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New SOLO 9mm Micro-Compact Pistol
By John Connor
Check out the three-dot sights: bold, sharp and clear. On most pocket pistols, the sights are so miniscule they’re a joke; an afterthought added by the manufacturer because, “Well, you’re supposed to have `em.” These are real, and they work just fine. They are low profile and snag-free, but provide a bold sight picture. The best part is, when you pull and present the piece with a proper grip, they align perfectly on a nice flat plane; there’s no searching for the front sight. That lends itself to a decent “flash sight picture” too. Tritium night sights are coming, and Crimson Trace laser grips to fit the SOLO are already in production.
Based on my experience with the SOLO, I might pass on the tritium-illuminated night sights and add CTC laser grips, just as a matter of budget. If money’s not a problem, I’d have both, especially if you’re possibly going to carry it as a “primary” when off-duty or undercover. My reasoning is, for a patrol cop carrying the SOLO as a backup, by the time you’re relying on your backup, you may desperately need the edge of that laser, and if it’s your primary weapon, that need may be even greater.
I think we can safely assume the majority of shots fired with deadly intent through the SOLO are going to be at 3′-10′, and getting a clean, clear sight picture will not be the norm. It will be a flash sight picture at best. But if you can get any kind of sight picture, the SOLO’s inherent accuracy really comes through. The groups shown here were fired at seven yards — 21′. Both were fired using Hornady TAP FPD 147-grain ammo. The target pasters are 2″ in diameter. The top group — a 5/8″one-hole clover – was fired from a two-hand hold, and the lower group was shot one-handed. The top of the front sight was placed at six o’clock on the paster. As you can see, it shot right to point-of-aim at seven yards. And even one-handed, with that “whoops” flyer at 7 o’clock; the widest spread of those shots was just under 2.5″. Hold that thought.
Now we’ve moved out to 15 yards — 45′; about the length of a Greyhound bus bumper-to-bumper; a commercial building hallway; the width of an average street. Now the target pasters are 3″ across and both were shot with a two-hand hold. On the top, that five-shot group of Hornady 147-grain TAP FPD rounds measures 1.25″ at its two widest points. On the bottom paster, five rounds of 135-grain Federal Personal Defense measures 1.625″ vertically and under an inch horizontal spread. Still holding that thought?
We’re still at 15 yards, shooting on 3″ pasters, and using 147-grain Federal Tactical HST. The top sticker was fired on two-handed, and the lower sticker one-handed. Both strings were fired timed at a rate of one round per second, initially raising the gun from a lowered position. So, the results you see stem from both the SOLO’s surprising accuracy, and perhaps even more to its recoil characteristics. Muzzle flip was minimal; recoil impulse seemed to be coming straight back into the web of the hand. It was very easy to relocate on target and squeeze off rapid shots. The top group, two-handed, measures a hair under 2″ at its widest points, edge to edge.
The bottom group, also fired at one per second, was shot one-handed. Maximum vertical spread measures 3″ exactly, and horizontal spans 1.625″.
Check those targets again, and consider the width of an average adult’s eye sockets from edge to edge is about 4″. Vertically, from bottom lip to the bridge of the nose is also about 4″. Shirt pockets run 4″-5.5″ across and 4″-5″ high. The message is, if you do your job at your end, from “up close and personal” to across the street, the SOLO will shoot inside those sweet spots one-handed or two, slow or fast, with premium ammo.
I also did some crazy-mad rapid-fire at seven yards on full-size silhouettes; blasting as fast as I could pull the trigger and not paying a great deal of attention to the sights; just wide-eyed looking down the weapon onto the targets beyond. This was done mainly for testing rapid-fire function, but again, I was pleasantly surprised with the resulting groups. And again, the credit has to go to the SOLO’s ergonomics and recoil characteristics.
The SOLO showed no particular preference for any one of the three ammo types tested. They all shot very, very well. Shooting was done in moderate daylight; so I couldn’t test each for flash signature, but both Federal and Hornady use low-flash propellants in their premium defensive ammo. In terms of accuracy, reliability and expectations of terminal performance, you get what you pay for with these rounds.
Here’s a closer look at the nicely relieved ejection port, right-side magazine
release, and curvature of textured-versus-smooth portions of the grip panels.
In The Air & On The Ground
Each of the three loads threw empties out briskly at consistent angles and distances, ranging among them from about ninety degrees to about 140-145 degrees, approximately 6′-8′ out. The only deviation from this was when I did some testing using a very loose grip on the pistol — we’re talking very loose — and at a variety of angles. Still, function was perfect and ejection was positive.
Examination of fired cases showed minimal deviation of position of hits on primers, and uniform depth of impressions. There was no sign of excessive gouging or tearing of the case rims by the extractor, and no deformation of case mouths.
Field stripping the SOLO is easy and straightforward. Check the manual, which may be available online at www.kimberamerica.com when you read this. The only potentially tricky part is, upon reassembly, making sure the slide stop picks up the frame-mounted retention spring as you reinstall the slide stop. Once you’ve taken a close look at that retention spring through the slide stop cut it won’t be a problem. The manual is clear and well written. Internally, cleaning was simple, and on the exterior, the KimPro finish wipes off slick. Before using any solvent on the frame, assure it’s safe for use on anodized aluminum. Note that the SOLO was designed to require minimal lubrication, and don’t overdo it. Our test piece was very lightly lubed from the factory. We didn’t add to that, and it functioned flawlessly.
Carry options are already many, and growing. Timed to coincide with the SOLO’s release, GALCO produced five different holsters for it, including their very popular and highly concealable IWB Tuck N Go, and a really nice “Pocket Protector” for in-the-pocket carry.
With .380 micro pocket pistols going for as little as $200, the SOLO’s $747 price tag might cause some choking. All one can say to that is, take one of those generic .380’s and place it alongside a SOLO. Check them both out; field strip them, reassemble, hold and point them. Consider both as “long term life insurance investments,” then decide.
It seems apparent that now, extremely compact 9mm’s are The Big Thing. No matter what The Next Big Thing is — a four-shot .40? A 10-shot, five-ounce 5.7mm? A 12-ounce, three-shot .45 ACP? — the SOLO will remain an accurate, comfortable, concealable and powerfully effective shooter right through that wave and more.
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