Gun Review: Kimber Micro 9 Raptor 9mm

My first everyday carry pistol was a Colt Government .380. By the time I was old enough to carry it, I’d forgotten where it came from. So I took it apart and discovered it was a modified U.S. Government-issued firearm. That made it a collector’s piece, which turned out to be a blessing. Because collector value is really about all the Colt had going for it . . .

The pistol required a strict diet of FMJs. Hitting anywhere on a silhouette at 25 yards was pure luck. So I traded it to a dealer for a brand new Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Magnum. South Texas hog and javelina mommas still tell their babies bedtime stories about that wheel gun, just to keep them in line.

Such was my experience with the original Colt Government .380ACP, Mustang and Pocket Lite lines. They carried well and were quick to deploy. Everything that happened after that was iffy, at best. I was soured on the guns.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor right (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Kimber took the original Colt .380 form factor and beefed it up a bit, creating their Micro 9 series. At the top end of the model line: the Kimber Micro 9 Raptor, a companion to their 1911 Raptor model.

Kimber’s Micro 9, like the Colt Mustangs and Pocket Lites that came before it, look a lot like a mini-1911. But they aren’t. There’s no grip safety.There’s  no barrel bushing. And there are other changes visible inside the frame and trigger.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor scales (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Kimber’s Raptor guns — both this one and the 1911 versions — are heavily adorned with textures somewhat resembling scales. Or maybe feathers, depending on your particular version of nerd.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor front sight (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

When I say “heavily adorned”, I mean Kimber committed to the theme. There are scales all along the top of the slide, the back strap, the front strap, the rear of the slide on either side, and both Zebrawood grips are fully covered.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor front strap (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Beyond just tying the whole pistol together and providing some aesthetic value, the textures provide a great grip. Everywhere you put your hands on the gun, the gun grabs you right back.

I got to shoot both the Kimber Micro 9 Bel Air and this gun. They’re the same gun, but world’s apart; largely because of the texturing of the gun. (Ok, and this one isn’t Bel Air Blue). On a 9mm pistol this small, you need whatever help you can get keeping the gun still in your hand in fast fire. The scales/feathers do their job well.

To recap: scales on a snake: slick. Feathers on a bird: slick. Scales/feathers on the Kimber Micro-9 Raptor: grippy as heyel y’all.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor top hand (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The ambidextrous thumb safety should be fairly familiar to 1911 shooters. On the Raptor version, it’s fairly small, but serrated and easy to hit.

I never had any problem flipping the safety off during the draw. It was pretty stiff when I first started shooting it. After 100 ups and downs, it smoothed right out. Putting the safety back on, however, was a bit harder. I had to either dramatically shift my grip to use my firing hand thumb, or, more easily, use my support hand.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor internals (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Given the Raptor’s lack of a  grip safety, folks familiar with the 1911 are left in a bit of a conundrum. Hammer down, safety off? Or hammer back, safety on?

If you move the hammer back carefully, you’ll find the hammer has a slight “half cock” position where the hammer is removed from the back of the firing pin. In that position, and with the safety off, the pistol won’t fire until the hammer is then moved fully back and the trigger is pulled.

Lots of people chose to carry similar firearms in the half-cock position, ignoring the safety and just relying on cocking the hammer when they draw.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor in hand (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Of course, the other option is to keep the hammer all the way back, put the safety on, and rely on a good holster to keep the gun from going off until you want it to. I opt for the latter.

The trigger on the Micro 9 Raptor is one of the few things on this pistol that I’d rate as just OK. True to its published specs, this trigger measured just a tad over 7lbs in pull weight.

Although it looks much like a 1911’s go pedal, it’s not. There’s a wee bit of play up and down as the trigger pushes back, and I can feel a bit of squish at the break. It’s world’s better than most striker fired pistols, but it’s not up the same quality as the recently reviewed Kimber Camp Guard 10mm 1911.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor sights (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Far too many companies skimp on the sights on a small pistol. On this model, Kimber doesn’t.

The Raptor’s drift adjustable three dot night sights are tritium tube filled, with a serrated ramp rear. They pop in any light. The only disappointment: the rear sight has no ledge that would allow the shooter to rack the slide one-handed. I consider that a must-have for a self-defense focused gun.

Unlike some of the other Kimber Micro 9s, the Raptor comes with a single extended 7 round magazine. At least this T&E sample did.

Kimber’s website says the Raptor ships with a single six round magazine. Having shot the six round magazine on the Micro 9 Bell Air, I can say that the longer extended magazine is a vast improvement. It allowed for consistent 7+1 loading and gave me enough purchase on the gun to keep the muzzle down in fast fire.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor magazine(image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The extended magazine also fixed one of the problems both RF and I had with the Bell Air: it was easy to fail to fully seat the flush fitting six round mag. This magazine rams into the slightly beveled magazine well every single time. It would be a challenge to short-seat the ammunition supply, and it ejects equally well.

Given my previous experience with this general form factor from Colt, I wasn’t expecting spectacular reliability. I was mistaken.

