FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR, Steve Denney, firing on the dark side of dusk, still makes the little steel plates dance in half-spins on the dueling tree. “I’m impressed,” he says, lowering a pistol that has gone to slide-lock after six-for-six shots and hits. “Amazing how soft the recoil is,” says Jeff Rush, after emptying a magazine of .45 ACP. “Not much different from my Kahr 9mm.” CCW instructor, Herman Gunter, remarks after firing three magazines, “The night sights make all the difference in this light. This pistol is sweet.”
All are veteran Kahr shooters, and the pistol they’re talking about is that company’s latest and smallest .45 ACP, the Kahr PM45. With a 3.14-inch barrel, overall length is only 5.7 inches, and the butt is proportionally shortened. The price of the latter attribute is that magazine capacity is down to five rounds, so with one more in the chamber, it’s “only” a six-shooter. It is, however, a very flat six-shooter.
For perspective, consider that “way back when” we were considered well armed with a Colt Detective Special. It held six rounds also, but .38 Special instead of .45 ACP. It was more than an inch longer than the PM45, and thicker as well. The Detective’s cylinder was 1.4 inches in diameter, while the PM45 is only 1.01 inches thick at its widest point. Unloaded, the PM45 is more than an ounce and a half lighter than the old .38 snubbie. The Colt Detective Special is history now, but the Kahr PM45 is here. We’ve come a long way, baby!
As the other testers noted, the PM45 is a very soft-shooting gun for its caliber — again comparable to the old .38 Detective Special, oddly enough. It proved quite accurate for a pistol its size, and was very consistent with the three different loads tested. In alphabetical order, Black Hills 230-grain JHP made all head shots at 25 yards and produced an evenly distributed 2.75-inch 5-shot group, with the best three hits in 2.35 inches. Speer’s 230-grain Gold Dot bonded hollow point left a quintet of holes measuring 2.35 inches, and that group would have gone 1.05 inches but for one errant shot. The best three hits were only 0.80 inch apart center-to-center. Winchester 185-grain brass enclosed base loads delivered a 5-shot group of 2.70 inches, and 1.05 inches for best three. For a “belly gun,” that’s impressive. Kahr’s famous butter-smooth, light (under six pounds) DAO trigger was a big help here.
There were no mechanical malfunctions of any kind. One tester managed to accidentally release the magazine in the middle of a firing string while still getting the feel of the gun, but that was human error. The only discomfort noted in shooting was the sharp edge on the slide stop lever, an unfortunate characteristic of the breed that Kahr really needs to change, and some pinching of the trigger finger on the “kink” of the trigger guard upon recoil. The latter, however, only manifested itself in bench-rest testing, and was not felt in ordinary stand-up shooting. Our test gun was the deluxe model with stainless slide and night sights. The MSRP seems high only before you shoot one.
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