Full-Throttle Kahrs

When I was in England during an exchange program with the Royal Air Force, I received my very first pistol, a gift from an RAF officer. It was a 6.35mm (.25 ACP) Walther Model 8 that had previously been the personal-defense weapon of a Luftwaffe bomber pilot who had lost a fight with a Hurricane fighter during the Battle of Britain. I learned much from that pistol as I figured out how to disassemble and reassemble it without any instructions. Thoroughly admiring the Walther’s quality of design and simple operation, my young interest in firearms grew.

I procured some ammunition and fired it as often as I could afford, marveling at both the high cost and low impact of its .25 ACP bullet. Even then, with no experience in shooting or gun design, I wondered why in the world a person would choose as a carry weapon one that couldn’t shoot very far or accurately. I tried the little pistol against a variety of targets and soon concluded that a .25 ACP might be good for a point-blank engagement but would take a full magazine to stop anyone determined to do you harm. Years later, the lesson still remained: A good gun with a weak round is not an adequate self-defense weapon.

Quest for Power

Kahr Arms has been making high-quality concealed-carry pistols at its U.S.-based facility since 1994. From the age of 14, Kahr’s founder, Justin Moon, enjoyed shooting but just wasn’t satisfied with the calibers of compact handguns at the time—they were ineffective. Up until then, it seemed that the long-standing mindset (combined with mostly pre-WWII engineering and metallurgy) was that a small concealed-carry pistol should be of a smaller caliber, such as the .25 or .32 ACP. Justin wanted but couldn’t find a high-quality, very small 9mm pistol designed for concealed carry, so he designed his own ultra-compact 9mm. Now after almost two decades of success, Kahr is known for designing the smallest, high-quality concealed-carry pistols and does so in four popular defensive calibers: 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .380 ACP.

Kahr’s combination of design, superior materials and innovative construction makes its line of firearms some of the smallest, thinnest and most reliable full-power compact pistols on the market. With full-size ballistic performance in a diminutive size, Kahr’s guns are a perfect choice for men and women who want powerful protection in a small package—the firearms are a favorite with some law enforcement officers as an off-duty or backup weapon. The initial fruition of Justin’s imagination, the 9mm Kahr K9, was soon followed by the PM9, which features a 3-inch barrel, blackened stainless slide and polymer frame and weighs 15.9 ounces empty. Compared with many .380 ACP and .32 ACP pocket pistols from Walther, Sig Sauer and Beretta, the PM9 is virtually the same size and actually smaller in some ways.

Although Kahr pistols can be obtained in either steel or polymer frames, both are equal in reliability and strength, with all models rated up to +P ammunition. On polymer-framed models, the non-structurally functional polymer rails are just used to aid in aligning the slide during pistol reassembly and help keep out grit and sand. Steel inserts permanently set into the polymer frame prevent polymer-to-polymer (or polymer-to-steel) rubbing during slide movement.

Kahr Action

Whether chambered for the 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 or .380 ACP, all Kahr pistols are hammerless, utilizing the Browning locked-breech design with a striker-operated firing pin and passive firing-pin safety. One of the seven innovative patents awarded to Justin for the Kahr pistol design is employed on the entire line, regardless of caliber or size.

Each round fired from a double-action-only (DAO) Kahr starts the same: At the moment the shooter squeezes the trigger and starts the short 0.37-inch trigger travel (which is very similar to that of a double-action revolver), the Kahr’s double-lobed cocking cam begins to rotate. Its rotation starts one lobe to draw the striker to the rear while the other begins to depress and deactivate the firing-pin block. When the trigger crisply breaks, the striker is released from the one lobe and is allowed to move forward toward the primer of the bullet in the breech because the other lobe has fully depressed the firing pin block. This ingenious yet robust design ensures that the pistol cannot discharge if dropped or mishandled—only with a full trigger pull will fire the gun. The design also places the firing pin block to the rear of the slide and further away from gases, carbon and fouling, keeping it cleaner during prolonged use.

Another unique design feature of Kahr pistols is that their feed ramps are offset to the left. This allows the trigger drawbar to lie flatter against the right side of the frame and significantly reduce slide width. The slide width for both 9mm and .40 S&W Kahr pistols is only 0.9 inches, and the slides of .45 ACP Kahr pistols are only 1.01 inches wide, which is narrower, in fact, than many popular, lesser-caliber pistols! Kahr also offers a line of even more affordable, polymer-framed CW pistols similar to the P series but with changes that include traditional (not polygonal) rifling, fewer machining operations, a pinned-in (not dovetailed) front sight, engraved (not rolled-on) lettering, and only one magazine.

The Kahr Arms family of firearms is committed to producing “all-American” products by “in-sourcing” components to U.S. companies and providing long-term manufacturing jobs to American workers. Kahr maintains a singular objective of excellence in workmanship and material, using the most advanced computer applications and precise manufacturing technologies like state-of-the-art CAD/CAM and 3D modeling. The programming and digital tooling capabilities of the CNC-machining centers used by Kahr ensure that the components for every pistol are cut exactly to the engineering blueprints then precision machined to the tightest tolerances.

Combining the best computer and manufacturing equipment with American workmanship makes for pistols that every Kahr shooter can be confident in, knowing the guns will provide a lifetime of service at peak performance. Kahr backs that up with a responsive technical and warranty repair service based on its five-year limited warranty.

Justin Moon’s initial goal was to build a line of small, powerful pistols designed for concealed carry, something that Kahr has achieved while supporting America’s economy and right to bear arms. Kahr pistols are more than straight-shooting: They fill a need through the application of top-notch engineering and seven patented innovations so people can better protect themselves and their loved ones. Kahr pistols are reliable and hard-hitting, what Justin Moon and I think a great self-defense weapon needs to be. For more information, visit kahr.com or call 508-795-3919.