The Kimber R7 Mako: 9mm Feeding Frenzy Review

The hottest trend in firearms over the past four years is the semi-auto micro-compact, and Kimber’s recently-released R7 Mako joins the frenzy. This trend really got started when Sig Sauer’s P365 launched with its sub-4-inch barrel, 4-inch height, 6-inch length, and double-stack 9mm capacities. Several companies have followed with their own diminutive 9s, including Kimber with the R7 Mako.

Mako Shark – The Kimber R7 Mako’s Namesake

To understand the significance of naming this 9mm the “Mako,” let’s take a closer look at the finned killer’s stats. The fish species takes its name from the Polynesian Maori language. And its derivation is the generic name of all sharks in several Polynesian languages.

Interestingly enough, the Shortfin Mako may be considered the champion among all shark species. It is the fastest shark, clocked at nearly 50 miles per hour. Likewise, it wields the strongest bite at 13,000 Newtons, and they’re big and smart too. They can grow to more than a ton and have the biggest brain-to-body ratio of all sharks. Nice job picking a name, Kimber.

(Photo by Alex Landeen)

This Kimber bites with force, too. It snacks on +P 9mm loads with relish and can be counted to put rounds on target.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the R7 Mako is the slide’s ejection port. It’s a side port rather than an open-top design prevalent in a throng of 9mm pistols. If you compare a short blowback action micro-compact like a Kahr, Ruger, Kel-Tec, etc., you will find the ejection port cut into the top of the slide.

A slew of John Moses Browning’s patents, and their knockoffs, sport a top-quarter slide ejection port orientation. The R7 Mako sports a side ejection port, much like that of an AR-15 rifle.

Purportedly, Kimber engineers and designers were concerned about weakening the slide with a deep optic mounting cut and decided to leave a bit more metal on the top surface. Looking back, the earliest pistol with a side ejection port appears to be a Bergmann Simplex.

The Kimber R7 Mako has a side ejection port, rare among small pistols.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Something New

The R7 Mako is Kimber’s first polymer-framed, striker-fired, high-capacity, micro-compact handgun. They’ve been building and selling 1911-pattern pistols since 1995. The Mako isn’t Kimber’s first striker-fired pistol. Their EVO series was launched in 2019.

EVO pistols are 9mm Para. caliber, striker-fired, and feature an aluminum frame. These were single-stack 9s with a 3.16-inch stainless steel match-grade barrel with a deep crown and carried seven shots.

Designed to compete with the best, the R7 Mako is outfitted with today’s most desired features to provide superior out-of-the-box performance, according to Kimber’s experts.

The R7 Mako family comes standard with high-contrast TruGlo Tritium Pro night sights, ambidextrous controls, and a flat-faced trigger. Additionally, the optic-ready (OR) model comes with its slide milled to accept micro red-dot optics.

The rear sights offer twin dots to help center up the rear sight slot in a hurry.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

I had a choice between a Crimson Trace-wearing Mako or the plain iron-sighted pistol when I began this writing assignment. It seemed that most writers were going the optic route. Always a contrarian, I opted for the irons.

I can shoot most pistols with red-dot optics accurately unsupported, but they take just a split second longer to acquire the dot and lock it onto a target. If I’m on the clock, I tend to shoot iron sights faster than dot sights.

The Mako in Detail

A few of the R7 Mako’s stats include a total height of 4.3 inches and a weight of 9.5 ounces without a magazine. Loaded with an 11-round magazine, the Mako tips the scales at a tad over 25 ounces. Its length is a hair under 6.25 inches.

Frame material is polymer plastic that gets a molded stippling treatment. This pistol is “grippy,” and feels good in the hands. Magazine choice also comes into play if you’ve got big hands.

Kimber claims to have an 11-round standard magazine, but the magazine only shows a 10-round window. The R7 I received has the standard magazine and a flush-fit 11-rounder. My pinky finger completely hangs off the bottom of the 11-round flush magazine, and the extended magazine is only marginally better.

The thin grip still has doublestack capability, yielding a double-digit payload of 9mm.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Even though the grip was not ideal for my paws, the stippling did its job and kept the pistol secure while firing. Kimber offers a 13-round extended magazine, and I’ll be picking more of these up soon at $40 a pop.

The R7 is easy to hide under a shirt with its 1-inch width at the grip. In addition, the slide material is stainless steel with Kimber’s FNC coating. The barrel measures 3.37 inches and is stainless as well. It’s got a 1-in-10-inch left-hand twist.

Iron sights are three-dot TruGlo Tritium Pro nights sights, and the front ring is high-visibility orange. The rear sights offer twin dots to help center up the rear sight slot in a hurry.

The front sight ring is high-visibility orange.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Kimber claims its R7 triggers are set between 5.5 and 6.75 pounds at the factory. The pistol tested dropped the striker at 5.1 pounds every time for five measurements.

The flat-face trigger of the Kimber R7 Mako broke at 5.1 pounds.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Range Time with the R7 Mako

Any gun needs to be broken in, so to speak. To give this Kimber a chance to excel, I first ran 200 rounds of hand-loaded 115-grain hardball through it while I plinked at steel. Next came a good scrubbing. Then, it was time to try four 9mm loads to see what the pistol could do at 25 yards from a rest. I chose four loads—two from Hornady and two from Federal.

Hornady’s first load was their 115-grain jacketed hollow point, and they performed reasonably well. Aside from one called flyer, 15 rounds stayed inside the 5-ring of an official 15-yard Slow Fire target. The best five-shot group measured 2.87 inches.

Next up was Hornady’s 135-grain +P Critical Defense. This load kept 15 rounds under 3.8 inches, and the best five-shot group measured 2.5 inches.

Federal’s 100-round “practice and defend” package of 9mm consists of 50 147-grain HST and 50 rounds of Syntech-coated training rounds. I don’t like finding boxes of half-empty ammo on my shelf. So, I didn’t quit shooting groups with the Federal until it was all gone.

All 100 rounds stayed inside a 5-inch circle at 25 yards. The HST’s best group measured 2.2 inches, and the Syntech rounds’ best measured 2.4 inches.

The author shooting the Kimber R7 Mako.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

After the “long-range” session, I closed the distance to 7 yards and sent a few five-shot groups downrange. Every group with every load stayed under 1.25 inches while shooting without a rest. I was impressed.

I am happy to report that the Kimber R7 Mako ran like a sewing machine and never experienced a failure to feed through 400 rounds fired. Carried in a DeSantis holster, the R7 conceals well. I opted for their Mini-Scabbard model, which fits both Optics and Optics-Ready R7 models.

Final Notes on the R7 Mako

One is left to wonder if the R7 Mako will befall its namesake shark’s inability to survive captivity, or flourish in today’s concealed carry marketplace. I’m betting on the latter.

For more information, visit KimberAmerica.com.

Kimber R7 Mako 9mm Specs

Caliber 9mm
Barrel 3.37 inches
Overall Length 6.2 inches
Weight 19.5 ounces (empty)
Grips Polymer
Sights Three-Dot TruGlo Tritium Pro
Action Striker-fired
Finish Stainless with FNC
Capacity 11+1, 13+1
MSRP $599


Federal HST 147 992 2.20
Federal Syntech 150 975 2.40
Hornady JHP 115 1,080 2.90
Hornady Critical Defense 135 980 2.50

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 25 yards.

This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World October/November 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected].

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