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Kimber Micro 9 Review - ESV and KHX

Kimber first introduced the Micro in .380 ACP in 2013, and many models of that pistol are still available, but this is America — we want everything bigger, faster and louder. Meet the Kimber Micro 9 ESV and KHX.

Kimber Micro 9 Review - ESV and KHX

It wasn’t long before the success of the original Micro convinced the folks at Kimber to upsize it for the 9mm cartridge. Counting the models direct from them and through distributor exclusives, Kimber is now offering over 20 variations of the Micro 9. But Kimber is introducing two more — the Micro 9 Enhanced Slide Variant (ESV) and the Micro 9 KHX.

Before we get to the specifics of the two new models, let’s look at the genetics of the Micro 9 family. All pistols are single-­action, 1911-­style semiautomatics, with all of the proportions downsized to scale for the 9mm cartridge.

The Micro 9 is not an exact reproduction of the .45 ACP 1911 sized down. The pistol features a supported, ramped barrel, and it does not use a barrel bushing or the 1911’s iconic swinging link. It has a manual thumb safety but no grip safety. It has a firing-­pin safety, but it does not use the same horrific design as the Colt Series ’80, so the trigger pull quality is not effected nearly as much. The trigger does not slide but pivots to push a sliding trigger bar.

Unlike a traditional 1911, you can engage the single-­sided thumb safety with the hammer down, and with the safety on, you can’t cock the hammer.


The pistol sports a 3.15-­inch barrel and an aluminum frame, so every model weighs less than a pound unloaded with an empty magazine inserted. Overall, the Micro 9 measures 6.1 inches long by just over 4 inches tall with a flush-­fit magazine, and the extended magazine only adds a half inch. This makes the firearm small and flat enough to fit inside a pocket or be practically invisible under clothing in any kind of holster.


On every Micro 9, the slide and barrel are stainless steel. The full-­length recoil spring guide rod is stainless steel as well. This pistol is meant as a concealed-­carry piece, so constructing it of rust-­proof and rust-­resistant materials is very smart, even before you add a protective finish.


Kimber Micro 9 ESV

Kimber Micro 9 ESV
Kimber Micro 9 ESV (Photo by Sean Utley)

Of the two, the new Kimber Micro 9 ESV is the one that really has gotten a lot of attention. It looks like a baby version of many of the high-­end Limited Division Competition guns I’ve seen.

There are three aggressively angled serrations at the front of the slide, and they are cut all the way through the slide to show off the barrel. The lightening cuts/slide serrations front and rear on the ESV are ball mill cuts, which means they have rounded bottoms.

Kimber Micro 9 ESV
Kimber Micro 9 ESV (Photo by Sean Utley)

There are actually two versions of the ESV, one with a gold barrel that is titanium-­nitride coated and one with a rose-­copper-­colored barrel that is titanium-­carbonitride coated. I received the former for testing.


I began to see titanium-­nitride barrels on competition guns about 15 years ago. If you want to increase barrel life while at the same time giving your gun a stylish look, titanium nitride (TiN) is the answer, as it provides both increased abrasion and corrosion resistance. In my experience, new TiN-­coated barrels look gold. Once you put a lot of rounds downrange through them, heating them up and exposed to the elements, they turn a darker shade, almost bronze, which looks just as good if not better.

This pistol sports three-­dot night sights, each of the tritium inserts surrounded by a white ring for great visibility in good light. Again, these are full-­size, full-­height sights, slightly narrowed to fit the slide, which means they are quick and easy to use.

The front of the frame and the (steel) mainspring housing offer 30-­lines-­per-­inch (lpi) checkering. The grips are black G10 with the Kimber logo and partially checkered. With all of the checkering, my hand did not slip or shift at all when shooting this pistol.


The slide-to-frame fit was a little tighter on the KHX than the ESV, but both of them displayed excellent barrel-­to-­frame fit.

Kimber Micro 9 ESV Performance

Kimber Micro 9 ESV
Accuracy is the average of four five-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of 10 shots measured by an Oehler Model 35P chronograph 12 feet from the muzzle.

