December 22, 2021
By Sam Wolfenberger
The first Kimber Rapide pistols were full-size Model 1911s in .45 ACP (9mm and 10mm have now been added). They are built for speed and feature a lot of unique and stylish touches. The first Kimber Micro pistols were small .380 ACP pocket pistols. They are built for easy carrying. Later, the Micro 9 was introduced, and as its name implies, it is chambered for 9mm. But it is still built for easy carrying and concealment. There have been a lot of different Micro 9s over the last couple of years, and the newest version joins the unique style of the larger Rapide with the small size of the Micro 9. It’s called the Micro 9 Rapide (Black Ice). Here’s a close look at it.
The Micro 9 Rapide is a single-action, recoil-operated autoloader with a 3.15-inch barrel and an aluminum frame. Unloaded, it weighs just 15.6 ounces. Overall, it measures 6.4 inches long and 4.07 inches tall. It is quite thin, measuring 1.08 inches thick.
The slide and barrel are stainless steel, and so is the recoil spring guide rod. The supported, ramped barrel is DLC coated.
True to the Rapide family, the slide has ports on each side and on the top (in the case of the subcompact, there are two ports in all areas, for a total of six), stylish grasping grooves (forward and aft), and stylish detail lines. The finishes given to the various areas of the slide give it a two-tone effect, which in my opinion is very cool. Combined with stylish treatments to the trigger, the mainspring housing, and the grips, this little pistol has plenty of panache.
The finish on both slide and frame is Kimber’s KimPro II corrosion-resistant, “slightly lubricious” finish. And while the slide has the two-tone effect, the frame is straight matte gray.
While the Micro 9 Rapide is essentially a scaled-down 1911, it does not use a traditional barrel bushing, and it does not have a traditional 1911-style grip safety.
It does have an ambidextrous thumb safety.
The safety can be engaged with the hammer down, but with the safety “On,” the hammer cannot be cocked.
The sights are TRUGLO TFX PRO Day/Night Sights. And while the Micro 9 Rapide is built for concealment and for speed, the sights are rather large. But they are very quick to acquire. They use both tritium and fiber-optic technology, so they are highly visible in all kinds of lighting conditions. Plus, they glow bright in the dark without batteries or exposure to light.
The Micro 9 Rapide’s mainspring housing is polymer and stylishly sculpted. The bottom of the grip frame is fitted with an extended magazine well, which gives the shooter a wide opening for a fast and fumble-free insertion of a magazine. The pistol comes with one seven-round magazine. The magazine has a finger extension, which makes getting all of my fingers on the grip easy. I have medium-size hands and relatively thin fingers. For those interested, with a live round in the chamber, the pistol will fire without the magazine inserted.
The frontstrap of the Micro 9 Rapide is dimpled, and the black G10 grips are textured in the same style as the large-frame Rapides. I found the grip to fit my medium-size hand quite well, helping make it feel really comfortable to shoot. That’s not always the case with small, thin, lightweight 9mm pistols.
Speaking of shooting the Micro 9 Rapide, the trigger pull averaged 7.0 pounds. There was a tiny bit of take-up, but the break was short and crisp. The trigger’s finger piece is solid, but like I said earlier, it has some unique styling.
Because this pistol is primarily intended for personal protection and has a short barrel, I rounded up all the specialized 9mm ammo I could get my hands on. All the major ammomakers have 9mm loadings intended for personal defense, and many of them have loads that are optimized for small, concealed-carry guns.
From Hornady there’s the Critical Defense Lite. From Federal there’s the Personal Defense HST Micro. From Speer there’s Gold Dot CarryGun. From SIG SAUER there’s 365. From Wilson Combat there’s a load labeled “Optimized for Compacts.” And from Remington there’s Ultimate Defense Compact Handgun. I shot all those in the Micro 9, plus I included a few other self-defense loads, namely Black Hills’s HoneyBadger, Browning’s BXP, Hornady’s Critical Defense and Critical Duty, and Winchester’s Defender. A few words about each of the optimized-for-carry-guns loads is in order.
Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite ammo offers the company’s patented polymer FlexTip bullet for improved expansion and penetration in a reduced-recoil option for handgunners seeking to minimize felt recoil from their lightweight, compact personal-protection pistols.
Federal’s Micro HST features a heavy-for-caliber JHP bullet that is engineered for optimal penetration and superior terminal performance along with high-performance primers and propellants that are optimized for efficient cycling, lower velocity, less recoil, and excellent accuracy from subcompact semiautomatic pistols.
