Kimber 9mm EVO SP (CS)

Kimber's 'Ultimate' CCW Pistol?

Kimber’s Ultimate CCW Pistol – The EVO SP

American Handgunner editor Roy Huntington reviews Kimber’s EVO SP (CS)

Believe it or not, Thomas Alva Edison was a hero of mine. Yeah, that Edison. As a young kid, I wanted to be a scientist. I figured working in a laboratory, doing experiments, inventing stuff, or maybe just blowing something up — would be fun. Heck, I still think it’d be fun.

Thomas was the man who invented the incandescent light bulb and phonograph, among other things. He was also known for his tremendous work ethic, saying, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” He also said, when talking about adversity in the laboratory, “I did not fail 10,000 times, I learned 10,000 things that didn’t work!” It’s all in how we look at things, eh? It was this attitude that made him successful.

Kimber’s Light Goes On

Back in 2011, Kimber broke away from their traditional 1911 platform, releasing their first striker-fired 9mm model, the Solo. A finicky eater for some, the Solo was very choosy with the type of ammunition you fed it. In the owner’s manual, Kimber even went so far as to recommend the types of ammunition to use. Not uncommon though, for some gun designs can be choosy.

Kimber finally dropped the Solo in 2017. Having the resilience of Thomas Alva Edison though, Kimber went back to the drawing board, releasing another totally redesigned series of striker-fired pistols, the Kimber EVO line, of which there are four different models. We laid hands on a Custom Shop version of Kimber’s very cool EVO SP (CS).

Bonkers In Yonkers

Who doesn’t love a custom shop gun? It gives workers the chance to showcase just how skilled they are, allowing them to break away from the mundaneness of factory-reproduced commodity. Everyone wants the kind of gun others envy, right?

Kimber’s Custom Shop, in Yonkers, NY offers the opportunity of owning a gun capable of inducing jealousy — with a dash of envy — as others watch you happily shooting it. You’ll likely have a knowing smirk on your face too. Ain’t life grand?

In my opinion, the Custom Shop option is the crown jewel of the EVO SP line. Let’s start at the top, working our way down this racy shooter.

Sexy Slide

Boasting a solid stainless steel slide as its canvas, Kimber uses advanced modern machining techniques to stylishly apply “framed gripping points” called Stiplex serrations. This trend-setting cluster of “dimples” provides a user-friendly gripping surface, while not being overly aggressive, as some traditional serrations tend to be. Plus, they’re snag-free — handy during a draw.

The ultra-modern Stiplex serrations shave weight, provide a positive purchase for slide manipulation and exhibit just how swanky Kimber’s talented crew can be. Plus, the Stiplex design just plain looks cool. I told you, the Custom Shop has very special offerings!

The slide also has weight-trimming recesses milled into it, providing good looks and artful depth. In furniture making it’s called a “reveal” when a line catches the eye, showing depth and design highlights. Also visible on the outside, an externally mounted extractor, combined with a flared ejection port, provides positive, trouble-free extraction and ejection. Lastly, a striker indicator allows for both a visual and tactile confirmation of the striker’s status.


The upgraded TRUGLO Tritium Pro sights are worthy of a gun in this class. The large orange-dot front sight is also easy to “pick up” in the glare of daylight. Combined with the 2-dot, ledged rear-sight, faster target acquisition is possible, boosting low/no light sight-alignment with the tritium inserts. The ledged rear sight allows one-handed slide manipulation — just don’t shoot your foot off if you practice it!


The lightweight grip-frame is made of aluminum, sporting identical machined Stiplex Serrations on the front strap. The G10 grip panels and back-strap are also given the Stiplex Serration treatment, ensuring positive retention and a proper grip. This same snazzy scheme also locks your grip in place, forming a point of reference for your hand, allowing for a consistent hold, each and every time you grip your gun. You’ve got to hold one to see what I’m talking about. It’s a small gun — but easy to hold on to.

The grip panels are part of an innovative “grip system” without external hardware on the stock’s surface. The magazine release can be reconfigured for either left, or right-handed shooters, and the extended beavertail grip allows for a high handhold, without fear of getting “slide-bit.” Simply stated, the EVO SP (CS) just feels good in your hand. Kimber’s design team put a lot of thought into it, and it shows.

