Kimber K6–One Sleek, Sexy and Serious .357 Magnum Revolver

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.

I shot a modified Hackathorn 10-10-10 drill with the K6s using Speer’s 125-grain magnum loads.

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 Kimber K6s handled both .38 Special +P and full blown .357 Magnum loads with ease.

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.

The elongated trigger guard provides ample space for those with large fingers or for use when wearing gloves.

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.

The rear sight is dovetailed into the frame and the edges are contoured and beveled. The inset design of the rear sighting plane provides for a crisp sight picture.

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.

The K6 has the smallest diameter cylinder of any six-shot .357 Magnum revolver on the market.

Kimber K6S
ManufacturerCaliberTypeHighLowAverageSpreadStandard deviationAccuracy
Agulia.357 Magnum158 jacketed soft point123211101174122432.0 inches
Federal Premium.357 Magnum158 grain hollow point12471312122934132.25 inches
Speer Gold Dot.38 Special +P125 grain hollow point9068928971451 inch
Speer Gold Dot.357 Magnum125 grain hollow point13901329135961261.25 inches
Accuracy is measured at 15 yards Measure center to center, velocity at 10 feet.

The concealed hammer and sleek shape of the Kimber’s K6s is ideal for concealed carry.

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.

The Kimber K6s is shown next to a Smith & Wesson Model 65.

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 back strap on the Kimber is serrated to provide resistance to horizontal movement during firing.

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.

The elongated trigger guard provides ample space for those with large fingers or for use when wearing gloves.

***Thinking about getting a K6S for everyday carry? Shop GunsAmerica.com today for Kimber firearms!***

 

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Dick Jones August 18, 2018, 1:12 pm

    I’ve shot them and felt they were unusually uncomfortable to shoot because of the grip. I gun I shot at SHOT Show Media Day was more uncomfortable than an 11 ounce 340 PD S&W with a Crimson Trace LG 350 G grip laser, shooting the same loads at half the weight. An over molded aftermarket grip would make it better. but I’m not a fan. Shoot one before you buy. It’s a hand bruiser. Pretty heavy for a carry gun, JMHO.

  • Idaho Mike August 14, 2018, 9:59 pm

    I like the 3″ revolvers. I have Smith’s in the model 36, a cut down K frame Master piece, and a model 27. I also have a Ruger SP 101 in .357 mag. All 3 or 3 1/2″ inch barrels. The big problem I find with these revolvers is, No one makes a standard holster for any of them. The 3″ barreled guns seem to be the illegitimant child when it comes to holster makers.

  • Charlie August 14, 2018, 4:48 pm

    Take the Smith., A well done trigger job and you are still hundreds of dollars ahead. Also consider the
    value if you later decide to sell it.

  • Leonard August 13, 2018, 4:46 pm

    I am not sure how much I like this gun’s looks but I know that it is expensive as well. I have a 3″ Model 13 from the original run in the 70’s for the FBI. It is smooth as silk, and I could not ask for a better revolver. I have had several other Smith revolvers in .38, .357, ,41 Mg and .44 Mag. But the Model 13 is smooth, absorbs recoil, and is beautiful to look at.
    I am also a Colt fan, but the difference is apples and oranges.

    • Rob Garrett August 13, 2018, 7:18 pm

      The price is s little steep but look at the MSRP in Smith wheelguns these days. Then compare the quality of the two.

    • FirstStateMark August 13, 2018, 9:26 pm

      I would take that S&W 3″ model 13 over ANY revolver made by Kimber. That is one sweet gun you have there Leonard. I have the 4″ but would love to get a 3″.

  • jon August 13, 2018, 1:29 pm

    Does Kimber have a custom shop that could alleviate the shortcomings that you pointed out in your article? I have been thinking about purchasing one but have been holding of as I already own two J frame Smiths. I was attracted to the 6 round capacity like the old Colts. the availability of a 3″ barrel may close the deal.

  • Willy August 13, 2018, 12:23 pm

    I wish they had the three inch when I bought the two inch, as I would have gone for the longer barrel. It’s a nice revolver, but I can not get good groups with it for the life of me.

  • leeroy meadows August 13, 2018, 11:44 am

    I dont know much about guns, but I have dan wesson 44mag just for plunking targets, but am considering a ankle gun. why does,nt it seem importamt to publish how hard it is to pull the trigger on every sales pitch? I,v had mine lightened & it helps the accuracy even for plinking. I dont know what is was or what it is now, I let the gunsmith choose that.

  • Norm August 13, 2018, 11:43 am

    Kimber seems a bit slow on the uptake, but at least they’re headed in the right direction. Lengthen the ejector rod’s stroke, add a hammer and I’m in.

