Tiny Defender: Kimber Micro CDP .380 – Full Review.


The Kimber Micro CDP offers shooters a 1911-style pistol that is downsized to fire .380 ACP. It is well made, compact and capable.

For more information, visit http://www.kimberamerica.com/micro-cdp.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Kimber%20Micro%20CDP.

The challenge is real. Trying to decide on a handgun that meets a very specific check list to become your daily concealed carry is a conundrum. We want the power of a .44 Magnum in a gun that we can drop in our pocket. It also needs to be reliable, smooth and of course very good looking. Is this really so much to ask? Well, we are hit every time with the laws of physics and the limitations of even advanced manufacturing capabilities. So then we wander back to reality and look at our options. The most common item on the list that people focus on is the size of the gun. Many people simply are unwilling or unable to carry a full-size gun on a daily basis. In fact, many people want the smallest frame gun they can get. With that information, we are able to narrow our search. In fact, once we narrow it down that far, there is one gun that seems to fit the bill quite well; the Kimber Micro CDP chambered in .380.

With a slim width of 1.08 inches, the Micro CDP is easy to conceal.


  • Chambering: .380 ACP
  • Barrel: 2.75 inches
  • OA Length: 5.6 inches
  • Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Grips: Rosewood
  • Sights: Tritium
  • Action: Single-action
  • Finish: Two-tone
  • Capacity: 6+1
  • MSRP: $869

A Tiny 1911

The Kimber Micro CDP is a two-tone pocket pistol built generally in the classic 1911 pattern. This micro blaster emerges from the masters inside the Kimber Custom Shop, which explains its exceptional fit and finish. Overall, Kimber is known for making good-looking guns, but the CDP takes that to a new level. The gun comes with a matte stainless slide paired with a black frame and good-looking rosewood grips. The overall fit and finish of the gun is solid as you would expect from Kimber. The CDP appears to be a 1911 left in the dryer too long, yet there are a couple of distinct differences. The gun varies slightly from Mr. Browning’s design in that it does not have a grip safety or barrel bushing. It does retain the thumb safety and traditional magazine release as well as its exposed hammer fire function. Also, unlike a full-size 1911, the safety does not lock the slide into battery. There are two sides to this coin and each gun owner can decide where they land. With this design, the slide can be run on an empty chamber with the safety on. One the other hand, the engaged safety will not keep the slide from rearward motion when the gun is in your holster. Like its full-sized brother, the CDP is designed to be carried in condition one—cocked and locked. To those who have cut their teeth on striker-fired guns this can seem foreign, yet it has been standard operating procedure for the 1911 since, well…1911 (and before, depending upon how you look at it). For those who are fans of the 1911 style, the CDP is an oasis in a polymer striker fired desert.

The .380 ACP pistol packs in a 6+1 capacity, which offers a good amount of firepower in a very tiny package.

Small, But Serious

The tale of the tape on the CDP shows us a gun that is designed to be a micro fighter. Made with a lightweight aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide, it comes in at just over 13 ounces empty. Add to that its small footprint of a 4-inch height and 5.6-inch length and you have a solid yet compact weapon. The CDP comes with a full-length guide rod and an eight-pound recoil spring. The 2.75-inch barrel is ramped and has a 1:16 LH twist. Kimber also includes a set of what I consider to be “real” sights. They are fixed low profile three-dot tritium night sights. Most importantly they are made of steel. The trigger is a traditional 1911-style piece that has a factory setting of seven pounds. I must be honest and say I had to confirm this with a trigger gauge. The gun feels more like a light five-pound trigger but that is the beauty of the 1911 trigger. Finishing it out is what Kimber calls a “Carry Melt” finish. This is a process carried out in the custom shop that works to eliminate sharp corners and smooths the gun out for comfortable concealed carry.

Kimber considered the needs of southpaws with the Micro CDP and provided an ambidextrous safety.

I have a love/hate relationship with most of the micro-style guns on the market. I admire and enjoy their small size, yet find them unpleasant to shoot for any prolonged period of time. This is exceptionally problematic for anyone who will be carrying these guns for defensive purposes. In short, you need to train with your gun and the jumpy, snappy nature of many pocket guns shorten those sessions dramatically. How can you be expected to accurately hit your target if you have not practiced? In fact, I attribute this lack of range time to many of the “accuracy issues” people experience with small pistols. The Kimber CDP bucks this trend by being much easier to control. It is a mixture of grip angle, weight and of course trigger design. I found the CDP easy to manage even during longer strings of fire. The recoil was less than in other pistols with a welcome byproduct of quicker follow-up shots. The gun pointed instinctively and would be good for longer training sessions.

