What do you do when you have a good thing? You make it better, of course! That’s exactly what Kimber has done with its Micro 9 pistol. Introduced in 2016, the Micro 9 became immediately popular. Over the years, in an effort to keep the line fresh, Kimber has offered different variations of the Micro 9. And now, Kimber ups its game with the Micro 9 Rapide Black Ice.
The Kimber Micro 9 Rapide Black Ice
I received a sample of the Rapide Black Ice, which the company announced in November of 2020. It features a cosmetics package that is second only to its appeal as a lightweight concealed carry gun!
Before I detail the Rapide Black Ice, let’s take a look at what makes the Micro 9 such a popular concealed carry handgun. It’s a small pistol that doesn’t weigh much. It features the comfortable and familiar 18-degree grip angle, same as the 1911.
While the gun isn’t a miniature 1911, all of the controls, such as the slide release, thumb safety, and magazine release, are in the familiar Browning-inspired locations. If you’ve run a 1911, the Micro 9 will be intuitive for you.
It’s All in the Details
Micro 9 is a single-action semi-auto, which fires from a locked breech, and is safe to carry cocked and locked. That is with the chamber loaded, hammer cocked, and manual thumb safety applied. It uses a single stack magazine, and the Micro 9 has a capacity of 6 + 1 while the Rapide has a 7 +1 capacity.
There is no grip safety on the Micro 9. However, the frame is contoured to provide a beavertail-style tang. As a result, it protects even the meatiest hand from hammer bite. Additionally, it is nearly impossible for the reciprocating slide to make contact with a big hand.
The disconnector rides under the left side grip panel and is situated vertically. It rests on the trigger bar, preventing the bar from engaging the sear when the slide is out of battery. The disconnector moves up to a notch on the inside of the slide when in battery. As a result, this allows the trigger bar to contact the sear.
The Micro 9 is also equipped with a firing pin safety. This prevents the inertia-style firing pin from moving forward unless the trigger is purposefully pressed. Kimber uses a typical plunger-style firing pin block but, in an unusual arrangement, actually uses the tip of the ejector to activate it when the slide is in battery and no pressure is on the trigger.
When the trigger is pulled, the ejector rotates forward and allows the spring-loaded plunger firing-pin block to drop, clearing the mechanical block and allowing the gun to fire.
One advantage the Micro 9 has over the 1911 is that its manual thumb safety does not lock the slide. As a result, the gun can be loaded and unloaded with the safety engaged.
Performance & Beauty
The Rapide features dramatic stepped cocking serrations fore and aft, and the slide also has some ports to lighten its mass. Kimber’s website says this is to reduce lock time, but this isn’t quite right.
The slide’s weight has nothing to do with the fire control system, but the lighter weight does help with slide velocity. But the ports do look cool and also add another dimension to the gun’s top end as the stainless-steel barrel, which is DLC coated black, is visible through them.
Kimber coats the stainless-steel slide with silver and gray KimPro II finish to accent the multiple cuts.
Kimber machines the Micro 9 Rapide’s frame from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy for weight savings. With an unloaded magazine, the gun’s weight is just 15.6 ounces!
The pistol features ambidextrous manual thumb safeties and a mainspring housing that features oblong cuts to complement the slide cuts. A flush-fitting mag well is attached to the bottom of the frame. Likewise, a seven-round, extended magazine with a base pad adds enough length so the shooter’s pinky doesn’t need to ride under the gun.
For control, Kimber machines the frontstrap with Stiplex texturing, and the G10 grip panels also possess relief cuts similar to the slide and frontstrap to wrap up the gun’s aesthetics.
Fieldstripping the gun is an easy matter and requires no tools. With the magazine removed and the chamber empty, pull the slide back until the rear of the slide stop aligns with the slide’s disassembly notch.
Push the slide stop out of the frame and run the slide forward off the frame. Remove the recoil spring guide and spring and then lift the barrel from the slide. This is as far as you’ll need to disassemble the gun for routine cleaning and maintenance.
Reassembly is in reverse order. However, be sure to push down the pivoting ejector far enough to run the slide onto the frame. Slamming the slide onto the frame, as you might do with your 1911, will likely bend or break the ejector. This will require a trip back to Kimber for repair.
Remember, the pivoting ejector allows the firing pin block to drop out of engagement when pressure is applied to the trigger so a slight bend or misalignment caused by improper reassembly will disable your gun.
A Fighting Gun
Kimber went to great lengths to enhance the cosmetics of the Rapide, but this is also a fighting gun.
To enhance hit probability the gun is outfitted with TruGlo TFX Pro Day/Night sights. The fiber-optic rods glow with ambient light during the day and in darkness, a piece of tritium makes the rods glow so the shooter will always have the ability to see the sights in any light condition! It’s a great solution to an age-old problem.
I received my Rapide the second week of April. Southern Arizona is beautiful this time of year, and as I unloaded my car while the sun came up it was brisk enough that I needed to put my jacket on. But by the time I had my DOA Tactical shooting bench and PACT chronograph set up the temperature had risen to the 60s.
An hour or so later it was in the low 70s with a 5-mph breeze. It was a day made for shooting and the Rapide didn’t let me down.
I fired all groups from a seated rest and used a Millett BenchMaster to rest the Rapide’s dust cover on, maintaining a steady sight picture while adding pressure to the trigger to break the shot.
I used common range-type FMJ ammunition as well as hotter defense rounds, and everything performed flawlessly. You’ll note that I also used the Hornady American Gunner +P load and the Rapide never stuttered.
Regarding +P ammo, the Kimber manual states that the gun is rated for the ammo but continued use may accelerate wear on your gun. If this is the ammunition you chose to carry in your gun, first make sure that it functions properly but use standard pressure loads for practice.
The trigger pull on my test sample was a crisp 5.5 pounds. This, combined with the excellent TruGlo sights, made it easy to shoot these small groups at 15 yards.
But where the little pistol really shined was during a field exercise where I set up my MGM BC-C Zone target at 15 yards and fired double-taps, that is one sight picture and two very fast trigger pulls.
My best split—or time between shots—was 0.18-second, while my average was 0.20-second. I was amazed. This equals what I can do with a full-size, steel-framed 1911! To be able to match these times with a lightweight sub-compact pistol is astonishing to me.
I wish I could report that the Kimber Black Ice performed without issue, but this isn’t the case. Mechanically the gun is perfect, but the ambidextrous thumb safeties caused an issue for me.
When shooting the gun, even with my right thumb on top of the left side thumb safety, the first knuckle of my hand would knock the right-side safety up and into engagement under recoil, leaving me with a dead trigger.
If this gun were mine to keep, I’d send it back to Kimber and have them install a single strong-side thumb safety and that would cure the problem. I know this because the original Kimber Micro 9 that I tested back in 2017 is outfitted with a single strong-side safety and it performs flawlessly for me.
If you’re an old 1911 fan like me but dread carrying its weight and bulk, the Rapide Black Ice might be the right choice for all-day carry comfort. It’s small and lightweight and easy to conceal and makes a great choice for concealed carry or for use as a backup.
Possessing all of the reliability and accuracy needed, the Rapide makes a first-class defense gun. Kimber offers something like 16 different variations of the Micro 9 and, if the Rapide Black Ice doesn’t meet your needs, you will likely find one that does.
For more information, visit KimberAmerica.com.
Kimber Micro 9 Rapide Black Ice Specs
Barrel: 3.15 inches
Overall Length: 6.1 inches
Weight: 15.6 ounces (empty)
Grips: Gray G10
Sights: TruGlo TFX Pro Day/Night
Finish: Kimpro II
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World Gun Buyer’s Guide February/March 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.