Kimber EVO SP 9mm Pistol Lineup

This new 9mm is a contender for best compact metal-framed fighting pistol ever

Kimber EVO SP 9mm Pistol Lineup

Compact, sleek, and authoritative, Kimber’s new single-stack, striker-fired 9mm EVO SP pistol is arguably the best metal-framed concealed carry pistol currently on the market.

Now, that’s a pretty brash statement. I make it because the EVO combines adequate authority with proper concealability, and with superb, shooter-friendly ergonomics. Yep, even though it’s little and light, it’s really easy to shoot well.

What makes this pistol interesting is its all-metal frame. A plethora of polymer-framed pistols compete with it, and many of them are very good concealed-carry sidearms. However, there’s a feel, a balance and pointability to a metal frame that polymer-framed guns will never achieve.

The difficulty with building an all-metal compact carry gun is in weight. Metal weighs more than polymer, and historically shooters that prefer the feel and shootability of a metal-framed carry gun had to accept additional weight as a tradeoff.


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Unlike most of Kimber’s sidearms, the EVO features striker-fired design and function. It’s a type resistant to grime and lint—important for concealed carry—and offers extremely fast lock time.

Kimber’s EVO eliminates that tradeoff. It weighs right at 19 ounces, empty. The lightest version—the EVO SP (CS), for Custom Shop—weighs 18 ounces. To put that in perspective, Glock’s super-popular polymer-framed, 6-shot 9mm G43 weighs 18 ounces, empty. Smith & Wesson’s excellent 7-shot M&P9 Shield 2.0 weighs 18.3 ounces, empty, and SIG Sauer’s outstanding 10-shot P365 weighs 17.8 ounces, empty.


It’s thoughtfully profiled aluminum alloy frame enables the Kimber EVO to play in the same weight class, and still maintain that metal-frame balance and feel.

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EVO pistols are built on aluminum frames, enabling Kimber to maintain that metal-frame balance yet compete with ultralight polymer-framed concealed-carry pistols.

Unique, too, is the fact that the EVO is a striker-fired gun. Traditionally, Kimber is an exposed-hammer kind of company. Its 1911s and the Micro series tout crisp trigger pulls, manual thumb safeties and other classic features common to handguns with external hammers.

Without doubt, those are all superb pistols; pistols that are easy to shoot accurately. However, the striker-fired design does offer some modern advantages.

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Excellent grip ergonomics make the EVO comfortable in the hand and controllable through recoil. An extended magazine base pad and finely checkered frame frontstrap enable a secure grasp. The magazine release is reversible for southpaw use. Note also the trigger safety.

Striker-fired designs feature an internal, spring-loaded firing pin rather than an exposed, rotating hammer that swings in an accelerating arc before slamming the rear of the firing pin. As a result, striker-fired designs have significantly faster lock times.


Another advantage is that the firing assembly is entirely encased and protected. It’s less likely to accumulate function-compromising grit, grime, and belly-button lint when carried concealed. As a nice side affect, the lack of an exposed hammer with its knurled spur reduces the wear and tear on the lining of your favorite Harris Tweed.

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Clockwise from top left: EVO TLE, Two-Tone, CDP, and Custom Shop. Not shown is the EVO Raptor.

There is a downside to striker-fired designs, and that is trigger pull feel. By nature of the design, it’s impossible to achieve as perfectly crisp a trigger pull as with a well-tuned exposed-hammer single-action pistol. That said, however, modern striker-fired pistols have come a long way, and the EVO’s trigger is quite good. From the factory, they are set at around six pounds pull weight—just right for stressful self-defense situations where sympathetic muscle response can trigger an accidental discharge with a too-light trigger.

Like most modern striker-fired designs, the EVO utilizes an internal trigger-shoe safety of the type made legendary by Glock’s SafeAction trigger. There is no external, manual safety. Visual and tactile “loaded” and “cocked” indicators are incorporated into the slide.


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While the EVO features non-aggressive corners and contouring, even more carry comfort is built into the CDP version by “melting” the edges. It’s a particularly non-abrasive pistol for deep carry.

Each EVO sports a full compliment of premium features. Sights are proper night sights with tritium inserts, and feature a ledge-type profile that enables the shooter to rack the slide one-handed against a belt, steering wheel, curb or whatnot should one hand be disabled or occupied. Frames are finished in KimPro, which is a super corrosion and abrasion resistant coating, and slides with uber-tough Ferritic Nitrocarburizing (FNC).

