Folks, I have built a couple of Polymer80 pistols – A Glock 17 clone and a 34 clone and really like them. When I heard that Polymer80 was going to import the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit I got pretty excited. My first real pistol was a .44 Magnum IMI Desert Eagle in 1990. The Desert Eagle was awesome so I had high expectations for the Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit. So far, I must admit that I am disappointed. This may change with more use but want to pass on my experiences to you. To be blunt, for me it is a range toy at best in its present incarnation.
The concept was cool – have a chassis readily available in a soft-case in the trunk of your car, or where ever, that you could slide a pistol into with no tools and instantly have a much more stable platform to work with that could also enable you to mount an optic and light. This would aid accuracy immensely and you could imagine a potential appeal to law enforcement or others who might need an impromptu pistol caliber carbine.
I could definitely benefit from something like this but for a completely different reason. I was born with a hereditary tremor, also sometimes called a “necessary tremor”, that causes my hands to shake a bit. I’ve had it my whole life and I can work around it most of the time except when holding a pistol at arms length. Andrew Zachary, my CPL instructor, gave me some great tips to improve my groups for self-defense but I will never be a great pistol shooter. However, if you give me carbine or rifle, I can do a heck of a lot better off hand and hold my own with most folks if I have a rest. So, I was really looking forward to using the Kidon – not just to review it.
When Polymer80 started selling them after the 2019 SHOT show, the price was $525 but it dropped down to $350 fairly quickly so I bought one. A plus was that they included a pre-installed adapter for the Polymer80 pistol frames that I am a fan of. If you like building firearms, you have to try one of their frames – it’s like a double-stack 1911 in terms of the angle and girth but it uses Glock parts. With that said, let’s get back to the Kidon.
What Pistol Did I Test With?
For testing, I only used my Polymer80 PF940V2 frame Glock 17 clone. I didn’t test any other models. So please bear in mind you might have different results with other pistols.
Opening the Box
I ordered the Kidon direct from Polymer80 and they were pretty quick to ship the unit. It arrived in a surprisingly large box. It turned out that the Kidon unit includes a soft case with a sling, adjustment tool and room for the M4 stock or brace.
So, I did a quick skim of the manual to find out how to install the pistol. I’d not seen anything quite like the Kidon before and couldn’t readily guess how it all worked.
Inserting the Pistol Into the Main Frame
Basically the pistol slides forward into the chassis and is secured in place by the front rail. It is length sensitive and this is why some pistols, such as my G34 will not fit it. My Polymer80 G17 went right in. Note, it uses the Polymer80 PF940V2 full size frame and it is what I used during my evaluation – you may have better success with other models of pistols.
Let me share some of my observations at this point:
P1: The pistol does not intuitively slide into the “main frame assembly” of the Kidon chassis. I have yet to pick the two pieces up (the pistol and the main frame) and get them to go together with the first try. I’ve got a trick that works better though – I hold the Kidon’s main fram vertical and settle the pistol into the clamp.
P2: The clamp is not as secure as I would like and it does not lock the pistol parallel to the top rail. This causes a problem when inserting the rear locking assembly and I’ll come back to this. It also means you can flex the Polymer80 in the chassis. When I sighted in my red dot, with a laser through the bore, I found I could change the impact point dramatically depending on how hard I pushed or pulled on the pistol’s grip.
P3: The pistol can go in too far. With a Glock, pushing the slide back just a bit will disable the trigger and that can easily happen if you are in a rush. I’m getting a better feel for this but it really needs a better way to insert the frame and have it stop and lock in the proper position. I install vertically per the above and stop when the frame comes to the initial rest and no further.
Some of the above I’ve gotten better at with practice and will likely improve further but am not keen on the fumbling around. Let’s continue with the review.
Installing The Rear Locking Assembly
The Rear Locking Assembly (RLA) pushes the pistol from the rear into the Main Frame and holds it at the proper angle relative to the bore. IMI made this modular by adding a Rear Adapter Clamp. This adapter enables the Kidon to support an absolute ton of different pistols. It comes with the adapter for the Polymer 80 frame pre-installed so I did not need to mess with that.
