

While I liked the ergonomics of the pistol I handled two days ago, the history of problems, the "ammo-list", "break-in" period, and spring replacement BS, as well as a price that's optimally designed to keep Kimber's advertizing budget up to speed...I'll have to pass.

Any handgun that I own or consider has to fulfill the first and foremost condition....it's gotta work as advertized, every time with normal maintenance...accurate, good design....you get the picture. I'm not into "pretty" guns...Rod

September 23, 2011, 09:08 AM
Maybe the word "Great", is too strong a term to decribe the article on the Solo?

I tend to put more stock in people's range reports and accounts of their experience with the maker than I do the gun writers.

This is the power of the Internet and the New Media.

Twenty five years ago I scoured gun magazines and purchased books like Wiley Clapp and Dean Grennell's book "The Gun Digest of 9mm Handguns" to research firearms. The odds of me meeting someone who had an H&K P7M8 or a Steyr GB were pretty slim.

I read some review of an striker-fired compact made in Isreal. Just glowing reviews, and it was THE smallest 9mm in existance at the time. SO I bought one and it was horrible. It wouldn't fire more than 2 rounds without jamming. I tried 115 FMJ, 124 Nyclads - and the Nyclads are pretty slick, they're the only hollow point that have ever fed in a Tec-9, nothing I fed it worked. It was horrible. It was an eye-opener to me that the gun reviews were not giving me the information I needed to make a good purchasing decision.

I think that one of the reasons for that is that the articles have become more of a PR formality between the magazine and it's clients - the gun manufacturers. Another reason for it is that the gun writers seldon just go get a model off the shelf and test it. The manufacturer supplies them with a gun to test. A gun maker would have to be an idiot to give them a test gun that hadn't been thouroughly examined, inspected and tested before sending it out to be reviewed. I am sure they filter for lemons, why wouldn't they? I don't know this but I suspect that the test guns are worked over by a smith to at least improve finish.

I put way more stock in the series of posts right here started by IMTHDUKE than I do any gun writer concerning the Solo.

September 23, 2011, 09:21 AM
Good gravy, that's too bad. I would've liked to get one of those things eventually. God willing, the 9mm version of the Sig P238 won't be as trouble-ridden when it comes out next year!

Even still, I might just stick with a .380 rather than a micro-9mm. It's easier to control my P238 than it is to control many larger 9mms that I've shot... I can't imagine a micro-9mm would be anywhere near that easy to use.

September 23, 2011, 09:30 AM
I've seen videos of Carl Rohrbaugh, Hickock45, and Sturmgewehre firing micromatics like the R9 and CM9. It doesn't seem to be overwhelming or anything...

September 23, 2011, 10:21 AM
As far as I'm concerned, the Kimber Solo is DOA.

"Nothing to see here. Move along."

sob (sweet ole bill)
September 23, 2011, 10:40 AM
Looked at solo and sig 290 earlier this year. Bot the sig 290. price approx equal. Have run about 250-300 thru the sig (assorted factory and hand loads) the next failure to feed will be the first.
The sig just seemed to be be a better buy. Possibly because it's my third.