The pistol has the “Carry Melt” treatment that rounds all the sharp edges for better concealment characteristics.

90-Grain Gorilla

It is at this point that we need to address the 90-grain gorilla in the room. The .380 round is not exactly known for its place on the power chart. In fact .380 is considered to be the “power floor” of defensive rounds. Its overall lack of mass and velocity are a handicap we must acknowledge. However, modern .380 ammo has been capable of producing impressive results in the FBI performance protocol. This is especially true with Federal Ammunition manufacturing their well respected HST rounds specifically for the .380 short market. Their new version of the HST is optimized to be run in shorter barrel guns. Even with this advancement, the .380 simply is what it is; a small caliber weapon. The last thing I will bring to the table on this though is obviously the most critical. A small caliber gun is better than no gun. I have yet to find anyone to volunteer to get shot by a .380 and with good shot placement a .380 can save your life.

The pistol employs a locked-breech, tilting barrel system of functioning that keeps weight and bulk to a minimum.

Run it

Performance of the CDP was impressive on the range. With only a 2.75-inch barrel I expected hand span sized groups but it was astronomically better than that. Using a test distance of 10 yards, my best group was just over 1.25 inch. This was shot off hand and was made possible by the great trigger and real sights on the gun. I did have a couple hiccups on function as it failed to feed twice. I liberally oiled the gun and the issue cleared up for the rest of the testing. Testing included the standard slow fire group tests, but I also ran it as I would any weapon designed for personal protection. This is where the finish of the gun began to really stand out. Its smooth finish made it a very comfortable gun to run. Even with my large hands, the gun was easy to get into the fight and keep in the fight. I would ultimately put base pads on the magazines to help with seating, but that is a personal preference. The gun is well balanced and felt very good in my hands.

The author was able to get very good results at 10 yards with the tiny pistol.

The author ran the pistol through some drills and was surprised how pleasant it was to shoot, considering its size.

As a 1911 lover, it seemed like the gun was a natural fit for me. Even with the short sight radius, it was quick to get on target. Kimber was kind enough to include extra mags for the testing and I am glad they did. Six rounds goes pretty quick and is a solid reminder that if you are going to carry a micro gun, you would be well advised to carry at least one extra magazine as well. Like the gun, they are light and well made.The pleasant nature of the gun will allow any shooter to spend extensive time on the range and in doing so, enhance their skills. It will also give them a chance to break the gun in. It is a process I find critical with any gun I choose to carry as a defensive weapon. Are there some guns out there that are ready “off the shelf?” Not in my mind. Any weapon you will be betting your life on needs to prove itself on the range in my opinion. By the time the range session had ended I had already begun to work on “That” speech. The speech that so many of us have had with our loved ones. The speech where we try to convince them why we need yet another gun. In my case it was simply a matter of letting my wife shoot the CDP. She loved it and in time the gun was doing the convincing for me. If only every gun on the market could do that for us.

The pleasant nature of the gun will allow any shooter to spend extensive time on the range and in doing so, enhance their skills. It will also give them a chance to break the gun in. It is a process I find critical with any gun I choose to carry as a defensive weapon. Are there some guns out there that are ready “off the shelf?” Not in my mind. Any weapon you will be betting your life on needs to prove itself on the range in my opinion. By the time the range session had ended I had already begun to work on “That” speech. The speech that so many of us have had with our loved ones. The speech where we try to convince them why we need yet another gun. In my case it was simply a matter of letting my wife shoot the CDP. She loved it and in time the gun was doing the convincing for me. If only every gun on the market could do that for us.

The pistol came packed in a nice zippered case with room for spare magazines.

You Will Want One

The Kimber CDP is a fantastic pocket pistol. Kimber was wise to enter this market and offer the classic 1911-style gun as an option. While the .380 round is not elephant worthy, it is certainly better than a can of pepper spray or overburdened purse. This is a 1911-style pistol and for those that have cut their teeth on striker-fired guns, there will be a familiarization curve. It is well worth it however. Kimber has done it yet again by building a gun that is not only a problem solver, but a good looking weapon to boot.

