Fast, flat, concealable–one of the best OFF-DUTY PISTOLS yet!
Guns and Weapons for Law Enforcement, July 2007, p. 56 – 61
By Rich Grassi
Kahr TP45 is a 7-shot, 23 ounce .45 ACP.
1) The Kahr TP45 was tested for accuracy with the four loads shown.
2) Except for the vertical stringing in this effort, the three Winchester SXT JHP hits up high gave the best view of gun/ammo capability.
3) There are four holes in the “headbox” of the target. The lower hole, only a little larger than the others, has two bullets through it.
A 20-something-ounce .45ACP pistol should kick like a mule. It shouldn’t be accurate either. You have to give up something to get something. Our subject here is a pistol that holds the 7 + 1 capacity of the original 1911 pistol at a fraction of the weight, while being smaller and still being capable of gunfight accuracy. That’s the Kahr TP45.
If you can only carry a semi-auto that holds 10 rounds or less, do you want a smaller caliber gun or would you prefer the .45ACP? A .45 that doesn’t fit your hand because it’s too big or that you won’t wear because it’s heavy and hard to hide will do you no good.
This single-stack .45ACP weights in at less than 21 ounces empty. The total empty weight comes in at a little over 23 ounces. Add eight .45ACP rounds, around 6 ounces if 230-grain bullets are used, and you still weigh in at less than 30 ounces.
The barrel length is a traditional 4.04 inches and features polygonal rifling. The polygonal rifling is known for increasing muzzle velocities and being unjacketed-lead-unfriendly. I recommend jacketed bullets in these guns. Like other Kahr double-action-only pistols, this flyweight .45 is ‘partly cocked’ when a round is chambered. The trigger pull serves to draw the striker back to the firing position and release it to allow firing. It is reset in the firing cycle.
More than a pocket pistol cartridge, the .45ACP requires that the gun fire from a locked breech. The gun has Browning-type recoil lug. This delays the action from opening until pressure has dropped. The barrel drops as the empty is extracted and ejected. After the slide makes its furthermost travel to the rear, it comes forward stripping the top round off the magazine and chambering it. The barrel is pushed up and forward into battery with the slide.
The TP45 has a passive striker block. Like other Kahr pistols, there is no magazine disconnector. If the gun is in battery, it will fire with or without the magazine in place. Check the chamber while pointing it in a safe direction.
The TP45 doesn’t neatly fit into a category. Sure, the gripping part of the frame is long enough to house 7 rounds of .45ACP. The barrel is a service-length of little over 4 inches. The 1911 started out with five, but since the 1960s our definitions of service size dwindled from 5-inch barrels to 4. Certain mavericks liked the 3.5-inch .357 Magnum of old, but mostly the troops had .38s and they were 5- or 6-inch guns.
The advent of the Commander and Model 39 autopistols followed an established trend of the P-08 (not the Artillery Model) and P-38 pistols, as well as the P35.
Now we have the present pistol. Easily small enough to be an “off-duty,” some of us like small guns, leaving the heavier hardware for details with uniforms, armor and radio. The TP45 has 7 + 1 capacity of .45ACP, but is light. It’s flat, a big deal when hiding guns.
Smart concealed carry practitioners will tell you that the gripping component is the hardest part of the gun to hide. They’re right. But you can dress around the gun and change the way you perform certain acts, and even this petite cannon disappears.
As I write this, news of the Salt Lake City mall shooting is still fresh. The off-duty officer allegedly had only the ammo in his pistol, the rumor now is that it was 8 rounds of .45ACP. I wish he’d have thought to carry a spare magazine, but his gun and ammo did the trick. This time.
The TP45 is light and handy enough to make it easier to carry the gun with spare ammo. And handcuffs.
Like other Kahr pistols, the TP45 has minimalist controls, the slide stop is over the trigger and the magazine release button is behind it.
The impressed checkering, this on the front strap, is sharp to the touch. It’s not noticed during firing, though.
The TP45 is the most slender, easily gripped .45ACP in the author’s experience.
The Kahr TP45 is shown with the Bianchi Model 5 Black Widow belt slide.
The TP45 was a good fit in the Bianchi Black Widow Belt Slide holster.
The Winchester 230gr SXT HP is a good example of a non-+P duty/defense load for the TP45.
