The firearms industry has been riding a wild rollercoaster the last few years. Sales of firearms and ammunition were down, and then reached all time highs, only to go down again. When you consider sales of rifles, shotguns and handguns there is one area that has seen steady upward mobility and has not yet leveled off—concealed carry.

Kimber’s innovative Solo is now available in the Custom Defense Package with Crimson Trace Lasergrips

From a practical standpoint, a concealed carry handgun could be anything from a tiny .22 LR pistol up to a Commander-sized .45 ACP. Like most areas of endeavor, the middle ground has seen the majority of the action regarding concealable handguns.

Pistols in .380 ACP and 9mm and revolvers chambering the .38 Special have received the most attention and innovation from manufacturers during the last five years or so. The truth of the matter is that compact .380 ACP and .38 Special handguns were nearly eclipsed by the huge number of polymer-framed, striker-fired handguns introduced during the last two decades.

Going Solo

Introduced at the nation’s largest firearms trade show in January 2011, Kimber’s new Solo pistol is a perfect fit for the discreet, concealed carry market. Best known for their single-action .45 ACP pistols, Kimber went the opposite direction and designed the Solo in-house for the 9mm cartridge.

Just how compact and concealable is the Solo? Manufacturer’s specs for the gun list the total empty weight at 17 ounces. By comparison, the original king of concealed carry guns, the S&W Model 36 J-Frame has a factory weight of 19.5 ounces. Overall length for the Solo pistol is 5.5 inches. Width is 1.2 inches and height is listed as 3.9 inches. A six-round single-column magazine feeds the little pistol.

The Solo is light enough to carry every day with an easy to operate DAO trigger

The 9mm barrel is 2.7 inches long with a 1-in-10 twist and made of stainless steel, as is the slide. The frame is aluminum and a “KimPro” black finish was applied to it. Both the frame and slide are meticulously polished in the factory and the sharp, hard edges are rounded. A dual-captivated recoil spring is used to help absorb some of the shock from firing such a small 9mm handgun.

As for manual controls, the trigger function is double-action-only with an internal (hidden) hammer/striker system. The trigger itself has a wide, smooth surface. Other controls include an ambidextrous magazine release button and equally ambidextrous manual safety switch that is mounted to the frame. A diminutive slide lock lever is found on the left side of the frame and operates much like a larger M1911 design.

The Solo is available in three configurations—all Stainless, Stainless/Black combination and the new CDP model. The version I had on hand to test was the dual-colored model. Uniquely checkered black grips are secured by two Allen head screws to the frame and made of synthetic material. On top of the short slide is a drift-adjustable, three-dot sight. Each Solo pistol arrives with a six-round magazine and a padded, zipper case. MSRP is $747.

Carry And Range Work

You need more than just a gun for concealed carry—you need the accessories to go along with it. Although relatively new, holster makers are ramping up to meet the demand. Galco already has numerous holsters and magazine carriers for the Kimber Solo. Taking a quick look at their online catalog you’ll find five different holster designs for the Solo—including a pocket holster, two inside-the-waistband styles, a paddle-back design and a more traditional leather belt holster. Naturally, Galco has matching belts to go with their holster line.

When I was first introduced to the Solo the folks at Kimber explained that the gun was designed and built to run with premium defensive ammunition. After trying out a half-dozen different loads, I determined that the Kimber Solo ran the best with heavier projectiles, from 124 grains up and that it also cycled the most reliably with nickel-cased cartridges.

I eventually settled on three loads for my testing; Double-Tap’s 124-grain BJHP +P, Federal’s 147-grain Hydra-SHOK, and Winchester’s PDX1 147-grain bonded JHP. These three loads all used nickel-plated cases and cycled reliably through the Solo. From the 2.7-inch barrel, velocities were what I would have expected. The 147-grain loads average around 900 feet per second and 124-grain +P load bested 1,100 fps.

As for accuracy testing I decided to forego the bench rest and work with a standing two-hand hold. From a distance of 10 yards I found that a full magazine would group regularly within the 2-inch range, certainly good enough for concealed carry encounters. I discovered that rounds were impacting a couple of inches right and just a bit low from this distance. Had this been a pistol I was going to keep, I’d have simply nudged the drift-adjustable sights accordingly.

