Unique Take on High Capacity Personal Protection: Kimber KDS9C Reviewed

Authors Gun Reviews Handguns Pistols Riley Baxter

Estimated reading time: 19 minutes

The Kimber KDS9C is a 2011-esque carry gun that was brought to the market last year. I can only assume that KDS9C stands for “Kimber double stack 9 compact”, which properly describes exactly what it is. This gun can currently be purchased with 10-round compliant magazines or 15-round standard capacity mags. Both versions come with two magazines and can accept the new 18-round high-capacity magazines that are being released soon. This compact handgun has a 4.09″ barrel and is compatible with an RMSC or Holosun K footprint optic mount, which adds to its abilities and appeal as a concealed carry weapon.

A Kimber KDS9C rests on a tan backdrop.
The KDS9C is a great, high capacity handgun for concealed carry.

Overview of the Kimber KDS9C

As mentioned, the KDS9C is a compact handgun that shares many similarities to the 1911 in construction. However, it also has some improvements made and features a large-capacity double-stack magazine. One improvement is the adjustable, serrated rear sight. The front sight is green fiber but comes with a red fiber if you prefer. The rear sight is blacked out and can be tuned for windage or elevation. Each type of ammunition impacts in slightly different locations when fired out of the same gun, but with an adjustable rear sight, you can zero the ammo you use, specifically. In a carry gun, this level of precision may be important for saving lives. Also, the rear sight can be removed to swap the cover plate with an optic plate of the RMSC or Holosun K footprint flavor.

The Kimber KDS9C optics plate has been removed.
Using captured bolts, you can remove the rear sight and swap the cover plate for an optics plate to mount the compatible optic of your choice.

The barrel is stainless steel and 4.09″ long with a 20-degree flush-cut deep crown. It’s also been fluted to reduce the overall weight of the platform. The KDS9C barrel also has a loaded chamber indicator and is ramped for the highest level of reliability in feeding all kinds of ammunition. During my testing, I found that the KDS9C would feed and function with every bullet design that I used, including truncated cone, hollowpoint, FMJ, flat nose, and more.

A closer look at the Kimber KDS9C muzzle of a handgun.
Here’s a closer look at the muzzle of the KDS9C. After all the rounds I’ve put through it, there’s a bit of carbon buildup on the crown of the barrel.

Kimber KDS9C Frame and Dimensions

The frame on the KDS9C is 7075 aluminum and is painted black with Cerakote. The slide has a slightly different, stainless steel construction with the same KimPro Black coating. The KDS9C is offered in this black version as well as stainless. You’ll find front and rear cocking serrations on the slide, which I like on a carry gun. The overall dimensions of this gun are 5.35″ in height, 7.75″ in length, and 1.33″ wide with an unloaded weight of 25.3 ounces. You’ll also find a reversible magazine release to accommodate a right or left-handed shooter.

A disassembled Kimber KDS9C is displayed on a grey velvet mat.
The KDS9C field stripped shows some of the hidden details of this handgun.

The KDS9C comes in a soft-carry case that would be great for transporting the gun to the range. It has one main compartment that holds the gun, another that holds magazines (the KDS9C comes standard with 2 mags), and several other compartments for holding cleaning tools and other items. This gun comes in 10-round compliant, 15-round standard capacity, black or stainless, and any combination thereof. All versions of the KDS9C have an MSRP of $1,495.00.

A black Kimber KDS9C handgun leans up against a soft carry-case with bullets scattered on the table next to them.
This pistol comes with a nice soft case for storage and organization and two magazines.

