The revolver market is alive and well. This is evident by the number of models that Smith & Wesson, and other companies, continue to offer. Even Colt got back in the game with the reintroduction of the Cobra. Kimber America, however, seems like the most unlikely company to be in the revolver market. Yes, the same Kimber famous for their 1911s.
In 2016 Kimber introduced the K6 series of snub-nosed six-shot hammerless double action only revolvers. The initial handguns were offered with a 2-inch barrel and touted the smallest diameter cylinder that can still hold six rounds of .357 Magnum. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the K6 at first. That changed when Kimber introduced a 3-inch version of the K6S. The new 3-inch model is sleek, sexy, and serious.
Many older shooters like myself think that Smith & Wesson Models 13 and 65, with their 3-inch barrels, were the best combat revolvers ever produced. The Model 13 in carbon steel and the Model 65 in stainless were six-shot revolvers built on Smith & Wesson’s K-frame. Like the Model 19 and 66, the Model 13 and 65 were chambered for .357 Magnum but with fixed sights instead of adjustable sights.
The Model 13 was adopted by the FBI as their standard sidearm from 1974 until the late 1980s. It was well balanced, durable, and had Smith’s great action. In addition, the 3-inch barrel allowed the guns to have a longer ejector rod that provided more clearance with long Magnum cases. It was built for fighting.
When I saw the 3-inch K6 models, I immediately recognized them as fighting revolvers. The new K6 revolvers are 7.62 inches long, 4.46 inches tall and weigh 25.1 ounces. The cylinder diameter is just 1.39 inches wide. For reference, the cylinder on a Smith & Wesson Model 19 is 1.48 inches wide. The K6 is similar to the Smith & Wesson Centennial with its concealed hammer and sloped frame.
It has a sleek profile and every edge on the gun has been smoothed and rounded, removing every sharp corner. The cylinder is also visually striking. Kimber went with a flat-sided cylinder instead of more traditional flutes. It has scalloped recoil shields and checkered push-button cylinder release. The edges on the cylinder release button are rounded to reduce the chance of it cutting thumbs under recoil.
The frame of the K6s is as solid as a tank. The trigger guard is oval-shaped which provides more room for large or gloved fingers. The trigger is polished with nicely radiused edges. You can shoot this trigger all day without tearing up your fingers. The 3-inch barrel is also slightly oval-shaped with a contoured and crowned muzzle. It has a composite grip with a large boot cut profile.
Kimber hit a home run when it comes to the 3-dot sights on the K6s. While they are low profile, they present a fast and positive sight picture. The rear sight is dovetailed into the frame and blends into the topstrap. The front sight is a fixed post that is pinned in place. I found the three white dots easy to align.
Kimber K6s Specifications
- Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 Special +P
- Capacity: 6 rounds
- Height: 4.6 inches
- Length: 7.62 inches
- Weight: 25.1 ounces
- Action: Double-action only
- Barrel: 3-inch
- Sights: 3-dot
- Grips: Walnut
- MSRP: $899
I shot the K6 with both .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammunition courtesy of Aguila and Federal Premium Ammunition. The action on the Kimber is the smoothest I have ever felt from a factory pistol. There is no grit or drag. The Kimber also locks up faster than Smith & Wesson models. This quick lockup and smooth trigger make the K6s very easy to shoot, especially at longer ranges or shooting tight groups.
The K6’s weight and grip shape make shooting Magnum loads manageable. The hottest rounds we tested were Speer 125-grain Gold Dot hollow points which averaged 1,359 feet per second at ten feet. That works out to just over 500 foot-pounds of force. The same bullet loaded as .38 Special +P averaged 897 fps, or just 223 foot-pounds of force.
We also tested with Aguila 158-grain jacketed soft point loads and Federal 158-grain Hydra Shok ammunition. These averaged 1,174 and 1,229 feet per second respectively, making 484 and 530 foot-pound of force.
I tested the accuracy of the K6s by firing from a bench using a sandbag as a rest. The range was 15-yards and the accompanying chart reflects the results. Bearing in mind that the K6s is a double-action only pistol, I was pleased with my performance even though the pistol is probably far more capable.
|Agulia||.357 Magnum||158 jacketed soft point||1232||1110||1174||122||43||2.0 inches|
|Federal Premium||.357 Magnum||158 grain hollow point||1247||1312||1229||34||13||2.25 inches|
|Speer Gold Dot||.38 Special +P||125 grain hollow point||906||892||897||14||5||1 inch|
|Speer Gold Dot||.357 Magnum||125 grain hollow point||1390||1329||1359||61||26||1.25 inches|
|Accuracy is measured at 15 yards Measure center to center, velocity at 10 feet.|
I also shot the Kimber K6s with my own drill by firing five shots in five seconds from seven yards at an NRA 25-yard target, twice, for a total of 10 rounds fired in 10 seconds — a modified Larry Vickers 10-10-10 drill — using Speer Gold Dot Magnum ammo. I was very pleased to see that I only dropped one point for a total score of 99 out of 100, a personal best.
As mentors, we have a responsibility to carry on traditions and to educate the next generation. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten. I am disheartened when I meet a shooter that has never fired a revolver. Even in law enforcement we have officers who pick up a revolver and have to ask an old timer how to unload it.
Thanks to Kimber and others, revolvers are still in production, giving new shooters the chance to try them and see for themselves what advantages revolvers still have to offer when it comes to self-defense and concealed-carry.
All in all, when compared to other revolvers on the market, I found the Kimber to be well thought out and superbly executed. It is, in my opinion, the best full-size personal defense revolver on the market. There is room for some improvement, however.
The very top edges of the grips are sharp enough to be uncomfortable shooting magnum loads. It’s an easy fix to round them off. While Kimber extended the barrel and underlug they kept the short ejection rod from the smaller model. As a result, the K6s ejector is not long enough to fully eject the longer magnum cases. This is a more significant issue that I would like to see fixed in future models.
Currently only the stainless model is offered with a 3-inch barrel. The 2-inch models are available in black, two-tone and engraved versions in addition to the original all-stainless finish. The MSRP for these guns starts at $899. Check out all the models on the Kimber website.
***Thinking about getting a K6S for everyday carry? Shop GunsAmerica.com today for Kimber firearms!***