A 3-inch 6-Shot Magnum: The Ultimate Compact Wheelgun the Kimber K6s

Kimber has built a brand name that for many gun buyers in America is simply synonymous with top quality firearms. From its long guns to the many variations of 1911s, on down to the subcompact self-defense pistols — choosing a Kimber means taking a look at what is on the top shelf and telling the clerk, “I’d like to try that one, please.” Until about a year ago, that all stopped if your desired handgun was a revolver, but with the introduction of the K6s line the folks at Kimber put the long-toothed wheel gun makers on notice that ‘good enough’ would no longer be good enough. And now, the K6s is available with a 3-inch barrel; this is Kimber’s newest variant.

No one expected Kimber to make an ‘ordinary’ revolver. Then again, few expected Kimber to make a revolver at all.

Chambered in .357 Magnum, the K6s (the ‘s’ is for stainless steel) holds six rounds, where most revolvers its size accept only five. It also accepts .38 Special and .38 Special +P (both being significantly tamer than .357 Mag.) which are much more desirable for practice, and I submit – even for carry. The K6s is akin to the S&W J-frame in size and ergonomics, and full power .357s leave an imprint on both your hand and memory.

Taking a Walk Around the Kimber K6s

At first glance, you see a very attractive revolver that immediately looks different from the rest of the pack. The top strap and flat-bottomed trigger guard draw a sleek rectangle to the mind’s eye. This is further enhanced by the flattened sides of the cylinder, followed by the raked back sleek angle of the internal hammer cover. And finally, in the case of our evaluation copy, a set of beautiful wood stocks – left smooth and round, cry out “pick me up and hold me!” Such has been the distinction of the Kimber K6s since it was first introduced as a snub-nosed 1-1/2-inch pocket revolver, but doubling the barrel length to 3 inches only adds to the distinctive shape and styling, while signaling that this is no mere pocket gun or backup option — this is a contender for your IWB or pancake holster primary concealed carry protection. And because the Kimber K6s holds the full complement of six rounds, it contains the same count as many very popular micro 9mm semiautos.

With the cartridges fitting flush to the cylinder edge, the fit of cylinder to breach is extremely close.

Not long ago, few imagined the name Kimber on a wheel gun.

The 3-inch K6s came to me with a beautiful brushed stainless steel finish and a completely de-horned body, from the aggressively rounded radius cuts at every edge to the snag-free rear sight that is drifted into a dovetail flush with the top strap of the gun. I said to a friend, “it’s the DeLorean of revolvers” – which I intend in a complimentary way.

Shooting the K6s

After admiring the pleasing looks of the K6s, it feels slightly smaller in the hand when you first lift it. I attribute this partly to the optical illusion created by the design of the frame, and partly to the small, rounded, and very smooth walnut stocks. Those stocks feel superb in the hand, filling the palm enough to feel you have a secure hold, and yet small enough to allow the fingers of the strong hand to wrap into nearly a normal fist. The smooth texture of the walnut helps make it feel comfortable in any position. It’s an interesting little gun that looks like a compact size but feels like a sub-compact. The measurements of the frame, particularly the trigger reach are very akin to the S&W J-frame, for reference. But the K6s feels so much more substantial in the hand than the typical ‘snubbie’. This was a bit encouraging to me because although I don’t consider myself at all to be recoil averse, I will confess that shooting full power .357 Magnum loads from most small revolvers are about as enjoyable as reaching out to stop the bat of an NBL player in mid-swing. The web of the strong hand sits high on the stocks just below the angled hammer cover, giving the shooter a high grip and canting the wrist slightly forward. This provides a better power line with the body by reducing pivot points in the wrist and helps manage the significant recoil of a .357 Mag or .38 Special +P. Trigger reach is short enough that even the most diminutive shooter should get plenty of finger on the trigger to overcome the published 9 ½ to 10 ½ pounds of trigger pull (my Lyman scale measured it at just a tad over 11 lbs.).

The K6s’ chambers are recessed in the cylinder to the depth of the case head. At first glance, it appears to be cut for a moon clip (it’s not).

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Although the 3-inch barrel provides ample room to extend the ejection rod, Kimber left it the same length as the snub nose version.

