The Kimber Duty Gun That Never Was: The KPD .40

I remember back in the 2005 to 2007 time frame that Kimber was looking to jump into the striker fired polymer pistol market with the KPD series. KPD stood for Kimber Pro Defense.

The market was hot for new competition at the time. This was the second pistol revolution in American law enforcement. Agencies across the country were looking at ditching their metal-framed, hammer-fired DA/SA & DAO guns and going for lightweight, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols and have it chambered in .40 S&W since it was still the go-to cartridge for service ammo.

GLOCK was still the undisputed king and Smith & Wesson was just starting to regain credibility with the M&P series after the fiasco that was the Sigma and their horrible chimera conglomeration with Wather; the SW99.

SIG SAUER, Ruger, and HK were nowhere to be seen as far as striker-fired goes. Springfield Armory was striking gold on the civilian side with their acquisition of the Croatian HS2000 (XD Series) and marketing it as the X-treme Duty Pistol. Walther was still is distant third with the P99. Steyr, while around with their M and S series, didn’t really sell since no one knew who they were.

So Kimber, seeing an opportunity decided to jump into the game. It was to be the hot new thing. Twelve-round capacity in .40 S&W and 16 rounds in 9mm. Interchangeable back straps, the famous Kimber quality in an affordable striker-fired, and made in America. It would also come with an internal lock and a magazine disconnect.

The 2006 SHOT Show press release from Kimber said:

The KPD will be offered in .40 S&W caliber initially and has all the bells and whistles currently popular in pistols of this design including an integral light rail, ambidextrous magazine release, ample magazine capacity (12 rounds), large dovetailed three-dot combat sights with night sights available as an option, and interchangeable backstraps that allow the user to fit the gun to their hand. It is a handsome gun and made in the U.S.A. www.kimberamerica.com

They put ads in every gun rag in the rack and built anticipation.

It was even listed in the period price guide books at the time.

I recall the internet was abuzz with this gun around 2006. Folks wanted it and would go to their local gun shops and ask their dealers to order one for them. The constant reply was “no time-frame on delivery” or “wholesalers don’t have them yet from Kimber,”

Posters across forums like AR15.com, DefensiveCarry.com, and 1911forum.com were abuzz. They all said the same thing. Folks are wondering where they are and if any had appeared yet on store shelves.

But then *POOF*. In 2007 Kimber pulled the ads from the magazines, stopped showing it at trade shows, took it off their website and print catalogs. It was there and then gone as if it had never existed.

At the 2007 SHOT Show in Orlando, I recall visiting the Kimber booth and there was no sigh of it. Ever since then, I’ve asked Kimber reps at a number of SHOT and NRA Shows whatever happened to it. They give me non-answers and look at me as if I’d dreamt it all up. Even at this last NRA Show in Dallas, none of the floor reps at the Kimber booth had a clue as to what I was talking about.

Theories abound on what happened. Some range from the bizarre, like it was all an experiment by the CIA to see if they can plant false memories in gun owners. But the the more common theories variations of this: Kimber realized that the striker-fired market was a tough cookie to crack and sold the design to Ruger.

The resemblance is certainly there.

But the slide stop pin location is different as are a number of other features. Then again, if Ruger did buy the design from Kimber, they very well could have refined it. Kimber ceased talking about the KPD in late 2006 and Ruger released the SR9 in October of 2007. So it’s possible, but it isn’t probable.

My theory is one based on more fact than crazy conjecture: Kimber simply decided not to go into the LE striker-fired market and instead sat on the design, reworked it, and released it as the Solo.

If you look at the Solo and the KPD. The slide stop pin, extractor, trigger pivot pin, magazine release button, and general layout match up.

In the end, whatever theory you subscribe to, the Kimber KPD .40 never came to be. It was heavily pushed and marketed and then it rapidly disappeared into the ether and has pretty much been forgotten. We can only wonder what might have happened if Kimber had decided to roll it out.

comments

  1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    We would have had one more piece of combat tupperware. Ho-Hum.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      But with “the famous Kimber quality”.

      So you’d have to send it back to the factory at least twice to get it as reliable as a Glock, XD, M&P, SR9, etc.

