The Kahr Trigger Invention – Patented Tech Sets the Bar

karh trigger quality

Kahr was one of the first companies to develop polymer-framed single-stack striker-fired pistols for concealed-carry and backup duty. The company has developed a broad catalog over the years along with a solid following, thanks, to a large degree, to their excellent trigger system.

Outstanding triggers: the standard by which others are judged

Does it have the quick lock time of an S&W revolver? Is it as smooth as a Ruger LCR? Does it have the breaking glass rod feel of a Springfield 1911? What sets the Kahr trigger apart from other striker fired pistols?

The cam

The cocking cam system retracts and releases the striker. It also prevents firing unless the trigger is pulled.

The cocking cam system releases the striker to fire the pistol and also prevents it from firing until the trigger is pulled.When Kahr developed their original T9, their objective was to produce a quality gun at an affordable price point. They wanted it narrower, with a high grip relative to the bore and an instinctive and reliable trigger. As a machining company, Kahr knew how to design and produce to their specs. The result was a narrow gun with the trigger nestled alongside the barrel link to achieve a high grip, close to the bore axis and a double action only (DAO) trigger unlike anything else in the market.

Key to achieving these features in its designs was Kahr’s innovative approach to developing its pistols. In fact, the company acquired four patents on specific features of their pistol designs. First and foremost of these is the offset barrel design, which works in concert with another patented feature—a trigger bar attached on only one side of the trigger. By running this in the channel beside the offset barrel, you get a very low bore axis and a very compact design. Also unique to Kahrs is the self-cleaning extractor system that features relief cuts and channels that allows fouling to be pushed out as the extractor pivots. And finally, the pistols feature a unique cocking cam system that simultaneously that retracts and releases the partially cocked striker as well as pushes up the striker block safety. An additional advantage is that the cam blocks the striker from falling until the trigger is pulled, just like the striker block safety.

It’s not so much the parts, It’s the System

Glock is the striker fired pistol brand by which all others are judged. While similar to the Glock trigger, the innovative Kahr trigger has a very different feel. The mechanism includes a pivoting trigger and trigger bar like the Glock system, but instead of interfacing directly with the striker, Kahr added a cam and the result is a buttery smooth and light pull. Compared to a Glock pistol the Kahr has a longer, smoother trigger pull similar to a true double-action handgun.


Kahr’s pistols can be used for concealed-carry, backup on the job, home defense and even competition. They have models chambered for the most popular cartridges, .380 and .45 ACP, 9mm Luger and .40 S&W. The company also makes many models with steel frames, such as the above T9, that have less felt recoil. They’re stylish, too.

Not a true double action

The striker is pre-set, partially-cocked by the action of the slide. The trigger completes cocking the striker before releasing it at the end of the trigger stroke. This makes for a lighter trigger weight than a true double action where the trigger alone compresses the striker spring. This also eliminates second strike capability on a round that doesn’t ignite on the first pull of the trigger. With today’s centerfire ammunition, misfires are extremely rare and I’ve never heard anyone bring that up as a criticism of other pistols including Glock pistols.

The benefit of this setup is a much lighter trigger. Instead of the 9- to 12-pound weight of most other double-action handguns, the Kahr trigger breaks at 5 to 7 pounds depending on the model and generation–Kahr recently released a series of “race-ready” premium pistol for competition with both shorter and even lighter trigger pulls, but this article is focused on their carry models. Besides being light, it’s a very smooth system thanks to the cammed trigger bar.

T9 cutaway

A cutaway drawing shows just how simple and foolproof the Kahr trigger system is.

Eliminating stacking improves accuracy

An important quality of the Kahr is that the trigger pull is constant. A typical double action trigger stacks as the trigger compresses the hammer or striker spring, becoming increasingly resistant as the trigger travels rearward. In some cases, like in target shooting, stacking can allow the shooter to stage the trigger before each shot. In a rapidly evolving scenario, there isn’t time for that. A trigger mechanism that stacks makes it more difficult to shoot accurately while shooting quickly as the increasingly-heavy trigger pull can cause shooters to jerk off target.

The cam that Kahr incorporates into their guns eliminates stacking by changing the mechanical advantage of the trigger to counteract the increased resistance of compressing the spring. This constant trigger weight helps you shoot more accurately under pressure.

Short stroke versus long stroke

Choosing a gun for self defense is about as personal a decision as it gets. There are a ton of people who just love short, light triggers with passive trigger safeties, but there have been a number of unintentional discharges when a holster retention strap, piece of clothing, or something else is accidentally caught on the trigger.

Alternative safeties include substantially increased trigger pulls or increasing the length of the stroke. As heavy trigger pulls negatively affect accuracy, Kahr developed a trigger with a longer stroke.

Better than a revolver trigger


Revolver internals are surprisingly complex and often need tight fitting to function correctly.

Revolvers are known as being simple to use and dependable. Part of the simplicity is that there’s no safety to mess with since the long, heavy double-action trigger makes it unlikely to fire unintentionally.