I’m no contender when it comes to running wheel guns with any sort of speed. Even though I cut my teeth on a Model 10 back in the day, the teeth were not nearly as long as they are now, and my trigger finger was much more accustomed to working the long double action pull of a revolver. These days, I tend to lock them if I go too fast (and sometimes even when I don’t) because my spoiled semi-auto finger wants to ride the action. The problem this can cause, for those unfamiliar, is that the delicate timing of the revolver can be upset by not allowing the trigger to go fully forward after each shot. Those of us who have trained in the muscle memory to “ride the reset” on a semi-auto can struggle with this. I said all that to say that some revolvers are more forgiving than others when it comes to the action. The K6s is not. I found it easier to lock the action than not, despite knowing exactly what was wrong and what I needed to do to avoid it. So powerful is habit! On the flip side (and possibly related, but I’m not a gunsmith so it’s just a guess) is that the K6s has perhaps the best staging trigger I’ve ever felt in a standard production revolver. “Staging”, or “prepping” (among other nicknames) is a technique that the shooter of a double-action revolver uses to quickly draw the trigger back to just near its breaking point, and stop it there – then slowly squeeze off the shot with what is essentially a single-action trigger. This is most common among competitive shooters when a longer shot is necessary and the delicacy of a light break is preferable. A good double-action revolver will have a tactile index point at just that point in the trigger stroke, a sort of a ‘pause’ spot. The K6s stages wonderfully, and it quickly becomes muscle memory for the trigger finger. The touchy locking of the mechanism with uncouth operators such as me might be the byproduct of this internal working. However, in the hands of a friend who is a serious wheel gunner, it performed flawlessly in all ways.

This means that even .38 Special cases are longer than the ejector. You’ll need gravity to help.

The Kimber K6s 3-inch handles recoil better than I expected it to, even full power .357 mag loads – though I much preferred shooting .38’s. I suspect the small size belies its heft and strength. At over 25 ounces (Kimber reports 25.1 officially, but my scale said 26 ½) it is certainly no air weight clone. The previously mentioned grip angle is also helpful, putting your bones and muscles in a good alignment to handle the energy. With .38 Special, even the +P variety, it is downright fun to shoot. The sight picture with the standard 3-dot configuration is exceptional and allows for both quick acquisition and respectable precision. The front sight is held by a small roll pin that can be drifted out, and the rear sight sits in a nicely cut dovetail. Replacing both would not be a difficult job, which sets the K6s apart from most revolvers.

You’ll find few right angles on the K6s. Every edge is nicely rounded and smooth.

The K6s is a nice little shooter, ringing a small steel target from 10-15 yards with ease, and punching nice fist-sized groups in paper with off-hand shooting at those same distances. My 25-yard tests from a simple rest saw the groups spread out a bit, but still quite acceptable. Somewhat surprising was that the best groups of the day were made with Remington .357 Magnum rounds and not the more manageable .38 Specials.

Remington UMC .357 Magnum yielded the best group.

JUST MY OPINION

Every gun collection, no matter how small, should include at least one good revolver. There is something about handling (pronounced fondling) a beautiful firearm that still uses essentially pre-Civil War era technology. And there is something additionally special when the gun is somewhat innovative and takes the engineering and design of this old technology to its limits. When the Kimber K6s was first introduced, I have to confess my first thought was that it would be a “me too” revolver to appeal to a niche market. Far from it. I am impressed with the level of engineering that has been applied to the creation of the K6 family, and also with the design and ergonomics. Add in that it is simply a beautiful gun, and the MSRP has been announced at only $899, and the Kimber K6s 3” gets my enthusiastic recommendation. Accessories available from Kimber include speed loaders and holsters. It would have been nice if a speed loader had been in the box for testing, but none was provided. I’m sure aftermarket options will also be available. If your collection is missing a revolver, or you are looking for one that has a nice balance for concealed carry and home defense, the K6s in 3-inch is a great value.

For more information about the Kimber K6s, click here.

For more information about Remington ammunition, click here.

To purchase a Kimber K6s on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Harley Meiroff July 6, 2018, 6:13 pm

    This will be short & sweet, you should be able to fire your revolver double action efficiently to at least 50 yards. If the crap hits the fan where deadly force is necessary, who wants to waste vital time cocking your revolver?
    The S&W 586L is an L framed seven shot 357 Magnum. It’s vented ahead of the front sight which I changed to a
    fiber optic. A bit heavy to carry but a joy to shoot. Find the right holster and you have a very nice, powerful
    package out of the Performance Center.

  • Jack Gordon April 27, 2018, 3:51 pm

    A question I’ve not seen on any review of this gun: What is the drop safety the K6? S&W has their firing pin block and Ruger has its patented ‘transfer bar’. What does Kimber use? Even though the hammer is shrouded, I imagine there has to be some way of preventing firing pin contact with primers if the revolver is dropped.

  • Rich Looby February 15, 2018, 7:36 am

    It’s a nice looking gun, but I’ll stick with my 357/38 +p gun. Mine is the affordable Windicator from European American Armory, ( EAA ). It’s a 6 shot, blue, rubber gripped beauty. Price 285.00, brand new. I just bought 4 months ago, so it’s todays price market.