Kimber KDS9C Specifications

  • General:
    • Height: 5.35″
    • Weight: (With empty magazine) 25.3 ounces
    • Length: 7.75″
    • Width: 1.33″
    • Magazine Capacity: 15 or 10 rounds (2 magazines included)
    • Skeletonized squared serrated hammer
    • Recoil Spring: 16.9 lbs
  • Frame:
    • Material: 7075 Aluminum
    • Finish: KimPro Black or stainless
  • Slide:
    • Material: Stainless Steel
    • Front and rear cocking serrations
    • Finish: KimPro Black or stainless
  • Barrel:
    • Length: 4.09″
    • Material: Stainless Steel
    • 20° Flush-cut deep crown
    • Twist Rate: 1:10 LH
  • Sights:
    • Rear Sight: Proprietary serrated adjustable
    • Front Sight: Green Fiber Optic
    • Optic Ready: Yes, with removable cover plate
    • Mounting Plates: Micro optic (RMSC/ Holosun-K) mounting plates available
  • Grips:
    • Gray and Black G10 Crosshatch
  • Trigger:
    • Factory Setting: 3.5-4.5 lbs
  • MSRP: $1,495.00

Kimber KDS9C Magazines

Now that you know the basics of what the Kimber KDS9C is, let’s go over the whole gun in a bit more detail. Earlier, I called this handgun “2011-esque” when the only similarity that the KDS9C shares with the 2011 is that it shares the same construction and mechanics as a 1911, but features a double-stacked magazine. But wait, the KDS9C does not use the same magazines as the 2011. I tried. Instead, it uses a slightly narrower, proprietary magazine that Kimber sells here at their accessory shop and they will cost you anywhere from $50 to $65 each, depending on which capacity you want. At first, I assumed that this narrower magazine would yield a narrower grip, which would be desirable since this is marketed to be a carry gun. However, both of the 2011s that I own have a marginally narrower grip than the KDS9C.

Four Kimber KDS9C magazines are laid side-by-side to compare their similarities.
Here are two 2011 magazines (outside) next to the Kimber KDS9C magazines (inside 2). You can see that they are very different. Even thought he KDS9C looks like a 2011, it isn’t.

KDS9C Trigger

The trigger on the KDS9C is advertised to have a 3.5-4.5 pound pull weight. I like this range for a carry gun because it provides the shooter with good control while still being conducive to precision and speed. The trigger on my KDS9C (measured after tons of dry-firing practice and range time), came in at 3.25 pounds as measured by a Wheeler Trigger Pull Scale. Overall, I love the trigger on this gun. As can be expected from any handgun that shares 1911 design inspiration, the trigger is crisp and light with a very short reset. There is very little takeup, followed by zero creep and a crisp 3.25-pound break. The trigger shoe is curved and radiused and is positioned well for my medium-sized hands.

Compared to John Browning’s single-action handguns, namely the Model 1911 and, the short and crisp trigger pull of the KDS9c was a welcome change from many of the squishy striker-fired triggers. The ability to carry the gun cocked-and-locked is a virtue as well; disengaging that thumb safety lever becomes a subconscious part of bringing the gun on target.

A close look at the trigger on a black Kimber KDS9C handgun.
The trigger on the KDS9C is a curved, radiused shoe and mine breaks at a clean 3.25 pounds.

Kimber KDS9C Accuracy Test

The accuracy testing that I performed with the KDS9C was done with iron sights. I shot many different ammunition types at a distance of 10 yards in 5-shot groupings. However, the MagTech ammo was shot at a distance of 15 yards for no reason except I forgot to move the target closer at the beginning. As you’ll see, I tested many defensive ammunition offerings as well as some range-type ammo. These included Blazer, Winchester, MagTech, Federal, Remington, and Norma offerings.

Most of the ammo was provided by the manufacturer for this gun review, while some were also provided by Ammo To Go, whom I’d like to thank because it is currently hard to get enough ammo for these tests. Overall, I’d say that the KDS9C performed better than most 9mm pistols in the accuracy test, which may be attributed to Kimber’s “proprietary bore sizing process,” as they state on their webpage. You’ll find pictures of the ammunition and groupings below:

KDS9C Ammo And Groupings

A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
MagTech Steel Case 115 grain shot a 1.87″ group at 15 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Blazer 115 grain FMJ shot a 1.99″ group at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Blazer 147 grain FMJ shot a 5.06″ group at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Federal Punch 124 grain shot a 2.57″ group at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Remington 124 grain Golden Saber shot a 2.27″ group at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group.
Norma Range and Training Frangible 65 grain shot 2.46″ at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group.
Winchester USA Ready 124 grain shot 1.66″ at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Norma Hexagon 124 grain shot 1.42″ at 10 yards.
A paper target displays a 5 round group of shots.
Norma MHP 108 grain shot 2.49″ at 10 yards.

