Kahr CW4543 .45 ACP Semiauto

Shooting Times, February 2010, p. 64 – 65
By J. Guthrie

The proliferation of diminutive, high-quality .380 Auto pistols and new high-performance ammunition to match is a great thing for those who wish to go armed all of the time. Little pistols like the Ruger LCP, Kel-Tec P3AT, and Kahr P380 are easy to carry and conceal, and that means you will very likely have a firearm with you when you need it most. The only downside is that many will carry a .380 when they could and should be carrying a more substantial handgun in a more effective chambering. It is just too easy to slip that cute .380 in your pocket and go. Caveat emptor, friends; going into a fight armed with a .380 is a perilous endeavor.

Since 1994 Kahr has worked diligently to produce concealable handguns in duty-sized calibers. One of the firm’s latest creations, the CW4543, meets and exceeds the goal to downsize into a supremely concealable package and keep the pistol affordable. In order to lower the price, the CW series dispenses with several features found on the KP series, most notably drift-adjustable front sights and polygonal rifling. There are also fewer slide machining steps, which results in an extra ounce or two of weight.

How do you squeeze a .45 ACP cartridge into a pistol that measures 4.8 inches high, 6.32 inches long, and only 1 inch thick? Clever engineering.

First engineers moved the feedramp left of center, allowing the frame’s guts to move up. This decreases the frame’s depth and moves the bore’s axis closer to the firing hand. Kahr uses a strong nylon frame and 400-series stainless-steel magazine to decrease the grip circumference to nearly .40-caliber proportions. The CW4543 has one of the smallest—if not the smallest—.45-capable grips on the market.

The pistol is double action only (DAO), striker fired, and employs a Browning locked-breech, tilting-barrel design that is proven to say the least. A unique firing system—there are four patents associated with the trigger mechanism alone—utilizes a multi-lobed cam located at the frame’s rear. The trigger bar rotates the cam, pushing up the firing-pin block with one lobe and fully cocking and releasing the striker with the other. My sample pistol had a beautiful, smooth, 5-pound, 4-ounce trigger pull.

The slide is machined from 300-series stainless steel bar stock and has rear cocking serrations. The 3.64-inch barrel is machined from 4140 stainless steel, nickel plated for improved corrosion resistance, and has conventional cut rifling.

Firing controls are simple—a smooth stainless-steel trigger and conventionally placed magazine release and slide stop. Some parts, including the slide stop, magazine catch, and firing-pin block, are metal-injection-molded to save a few bucks. The pistol comes with an owner’s manual, one magazine, a polymer case, and a trigger lock.

Packed With Power

The offset feedramp is an innovation that allows other parts to move up in the frame and reduces the CW4543’s frame depth.

The pistol’s nylon frame and steel magazine combine to reduce the frame size to a manageable circumference, even for smaller hands.

The CW4543 comes with a drift-adjustable, white-dot rear sight and a staked-in, white-dot front sight.