I stumbled upon a 2022 Kimber print catalog in a gun store in August of 2021- the K6xs was on the cover. I grabbed a copy and ran from the store whooping and cackling in a most unprofessional manner. I immediately texted a picture of it to Mike, wanting to share my excitement for the imminent arrival of this gun. It took a bit longer than expected, but the K6xs finally began to ship in the summer of 2023.
The K6xs is a return to the snub-nosed carry revolver in its purest form. It’s an alloy framed .38 Special revolver with a six -shot cylinder, two-inch barrel, and internal hammer. The K6xs travels light but stays true to Kimber’s vision of what a revolver should be.
A Little Background
Kimber introduced its K6 revolver in 2016; it was an unexpected departure from its quality bolt guns and semiautomatic pistols. Kimber’s engineers listened closely to input from experienced folks in the industry (like Grant Cunningham) to establish their build parameters. Key among those were six shot capacity, a smooth trigger, and good sights- on a gun that would fit in a J frame sized box. The .357 Magnum chambered K6 met those requirements and was immediately successful.
A three-inch barreled version of the stainless-steel gun was soon available, followed by variants with external hammers. There is now a K6 offered with adjustable sights and a four-inch barrel; this configuration basically bumps the gun into service revolver size territory. Since its release, the K6 has been exceptionally well covered here at RG by Justin and Mike; I bought one in 2019 based largely on their coverage. It has been one of my most carried revolvers since.
I have had the good fortune to handle and fire two test samples of the K6xs of late. The fit and finish of both have been excellent. The silver “Kim Pro II” finish on the alloy frame contrasts slightly with the bead blasted stainless steel barrel and cylinder. The badging on the gun is minimal and in good taste.
The model number adorns the left side of the barrel, the chambering is etched on the right side. The serial number is engraved on the left side of the frame below the cylinder window. The city, state, and country of manufacture are documented below the cylinder release (Troy AL USA). Kimber’s logo is featured on the opposite side plate.
Instead of the flats we are accustomed to seeing on the exterior of the K6’s cylinder, the K6xs features deep, wide flutes. The front edge of the cylinder has a slight chamfer. The barrel underlug has a relief cut on the right side that exposes the extractor rod to view and shaves a little weight.
Unlike the original K6 design, the K6xs features a fixed front sight milled from the barrel. It is .220” tall and the face is slightly ramped, maintaining the excellent profile of the K6 front sight.
The dull stainless sight has a painted orange dot to draw the eye. The rear sight is a trench cut into the alloy frame like on most compact revolvers. The top of the frame is built up slightly at the back edge just before it angles down towards the grips. This build-up allows enough material to make the rear sight window nicely deep. The notch is cut wide enough to allow some daylight on either side of the front sight. The shape and dimensions of the sights are superior to any fixed sights I have seen on a small revolver.
The K6xs advertises a weight of 15.9 ounces, it weighed 15.6 ounces empty on my scale. This is a significant reduction from the Magnum K6 that starts at 23 ounces and goes up from there. It comes equipped with Hogue Bantam rubber grips. These offer a good compromise between being concealable and still giving some cushion against recoil. The front of the grip extends below the frame about ½ an inch, allowing a third finger groove and should permit most shooters to get all three support fingers involved in the grasp.
The back of the grip completely covers the backstrap and stops even with the bottom of the frame. The sides of the grips have molded in “pebbles” for traction in the hand. These grips favor shooter comfort over pure concealment. If you plan on shooting the gun often, the Hogues make sense. There are grips available for the K6 that are more concealable if the mission so dictates, but these hide adequately.
The cylinder release is identical in function to the Magnum K6, inward pressure releases the cylinder to open. Kimber’s design is well done- there are no sharp edges, and it won’t bark a knuckle during recoil. Curiously, both K6xs releases are noticeably stiffer to operate than my .357 K6. Once the cylinder is released, it spins freely and smoothly on the yoke. The trigger appears to be the same one used in the original, it’s smooth faced and of “combat” width. The trigger pull is good; I can detect no difference in comparing it to my K6, even though mine has several hundred rounds (and several hundred dry fire strokes) logged. It averaged 10.25 pounds on a Lyman Gauge. The extractor rod maintains the outstanding length of throw as the original K6, about .855”. Like on the S&W design, the extractor rod is an integral part of locking the cylinder. The front of the rod engages the locking bolt when the cylinder is closed. The front edge of the K6xs extractor rod is nicely smoothed and radiused above the knurled end. This is a thoughtful touch which keeps the tip from drawing blood when smacking it with a palm to eject empties positively.
Handling the revolver revealed a few other noteworthy features. When the trigger was pressed and held to the rear, the lock up provided by the cylinder stop was rock solid. Like all Kimber revolvers, the chambers on the K6xs are countersunk. The chamber bodies are much smoother than on my K6. Combined with the countersink, it felt like the gun had a custom charge hole chamfer when loading cartridges into the cylinder. This was beneficial regardless of whether the rounds were coming from a speedloader, a strip, or loaded loose.
I fired 160 rounds through a K6xs in August, gathering chronograph data for another article I was writing about the gun. 75 rounds of this total were +P. Most of the shooting was slow fire from a rest. I was exceedingly pleased to discover that the sights were better regulated for contemporary weights of .38 +P defensive ammunition. The gun shot to vertical point of aim with bullets weighing 110-125 grains. 130-158 grain projectiles impacted higher than point of aim at 7-10 yards.