The KDS9C Final Thoughts

Overall, my experience with the KDS9C was a good one. I did have an issue when I first received the gun where the magazine would fall out after firing a few rounds. I ended up returning the gun to Kimber for some warranty work and they had it fixed and put it back in my hands within a few days. Now the KDS9C functions flawlessly. Another thought I had about the KDS9C was that I’d prefer if the gun had an accessory rail: well, now they offer a model with an accessory rail, aptly named the KDS9C Rail.

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The magazine release is reversible so this gun can be configured to be ergonomic for both right and left-handed shooters. But, the safety is only on the left side of the gun and is not reversible. This only serves right-handed shooters and I think, following in the steps of the mag release, an ambidextrous safety would have made more sense.

Closeup of the back of a Kimber KDS9C handgun.
This pistol has a reversible magazine release, but the safety is not ambidextrous.

Pros and Cons of the Kimber KDS9C

I’m quite frustrated with the fact that Kimber chose to use a proprietary magazine instead of going with a 2011 magazine for the KDS9C. This would open up more options to the owners of this gun, and I don’t see any advantage of the slimmer mag that they use. As mentioned, the grip on the KDS9C is slightly wider than the grip on both of my 2011s. Unless the advantage is obvious, I don’t ever like to see a platform using a proprietary magazine.

But that is where my petty complaints stop. In the end, The Kimber KDS9C proved to be extremely reliable and accurate. I experienced no feeding issues or malfunctions. The recoil was what one would expect from a handgun in this weight range— very manageable, making shooting accurate groups very easy and enjoyable. The trigger on this gun is truly remarkable, enhancing the overall shooting experience. The KDS9c’s accuracy potential was impressive, and I found it to be a pleasure to shoot with consistent precision. Overall, I would have no hesitations about relying on this handgun for defensive purposes. And having the capability to mount RMSC or Holosun K footprint optics is a huge win. Also, the KDS9C does not have a grip safety, which is my preference. This is a good choice for a gun that is designed to be used in high-stress situations where you may not have a proper grip on the gun when you need it to go off. In the end, the KDS9c has earned my respect and I would depend on it to save my life if it came down to it.

Another view of a black Kimber KDS9C handgun.
Another angle of the KDS9C.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the Kimber KDS9c 9mm pistol and what features does it offer?

The Kimber KDS9c is a high-performance 9mm pistol that combines the precision and handling characteristics of a premium Model 1911 with the modern features and compactness required in a defensive handgun. This pistol is designed to offer a unique blend of heritage and innovation, featuring a 1911-style top-end and controls paired with a double-stack frame for increased capacity.
Constructed with aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum, the KDS9c ensures both durability and lightweight design for easy portability without compromising on structural integrity. Noteworthy features include an exposed skeletonized hammer, extended thumb safety, and oversized slide stop for enhanced usability. The reversible magazine release and superb single-action trigger with minimal hand movement required make it a reliable choice for precision shooting.

The slide of the KDS9c is machined from stainless steel, featuring angled serrations, top serrations, and a distinctive angled nose below the muzzle. The pistol is optic-ready, with a milled slide, serrated front and rear sights, and compatibility with iron sights for versatile aiming options. A 4.09-inch stainless steel barrel with a fully supported chamber, polished feed ramp, bull-profile muzzle, and deep-cut crown ensure optimal performance.

With a focus on top-notch fit and finish, the Kimber KDS9c distinguishes itself with details like the KimPro finish on metal components and a unique design that sets it apart in terms of both aesthetics and functionality.

How does the Kimber KDS9C compare to other compact 9mm pistols?

