Kimber finally made every effort with be on-trend with concealed carry. It mostly succeeded in doing so with the R7 Mako.
The R7 Mako represents a big step for Kimber (a brand mostly associated with 1911 pistols). Released in 2022, the R7 Mako is the company’s first polymer-lower striker fired pistol. Chambered in 9mm Luger, most everything about it appears to be an attempt to be at the forefront of current concealed carry trends. Kimber mostly succeeded, at least in my view, in this outstanding freshman effort.
I got to test a privately-owned R7 Mako for a half-day, and was so excited by the gun I decided to make the experience into a review. Though I ultimately decided against purchasing one for myself, I feel this gun is a strong contender for concealed carry.
In my view, this gun is on-trend because Kimber skipped the now-familiar first step (looking at you, SIG, Springfield, Taurus, and Canik) of making a short-barreled, striker-fired 9mm with robust capacity, followed later by a virtual clone with a bit longer barrel. Kimber went for the slightly longer barrel out of the box.
Then, it proceeded to slap the competition around a little by including three magazines that include a flat-bottomed 10 rounder, plus pinky-supporting 11 and 13-round mags. I confess that I was, and remain, a little confused by this, as the sample gun in this review came new from the local gun store with an impressive four, not three, mags. Three of them were the 11-round type with a pinky wedge, and one was a flat-base 10-round mag. All had a metal (steel? I didn’t have a magnet handy) main body with cut-outs to show load condition accompanied by even-number demarcations.
Mags are important, and I’ll return to that topic later. For me, the Mako’s aggressively stippled frame was the most noticeable feature upon picking it up. Think about an M&P Shield’s grip meeting 50 grit sandpaper. I find the pattern attractive and the highly textured but not sticky — just perfect for controlling this small gun.
Kimber designed the grip for the average hand. What’s not trendy here is there aren’t any modular backstraps or side panels. Kimber did include the slightest of humps (low) on each lateral side of the grip. My medium-sized hands, as well as my male student’s medium hands, were a great match for the grip, which affords tremendous recoil control and a comfortable distance to the trigger.
Stippling is placed at key points for recoil suppression, even along the slide where the support hand thumb rides. In terms of the grip, Kimber appears to have done some research and made an earnest effort to provide good ergonomics. It’s not a copy of anything else I know of.
The controls are all-ambi, all the time. Like the SIG P365, the slide lock notch on the slide is entirely internal, making for smooth lines on the outside of the slide. I’m not normally a fan of ambi safeties that aren’t the reversible style, but so long as one uses the included Mission First Tactical brand Kydex holster with the Mako, unintentional magazine releases aren’t a concern.
The holster nicely covers the mag release while also not interfering with obtaining a full firing-hand grip while the gun is holstered. Kimber did a great job here again, molding the mag release into the frame such that using it is easy. Even in a holster where it’s exposed, the frame provides some protection from outside objects.
This simple holster is included with purchase. It adds real value, not only for the aforementioned features, but also for its more-secure-than-most single belt clip, and its ability to morph into an OWB holster for either hand or an IWB left-handed holster. It was sold set up for right hand, IWB, or left hand OWB carry.
The clip is movable with a simple two-screw adjustment. It’s a brilliant design, and one I’ve had some mileage on. I use my own MFT holster for a SIG P365 with people who are learning to draw and re-holster from AIWB position. Installed on a belt correctly, its as correct and safe as an IWB holster can be.
The poor Mako. It’s been slammed heartily by other reviewers for “looking like a Hi-Point.” It gets this rap thanks to its slide, which is higher profile than most in the micro-compact class. And then there’s the ejection port, which is right side-only and quite small. Overall, it’s no taller than my P365 in height. And if ejection works right every time, well, a small port is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, it offers protection against dust and lint.
Handling and Reliability
Pretty is as pretty does. This gun just runs. I confess I have some earned prejudice against the Kimber brand for its 1911s, which vary widely in reliability between guns. With the caveat that I was only to test this gun with 115-grain FMJ from a regional company (what was available to us), I left confident it would cycle reliably with other ammo as well. My student, a new shooter with this new gun, occasionally failed to grip well. “No matter,” said the Mako. It never hiccupped in a 100-round trial which included the first shots to go down the barrel.
Keeping with the trendy theme is the inclusion of very nice TruGlo tritium sights fore and aft. The sights are tall enough to co-witness with a number of optics, which the Mako can accommodate if the consumer chooses the red dot-ready model. Its RDS notch is drilled and tapped for the Shield optics pattern, so several popular offerings will fit.
This gun is a real pleasure to operate. The magazines, all four that were included with purchase, fed perfectly, and dropped freely regardless of load condition. The sandpapery texture of the frame aids in control of recoil. A flat-faced, match grade trigger with an approximate five-pound pull makes the experience sublime. The trigger has a shorter first-round take-up of any striker gun I’ve fired.
It’s not often that every paragraph seems like putting more icing on the cake, but I’d be remiss not to mention that field stripping and reassembling this gun is easy. Takedown is Glock-like. In fact, the mechanism is nearly identical. But re-assembly is accomplished by setting the slide on top, feeling for the right notches as it settles into place, and racking the slide to seat it. Hooray for simplicity.
A Few Concerns
I almost made this gun my new choice for daily carry. Surprised and excited that it performed and handled so well, I had the chance to wear it for a day. That’s where my Mako love affair ended. That sandpapery grip hangs up on polyester fabric a bit, impairing perfect concealment ever so slightly. But the real kicker is the magwell.
It has a sharp corner that dug into my skin, enough that I had the beginnings of a blister on my abdomen by day’s end. A thinner person might not feel such abrasion, and anyone who carries concealed at three- or nine o’clock would not notice that corner at all. However, I did and found it intolerable. Maybe a little Dremel action could fix it, but I’m not in a position to permanently alter this gun or purchase another for experimentation. With so much effort obviously devoted to making the perfect carry gun, it’s a shame that these literal sticking points were overlooked.
Specifications: Kimber R7 Mako
Chambering: 9mm Luger
Height: 90 degrees to barrel; 4.3 inches
Weight (sans magazine): 19.5 ounces
Length: 6.2 inches
Width: 1.0 inch
Capacity: 10-round flush, 11-round standard, 13-round extended (this doesn’t match the gun in the test)
Slide: Stainless steel with FNC finish
Barrel: Stainless steel, 3.37 inches, 1:10 left-hand twist
Sights: TruGlo 3-Dot Tritium Pro Night Sights with orange front ring and white rear ring
Frame: Polymer with serialized steel central block. Molded stippling finish
Back to the magazines. They drop free regardless of load condition, a qualifying factor for any gun I’m going to carry. But the construction is different than most. There’s a wire loop, instead of a disassembly button, like other magazines. It’s prominent enough on the flat-bottom mag to snag fabric.
Why Kimber? My time with this gun didn’t allow for exploring this further, and I sure didn’t want to break it in a mess-around-and-find-out kind of way. The mag works well, but this would concern me long term.
While the Kimber R7 Mako isn’t my choice for concealed carry, it’s bound to please a lot of other people. It’s unfortunate the Mako hasn’t received as much attention as others in the micro compact class. Especially considering the generous inclusion of extra mags and a real concealment holster with the package, I think it’s a good value with an MSRP set at $599.