If you didn’t grow up with guns, like I did, you could easily suffer from information overload and be tempted to quit the process. Even though there are more options and models out today then there were in the past, thankfully there is more information out there, too. This information is power today, and it will help quell any concerns that you may have. The good news is that there are not many bad pistols on the market today, so your chances are pretty good that, no matter what you choose, you will be well served by your purchase.
Kahr pistols are not the most common pistols on the market today. Traditionally, this has been due to their higher cost compared to competitors. Once a Kahr is held side by side to a lesser-priced competitor, it becomes clear why the Kahr is more expensive. Kahr pistols all share a very nice build quality, smooth triggers and real sights. The whole lineup of Kahr pistols has a build quality that just feels more substantial and well built when compared to others. Their triggers may be long, but they are buttery smooth. Look at many lower-priced, single-stack pocket guns on the market today and you will see that sights are one of the first things to be sacrificed. Not so with Kahr. All Kahr models feature very usable sights. The standard configuration is white bar-dot combat sights. These sights basically have you dot the “i” for alignment. They work well but are not night sights. Night sights are an option on many of the Kahr models, and aftermarket sights are always an option. All Kahr pistols also have slides made from 416 stainless steel. This is a great feature on a gun that will likely live in close proximity to your skin. There is also less chance of rust occurring on a stainless slide.
A while back, Kahr answered the price objection by releasing the CW/CM series of pistols. These mirror the company’s more expensive counterparts in all the critical areas. They include only one magazine instead of the normal three. They have less intensive machining on the slides, using beveled instead of rounded edges. They also use standard cut rifling instead of the more expensive polygonal rifling. Additionally, the front sights are pinned instead of using a front dovetail. These small differences are small sacrifices for such a large price difference. The slide stop levers are metal-injection molded instead of being machined. Most users will not miss or need the upgraded features.
The 9mm CM9 was introduced in 2011 as a sibling version of the PM9. The CM9 features a 3-inch barrel tucked into a 5.42-inch overall package. It is only 4 inches tall and 0.9 inches wide at the slide. This makes for a very concealable pistol. It has a 6+1 capacity, but it will accept the larger seven- and eight-round Kahr magazines as well. Weighing only 14 ounces unloaded, you may forget this pistol is hanging on your belt.
Kahr also produces the MK9, which is very similar except that it has a stainless frame to match the stainless slide. It has removable grip panels that allow for a little more flexibility. The metal frame makes the gun heavier, but that weight also translates
to less recoil.
Meet The CW9
The 9mm CW9 was introduced back in 2006 as a less expensive version of the P9. It is basically half an inch larger in most directions compared to the CM9. It features a 3.5-inch barrel compared to the 3-inch barrel of the CM9. With a length of 5.9 inches and a height of 4.5 inches, it is roughly 0.5 inches larger than the CM9 in those dimensions also. It does feature the same svelte 0.90-inch-wide slide, though. With that extra height, you also get an increased capacity of 7+1. Adding a half-inch also increases the weight by 1.8 ounces over the smaller versions.
Along the same lines of the MK9, Kahr makes a K9 that is similar to the CW9/P9 but has a stainless frame. By using removable grip panels, the MK9/K9 pistols feel thicker than their polymer-framed counterparts. The upside is that you can change between different panel styles to match your taste. From the factory they come with soft rubber grips but can be upgraded to wood panel grips. I personally use Crimson Trace Lasergrips on my K9.
Introduced in 2013, the CW380 packs all the tiny size of the P380 into a more affordable package. While it is a .380 ACP instead of the 9mm models discussed before, what you give up in caliber you gain in size. This is a true pocket gun. The CW380 features a 2.58-inch barrel and has an overall length of 4.96 inches. Its 3.9-inch height and 0.75-inch slide width are pretty amazing. The pistol’s 10.2-ounce (empty) weight and 6+1 rounds of .380 ACP are nothing to sneeze at.
The CW380 is an amazing pistol in its class. Most pocket .380s feel cheap, almost disposable. The CW380 feels just like its bigger brethren with the same Kahr trigger, the same manual of arms and the same great sights. The biggest difference is that you can hide this Kahr just about anywhere you want.
Which should you choose? Well, that depends. To fully appreciate the lineup you should think of them as complementary instead of exclusive. Are you looking at a primary carry gun or a backup gun? What type of dress do you prefer? Do you prefer pocket, inside the waistband (IWB) or ankle carry?
The CW9/P9 models rule the range. They are the most comfortable to shoot for extended periods. They hold more ammunition, which means less reloads. Their longer sight radii translate to greater precision, and their greater weights absorb more recoil. The trigger pulls are very similar, and the overall feel is nearly the same. All Kahr pistols operate exactly the same way. For even more range fun, I would also suggest the Kahr K9, which is the steel-framed version of the CW9/P9. The heavier weight makes it even more pleasant to shoot at the range.
Deep concealed carry is where the CW380 shines. It is right at home during pocket or ankle carry. The CM9/PM9 also works fine for ankle carry. Pocket carry with the CM9/PM9 is doable, but with the larger size you need to make sure your pockets are more accommodating.
Standard carry I would consider a toss-up between the CM9/PM9 and the CW9/P9. I carried the CW9 in a standard IWB holster for quite a while and never had any issues. When the CM9 was released I could not resist; the half-inch reduction made a lot of sense to me. It is now my standard carry gun every single day. With the thin and light PJ Holster Kydex holster I use, I find myself forgetting I am carrying. The argument can certainly be made for the CW9 in the same holster because the extra grip length is easier to manage on a belt. The extra capacity of the CW9 does have merit, too. The CW9/P9 also features enough grip length that I can get all my fingers on. The CM9/PM9’s grip, however, is short enough where I have to tuck my pinky finger under the grip.
Kahr Arms has done a fantastic job of offering enough models in the lineup to satisfy most concealed-carry needs. Depending on your personal needs, you can find a well-built pistol at an affordable price. Now that you know the differences between the models, you can make an informed decision without getting overwhelmed.
For more information, visit kahr.com or call 508-795-3919.
This story was featured in the 2015 HANDGUN BUYER’S GUIDE. To subscribe to the HANDGUN BUYER’S GUIDE, please visit PersonalDefenseWorld.com/subscribe.
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