Kimber KDS9c Full Review: Holsters and Optics

Kimber pistols just have a look that makes you want them. Glancing at a wall full of 1911 pistols, it’s not hard to point out a Kimber. They have nice finishes, detailing on the slides, and grips that set them apart from other 1911 handguns. When the Kimber KDS9c was released, I had to get one. It’s a 1911 style, double stack, light weight 9mm pistol with an elegant look. For a double stack 1911 pistol designed for conceal carry, it needs to be as thin and light as possible.

Ammo capacity versus size of the gun is an ongoing debate among many. The smaller the gun, the easier it is to conceal and carry. However, ammo capacity also suffers as the gun gets smaller. On the same note, the larger the gun, the more ammo it can hold and the easier it is to shoot. You also must pack around a lot more gun and weight. That happy medium isn’t going to be the same for everyone. Some people can easily conceal larger guns than others.

Women shooting the KDS9c.
The KDS9c is a perfect CCW weapon for men and women. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Wardrobe, weather, and other factors all contribute to the size of a gun you select. I tend to go with a compact-sized gun in the summer and a larger gun in the winter. For a 1911, the Kimber KDS9c is “compact.” When compared to average compact pistols however, it’s not. I place it in that full-size-ish category. Kimber did keep the weight down and the grip fairly thin for a double stack. So, it could be a great option for CCW.

Overview of the Kimber KDS9c

The frame on the KDS9c is machined from billet 7075 aluminum. A light gun is essential for concealed carry. Recoil will be a little heavier, but with a 9mm it’s completely manageable. Kimber’s Rapide .45 1911 weighs 38 ounces while the KD9c weighs 25.3 ounces. That’s a big difference when you plan to carry a gun around all day. Even though the KDS9c uses a double stack magazine, the grey and black G10 crosshatch grips are thin and keep the gun from being wider than necessary.

At 1.33-inches wide, the KDS9c is just a little thicker than the Rapide’s 1.28-inch frame. The slide is made from stainless steel with serrations in the slide that flow onto the top of the slide. One thing that stands out on the design of the KDS9c is the barrel. Kimber gave it several rows of rounded out groves, which make it look kind of cool. The trigger is a 1911 design and pulls directly back instead of pivoting. That makes this 9mm beauty an accurate shooting gun.

Kimber KDS9c stainless.
The Kimber KDS9c stainless. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The safety sticks out just far enough to easily push it with your thumb. I didn’t have to adjust my grip at all to drop mags. The mag release can be moved to the right side for those who are left-handed. The Kimber has an oversized slide stop and extended thumb safety to make it easier to control without shifting your grip around. Another thing that is different from many 1911 pistols is the external ejector. A pin is visible from the top of the slide that holds the ejector in place. It has a strong spring and flips shell casings out with a vengeance.

Sights and optic mounting

The KDS9c has a proprietary, serrated rear sight that is adjustable for elevation. I haven’t decided if I like the rear sight yet as it has a blocky, tall look to it. The height is designed for an optic, but, as a stand-alone sight, I could see things catching on it. The Kimber KDS9c is equipped with a windage adjustable green fiber optic front sight. It would have been nice to see some type of dots or color on the back sight.

Optic plate on the KDS9c.
To mount an optic on the KDS9c, the purchase of a plate adaptor from Kimber is required. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Now we get to the optic plate. It took me a while to get used to optics on handguns, but I am now a believer. I don’t use optics on all my handguns, but it’s nice to have the option. Kimber uses a plate cover that attaches with screws from underneath the slide. I’ve sung nothing but praise so far, but the optic plate snuffs out some of my song. To mount an optic, you must first purchase a separate plate with rear sight because they are attached.

Gone are the days of removing the plate and mounting an optic. I’m guessing Kimber wanted people to have the option of using plates with different footprints. The only option currently on their website is the RMSc footprint for $119.00. I like the RMSc footprint, but If Kimber wanted to make multiple plates, they should have included at least one with the gun. This means you will need to spend an extra $120 on a $1,500 gun before you can mount an optic. For me, it will be iron sights.

Holsters for the Kimber KDS9c

Because the KDS9c is part 1911, many holsters that fit 1911 pistols will work for it. Leather ones work especially well because they have some degree of flexibility. I have a Craft shoulder holster and leather paddle holster that work with the KDS9c. Kimber offers a wide range of leather holsters and a Kydex holster for the KDS9c. Browsing various holster sites, there are not many holster options specifically for the KDS9c. I’m sure more will be soon to come.

Kimber KDS9c in holster
The Kimber KDS9c fit in all of my 1911 holsters. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The Kimber KDS9c did fit in my Blackhawk Serpa holster, but the one I have is for a 5” barrel. I was also surprised to see the KDS9c fit into my leather shoulder holster for my CZ 75 B. It fit almost better than the 1911 holsters. Until some good polymer molded holsters are available for this handgun, I recommend going with leather so it can mold to the gun.

A 1911 commander holster should fit great in the KDS9c after you mold it. If you haven’t molded a leather holster before, simple instructions are found online. The stainless slide should hold up well to everyday wear. However, the only bad thing about leather is that it can be hard on a gun’s finish after years of use. I will have to see how mine holds up as I start carrying it this winter.

On the Range with the Kimber KDS9c

The KDS9c was an accurate gun just like I suspected. My trigger gauge showed a 4-pound trigger pull and the 1911 trigger is about as good as it gets. For a competition gun, a lighter trigger would be better; but for self-defense, this was perfect. Global Ordnance provided some Belom 124-grain ammo for the review, so I was able to put several hundred rounds down range. Having a few other 1911 pistols chambered in 9mm, the KDS9c had a little more kick than they did. With the lighter weight, this isn’t surprising.

Kimber KDS9c on the range
Even though I purchased the stainless model, I liked the black KDS9c as well. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Even though the grip is just a hair wider, it didn’t feel like a double stack gun. For those who grew up with a 1911, this is a great modern option for CCW. The block style sights are not the best for bullseye shooting, but worked well for quick acquisition. My KDS9c came with two 15-round mags, but I’ve heard Kimber is working on an 18-round mag as well. There didn’t seem to be a break-in period as the gun shot great from the first mag. I did wait until I put a couple hundred rounds through it to try out some hollow point ammo. Hornady Critical Defense and Winchester Defender cycled perfectly in the gun.

A real fighter or just a looker?

Any time a gun company releases that “pretty” gun, it makes you wonder if it’s worth all the hype or if it’s just another gun for display. There is no arguing the Kimber KDS9c is a looker; but after spending some time with it, I feel confident this weapon is more than capable of self-defense. Kimber has great quality control with their products and they use top of the line materials in their guns. A 1911 gun merged with an aluminum frame and double stack mag make it a superior choice for everyday carry. I still don’t like how they did the optic plate, but this gun is a worthy defender. The next time you’re in the store, check one out and see what you think of the look, feel, and weight. It’s a pretty gun on the outside and rugged on the inside. What else could you ask for in a 1911 double stack pistol?

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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