Compact used to be the definition for a small handgun. Now we have subcompact, ultra-compact and micro-compact. And then we have the new Kahr CM9, a little more than .380 ACP-sized pistol that carries 6+1 rounds of 9mm in a package small enough to unobtrusively conceal in a pocket holster or almost totally disappear tucked into an IWB rig aft of your hip. Overlay the competition; it is slightly smaller than the Ruger 9mm LC9, slightly larger than the Ruger .380 LCP, and with a weight differential that is almost negligible at less than 16 ounces. The Kahr CM9 in its two-tone, polymer and steel build arguably lacks “elegance,” but there is obvious charm to its utilitarian approach to design. In a sense, its simplicity is the source of its beauty. At its core, it is a trim, semi-automatic pistol that delivers a lot for a comparatively reasonable suggested retail price of $517, with the CM9 being a more cost-conscious variant of the PM9 series of pistols from Kahr (while still maintaining the brand’s excellent quality).
Peel back the layers of what defines an ultra- or micro-compact 9mm and you will always find three fundamental characteristics: small size, light weight, and good capacity. The CM9 has everything you want, and that means as little as possible. This is the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) poster gun. Based on the earlier PM9, the CM9 is a lower-priced variation with conventional rifling rather than the more costly Lothar Walther polygonal match grade barrel used in the PM9; it comes with one six-round magazine and is offered only in a two-tone finish with a 416 stainless steel slide, black polymer frame featuring molded-in front and backstrap serrations, textured grip panels and single magazine release. A traditional trigger cocking double-action-only (DAO) design using a Browning-style locked breech, the CM9 is a simple and straightforward pistol. No external safety and no magazine disconnect, so it will fire a chambered round with the magazine removed. Standard is a drift-adjustable dovetailed white bar-dot rear sight with matching fixed white dot front.
In terms of basic design the CM9 is more akin to Kahr’s CW series, which have 3.6-inch barrels and 7+1 capacity in 9mm (there are .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions in both the CW and PM lines), making this the first lower-priced Kahr polymer frame ultra compact with a 3-inch barrel. Like the PM9, the overall length for the CM9 is a modest 5.42 inches, height 4.0 inches, a skimpy 0.90 inches in width, and weight is a mere 15.9 ounces. The significant difference between the PM9 and CM9 really comes down to finish options and the Lothar Walther match barrel.