  • PaulWVa February 5, 2018, 6:59 pm

    I’d rather have my S&W M-13, 3″, RB, .357 mag. A great shooter I bought, in like new condition, from a pawn shop in the late ’80s…..$250.00. A gun once used as FBI carry and one of the most overlooked S&W revolvers.

  • Jon November 29, 2017, 8:39 pm

    3″ barrel and you can’t fully extract casings…….for $900…….?? no thanks

  • paul howell November 28, 2017, 1:31 am

    oh my god, john wayne himself would have a hard time finding the money to pay for this, 900 bucks jesus i could get an AR15 for that… and a good one..

  • T. Walund November 27, 2017, 9:49 pm

    Colt Cobra alloy frame 6 shots Gold Dots.

  • Don Rhyne November 27, 2017, 6:33 pm

    How would you compare it to the Ruger SP101 .327 Federal/32 with 3-inch barrel?

  • Andy November 27, 2017, 12:32 pm

    Nice looking revolver. The 3″ SP-101 is my choice. I want hammer cocking ability.

    • Don Rhyne November 27, 2017, 7:09 pm

      The SP101 handles very nicely. Fits my hand. For practice .32 is a nice load. But if you wish knock down power you have it with the .327. A ballistic test comparing .327 to .357 show they are basically equal, the .327 is generally a more accurate round than the .357 plus you do not have the recoil of the .357.
      Again everyone has their opinion.

  • Frank November 27, 2017, 11:41 am

    (Here’s where I get picked on) Personally I own a beautiful 2″, deep royal blue finish, 6 shot, 357 Magnum, exposed hammer Rossi revolver with factory equipped very nice rubber like grips. The action is quite smooth as is the single action release, very crisp there. I bought the gun new 2 years ago and paid $250. I have not been able to find it for sale again anywhere. I does let you know when you’ve sent a 125 JHP 357 down range, but is controllable in an experienced hand. I bought it in a moment of “Well let’s see what $250 will but me today” and has been my most pleasant hand gun purchase surprise in many years. Sometimes you just get lucky. This KIMBER is a KIMBER. I recently had the experience of handling one, oh my, very nice indeed.

  • Walleye November 27, 2017, 10:56 am

    Charter Arms makes the Mag Pug SS DAO which is a 5 shot 2 inch SS revolver for only $395.
    Buy 2 of them, and you’ll have 10 rounds of .357 fire power for less cost than the Kimber loaded with only 6.
    Just saying…

  • RICK November 27, 2017, 10:38 am

    WAY…WAY TOO EXPENSIVE….FOR THAT PRICE I WOULD EXPECT IT
    TO BE AN “8-SHOT 357 MAG” I
    FEEL THEY SHOULD COME DOWN
    IN PRICE BY AT LEAST $300.00. IT
    IS A NICE WEAPON………..QUALITY
    MATERIALS…….WITH EXCELLENT
    CRAFTSMANSHIP……….BUT I FEEL
    IM PAYING FOR THE “NAME” YOU
    KNOW…KINDA LIKE THOSE
    “GREEN AND YELLOW” TRACTORS
    AND “MOWERS” YOU ARE EITHER
    PAYING 30% “MORE” FOR THE
    “N A M E”…………OR FOR THE
    “GREEN & YELLOW” PAINT!!!!!!🙄

  • Griffendad November 27, 2017, 8:01 am

    Same frame, slap on a barrel and grip. Zero extra engineering. Still overpriced for a DA only revolver.

  • John Howerton November 27, 2017, 6:00 am

    Nice article and little wheelgun. I hope they will make a black version like they do with the shorter barreled model. Anybody know of any smiths who are cutting the cylinders on these K6 models to accept full moon clips? The 3 inch version would make a nice little lightweight fishing and hiking package here in NW Montana while out and about, stuffed with hardcast 357 loads.

    • John Howerton November 30, 2017, 6:01 am

      After looking at more pictures of the cylinder, I don’t think there’s enough room between the charge holes for a moon clip to work on a K6. They used up all the available room to make that small frame’s small cylinder to be able to hold six. I still like it though, and will just have to go with their speed loaders.

  • Rich Looby November 27, 2017, 4:39 am

    European American Armory sells a very nice 6 shot 357 magnum revolver with a 2 inch barrel called the Windicator. Blued or stainless. I paid $325.00 ..