For more information, visit http://www.kimberamerica.com/micro-cdp.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Kimber%20Micro%20CDP.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Robert Herbert April 2, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Reviews help one to learn about what they are interested in, I too passed on the raptor .380. I fell in love with the feel and looks, I just dont want to take a chance on getting one that malfunctions. Especially when I need it the most so I’m keeping my p238 for now. It’s a great fun and shoots well with no hiccups.

  • john March 4, 2017, 12:13 am

    I own a Kimber 1911 45 cal. eclipseII, it ran great with factory ammo started using reloads and had some FTF issues while shooting IDPA. Called Yonkers they said send it, they buffed the ramp and checked it out. They noticed my night sights looked dim and replaced them for free. The eclipse runs great now, I also have the Kimber 45 cal. CDP II ultra no problems.
    The guy that worked on my gun was excellent , I don’t care what liberal state he is in, he is on our side.

  • DIYinSTL March 1, 2017, 8:40 am

    It can’t be said enough how nice these guns are to shoot compared to a $200 LCP. The Kimber (and perhaps the Mustang et. al. too) can be shot all day. After a dozen rounds through the (Gen 1) LCP you’d rather be home unclogging a toilet; sore palm and your trigger finger hurts like its been cracked with a whip every shot. It’s all about ergonomics and the Kimber has it.

  • Don February 28, 2017, 3:48 pm

    I like the the Glock 42

  • D February 28, 2017, 8:50 am

    To the author: This is not a 1911 trigger, its a swinger not a slider. Any attributes are related to refinement of the swinger style not inherited from the 1911 design.
    Also the Kimber Solo is a SA striker fired, smaller than the Micro and has the power of the 9mm

  • Denny February 27, 2017, 8:09 pm

    Isn’t it great to live here and be able to buy whatever you want to carry. May the revolver be with us always.

  • greg raab February 27, 2017, 3:25 pm

    Personally own 2 Kimber’s a Colt and a Springfield all 1911 .45’s but my 12 yr old Bersa Thunder 380
    is my everyday carry, and is as reliable as any!

  • Mike k February 27, 2017, 1:13 pm

    I just don’t understand it? this size gun begs to be pocket carried. However, I don’t carry any 1911 style gun in my pocket. 1911 is almost useless unless it is carried cocked and locked. That style of Carriy is nothing short of stupid in a pocket, with or without a pocket holster. Why on Earth would anyone buy something like this when you can buy a Kimber Solo with a wonderful double action trigger in the full nine millimeter caliber? I guess this is great for Kimber marketing and it’s amazing how many people go for it. IMHO it just doesn’t make sense when there are better options available.

    • D February 28, 2017, 8:52 am

      The Kimber Solo is SA striker fired not DA The striker is fully cocked and released, there is a safety gate that moves as the trigger is depressed but the trigger cannot reset the striker.

  • NavyVet February 27, 2017, 1:03 pm

    I happen to own a Sig 229 9 mm as it is proven to be just about jam proof

    It worked extremely well and is battle proven in the worst possible conditions it never misfired

    When your life depends on a firearm that will not fail the Sig sets the standards
    The colt 45 was awesome except having the ability to rapid fire and still remain on target was challenging at best in a fire fight

    Besides Yonkers is known to be one of the ANTI Gun areas in NYS so why support any company that the local politicians want to stop citizens from owning . What good is buying a weapon that holds 10 rounds when NYC only allows fire (5) rounds?

    NYS has a limit of 10 rounds and this maybe changed under the corrupt regime now in power

  • Grant Stevens February 27, 2017, 12:07 pm

    Cute, but Kimber’s .357 Mag. wheel-gun is a much better self-defense choice. There are no safeties to fumble or FTFs to clear. And the .357 Magnum is a proven man-stopper. But if you can’t handle the heft, recoil and muzzle blast, then perhaps pepper spray is a more viable alternative. It’s lightweight and very easy to carry in a purse.

  • Marco February 27, 2017, 11:06 am

    Best .380 I have is my 84F Beretta… Never jammed at all. Only with malfunctioning ammos.

    • SteveO February 27, 2017, 11:47 am

      You are so right about the Beretta 84. Have had mine now for about 6 now and love it. Carry Underwood 90 Xtreme Penetrator
      1100fps rds. in it. This is now my main carry gun.

