October 24, 2023
Kimber is the world’s largest producer of 1911 pistols, and not surprisingly the company offers a long list of 1911-pattern pistols for every application. The company’s new KDS9c offers all the features shoot love about 9mm 1911 pistol with some significant upgrades including increased capacity.
Traditionally, 1911 pistols were offered in singles-stack configurations, and that reduced compacity compared to their polymer-frame, striker-fired counterparts. This forced buyers to choose between the 1911’s classic lines, rugged reliability, and safety and the additional rounds offered by a polymer-framed pistol. But Kimber has solved this dilemma with the KDS9c 9mm pistol, which boasts a magazine capacity of 15 rounds, and the company promises that 18-round mags will shortly follow.
Best of Both Worlds
The KDS9c’s increased capacity makes it perhaps the most appealing 1911 carry pistol offered. At its heart the Kimber is true to John Moses Browning’s century-old design. This single-action, recoil-operated pistol uses the same operating system that has made the 1911 famous and has inspired confidence in this design for over 100 years. But the Kimber offers some substantial upgrades over the original M1911 pistol. For starters, it utilizes a precision-machined, aerospace-grade 7075 aluminum frame. This helps cut weight considerably and makes the KDS9c a more appealing carry pistol. Whereas steel-framed 1911 pistols often weigh around 40 ounces unloaded the Kimber weighs just 25.3 ounces, nearly the same weight as polymer-frame 9mm pistols, making it ideal for everyday carry.
Also missing are the grip safety and traditional barrel bushing found on the original 1911. The Kimber KDS9c still has a manual safety lever, and the safety is longer than the traditional 1911 design so it is easier to control and manipulate. The 4.09-inch ramped stainless steel barrel is crowned and there’s minimal space between the barrel’s muzzle and the stainless steel slide. The barrel is also fluted which decreases weight while improving aesthetics. Kimber offers these 9mm guns with a 1:10 barrel twist that effectively stabilizes bullets in a broad range of weights, and Kimber’s proprietary bore sizing system promises match-grade accuracy from this carry gun.
Other improvements include a lowered ejection port for improved reliability and a serrated, skeletonized trigger that breaks cleanly between 3.5 and 4.5 pounds. There’s a heavy-duty external extractor that takes a healthy bite on the rim of the cartridge for reliable operation and the skeletonized hammer has a distinct profile that makes it very easy to operate. Gone are the original rudimentary 1911 sights, replaced instead by a proprietary serrated adjustable rear sight and a fiber optic front sight that is dovetailed into the slide. The stainless slide is also cut to accept micro optics and RMSc/Holosun K mounting plates are available.
Kimber guns have a reputation for outstanding performance, but they also look good, and the KDS9c is no exception. Aggressive front and rear slide serrations extend to the beveled top portion of the slide and the cover plate, offering plenty of gripping surface for operation. Both the front strap and mainspring housing feature distinctive “crosshatch” texturing that offers ample control yet is comfortable in the hand, and that same crosshatch design extends to the G10 grips. The frame is bobbed, there’s an extended beavertail that promotes a high hand hold and prevents hammer bite, and the grip angle is classic 1911 which makes this gun balance wonderfully in the shooter’s hand.
The big news, of course, is the double-stack 1911 design. Each of these pistols ships with two 15-round metal magazines with a polished black finish that increases lubricity and allows the magazine to drop free during every mag swap. 10-round magazines are also available, and the aforementioned 18-round mags are following shortly. The magazine release is also reversible for left-handed shooters.
KDS9c pistols are currently offered in both a stainless version with a KimPro Silver finish on the slide and frame and distinct grey and black crosshatch G10 grips. There’s also a black version with a KimPro Black finish and the same grey/black G10 grips. MSRP is $1,499, which is considerably lower than the cost of the handful of other double-stack 1911s available.
Range and EDC Testing
I tested the new Kimber KDS9c in stainless steel, and certainly a striking pistol. There’s no denying the classic 1911 lines, but this is a thoroughly modern-looking gun. Naturally, the grip is wider than a traditional 1911 9mm, but it fills the hand nicely and offers increased surface area for recoil management. Despite its substantial magazine capacity the KDS9c measures just 1.33-inches wide, which is on par with some single0stack 1911 pistols and makes this gun easy to conceal in an IWB holster. Height is a mere 5.35 inches and overall length is 7.75 inches, which means this 1911 is comparably sized with polymer-frame guns.
One of the advantages of the 1911 design is that there are innumerable holster options. I found that the Kimber carried well in both IWB and OWB 1911 holsters. Under light cover garments this gun tucks close to the body and remains hidden from sight like its single-stack counterparts, but offers much greater capacity.
The Kimber guns I’ve tested have run reliably, and the KDS9c is no exception. I tested the gun with 9mm defensive ammunition from Nosler, Hornady, and Federal in weights ranging from 90 to 135 grains, and performance was excellent. At 10 yards offhand the pistol grouped all five test shots within a one-inch cluster around the X-ring with multiple loads. This impressive performance is due in part to the Kimber’s excellent 4-pound factory single-action trigger that is crisp, clean, and easy to manage. At 25-yards from a fixed rest it managed groups as small as 1.3-inches. An oversized grip helps stabilize the gun, and even new shooters who may struggle with the muzzle rise of a micro-compact 9mm polymer pistol will be able to effectively shoot the KDS9c. Reliability was, as you might expect, excellent. There were no issues with function during testing.
Opinions vary on Kimber’s deletion of the classic 1911 grip safety, but I agree with the decision. The gun still comes with a manual safety, and so long as a proper holster is used and the shooter is versed in proper firearms handling this gun is suitable for daily carry based on my experience. The sights are also excellent, offering a clear sight picture in any light conditions and drawing the shooter’s focus to the bright green fiber optic front sight. Of course, you could elect to add a red dot/green dot optic if you’d like.
Kimber fans have long pined for a double-stack 1911 9mm carry pistol, and their wish has been granted. The robust new KDS9c is not only good-looking but is also extremely reliable and accurate. The added capacity is a major benefit, but other than the addition of extra rounds this gun maintains the look and feel that 1911 shooters love. For all the Kimber fans who have been begging for just such a gun for years I’m happy to announce that your wishes have come true, and based on my experience with the KDS9c you won’t be disappointed.
Kimber KDS9c Specifications
- Action: Single-action semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 10/15
- Weight: 25.3 oz. unloaded
- Length: 7.75 in.
- Height: 5.35 in.
- Width: 1.33 in.
- Frame: 7075 Aluminum
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel
- Barrel: 4.09 in., fluted, 1:10 twist, 20-degree crown
- Finish: KimPro Silver/KimPro Black
- Trigger Weight: 4.0 lbs. (tested)
- Sights: Adjustable rear, green fiber-optic front. Cut for optics
- MSRP: $1,499
- Contact: Kimber America, (888) 243-4522, kimberamerica.com