My interest in firearms began when I was a child, paying close attention to the gear used by security staff working in our family business. These men were experienced, highly skilled, former law enforcement officers. They knew their way around firearms, and were willing to take the time to humor a young boy fascinated by their skills and gear. I learned a great deal from them, and began a life-long interest in shooting sports. I also began thinking about the firearms themselves, and what made them work. Little did I know that this would lead to me becoming a gun designer.
In college I focused on academics, but never forgot about my interest in guns. I looked at the firearms market at the time. The era of the “Wonder Nine” had just begun, with shooters demanding new designs in double-stacked 9mm pistols. Manufacturers jumped to respond with law enforcement, duty oriented pistols. Some were revolutionary, others not so much. I felt I could do better. I also found a gap in the range of options available.
With few exceptions, most new gun designs emphasized duty carry firearms. Size and bulk were not important to gun makers who envisioned their products carried in a belt holster, fully exposed. I wanted something that could be easily carried concealed. The great surge in concealed carry nationwide had yet to happen, but there were plenty of individuals who needed a quality semi-automatic pistol small enough to easily carry discreetly. The problem for existing designs was reducing their scale while retaining an effective defensive caliber.
Various smaller gun companies attempted to address this, but their efforts were not successful. Typically their small, 9mm handguns were harsh to shoot, unreliable, and inaccurate. I knew it was possible to make a compact, 9mm pistol that would be easy to shoot, utterly reliable, and exceptionally accurate. I would make this design and bring it to market. I knew the customers were out there, they just lacked a good product to buy. Most settled on .380 or smaller caliber, direct blowback pistols; or a compact revolver for their compact carry needs. My design would change that forever.
I set to work sketching on paper the basic mechanism that would become the patented Kahr offset recoil lug design. This allowed for a delayed blowback system, using a standard 9mm caliber, while keeping the pistol compact enough for easy concealed carry. Those original sketches became the Kahr K9, the gun that began the 9mm single stack pistol revolution. Looking back at this now, it was hard to foresee the impact this would have on firearms design. Today many gun makers produce pistols for concealed carry that are essentially following the same principle as the K9: single stack, 9mm caliber, easily concealed. However, that is not the entire recipe of the K9. It brought to the table the notion that such guns did not need to sacrifice accuracy or reliability, for concealability. To this day this concept is an essential belief at Kahr firearms. Every gun must be accurate, and reliable. It is what the customer needs, what the customer deserves, and what we deliver.
Founder, and CEO
Kahr Firearms Group