By Massad Ayoob, Personal Defense World
Time goes by quickly. It has been many years now since Justin Moon debuted his first Kahr pistol, the K9. That first trim Kahr has spawned a long line of popular concealed carry sidearms.
The K9 quickly proved that it was no dog. My first one gave me 25-yard groups as tight as 1.88 inches for five shots with the most accurate 9mm ammunition, such as Federal’s 115-grain 9BP and Winchester’s Olin Super Match 147-grain subsonic, both jacketed hollow points. However, its all-steel construction made it seem heavy for its size, and a clamor arose in the marketplace for something lighter. Kahr Arms chose the polymer route rather than the aluminum-frame models.
Now offering dozens of variations in calibers .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, Kahr has kept certain features consistent throughout its line. One is its signature slimness, made possible in large part by Justin Moon’s ingenious concept of a slightly offset feed ramp. As a result, they can advertise a 9mm pistol whose slide is only 0.9 inches wide, and a .45 ACP carry gun measuring only 1.01 inches in that dimension. To keep their pistols slim, flat, and oh-so-comfortable inside the waistband, Kahr does not offer anything with a double-stack magazine. Even their “Target” model is slim and compact enough for easy concealed carry.
A standout in the line-up, in my opinion, is the CM9, introduced in 2011. This is essentially an economy version of their outstanding little Kahr PM9, which set a new benchmark for “slim-nines,” or super-slim 9mm carry pistols.
The CM9 and the PM9 are identically small in height and length. The CM9 weighs 14 ounces, and its six-round magazine, another 1.9 ounces. Weight specifications are exactly the same for the PM9. The CM9 measures 0.9 inches across its slide; so does the PM9. Each has the same smooth, easy double-action-only trigger pull, in the low 6-pound range, for every shot.
What’s different? The slide is sculpted a bit differently. The front sight of the CM9 is fixed in place, not in a dovetail like the PM9’s. The lettering on the slide appears more Spartan, more crudely stamped. Night sights are not listed as a factory option on the CM9, though they are on the PM9.
Oh, and one more thing. Kahr lists its manufacturer suggested retail price for the CM9 as $460. They list the price for the PM9 as $739, and $857 with the optional night sights.
When the CM9 first came out in 2011, it was $221 cheaper than its predecessor, the PM9. Today, at the prices just listed here, the value advantage of the CM9 is even more stark: it’s now $279 less than the PM9.
It shot pretty much where it looked, right out of the box—something I don’t get much of the time even with far more expensive guns, believe me. I don’t have the notes in front of me as I write this, unfortunately, but I do remember that it put five rounds of Black Hills 124-grain 9mm jacketed hollow point into less than 2 inches at 25 yards, and an absolutely magnificent “best three shots” cluster at the same distance with 115-grain Mag-Tech full metal jacket.
Despite the light weight, recoil is quite controllable, and not at all unpleasant. The only thing you might find unpleasant would the sharp rear corners of the slide stop, both on top and on bottom, and even that depends how you hold the pistol. If you shoot left-handed, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you hold it with a primary right-hand grasp, those little corners can bite the thumb, if you let that part of the hand make contact with that part of the pistol. Curling the thumb down, revolver-style, will certainly keep the thumb away from the sharp corners of the slide stop/slide release lever, but now you may find that your thumb blocks the completion of the index finger’s trigger stroke. I’ve learned to shoot Kahrs with a high thumbs grasp to prevent either problem from occurring.
Kahr was the first gun company to come out of the closet and recommend a 200-round break in before using their pistol for anything serious. Some folks, usually found on the Internet or “around the cracker barrel” at the gun shop, have suggested that this is an admission on Kahr’s part of poor quality control.
I beg to differ.
For years before Kahr pistols existed, this writer made the same recommendation for any new pistol, and still does. Hilton Yam, the master tactical gunsmith who runs 10-8 Performance, reportedly recommends a 1,000-round break-in for any new service or self-defense pistol. It simply makes good sense. It’s analogous to those slow first few hundred miles every automobile manufacturer suggests we put on one of their new cars before putting pedal to the metal at Autobahn speed.
The CM9 I tested went its first 200 rounds without a single malfunction. The same was true of its next 200. And its next…
One price you pay for that wafer-slimness of the CM9 is that its magazine is thin, too—a mere six in the single magazine that comes with it, and a seventh in the firing chamber. Kahr makes a seven-rounder with finger extension, and it would be sensible to carry one as a spare… or maybe two.
Next, Concealed Carry and the Ultimate Backup