An optimal carry pistol that’s small, light, flat, accurate—what’s there not to like?
Handguns 2007 Buyer’s Guide, p. 4 – 7
By Matt Berger
Kahr K9 9mm, backed up by the MOD Mk II tactical folder and Rick Hinderer Modular Kubaton – a concealed carry package that’s tough to beat!
The author in the middle of a string of rapid fire. Note the level position of the barrel. K9 is soft recoiling, and shot-to-shot times are quick.
So, you want a concealed handgun. Maybe you even want it to double as a backup gun. Common sense dictates that you want it to be light, diminutive in size, flat in profile, and basically practical for carry. Most of all, you want it to be utterly reliable, because you’re carrying this pistol to defend your life or that of another. Acceptable combat accuracy is also a must.
What? You say that on top of all this, you want it to be of a serious caliber and not a mouse gun?
Well, you just might be in luck. Enter the Kahr line of pistols. Justin Moon designed and created this line of pistols because he found himself in the situation described above, but wasn’t satisfied with the current crop of pistols offered for carry. He set out to build a pistol that embodied all of the qualities that make for a practical, totable pistol.
There is nothing new about the flagship K9 pistol, but it remains as much today an excellent handgun for concealed carry, hideout, and even back-up as it did when it first rolled out of the factory in 1995.
The basic Kahr concept is that of a striker-fired, breech locking design with a double-action-only trigger. The 3.5-inch polygonal barrel enhances accuracy, makes the bore easier to clean and helps velocities stay up a tad. These barrels are advertised as match grade with a 1:10-inch right-hand twist, and are manufactured using button-broaching.
Kahr slides are machined from 416 stainless steel bar stock. The frame is a 4140 steel casting. With the exception of the slide release, safety block, and rear sight, all key parts are made from hardened steel. Premium springs throughout are manufactured by Wolff Gunsprings.
Fit and finish of the Kahr K9 was good. On the exterior cosmetic surfaces, the slide was perfect. There were some slightly visible machine marks inside the triggerguard, and an area that was grainy just above the trigger on the right side of the frame, but this was not readily apparent without a close look. Inside, almost all surfaces of the slide were smooth and devoid of tool marks. The few areas that were rough in the slide and frame were those that did not mate with reciprocating parts and are a non-issue.
Finish is an attractive stain stainless steel. Magazines are steel construction with polymer followers.
The controls are all set in ergonomic array; the high profile sights are easy to pick up quickly with their bar/dot arrangement and are dovetailed into the slide.
One of the qualities of the Kahr that makes it such a great carry piece is its “mini” size and light weight. This is definitely one of those instances in life when bigger is not necessarily better. The K9 and all of the Kahr family pistols for that matter are very light, small in dimensions, and flat. Compare the K9 to the familiar Walther PPK in .380 caliber. At 0.10 of an inch shorter, 0.20 of an inch taller, and 0.08 of an inch thinner, the Kahr gives up only 4.2 ounces to the lighter Walther. The comparable weight of the polymer-framed P9 Kahr drops to 5 ounces less than the Walther. The Kahr does all of this in a larger, superior round, while remaining quite ergonomic. It feels good in the hand and a proper grip angle gives good pointability. Small size in a carry pistol is a good thing to a point. When it begins to get too small, deft handling and shooting of the gun is diminished, especially for larger hands. The Kahr falls short of being in this category, retaining good handling properties.
Size alone makes this gem easy to hide, but a flat profile only further enhances this quality. Its weight will cause you to forget it’s there. This gun won’t print in a well-chosen concealment holster, nor will it cause your belt bulge or sag.
There are a myriad of ways improve, customize, or otherwise personalize your Kahr pistol. Kahr lists handsome wood grips on their website, both in smooth and checkered wood. They also offer wraparound non-slip, as well as decal grips. Ported barrels are offered, and stainless steel guide rods. Your choice of Novak or Meprolight night sights are also available. Some choose to add grip extensions from Pearce Grips.
If you’re really after a full-tilt custom carry Kahr, then look to Cylinder & Slide, who have collaborated with Kahr to bring you custom carry packages. The work that C&S does to these and any other pistols is well worth the money.
A slew of holsters and concealment systems are available directly through Kahr on their site. My most favored carry holster is an IWB rig. Some may choose a belt slide, while others choose the bellyband, a concealment method well suited for the Kahr. Still others will carry the gun in an ankle rig in the backup role and a good holster will do the job here as well.
