Last April, Kimber introduced their KDS9c pistol, and it was an immediate success. The gun possesses a hammer-fired, 1911 fire-control group and a tapered double-column magazine. This gives its user a 15 + 1 capacity of 9mm rounds. And now, the new KDS9c Rail from Kimber takes the popular platform and makes it better by adding accessory compatibility.
The Kimber KDS9c Rail Adds Accessory Compatibility
Combined with a lightweight alloy frame, Kimber’s newest pistol also has exceptional ergonomics and cosmetics. Additionally, the gun is optics-ready and possesses an amazing degree of accuracy for a carry gun. Rather than rest on their laurels, Kimber management asked customers what they could do to make the KDS9c better.
Kimber’s Director of Marketing, Everett Degger, recently told me, “Our most requested additions to the KDS9c pistol were ambidextrous thumb safeties and a rail on the gun’s dust cover to add a light and or laser.”
Kimber listened to its customers, and the result is the new KDS9c Rail. It’s a gun that possesses both ambidextrous thumb safeties and a rail on the frame. Boasting all of the KDS9c’s original features, the new gun allows the user the ability to mount a light and also makes the gun more appealing to southpaw customers.
Ballistic Best Winner
I am not unfamiliar with the original KDS9c pistol. Kimber sent me a sample to use in my 2023 Ballistic Best 1911 Round-Up. Firing over 500 rounds of defense ammunition, the gun never choked, and most groups were sub-1-inch at 15 yards.
I found the gun’s advanced ergonomics made the gun easy to shoot and painless to carry. The new Kimber scored well enough in categories like ergonomics, reliability, accuracy, and cosmetics to take top honors for the “Under $1500 1911” category.
KDS9c Rail—The Devil is in the Details
Digging a little deeper into the gun’s details reveals that the hammer, sear, disconnector, and thumb safety of the KDS9c/Rail pistols are all 1911 parts. That’s good news for those who want the crisp trigger break and short reset of a 1911 gun for their carry pistol. It is just impossible for a striker-fired gun to match the 1911 trigger in terms of a clean break.
And while the world is awash with polymer-framed 9mm guns, Kimber machines their frame from 7075 aerospace-grade aluminum alloy. This delivers weight savings and fits the gun with a tapered, double-column magazine. The flush fit magazine has a capacity of 15 rounds of 9mm, while the extended mag holds 18 rounds.
One of the 1911’s shortcomings is that when a shooter uses a thumb-high grip, with their thumb on top of the safety, sometimes the grip safety doesn’t get depressed enough to disengage. Kimber’s solution was to eliminate the grip safety. In my opinion, that is a good thing.
The gun does possess a high-sweep beavertail tang, but there is no grip safety. Correspondingly, the undercut trigger guard and an arched backstrap basically funnel the shooter’s hand up into the beavertail. This provides the highest grip possible to help attenuate muzzle flip.
Kimber’s ambidextrous safeties are extended and comfortable to reach and snick on and off crisply. They are not obnoxiously wide like competition safeties. However, they are long enough that they can easily be activated with the shooter’s thumb without affecting the firing grip.
Gripping the Double-Stack 1911
I’ve been shooting 1911s now for over 45 years and have become very accustomed to their grip. The KDS9C guns use the same grip angle but are actually more comfortable to me than 1911s. This is because the rear of the grip frame is rounded and blended with the grips.
It places more gun surface area into the palm of the shooting hand without any sharp edges or transitions between the grip safety, mainspring housing, frame, and grips. I also find the arched backstrap to be more comfortable than a 1911 with a flat mainspring housing.
Kimber uses grenade-style checkering on the frontstrap and mainspring housing area. The cuts are deep enough for the shooter to press their flesh into to secure a firm grip. The same pattern is carried over to the G10 grip panels for aesthetic continuity.
All of Kimber’s KDS9c pistols are optics-ready. KimberAmerica.com sells a selection of optics plates for the most popular miniature red dot sights. The plates are equipped with an integral rear sight that is dovetailed for windage correction and possesses a lock-screw.
My test sample came equipped with a Holosun 507K (not included with the purchase of a KDS9c Rail). It features a 2 MOA green dot and 12 brightness settings. The front sight on the KDS9c Rail has a tritium vile to help the shooter orient their muzzle in the dark.
Shooting the KDS9c Rail
To test the KDS9c Rail for accuracy, I set my targets out at 15-yards and used a DOA Tactical shooting bench for support. All shots were fired from a seated rest, and the gun’s dust cover rested on a Millett BenchMaster. I then added the 3.75 pounds of pressure necessary to drop the hammer.
The Holosun’s green dot, which I prefer to red dots because it is easier for my eyes to see, was easy to center in the 2-inch diameter Shoot N C targets I used. Despite the wind—which at times gusted to 30 mph and caused my target to rock back and forth in its stand—I was able to record some very decent groups.
At least three 5-shot groups were fired, with each ammunition listed with the best group appearing in the chart (below). Doubletap’s 124-grain FMJ-RN Match ammunition produced the best 5-shot group, measuring just .70”. The KDS9C Rail possesses excellent accuracy, and the aggregate group size of the 4 ammunitions tried was just .84 inches!
Using a mixture of hot defense ammunition and range ammo the KDS9C Rail didn’t stutter once! Kimber uses a 16-pound, flat wire recoil spring wrapped around a full-length guide, and it was able to handle the hot loads as well as the target rounds without issue.
I used the extended 18-round magazine for most of my testing. It was easy to load even when I loaded it to capacity. This magazine has a machined aluminum base pad that is Cerakoted black to match the gun’s black/gray finish.
Streamlight TLR-7A: Adding a Light to the Rail
Streamlight sent me a sample of their hugely popular TLR-7A weapon light for use with the KDS9C Rail pistol. Weighing just 2.4 ounces, this mighty-mite is capable of putting out 500 Lumens and has a run time of an hour and a half!
Powered by the common and economical CR123A Lithium battery, its front-loading capability does not require the user to take the light off the pistol to change batteries. It also has a safe off feature that prevents the ham-fisted user from accidentally activating the light.
Mounting the light was as simple as loosening the retention screw and sliding it onto the pistol’s rail. Then just tighten the screw. The light’s paddles can be activated from either side, with the trigger finger or with the support hand thumb.
Not everyone finds a polymer-framed, striker-fired gun to be their grail defense weapon. Some prefer the crispness of the 1911 trigger and an alloy frame, for lightweight carry. Not to mention, the capacity of a doublestack magazine is more to their liking.
These are the people who will want to look closely at the Kimber KDS9C as their next defense handgun. Now that Kimber has updated the gun with a light rail, Tritium front sight and ambidextrous safeties, the gun will appeal to even more folks.
For more information, please visit KimberAmerica.com.
Kimber KDS9c Rail Specs
|9mm, one 15-round magazine and one 18-round magazine
|7075 Aluminum Alloy, KimPro Gray Finish
|Stainless-Steel, KimPro Black Finish
|4” Stainless Steel, Supported, 1:10”, 30ᵒ Flush Cut Deep Crown
|Optic Cover Plate with Dovetailed Rear TruGlo Night Sight and Accompanying Front Night Sight Available Adaptor Plates with RMSc/Holosun K, Trijicon RMR, and Docter Footprints.
|G10 Black Crosshatch
|Two Magazines, One 15-Round and One 18-Round, Ballistic Nylon Range Bag
|Limited Lifetime Warranty
|Black Hills 115-Grain Jacketed Hollow Point
|Doubletap 124-Grain Fmj-Rn Match
|Federal American Eagle 147-Grain Fmj-Flat Point
|Hornady American Gunner 115-Grain Xtp
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