Updated Carry Gun Brings More Bite!

by Vern Evans

After spending a couple of decades in plain clothes federal law enforcement, I have some pretty strong preferences on what makes a good EDC. I’ve been stationed in the hottest of places (Arizona), the most humid of places (Houston), the coldest of places (Montana) and the harshest of environments (Afghanistan). Places where you can wear bulky clothing make it easier to conceal but sometimes harder to draw. They also bring problems like frozen lube in the guns and snow on the optic.

Kimber R7 Mako Tactical

That said, in my opinion, hot climates are the worst. Most shorts lack belt loops and light T-shirts tend to print around the grip. So I always base my ideal everyday carry gun around hot climates and ultimate in concealability. On top of that, I am a firearms and tactical instructor who also competes, and I demand a lot of my guns. I want a lot of bells the average shooter might not appreciate. The new Kimber R7 Mako Tactical blew me away with its features. With only one or two small tweaks, I would be thrilled to have this as my everyday gun.

Kimber first introduced the R7 Mako in 2021, far from the first 9mm micro-compact. Historically, Kimber owns a reputation for 1911s, not polymer, striker-fired guns. But the R7 Mako proved successful, even if the original became lost a bit among the noise of so many other comparable guns released around the same time. Kimber knew they had a good thing, and they just needed to get more people to try it and they could win them over. Instead of giving up on the design, they doubled down. They listened to their audience and then went in and tweaked it to give the people what they want.

The result is the R7 Mako Tactical in either Optics Ready (OR) or Optics Installed (OI) configuration. It took me a little while to embrace red dots on pistols, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. For my review, I chose the OI which comes with a Holosun HS 407K that fits the slide nicely. If they had sent me an OR, I would have immediately found a red dot to put on it and this saved me the hassle.

On the Surface

A quick glance at the Mako R7 Tactical reveals a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol designed to fit in the micro-compact 9mm world of guns, joining a category filled after a decade of market explosion. Here is what makes it unique. It is 100% ambidextrous with ambi mag catch and ambi slide release. No need to reverse the mag catch for you wrong-handed, I mean left-handed people.

It has a flat-faced trigger that you really need to try. I say that because polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols have the most atrocious triggers you can find. I test a lot of guns, and sometimes I wonder if the manufacturers are actually trying to make the triggers worse. This one is better than most aftermarket triggers. Not quite a two-stage, it builds up, then breaks cleanly. The reset is short and has a great click that can be felt and heard. It feels a little stiffer than most guns of this type, but much smoother and more consistent. The average trigger pull came in under 5 pounds.

The dust cover has a Picatinny rail for adding a light. I had read online that no one could find a light to fit the Mako. I checked with Kimber and they confirmed the Surefire XSC-Hellcat weapon light and the Streamlight TLR-7 Sub will both fit. The ambi slide catch seems tiny, but is actually easy to manipulate. It is protected by a ridge along the top of the frame to keep the people with big hands from accidentally pressing it up with their dominant thumb while firing and causing the slide to lock back accidentally, or riding the lever and keeping the slide from locking to the rear when it runs dry. I have seen both of these problems on a number of pistols, and the smaller the pistol, the more common it is.

The Right Bite

The slide has a beveled front to aid in re-holstering, forward and rear cocking serrations to make press checks easier, and front and rear night sights that co-witness nicely through the Holosun HS 407K window without having to be suppressor height. The ejection port is only on the side of the slide. Most pistols today have a much larger ejection port that encompasses both the side and part of the top of the slide. This certainly gives the slide some added strength, which in turn may prevent movement and stress on the optic each time the slide cycles.

Lastly, it has a threaded barrel that adds .55-inch of length to the barrel. Even if you never plan to put a suppressor on this gun, a half-inch extra length in barrel is a huge improvement. When the FBI tests duty ammunition, they often find the duty rounds that perform in full-size handguns fail in sub-compacts and fail miserably in micro-compacts because of lost velocity. The Mako R7 Tactical has nearly a 4-inch barrel, which is on par with most compact class of guns like the Glock 19, so you can expect your ammunition to perform to its full potential.

Stealthy Shark Mode

While a longer barrel is important for velocity, it is threaded for a reason. Suppressors make shooting far more pleasant. I took the Mako R7 Tactical on a recent trip to Gunsite because they have some excellent ranges and shoot houses where I could really test the pistol. Tony Tarantino from Dead Air Silencers drove up to join me, and we attached his incredibly light, titanium Mojave-9 and ran it with mostly subsonic ammo for the day. The Mojave-9 has a 3-D printed Triskelion baffle system for state-of-the-art performance and a two-piece modular design so it can be made longer for the ultimate in quiet or made shorter if you need a more compact package.

The R7 Mako Tactical functioned flawlessly with the suppressor. I’ve seen lots of guns that need a different recoil spring or full-strength ammo to run, especially on smaller guns. This one ran perfectly with no modifications. The long version of the Mojave-9 was certainly quiet, but I preferred the short version. It was only marginally louder but more maneuverable. I used 5.11’s new LV8 Sling Pack 8L as my holster, as it worked perfectly, even with the Mojave-9 attached. I had never thought carrying a suppressed pistol was an option for EDC, but running it through Gunsite’s different scenarios with the Mojave-9 and everything concealed in the 5.11 LV8 Sling Pack made me start to rethink that. 

Final Analysis: Everyday Carry Machine

In conclusion, do I think this is a great starter pistol for everyday carry? No, I do not. Smaller guns are harder to shoot than larger guns. Red dot sights take longer to learn than iron sights. Most people do not need a threaded barrel because they do not own a suppressor. Most people do not train for being injured in their dominant hand and practice shooting with their support hand, so they do not need ambidextrous controls.

This is an advanced everyday carry pistol. It is for the man or woman who takes their training and preparation seriously. This is a gun for the gunfighter who already has a combat mindset and the skills to back it up, or the person who will commit to that training and will grow into it. This firearm is built for concealment, but with a fantastic trigger and every bell and whistle you could possibly need for virtually any circumstance.

There are not a lot of handguns that impress me this much right out of the box. The only major change I would make to it is switching to an 11-round magazine when concealing the pistol on my belt, and keep a 15-round magazine in a pouch for a reload. If my agency authorized this gun (and hopefully they will in the near future), this would be on my very short list of pistols that I would be willing to carry every day for the rest of my life.

Prices start at $734. For more info, visit kimberamerica.com.

Accuracy Results

Load Velocity Average Accuracy Average Accuracy Best
Doubletap 124-grain FMJ-RN Match 1,089.2 fps 1.74 in 1.41 in
Federal Personal Defense 135-grain Hydra-Shok Deep 1,059.9 fps 1.77 in 1.47 in
Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P 1,192.3 fps 1.33 in .92 in

Kimber R7 Mako Tactical Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Action: Low-Tilt, Semi-automatic
  • Magazine Capacity: 15+1 (10-, 11-, and 13-round magazines available)
  • Barrel Length: 3.92 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.8 inches
  • Weight Empty: 24.2 ounces
  • Finish: Molded Black Stippling Frame; FNC Slide
  • Trigger Weight: 4 pounds, 12 ounces (average of 10 on Lyman electronic trigger gauge)
  • Sights: 3-Dot TruGlo Tritium Pro Night Sights with Orange front ring and White rear rings
  • OI (Optics Installed) Sights: Holosun HS 407K
  • Sight Distance: 5.5 inches
  • Base MSRP: Optics Installed: $951.00  Optics Ready: $734.00

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