The Kimber KDS9c can be compared to similar handguns like the Wilson Combat EDC X9 in terms of design, pricing, and performance. Both firearms share similarities by incorporating 1911-style controls, utilizing a wide body aluminum frame, and accommodating a dual-column magazine. While their dimensions and styling are nearly identical, the Kimber KDS9c stands out as the lighter option, weighing 5 ounces less than the Wilson Combat EDC X9.

In terms of pricing, the Wilson Combat EDC X9 surpasses the Kimber KDS9c as a more premium option that comes with a higher price tag. The Wilson Combat handgun, being more expensive, is regarded as a refined and possibly superior choice compared to the Kimber KDS9c. On the other hand, the Kimber KDS9c is seen as a more cost-effective alternative that offers a feature-rich experience, making it a solid option for those looking for a production handgun with a comprehensive set of features.

When it comes to performance, the Wilson Combat EDC X9, being a premium semi-custom pistol, could potentially offer a more tailored and enhanced shooting experience compared to the Kimber KDS9c. However, the Kimber KDS9c is likely to deliver reliable performance and functionality, making it suitable for users seeking a dependable handgun with a good balance between features and affordability. Ultimately, the choice between the two handguns would depend on individual preferences, budget constraints, and the desired level of customization and refinement in terms of design, pricing, and performance.

What are the key features of the Kimber KDS9C?

Key features include its lightweight and compact frame, high-capacity magazine, superior ergonomics, match-grade trigger, and advanced safety features. The KDS9C also boasts high-quality materials and construction, ensuring durability and longevity.

What accessories are compatible with the Kimber KDS9C?

A range of accessories can enhance the KDS9C’s functionality, including holsters designed for concealed carry, magazine extensions for increased capacity, grip modifications for improved handling, and sights for better target acquisition.

How do you properly maintain and clean the Kimber KDS9C?

Proper maintenance includes regular cleaning and lubrication after use. This involves disassembling the firearm according to the manufacturer’s instructions, cleaning all parts with a suitable solvent, applying lubricant, and reassembling. Regular maintenance ensures the pistol operates reliably and extends its lifespan.

What are the legal considerations for owning a Kimber KDS9C?

Legal considerations vary by location and include obtaining the necessary permits or licenses for ownership and concealed carry, understanding local laws regarding firearm use and transport, and ensuring the pistol is registered if required by local regulations.

Where can you buy the Kimber KDS9C, and what is its price range?

The KDS9C can be purchased at licensed firearm dealers, online gun stores such as GunsAmerica.com, and sometimes directly from the manufacturer. Prices vary based on location, dealer, and any included accessories or customizations, but generally fall within a mid to high range for compact pistols.

How does the Kimber KDS9C perform in real-world situations?

In real-world situations, the KDS9C has been praised for its reliability, accuracy, and ease of use in high-stress environments. Its compact size makes it an excellent choice for concealed carry, while its performance ensures confidence in self-defense situations.

Can the Kimber KDS9C be used for competitive shooting?

While primarily designed for concealed carry and personal defense, the KDS9C’s accuracy and reliability also make it a viable option for competitive shooting events focused on compact firearms.

What do owners say about their experiences with the Kimber KDS9C?

Owners often highlight the KDS9C’s reliability, ease of concealment, comfortable grip, and overall performance. Positive feedback frequently mentions the pistol’s build quality and the confidence it provides for self-defense.

Where was the KDS9c handgun designed, engineered, and built, and what are some key features of its production process?

The KDS9c handgun was meticulously designed, engineered, and built within Kimber’s expansive state-of-the-art facility located in Troy, Alabama. This facility serves as a hub where every step of the production process is seamlessly integrated under one roof. From the initial concept to the final execution, the guns undergo a meticulous journey that begins with the design phase, followed by rigorous testing, continuous improvement, and finally production and assembly. The production line embodies an efficient process where raw materials are transformed into finished products by skilled employees who operate cutting-edge machines. The dedication and capabilities of the team at Kimber’s Troy facility ensure that every KDS9c handgun that emerges meets the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship.

What material is the magazine of the KDS9c made of, and what is the capacity of the standard factory magazines?