There were no malfunctions of any kind with this pistol, using a wide variety of commercial ammunition. I shot bullets weighing from 90 to 147grains. I shot flat nosed frangible rounds, FMJs in several weights, and the whole gambit of hollow points. The Raptor never failed to load, fire or eject. I never had a magazine get stuck inserting or ejecting. I never had an issue with the safety or hammer. The Raptor ran flawlessly.

As usual, I lubed the gun prior to starting the review, and then never cleaned, lubed, or disassembled the gun during the entire firing processes. I shot 500 round through the gun in a week’s time.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor mag well (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

When it came to how the gun was intended to be used, fast draw and mag-dump fire, the Micro Raptor performed surprisingly well. All those pretty textures did their job, helping to lock the pistol into my hand.

The aluminum framed pistol is not particularly light for its diminutive size, but soaks up recoil like one would expect from a larger gun. I had no issue pouring rounds out of the Micro Raptor. It didn’t matter what round I was using, the gun stayed still in my hand and the rounds stayed on target.

The little 9 really impressed me here. After shooting the Micro 9 Bel Air — which I would only recommend as a Christmas tree ornament — I expected the Micro Raptor to be more of the same. That is to look pretty, but shoot poorly in fast fire.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth. This little gun absolutely shines in the up-close and personal department, when speed to the trigger and speed to the trigger again matters most. By the time I was done shooting the Kimber Micro 9 Raptor, I was looking at my EDC Kahr PM9 with a sour scorn.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor best group (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Accuracy on the almost pocket pistol sized 9mm was good, not exceptional.

The best performer was the Remington High Terminal Performance 147gr HP round, printing a consistent five round group of 3” for 4 groups at 25 yards off bags. The worst performer: the IMI 115gr Die Cut round at 5 ½”.

That’s still not bad. In general, the gun preferred the heavier grained bullets, which all printed smaller groups than the 115gr pills. No 147gr rounds scored worse than 4”, and no 115gr round scored better than 4”. Some guns are funny like that.

Kimber Micro 9 Raptor group (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

If my old Government .380ACP had run anything like this gun I would still be carrying it today. Kimber’s heavier caliber version is a vast improvement in every single way. If you are looking for an easy to conceal, low weight high performance EDC, with controls similar to the 1911 you are used to, the Kimber Micro 9 Raptor is a great choice.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Kimber Micro 9 Stainless Raptor
Caliber: 9mm
Height (inches) 90° to barrel: 4.07
Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 15.6
Length (inches): 6.1
Magazine capacity: 7 (ships with 1 extended 7 round magazine)
Recoil spring(pounds): 11.5
Full-length guide rod
Frame Material: Aluminum
Finish: KimPro silver
Width (inches): 1.06
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Finish: Satin
Barrel Length (inches): 3.15
Material: Stainless Steel
Twist rate (left hand): 16
Sights: Fixed low-profile 3-dot tritium night sights
Grips: Zebrawood grips with scale pattern and Kimber logo
Trigger: Solid Aluminum, 7lb pull weight
MSRP: $889.00 (Found online easily for under $800.)

RATINGS (our of five stars)

Style and Appearance * * * *
The soft satin finish is even throughout the gun, and there are no obvious tool marks. The themed textures are a nice touch, and tie the gun together.

Customization * *
This is already a themed gun. You could change the grips and the sights, but that’s about it.

Reliability * * * * *
Flawless with any round.

Accuracy * * * *
Get the right round and this gun performs very well. Much better than the “minute of bad guy” expectations I had for it. If this gun was an inch shorter it would have earned 5 stars.

Overall * * * *
The trigger is meh, and the groups are good, but not amazing. That’s all that’s keeping this excellent gun from the 5 star category. It’s relatively inexpensive for a pistol with so much aesthetic appeal, reliability and performance.

comments

  1. avatar Parnell says:

    Sounds a lot like my Sig P938 SAS.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      I’d love to see a side-by-side comparison review, because they really are similar guns.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      The 938 is one of my favorite guns. All around a good performer, and a good value. The Kimber Micro Raptor is, in general, finished and adorned better. It is also a bit more precise compared to the 938s that I have shot.
      Do note that, when compared with the 938 with night sights, such as the Sig 938 Nightmare, the MSRP is practically identical.

      1. avatar Chadwick says:

        The beaver tail on the Kimber looks less comfortable to carry than the 938. I’ve never carried a micro 9, but my 938 carries like a dream unless I’ve had a big steak for dinner haha. That isn’t at all Sig’s fault.

  2. avatar Smitty says:

    The Sig P938 SAS is an awesome gun.

  3. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    I’m happy enough with my Sig P238 that I can’t justify the change. If I was going to change, however, it would probably be for another Sig.

  4. avatar Warren says:

    I can’t put my finger on it, but something drives me nuts about the gun. I thought maybe it was the fact that it’s a Kimber, but I tried imagining this as a S&W or STI, and it still slightly irritates me. Maybe it’s the beavertail? The size of the grip compared to the size of the mag? I don’t know. The portions seem kind of off.
    As an aside, do you think Kimber’s recovering from the reputation of being a rust magnet? So often that’s the major complaint I hear about their price: “for what they cost you’d think they could keep their guns from rusting whenever someone looks at it.”