  • CharlesD February 27, 2017, 10:51 am

    In the mid 90’s I bough a Colt Mustang Pocklite. It has everything the Kimber has 20 years eariler. My pistol weights the same, same trigger only the sights are different. At the range I can run a box of 50 through this pistol before getting any FTF. Much more then a PD gun would be used. At $450 its a steal. Oh ya my old eyes are failing so I put a laser on it and a 7 round mag which puts my ring finger soldily on the grip. Making it an 8 shooter. Luv it.

  • WiscoGunner February 27, 2017, 10:50 am

    If I had very deep pockets, I might spend $550 for this gun. Instead, I purchased a Kimber Micro Carry 380 that looks almost identical to this one and it shoots fantastic. I paid $426. I don’t know if a more smooth-shooting and accurate pocket 380 could be found on the market. I have shot the Micro Desert Eagle 380, Diamondback DB380, Kahr P380 and the Kel-Tec P3AT, and there is no comparison. Kimber works some kind of magic because the recoil seems so tame and the gun just shoots really well. I am not sure what upgrades this one has to mine but for $440 more, I think it’s fairy dust. My Kimber is a keeper. Shop around and find a deal like I did.

    Some people frown upon the .380ACP for defense carry but something is better than nothing, and, if that something has a +P it can be effective and potentially a life saver.

  • mrpski February 27, 2017, 10:25 am

    Having an Ultracarry II since they first came out, all I can say is Kimber makes a fine weapon that performs and looks great. Never had a problem with mine running anything from discount to high octane ammo. That being said like the weapon it is, racehorses run best with racehorse ammo. I carry a variety of handguns depending on the situation, & if it is going to be a 380 then my little TCP 780 works just fine thanks. If I was better off sure, I would get this Kimber in a heartbeat after my experience with the 45 Ultra. Companies like Underwood have ammo in 380 that would stop anyone’s clock in a hurry.

  • NotAFan February 27, 2017, 10:22 am

    I’m not a Sig fan in general, but I have purchased three P238s for myself and family members at a much lower cost than the Kimbers. I own a bunch of 1911’s – mostly Colt, some Para, a Springfield, etc, etc. and even a couple of Philippine made 1911’s. The ONLY 1911’s that I’ve ever had problems, all from new, were Kimbers. This is how it goes – clean, load, shoot, malfunction. Call customer service. They tell me it’s not broken in yet, shoot 600 rounds. Go shoot 2 rounds. Malfunction. Repeat until over 600 rounds, with constant malfunctions (this is fun!). Call customer service. Shipping label sent, on it’s way to Kimber. Kimber reports “cleaned and adjusted”. Clean, load, shoot. Malfunction. Shoot again, malfunction. After a total of FOUR new Kimbers going through the SAME process, I will no longer pay for simply an overpriced brand name. My “cheap” Filipino 1911’s run right out of the box. I simply don’t understand the Kimber love – and price. I know, I’m going to get a lot of hate, because like me, you overpaid for a pistol that was “supposed” to be the best, and honestly I’m embarrassed and didn’t want to admit that I’d been “had”. My friends were like – “oh, a Kimber!! You paid how much??!!!”. Then tell them that they wouldn’t run…. Admit it, there are much better choices, a lot cheaper. *Note – I wouldn’t be so negative on Kimber if they had fixed the problems on FOUR pistols, but they didn’t. I sold all of them – at a huge loss – with full disclosure to the buyer.

    • Mike February 27, 2017, 3:44 pm

      You made four new Kimber owners, very happy. I run a crimson carry pro 2, and hand load 180 grain paper punchers, with 7 grains of Unique powder. As long as I keep the length right, it Never fails to feed, or fire. I loaded down, until it failed to cycle, and then bumped it back up to 7 grains. Runs flawlessly. Some times you just have to know what you are doing.

    • DIYinSTL March 1, 2017, 8:27 am

      I bought 1k rds. of Sig .45 ACP on sale and every magazine would have a FTF in both my FNP and P220. My brother’s Kimber ate them like candy. My advice: get a coach to look at the way you shoot (limp wrist?) and don’t invest in any lottery tickets.

  • Fred February 27, 2017, 10:12 am

    Have the Sig 238 with Trace laser sight as well as night sights- never a jam a pleasure to shoot

  • Terry Norris February 27, 2017, 8:54 am

    That is a very high price ! That’s higher than my sig 938 & as much as my para 45 warthog ! WAY TO MUCH MONEY !