The Kahr trigger provides the long stroke that makes revolvers less prone to an unintentional discharge. However, it’s lighter and smoother than the triggers on the best production revolvers. In fact, it’s smooth to the point of difficulty in anticipating the shot which also contributes to accuracy. To top it off, it’s also a much simpler mechanism with fewer parts than a revolver trigger group; simple equals dependable.

In a nutshell

The popularity of the Kahr trigger is due to the fact that it has a smooth, light double-action-style stroke. The long trigger pull acts as a passive safety just like in carrying a double-action revolver. Like a revolver it has a simple manual of arms: draw, aim, press the trigger. It also keeps the trigger mechanism simple, which helps prevent mechanical failures.


For many, these compacts are today’s equivalent of the time-tested snubnose revolver.

Personally, I love a crisp single action trigger but I often carry a snub nose revolver with a double-action trigger because it’s the best choice for the season, what I’m wearing, where I’ll be carrying, etc. When I reviewed the Ruger LCRx I found out that I shot it more accurately in double action than in single action mode–anticipating the trigger break can cause the shooter to flinch or change their grip at the last second–long smooth triggers “surprise” the shooter, which lets them focus on their sight picture and stay on target.

The disadvantage is it’s a long stroke and has a long reset. You have to release the trigger almost to its rest position before it resets, much like a revolver. For some individuals, that’s a deal breaker. Like I said earlier, choosing a self-defense gun is a very personal decision. Not everything works for everybody. But for others, including me, the trigger sets the bar, offering an extra degree of safety without sacrificing accuracy.

The Future, Today

Kahr has recently announced a new series of Gen2 Premium pistols for its lineup. Building on the strengths of the core design, the new Gen2 Premium pistols sport numerous upgrades and enhancements.

Kahrs new Gen2 Premium pistols feature upgrades such as new trigger safety and enhanced sights, to name just a few.

Gen2 Premium pistols feature upgrades such as a new trigger safety and enhanced sights, to name just a few.

These include an enhanced trigger with integral trigger safety (described as featuring a 30 percent-shorter pull than Gen1 triggers), double recoil spring for reduced felt recoil, an integral accessory rail on the polymer frame and long slide models with barrel lengths up to 6 inches. Models will range from 3.5- and 4-inch barrel version with TFX fiber optic sights to 5- and 6-inch models with a reflex sight mounting plate system designed to accept compact reflex optics from a range of manufacturers.

Find more about Kahr pistols at:

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Seth June 25, 2018, 5:46 pm

    I carry a Kahr CM40 and love it. When I first got it I was worried because it would jam, but I read that there is a break-in period of at least 200 rounds before the recoil springs loosen up enough to where you don’t have this issue anymore. Put 200 rounds through it and it is perfect. I conceal carry on my hip and have no problem hiding it there due to its size. I have the power of a 40 in a compact gun. I just replaced some springs to lighten the pull weight of the trigger and that helps with the long pull as well because it doesn’t take as much to pull the trigger back. I hate that others have had issues with their Kahr experiences, but I love mine and will carry it for years to come.

  • Bob bacon November 16, 2017, 2:39 am

    I love the steel frame Kahrs with thick grips. I like the smooth revolver type trigger. I do not want the new one with the lawyer tongue on the trigger. The poly frame models expose the mag button too much. I had the frame built up into a mag button shroud, and used a steel mag button from the factory. This gun cracked some plastic followers, so I bought aluminum ones from Lake. On older guns you may have to file the feed ramp to shorten it to prevent contact with the followers.

  • DanTampa October 1, 2016, 12:29 am

    Bought a CM9, tried it and decided I wanted something different. When through several other guns but eventually came back to the Kahr. A 9mm that is 14oz unloaded and small enough to fit in my front pocket inside a Santis holster was extremely beneficial for my concealed carry needs. The trigger was buttery smooth but very long and I just wasn’t sure I could deal with a long pull every time I pulled the trigger. Fast follow up shots were usually inaccurate. Then I tried something different. I started treating the trigger as if it were a two stage trigger. I would take it through most of the travel right before I knew it would break, then take aim and pull the trigger the rest of the way causing a short crisp break. I worked the trigger that way for about 500 rounds and now it is like second nature and have become quite proficient in accuracy in fast follow up shoots. At 21ft I can put six rounds inside a 5″ circle as fast as I can pull the trigger. For a small compact 9mm being drawn from my pocket at self defense range I feel secure in trusting my life to it.

  • Kahr PM9 August 3, 2016, 3:07 pm

    Seems like a pretty solid gun. Is there any kind of extensions for this gun?

  • carter June 28, 2016, 8:29 pm

    my EDC has been a Kahr PM9 for over 8 years. I love the trigger, and i also have had sig, glock, xd, 1911, da revolver, m&p, various da/sa besides sig….i shoot the kahr better than any other subcompact ive tried. i practice with it a lot because its what i carry. i think practice is what it comes down to. if you have years on other guns and switch to a new/different trigger it will take work to get it right. im still not that great with an m&p trigger, but plenty of others are good with it.

    im very consistent with the kahr and it carriers easily and has always worked. i might be carrying a G43 instead, but i became proficient with the kahr long before that existed so i figure there’s no reason to fix what’s already working for me.

