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Kahr CM9 9mm Carry Gun Review

I have a few guns; guns for home defense, concealed carry, for fun, for sporting competition, and for hunting. The Kahr CM9 definitely fits right into the concealed carry profile, however it does it in a size and caliber which is a little unusual.  

For my concealed carry guns, I have three main carry guns which include my Glock 19 in a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe holster as my primary carry gun, my Ruger LCR 357 with a Clip Draw attached to just tuck in my pant or shorts when needed, and my Ruger LCP .380 when I want something small and light or as a backup.  That noted my Kahr CM9 has juggled that mix of carry guns a bit and has all but displaced the LCR and LCP quite often because it is nearly the same size as the LCP and just a bit more compact than the LCR. With more rounds of hotter ammo in about the same size, it is a quick decision on which I would gravitate toward.

Until about six months ago, I had written off Kahr arms as a brand I would consider. As a marketing professional, I generally steer clear of brands that use hot babes to sell products when it really is not required. Generally sex sells, however this type of advertising sends me the message that I need to be seduced into buying your product because the product cannot stand on its own.

Unfortunately Kahr featured a disproportionate babe to gun ratio in their ads, so I though they were all marketing hype until about six months ago when my FFL dealer handed me a Kahr pistol. Racking the slide and feeling the tight tolerances and crisp trigger pull changed my mind forever on Kahr pistols, however I still think there should be more gun and less chick in the ads. My wife loved the pistol but loathed the ads… something to consider as a huge group of female shooters enter the market.

Kahr Arms is now part of the Magnum Research, Thompson, and Auto Ordnance firearm family.  Justin Moon is the lead designer and a principle of Kahr Arms. I have always noted that elegant simplicity it hard and Kahr pistols are an example of that elegant simplicity in action. The saying of “If it was easy, everyone would do it” is reflected in the six patents held for the Kahr pistol design. 

Where Kahr is different than many firearms manufacturers is that they do full 3D design and modeling before beginning prototyping and manufacturing on high tolerance CNC machines.  It is clear to me after handling this CM9 that Kahr is making extremely fine quality firearms beyond what we see in many gun cases.

The first thing I must note is the lineage of the CM9 versus its parent PM9.  The PM9 was a huge hit for Kahr and provided a higher power 9mm pistol in a small 380ACP sized format.  The challenge was that not everyone wanted to pay for the extra slide milling, surface finishing, extra magazine, polygonal rifling, or metal sights; thus the CM9 was created.  The “economy” CM9 is functionally identical to the PM9 and shares the same magazines, but drops the superfluous extras to create a $517 MSRP ($470 Street) pistol that is $200 less expensive. Personally I do not think the looks suffer at all.

The fit is still exceptional and in fact better than any Glock, S&W, or Ruger I have handled and may even be a notch or two above some Sig Sauers I have shot. I like my Glocks and Rugers, however there is no comparison in fit and finish to the Kahr pistols even on this “less expensive” Kahr CM9.

From a finish perspective, the CM9 has a beautiful bead blast stainless slide and barrel and perfectly detailed polymer lower receiver. Many a big name brand pistol has been placed in my hand that still has sharp flashing casting marks, but the CM9 receiver was very nicely molded and finished. In the case of Kahr, it is the little things that add up to a much nicer finished pistol.

You should never buy a defensive carry gun such as this CM9 based on how comfortable it is in your hand.  The most important issues are ergonomics of operation and how comfortable it will be in your waistband or other concealed carry location. If you are holding a tiny little concealed carry gun long enough to think about how comfortable it is, then you are in a different fight that requires far more armament than a little 6+1 shot 9mm pistol. That said the Kahr CM9 is one of the most most comfortable tiny pistols to hold the exception of my pinky dangling in the air from a short grip.

Ruger LCP on to of Kahr CM9

The Kahr CM9 is almost as skinny as my Ruger LCP and almost as small, but far more comfortable to shoot. It is smaller than my Ruger LCR 357, thinner, almost the same weight, and holds more ammo. The best way I can describe the CM9 it is as a “densely packed little 9mm”. Overall I love the way this gun feels in my hand and disappears in my waistband. In addition to the size the CM9 is also pretty light at 14 oz equal to my LCR and only 4 oz heavier than my diminutive LCP.

Kahr CM9 on top of Ruger LCR

Kahr has a number of pistol configurations and all exclusively use a single stack magazine configuration. Kahr could certainly compete in the “my gun holds more ammo” contest, however I think they are competing with firearm designs which are uniquely slim in the market. My Glock 19 for example is significantly wider than the CM9.  The compact 380 size of this 9mm is a huge selling point for me and probably will be for any buyer as well as the lack of a safety or magazine safety are big features for me as well.

Kahr CM9 on top of Ruger LC9

The CM9 is a 6+1 capacity 9mm pistol with a 3.0″ barrel with standard rifling.  The frame is meticulously formed black polymer and is matted to a stainless bead blast finished slide. The CM9 loses the polygonal rifling, a spare magazine, attractive slide milling and surface finishing, metal sights, a rolled versus milled slide markings, and a formed vs milled slide release. With the exception of picking up a couple extra magazines, will you miss all those extra features if you have to fend off an attacker attempting to do you harm at a typical 7’ or less? Not likely and you you saved $200 in the process with no loss in reliability.