With two exceptions, grips are made of G10, one of the world’s toughest knife- and gun-handle materials. The Two-Tone features nylon grip panels, and comes with three different sizes to customize fit and feel to the shooters’ hand; the Raptor is fit with exotic-looking Millennium Wood grips with a scale pattern.

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Kimber’s EVO CS model features custom shop embellishments, but it wears the same excellent tritium night sights as all the EVOs. Note the ledge-type design of the rear sight, which enables one-handed functioning. Frame topstraps are serrated on all standard models.

Interestingly, the Two-Tone EVO comes with two nylon backstraps; one regular (meaning straight and low profile), and one Large: Its shape is reminiscent of the curved backstraps commonly fit to old Colt 1911s.

Slides, grips, and front- and back-straps are all textured with grippy surfaces that enable a secure grasp even when slippery with sweat, mud or blood.

Slides are made of stainless steel. Barrels are 3.16 inches in length—short but long enough—and are also of stainless, held to match grade tolerances and given an abuse-resistant deep crown.

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Each EVO pistol ships with two extended magazines, which provide a very comfortable grasp and offer 7 + 1 capacity. Note the generously beveled edges of the magazine well, which help achieve fast, fumble-free reloads.

Each EVO is fit with a swappable magazine release button, making it easy to adapt the pistol for southpaw shooters. Edges of the magazine well are beveled for fast, fumble-free reloads.

Five different versions grace the EVO SP line. Four are show here. Different styling, colors, and a few bells and whistles separate them, but the bones of each version are the same.

EVO pistols are engineered to cheerfully digest any and all self-defense type 9mm Luger ammunition. However, it’s good sense to test any new pistol with your favorite flavor of personal protection ammo. Determine point of impact with the fixed iron sights, test for reliability, and learn the feel of your new pistol. I’ll wager you’ll find it one of the most shootable compact fighting tools you’ve ever handled.

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The Kimber EVO SP RAPTOR

Handgun Specs:

EVO SP Two Tone

Manufacturer: Kimber, www.kimberamerica.com, (888) 243-4522
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 7 plus 1 rounds
Barrel: 3.16-in. match, stainless, bushingless
Overall Length: 6.1 in.
Width: 1.06 in.
Height: 4.03 in.
Weight, empty: 19 oz.
Finish, frame: KimPro Silver
Finish, slide: FNC Black
Grips: Nylon, three different sizes
Sights: TRUGLO Tritium Pro
Trigger: 5 lbs, 10 oz. (as tested)
Safety: Trigger
Price: $856


EVO SP (TLE)

Manufacturer: Kimber
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 7 plus 1 rounds
Barrel: 3.16-in. match, stainless, bushingless
Overall Length: 6.1 in.
Width: 1.06 in.
Height: 4.03 in.
Weight, empty: 19 oz.
Finish, frame: KimPro Black
Finish, slide: FNC Black
Grips: Green G10
Sights: TRUGLO Tritium Pro
Trigger: 5 lbs, 7 oz. (as tested)
Safety: Trigger
Price: $925


EVO SP (CDP)

Manufacturer: Kimber
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 7 plus 1 rounds
Barrel: 3.16-in. match, stainless, bushingless
Overall Length: 6.1 in.
Width: 1.06 in.
Height: 4.03 in.
Weight, empty: 19 oz.
Finish, frame: KimPro Charcoal Gray
Finish, slide: FNC Black
Grips: Red/Black G10
Sights: TRUGLO Tritium Pro
Trigger: 6 lbs, 1 oz. (as tested)
Safety: Trigger
Price: $949


EVO SP (CS)

Manufacturer: Kimber
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 7 plus 1 rounds
Barrel: 3.16-in. match, stainless, bushingless
Overall Length: 6.1 in.
Width: 1.06 in.
Height: 4.03 in.
Weight, empty: 18 oz.
Finish, frame: KimPro Charcoal Gray
Finish, slide: FNC Black
Grips: Green G10
Sights: TRUGLO Tritium Pro
Trigger: 5 lbs, 10 oz. (as tested)
Safety: Trigger
Price: $1047


EVO SP RAPTOR

Manufacturer: Kimber
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity: 7 plus 1 rounds
Barrel: 3.16-in. match, stainless, bushingless
Overall Length: 6.1 in.
Width: 1.06 in.
Height: 4.03 in.
Weight, empty: 19 oz.
Finish, frame: KimPro Silver
Finish, slide: KimPro Silver over FNC
Grips: Millennium Wood with scale pattern
Sights: TRUGLO Tritium Pro
Trigger: 6 lbs, factory rated (not tested)
Safety: Trigger
Price: $949

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