Kimber Micro 9 Review (Bel Air Edition): A compact 1911 for conceal carry?

by Jason Mosher

January 23, 2024

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The Kimber Micro 9, Special Edition Bel Air, is a compact 1911 style handgun chambered in 9mm. What sets the Bel Air apart from other micro 1911 guns is the color scheme. As stated in the name, Bel Air Blue is the frame’s color which has been paired with a polished stainless slide and a set of ivory Micarta G-10 grips. This combination gives this model a soft, elegant look and it size promises to be perfect for everyday concealed carry. But what about its function and reliability?

I originally reviewed the Kimber Micro in 2023 but over time, my opinions have changed, so I updated the review accordingly. Keep reading to learn more. 

A compact 1911 style handgun in 9mm with a jazzy paint job for this edition

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Kimber Micro 9 Specs

  • Name Kimber Micro 9
  • Caliber 9mm Luger
  • Magazine Capacity 7+1
  • Action Single Action
  • Slide Stainless Steel
  • Frame Aluminum
  • Sights White dot
  • Barrel Stainless Steel
  • Barrel Length 3.15 inches
  • Overall Length 6.1 inches
  • Thickness 1.06 inches
  • Weight Unloaded 15.6 ounces
  • Safety Manual Thumb Safety

Kimber Micro 9 Background

The Kimber Micro 9 includes 12 separate series of compact handguns, with the Bel Air being in the Special Edition series. Kimber is known for their quality and even more, their distinctive looks. In 1979, Jack and Greg Warn, founded the company, originally called Kimber of Oregon, and started building quality .22 caliber long rifles. Most would assume they started the company to build the 1911’s we know and love today. 

The company ran into financial issues and was sold to another company. That company later filed for bankruptcy protection and ultimately its assets were liquidated. In the early 1990’s Greg Warn, one of the original founders, revived the company with the help of an investor. The new company was named Kimber of America. Greg Warn was pushed out after the investor acquired a majority investment in the company. Kimber was then partnered with another company to build a line of 1911 handguns.   

Next, Kimber moved to New York, and they continued to make 1911 handguns. Today, the name Kimber is synonymous with 1911-style guns. That brings us back to the Kimber Micro 9 and the special edition Bel Air. Let’s look at the details of this little CCW gun and see how it holds up on the range. 

Kimber Micro 9 Features

kimber micro 9 gun features
1 1911 Features

The thumb safety, slide release, and magazine release are all based on standard 1911 features. 

2 Stainless Steel Barrel and Slide

All micro 9 barrels and slides are machined from stainless steel giving them excellent durability against moisture.

3 Iron Sights

All Micro 9 sight are made from steel and machined dove-tailed for durability. 

4 Extended 7-Round Magazine

The extended mag included not only allows an additional round, but it also extends the grip for better control.

Models and Variations of the Kimber Micro 9

There are more than 20 variations of the Kimber Micro 9. Here are a few to check out.

Kimber Micro 9 –  Our Take

Kimber Micro 9 Bel Air

With the Micro 9 series, Kimber went all out with their finishes. The finish is part of what sets Kimber apart from other 1911 guns and the extensive Micro line gives plenty of options. In fact, there are more than 20 variations of the Kimber Micro 9. Each one offers a different combination of color, grips, and slide serrations. When you hold the Micro 9, you really do feel like you have taken a full-size model and shrunk it down to a compact size that can be easily concealed. But should a 1911 size handgun be that small? Let’s take a closer look at the good and bad.

Finish and quality 

In the handgun world, the 1911 is like the AR-15. There are mil-spec standards and more manufacturers making complete guns or parts than one could count. But just because a gun is made to specifications does not mean it is good quality. Proper quality control standards and/or the use of cheaper materials are the most common problems with lower quality firearms. In this area, Kimber does well. The Micro 9 series has an aluminum frame and stainless slide. The trigger, slide release, manual thumb safety, and hammer are also stainless steel. The quality is what you would expect from Kimber.

The finish in the Bel Air is impressive, a designation I give sparingly. The Bel Air Blue on the frame is a unique color that reminds me of a retro toaster or refrigerator, but somehow it works on the Micro 9. The flat color pares well with the polished slide and soft off-white ivory grips. This look may not be for everyone, but for me they knocked it out of the ballpark. 

Ergonomics

Kimber Micro 9 in hand

On one hand I like it that Kimber kept the Micro 9 a true 1911 style, but this also causes some issues for me with a gun this small. I have carried a 1911 on duty before, and just like the AR-15, we trained to manipulate the safety to the point it became habit. A 1911 is meant to be carried locked and cocked. The safety on the Micro 9 was easy to flip down before firing, but not so much to flip back up. Because of the size of the gun and how short the thumb safety is, it started to dig into my thumb when flipping it back to the safe position multiple times. 

The next issue I found was the difficulty it took to chamber a round into the Micro 9. Between the recoil spring, pressure from the hammer and the slick stainless slide, I wouldn’t call it easy to rack the first round into the chamber. If your hands were sweaty or wet for any reason it may be nearly impossible. Pulling the hammer back first and then racking the first round did help, but some more aggressive slide serrations would have helped. 

Reliability and Accuracy

On the range, the Micro 9 did better than I expected for such a small frame 1911. It did have a little kick to it which is expected for any micro sized gun, but I was able to keep a good grip on it and fire quickly. The slide release was easy to manipulate during drills and once that first round was chambered, I could keep going without issue. The trigger pull has a 1911 appearance but is not a true 1911 trigger. It is a tilting trigger meaning the entire trigger does not slide to the rear. Having said that, it does have very little play and somewhat of a 1911 feel to it when you pull the trigger.