Round Butts Are Best

The grip-frame extends down to a classic round-butt style with a beveled magazine well. Besides being stylishly good-looking, the rounded butt feels, um… er… good in the hand, if you’ll pardon the expression, with no sharp rear corner to bite your palm during recoil. It also won’t poke into your side during concealed carry. A nicely beveled magazine well assists with magazine changes.

The CS is given Kimber’s patented KimPro II Charcoal Gray finish on the frame, and black Ferric Nitrocarburizing (FNC) on the slide, ensuring long-lasting durability. I think it looks smashing too, serious — but attractive

The Details

If you need specifics, we can deliver. The EVO SP (CS) is a striker-fired, aluminum-framed sub-compact 9mm. The slide and barrel are of stainless steel. The barrel is deep-crowned and slightly flared in design, with a 1:16″ left rate of twist. Grips on our test gun are gray/black G10. while the trigger is made of premium aluminum, factory set at 6-7 lbs. Note the “lever” safety in the center of the trigger. There’s no need for an external safety to clutter things up. Oh, and you don’t need to pull the trigger for take-down.

The EVO is 6.1″ in overall length and 4.03″ in height, weighing a mere 18 oz., empty. The barrel is 3.16″ long and the width is 1.06″. While not necessarily a pocket piece, the Kimber EVP SP (CS) can be worn either IWB or OWB without ever noticing it’s there. The gun ships with two 7-round mags.

Shooting Help

We did a sort of fun thing here too. His Editorship, Roy, actually has the cover/photo gun on-hand, while I used a sample gun for specs and such. We thought it’d be best to shoot and report on the actual photo gun, so I’ll hand-off to Sir Roy now.

Roy Says …

The truth is Tank was too busy at the beach to do enough shooting to really write it up, so I intervened to keep things on-track. Before sending it off to our ace photog Rob Jones, I shot the photo gun a couple of mags worth just to get a feel for it. After Rob’s prettiful photos were finished, I shot it a bunch more. As a long-time Solo carrier (virtually every day since they were new), it was interesting to compare the two.

I’m still sad Kimber stopped production of the Solo. Mine has run smoothly and effortlessly, is very accurate and truly easy to carry in a pocket of your cargo shorts or BDU type pants. It’s also an honest 25-yard gun, easy to take “head” shots if you do your part. Mine has never been ammo-fussy unlike some seem to be, and my carry load over the past year has been Black Hills HoneyBadger, a fluted solid copper 9mm load. I found the EVO SP to run just fine using the same ammo, and other styles and makes too.

The EVO SP is slightly bigger than the Solo and at least for me, a bit big for comfy pocket carry. I tried it and can do it, but it feels bulkier than the Solo and I’m constantly aware it’s in my pocket. Having said that, the EVO is also just enough bigger to feel a bit more secure in my hand. Overall, I agree with Tank in that it feels excellent in the hand, points well, runs smoothly and lends confidence to the shooter using it. Trade-offs, eh?

I kept accuracy testing to 15 yards and found it to be an easy 1.5″ to 2″ gun if you squeeze the excellent trigger correctly. It ran fine as long as I kept a firm wrist, not at all uncommon with any sort of pocket-sized auto. After about 300 rounds of assorted 9mm ammo, I honestly couldn’t detect any issues. It just kept chugging along. I keep a 10″ gong at 25 yards outside my office door to plink at. It was very easy to hit it again and again with the EVO SP. Different bullet weights did affect the point of impact but at sub-10-yard ranges it’d be a moot point. It’ll be fun to get it dialed in with one load and go squirrel hunting!

For me, I’d consider this a hip or IWB holster gun, possibly in a pocket holster in an outer garment pocket (a coat or vest), but a bit big for comfortable pocket carry. Then again, I know someone who carries a 4″ round butt Model 29 .44 in a pocket holster so maybe I’m just a wuss. I have to admit though, I feel my fingers reaching for my checkbook here, rather than the box to send it back!

Back To Tank

Returning to your regularly scheduled programing now. All these custom features add up to a great concealed carry defensive pistol. Guns in the EVO SP series are machined to the tightest allowable tolerances, ensuring top-rate accuracy, reliability and functionality — all in a nifty, neat package.

The Custom Shop EVO SP is the “brainstorm” outcome between Kimber’s engineers and gunsmiths. This teamwork led to what might be called “Kimber’s ultimate concealed carry pistol.” At least so far. It just shows what can be accomplished with good communication among professionals with differing skill sets. It’s a win-win kind of deal for the rest of us. MSRP for this custom shop model is $1,047.

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