November 01, 2022
Big news from Kimber is the all-new striker-fired, optics-ready, micro-compact R7 Mako 9mm semiautomatic pistol. It represents a lot of departures from other micro-sized, everyday-carry pistols.
The most notable feature of the new R7 Mako is the closed-top slide. Kimber engineers designed it that way for two reasons. Because they set out to make the R7 Mako optics-ready, the slide was going to have to be milled for that type of sight, so the idea was to have a solid top on the slide that would prevent escaping gases and brass from damaging the sight. The designers also believed the closed top would prevent environmental dirt and debris from entering the pistol’s action. As you can see, the R7 Mako has a large ejection port, and if you’re wondering if such an arrangement might cause a malfunction, such as a fired case getting caught upon ejection, I can tell you I didn’t have any trouble with that during the firing of more than 250 rounds for this report. Furthermore, spent cases were smartly ejected a good distance away.
As long as we’re detailing the slide, as I said, it’s milled for mounting a red-dot reflex-type optic, and the cut fits the Shield RMSc footprint. You can get your R7 Mako with or without the optic installed at the factory. Our sample came with a Crimson Trace CTS-1500 installed (see the accompanying sidebar for more about the CTS-1500). In Kimber’s nomenclature, our pistol is called the R7 Mako O.I.
The slide also has TRUGLO Tritium Pro night sights. The rear has white rings around the two green tritium dots, and the front sight has a high-visibility orange ring around its dot. The sights co-witness nicely with the CTS-1500’s red dot.
The black-finished, stainless-steel slide features grasping grooves on each side at the front and at the rear. And the slide proper measures 0.97 inch thick. It is sculpted and contoured for smooth holstering.
By the way, using my jury-rigged setup (consisting of a trigger pull gauge and a cleaning rod), I measured the weight required to rack the slide. It measured 23 pounds. That’s on par with other micro-sized striker-fired pistols on the market.
One thing you don’t see on the R7 Mako’s slide is an external extractor. The majority of these kinds of pistols have external extractors, but Kimber went with an internal extractor instead.
Moving to the polymer frame, you can see a unique style of accessories “rail” on the front of the frame. It’s not the typical Picatinny/Weaver type with cross-slots. Instead, it consists of two longitudinal cuts, one on each side of the frame.
The grip area has plenty of texturing, as does the frontstrap and the backstrap. The texturing is continued onto the magazine’s polymer baseplate. And speaking of the magazine, the R7 Mako comes with two. One holds 11 rounds of 9mm ammo, while the other holds 13 rounds by virtue of its extended baseplate. The baseplates are removable.
The R7 Mako’s trigger is made of aluminum, and it has a flat face. It incorporates a safety lever. Kimber’s information rates the trigger pull from 5 to 6.75 pounds of pull, and my sample averaged exactly 6.0 pounds over a series of five measurements with an RCBS trigger pull gauge.
The pistol’s stainless-steel barrel is 3.37 inches long, and it is finished with black FNC. The pistol is 6.2 inches long and 4.5 inches tall (from the base of the flush-fitting 11-round magazine to the top of the TRUGLO rear sight). According to my digital scale, it weighs 23 ounces, unloaded but with an empty magazine inserted. The grip measures 1.2 inches thick at the site of the slight palmswells. None of the controls stick out, which fosters a clean, fast, snag-free draw. The ambidextrous slide stop, the ambidextrous magazine release button, and the takedown levers are very sleek and slim, indeed.
But how does it shoot?
To put the R7 Mako through its paces, I fired three, five-shot groups with nine different 9mm factory loads from a sandbag benchrest at the usual distance of 25 yards. The loads included Black Hills, Federal, Hornady, HSM, Norma, Remington, SIG SAUER, Speer, and Winchester brands with bullet weights ranging from 108 grains to 147 grains in Monolithic Hollowpoint (MHP), FlexLock, FMJ, JHP, XTP, Golden Saber Black Belt, V-Crown JHP, Gold Dot G2, and Syntech roundnose bullet styles. The results of that shooting are listed in the accompanying chart.
As you can see, the R7 Mako averaged between 3.00 and 3.91 inches. Its overall average accuracy calculated out to 3.45 inches. The Norma 108-grain MHP loading averaged 3.55 inches with a velocity of 1,055 fps. The Black Hills 115-grain FMJ loading averaged 3.31 inches with a velocity of 1,107 fps. The Federal Syntech 115-grain TSJ loading averaged 3.62 inches with a velocity of 1,098 fps. The HSM 115-grain XTP loading averaged 3.39 inches with a velocity of 1,165 fps. The Remington Golden Saber Black Belt 124-grain JHP loading averaged 3.00 inches with a velocity of 1,108 fps. The SIG SAUER 124-grain V-Crown JHP loading averaged 3.28 inches with a velocity of 1,086 fps. The Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock +P loading averaged 3.17 inches with a velocity of 1,100 fps. The Speer CarryGun 135-grain Gold Dot G2 loading averaged 3.91 inches with a velocity of 1,083 fps. And the Winchester 147-grain JHP loading averaged 3.83 inches with a velocity of 935 fps. (All velocities are the average of five rounds measured 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle with a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph.)
I also fired the new R7 Mako on a variety of steel targets, including swinging plates and stationary silhouettes, at various distances ranging from seven to 10 yards. The pistol handled well, and with the extended magazine baseplate, it fit my medium-size hand beautifully.
After that, I put it through a “combat” drill by engaging a pair of USPSA targets at seven yards. Starting with the gun held in the low-ready position, on the signal, I lifted the pistol and engaged the first target with 10 rounds in rapid fire, performed a combat reload, and engaged the second target in the same manner. I repeated that drill a second time. The results were very pleasing as I put a lot of rounds in the A-zone very quickly.
During all the shooting, including from the bench and during all the action drills, reliability was stellar. I didn’t experience a single malfunction of any kind. All factory loads fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. You really can’t ask for more than that.
Before I end this report, I just have to say the R7 Mako has a surprisingly simple disassembly procedure. After making sure it is completely unloaded, remove the magazine, pull down the takedown levers on both sides of the frame, and simply lift the slide up and off the frame. That’s all there is to it. Then you can separate the barrel and captive recoil spring assembly from the slide.
The micro-sized 9mm Kimber R7 Mako has smooth contouring and cool styling. It has minimal snag points. It’s easy to conceal. It shoots comfortably and is accurate. And it’s light enough to carry comfortably all day. Hands down, I think it’s a winner.
R7 Mako Optic-Installed Specifications
- Manufacturer: Kimber, kimberamerica.com
- Type: Striker-fired autoloader
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Magazine Capacity: 11, 13 rounds
- Barrel: 3.37 in.
- Overall Length: 6.2 in.
- Width: 1.0 in. (at grip)
- Height: 4.5 in. (base of flush-fitting magazine to top of TRUGLO rear sight)
- Weight, Empty: 23 oz.
- Grips: Integral to polymer frame
- Finish: Matte black frame, FNC slide
- Sights: Two-dot rear, TRUGLO Tritium Pro night sights with orange-ring front and white-ring rear dots, Crimson Trace CTS-1500 optic
- Trigger: 6.0-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Trigger safety, striker block
- MSRP: $799 (optic installed)