  • Sassparilly August 13, 2018, 11:40 am

    Frugal mistake # 2. A PINNED front sight on an $800 gun. Night sight option?

  • Adam Jeppson August 13, 2018, 10:52 am

    Free samples for everyone!

  • Roget August 13, 2018, 10:50 am

    I’m sure it’s more reliable than my 1
    Kimber 1911

  • mike August 13, 2018, 10:50 am

    Hey KIMBER! I see a PINKO COMMIE State of New York address on your weapon. WTF is WRONG with Gun Companies? After what that tiny little pimp out his daughters for some TV time MUSSOLINI just said about gun owners and the NRA ? AH, what’s the use

    • Rob Garrett August 13, 2018, 7:16 pm

      The markings are a ATF requirement. It will get better when they move production to Alabama.

  • Marcelino August 13, 2018, 9:28 am

    I’ve never shot a revolver period. I admired them because I grew up in that world of six shooters. But getting into the game of competition: IDPA, Bowling Pins and Steel matches you need speed because there’s a (timer next to you) and accuracy and time is what shows up on your score sheet. There’s a revolver division in IDPA but they are few and some shooters go back and forth between pistol and revolver.

  • Harry August 13, 2018, 8:37 am

    Looks great, what about the trigger pull? 8,10 ,12 lbs?

    • Rob Garrett August 13, 2018, 7:20 pm

      The DA action exceeded the maximum on my electronic gauge.

  • Gregory Greenwood August 13, 2018, 8:33 am

    I haven’t fired one yet but the LGS let me do some dry firing. I was shocked at what a nice trigger it had. I’ve had decades of revolver experience and DAO is no problem for me… but this particular DAO would be easy for most any shooter to master. And very easy to stage and get a perfect release for longer shots.

    It seems like a great start for Kimber on the revolver side. I’m still on the fence about actually buying one… I need to hear some consistently positive reports from users on quality and successful customer service.

    Hopefully Kimber will keep refining the design.

  • Tom August 13, 2018, 8:20 am

    When they come with a exposed hammer, I’ll consider owning one.

  • Cyrus August 13, 2018, 8:07 am

    Made in Yonkers NY – Made in NY is a deal breaker for me!

    • Jerry August 13, 2018, 11:04 am

      oh no whatever will Kimber do without a narrow minded dipshit’s money?

      • srsquidizen August 13, 2018, 12:42 pm

        Yeah I agree it’s narrow-minded and shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you want one in the first place. But with NY’s high taxes and labor regulation, along with oppressive restrictions on anything vaguely related to firearms, I bet Kimber could build them $200 cheaper if they moved production to certain other states that comprise what little is left of the free world.

    • Reid August 13, 2018, 8:16 pm

      Think of Kimber as an American embassy. It’s a good thing.

  • shrugger August 13, 2018, 7:01 am

    Love to compare it to my S&W 13. Hardly fired with moderate holster wear FBI turn in.
    NOW THAT is the smoothest Factory revolver I’ve ever seen.

  • Tom August 13, 2018, 2:50 am

    Great review. I have a 3″ K6s. It really is a shame Kimber didn’t install a longer ejector rod with the longer barrel. That really was a huge mistake. But, I’m sure it saved them a bunch of money.

    • Willy August 13, 2018, 12:21 pm

      If it saved them a bunch of money, it was not a huge mistake for them. And it’s the same gun as the two inch anyway as far as the cylinder and cartridges go. So your point makes not much sense.

    • TW August 14, 2018, 12:06 am

      I agree with Tom. The short ejection rod saved them some money, but I bet it wasn’t enough to offset the damage to the utility of the revolver (IMO). It seems to be good looking quality revolver, but it won’t be a fighting revolver until they fix the ejection rod decision. You shouldn’t have to be clawin’ the .357 cases out of the cylinder when trying to do a speed reload – not on a 3″ barrel revolver. That’s a deal breaker for me. For now I’ll stay with my early model S&W 13s and 65s with 3″ barrels. While they are at it they should add night sights.

  • Dan Higgins August 12, 2018, 10:52 pm

    DAO seems like a logical step, for a reason that might not be immediately obvious. Many shooters are now accustomed to striker fired semi-autos. After years of shooting Glocks, I recently bought a 1911. I have plenty of experience with 1911s, but still found myself squeezing much harder than necessary on the trigger, and forgetting to thumb the safety. There are manysimilarities between striker fire and double action revolvers. Eliminating the hammer, rather than simply putting a shroud over it, really caught my eye. I think this revolver will be a winner.

  • Steve Graham August 12, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Gonna get me one!

  • James August 12, 2018, 12:04 pm

    Now to get a snub nose 45 ACP version that is impossible to find…

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