Kahr Arms came on the scene in 1995 with their innovative 9mm K9 pistol, when designer Justin Moon felt that the existing crop of semiauto pistols was not especially well suited for concealed carry and set out to build a better one. A little more than a decade and a half later, Kahr offers the most extensive line of discreet carry pistols in the industry, with offerings available in .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Moon’s design is extremely innovative and is covered by six U.S. patents.
Kahr pistols range from compact to subcompact in size and utilize the proven Browning type locked breech operating system. These striker-fired self-loaders have a double action only trigger system with a relatively short 3/8 inches of travel. Many people compare the trigger to a DA revolver, as it shares the same simple point-and-shoot qualities of the wheelgun. I would categorize trigger action of Kahr pistols to be relatively smooth and easy to master.
Modern CNC machining methods enable Kahr to build a reliable pistol to the most exacting tolerances. Barrels are made by Lothar Walther and crafted from a solid billet. Most barrels used in Kahr pistols feature polygonal rifling for a better gas seal, faster muzzle velocity, and greater service life. The slides are made from 416 stainless steel and depending on the model, the frame is constructed of either stainless steel or polymer. Magazines too are a cut above and rendered from 400 stainless steel, plasma-welded and heat-treated to Rockwell 50 for durability.
Several unique design features set the Kahr apart from other semiauto pistols. Most notable is the offset barrel where the trigger mechanism is placed next to the barrel, rather than underneath it. This allows the shooter to get the hand closer to the axis of the bore, minimizing muzzle flip, felt recoil, and recovery time between shots. The drawbar is in very close proximity to the frame, allowing Kahr to keep width dimensions to a minimum.
The original Kahr K9 was offered in carbon steel with a black matte finish. This quickly gave way to a line of all stainless steel pistols, which remain popular to this day. More recently, Kahr began building pistols with high-impact polymer frames, which yield a number of advantages. Polymer frames are significantly lighter than their steel frame cousins and have proven very durable. Also, polymer frames transmit less felt-recoil to the hand. This probably isn’t a big deal with the mild-mannered 9mm, but it is perceptible with the snappier .40 S&W.
From a single pistol, the Kahr line has grown by leaps and bounds—for example, in 9mm and .40 S&W, Kahr offers over two-dozen variations of each. Taking a look at examples from each of the various size ranges it’s easy to see what they have to offer.
The MK9 and PM9, in stainless steel and polymer respectively, are the smallest of the Kahr 9mms. With a barrel length of 3 inches, these pistols are a mere 5.3 inches long by 4 inches tall. For a service-caliber pistol, that’s really small. In this configuration, the polymer PM9 weighs roughly 1/3 less than the steel MK9. Users who want to ante up to .40 S&W in a similar size package can do so with the MK40 and PM40, but with one round less total capacity.
New for 2011, is a PM9 variant with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard (LG-347) unit, which can greatly enhance system capabilities in low-light environments where armed encounters often occur.
Fans of the .45 ACP are not neglected and Kahr offers a complete line of big-bore pistols in three different barrel lengths and frame sizes. Like the 9mm and .40 S&W models, both stainless steel and polymer frame copies are available.
Let’s consider the Kahr CW45. The “CW” prefix pistols represent Kahr’s economy line, which offers a few less frills, but the same dependability and smooth trigger action. To cut costs, Kahr uses traditional lands and grooves instead of polygonal barrel rifling. Other cost saving measures include a pinned, rather than dovetailed, front sight and a single magazine rather than two.
At 1.01 inches wide, the CW45 is only slightly wider than the 9mm and .40 S&W copies. Unloaded, the polymer-framed CW45 weighs only 19.7 ounces, which is very light for a .45 ACP pistol. With a capacity of 6 +1 rounds of big bore stopping power, it remains a very formidable package.
Most firearms manufacturers meet with initial success with a full size service pistol and later introduce compact and subcompact versions. Kahr took a 180-degree approach and upsized their 9mm and .40 S&W subcompacts to compact size. This time, we’ll consider the T40, a super sleek .40 S&W pistol with a 4-inch barrel. This pistol also features a longer, hand filling grip frame yet external dimensions are still a shade less than the classic 1911 “Commander”.
This pistol is still very thin and is virtually undetectable in an IWB holster. On the T40, as well as the T9, checkered Pau Ferro wood grips from Hogue are standard, giving it a very classy look. More utilitarian polymer frame variants (TP40 & TP9) are also available.
The most recent addition to the Kahr stable is the P380. Micro-size .380s are all the rage these days, and the P380 is among the best of the bunch. At only 4.5 inches long by 3.9 inches tall, this pistol defines small. The razor thin P380 is only 0.75 inches wide, which opens up even more discreet carry possibilities.
The P380 has already generated enough interest to spin off a number of variants. New for 2011 is an all-black copy and another with a loaded chamber indicator. This feature allows the P380 to meet legal criteria and pass muster in restrictive jurisdictions like California.
No matter what your taste in concealed carry hardware, Kahr has got you covered. Their extensive line is complete with enhanced, standard, and economy versions in different configurations to meet individual needs. Kahr pistols are reliable, well engineered pistols with excellent sights. Workmanship is a cut above and they come highly recommended.