By Scott Mayer
When I first reviewed a gun from Kahr Arms in 1995, I was impressed enough with the design, workmanship, and function that I surprised my mother with a Kahr K9 as a carry gun. Ordinarily, getting my mother the right gun is like trying to get her the right pair of shoes, but in this case the K9 went over with great success. At the time, it was one of the smallest 9mm handguns on the market. Its “slick” slide is ideal for concealed carry, and the silky smooth factory trigger pull has to be tried to be appreciated. If there are any qualms, it’s that the K9 is a bit heavy (compact polymer-framed guns were not readily on the market then) and its $600+ price tag (in 1995 dollars) was as much as one month’s mortgage payment. Since then, more states have passed “shall issue” laws. The results are increased demand for carry guns, more carry gun options, and more competitive pricing.
Last year, Kahr Arms introduced a value-priced polymer-frame 9mm to the CCW market called the CM9. The 3-inch barreled gun retails for $221 less than the comparable Kahr PM9 thanks to cost saving measures including conventional rifling instead of polygonal, fewer machining operations on the slide, and CM9′s are shipped with only one magazine instead of two. When you look at the complete list of cost-saving measures though, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that rises to the level of cutting corners. There are many people who carry concealed who won’t consider a gun as powerful enough unless its chambering begins with a “4,” so this year Kahr expanded the CM line to include a .40 S&W-chambered number–the CM40.
The CM40 incorporates the same cost-cutting measures as its 9mm stablemate while retaining all of the design features and workmanship that make Kahr synonymous with quality. As with full-size Kahr pistols, the 3.1-inch barreled CM40 has all of the patented design features that make it a Kahr, including the clever off-center recoil lug and trigger bar. With that arrangement, the barrel axis is lower in the frame, which is helpful in controlling recoil–particularly muzzle flip. Those of you who, like me, regularly carry and shoot a .40, know that recoil and flip are pretty darn snappy on a full-size gun, so I was anxious to see how the little poly-framed .40 handled. I got that chance the day before SHOT Show at the annual Media Day.
I was really expecting the PM40 to feel like a bomb going off in my hand—it is, afterall, an itty bitty lightweight .40-cal. pistol. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a snappy little rascal indeed, but it’s not the pain-inducing gun I thought it would be. Sure, there was plenty of recoil, but both George Wehby and I remarked that recoil dynamics were more like the gun was trying to jump straight up out of your hand, instead of hammering back into the palm.
This is a two-finger gun, so if you’re the least bit recoil shy go with the CM9 and not the .40. On the other hand, if you can hang on to it when it goes off, Kahr’s new CM40 boasts a pretty darn good chambering in a package too small to pass up.