Concealed Carry & Home Defense

Gun Test: Kahr CM9 with Video

Mike Piccione Editor, Guns & Gear
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By Richard Johnson,

It seems like every time you blink your eyes, companies are releasing new compact pistols.  I believe this is for good reason, as the concealed carry handgun is what the market is buying.  Hunting rifles may be back next year, but for now, thin is in.

Kahr is well known in the CCW market even though the company is relatively young when standing next to Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger and Remington.  Sleek, high-quality pistols are what Kahr is known for.  They have carved out a niche in the firearms industry where they cater to customers looking for thin handguns that are clearly for concealed carry.

But with most things in life, there are trade-offs.  With Kahr, quality manufacturing has been reflected in the price tag.  While you do indeed get what you pay for, many people wanted a Kahr but could not cost-justify the decision in the face of other, less expensive handguns.  To meet the demands for lower prices, Kahr introduced a number of pistols that are much more budget friendly.

The Kahr CM9 is one example of the company’s move toward the less-expensive end of the handgun market.  It is very similar to the more expensive PM9 pistol, but carries a suggested retail price that is more than $250 cheaper.  The obvious question is what does one lose by going with the cheaper model?  Surprisingly, a shooter doesn’t lose much by going with the CM9.

Let’s take a look at the CM9 and then at the differences between it and the PM9.

General Kahr CM9 Information

The CM9 is a single-stack 9mm pistol that is clearly built to be easily concealed.  This lends itself to both concealed carry by citizens and as a backup gun for police officers.

The pistol has a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide and barrel.  The frame is black while the slide and barrel have a matte silver finish.

The frame has agressive checkering on the front and backstrap, which allows the shooter a more sure grip when firing.  The frame (and grip) are very thin.  Shooters with small hands will appreciate how much easier it is to reach the trigger, while larger hands will still fit the gun well.

Although the CM9 ships with only a single, flush fitting magazine, their are extended magazines available for the gun.  The flush fitting mags hold six rounds while the extended magazines will hold seven cartridges.  Obviously, the flush fitting magazines will conceal much easier than the extended magazines will.  However, the extended magazines give the hand a little extra to grip.

The CM9′s sights are a dot and bar set-up like on the other Kahr pistols.  The front sight is fixed and pinned into place, while the rear sight is set in a dovetail.  The rear sight can be adjusted for windage, or easily replaced if the shooter so desires.  The sights are easy to see in bright and dim conditions, though a front tritium insert would have been a nice finishing touch on this handgun.

The trigger is a double-action-only set up.  The pull weight on this CM9 measured 6 pounds, 8.5 ounces.  This was measured on a Lyman digital scale using the average of ten pulls.


Kahr CM9 Specifications

Barrel: 3″

Overall Length:  5.42″

Height:  4″

Weight (unloaded, with magazine):  15.9 oz

Standard Magazine Capacity:  6

Ships with one, flush fitting magazine.

MSRP:  $517

CM9 vs. PM9


Ok, so I’ve described the CM9.  But, how does it compare to its more expensive stablemate, the PM9?

Here are the differences between the CM9 and PM9…

The CM9 uses a metal-injection-molded slide stop instead of a machined stop.  MIM parts are generally strong and reliable, though the use of inferior metals can create a part that will wear quicker than a machined piece of stainless steel.  The slide stop on my example appeared to be in excellent condition after hundreds of rounds being fired through the gun.

The CM9 uses a plastic, pinned front sight.  This means the front sight is not easily replaced by the owner.  If you believe you would want aftermarket sights such as a Big Dot from XS or a fiber optic sight, the CM9 is not a cost-effective solution for you.

The CM9 ships with only one magazine as opposed to the PM9′s two.  Extra mags can be had for a lot less than the difference in price between the two guns.

The CM9 has simple engraving on the slide as opposed to nicer roll marks.  This is a cosmetic difference only, but may make a difference to you.

There are fewer machining operations on the CM9 than on the PM9.  The PM9 winds up with a more streamlined slide because of this.  However, there does not appear to be any significant practical difference between the two slides.

CM9:  $517  PM9:  $786  ($269 difference)

It is your call on which is the better value.

CM 9 Range Time

The best part of this Kahr CM9 review was getting the gun out onto the range.  I’m a shooter and so is this pistol.

I found the CM9 pointed very naturally for me.  With some handguns, I have to “get a feel” for how the gun fits my hand before I consistently have the sights aligned from the draw without any adjustment.  Not so with the CM9.  From the first time I picked it up, the gun pointed perfectly for me with the sights properly aligned.

Recoil was very mild.  I know, I know:  the 9mm doesn’t have much recoil to start with.  However, with a tiny gun, I expect even mild cartridges to sting a little.  But with the CM9, recoil was light and easy to control.

I’ve previously shot and reviewed the Taurus 709, a single stack 9mm with dimensions similar to the Kahr CM9.  Actually, the Kahr is a little smaller and lighter.  However, the recoil from the 709 is much harsher than from the CM9.  (Don’t get me started on the infinitely better reliability of the Kahr, either.)

I thought the accuracy of the CM9 was exceptional, especially for a subcompact pistol.  While Kahr pistols are generally held in good regard for their accuracy, I expect that much of the credit for the good groups I was getting goes to the smooth trigger and excellent sights.

Too many small pistols have crappy triggers and nearly un-useable sights.  The CM9 has a very smooth double action trigger that is free of any hitches or rough spots.  Plus the sights are just as visible as any on the company’s larger pistols.  These two things combine to really help the weak link (me – the shooter) deliver good accuracy.

Reliability is the most important aspect of any firearm I own for self-defense.  If it doesn’t go “bang” when I need it, then I have no use for the gun.

Kahr pistols are known for their reliability and the CM9 is another example of this well-deserved reputation.  I’ve put hundreds of rounds through my CM9 and experienced only one malfunction.  The single malfunction was a failure to feed within the first 20 rounds shot through the pistol using inexpensive FMJ ammo.  In the hundreds of rounds since, I’ve experienced no failures.

I tested the CM9 with a broad range of ammunition: standard pressure, +P and +P+ as well as different manufacturers and bullet designs.  Full metal jacket and hollowpoints all run fine through this gun.  Among the loads shot:

Federal American Eagle 115 gr FMJ

Winchester USA (white box) 115 gr FMJ

Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP

Federal HST 147 gr +P JHP

Federal PBLE +P+ JHP

Winchester PDX1 147 gr JHP

Remington (green box) 115 gr JHP

Remington Golden Saber 124 gr +P JHP

Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP

Final Thoughts

The CM9 wound up being an excellent pistol.  Even though it is from the “budget” line of pistols, Kahr did not skimp on reliability, accuracy or feel of the gun.  I highly recommend this handgun if you are in the market for a subcompact pistol.

This concludes my review of the Kahr CM9 pistol.  I sincerely hope that it has been useful to you.  If you are thinking about buying a CM9, check out the prices at Impact Guns.  We get a small referral fee from them if you buy anything, which helps cover our bills.

Thanks to Richard Johnson, one of our favorite gun testers, and you can visit his site here

Mike Piccione