The trigger pull, measured at around 5 pounds, felt smooth and consistent, well below Kimber’s stated 7-pound average pull weight. One downside was the inclusion of only one magazine, and the baseplate design could potentially cause discomfort. For a compact carry gun, it is sufficient.

Shooting Kimber MIcro 9

I shot FMJ ammo through to get a feel for how it handles and had no issues with cycling. After that, I put a box of Winchester USA Ready Defense ammo through it and got the same acceptable results. 1911-style handguns are not known for their reliability with hollow point ammo, so it is important that you fire at least 50 rounds through it with any hollow point ammo you plan to carry.

Disassembly

This is probably where I disliked the Micro 9 the most. The Micro 9 comes apart like a more modern style handgun as apposed to a 1911. You pull the slide back and remove the slide stop and the slide can be pushed forward off the frame. Sounds easy right? It should be, but on the Micro 9, it’s a little more difficult than most other compact guns I have stripped down. Because of the slick surface, the slide can be a little hard to hold back far enough to clear the cutout on the slide for the slide stop to be removed. 

The next problem is Kimber decided to make the slide stop flush on the other side. This requires something pointy to push it out far enough to grab it. I could live with this, but trying to hold the slide back and push the slide stop out from the other side of the gun using a tool is just annoying. They do make a tool that can be inserted in the chamber that holds the slide open the correct amount while the slide stop is removed, but that’s just another tool to keep track of. Once apart, the barrel, guide rod and recoil spring were easy to remove and clean. Re-assembly was also more difficult than I expected. While this was not the worst I have seen, a new shooter will struggle greatly with field stripping and reassembling this gun.

Kimber Micro 9 Pros and Cons 

  • Style – 1911 Style Gun
  • Aesthetics – Great finish and appearance
  • Magazine – Extended magazine included with purchase
  • Reliability – Reliable
  • Size – Compact size
  • Chambering – Hard to pull the slide back to chamber the first round
  • Safety – Thumb safety can dig into thumb when pushed upwards
  • Take Down – Difficult to disassemble and reassemble

Report Card

Shootability

Easy to shoot when familiar with a 1911

B
Reliability

Cycled both FMJ and HP ammo without issue

A
Ergonomics

Not user friendly with field stripping. Not enough serrations or texture on slide when chambering a round.

C
Accuracy

Good short trigger pull, and accurate for a micro-sized gun.

A
Value

On the high side for a compact gun, but good quality and finish doesn’t come cheap.

B+
Kimber Micro 9 Final Grade

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Jason Mosher

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 3 Reviews

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Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

FAQ

How is the recoil on the Kimber Micro 9?

Despite its smaller size and 9mm chambering, the Micro 9 has manageable recoil. The grip design contributes to recoil control, providing a comfortable shooting experience.

What is the trigger pull weight on the Kimber Micro 9?

Kimber states a 7-pound trigger pull for the Micro 9, but during testing, the actual trigger pull was measured at around 5 pounds. Users noted that the trigger felt smooth and consistent.

How many rounds does the magazine hold, and are there spare magazines included?

The Micro 9 comes with a 7-round magazine, and there is a variant available with a 6-round magazine for a flush fit. Some users have mentioned receiving only one magazine with the pistol.

Is the Kimber Micro 9 suitable for concealed carry?

Yes, the compact size, thin profile, and manageable recoil make the Kimber Micro 9 well-suited for concealed carry. The single-stack design contributes to its slim and easy-to-carry nature.

Kimber Micro 9 Starter Pack

After you get your Micro 9 there are a few extra things you’ll probably want to pick up–if you don’t have them of course.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Keep your Micro 9 well maintained and ready for use. We’ve got a whole article dedicated to gun cleaning kits you’ll need to keep your pistol in tip top shape.  
  • Eye Protection: This should go without saying, but you need to invest in some quality shooting glasses. One errant piece of brass, and you’re in for a bad day. Check out our recommendations for the best shooting glasses!
  • Hearing Protection: If you’re picking up a Kimber Micro 9, get some quality hearing protection, your ears are not getting any better. We’ve gathered all of our favorites to help you decide the best hearing protection for you.

Here are some of the best deals you’ll find when searching for your new Micro 9.

Best Ammo for Your Kimber Micro 9

We recommend that for your CCW firearm you have two different types of ammo–one for training and one for carrying. In the case of the Kimber Micro 9 , you’ll want some ball ammo to go to the range with and train and some defensive carry ammunition. 

Range Ammo

Magtech 45 ACP

MagTech 9mm 115 GR FMJ

Carry Ammo

Hornady Critical Defense Ammo

Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 Grain FTX

Other CCW Handguns to Check Out

The Kimber Micro 9 is a good option for CCW. We think you might like learning more about these other CCW options we have reviewed. 

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  • Accuracy A+
  • Value A+

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Reader’s Grade

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Your Grade

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  • Accuracy A-
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Our Grade

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How to Care for Your Kimber Micro 9

You need to learn how to disassemble care for your handgun. We’ve found this video from Kimber America that shows you how to take down and reassemble your Micro 9.

Looking for some more information on the Kimber Micro 9? Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website, operator’s manual, and an entertaining video from Colion Noir.

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About Jason Mosher

Jason has been serving as a County Sheriff in Missouri since 2013 and worked as a Police Chief prior to that. He is a Tactical Firearms Instructor, Armorer and Generalist Law Enforcement Instructor. Jason is a writer in the firearms industry and likes to study the history of guns and their inventors.

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