The recoil from the lightweight K6xs was not an issue. Oddly, the tip of my trigger finger became sore shortly after surpassing the 100-round mark. It reminded me of the discomfort experienced from shooting lots of rounds through a Glock pistol, dragging my trigger finger on the trigger guard from contacting the trigger too low. The groups fired that day were impacting slightly right of center, too.
My next trip out was with the K6xs that Kimber had sent for RG testing. I did no rested shooting and didn’t experience the trigger finger soreness that occurred the first time while firing everything slowly, trying to eek out the best groups possible. This one also shot to the sights with lighter bullets and groups were more centered windage wise. I believe this was because I was shooting unsupported and rolling through the trigger smoothly.
Shooting on targets with a lighter background than B-8 centers revealed the tendency of the silver rear sight to wash out to varying degrees. I darkened it with a black sharpie and the contrast with the silver front sight was easier to pick up regardless of the background. I fired 100 rounds through the K6xs that day.
Most velocities were captured at temperatures of 73-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature was 38 degrees when the four velocities designated with the asterisk were measured (There was a long break between shooting sessions and winter was upon us before I finally made it back out).
In the cold, I ran Hardwired Tactical’s “Super Snubby Test” with the Kimber. I shot it clean and made time on the first two stages but went slightly over the 3.5 second limit on the strong hand only stage (4.33 sec). Repeating just that stage resulted in a 3.18 second time, dropping one round into the 9 ring at 4 o’clock. Shaking off some rust, my time was faster on a second attempt, but a little accuracy was sacrificed- finishing with a 146/150.
I then ran a snubby modified version of “The Test,” developed by Ken Hackathorn. Six rounds in six seconds from a low ready at 7 yards. The first try found me a little tardy, keeping all hits in the black of a B8, but using 7.03 seconds. I ran it again and kept all six in the 10 ring in 5.25 seconds. Trying it from 10 yards, I shot it in 5.45 seconds, dropping one round just out of the black. My next two attempts were slightly slower at 5.93 and 5.73 seconds, also losing one round out of the black on each.
I counted off 25 paces and fired six 125 +P Rem GSHP at a silhouette with an 8-inch circle for a max value zone. Starting at a low ready, I brought the gun up and rolled the trigger as soon as an acceptable sight picture was achieved. The Kimber kept 5 of 6 in the circle, and my trigger press was to blame for the sixth being slightly out. The K6xs reminded me that small guns are less forgiving than full size ones with respect to minor errors in trigger control and sight alignment.
This Kimber will deliver good hits at intermediate ranges (15-25 yards) when the shooter “trusts the force” and smoothly runs the trigger. I fired 95 rounds through the K6xs, 21 of which were +P on that trip. I experienced no trigger finger discomfort, and my shooting hand did not stiffen up. Both K6xs samples gave 100% ignition with all ammunition- factory and hand loads. Extraction and ejection were also 100%, these guns just ran.
Breaking It Down
The K6xs sticks with Kimber tradition when it comes to side plate screws, utilizing hex head screws for this application. It’s a distinct look and prevents conventional screwheads from getting “boogered up”. This often happens when poor fitting screwdrivers are selected for the task, or in moments of carelessness or haste.
Removing the yoke and cylinder revealed the gas check collar was part of the yoke, unlike the removeable collar on the magnum K6. The .38 version is exposed to significantly less pressure and potential gas cutting than the .357 models, it makes sense that it wouldn’t need to be easily replaceable.
I concur with Kimber’s choice to chamber this alloy framed gun in .38 Special. There are guns made that weigh less than this that are chambered for the .357 Magnum, but very few of those are routinely loaded with magnums- with good reason. The .357 Magnum, ignited in light vessels such as this, will wreck your hands in short order and is nigh on impossible to shoot well with any speed. The all-steel guns in the 23-ounce range should be considered the absolute minimum for torching off magnums, IMHO.
Summing It Up
The K6xs fills the void that was left when the original Colt Cobra and Agent were discontinued. Those guns were chosen by lots of savvy cops back in the day for carrying in plain clothes and off duty. They’re still favored today by many knowledgeable folks for their virtues. The K6xs and the Taurus 856 Ultra Lite are the only lightweight, .35 caliber, six shot snub guns of which I’m aware. Unlike those alloy framed Colts, the K6xs can withstand steady use of +P ammunition. It also sends modern projectiles in the 110-125 grain weight range to the sights at reasonable ranges. Bullets in that weight balance terminal effectiveness and tolerable recoil well in lightweight revolvers.
The sight regulation was probably the biggest negative with the original K6; props to Kimber for listening to our gripes and fixing this issue. The sights themselves may not be as good as the K6’s, but they’re well-proportioned and serviceable. Blacking the rear worked satisfactorily with the orange dot front. Before sending Kimber scathing emails about ditching the dovetails, remind yourself that the K6xs retails for 679.00- 300 bucks less than the base K6. For that price Kimber supplies a smooth running, reliable snub revolver that holds six rounds. For many, that extra cartridge on board promotes the K6xs into “primary carry gun territory”, where a five shot revolver would be considered more as a backup. Kimber drew from experience gained building the K6 to provide a lightweight carry revolver that gives precious little to complain about. I believe it was worth the wait.