Installing A Brace
In other parts of the world without our crazy short barreled rifle (SBR) laws, the unit would have an IMI brand M4-style stock on it but in the US, it ships with a nut that has a sling swivel in it instead. It does give us options though and if we don’t go the SBR registration route, we can install a brace at least. I opted for the very well done SB Tactical SBA3. Hint – use a fixed wrench when removing the end nut on the chassis – I used an adjustable wrench and it rounded it over a bit. That was my fault – I knew better but was in a rush.
It is a bit of a challenge to get that rear locking assembly to line up and go into the main frame. If you aren’t careful and purposefully watching the pistol, the rear adapter clamp may go under the rear of the pistol and cant it up at an angle. In other words, the bore of the pistol is now pointing down towards the front bottom of the Kidon’s front heat shield and the pistol can still fire.
I’ve dry fired it during testing when it was angled like that but not with a live round. I’m real, real careful now to inspect the system before I load ammo. I think the bullet may just miss the lower part of the heat shield but I say that by visually looking at the direction of the barrel’s bore when I push the back of the pistol up as high as it will go. At the very least your point of impact will be a lot lower than you expected due to the angle.
Sights, Optics and a Curiously Angled Top Rail
Let’s star with what I noticed very shortly after taking the Kidon’s main frame out of the case. The top rail is not flat. It angles upward just before the ejection port and just forward of it, it angles back down. I asked Polymer80 about this and they said they were all that way. Why? I have no idea. As it turns out I could still get my Vortex Crossfire Red Dot to zero so I’m not going to worry about even though the purist in me wishes it was flat.
Well, I installed Magpul backup polymer sights and then a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sitting up on a tall quick detach mount from American Defense – their model AD-T1-10. I did this to line up with the sights and couldn’t quite get it all to line up. I don’t think that rail was doing me any favors even though I could get the red dot to line up with the bore laser during sighting in. So, I left the sights as a backup but am no longer trying to co-witness.
Do I have anything good to say about it?
It looks cool. The chassis is a cool concept along with the tool-less design. It does provide a lot more stability than the pistol alone – until you flex the pistol in the chassis and change the point of impact. I like that they used aluminum for a heat shield and not just polymer. I like that they enabled the use of an M4 gas tube for braces and stocks. That’s about it.
The Verdict: Based on my experience, it’s a range toy
I really, really wanted to post a glowing report. At this point, it’s a range toy. Could the problems be me or my particular Polymer80? They could be but I doubt all of them are.
At this point, it’s my opinion that it takes way too much care to assemble this thing and make sure it all goes together correctly. I do plan on taking it to the range but I don’t see its use evolving for me beyond that for the following reasons:
- Imagine the adrenaline is pumping and you are in a rush – fine motor skills are going to greatly impaired — there is a real high risk that the pistol will be shoved in to far and push the slide back. That slight push on the slide is going to lock the Glock-style trigger safety and not fire after assembly. You would have to test after you insert the pistol that it can still fire.
- Getting that rear locking assembly to mate up and go into the main frame is real hard for me. Maybe it will improve over time but I doubt I could do it in a rush with my heart pounding and hands shaking.
- You may pull down, push up or otherwise shift the pistol in the frame and change the zero. The combination of the front and rear clamps does not hold the pistol securely enough – I did not try tightening the front screw down to the point that the front locking lever will not release – that defeats the purpose. If the whole intent was to improve accuracy but the pistol can shift inside of the frame when too much pressure is applied to the pistol grip, then what is the value?
- Lastly, during the assembly process the user may fail to notice the pistol is canted downward in the frame and risk shooting the front bottom of the aluminum heat shield of the frame or at least way lower than you expected because of the angle. This happens maybe half the time unless I purposefully watch and make sure the rear adapter clamp properly engages the rear of the receiver.
Bottom line: I would carry a dedicated backup firearm before I would ever trust this thing in a defensive situation – at least based on my experience with my Polymer80. I did not test any other pistol models. Sorry I don’t have better news. If you try the Kidon and have better luck, that is great. As for me, I wish I had not spent $350. It’s a great concept but it needs significant refinement to improve ease of assembly, reliability and safety before being put in a defensive/combat/high-stress situation.
By the way, I hate posting something like this because it is a cool design but I want to give folks my honest opinion. Do your research and read other reviews and decide for yourself. I’m actually going to shoot more with it at the range and see if I can figure out techniques that work better. If I discover better ways or things that I was doing wrong, I’ll certainly post updates.
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