Sunday, January 16, 2011

Attack Of The Micro-Nines

SigSauer has the Sig 290, Taurus has the Slim, Ruger has the LC9, and now Kimber has the Solo Carry. Of course, Kel-Tec and Kahr both have had single-stack ultra-compact polymer 9mm's for some time now. As can be expected with a pistol this size, they are all chasing the concealed carry market and especially for those who want more power than is available from the .380 cartridge.

This is what Michael Bane has defined as Gun Culture 2.0. That is, those who have come to guns not through growing up in a hunting family - Gun Culture 1.0 - but as a result of the concealed carry movement. They tend to be somewhat younger and more budget conscious. Bane felt it was this group more than any others who were responsible for the great sales of the .380s such as the Ruger LCP.

Kimber formally introduced the Solo Carry and Solo Carry Stainless on Friday. It was to my mind a stealth introduction. Unlike the marketing hype that Ruger indulged in when introducing the LC9, the Kimber introduction was without much fanfare. Frankly, I only heard about it because of an email from Iain Harrison of Crimson Trace.

Kimber Solo Carry
The Solo Carry and the Solo Carry Stainless are both single-action striker-fired pistols weighing in at 17 ounces. This puts it at the same weight as the Ruger LC9 but lighter than the Sig P290 and Taurus Slim. Unlike all the other micro-nines mentioned above, both pistols have an aluminum alloy frame with a stainless steel slide. The only other micro-nine that I can find that isn't polymer is the Rohrbaugh R9.

You can see the 1911 influence on these pistols with their ambidextrous thumb safety as well as the ambidextrous magazine release. The thumb safety is not some little lever but what appears to be a scaled down version of the Kimber 1911's thumb safety. Sights are three-dot with the rear sight being dovetailed into the stainless slide. Grips are also removable. Currently, the pistol ships with a 6-round magazine but a 8-round magazine is reported to be available in the future.

Kimber Solo Carry Stainless
The Kimber1911 blog has an extensive review of the Solo Carry, many more pictures, and has the video shown below.

Crimson Trace will be making LaserGrips for the Solo Carry as opposed to a LaserGuard. From their press release:
Building on the success of its laser sights for the hot compact pistol market, Crimson trace proudly introduces the latest addition to its portfolio with instinctively activated Lasergrips for Kimber's new, innovative compact 9mm carry pistol - The Solo. The result of painstaking and exhaustive engineering, these are the thinnest Lasergips yet, bringing the decisive advantage of laser sighting without adding any bulk to this compact package.

"We've been working with Kimber for over a year to develop a set of Crimson Trace grips befitting of the quality and innovation that is the new Solo," said Kent Thomas, Director of Marketing for Crimson Trace. "By partnering with one of the world's best firearm manufacturers since the inception of the project, we are able to offer both of CTC and Kimber consumers the finest laser sighting systems as soon as ground breaking new models such as the Solo are introduced."

Available directly from Crimson Trace or as an option from Kimber, the Solo Carry Lasergrips are zeroed at the factory, offer a four hour battery life as well as the most powerful laser permitted by law. The popular rosewood finish seen on Kimber’s Crimson Carry is also incorporated into this model, offering a subtle contrast to the pistol’s stainless or two-tone finish.
In terms of price, the Solo Carry's MSRP is $725 which makes it a bit cheaper than the Kahr PM9. However, that puts it $250-300 more than the rest of the field (the Sig doesn't have a price yet). That said, for anyone who wants a micro-nine and doesn't want a "plastic" pistol, I think they will pay the premium to get the Solo Carry.

I look forward to actually handling and firing this pistol. A head to head comparison with the other micro-nines would be very interesting.

UDPATE: MSRP of the Sig P290 is $758 according to ToddG. He also links to a place where you can win one!


  1. Having a full sized Kimber makes me a Kimber fan. I love the looks and size and would love to have one. However, if I can swing a new gun this year it will be a Kel-tec PF-9 which I can afford.

  2. @Kansas Scout - I think in terms of price the Kel-Tec is the most affordable and the Kahr the most expensive. The Kimber is closer to the Kahr in price and the Taurus and Ruger are about $100 more than the Kel-Tec. I've heard only guesses on the price of the Sig - somewhere around $550.

  3. The Crimson Trace grips, personal opinion, are a lot better than the S&W setup; anything that requires me to reach around and push a button to torn on the laser in moments of high stress is, well, not good. With the CT the button is right under your finger on the grip.