Gun Review: Kimber’s “Fin-Less” R7 Mako

by Vern Evans
Jay Langston Photo

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The hottest trend in firearms over the past four years is the sub-compact semi-auto, and Kimber’s R7 Mako has jumped squarely into the frenzy.

 

This trend really got started when Sig Sauer’s P365 launched, with its sub-4-inch barrel, 4-inch height, 6-inch length and double-stack 9mm capacities. Several companies have followed with their own micro 9s.

Mako Shark

To understand the significance of Kimber naming this new 9mm the “Mako,” a closer look at the finned killer’s stats. The fish species takes its name from the Polynesian Maori language, and its derivation is the generic name of all sharks in several Polynesian languages. Interestingly enough the Shortfin Mako may be considered the champion among all shark species. It is the fastest shark, clocked at nearly 50 miles per hour, it wields the strongest bite at 13,000 Newtons, and they’re big and smart, too. They can grow to more than a ton, and they have the biggest brain-to-body ratio of all sharks. Nice job picking a name, Kimber.

Ain’t No Baby Shark

This Kimber bites with force, too. It snacks on +P 9mm loads with relish and can be counted to put rounds on target.

Something New

The R7 MAKO is Kimber’s first polymer-framed, striker-fired, high-capacity, subcompact handgun. They’ve been building and selling 1911-pattern pistols since 1995. The Mako isn’t Kimber’s first striker-fired pistol. Their EVO series was launched in 2019. EVO pistols are 9mm Para. cal., striker fired, and feature an aluminum frame. These were single-stack 9s, with a 3.16-inch stainless steel match grade barrel with deep crown and carried 7 shots.

Designed to compete with the best, the R7 MAKO is outfitted with today’s most desired features providing superior out-of-the-box performance, according to Kimber experts. The R7 MAKO family comes standard with high contrast TruGlo Tritium Pro night sights, ambidextrous controls, and a flat faced trigger. The optic ready (OR) model comes with its slide milled to accept micro red dot optics.

I’ll Take Mine Plain

I had a choice between a Crimson Trace-wearing Mako or the plain iron-sighted pistol when I began this writing assignment, and it seemed that most writers were going the optic route. Always a contrarian, I opted for the irons.

A Few More Details

A few of the R7 Mako’s stats include a total height of 4.3 inches and 19½ ounces without a magazine. Loaded with a 10-round magazine, the Mako tips the scales at a tad over 25 ounces. Its length is a hair under 6 ¼ inches.

Frame material is polymer plastic that gets a molded stippling treatment. This pistol is “grippy,” and feels good in the hands. Magazine choice also comes into play if you’ve got big hands. Kimber claims to have an 11-round standard magazine, but the magazine only shows a 10-round window. The R7 I received has the standard magazine and a flush-fit 11-rounder. My pinky finger completely hangs off the bottom of the 11-round flush magazine, and the extended magazine is only marginally better. Even though the grip was not ideal for my paws, the stippling did its job and kept the pistol secure while firing. Kimber offers a 13-round extended magazine, and I’ll be picking more of these up soon at $40 a pop.

The R7 is easy to hide under a shirt, with its 1-inch width at the grip. The slide material is stainless steel, with their FNC coating. The barrel measures 3.37 inches and is stainless as well. It’s got a 1:10-inch left-hand twist.

Iron sights are 3-dot TruGlo Tritium Pro Nights sights, and the front ring is high-visibility orange. The rear sights offer twin dots to help center up the rear sight slot in a hurry.

Kimber claims their R7 triggers are set between 5.5- and 6.75 pounds at the factory. The pistol tested dropped the striker at 5 pounds, 2 ounces every time for five measurements.

The author on the range with the Kimber R7 Mako. He found the gun to be a reliable and accurate shooter. Jay Langston Photo

Range Time

Any gun needs to be broken in, so to speak. To give this Kimber a chance to excel I first ran 200 rounds of handloaded 115-grain hardball through it while I plinked at steel. Next came a good scrubbing. Then, it was time to try four 9mm loads to see what the pistol could do at 25 yards from a rest.

I chose four loads; two from Hornady and two from Federal.

Hornady’s first load was their 115-grain jacketed hollow-point, and they performed reasonably well. Aside from one called flyer, 15 rounds stayed inside the 5-ring of an official 15-yard Slow Fire target. The best five-shot group measured 2.87 inches.

Next up was Hornady’s 135-grain +P Critical Defense. This load kept 15 rounds under 3.8 inches, and the best five-shot group measured 2.525 inches.

Federal’s 100-round “practice and defend” package of 9mm consists of 50 147-grain HST and 50 rounds of Syntech coated training rounds. I don’t like finding boxes of half-empty ammo on my shelf, so I didn’t quit shooting groups with the Federal until it was all gone. All 100 rounds stayed inside a 5-inch circle at 25 yards. The HST’s best group measured 2.212 inches, and the Syntech rounds’ best measured 2.354 inches.

After the “long-range” session, I closed the distance to 7 yards and sent a few five-shot groups down range. Every group with every load stayed under 1¼ inches while shooting without a rest. I was impressed.

I am happy to report that the Kimber R7 Mako ran like a sewing machine. I never experienced a failure to feed through 400 rounds fired. Carried in a Desantis holster, the R7 conceals well. I opted for their Mini-Scabbard model, which fits both Optics and Optics-Ready R7 models.

Final Thoughts

One is left to wonder if the R7 Mako will befall its namesake shark’s inability to survive captivity or flourish in today’s concealed carry marketplace. I’m betting on the latter.

PERFORMANCE

Load/Smallest (ins.)                                      Weight (grains)             Velocity (fps)

Federal HST                                                      147                          992                      2.212

Federal Syntech                                                150                          975                      2.354

Hornady JHP                                                     115                         1,080                   2.870

Hornady Critical Defense                                   135                          980                      2.525

Kimber R7 Mako OR

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Kimber Manufacturing

Model: R7 Mako

Caliber: 9mm

Height: 4.3 ins.

Weight without magazine: 19.5 ozs.

Length: 6.20 ins.

Magazine capacity: 11 Round Standard Flush, 13 Round Extended

Captured Recoil Spring Assembly

Frame Material: Polymer with serialized steel central block

Finish: Molded Stippling

Width: 1.0 ins. at grip

SLIDE Material: Stainless

Barrel Length 3.37 ins.

Twist rate (left hand): 1:10 Left

Iron Sights: 3-Dot TruGlo Tritium Pro

MSRP: $599

Check out more of Jay Langston’s pistol reviews here: Shootingsavvy.com

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