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The Modern Evolution of the 1911 Platform

At the recent Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous, I had a chance to meet and speak with Everett Deger, Kimber’s marketing director. Our annual event is held the first week of October in southern Idaho. It brings in over 30 different firearm, ammunition, and accessory companies to spend time with Athlon’s content creators. At this event, Kimber brought its new KDS9c for contributors to shoot, and it lived up to the hype.

The Kimber KDS9c

I recently received the new Kimber KDS9c as an entrant for the 2024 Ballistic’s Best 1911 Round-Up. So, Deger spent some time detailing the new gun to me.

“We spent a great deal of time on the gun’s cosmetics and ergonomics,” said Deger. “The KDS9c’s slide is tri-topped, and we cut cocking serrations at the front and rear of the slide. If you’re using an optic, the front serrations become especially helpful as the red dot can get in the way of you manually racking the slide. The front serrations will also help you do a chamber check.

(Photo by Alex Landeen)

“We use a fully supported 4” stainless steel barrel with flutes and a concave crowned muzzle. This model is outfitted with our flat-topped hammer and uses a 15-round, double-column magazine.

“Optic adapter plates are available at KimberAmerica.com and are currently available for the Trijicon RMR, RMR HD, and RCR, as well as the Holosun K red dots. The suggested retail price is $1,499 with a street price around $1,350.”

For those who like the crispness and short reset of the 1911 but prefer the higher capacity of a double column 9mm, the Kimber KDS9c may be your solution!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t report that the KDS9c looks remarkably like Wilson Combat’s EDC X9. Back in 2017, Bill Wilson and his team of engineers introduced the EDC X9. It gave shooters all of the features we love about the 1911 but in a smaller caliber with more capacity.

In a world where we enjoy 1911s from literally dozens of manufacturers, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that another maker saw what Wilson did and, well, copied it.

A Modern 1911

The KDS9c is indeed a handsome gun. While you can see its 1911 heritage, it has a modern, updated look to it with rakish lines and oblong flutes cut into the barrel and its hood. For weight savings, Kimber machines its frame from 7075 aluminum and coats it with KimPro II silver finish.

The slide is machined from stainless steel and has a tri-top configuration with a serrated flat that runs down the center of the slide. In addition, it possesses a beavertail tang but no grip safety and has a strong side only, extended thumb safety. The blue and black G10 grips add a splash of color to the matte silver frame.

The trigger, hammer, sear, and disconnector of the Kimber KDS9c are all pure 1911 in design.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

One of the best things about the KDS9c is its ergonomics, and this is where Kimber did some serious homework. Its backstrap has a gentle arch, which helps push the shooter’s grip up into the beavertail. Kimber also undercuts the frame where it meets the trigger guard. As a result, this also helps the shooter get a higher grip on the gun to attenuate muzzle flip.

The rear of the gun’s grip is wider than a standard 1911, and the extra surface area makes the gun more comfortable to shoot. Kimber machines some rudimentary, grenade-style checkering into the KDS9c’s front and rear straps.

The gun just feels “right” in my hand, and the balance is about perfect. It is neither muzzle heavy nor light, and the gun points naturally.

If you’re an old 1911 aficionado, you’ll find that your thumb effortlessly rests on top of the manual thumb safety. By the way, if you’re a southpaw, the gun can be fitted with an ambidextrous safety. Likewise, the tear-drop-shaped magazine release can also be reversed.

A Tight Build

One of the impressive things about the KDS9c is the fitment of its parts. Its slide-to-frame fit is about as good as it gets, without a hint of wobble between the parts.

Kimber uses a stainless-steel barrel on this pistol and cuts oblong flutes along the barrel’s tube and chamber hood. It could be argued these cuts give dirt and grime a place to go rather than tie up the gun. However, the truth is the recesses are more aesthetic than functional.

Kimber uses a stainless-steel barrel on the KDS9c and cuts oblong flutes along the barrel’s tube and chamber hood.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Like the 1911 pistol, the KDS9c uses a swinging link with the slide stop’s pin that goes through it. The barrel uses an integral feedramp and is fully supported. Its barrel tube is cone-shaped, and the gun does not use a bushing. Kimber cuts the muzzle with a 20ᵒ deep-dish concave crown and flush cuts the barrel end with the slide. This gives the front end of the gun a very distinctive look!

The gun uses a single, flat wire recoil spring and a full-length recoil spring guide. As you will see, it worked well with every load I tried.

I found the trigger pull of the Kimber to be just about right for carry use. Using my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, the average of ten pulls registered at 3.8 pounds. There’s very little take-up, and it breaks cleanly with a firm reset. This is just one of many features of the KDS9c that makes me a fan!

The trigger, hammer, sear, and disconnector of the KDS9c are all pure 1911 in design. The skeletonized hammer has a flat top that really helps thumb cocking. My test pistol sports a single, strong side-only manual thumb safety that engages and disengages. So users won’t wonder if they are on or off safe.

I found the trigger pull to be just about right for carry use.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The Optic Ready KDS9c

My test and evaluation sample came equipped with a Holosun 507K green dot optic. Several years ago, when folks started mounting optics on their handguns, I’d shoot groups with the dot and then with the iron sights. A decade ago, about half my groups were smaller with the dot sight, and half were bigger. Time marches on.

