I’ve always been a big fan, of little guns – that pack some serious knock down power. I remember first reading about the (then) new Kahr Arms 9mm pistol, and whoever wrote about it claimed the double-action only trigger was butter smooth. Well, it wasn’t until about five years ago, that I actually saw my first Kahr in a gun shop. For some reason, all the gun shops I regularly haunted, never had a Kahr in-stock – new or used. As soon as I felt how good the Kahr K9 felt in my hands, and the super-smooth trigger pull on it was, I was sold – I walked out with the gun and a holster for it that very hour.
There has been a big tread the past half dozen years or so, for very small concealed carry guns. While I seriously applaud this, and the gun companies are finally listening to the consumers, most of these guns in the past few years have been in .380 ACP. Anyone who follows my writings know that, I’m not a big fan of the .380 ACP cartridge as my first-line of defense – as a back-up, yeah! However, over the past couple of years, ammo makers have been giving the little .380 ACP a real boost in power, and with JHP ammo that actually expands, and penetrates. However, I still, personally only carry a .380 ACP as a back-up to my main handgun. A lot of folks think that it’s over-kill, to carry two handguns, I don’t! You never know when your main gun might malfunction, run out of ammo, or actually break – when you need it the most. And, I believe this comes from years of being a PI and a cop – I always carried a second gun – never know what kind of trouble you might run into, and need the second gun, or to arm a loved one or friend, who might be able to aid you.
Well, since purchasing my very first Kahr Arms pistol several years ago, a number of their outstanding firearms has passed through my hands, some in .380 ACP, some in 9mm, some in .40 S&W and the winner is, the grand ol’ .45 ACP. A couple years ago, I got my hands on the Kahr CW45 – and it was (and is) and outstanding handgun for concealed carry – with 6+1 rounds on-tap, and a spare mag on my belt. However, it just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, for some strange reason. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Kahr CW45 – nothing! Several months ago, I contacted Frank Harris, who is Kahr’s head honcho in the Marketing department, and requested a Kahr PM45. And, as usual, Kahr was backed-up with orders, and I had to wait a month for my sample PM45 to arrive – but the wait was well worth it.
The PM45 is what I was looking for in a Kahr, for a concealed carry handgun. At only slightly more than 19-oz unloaded, with an empty mag, the PM45 feels like the gun will float out of your hand. The CW45 carries 6+1 rounds, the PM45 is 5+1 rounds, but in my humble opinion, it’s worth sacrificing that one round for the added concealability and compactness the PM45 affords. With a stainless steel slide, and a 3.24″ Bbl, and black polymer frame, we are talking about a super-small .45 ACP handgun. The polymer frame is heavily textured, so much so, that I took some extra-fine sandpaper to it, to get the “points” off the texturing – they were sharp, to be sure. I’m sure, over time, the points would have wore down a bit, but I planned on doing a lot of shooting, and didn’t want the sharp texturing abrading my hand.
The PM45 comes with bar-dot sights – and the sights are steel, on the CW45, the front sight is polymer and pinned in place. On the PM45, the front and rear sight can be moved for windage adjustments – no adjustments were required – and I’ve never had to adjust the sights on any Kahr handgun – they are dead-on from the box. The PM45 also comes with a spare magazine – the CW45 doesn’t. The PM45 also has nicer contours to the slide than the CW45 does – I like the look and feel of the PM45 a lot.
We have an overall length of only 5.79″ and a height of only 4.49″ and width of only 1.01″ – so we’re talking about a very compact .45ACP carry gun, to be sure. You can also order your PM45 with night sights, too – I elected to just go with the standard sights for some reason. The barrel on the PM45 is a bit better than the barrel on the CW45 – not that there is a lot of difference when it comes to accuracy, but it is slightly better in the accuracy department than the CW45 is. You can read all the differences between the various .45ACP models on the Kahr web site, and they make quite a few variations in all calibers.
First thing I did with my Kahr PM45 was mount a Crimson Trace (CT) laser on the gun, and in my humble opinion, there isn’t a better laser for the Kahr line of handguns than the Crimson Trace line. I’ve been using their lasers almost since day one, and they are top-notch in all respects. The CT laser for the PM45 fits onto the trigger guard, and when properly attached, the CT laser looks just like it was actually a part of the PM45. And, the best part is, CT lasers are easy-on, and easy-off. Just take a proper grip on the gun, and the laser is activated – just that simple. And, CT has a new policy, in that, they will supply you with batteries for your CT laser, for life. How can you beat that deal? And, in my opinion, the CT laser is a worthy investment for the PM45. I’ve used CT lasers forever, and I’ve only had a problem with one, and returned it to the factory and it was repaired and returned inside of a week – how’s that for customer service? To be sure, CT manufactures their lasers for many of the Kahr handguns – as well as most popular handguns, check out their web site.
