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Best ever lightweight carry gun for double-duty defense!

GUN TEST | Complete Book of Autopistols 2008, p. 40 – 44
By Paul Markel

The CW9 9mm from Kahr is a compact, lightweight pistol for personal defense.

The author testing the Kahr CW9 DAO pistol.

“It was one of the scariest moments of my life,” a friend related to me. “I was sitting in my hotel room and we were talking on the phone. All of sudden I hear the dog barking like crazy and she puts the phone down. It was only a couple of minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before she came back on the line.”

The gentleman in question travels quite often and, like most husbands who do so, he would make a daily call home in the evening to talk with his wife and family. This particular call was late, around 10 p.m. While they were talking the family dog heard someone outside the front door and responded appropriately.

This, however, was not a late evening caller; it was a potential intruder. Someone outside had pulled the screen door open and tried to force the front door. My friend’s wife dropped the telephone and hurried to grab a handgun stored nearby. Her children were upstairs in their rooms and no one was going get near them. She heard commotion on the front porch, as whomever it was hit the metal porch railing and went over it while trying to get away.

The police were summoned and they searched the outside of the house and surrounding neighborhood. No suspects were found, but they left with a promise to make routine patrols of the area.

This story came up while a few of my peers and I were talking about travel and leaving our wives at home to “guard the fort,” as it were. One of my comrades had decided that it was time to get his wife a gun of her own for protection at home and when she was out in public.

Every day across the USA, men walk into gun stores to purchase a firearm for their spouse. I went along for the ride this time while my friend shopped for a gun for his beloved.

The gun store we went to was pretty typical. There were hundreds of handguns, revolvers, cowboy guns, M1911s, derringers, Glocks, and everything in between. Even for an experienced shooter the choices were a bit overwhelming.

Before the salesman reaches into the case and starts handing you pistols you need to answer one primary question: What is the primary purpose of the defensive pistol? Home defense, concealed carry, both? If the gun is for home defense only, then weight and size aren’t as much of factor. However, if the handgun is going to do double-duty as both a concealed carry and home defense it needs to be compact and lightweight enough to be discreetly carried.

Gun Details

The CW9 gave very good results during rapid fire drills.

Kahr CW9 DAO 9mm pistol.
Note the Hogue HandAll grip.

The CW9 disassembles easily for maintenance.

Test ammunition was from CorBon and Winchester.

The world is an imperfect place; train to fight from all positions.

After narrowing the choices down to a handful, my comrade decided on the Kahr CW9 9mm pistol with its single-stack magazine and double-action-only trigger. As this was my first experience with this particular handgun, my friend was kind enough to allow me to test and evaluate the Kahr.

As far as specifications go, the CW9 has a molded black polymer frame mated to a matte stainless steel slide. The 3.6-inch stainless steel barrel has a 1-in-10-inch right hand twist. Both the trigger and slide stop are stainless as well. The sights are fixed but the rear sight is drift adjustable.

The biggest selling point for this Kahr pistol is the compact, sleek design. It is meant to be carried. The slide is a mere 0.90 of an inch wide and all the corners on the gun are polished and rounded so as not to cause discomfort to the wearer.

As mentioned previously, the pistol is fed by a single-column magazine. Capacity is 7 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. The grip frame is compact and those with medium to large hands will find their pinky finger dangling from the bottom. Should that be a concern, Kahr offers an extended floor plate version of the magazine.

Regarding controls, the CW9 pistol has only two external controls; the slide stop/catch and a magazine release button. Both are located in the usual places. The DAO trigger negates the need for any kind of decocking lever and all safety features are internal and passive. The extractor is external and can be seen on the right side of the slide.

My friend also purchased a Hogue HandAll. This soft rubber slip-on grip gave the hard polymer frame a bit more surface area and made shooting more comfortable.

Load Velocity Accuracy
CorBon 115 DPX 1112 1.75
CorBon 125 JHP 1108 1.57
Winchester USA 115 FMJ 1023 1.50
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) and accuracy in inches for best 5-shot group from 15 yards.

Range Time

For my range time I would work with practice ammunition from the Winchester USA line and defensive loads from CorBon to include their DPX line and standard jacketed hollow point round.

In addition to basic chronographing and slow-fire precision I tested the pistol from contact distance out to around 10 yards. During the initial portion of the test I found that the DAO trigger was indeed very smooth and easy to manage.

After a few magazines of slow, deliberate fire I decided to take a more dynamic approach. I fired the gun single-handed with my strong hand then switched over to the left. Experience has taught me that if a semi-automatic pistol is going to have problems cycling, a loose hold with the non-dominant hand will bring them out. No such problems occurred with this Kahr pistol.

During my second shooting session with the pistol I was out on the range with a number of others. It was the typical Sunday afternoon crowd. Many men were out on the range with their wives. They were coaching them and showing the ladies how to shoot their handguns, rifles and shotguns.

What I witnesses was a common sight. Husbands and wives would walk out to about the 10-yard line. The man loads the gun for the woman, hands it to her, and steps to the side as she fires off a magazine of ammunition until the slide locks back. The man then takes the gun from the wife and either reloads it or heads down to check the target.

That is just fine if you are giving your beloved spouse a cursory introduction to firearms. However, and this is a big however, if your hope is to teach your wife to fire a handgun when you are gone, don’t you think she should be able to load and make it ready?

I’ve been in the “gun biz” for some 20-plus years now and have seen this play out on public ranges time and again. The wife is handed a loaded, ready to fire pistol and shoots a continuous slow-fire string to slide-lock. Friends, if you are hoping to equip your beloved with the skills to defeat evil, and that’s what a home invader is, she needs more. That woman needs to take an empty pistol, load, chamber, and fire it fast and furiously into the target, and then reload it and prepare to do it again.

Get her off of the 10-yard line and move down to “bad breath&sdquo; range. Have her point and shoot quickly, then do it again. Make her practice one-handed shooting and shoot from awkward positions such as down on one knee or flat on her back.

Yes, the world is an imperfect place, sometimes you end up on your butt. You can’t call time-out and stand back up. You must continue the fight. The first time you fire from an awkward position should not be in the middle of a fight for your life. Start out slow and practice it on the range.

Final Notes

When you are looking for a handgun to do double-duty as a carry gun and home protection piece, the Kahr CW9 pistol is a viable choice. A larger, heavier handgun that holds 15-plus rounds of ammunition is a comfort to have at home but is not one that will conceal well and therefore, is not likely to be where you need it to be.

Thankfully, we don’t have to fight for our lives on a regular basis and the chances of being in a mortal conflict are low. This fact, nonetheless, does not negate the need to prepare for just such an event. You don’t buy car insurance and then start driving recklessly or purchase a fire extinguisher and then start playing with matches. You train with a firearm so that you will be prepared to succeed in the most violent and dangerous encounter imaginable.

Thorough, dedicated training also offers a more intangible benefit. It gives your loved one genuine confidence and mental solace. At the same time you can travel and be away from home knowing that your spouse is both mentally and physically prepared to defend herself. This peace of mind you cannot buy.