Hornady 147gr TAP CQ yielded this 1.13” grouping.
Rear sight is prominent, though snag free, dovetailed into the slide, and features a vertical white bar.
Front sight is dovetailed into the slide, easy to pick up, and is-highlighted with a white dot. Night sights are optional.
Fit and finish and machine work are good. Slide stop has sharp edges that should be dehorned.
This is not the first Kahr that I’ve tested to prove utterly flawless in its function, and we all understand the value of this. The most potent pistol on the planet does you no good if the gun doesn’t fire when it’s the only thing standing between you and the netherworld. The Kahr’s “point and shoot” operation makes things simple for the operator. Like another dependable platform, the revolver, all that is required under the adrenalin-pumping stress of a deadly encounter is for the shooter to aim and squeeze the trigger. Disengaging a safety isn’t required, and it’s not necessary; with its long trigger stroke, unintentional discharges aren’t likely.
In addition to the gun’s dependable performance, Kahr backs it with a 5-year limited warranty.
I really loved this little pistol, even more so than the larger calibers offered by Kahr, such as the .40, .45 ACP. The reason is simple. I found the K9 to be very accurate and easy to shoot. I elected to do my accuracy testing at 25 feet with a two-handed standing hold, because this is a more realistic test for a compact carry pistol than the usual benched 25 yards. Recoil was very mild, even with the hot loads, such as the CorBon offerings. The Kahr is rated for +P and +P+ loadings. There was no real “snap” to firing the gun; in the accompanying photos I can be seen just after the moment of firing, smoke in front of the muzzle, ejected case overhead, yet note the steady, level position of the pistol. The pistol returns quickly to point of aim for follow-up shots. Most likely, this is achieved in large part due to the Kahr’s offset barrel link design, which allows the bore to sit lower in the gun.
The K9 liked the Hornady 147-grain TAP CQ best, printing a 1.13-inch group. It also fared well with the Meg Tech 124-grain FMC, producing a 1.31-inch pattern. Most groups were under 2 inches with the largest measuring 2.13 inches. That’s good accuracy for any pistol, not just a compact hideout gun. Though Kahr recommends a break-in period of 200 rounds, my test pistol fired 100% from start to finish.
Most all of the edges were smooth and dehorned, and I experienced no scratching, rubbing, or other discomfort to the hands. The soft-rubber grip panels make for a firm grasp on the gun, and are quite comfy. A decidedly single-action guy, I still like the trigger on the Kahr pistols. Triggers are a paramount concern for me in my preferences in guns, and the Kahr’s slick trigger, smooth and light, makes getting hits easy. The pistol’s striker is semicocked when the first round is chambered, producing a double-action pull that is consistent for every shot. Breaking at about 6 pounds even, anticipating the exact moment of let-off is difficult, if not impossible, an asset in accurate shot-placement.
While it might seem that a double-action trigger would take a bit of practice to learn for rapid fire, the Kahr’s trigger seemed to come natural to me while firing rapid strings at about 7 yards.
|Specifications Kahr Arms K9|
|CorBon/Glaser 80 Safety Slug||2.06|
|CorBon+P 115 DPX||1.94|
|CorBon+P 115 JHP||2.12|
|Federal 124 Tactical JHP||1.56|
|Hornady 147 TAP CQ||1.13|
|MagTech 124 FMC||1.31|
|Winchester 115 Silvertip||2.13|
|Winchester 147 SXT||1.81|
|Bullet weight measured in grains, accuracy in inches for 5-shot groups from 25 feet off-hand.|
A minor complaint with this, and other Kahr pistols, lies in the slide stop. It prominently projects from the frame and has sharp edges to snag on clothing and holsters. I’d like to see Kahr bevel these sharp edges.
Some might find the Kahr’s 7 + 1 capacity low, but with a spare magazine or two in tow, I would feel well, served by the K9. On the topic of spare magazines, the narrow opening of the magazine well is not beveled, but should be.
The reasons that Kahr still takes a lead in the market for concealed carry pistols are clear. Kahr gives you a well-made pistol that is small, light, flat, and optimal for hide and ride, yet in serious calibers with perfect functioning and great accuracy and handling. You get all of this in a gun that is about the same size as a Walther PPK, which chambers a lesser round. What’s not to like?