There were no real surprises, Kahr quality seems undiminished since the K9 I bought back in the mid-1990s. The newest Kahr has the same smooth, longish trigger pull as the gun of that era. The impressed checkering on the front and rear straps is sharp. While just handling the gun, I wondered how much fun it’d be to shoot.
The holster I used for the TP45 was the Bianchi International Model 5. Also called the “Black Widow,” this belt slide holster has an open muzzle design. This allows the rig to fit the K9-K40, but not quite the TP45. While the gun fit well enough, the TP45 is just a little too big to allow the thumb-break snap to close over the gun.
The belts slots are widely spaced and pull the gun close to the body. The gun rides high enough to enhance concealability but it’s not so high that I can’t get the gun out. The holster is stable on the belt. The gun doesn’t flop back and forth during movement. The double stitching is strong and the holster is molded to the gun. I really like this holster and hope they make one for the Kahr .45 line.
I began just trying to get a feel for the pistol. After emptying some remanufactured hardball ammo, I settled down for the accuracy test. Taking a seat behind the bench and using a range bag for a rest, I fired 5-shot groups at a 25-yard target. I felt that 25 yards was a fair distance to shoot such a pistol and the Kahr didn’t disappoint.
While being the most abrasive load to shoot, the Black Hill 230-grain JHP +P was the most accurate. Five of the bullets cut into a 3.75-inch group with the best three inside of 2.13 inches. The load shot high. That’s good performance from such a lightweight .45ACP.
Target ammo, specifically Remington’s magnificent 185-grain MCWC (metal case wadcutter), shot beautifully. It’s easier on the shooter and works this little gun fast enough. Five of the paper-cutting slugs clustered into 4 inches with three going into 2.25 inches. Two of those cut into a single hole. I wouldn’t recommend carrying the light-kicking, non-expanding target bullet for duty/self-defense.
Winchester 230-grain SXT HP is more to my liking. A non-+P round, it has the expanding bullet and is a little hotter without beating one’s brains out. My accuracy effort was wanting, five bullets into a 6.25 inches group. But the best three went into a very nice 2-inch group. The vertical stringing in the group was evidence of the shooter’s involvement in the debacle. It wasn’t the gun or ammo.
Finally, Federal’s 230-grain Hydra-Shok HP round put five rounds into 5 inches, not its best performance. Again, the best three measurement tells the tale. Three rounds were nicely centered on the target into a 1.75-inch group.
I conducted handing drills and mixed the ammo up in the magazines. I used the NRA TQ-21 target for this element of the test. While I’d had a few minor stoppages, mostly failures to go into battery at the outset, the TP45 cleaned up and chugged on without failures as we passed into 200-round territory. That’s when I mixed the ammo up.
The great Remington 185-grain “soft-ball” midrange ammo was the culprit when I got failures during this mixed-ammo test. At that, stoppages were few. Shooting was done from 25 yards in, doing singles and pairs from the holster and from ready. Up close, I did some “target focus” shooting, where the Kahr line excels. That natural grip frame shape and angle really helps. I did some failures to stop and pairs in 0.80 of a second from the ready.
I also did pivots and turns. The draw wasn’t an issue, especially since I couldn’t snap in over the slightly bigger gun with my K9 Bianchi holster.
All rounds hit inside the (generous size) scoring area of the TQ-21 target. It looks like there are three hits in the head area of the target. Actually, there are four. Two are in one, slightly wider hole.
The Kahr TP45 is fast, flat, concealable. Potentially, it’s their best pistol yet, particularly if you’re a fan of the .45ACP cartridge. The trigger and function were all I’ve come to expect from Kahr. The checkering, while sharp to the touch, wasn’t really noticed during firing. It’d be helpful if the hands were sweaty, wet from rain or from blood.
Like other Kahr efforts, the TP45 is “draw, point, press” pistol without extraneous switches, levers or plungers. It’s a streamlined fighting gun. The rear edge of the slide stop is sharp and needs to be rounded. This is no new complaint. It’s hard to beat Kahr for compact, easily handled, good feeling carry guns. The NYPD believes in Kahr. So do I.
|Performance: Kahr TP45 .45ACP|
|Black Hills 230 JHP +P||3.75||2.13|
|Remington 185 MCWC||4.00||2.25|
|Winchester 230 SXT HP||6.25||2.00|
|Federal 230 Hydra-Shok HP||5.00||1.75|
|Bullet weight measured in grains and accuracy in inches for groups fired off a bench, seated, gun gripped over a bag at 25 yards.|