U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- Kimber is known for their 1911s, high-end bolt-action rifles, and they even make a revolver – but now they’re entering the polymer-framed compact carry market with the new R7 Mako. But after their less-than-perfect launch of the Solo Carry 9mm handgun a few years back, many shooters were left with a bad taste in their collective mouths.
Meaning Kimber is going to have to really hit it out of the park with the Mako to regain consumers’ trust.
So does the new Mako rule the waves, or is it just chum in the water? We take a closer look at the Kimber R7 Mako and find out.
Kimber R7 Mako 9mm
Despite a somewhat unusual outer appearance, the R7 Mako is a fairly conventional design. The R7 is a locked-breech, semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm parabellum. It feeds from an 11-round stagger-column box-type magazine that tapers at the top into a center-feeding tower. The pistol includes two of these magazines in the box – one with a flush-fitting baseplate, and a second 13-round version with an extended baseplate.
While this design is done primarily to reduce the magazine, and thus the overall pistol’s size, it has the added benefit of making reloads very easy even under low-light conditions. This is because the central tower acts as a guide for the magazine into the well.
Additionally, the R7 lacks any sort of manual safety, instead opting for a bladed safety trigger which prevents accidental discharges unless the blade is depressed before pulling the trigger.
One of the first things experienced shooters will notice about the Mako, is its fully enclosed ejection port. Reminiscent of the Walther PPK, the engineers at Kimber presumably incorporated this feature to strengthen the Mako’s slide. As far as why they would do so, I can only guess that they intend to add additional hotter chamberings in the future, such as 40 S&W
On top of this slide, the Mako ships with a set of tritium post and notch iron sights with a bright orange ‘donut’ front sight post that makes sight acquisition very quick in any lighting condition. This combined with the dual green tritium rear sight posts makes for an intuitive, effective sight picture.
But if you’re like me and want something even faster than iron sights, Kimber offers a second model of the gun with a pre-installed Crimson Trace reflex sight using a Shield-pattern footprint. The tiny optic is very lightweight, and minimalistic, with the only way to turn off the sight is by attaching its included protective cover.
Below the slide, the molded polymer frame features a subdued slide release, that prevents snagging on clothing or holsters when drawn from concealment.
Another notable aspect of the Mako’s design, is the aggressive molded stippling texture featured throughout the grip, including on the front and backstrap. This makes the gun very easy to handle when a shooter’s hands are wet, sweaty, or even oily.
And interestingly enough, the engineers decided to take a totally different approach with the R7 Mako’s magazine release – opting for a totally smooth push-button release that tactilely contrasts with the otherwise rough stippling of the frame.
At first glance, the Mako just seems to be a pretty standard modern entry into the compact, increased-capacity concealed carry pistol market. But the shark-inspired little blaster has a pair of aces up its finny sleeve – accuracy, and ergonomics.
What Makos the Difference?
Although tough to quantify, the way the grip on the Mako fills the shooter’s hand, makes it feel like a full-sized gun. The backstrap angle and curve seem to defy physics. Because although the Mako’s tall slide looks like it would give the gun a high bore-axis and thus increased felt-recoil, the opposite is true.
The gun seems to magically melt into the shooter’s hand, sinking extra low and snapping back on target between shots effortlessly. And these steller ergonomics are aided in no small part thanks to the excellent trigger on the Mako.
According to my Lyman digital trigger scale, the Mako’s trigger breaks at around 5.75 pounds, but there’s more to the story than that.
While certainly not the ‘glass rod’ you often hear bullseye shooters talk about, the Makos trigger breaks very cleanly, with just enough overtravel to be appropriate for a carry gun. To be frank, the Mako’s trigger feels too good for a concealed carry piece.
One of the issues I’ve had in the past with carry guns capable of seemingly incredible feats of accuracy is reliability and ammunition sensitivity. Which, in my opinion, makes these guns wholly unsuitable for carry.
Somehow, the Mako is unreasonably accurate without any effect on its reliability.
In testing, the Kimber produced five-shot groups ranging between one and 1.5 inches at 25 yards when fired from a bag rest. This might not seem impressive, but given how short the gun’s barrel is – and by extension, the sight radius is, this is truly incredible.
Accuracy is very important, but for me, the most important aspect of a concealed carry gun’s design is reliability. Because having an otherwise perfect gun for concealed carry is pointless if it can’t be 100% dependable when truly needed.
So how did the Mako perform? Out of 400 rounds of a mix of 124gr and 115gr FMJ ammo, the Mako suffered no malfunctions whatsoever. But, this is a concealed carry gun, so I also extensively tested the gun with popular defensive ammo. So I put an additional 50 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense, 50 rounds of Federal HydraShok, and 50 rounds of Winchester Defender ammo through the Kimber and discovered that I had wasted around $250 worth of ammo because it all ran totally flawless.
Excellent accuracy, great ergonomics, and flawless reliability – sounds like a checklist for the perfect concealed carry gun. And it would be, if not for a very small issue I had with the grip and magazine well design. Basically, it’s possible when performing a reload under stress to pitch your small finger between the magazine well and the steel lip of the magazine wall.
Sounds like a big issue, but truthfully it’s just a matter of training and one that after pinching myself once, never repeated after hours of firearm manipulating and shooting.
So, has the new Kimber Mako redeemed the company in the eyes of shooters? In my opinion, yes. The new Mako is a perfect example of how companies should produce new guns – that is to say, waiting until all the kinks are ironed out.
Sure the grip might give your small finger a nibble if you carelessly reload, but for me, it was love at first bite.
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife, son, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.