  • Mike In Idaho November 27, 2017, 3:52 am

    I like this, I love the simplistic look and smoothness. This costs more than I would pay for it however. Someday, If some moron that had enough dough to buy one of these and was carrying it at the time he decided to pull some shit on me but didn’t have the ballz , but did with intent brandish and I had to shoot him with my 300.00 wheel, I will have one. :0)

    Or possibly some crazy awesome sale might come up. LOL

    • Jimmy Joe Meeker November 27, 2017, 9:45 am

      Or perhaps you could incapacitate your would-be attacker by challenging him to diagram that sentence.

    • Adam Jeppson November 27, 2017, 5:36 pm

      ..and the mall ninja shows up. I pray you never are in a real fight. Sincerely.

    • Gerald Scott November 28, 2017, 11:01 am

      Lol good one

  • Grant Stevens November 17, 2017, 2:01 pm

    A revolver without an exposed hammer is like a breast without a nipple. I have carried revolvers for more than 50 years and have never had an exposed hammer snag on anything but my thumb. Half the value of a double-action revolver is destroyed when it cannot be deployed for single-action accuracy.

    • Justin Opinion November 21, 2017, 4:57 pm

      Grant – what is the more valuable element of the internal hammer or bobbed hammer (enough that it is rendered incapable of thumb-cocking) is that it removes the potential (and very likely) allegation that you cocked the hammer prior to taking your shot in a self-defense situation. Prosecutors have frequently tried that tactic to imply that the defendant either had malice of deadly intent or rendered the gun with a “hair trigger” and thereby created a condition for a negligent shot. Either way, if they persuade 12 people of their theory, you will likely spend the rest of your life in prison. There are still plenty available with hammers that have spurs, if you want one. Just offering you a good reason why many are made without.

      • Tom November 27, 2017, 6:31 am

        As a curiosity, do prosecutors use the same tactic if one carried his 1911 condition one, ” cocked and locked”?

    • Mike In Idaho November 27, 2017, 3:59 am

      I agree, but this is not something I would take hunting either. It’s those seconds that the shooter in self defense mode is lining up their Target for a specific spot on the “Offender” That they are talking about when they say you switched from “Self Defense Mode” to “Hunt this bastard down and make him pay mode”

      Weird I know, like they really think a soft fuzzy threaten kitten cannot pull a hammer back, it takes a Horrible Murderous Side Kick Of Satan to do that.

    • Gregg Greenwood November 27, 2017, 9:50 am

      I’ve carried two revolvers for CCW on occasion. For many years. And both of them were S&W Centennials. M640 and M249. Somehow I valiantly soldiered along with them even though I now discover that they are worthless without an external hammer. How did I ever manage?

      • James Smith November 27, 2017, 6:03 pm

        Gregg , I can only hope that is sarcasm . I have a 9 mm Kahr CM9 that i like for CC , BUT I usually carry an Air Lite Taurus.38 with shrouded hammer , can still thumb cock it . ( Clone of the S&W .38 snubbies ) . I LOVE the Taurus boot grip & have an identical one in .357 non “Air Lite” both SS . I find them to be above Charter Arms in quality and since both can use .38 +P , my speed-loaders are loaded with those no matter which one I carry . So , while I like the idea or more than “5 to stay alive’ , if I am ever in a self defense , or even defending another person – if I need more than 5 , then i was in deep shit to begin with and should not have drawn my weapon …. Real life is not “Lethal Weapon” movies …. If you need 15 rounds , you needed more practice ( IMO) .

        • Kilkenny January 14, 2018, 9:42 pm

          More of the “if you need more than (insert variable round capacity here) rounds blah blah blah crowd. All based on ASSUMPTIONS. Only time you have too much ammo is swimming or on fire. So you get out of one engagement, flee, only to face another engagement. Your rounds you fired to the 5 guys advancing (oh did you assume just one?) isn’t scaring them off (assumption) cause they are on drugs or demonic possession. The active shooter unleashing hell has a vest and helmet and you need suppression of fire (more ammo) to catch his or her attention from the fleeing women and children… and you must be able to hit from some distance away. He has a rifle after all… Goes on and on. If the gun carried is limited in it’s ability you’re not carrying a proper tool, you’ve created a talisman, an object you attribute to ward off evil, etc. Yes there are limits with pistols but for the love of God folks, assume nothing, carry all you can, extra ammo, make accurate face shots at 50 yards (that’s not self defense!, BS. Ever hear of active shooters, terrorists? yeah I know, “that will never happen here”) more gear in the car, carry blades, trauma kit, etc.

    • John Howerton November 30, 2017, 6:08 am

      Watch the video. You can take the stack out of the trigger right up to the breaking point consistently. In effect, it would function like a single action or a hammer back shot. Have heard great reviews, both in writing and videos, of the K6 trigger.

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