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I have heard of this reputation, but never experienced it myself, nor seen it on a Kimber pistol. That includes a Ultra Covert II that I iwb carried, as well as a full size model a friend of mine carried throughout Africa.
      The biggest problem with Kimber is their magazines. And it still baffles me how they continue to screw that up.

  5. avatar Ogre says:

    I have a SIG 938 and it will do everything this Kimber 9mm will do – for $200 less. Isn’t Remington putting out something like this now? Everybody’s doing it.

  6. avatar ryan l says:

    I cringed a bit when I read about the half cock. Don’t do it. Don’t drop the hammer.

    Carry it cocked and locked- with a good holster that has a boned in or thermoformed groove for the safety – it’s not going anywhere.

    Probably time for a 938, Kimber, Springer shoot off as they are all basically the same gun.

  7. avatar Docduracoat says:

    Like others have said I have the the Sig 938 and I’m very pleased with it
    For the $200 difference you can buy the Crimson trace laser grip‘s and put it on the 938
    It’s a little misleading that you don’t mention the competing product from Sig

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      There is no price difference. Similarly equipped the MSRP is almost identical.

  8. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I carry my P238 cocked and locked.

  9. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Always enjoy JWT’s reviews and observations. However…..

    Kinda lost me at “…25 yards was pure luck.” The LGS stopped carrying Kimber at all because Kimbers were returned so often. So, I view Kimber with skepticism anyway. But 25 yards for an “almost pocket gun”? Why would anyone try shooting human sized targets at that distance? If the “threat” is 75 feet away, is it really a threat? Does one really carry a pocket pistol with the idea of just maybe there is a terrorist attack, the shooters are 25 yards away, and taking oneself off the scene is not priority? Actually, even with a full size 1911, is attempting to shoot 25 yards accurately, under stress something that is expected?

    Are there better standards for pocket gun acceptability, than the usual drill for full sized firearms?

    1. avatar Joel says:

      When I go to the range, I would bet a third of the rounds I send down range are at 25+ yards from the target out of my TCP with stub sights. I can hit 5 out of 6 eight inch plates at that distance.

      I figure, if I can hit at 25 yards I can hit at 5. And I can think of a few scenarios where a 25+ yard shot is justifiable.

    2. avatar bill billson says:

      “The LGS stopped carrying Kimber at all because Kimbers were returned so often.”

      Good call Sam, another reason to not buy a Kimberly. Sad to say because
      they are made in America and so beautiful.

      RATING *

    3. avatar jwtaylor says:

      1. Because bench accuracy is a reliable objective measure.
      2. Because the halls of my kids’ school are over 100 yards long.

  10. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Wouldn’t a “micro” be in the deadly .9mm caliber?

  11. avatar bill billson says:

    No warranty information here, or at this Bud’s for you nor
    Kimberly herself.

    RATINGS **

  12. avatar Dennis says:

    I carry this gun every day. In a pocket holster, OWB or IWB … it is a winner!

  13. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Star BM all steel, 9mm, feeds everything from fmj to ashtrays, shoots upside down, two finger hold so this Kimber don’t impress.

  14. avatar S. Brenner says:

    Will wait and purchase SigSauer P365!
    Best of all.

  15. avatar Mustachio says:

    I just bought a Micro 9 from KyGunCo and the price was $200 LESS than the P938. I have shot 330 rounds so far and have not had one issue. Shooting two handed at 10 yards , a defensive distance I get 2″ groups. MIne is brushed stainless with fiber optic front sight and G10 black grips. Carry it in a Kusiak Minimalist IWB holster. When clothes don’t permit, I carry either my 642 S&W or my Colt Mustang XSP.

    1. avatar Mustachio says:

      Update on my Micro 9, now with 530 rounds down the tube and not a single problem.

  16. avatar Texas Grandma says:

    Just so you all know, I am a woman (late 50’s). I have the micro 9 STG with the Black Hogue Soft Touch grip. The gun is very well balanced. I bought this model because of the grip. This grip gives me more control when shooting. I have taken it to the range one time and am very impressed with it’s reliability and accuracy. I bought this gun to replace my Smith & Wesson 40 that kicked like a mule. So when I bought this gun, that is smaller but heavier, I was expecting it to kick also. I was pleasantly surprised. The kick was not bad. I shot 50 rounds with no issue at all. If I had had more bullets with me I could’ve kept going for quite a while. This gun is easy to conceal even in non conceal/carry purses.

  17. avatar Dave Bryant says:

    Just got a Micro 9 stainless with the soft rubber grips and great sights. Have not shot it yet but certainly will before I carry it. Impressive feel. I will be trying a variety of ammo but from all I’ve read, that does not seem to be much of an issue. I am concerned about best carry practice. Since it is not a true 1911, cocked & locked is really only cocked with safety on. I’m thinking safety on & half cock to keep the pin off the primer. I am willing to slow my draw and fire by 1-2 seconds to enhance safety. It’s still a smooth, fast, one hand operation. Thoughts?

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