Size comparison

The CM9 is a trigger cocking DAO lock breech “Browning – type” recoil lug action with a passive striker block.  All this means that by pulling the trigger on the CM9 unlocks the passive firing pin block, cocks the pistol and fires the gun. The mechanism is a stunningly simply cam which both unlock the firing pin and cocks and fires the firing pin. Essentially the gun is safe without a safety until the trigger is pulled and greatly simplifies required operations in times of stress. The gun’s feed ramp has been mirror polished to assure feeding which is not something you see on pistols of this price range.

I picked up an extra standard magazine and an extended 7-round magazine.  The 7- round magazine completes the grip profile, gives your pinky finger something to grab onto, and adds a little more control.

Sights are drift adjustable white bar-dot combat sights.  This is my first experience with a bar-dot sight, however it seemed to be really fast on target and provided a clear picture of the the target. Some will say that the front plastic sight is inferior to metal, however there are plenty Glock and Magpul AR owners who seem to be doing just fine with them.  The sights are plenty durable and the rear metal sight handled me using it over and over as a catch to rack the slide on my belt for a single handed tap and rack maneuver. For the intended purpose these sights are just fine and could be swapped out for something different if the shooter desired.

Functionally this is a slim concealed carry pistol without the extra junk you don’t need that will just get you hung up.  No magazine safety – yes! No safety  – yes! This two moronic safety devices can get you killed if you ever need to really use your gun. I will never carry a gun which will not operate just like a revolver; pull trigger and the gun goes bang.

This point was exhibited during my in state concealed carry class a few months ago during a stress induced drill where the instructor was yelling at the student. Take One – The guy next to me pulls his gun and jerks the trigger but nothing happens; he had accidentally hit the magazine release during the previous re-holster so the magazine “ safety” had prevented the one potentially life saving round from exiting the gun. Take Two – Same guy pulls his previously decocked gun to fire and pulls the trigger to find nothing happens again; safety was on and the fictitious training attacker kills him. If you are that concerned with having a safe gun, carry it with a chamber empty and practice draw charge shoot drills. This CM9 is a perfectly designed firearm from my perspective

These examples are why I love, love, love, the little Kahr CM9. If there is something in the chamber when I pull the trigger it will go bang even if the magazine is ajar. Operations is as simple as any Glock but in a far smaller more concealable package.

My preferred carry method has either been in my jacket pocket or via a ClipDraw adapter.  I shortened and added a Universal ClipDraw adapter to the right side of the frame as I have featured previously on my my LCR and LCP.  The ClipDraw transforms the versatility of a small light weight gun into something you end up carrying constantly; just clip the gun right into my pants for simple, fast, easy and secure carry. The CM9 now goes with me everywhere. My Ruger LCR 357 has been carried this way for some time, however due to the more narrow profile, the CM9 has been far more comfortable to carry with two extra rounds on tap and the ability for a quick reload.

The trigger on the Kahr will sell you in the store and on the range.  It has about a ¼” longer trigger pull than a Glock, but no where near as long trigger pull of a double action only revolver or the mile long trigger pulls of the Ruger LCP and LC9 pistols.  The CM9’s crisp trigger is quite impressive and delivers excellent accuracy from this tiny little carry gun.

As this is a concealed carry gun, I tested accuracy at reasonable defensive distances from point blank to 7-yards (21 feet) and found the Kahr CM9 quite accurate.  At the longer 7 yard distances I was able to deliver standing two hand supported 12-round 1.3” group with Hornady 115gr Critical Defense ammo which is excellent for this size pistol. Heck I could rabbit hunt with this thing.

The gun is tight and should have at least 200 rounds run through the gun to smooth everything out. I had one stovepipe with some target reloads. Since then I have put several hundred rounds though the gun with no functional issues what-so-ever and would consider the CM9 as reliable as any other quality gun you would stake your life on.

My preference for this gun is a 115gr round not necessarily in the +P range. The 124gr+ rounds in hot +P velocities can become a little snappy for some more sensitive shooters, however in a defensive situation, I am sure the extra power would be not be noticed. With a 115gr round, it is fun to shoot for the first 100 rounds and then the light weight and small size remind you that it is not a target pistol.

The Kahr CM9 is a little less expensive than your standard sub-compact Glock, Ruger, or S&W, however I think it is a better carry gun that any gun I have seen yet from those manufactures. Obviously it does not compete with the full capacity 15+round pistols, however it is a size which whill find a home in your waistband more than those larger firearms.

The CM9 has exceptional quality, fit and finish, and functioned perfectly after break-in.  Most importantly this is a small accurate and reliable little gun that is easy to carry and will be with you when you need it vs back home in the safe. A gun is only good protection if you are carrying it and seems to be displacing several of my go to standards because of its size, weight and features. For those that want an in between size without sacrificing power, the CM9 is great compact concealed carry gun that will find a home in your front or back pockets, a purse or a waistband.

CM9093 (3.0″ Barrel)
Black polymer frame, matte stainless slide
MSRP: $517.00
Ships with one magazine only
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 6+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 3.0″, conventional rifling; 1 – 10 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 5.42″
Height: 4.0″
Slide Width: .90″
Weight: Pistol 14 ounces, Magazine 1.9 ounces
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable, white bar-dot combat sights
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
Magazine: 1 – 6 rd flush floorplate

Kahr Arms