Miniature red dot sights have improved dramatically, and, of course, my eyes have deteriorated. I now prefer to shoot groups with a red dot if given the option. It’s only fair to the firearm to use whatever means necessary to test its mechanical accuracy with as few human factors involved.

The author’s test and evaluation sample came equipped with a Holosun 507K green dot optic.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

While I’m on my soapbox, let me say this. Older folks are the last to embrace new technology. That is a shame because it is older eyes that will benefit the most from a pistol-mounted optic.

Rather than the eye rapidly shifting focus back and forth between the front sight and the target, dot sights only require you to focus on your target or threat and place the dot on it as you squeeze. The dot doesn’t even need to be centered in the optic window. If you can see the dot and put it on your target, that’s where your round will go!

Switching to a dot sight will increase your accuracy and speed and probably add years to your shooting career!

My test gun also possesses suppressor height sights that co-witness in the bottom 1/3 of the Holosun optic. Correspondingly, the front sight has a florescent fiber optic that glows with any amount of ambient light.

The company used a fully supported 4” stainless steel barrel with flutes and a concave crowned muzzle.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Impressive Accuracy

To test the gun’s accuracy, I set my targets out at 15 yards. I fired all groups from a seated bench using a DOA Tactical portable shooting bench and rested the KDS9c’s dust cover on a Millett BenchMaster. At least 3 groups were fired with each ammunition, with the smallest group recorded in the accuracy chart below.

The author shooting the Kimber KDS9c from a DOA Tactical shooting bench.

It says an awful lot about a defense pistol when the largest group it records is under ¾ of an inch at 15 yards! Of the six loads I tried with the KDS9c, only two of them would be considered range loads. The rest are proven defense rounds.

Doubletap’s 124-grain FMJ target load produced the smallest 5-shot, 15-yard group measuring just .49”! Five shots grouped under a ½”!

It wasn’t a one-time thing either. The KDS9c consistently shot groups under ¾” with every load tried.

My all-time favorite 9mm carry load is Doubletap’s 77-grain Solid Copper Hollow Point. From the KDS9c’s 4.09” barrel, it produced 1472 feet per second velocity and generated 370-foot pounds of energy.

It is a potent load that has always proved exceptionally accurate, shoots to point of aim, and does it without +P pressures. I’ve seen it penetrate over 15” in gel from a micro-compact pistol and expand to .72” while retaining 100% of its weight.

The author’s all-time favorite 9mm carry load is Doubletap’s 77-grain Solid Copper Hollow Point.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The KDS9c Surpassed Expectations

All of the loads I tried in the KDS9c fed without a bobble. In fact, even the American Eagle 147-grain FMJ with its Flat Point nose fed flawlessly. For my field shooting, I used a Hornady American Gunner 124-grain load and practiced placing controlled pairs and doubletaps on my MGM BC C-Zone steel targets.

Even though this is a +P load, it was easy to manage. Likewise, it was mild enough that I rarely lost my dot between shots.

The new Kimber KDS9c surpassed my expectations for accuracy and possesses flawless reliability. It gives shooters great ergonomics, a crisp 1911 trigger, and the capacity that we seem to need in these turbulent times. It also offers shooters the ability to use an optic on their carry gun.

The author running doubletap drills with the Kimber KDS9c.

Priced at $1499, the KDS9c is also available with a black finish.

For more information, please visit KimberAmerica.com.

Vote for the Ballistic’s Best Readers’ Choice for a chance to win a Kimber KDS9c.

Kimber KDS9c Specs

MODEL KDS9c Product #: 3100012 UPC: 669278310121 10 Round Magazine: 1500141A 15 Round Magazine: 1500142A  
OPERATION Semi-Auto, Locked Breech
HEIGHT 5.35”
WIDTH 1.33”
WEIGHT 25.3 Ounces with Empty Magazine
BARREL 4.10”, Stainless-Steel, 20ᵒ Flush-Cut Deep Crown, 1:10” LH
FRAME 7075 Lightweight Aluminum Alloy
SLIDE Stainless, Trip-Top Profile, Front & Rear Cocking Serrations
SIGHTS Optics Ready, Suppressor Height, Florescent Front
GRIPS G10 Gray & Black
ACCESSORIES Two 15-Round Magazines
WARRANTY Limited Lifetime
SUGGESTED RETAIL $1499 without optic


Kimber KDS9c 9mm OPTIC: Holosun 507K TRIGGER PULL: 3.8 Pounds DISTANCE 15-Yards
Black Hills 115-Grain JHP 1193 363 .56”
DoubleTap 124-Grain FMJ Match 1121 346 .49”
DoubleTap 77-Grain Solid Copper Hollow Point 1472 370 .66”
Federal American Eagle 147-Grain FMJ FP 1013 335 .63”
Hornady Critical Defense 115-Grain FTX 1127 324 .69”
Speer 135-Grain Gold Dot G2 1056 334 .72”
AVERAGE     .63”
The Kimber KDS9c produced very tight groups.

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