Today, carrying a small pistol everyday has become a very common thing for people throughout the gun community. We see that having a small but effective gun on our hip frees us from the boundaries of having to be selective with our clothing choices and our overall comfort.
Even though there has been a growth in the amount of pocket sized pistols on the market, very few of them have qualities that can draw us to buying them. There is always compromise when looking to purchase a gun, but even more so when looking to purchase a small carry pistol. We are giving up a larger capacity, size for ease of use, recoil control, sight radius for distant shots, and also we are typically losing the nice triggers that we have become accustomed to using on our carry guns.
Small guns have some good characteristics, but the smaller you go, the bigger the compromises are in general. The part that is hardest to swallow is that you are still going to have to pay the same amount as you would for a bigger gun, just to get a smaller gun with a couple of good features. With the Kahr CM9, it is apparent that Kahr has taken this problem into consideration and has done something about it.
Kahr Arms was founded in the early 1990’s by Moon Kook-Jin “Justin Moon”, a Korean American. His first prototype was of the K-9, presented to the public in SHOTshow 1994, and is still a popular pistol in the Kahr lineup of pistols. Mr. Moon decided to focus his designs to suit the concealed carry market while still remaining under the 10 round legal limit for magazine capacity. His focus was on small pistols made from the latest high quality manufacturing methods that are easy to conceal, yet still easy to use. To this day, Kahr stands as one of the best manufacturers of high quality compact and subcompact pistols for an ever-growing concealed carry market. Mr Moon patented the “offset barrel” design into the pistol to allow the barrel to sit lower in the pistol and aid in further compacting the overall pistol profile and theoretically lowering the felt recoil.
As the market shifted to favoring polymer framed pistols, Kahr responded by developing their P/PM series of pistols. These were basically polymer framed versions of the metal framed K/MK model pistols. Though these pistols had polymer frames, they still carried over all the quality manufacturing of the K/MK series of pistols, as well as the same steep prices that prevented a lot of people from purchasing their products. With this, Kahr had to consider ways to give terrific “Kahr Quality” while still making them affordable to the general public. The CW/CM series of pistols were designed in a wide variety of calibers to answer this request. The CW/CM series of pistols is basically a less expensive version of the higher quality P/PM series of pistols. These saved a good amount of money in manufacturing, therefore translating to a more budget-friendly design for the person buying one. They had to cut out certain features and details of manufacturing though in order to get the savings. These cuts were: less machining of the slide, a staked front sight, a conventionally rifled barrel, a MIM (metal-injection-molded) slide stop, and it only ships with one magazine. Even with these changes, the CM9 still carries on with the traditional durability and quality of all the other Kahr pistols, but for almost half the price.
SIZE & ERGONOMICS
The Kahr CM9 comes in at a beautiful 4″ in height. Compared to the ever-popular M&P Shield, which comes in at 4.4″, this can make a vast difference in concealability. But This can also effect the overall feel of the firearm when handling it.
The grip on the pistol is actually quite comfortable in form, but with the current texture, it is quite aggressive. When shooting, the texture seems to want to dig into your hand and give you a sure grip. I guess the one positive thing you get from this is that you are definitely going to be able to control it wet or dry. That being said, with a firm grip, it holds pretty well without hurting the hand to the point of discomfort. It merely feels like it is grabbing a hold of you to help you control it better, even with the 4″ overall height and a two finger grip.
You will also find that when gripping and aiming the pistol, you will have a natural aim with this pistol. Coming out of the holster and getting on target is a breeze with the grip being angled such as it is. This helps with being able to draw and get your first round on target in a timely manner, which can make all the difference in the world when you need to defend yourself.
The sights on the Kahr CM9 are the old school “combat” style sights you typically find on M9 pistols and older Sig pistols. I find this sight picture to be very good for quick acquisition when coming out of the holster, which should be one of the primary points of focus when considering a carry pistol. Again, this is a pistol designed for quick, close quarters defense, but I have found these sights to impact right at point of aim at about 15 yards with 124 grain ammo. The sights are made of polymer, but I have found that the polymer is quite durable, especially when compared directly against the stock sights on the Glock pistols.
The trigger on the Kahr CM9 is a full metal, DAO trigger with a big rounded trigger guard in case your planning on shooting it with gloves on. The trigger pull weighs in out of the box between 6-8 pounds on a nice and smooth pull. This can be smoothed out further by lubricating the striker face where the sear cocks it. you can also lubricate the trigger return spring. Other than that, you just have to use the trigger in order to lower the weight a little bit. The trigger travel really is not that long and doesn’t break all the way to the rear. the trigger travel is less than an inch from the point that the trigger tension starts, to the break, which is very smooth and punctual. The reset, as with most DAO triggers, is all the way back towards the front. I have found that shooting this pistol fast takes very little practice. the reset is actually earlier than the natural point that your trigger finger extends when shooting fast, so the trigger should do very well if shooting fast is a concern.
Manipulating the Kahr CM9 in general can be a pain if you are not well practiced in methods of manipulating heavy slides. The recoil spring out of the box is extremely tight to the point that I was wondering if a 9mm round would actually be able to cycle the pistol completely unless it was a +P round. I found this to be something that could be resolved one of two ways. First is that you can run the slide over and over and just work it constantly and leave it locked back for some time. The other way is just to shoot the pistol and shoot it fast. I have found that the best way to break in recoil springs like this one is to shoot it fast. In the meantime, I recommend that any manipulation of the pistol be done swiftly and aggressively in order to ensure positive control and manipulation of the slide.
The magazine that comes with the Kahr CM9 is a single stack 6 round magazine. You can acquire an 8 round backup magazine, but for about $50. Ejecting the magazine in some of the pistols may present a slight inconvenience if your partial to drop free magazines. It would appear that the mag well is just tight enough in some of the pistols to cause a little issue with static drop-free capability. I found that a slight flick downward while depressing the magazine release button does very well to aid in it dropping without needing a manual removal from the shooter. That being said, they are made very well and the springs are quite solid and provide consistent tension all the way to loading the last round.
Shooting the Kahr CM9 is quite a surprise. Right out of the gate, I expected this pistol to kick like a mule and be very uncomfortable due to it being so light. But at the same time, with the stiff action, I was expecting to see malfunctions as well. But As I have shot it, I have felt nothing but a smooth rearward motion with the pistol. It seems to go right back on target as long as you contribute to the shooting with a firm and sure grip. Shooting it fast is quite simple with the travel of the trigger not being too uncomfortably long. I in fact find it to be quite easy to shoot fast and accurately. I also find this pistol to be very easy to shoot at range as well. The smooth take up on the trigger pull provides a good base for taking long shots and helping you hone your fundamentals of marksmanship.
I find the Kahr CM9 to be an exemplary pistol and a terrific standard by which other companies should set their standards on as far as performance, quality and affordability. The pistol has worked 100% and I expect that it will continue to do so in the future. With the experience I have had with this pistol, I now realize why so many people trust Kahr when it comes to choosing a pistol to defend themselves. For the price of about $400, I find it to be an excellent and obvious choice, and I am sure you will too.
David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.