Ready For CC?

How about felt recoil? Let’s face it, you don’t fire +P ammunition from a 17-ounce gun and not feel the impact. During my testing I let a couple of friends shoot the gun. One of them summed it up best when he commented, “It’s a snappy little bugger.”

I was very impressed by the DAO trigger feel. The trigger has a deliberately long press but there was no stacking or creep at the end. As a matter of fact, when a steady trigger press was applied it broke very cleanly. A close examination of the Solo Carry shows meticulous machining and craftsmanship. It is a very well built little gun worthy of being considered for your personal protection.

For more information, call 888-243-4522 or visit


Nano technology means small, and that fits the innovative Beretta Nano, a micro-compact 9mm that brings one of the most popular law enforcement cartridges in the world down to pocket-carry dimensions.

The first thing you notice about the Nano, other than its compact dimensions—a mere 5.63 inches in length, 4.17 inches in height, and 0.90 inches in width—is the striking configuration of the slide, a sharply angled, tapering contour narrowed at the muzzle to make this pistol a natural for quick reholstering.

Equally striking is the one-piece polymer frame, initially a visual mystery until you discover that it is little more than an outer shell covering a separate stainless steel fire control sub-chassis that contains frame rails, trigger and striker-firing system in a removable, serial-numbered module that is “the gun” for all intents and legal purposes.

Sweet Simplicity. Modular structure, ergonomics, and ease of use make the Nano an excellent choice for concealed carry.

This design will allow Beretta to offer interchangeable grip frames in different colors, backstrap sizes (smaller and larger for different hand sizes), as well as incorporate other technologies in the near future, which may include an integrated laser sighting system. The lightweight, molded technopolymer grip frame will also make these changes very affordable.

Personalized Nano

Changing out frames is as simple as field-stripping the Nano, which, after removing the magazine and clearing the gun, comes apart by simply rotating a takedown screw on the right side of the frame with the edge of a shell casing. The slide can then be pulled off the sub-frame. Reassembly is even quicker, as the takedown screw automatically resets and locks itself when the slide is replaced.

Gripping the Nano is another surprise as it fits the average hand like a .380 Auto or micro-compact 9mm, with a flat magazine base to tuck the little finger under. A large, curved triggerguard makes getting to work quick business even with a gloved hand. There is also ample room for a secure, two-handed hold with plenty of clearance behind the muzzle of the short 3.07-inch barrel.


I found the trigger pull a little longer than expected and there was notable stacking, but with very little practice it is easy to get comfortable with this gun’s operation. Since this is a striker-fired design, the trigger does all the work like a double-action revolver, so the long trigger pull is not unexpected. Neither is its quick reset, which makes double-taps a breeze. The gun has a very clean exterior; there is no manual safety lever or slide release lever, just a reversible magazine release. The Beretta utilizes a Glock-type pivoting trigger safety to ensure that discharging the gun is a very deliberate act. Recoil is brisk, but the contour of the grip frame and balance of the gun make it more than manageable, as do the Nano’s dovetailed white dot sights, which are large enough to reacquire quickly after each shot.

Accuracy Notes

On the test range, during the gun’s debut, we found the Nano accurate at 50 feet firing on steel targets. Every shot rang the bell, so there was no doubt about hitting the mark. Reacquiring the sights was effortless, and the gun points naturally with a relatively low bore axis. As noted, there is no slide release—after a reload, a slight rearward pull on the slide is all that is necessary to release it and chamber the first round. If the Nano were any easier to handle, it would be a revolver.

With a 3.07-inch barrel, the gun’s total carry weight (empty) is just 17.67 ounces. Packing six rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, the Nano is small enough for pocket carry and can easily be secreted in an inside-the-waistband rig. This is a unique and well-thought-out gun that truly defines 21st century technology from a company that has been making firearms since the 16th century. And for you fans of a little more pop in your pocket pistol, be on the lookout for the Nano that is soon to be available in .40 S&W.

For more information, visit or call 800-929-2901.

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