Kimber R7 Mako
Kimber became famous for higher-end production 1911s in the 1990s, but their entry into the micro-compact CCW 9mm market is decidedly modern. The Kimber R7 Mako (launched August 2021) has a glass-filled nylon frame with functional, attractive texturing, a fantastic, smooth-faced striker-fire trigger, and a fairly unique barrel-to-slide lockup system that Kimber says reduces felt recoil and improves accuracy (and the pistol has proven to be very accurate).
The R7 Mako is a bit longer, taller, and heavier than some of its competitors, at 4.3” tall, 6.2” long, and 19.5 ounces empty, but is moderately priced, feels good, has comparatively mild recoil, and has fully ambidextrous controls (slide stop and magazine release).
Things we like: The R7 Mako looks great, feels great, oozes quality, and has one of the best triggers in this category. Recoil is relatively mild for this market. Glock-style takedown is simple and requires no tools. The Mako includes excellent, co-witnessed TruGlo tritium sights (Glock pattern if you want to change them), and provision for a micro red dot optic, with a factory-installed optic model available.
Things we’d improve: A proprietary light-mounting rail (similar to the SIG) means mounting a white light will be more trouble than it should be. The somewhat unique, hooded ejection port design and barrel lockup system means the slide is taller than it strictly needs to be, which places the sights pretty high above the shooter’s hands. Whether the internal extractor design will be an issue over the long haul remains to be seen.
Taurus has its roots in Brazil, where the firm made excellent licensed versions of the Beretta 92 for many years. Taurus USA has had a somewhat rocky reputation for quality and customer service over the past couple of decades, but is working hard to earn repeat customers and has been producing some of the most innovative and market-savvy pistols around recently. The Taurus GX4 , launched in May 2021, is definitely a “me-too” micro-compact 9mm in the vein of the SIG P365 and Springfield Hellcat, but like many of Taurus’s recent offerings, the pistol is proving to be well-made, ergonomic, good-looking, reliable, and very attractively priced, with a base model MSRP as of date of publication of $392 USD. The GX4 is the first of the micro-compacts to offer interchangeable backstraps as standard, so you can customize the gripframe to your preferences. Plus, the pistol has one of the better triggers in the micro-compact market.
While other companies have come out with different frame lengths, Taurus has elected to keep their GX4 frames all the same size, but offers their GX4XL model with a longer slide and barrel. Standard flush-fit magazine capacity is 11 rounds (similar to the Hellcat), barrel length is 3.06”, overall length is 5.8”, height is 4.4”, and overall width is 1.08”. The GX4 is among the lighter of the micro-compacts at 18.5 ounces empty.
Things we like: Good ergonomics, attractive looks, quality steel sights, a nice flat-face trigger with an excellent feel and clean break, good texturing, several cerakote color options, and interchangeable backstraps, all at a great price.
Things we’d improve: Initial models didn’t have provisions for red-dot optics, though they are available now. The magazine catch is reversible, but the slide stop is left-side only. Takedown is straightforward but requires a tool (flathead screwdriver or similar), and the standard sights lack tritium inserts.