Kimber R7 Mako Tactical

Kimber R7 Mako Tactical

By: Dave Bahde

Kimber’s proven striker-fired pistol becomes a killer compact suppressor host!

Over the last few years, compact handguns capable of carrying a full-size payload have emerged with increasing frequency. This segment remains one of the strongest in the industry and does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. Some even fit my large hands, and sights and controls are the same as most full-sized pistols. Increased recoil and muzzle rise, depending on size, can be a consideration, although a few pistols on the market mitigate this quite well. One of the latest examples of the above is the new Kimber R7 Mako Tactical — a pistol I’ve used now for several months. The Tactical model is the newest in the R7 Mako line, and adds a slightly longer threaded barrel, as well as the ability to order it factory-direct with a Holosun HS 407K red dot sight.

If you Opt for the OI (Optic Included) version of the R7 Mako Tactical, your pistol will come factory-fitted with a Holosun 407K red-dot optic. The Truglo Tritium Pro night sights reside somewhere between standard and suppressor height and offer a co-witness sight picture with the Holosun.

Kimber Mako R7 Tactical

My initial introduction to the Mako occurred about a year ago when Kimber sent me the standard model that included a Crimson Trace CTS-1500 optic using the Shield RMSc pattern cut into the slide. While the flush-fit magazines required my little finger to hang out below, the pistol was still entirely controllable. Sights were excellent, equipped with Tritium, and co-witnessed with the red dot. But it was the trigger that was most impressive, adding a surprising level of controllability — so much so that the R7 joined my regular carry rotation (with the extended magazines). The new R7 Tactical comes in either an “optics ready” version or with “optics installed” using the above-mentioned Holosun HS 407K. And, speaking of the Holosun, almost concurrently with compact high-capacity handguns, red-dot optics have improved in reliability while getting smaller and more affordable.

The black-nitride-coated 3.37-inch barrel is threaded to 1/2×28 at the muzzle for either a suppressor or compensator. Both the barrel and slide are machined from stainless steel. An integrated accessory rail will accept one of the many compact lights and/or lasers available today. Pictured is Dead Air Silencers’ Mojave 9 sound suppressor.

Range Testing

I believe the two most significant attributes of the original R7 were its trigger and accuracy potential. Having tested almost every sub-compact pistol offered these days, I can say that the combination of these two qualities is not all that common. With small footprints comes an accompanying amount of “snappiness” with self-defense ammunition, but the R7— comparatively speaking — was quite pleasant to shoot. The new Tactical model shares these characteristics. Shooting 115-grain practice ammunition was downright pleasant, and even +P and the heavier 135 and 147-grain ammunition were very controllable. Using the extended magazine, the grip fits my hand nicely, not too blocky or square. If you use the flush fit magazine, practice your reloads slowly to start with. Like all these small pistols (at least with large hands), you can pinch off some skin if you don’t get your little finger out of the way when reinserting the magazine.

The full-coverage texturing is very well done on the polymer-framed R7 Mako line, striking a solid balance between grip purchase and carry comfort. Controls are 100 percent ambidextrous, and its flat-faced trigger offers some of the best pull characteristics we’ve experienced to date in a striker-fired pistol. Two 15-round magazines ship with each Tactical model.

Because of its controllability, it was possible to run the same drills with the Mako as many of my current full-size pistols. Reliability was also outstanding. From my rather anemic reloads to potent self-defense loads, the Kimber ate it all like a champ. Doubletap’s 115-grain Barnes, with a listed velocity from a 4-inch barrel at 1240 fps, was a handful but controllable with a firm grip and stayed inside a fist-sized group at 7-10 yards. I also tried loads designed precisely for these short barrels, including Doubletap’s 77-grain DT and 80-grain Barnes TAC-XP loads. Mike at Doubletap Ammunition designed the DT load from the ground up, including the bullet, and it’s all made in-house. Having seen it fired into gel several times, it’s impressive, with 100 percent weight retention, full expansion, and penetration depths in the 13-inch range with small pistols. With the threaded barrel, you are almost at 4” (3.92”), yielding velocities nearly the same as many larger pistols and giving up very little in the way of terminal ballistics.

