Photos by Michael Anschuetz
I had the honor of writing about the Kimber K6s snubnose revolver for Kimber’s special magalog a few years ago when the revolver was first announced. I had the pleasure of visiting the factory, meeting with the wheelgun’s designer, and firing the first model in Kimber’s on-site state-of-the-art shooting range. I was duly impressed with the gun, and I’ve been a fan since then. I think the new CDP version is my favorite so far.
Snubnose revolvers are about as American as apple pie, the Fourth of July, and the United States Marine Corps. This form of small, self-defense handgun has been with us for close to 200 years, since the introduction of the percussion cap and laws prohibiting the open carry of firearms in municipal areas, and part of what makes the snubnose unique among revolvers is that it survives while its larger brothers have been pretty much displaced in the area of self-defense by semiautomatic pistols.
Popularized in fiction and films, modern snubnose revolvers are characterized by a double-action trigger mechanism, a swing-out cylinder, a small frame, and a 2-inch barrel. The Kimber K6s (“s” stands for small frame) has those features and a lot more.
The K6s was first conceptualized because Kimber engineers saw a void in the handgun market they thought needed to be filled. The research and development took more than three years during a span of time in which Ruger had announced its LCR snubnose revolver that has a polymer grip frame and trigger housing and Smith & Wesson had come out with the M&P Bodyguard 38 revolver with its two-piece polymer/aluminum-alloy frame. The folks at Kimber reasoned plenty of handgunners want an American-made steel-frame snubnose revolver. At the time, snubnose revolvers in general had been experiencing a resurgence in popularity among serious handgunners, especially for self-defense use. On top of that, Kimber customers directly asked the company to come out with a revolver.
The CDP Up Close
Like all K6s revolvers, the CDP (Custom Defense Package) does not have an exposed hammer. The hammer is completely internal, and that means the revolver has a double-action-only mechanism. The firing mechanism also uses a floating firing pin that’s held in the frame by a pressed-in firing pin bushing.
The internal action parts are accessed via a sideplate that is attached to the frame with three screws. The mainspring is contained within the grip frame, and it is a coil type. Coil mainsprings in revolvers are thought to be more durable than leaf-type springs and to give “velvety” trigger pulls.
The cylinder is made of 410 stainless steel and holds six rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special ammunition. The charge holes are countersunk. The cylinder swings out to the left side, and when operated, it rotates counterclockwise.
Kimber proudly states that the K6s cylinder is the smallest diameter on the market that holds six rounds. The company never considered building a five-shot snubnose revolver.
The cylinder has six flat flutes, and it locks up via a centerpin that is activated by a checkered, rectangular-shaped cylinder latch. The latch actually pushes in, not up or to the side as with other swing-out-cylinder revolvers. Pushing in on the latch is a more natural movement (especially when the user is in a stressful self-defense situation) and makes operating the gun quicker and more effective.
Usually, swing-out-cylinder double-action revolvers have a flat area on the side of the frame up front that butts up against the yoke when the cylinder is opened fully. Consequently, the yoke typically is not symmetrical. The K6s yoke shape is a departure from that norm and is symmetrical. The revolver doesn’t have that flat area on the frame because the crane was designed to allow a hard stop for the cylinder when it’s opened.
The revolver’s trigger fingerpiece is smooth and measures approximately 0.3 inch wide. The double-action trigger pull is factory-rated at between 9.5 and 10.5 pounds. My CDP’s trigger pull averaged right at 10 pounds. Most other double-action revolver trigger pulls I’ve measured over the 25 years I’ve been doing this have averaged 12 pounds or more. In addition, the CDP’s internal parts are exceptionally smooth, resulting in a very crisp and consistent trigger.
The CDP’s one-piece barrel is 2 inches long and is threaded to the frame. It’s made of the same 410 stainless steel as the cylinder, and the twist rate is one turn in 16 inches.
The front sight is pinned to the barrel, and it has a tritium dot that’s surrounded by a white ring. The rear sight has two white-outlined tritium dots and is dovetailed into the top of the gun’s frame. The rear sight is unique in style for a revolver, reminding me of a combat-style Model 1911 rear sight. Below the tritium dots, the sight’s face is striated horizontally. Sight radius is 4.1 inches.
The CDP comes with checkered laminated wood grips, and they are attractive and comfortable. However, after firing a five-shot string for velocity with each of the test loads, I replaced the factory grips with a set of Crimson Trace Master Series LG-952 lasergrips. They feature rosewood material and a red 5mW peak, 620 to 670 nm, Class 3R laser. The dot size is approximately 0.5 inch at 50 feet, and power is provided by one 1/3N 3V lithium battery. The laser is activated by a front-located pressure pad, and there is a master on/off switch.
The K6s CDP is 6.62 inches long, 1.39 inches wide, and 4.46 inches high. It weighs 23 ounces. The frame is finished in black DLC. The backstrap features vertical striations that are designed to provide a secure grip. All edges of the frame have been softened.
I’ve fired several K6s revolvers since the gun was introduced, but this new CDP version has become my favorite. The shape of the grip comfortably fills my shooting hand (both the factory grips and the aftermarket Crimson Trace lasergrips), and the sweep of the backstrap keeps the gun from shifting up in my hand. Felt recoil is not harsh, even with the most powerful loads. And as I said earlier, the trigger pull is excellent.
You can see the results of my shooting of five .357 Magnum and five .38 Special factory loads in the accompanying chart, but briefly, my best accuracy came with the Black Hills .38 Special ammunition, which averaged 3.11 inches. That’s a target load, so I wasn’t surprised by the accuracy results, but it’s not a self-defense load. The most accurate defense load was the .357 Magnum Hornady XTP ammo. It averaged 3.39 inches. Overall average accuracy for all loads was 3.75 inches. All groups were fired from a sandbag benchrest at a distance of 25 yards.
I also fired a modified El Presidente drill and a backing-away drill of my own making. The El Presidente was created many years ago by Jeff Cooper and has been modified in today’s use. It consists of three targets with a realistic chest region set one yard apart, 10 yards from the shooter. The shooter faces away from the target with hands raised in a surrender position. On the beep of an electronic timer, the shooter pivots 180 degrees, draws the handgun from a holster, and fires two rounds on each of the three targets. Then the shooter performs a reload and shoots each target again with two rounds. Obviously, a speedloader would help, but I didn’t have any for the K6s, so I didn’t track my times. However, I did pay attention to how effective the K6s was when I engaged multiple targets, and I found it to be very fluid. Double-taps on each target were fast and smooth. I used a Blackhawk Premium Leather ISP holster for my drills. It is sized for a Smith & Wesson J-Frame, but the K6s CDP fit perfectly.
The backing-away drill is very simple, and it’s one that I learned a few years ago while attending a seminar. It was part of an informal self-defense competition that included shooting around barriers, shooting with the weak hand, making some midrange precision shots, and shooting while backing away from a pretend attacker. All shooting was timed in addition to being evaluated for accuracy. I did fairly well on everything except the backing-away shots, so now I like to practice doing that every chance I get.
Starting at five yards from the target, I fired a full cylinder while quickly backing away. I performed the drill at least five times, and by the time I wrapped up the shooting for that day, I was able to put all six rounds into a tight group in the chest area of a silhouette target. I had no problem shooting the K6s quickly, and the Crimson Trace lasergrips made keeping my aim on target easy.
The snubnose revolver is a traditional American self-defense tool. I think the Kimber K6s CDP is destined to become a classic.