The J Frame-size magnum revolver has been the quintessential backup gun for decades. And for a good reason. They’re easy to carry, fast to deploy and pack a heck of a punch. Kimber, known for their mid-market 1911s, got into the wheelgun game a few years ago with their version of the powerful snubby. Unsurprisingly, it met with great success. The demand is still strong. This year, they’ve stepped up the class on a classic with their Kimber K6s DCR (Deluxe Carry Revolver) . . .
Day-um this gun is purdy. Jon Wayne likes ’em short and stout and I think maybe Kimber had me in mind for the Kimber K6s Deluxe Carry Revolver. The all-stainless snubby is satin polished, with a hazy mirror finish on the entire gun. It’s even throughout, like a perfectly polished show car.
The K6s’ logo-adorned rosewood grips are deeply and fully checkered. As they should be. I have no desire for soft rubber grips on a revolver, and certainly not on a magnum caliber snubbie.
Your experience may vary, but mine is born of my own experience with the PAC timer and my J Frame. My times are consistently faster with solid grips, either hardwood or G10, than they are with something spongy like a Hogue rubber grip. The Kimber’s wooden grips hold well in the hand and look great but — there’s a bit of a gap in the top of the backstrap where the grip meets the frame. It’s barely there, but it’s there.
I really dig the heavy full length lug under the Kimber’s barrel. Beyond giving the gun a bit of a bulldog look, it puts some much needed weight near the muzzle. It also smooths out the front from a rounded profile, helping make the gun comfortable for conceal and carry.
The K6s’ cylinder release is large, well positioned and textured. I had no problem reaching it with my firing hand thumb, and I never failed to miss it without looking . It would be hard to really. Reach too far and your thumb will likely slide off the cylinder right down onto the release.
Press the release, swing the cylinder out, hammer the ejector with your support hand, and watch that beautiful brass tumble to the floor. To complete the reload, Kimber includes a single speed-strip with the K6s. It holds the cartridges in tightly and releases them quickly once inserted. Feed the round into the empty cylinder, then pull up on the tab to release it. Repeat until full.
Opening up the gun, I was a bit disappointed. There are tool marks and unpolished metal throughout.
Yes, this is kind of like caring about the polish that goes inside my watch that no one will ever see. But polishing the internals displays an overall commitment to quality that I wish I saw inside the DCR. After all, this is the “deluxe” model.
What surprised and impressed me with the K6s: the sights. First of all, there are sights, plural. The front sight is a large bright red fiber optic front sight that pops out in any light. Not just because it’s bright, but also because it sits a little higher on the frame than most revolvers of this size.
The top of the K6s’ frame is grooved — probably just for style points. More importantly, it ends with a proper ramped rear sight. The rear sight is serrated and flat on the back, with a U shaped notch. It’s drift adjustable for windage.
The whole sight set up works great. As soon as I press the revolver forward that front sight pops right into view. Held steady I see just a bit of my target on either side of the rear window.
The sights are larger than most J Frame sights, and yet they never snagged or got caught when drawn from a holster.
I tried drawing the K6s from my back pocket with and without a holster (unfortunately, people do that). I also brought the revolver to bear from my coat pocket, boot, and belt holsters. Again, the draw was smooth, without any catches or snags.
The trigger is the heart of any double-action-only revolver. Kimber’s K6s’ go-pedal is smooth and just light enough at 10lbs to keep the muzzle still during the cycle –if you do your job with your grip. The shoe itself is a tad bit narrow for my tastes, but its polished curvature works well for the platform.
The trigger feel is a bit different from other revolvers. There are three distinct clicks during the cycle. Under careful, slow fire the first two clicks seem like they’re miles apart. The second and third are not. When you hit that third click, the hammer is falling. After click two, hammer-fall feels inevitable.
Those clicks are there, but I hesitate to call them stops or hang-ups. Yes, I can certainly feel and hear them. But with a smooth pull the trigger travels right through them. Obviously, they’re most notable in slow fire. In fast fire the clicks pretty much disappear into one solid action straight back into the gun.
In .38SPL or .38SPL+P, the K6s is a comfortable shooter. In .357 Magnum, it is not. Not with any commercial load or with any grip.
I shoot almost every day. I’ve been a magnum revolver shooter for about 30 years. I’ve carried a J Frame for 20 of those. I’m used to revolvers. I’m used to recoil. This is something else. This thing hurts. Three cylinders in and the web of my thumb was aching. A full 50 round box of Magtech 158gr JSPs and I was bruised, cut and bleeding on the gun.
The pretty little gun has a fairly high bore axis. Couple that with a high, sharp turn at the top of the backstrap and the natural point of the firing hand puts the web of your thumb right there at that turn. A proper crossed thumbs double crush grip will anchor your support hand behind this point. Once you pull that trigger and light it off, the light weight gun, driven by a magnum powder charge, drives the top of that backstrap into the hand sharply.
