While the newer .380s are a delight to carry, most…

While the newer .380s are a delight to carry, most shooters are familiar with the adage: “Never take a knife to a gunfight.” The .380 is a step up from a knife—but not a huge step. Carrying a .380 or even a .25 ACP pistol can be comforting. However, if you’re still concerned about protecting yourself in a deadly confrontation, you want a bigger gun—the bigger, the better!

Ever since the Army trained me to use a 1911, I’ve been a fan of this great gun and the ammo it shoots—hard-hitting rounds that penetrate well and pack a real punch. I have a handful of both factory and custom 1911A1 pistols, practicing with them every chance I get. While the right holsters make it possible to carry a 1911 fully concealed, the gun’s bulk and substantial heft make daily carry problematic.

Gun Details

Kahr came up with an excellent answer. The CW45 has a locked-breech, tilting barrel design very similar to that used in the venerable 1911. Disassembly is an even simpler process than the 1911 requires. However, the Kahr operates in double-action only (DAO) mode and is fired by a striker—not an external hammer.

Kahr is famous for producing compact, imaginatively designed pistols that work really well. The CW (compact weapon) 45 is a stellar example. While it digests bulky .45 ACP ammo, the gun is only 6.32 inches long, 4.8 inches tall and a scant one-inch thick. The stainless steel, conventionally rifled barrel measures 3.64 inches in length. Weight (unloaded) is just 21.7 ounces.

Fitting the gun’s innards into such a compact package was a real engineering feat. One space-saving innovation was relocating the feeding ramp slightly to the left of center. In addition to reducing the height of the frame, it created extra space for the operating system. While the feed ramp is no longer centered, it funnels cartridges into the chamber with excellent reliability.

The slide is machined from stainless steel, while the polymer frame reduces weight without sacrificing needed strength. The stippled grip feels good in my hand (unlike pistols with much blockier grips), and the gun points very naturally. There are no manual safeties—not even one that prevents firing when the magazine is removed. The gun’s multi-patented firing system blocks the striker-activated firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. External controls are limited to the trigger, slide stop and magazine release.

The CW45 is basically a lower-priced version of the larger TP and KP-series pistols produced earlier, and the compact PM45 pistols that came along a little later.

Economy measures include creating the magazine release, slide stop and firing pin block by metal-injection-molding. Only one magazine is provided (other Kahr .45s come with two). Also, the front sight isn’t drift-adjustable, but is pinned in place. A vertical white bar guides your eye to the rear sighting notch, while the front sight face features a large, white round dot. This is a highly effective combination for fast aiming at close quarters.

Trigger action is exceptional. The DAO trigger travels smoothly through a 5/8 inch-long arc, with barely noticeable stacking just before it breaks. The trigger on my test sample breaks cleanly under 5-1/2 pounds of pressure. This compares very favorably with the 12-plus-pound trigger pulls most revolvers require in double-action firing.

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