  • Piney February 27, 2017, 8:53 am

    I’ve put close to 800 rounds though my Sig P238 and carry it frequently over the past four years. I carry the metal mouse because it better absorbs the high velocity Buffalo Bore .380 rounds. I don’t see anything in this article that explains why the Kimber is significantly better other than its about an ounce lighter.

  • Tug February 27, 2017, 8:14 am

    Been carrying the Colt Mustang for a couple years and never had a problem with it.
    The light weight is a pleasant change from my full size 1911’s and even my compact Sig. Even when carrying a couple spare magazines
    Using Hornady Critical Defense ammo, American Gunner with the 90 gr XTP bullet, or Sig’s Performance Ammo in 90 gr I don’t feel under gunned at all

  • alex Duschere February 27, 2017, 8:03 am

    nothing was mentioned about the trigger weight in single action or if thee is that feature gone?

  • W.P. Zeller February 27, 2017, 6:13 am

    Another unoriginal Mustang clone. Pretty soon I think my mother will be making them, too.
    Hope the Kimber runs anywhere near as well as my old Colt, which has been perfect for several thousand rounds.
    But it’s a Kimber.

  • Chad yale February 27, 2017, 5:15 am

    My wife and I both purchased these micros. It’s a perfect conceal firearm. No jamming issues. The only problem was the sights. So we purchased night sights and what a difference. Improved grouping immensley. Two thumbs up from us

  • Will Drider February 24, 2017, 12:12 am

    Kimber is very late to this party, there are half a dozen 1911- like .380s on the market well below the Kimbers MSRP. Sig must have at least six different finishes on its P238 alone.

    • Robert herbert February 23, 2017, 8:30 pm

      I was about to buy one , but read reviews on kimber. They jam a lot. Apparently you need to run 300 to 500 rounds through them to break them in. I passed

      • Lance February 27, 2017, 3:18 am

        Maybe you should form your own opinion instead of believing everything you read as most bad reviews are by people who simply don’t like Kimber. I’ve got the Super Carry Pro and I’ve had no problems with it. Try one out for YOURSELF and then decide. Simple enough. Just my opinion.

      • Michael E. Hensley February 27, 2017, 5:31 am

        Sometimes it is best to take what one reads with a grain or 2 .
        These little babies run well, I have the stainless one and it is a dream, so much so I find now, especially in T-Shirt weather It is the Go To for carry.
        The Ammo produced for the .380 now is the key to these Weapons.
        Purchase and enjoy

      • BIG ED February 27, 2017, 8:22 am

        I know that Kimber has a high end price tag,but you pay for what you get.It is true that there are a lot of 1911 380cals out there but it is obvious that you never owned a Kimber.My good old colt that is 40 years old is still going strong with thousand and thousand of rounds,But I put it into retirement when I purchased that cdp micro 380 .I own a few kimbers a something that I can swear to is that Kimber is a straight shooter right out the box….SIG-COLT and Kimber their the best on the market.

        • John Doe October 12, 2017, 3:38 am

          I’m into micro .380 ACPs as used as backup guns and usually pocket carried in a pocket holster. I own six of them to date and shoot them a lot because I am a reloader.

          1) GLOCK G-42 FDE frame 1/500
          1) Kimber Desert Night Micro 380
          1) Colt Mustang Pocketlite stainless
          1) Sig Sauer P-238 Nitron
          1) Kahr P-380 stainless premium model (not the economy CW-380)
          1) Ruger LCP II

          I love them all and wouldn’t ever sell any of these as I believe they are the BEST OF THE BEST in the pocket .380 ACP category. If I hear one more person say “just buy a 9mm instead” I am going to lose my mind. There are NO 9mm pistols that are the size of these micro .380 ACPs. Remember, these are BUGs….you know when your primary weapon fails or the perps find it and somehow disarm you in a scuffle. The true definition of a “BUG” (backup gun) is that it is small enough and light enough to be carried EVERYWHERE and also small enough to be completely hidden. Kind of like when you are laying on the ground bleeding while three gangbanger drug dealers are kicking you to death and they have your primary weapon. You know….SUPPRIZE!

          Your compact 9mm or even S&W J-frame is entirely too big for that purpose. It will be discovered easily and won’t do you much good. I still have two Beretta .25 ACP 950 Jetfires that I carried over 20 years but quit and put them up when they were discontinued for this purpose. As great of guns as those were they were still a .25 ACP. I pack a .380 ACP nowadays in roughly the same size weapon.

          I rock a .380 ACP and don’t feel under-gunned at all for a BUG!


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