Held like this, I’m taking a visit to pain city. However, the high, double handed crossed thumbs grip you need on this gun is doing its job. Recoil drives the gun in a line back into the hand, with relatively little muzzle rise, considering the cartridge.
Single handed with a full pressure .357 Magnum load, the gun is shootable, but barely, and too slow to recover for follow up shots.
If the recoil is too much for you, you can increase shooting comfort by lowering your grip on the revolver. This will bring that sharp point of the backstrap above the web of your thumb, which helps with the pain of shooting. It’s still uncomfortable, dramatically increases muzzle rise and diminishes overall control. Not worth it.
If you’re going to spend some magnum time on the range with this pocket atom bomb, wear gloves.
Federal Premium’s Micro HST was an excellent performer in the K6s The round achieves higher pressure by setting the hollow point bullet completely back into the casing. The mouth (because a point this hollow doesn’t have a nose) doesn’t protrude from the case at all. Weird looking, but great performing, equaling that of many 9X19mm loads.
This is one of the newer cartridges specifically designed for the J frame revolver. With a tight single-handed grip I could fire the full cylinder of these rounds into a silhouette at seven yards in just a few of seconds.
I put 300 rounds through the gun without issue. The first 100 in .357 Magnum, the last 200 in .38SPL+P. I shot commercial rounds from Magtech, Federal and Hornady and a quite a few of my own reloads of different types and weights.
Not surprisingly, I had no issues with loading, firing, feeding or ejecting at any time. Looking at the forcing cone and the top strap, there doesn’t appear to be any cutting or wear to the revolver. Nor would I expect there to be.
Great sights and a good trigger made for an unexpectedly high level of precision.
The inexpensive but more than adequate Magtech 158gr JSP in .357 Magnum printed consistent 2 ¾” five round groups at 25 yards on average for four groups. The Hornady 135gr Critical Duty .357 Magnum round scored even better, with a 2 1/2” average. Oddly enough, not a single .38SPL round I tried in this gun shot as well as the .357 Magnums. That Federal Premium round that was fast, easy, and plenty powerful, printed 3 3/4” groups, and none of my hand loads did much better.
Although painful to shoot, the .357 Magnum is manageable enough for a single cylinder and accurate even in quick fire. Pulling the target in to 15 yards, I focused on putting a cylinder’s worth of fury into the 9 ring in five seconds or less. Shooting 4” magnum powered groups off hand at this rate is completely doable. My results would certainly be eclipsed by a more competent shooter but man, I don’t care who you are, at that rate of fire, the gun takes meat on both ends.
I applaud Kimber for stepping into a crowded market long dominated by Smith & Wesson. The K6s DCR is much more attractive than most of the pocket magnums on the market, with a trigger any of their competitors would envy. The well thought out sights — something most J Frames overlook entirely — are a big bonus.
I’d carry the Kimber K6s any day, in .38SPL+P, and not feel the tiniest bit under-armed. I could draw and fire the gun quickly, single handed, from any position, and be confident that I would strike my target accurately with every round. Hiking or hunting is the only time I’d likely fill the cylinder with .357 Magnums, and hope I’d never have to use it.
SPECIFICATIONS: Kimber K6s DCR
Calibers: .357 Magnum/.38 Special
Height (inches): 4.46
Weight (ounces) with empty cylinder: 23
Length (inches): 6.62
Width (inches): 1.39
Cylinder capacity: 6
Frame Material: Stainless steel
Finish: Satin Silver
Barrel Length (inches): 2
Material: Stainless steel
Sights: Fiber optic
Sight Radius (inches): 4.1
Grips: Laminated rosewood
Trigger Factory setting (approx. pounds: – 9.5-10.5)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Finish * * * * 1/2
The satin sheen of the stainless steel is executed exceptionally well. The grips are a great choice in both color, texture and style. Kimber had to do something other than put “Kimber” on the gun to stand out, and the beauty of the gun does exactly that. That said, if you’re going to call an upmarket revolver Deluxe, it should be deluxe inside and out.
Customization * *
You may want to change the grips, and you could actually change the sights. Don’t change the sights. But pay what it costs to have custom grips made. You’ll thank me.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect in all functions. Zero surprises.
Accuracy * * * * *
In a powerhouse round, Kimber’s snubby delivered sub 3″ five-round average groups at 25 yards for any and every round tested. Many were considerably better. Stepping down to the .38SPL it suffered, but given the accuracy of the .357 Magnum rounds, I believe I haven’t found the right .38SPL round.
Overall * * * * 1/2
It’s pretty. It carries very well. It handles exceptionally well. It has a different but great trigger. Reliability wasn’t a surprise but accuracy was. Yes, it’s painful and frankly damaging (to the shooter) to fire in .357 Magnum. Half a star off for rough internals and an imperfect wood-to-metal fit.