  2. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    I liked the metal framed hammer fired DA/SA guns. The country was also choosing Lady Gaga and all that god awful new country at the same time.

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      My first pistol was a M&P9c. My second and third were an S&W 4006TSW (the ones that MAC was selling at Copper Custom last year) and a S&W 3913. My next one will probably be a S&W 586 or a Ruger GP100. I seem to get less modern with every gun I buy. At this rate in 5 or 6 guns I will be buying single shot flintlock muzzle loading pistols and start dressing like a fat version of Jack Sparrow. Though I still won’t be lucky enough to have Keith Richards for a father. 🙁

      1. avatar =BCE56= says:

        My first handguns were 1911s and a Single Six. Then a 686. More recently a 3913, with a dozen or so in between..
        I guess you could say the 3913 is the most modern design I own.

    2. avatar Ton E says:

      I like polymer framed DA/SA pistols like the HK USP lol.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        When they first came out, they were sexy, but other brands, and even later models made them feel extremely cheap (quality wise) and clunky. Kinda like GLOCK.

  3. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    The slide stop pin on the Solo looks like it’s further back than the KPD, and it has rather significant stylistic differences. Maybe it’s just the images. It would not be so surprising to me if both theories were true: Kimber licensed the KPD to Ruger, AND Kimber made a derivative of it as the Solo.

    Also, why the hate for the SW99? It wasn’t successful, but I had never heard of it (or the P99) being described as a bad pistol. The Sigma did suck, admittedly, albeit it’s usable once you have a trigger job done to it.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      + It would have been stupid for Kimber to sink all of that R&D and ad money into that and walk away with nothing, so the Ruger license would make sense.

      They might have had a parallel development program for the Solo that was sucking all of the air out of the room, and it could have been the boss’s kid’s pet project so that it sucked the room out of the room, and we all know what a POS the Solo turned out to be. 5 Million +P specific ammo required round break in period. Galling (severe galling) on slide to frame fitting, regardless of lube or 3 trips to the factory, failure to feed / fire issues all to hell. 100% fail as a ccw.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        “Solo” means ‘you’re on your own’, better break contact or go to hand-to-hand.

        1. avatar KC in NorCal says:

          The only benefit I can say has ever came from California’s roster of approved handguns is I was set on the solo being my first carry gun but it wasn’t approved. Sounds like that was for the best. The roster still needs to go away though.

  4. avatar dph says:

    Seriously, write a post 2 1/2 years ago on AR15.com and now publish it here as an article? Can’t find anything new to write about?

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      It’s free and mostly without ads if you use the right plugins, so I don’t feel much like complaining myself. Not knocking you, just putting in my two cents.

    2. avatar Greg says:

      If you can do a better job, why don’t you write and submit something? Keyboard warrior.

      1. avatar Anner says:

        Nailed it. Everyone bitches about content but never submits a decent article. Try writing one, formatting it with media, and then you can whine.

        1. avatar Greg says:

          I prefer to read articles by average folks.
          If anything comments should try to help people improve their writing.

    3. avatar Joe R. says:

      It was updated with a reference to this years’ SHOT show. Or was that just copied too?

      ; )

    4. avatar Luis Valdes says:

      Yup, I wrote about that on Arfcom a while back. I also wrote about it this week because I am still trying to get to the bottom of the KPD and Kimber at NRAAM Dallas didn’t give me a single answer again.

      I also wrote about my Gew 1888 and I’ve had that for years.

  5. avatar little horn says:

    too bad, it was a nice looking gun. i would go with the Ruger bought the design theory. seems to fit better. the solo is nothing but a sub compact 1911 wanna be.

  6. avatar MIO says:

    When you realize all you can really do is 100 year old guns and even that is …..

  7. avatar Pete Zaitcev says:

    These attempts at memory-holing the thing are pretty sad. But Kimber did release their plastic-frame 1911. That thing also deserves an article, I thnk.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      Kimber imported an Israeli made 1911 frame. Nothing more. The polymer frame double stack 1911 was made by BUL in Israel. Kimber imported the frame and slapped their slide on it for a while.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Another cheez-whiz pistol that didn’t hit the market. How will we ever sleep at night?

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