Now, most people will be led to believe, that a .45ACP pistol, as small as the Kahr PM45 is, will “kick” a lot – well, to be honest, there is some recoil there, but not nearly as much as you might think. I had my usual assortment of .45ACP ammo on-hand for testing. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition. I had their 185 grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, 200 grain JHP +P, 230 grain JHP +P and their 255 grain Hard Cast FN load – also +P. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 230 grain FMJ, 185 grain JHP, 185 grain Barnes TAC-XP +P load. And, a couple fairly new loads, their 185 grain JHP steel-cased load, and their 230 grain FMJ steel-cased load. Now, don’t get these steel-cased confused with the dirty-shooting Russian-made steel cased loads – they are worlds apart. Black Hills started using steel-cased ammo because they couldn’t find enough of once-fired .45 ACP brass cases for making reloaded ammo. Their steel-cased new ammo is priced right, and there is no comparison between this steel-cased ammo and the Russian stuff – Black Hills wins, hands-down. From Winchester, I used their white box USA-brand 230 grain FMJ ammo – always a good shooter for plinking or target practice – as well as self-defense.
Okay, so how did the little Kahr PM45 shoot? Well, I had no problems with any of the ammo – the PM45 never missed a beat. Kahr recommends that you shoot at least 200 rounds through their guns before you can consider them reliable enough for self-defense. My PM45 never skipped a beat – with any of the ammo. I put well over 500 rounds through the little Kahr, and there wasn’t a hint of a functioning problem. I kept my shooting at 15-yards or closer – which is what this little pistol was meant for – close-up and dirty self-defense work. However, it is capable of really good accuracy out to 25-yards if you do your part. As for accuracy – the winner was the Buffalo Bore 200 grain JHP+P load – if I did my part, I could keep the groups at 2-1/2 inches at 15-yards. However, the Black Hills 230 grain FMJ load was right on the heels of the Buffalo Bore load. I’ve found that the Black Hills 230 grain FMJ load usually provides me with match-grade accuracy – and it is not a match load!
Kahr recommends that you steer clear of steel-cased ammo, but I didn’t have any problems with feeding or extraction, using the Black Hills 185 grain JHP or 230 grain FMJ steel-cased loads – no problems at all. And, I was really surprised at the accuracy from these steel-cased loads. The Buffalo Bore 255 grain Hard Cast FN +P load – needless to say, that hummer really “kicked” the most. This is a round you load-up, when you’re out hiking in the boonies, and you might encounter some serious threat from a 4-legged critter, like a black bear. This round will make that black bear wish they were some place else, to be sure. I didn’t do any penetration tests with this load, using the Kahr PM45, but I’ve tested this load in other .45 ACP chambered handguns, and it penetrates like your wouldn’t believe.
I burned-up a lot of Winchester USA white box 230 grain FMJ ammo in my testing. I’ve always liked this load, for target practice and just plain ol’ plinking fun. It’s affordable and very accurate. I probably put 200 rounds of this ammo through the little Kahr, with no problems. I liked the 185 grain Barnes all-copper +P load from Buffalo Bore and the same Barnes load from Black Hills for self-defense, but neither one of these loads proved to be the accuracy winner – and I was surprised. However, my wife wanted a Kahr PM45 of her own – so she “borrowed” my sample…and I had to request a second PM45 from Kahr for myself – this one with the black finish on the slide. And, this sample really loved the 185 grain Barnes all-copper hollow point +P load from Buffalo Bore and Black Hills. Just goes to show, that not all guns are alike – even two identical guns, from the same maker – only difference was the finish on the slide – other than that, they were identical. But the black slide sample preferred the Barnes loads from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore for best accuracy – and they were in a dead-tied for accuracy in my second sample. Go figure? It really does pay to test different types and brands of ammo, if you are looking for the most accurate load for your guns. And, it pays to test different ammo for different tasks, too.
The trigger-pull on the PM45 samples I had, were the best I’ve ever encountered on any DAO pistol – even better than some of the other Kahr handguns I’ve tested. To be sure, and without a doubt, the trigger-pulls were like driving a high performance sports car – and I’ve driven a few in my life. While the trigger-pull is a little long on the Kahr, there isn’t a glitch in it – just pulls like cutting through melted butter – I kid you not! I think what I really liked about the PM45 is that, the grip circumference – it’s the smallest around than any other .45 ACP handgun that I’m aware of – and this includes some 2-shot derringers, too. I’m not sure how Kahr was able to pull this off…my wife, who is like most women, has small hands, and she found the grip circumference to her liking – she couldn’t believe how great the PM45 felt in her hand. I believe that, the grip circumference on the PM45 also helped tame the recoil. While shooting the Buffalo Bore +P loads (that are hot) were attention getters, it wasn’t nearly as bad as one would expect from such a tiny pistol. That’s saying a lot in my book.
While I like the Kahr CW45, the PM45 is all that much better. Yes, the PM45 retails for a lot more than the CW45 does – the PM45 is $855 for the stainless steel slide version. However, if you ask me, I believe the PM45 is all that much more gun than the CW45. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the CW45 – but Kahr spoiled me with the PM45. So, if you’re in the market, for one of the smallest .45 ACP semiauto pistols on the market, take a close look at the Kahr PM45. It will serve your survival needs quite well – be it street survival or hiking out in the boonies – with the right load, this gun will take care of the job at hand. And, I’m betting you’ll also want to add a Crimson Trace laser to your Kahr, too. It is hard to beat this combo in my humble opinion. Be sure to check out Kahr’s webs site, they have a lot of accessories, clothing, holsters, spare mags, etc., for their handguns.