Kimber Micro 9 ESV Specs

  • Type: hammer-fired, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: 7+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 3.15 in.
  • Barrel finish: titanium nitride or titanium carbonitride
  • Overall length: 6.1 in.
  • Height: 4.5 in.
  • Width: 1.2 in.
  • Weight: 15.35 oz. (with empty magazine)
  • Slide material: stainless steel
  • Frame material: aluminum
  • Finish: black KimPro II
  • Grips: black G10
  • Safeties: manual safety, firing-pin safety
  • Sights: 3-dot steel night sights
  • Trigger: 6.5 lbs. (tested)
  • Accessories: one seven-round magazine, soft case, cable lock
  • MSRP: $790

Kimber Micro 9 KHX

Kimber Micro 9 KHX
Kimber Micro 9 KHX (Photo by Sean Utley)

Fans of Kimber 1911s have seen the initials “KHX” before. They belong to a line of full-­size 1911s Kimber has been offering for a while. Kimber has offered Officer-­, Commander-­ and Government-­sized KHXs, so it’s only logical to pair the model to the Micro 9 line.

At a distance, the first thing you’ll notice about the Kimber Micro 9 KHX is the variegated green G10 grips. They have two different textures and look just like lizard skin. They’re held in place with hex-­head grip screws.

Those two textures on the grip and the matching G10 mainspring housing will be seen mirrored elsewhere on the gun. The slide has hexagonal texturing on the front and rear for gripping. It’s maybe not quite as aggressive as traditional serrations, but it definitely looks a lot cooler.

Kimber Micro 9 KHX
The stylish “Stiplex” grip texture proved highly effective in controlling recoil of the Micro 9 KHX. (Photo by Sean Utley)

Kimber calls the smaller texturing Stiplex, and you’ll see it machined in the front of the frame. Stiplex consists of small hexagonal dimples and reminds me of a smaller version of what I call “tactical golf ball” texturing often seen on some G10 grips.

If I had only received the Micro 9 KHX for testing, I might have assumed it had a black finish, but holding it next to the new ESV model, I realized that the Micro 9 KHX wasn’t black but rather a charcoal gray in color. This is Kimber’s KimPro II corrosion resistant finish done in gray.

The sights are very sturdy, with both front and rear sights made of steel. The front features a red fiber-­optic insert, the rear has two green fiber-­optic rods, one on either side of the U-­shaped notch. The sights, proportionately, are very large on the slide, but that is because Kimber puts full-­size sights on a subcompact gun. They’re just as tall as the sights on their full-­size 1911s, but narrowed to fit the Micro 9’s slide.

The only difference I see in features between the full-­size guns and this new Micro 9 KHX is the bigger models are equipped with laser grips, but this Micro 9 is not.

Even with the extended magazine in place, all of my fingers barely fit on the gun, and I have skinny fingers. With a flush-­fit magazine in place, my pinkie hangs out in space. It’s another reminder that guns which are easy to conceal are harder to shoot and vice versa.

Turning the KHX over in my hands, I didn’t think that the Stiplex patterning on the frame would be aggressive enough for my taste, but I found that when actually shooting, it really seemed to lock into my fingers under recoil.

Kimber Micro 9 KHX Performance

Kimber Micro 9 KHX
Accuracy is the average of four five-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of 10 shots measured by an Oehler Model 35P chronograph 12 feet from the muzzle.

Kimber Micro 9 KHX Specs

  • Type: hammer-fired, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: 7+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 3.15 in.
  • Overall length: 6.1 in.
  • Height: 4.5 in.
  • Width: 1.2 in.
  • Weight: 15.6 oz. (with empty magazine)
  • Slide material: stainless steel
  • Frame material: aluminum
  • Finish: gray KimPro II
  • Grips: green G10
  • Safeties: manual safety, firing-pin safety
  • Sights: steel with fiber-optic inserts (green/red)
  • Trigger: 6.75 lbs. (tested)
  • Accessories: one seven-round magazine, soft case, cable lock
  • MSRP: $815

Perfect Mix

The 9mm Luger is one of the most popular handgun calibers in America, which means you can find every kind of ammunition you can imagine and then some. Which is my way of saying that you can make your Micro 9 as snappy or soft-­shooting as you want simply by switching from light to hot +P ammo (or the reverse). I am not a worshipper at the magnum/+P ammo throne — if snappy ammo hurts your hand or causes you to flinch, find softer ammo to shoot. In a gunfight, hits are always better than misses.

Heading to the range with the two Micro 9s was a lot of fun. These are small, light guns, so recoil (especially with +P ammunition) is sharp, but the crisp triggers and great sights make them easy to shoot accurately at defensive distances. I was getting a little bit of muzzle flash out of some loads, which is par for the course with short barrels like this.

With the Micro 9, accept that you’re being spoiled. You get a stylish seven-­shot, 9mm 1911 with great sights that is small enough to fit in a pocket. If these two new Micro 9s don’t fit the bill, then Kimber offers 20 other versions of this pistol, one for just about every taste.

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