Speer’s Gold Dot CarryGun ammo incorporates the newly redesigned Gold Dot G2 JHP bullet that has been specially engineered for superior feeding and terminal ballistics from concealed-carry handguns. The hollowpoint is shallower and filled with elastomer that is forced into engineered internal fissures to initiate expansion upon impact, resulting in extremely uniform expansion, better separation of the petals, and more consistent penetration across barrier types.
SIG SAUER’s 365 V-Crown JHP also is optimized for concealed-carry guns. Like the other specialized loads mentioned here, it’s engineered for reduced recoil while providing optimal performance in short-barreled semiautomatic pistols. It features a stacked hollowpoint cavity, delivering exceptional on-target energy, maximum weight retention, and optimal expansion for ultimate stopping power.
Remington’s Ultimate Defense Compact Handgun ammunition is loaded with a brass jacketed hollowpoint bullet that’s optimized for substantial expansion and deep penetration at a velocity 100 fps less than conventional JHP ammo. Like the others, it is optimized for short-barreled semiautomatic pistols.
The Wilson Combat “Optimized for Compacts” loading I used is loaded with a Hornady 147-grain roundnose bullet. Wilson says this subsonic load meets the minimum/minor power floor requirement for IDPA/USPSA competition and that the RN bullet and select propellant easily cycle most compact and subcompact Model 1911s, making it a great training choice for recoil-sensitive shooters.
While Black Hills’s HoneyBadger isn’t specifically engineered for subcompact handguns, I just have to mention it because it is so unique. This line of self-defense ammunition does not use a hollowpoint bullet. Instead, it features a newly designed homogeneous copper projectile, developed in cooperation with Lehigh Defense, that has cutting edges on the forward surface and flutes on the ogive that redirect tissue as the bullet impacts and penetrates. It is tremendously effective.
Now for my shooting results. As you can see from the accompanying chart, the Micro 9 Rapide averaged from 1.88 to 4.38 inches for five-shot groups at 25 yards with the dozen 9mm factory loads I fired. Overall average was 2.89 inches. In my opinion, that’s quite good for a subcompact gun that’s intended for up-close personal protection.
The best average accuracy I achieved came with Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite 100-grain FTX, and that load averaged 1.88 inches. Second place in terms of accuracy was 2.08 inches, and it was with the Federal Personal Defense Micro HST 150-grain JHP load. At 2.13 inches, third place went to Speer’s Gold Dot CarryGun 135-grain JHP load.
At a range of seven yards, which is an industry-accepted self-defense distance, the Micro 9 Rapide put a full magazine of seven rounds with each load into groups that were easily half the size of their 25-yard counterparts.
I calculated the energies of each load based on the velocities I obtained using an online calculator, and the loading with the highest energy (343 ft-lbs) was the 135-grain Speer Gold Dot CarryGun. Not far below that was the 124-grain Remington Ultimate Defense Compact Handgun with an energy of 327 ft-lbs. Note that I measured the velocities with my chronograph placed 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle.
Because recoil is calculated using velocity, bullet weight, gun weight, and powder charge, I estimated the powder charges by comparing handloads listed in the 2021 Hodgdon Annual Manual and then used another online calculator to assess each load’s recoil. The values are listed in the accompany chart, but briefly, the softest shooting load was the 100-grain Black Hills HoneyBadger. My internal recoil “guesstimator” confirmed that during the shooting session because this load was very easy on felt recoil. The load with the highest recoil was the 135-grain Speer Gold Dot CarryGun.
Importantly, I had no failures to feed, extract, or eject in the 324 total rounds I fired through the Micro 9 Rapide. It proved to be 100 percent reliable and easy to handle. So, in the end, you could say the Micro 9 Rapide (Black Ice) is stylish in both looks and performance. Like I said before, it’s a personal-protection pistol with plenty of panache.
Micro 9 Rapide (Black Ice) Specifications
- Manufacturer: Kimber; kimberamerica.com
- Type: Recoil-operated autoloader
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Magazine Capacity: 7 rounds
- Barrel: 3.15 in.
- Overall Length: 6.4 in.
- Width: 1.08 in.
- Height: 4.07 in.
- Weight, Empty: 15.6 oz.
- Grips: Textured G10
- Finish: KimPro II Silver/Gray frame and slide, black grips
- Sights: TRUGLO TFX PRO Day/Night Sights
- Trigger: 7.0-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Ambidextrous manual thumb safety, firing pin safety
- MSRP: $883