Accuracy was excellent at 15 yards using a bag as a rest from a bench, with the best group coming from Doubletap 77-grain DT measuring a tad over an inch. Hitting the 6-inch steel at 25 yards proved easy with almost anything, so it is plenty accurate at range. From 10 yards and closer, it kept everything inside a fist-sized group while performing both controlled pairs and hammers. The R7 Mako Tactical seems about as accurate as you can make a pistol this size.

The polymer frame features an internal serialized steel chassis that makes the connection with the slide. Field stripping is fast and easy.

When it comes to red dots optics, my 65-year-old eyes see quite a bit of “sparkle” effect, especially without my prescription glasses. One of my biggest and most pleasant surprises was how clear and well-defined the dot of the Holosun ( 407K RDS was. It was surprisingly well-defined without my glasses; with them, it was the clearest and best-defined dot I have ever used. I have enjoyed using the 409T Holosun on my full-sized pistols, but this 407K was genuinely different for me. It is also made of 7075 aluminum and uses their side battery access panel, so battery replacement does not require removing the optic. It made accurate shots at 25 yards and beyond much easier. Once the hold was figured out, I was tagging the 12” square steel at 50 yards easily and even smacked the 100-yard steel a few times — not bad for a “micro-compact.”

No matter the grain weight of ammunition we were feeding it or the suppressor we had threaded to its muzzle, the R7 Mako Tactical fed, fired, extracted, and ejected with 100 percent reliability, which is not something all pistols are capable of once suppressed.

The Dead Air Silencers’ ( Mojave 9 9mm suppressor was used for suppressed testing and is the company’s first suppressor using Direct Metal Laser Sintered (DMLS) titanium construction, which, in layman’s terms, is metallic 3D printing. This new technology pushes the boundaries of performance, allowing shooters to have the benefits of both low blowback (i.e., less harmful gas directed back into the shooter’s face) and maximum acoustic signature reduction. Pair that with its modular design and caliber versatility, and this is one of the most advanced pistol suppressors on the market today.

Downrange precision is an R7 Mako strong point, and the new Tactical model continues this tradition. From the 15-yard line, its best five-shot-group performance measured 1.30 inches using Double Tap’s 77-grain DT load.

Final Thoughts

The footprint on the 407K is a “modified” RMSc. It will not work with pistols or plates using rear pins. If you decide to go with something different, just be aware; otherwise, I am not sure why you would want to. The optic never shot loose or shifted zero over a solid 500 rounds or so of various ammunition.

The accuracy of the R7 Mako Tactical is excellent, and reliability was flawless throughout testing with a selection of ammunition that ran the gamut. It’s compact and lightweight, and it’s hard to feel undergunned with a 15-plus-one capacity, making this pistol more than capable of concealed carry. For those who want the threaded barrel, that box is checked, and you can add some of the shorter weapon lights on the market using the integrated accessory rail. All in all, this is an outstanding concealed carry gun or compact suppressor host. See the new R7 Mako Tactical at your nearest dealer, or for more information, contact Kimber Mfg. Inc.; Tel: (888) 243-4522; E-mail: [email protected]; Web:


Caliber                                   9mm (Plus P Rated)

Barrel Length                          3.92 Inches

Slide                                       Stainless Steel

Frame                                     Polymer (with steel central block)

OAL:                                       6.8 inches

Width                                      1.0 Inches

Weight:                                  24.2  Ounces

Capacity                                15+1 (10-round magazines will work)

MSRP                                    $951.00 (includes Holosun RDS)

Ammunition                        Velocity                                  Group

Remington 115 Grain +P HTP         1140 fps                                 2.30 inches

Speer Gold Dot 124 Grain              1020 fps                                 2.00 inches

Doubletap 77 Grain DT                   1396 fps                                 1.30 inches

Sig Sauer V-Crown 115 grain          1100 fps                                 2.10 inches

Hornady 115 Grain FTX                  1050 fps                                 1.50 inches

Groups were fired from bag rest using a bench as a rest from a distance of 15 yards. Three five-shot groups were used for comparison. Velocity in feet per second was measured with a Garmin chronograph over three five-shot groups.


Action:                        Striker fired

Caliber:                       9mm

Barrel Length:             3.37 inches

Weight:                       24.20 ounces

Capacity:                    15+1 rounds

MSRP:                        $734 to $951