Photos courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick
There’s no shortage of striker-fired semiauto 9mm pistols on the market, but there’s only one Kimber EVO SP. Unlike most striker guns which utilize a polymer frame, Kimber elected to outfit the EVO SP with an aluminum frame which is lightweight yet durable.
The entry-level Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone model’s frame features a KimPro silver frame that contrasts the gun’s black interchangeable grip panels and black ferritic nitrocarburized stainless steel slide. This all-metal design is not only robust but offers superb balance that’s difficult to match with a polymer-frame gun.
Adding to the Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone’s appeal is a clever three-piece modular grip design that’s interchangeable. The black nylon grips feature black diamond texturing and come in three sizes—small, medium, and large. The back strap is removable as well and it shares the same black color and diamond texturing, and shooters can select either a regular or large back strap. All three modular grip panels are secured in place via a set screw at the base so there’s no visible hardware. It’s a level of customization offered on few other semiauto striker-fired carry pistols.
The EVO SP Two-Tone’s trim dimensions make it easy to conceal and carry. It measures just 1.06 inches wide at the frame, and with its 3.16-inch stainless steel match-grade barrel The EVO SP Two-Tone’s overall length is a mere 6.1 inches. This single-stack 9mm offers a magazine capacity of 7 rounds, one more than most competing single-stack 9mm subcompact polymer pistols. Despite that added magazine capacity the Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone height is just 4.03 inches, which allows it to be concealed under light clothing.
With an empty magazine in place the Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone weighs in at just 19 ounces, which is slightly heavier than many competing subcompact striker-fired 9mm pistols. But the extra couple of ounces aren’t a burden when carrying the Kimber and the offer improved balance and better recoil management. It also makes the EVO SP Two-Tone manageable when shooting powerful 9mm personal defense ammo.
“When we set out to design this gun we weren’t trying to make the smallest or lightest 9mm carry pistol on the market,” says Winslow Potter, Kimber’s Director of Product management. “We wanted to make the Evo to be very shootable, user-friendly and comfortable.”
Previously, Kimber offered the Solo 9mm striker-fired pistol, but the EVO SP is a ground-up redesign. And since Kimber is one of the world’s largest 1911 manufacturers it’s no surprise that the EVO SP borrows some of the best qualities from John Moses Browning’s most famous handgun design. The grip angle of the EVO SP Two-Tone mimics the 1911s, considered by many to be the best grip design of all time, and the slide stop design and 30 LPI front strap checkering all hint at the heavy dose of 1911 DNA in this pistol.
Despite its position as the entry-level member of the Kimber EVO SP family, the Two-Tone is hardly spartan. It is, after all, a Kimber, and as such it’s built to high standards with a long list of premium features and superb fit and finish. The aluminum bladed trigger design offers a smooth, stack-free pull, clean break (between 6 and 7 pounds) and a short, positive reset. TRUGLO tritium ledged night sights come standard, and the angled front and rear slide serrations offer full control over the pistol. The seven-round magazines are metal and come standard with bumper pads for easier insertion and removal.
Additional features include relief cuts behind the trigger (another nod to the 1911), a generous trigger guard undercut, and a beavertail that protects the shooter’s hand. The bushingless barrel offers a deep target crown and the stainless-steel barrel itself gets the same ferritic nitrocarburizing treatment as the slide. MSRP for the Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone is $856 which is more than some competing striker-fired pistols, but you won’t get the features or the build quality of the Kimber with less expensive alternatives.
Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone Performance
The Kimber’s grip design is quite comfortable, promoting a high hand position that, when coupled with the EVO SP’s relatively low bore axis, makes this one of the easiest-shooting subcompact 9mms available. Controls are minimal — a 1911-style slide stop and an oval magazine release button — and the low-profile controls won’t dig into the body while carrying or hang-up during a draw. The tritium night sights are easily visible regardless of ambient light conditions, and the U-notch black rear sight and tritium front post with white ring allow the shooter to get on target quickly. The rear sight is windage adjustable, but at 25 feet the sights were properly aligned with no need to make adjustments.
Personal defense guns have to be reliable, and the Kimber EVO SP ran flawlessly on the range. The large, aggressive slide cuts made it easy to conduct overhand slide drops when reloading. I ran the EVO SP through a series of drills, the first of which was firing double-taps at seven yards. It’s easy to deliver aimed, rapid follow-up shots thanks to the EVO SP’s recoil management and highly-visible front sight. The front sight was also beneficial when firing on alternating targets because the white ring is easy to see when transitioning from the left to the right target and back. I conducted a seven hard hostage drill, firing 12 rounds without striking the hostage silhouette, a testament to the Kimber’s accuracy. Off the bench the pistol performed well from 15 yards, producing groups under 1.5-inches with several loads. That’s excellent for a short-barreled carry gun, and though that level of accuracy isn’t required for personal defense it offers extra peace of mind.
The Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone carries comfortably. It’s slim enough to fit in a belly band or a IWB holster and it disappears under light cover garments, and the nitrocarburized slide finish and KimPro frame can stand up to the rigors of EDC. And while it may not be the lightest subcompact 9mm on the market the EVO SP Two-Tone is hardly a burden.
No, the EVO SP Two-Tone isn’t like all the other striker-fired 9mms on the market, and that’s not an accident. Kimber wanted to deliver something different, something better, and that’s just what they did.
Kimber EVO SP Two-Tone Specs:
- Action: Striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 7+1 (two metal magazines provided)
- Sights: Tritium night sights
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel
- Slide Finish: Black, Ferritic Nitrocarburized
- Frame: Aluminum
- Frame Finish: Kimber KimPro Silver
- Barrel: 3.16 inches, Match-grade stainless steel, LH 1:10 twist
- Overall Length: 6.1 inches
- Height: 4.03 inches
- Weight: 19 ounces (unloaded)
- Width: 1.06 inches
- Grips: Black, diamond checkering, modular (3 piece)
- Front Strap: 30 LPI checkering
- MSRP: $856
- Contact: Kimber America, kimberamerica.com, (888) 243-4522
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