The magazine of the KDS9c is constructed from steel and features a tapering design to a single column at the feed lips. It incorporates a polymer follower and basepad. The standard factory magazines have a capacity of 15-plus-one rounds; however, there are plans to introduce 18-round magazines in the near future.

What are the key controls and features of the Kimber KDS9c, such as the trigger, sights, and safety mechanisms?

The Kimber KDS9c showcases a range of controls and features that are influenced by the Model 1911 handguns. Notable components include an exposed skeletonized hammer, an extended strongside thumb safety, and an oversized slidestop. The magazine release is designed to be reversible and oblong, facilitating easy actuation without compromising grip strength. The standout attribute of the KDS9c is its single-action trigger, requiring a light 3½-pound pull with minimal hand movement, a feature renowned for its contribution to the exceptional shootability of the Model 1911. The sights of the KDS9c consist of a serrated front sight with a prominent green fiber-optic dot for enhanced visibility and a rear sight equipped with a traditional square-cut notch adjustable for elevation. Co-witnessing with optics is supported by the rear sight, which is integrated into the mounting plate. While the beavertail grip functions as a guard against hammer bite rather than a safety feature, the handgun notably lacks a grip safety. Additionally, the KDS9c is equipped with an extended, serrated thumb-safety lever and does not include an accessory rail.

What are some unique features of the KDS9c, such as its removable barrel and custom magazines?

The KDS9c by Kimber boasts several distinctive features that set it apart from traditional 1911 designs. One notable feature is its bushing-less barrel, which, despite lacking a front-end lockup bushing, can still be removed by disassembling components like the guiderod, flat-wire spring, and plunger from the front of the slide.

Another unique aspect of the KDS9c is its custom steel magazines. These magazines have a taper design that narrows to a single column at the feed lips. The magazines include polymer components such as the follower and basepad. The standard factory magazines have a capacity of 15-plus-one rounds, but Kimber also plans to offer 18-round magazines for increased capacity.

Additionally, Kimber intends to release 10-round magazines suitable for use in regions with magazine capacity restrictions. An exclusive feature of the KDS9c is its epoxy-coated steel magazines, which are designed to carry 15 rounds each. The handgun comes with two of these unique magazines included. Kimber has also announced that 18-round magazines will soon be available, providing users with even greater ammunition capacity options.

To learn more about the KDS9C, go HERE.

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  • Grumpy 49 April 5, 2024, 10:22 am

    People wonder why the basic 1911 design is still being used. This 2011 is a prime example of why John Browning is considered the greatest firearm designer of all time. For new shooters, the 1911 style pistols are almost ideal, and the 9mm round is currently a good self-defense round for these new shooters. The “poly pistol/DA action” striker fire pistols can be too much for the first-time shooter, as an 8 – 10 lb. trigger in an 18 – 25 oz pistol can lead to many bad habits. A “heavy” pistol, with a 4 +/- lb. trigger, is a much better choice. This same ulira light snub nose revolver craze also causes many bad habits to be formed. Those “poly pistol/ultra light revolver” firearms are best left to the more experienced shooters.

    • Pete April 9, 2024, 10:03 pm

      Who uses a Double Action Striker-Fired pistol and not a DA/SA instead? The only ones that come to mind that have good triggers and are ultra affordable are made by SCCY.

  • Chris Stevens April 1, 2024, 10:50 am

    ” I don’t ever like to see a platform using a proprietary magazine. But that is where my petty complaints stop. In the end, The KDS9C proved to be extremely reliable and accurate. I experienced no feeding issues or malfunctions.”…………I wouldn’t consider a malfunction that dropped the mag, in the middle of firing, rendering the gun a paperweight, a petty complaint. Your sample may have worked, but only after a trip back to the factory, hardly an endorsement of their quality control.

    • Cz April 5, 2024, 9:31 am

      Thank you Chris, you must have been reading my mind! The article writer should have been screaming bloody hell about this!

  • The Bearded Pretender April 1, 2024, 9:20 am

    Oh look! Kimber made a Sig!

    • Pete April 9, 2024, 10:05 pm

      Oh look! Sig made a Staccato!

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