  • JD June 27, 2016, 11:09 pm

    The CM9 fits my hand and pocket carry very well. Carry it everywhere. Sometimes I have to pat my pocket to make sure it is still there. I forget I am carrying it. Carry a spare mag in the other pocket. 14 shots available. Has no problems FTF or FTE after a year and 250 rounds. The recoil is very manageable and I can get off subsequent rounds on target without time delay. I worked the slide and trigger hundreds of times while watching TV before I put any live rounds in it and fired for the first time. I think that helps with break in. I like having the power of a 9 mm in a compact dependable very concealable handgun.

  • Kenneth G Ellsworth June 27, 2016, 8:19 pm


  • Matt June 27, 2016, 7:40 pm

    I had a CM9 and it was a decent pocket gun. However, I had to get rid of it, the non-captured recoil spring would work it’s way out the front hole in slide. I would get a new recoil spring and after a couple of boxes of ammo it would happen again. Kahr would send me a new spring but I just couldn’t trust it for carry. I now carry a LCP 380 and had no problems.

  • Methadras June 27, 2016, 2:25 pm

    I always thought that Khar semi-autos were just cheaply priced junk. Is there a reason I should think differently in this case?

    • Paul Helinski June 27, 2016, 2:32 pm

      They are anything but cheap lol. The PMR-9 is still one of the more expensive in its class. You are thinking Kel-Tec.

  • Spike June 27, 2016, 1:49 pm

    My EDC is a P45. The trigger is super smooth with no stacking . Getting used to the long pull and reset took a while. The pistol is light but the high grip handles the recoil very well.
    The negative comments here about the trigger might be a problem with the individual gun or with the shooter who would actually enjoy a totally different firearm. As the article emphasizes , it is a very personal choice. Kahr is a great gunmaker in Massachusetts of all places.

  • Eddie Laracuente June 27, 2016, 1:06 pm

    Mr. Lincourt is obviously subjective in his evaluation of Kahr firearms. I have been a handgun shooter since the 1970’s and learned to shoot with a revolver. Over the years I have come to fire just about every popular semi-auto handgun produced. Kahr firearms have the worst trigger pulls bar none. However Kahr’s strong points are its’s size, many variants and sights. Moreover the trigger can be improved but other handgun manufacturers produce stock guns with far better triggers. When buying any firearm, arm yourself with as much information as possible.

    • Bob bacon November 16, 2017, 2:33 am

      The kahr DA triggers are great, if you like revolvers and CZ types. If you only shoot Glocks, then no, it will be too difficult for you.

  • Mark June 27, 2016, 12:32 pm

    I have owned a CW45 for at least 5 years. It has just gotten better with time. 5000+ rounds with a few hang ups with reloads. No problems with factory loads. The trigger is long on pull and reset but smooth as butter. It is so smooth it is hard for my friends to tell when it will break. I have used it so much I just know when it breaks. My two favorite guns Kahr and H&K

  • Lew June 27, 2016, 11:31 am

    I have a Kahr PM40 and the trigger is totally awful!!
    Pull is long, stiff, and scratchy (uneven pull).
    I put a lot of money into upgrading the pistol but cannot use it.
    Because of the trigger, accuracy is terrible.

    • Beachhawk June 27, 2016, 3:29 pm

      I had a PM40 for about two months. The first time I took it to the range, it stooped working after about ten rounds. I checked and found that the magazine had cracked. I thought it must have had a defect, so I tried another. After a few rounds had been fired that magazine also cracked. I contacted Kahr customer service and they told me to send them pistol and mags. They told me that they had received a shipment of defective steel. They checked the pistol and replaced the magazines. I took the pistol back to the range and it immediately cracked the new magazines. I put the PM40 up for sale on consignment for a financial loss at my local gun store. It sold a few days later. Apparently the buyer had a similar experience and sent the pistol and magazines back at least twice.
      I also had a PM9 which had frequent FTFs and FTEs. I don’t have the time or money to deal with unreliable guns and as noted in another comment, Kahrs are not cheap.. I promptly traded of the PM9 for a more reliable pistol. Kahrs may have great triggers, but if the magazine fails, or the pistol jams in an emergency it’s not worth the money at any price point,

      • Mick D. June 28, 2016, 5:56 pm

        Your experience with your PM40 sounds like mine – slide would lock back in the middle of a magazine, and the magazine kept cracking. Sent back to Kahr 3 times, finally sold it in frustration. It took me 4 years to get over it; I eventually tried my luck with a MK9 (smaller caliber, steel frame) and it has been perfect; I think the lesson for me is that Kahr engineering is pushing the limits of what can be done in such a small package, but a steel frame can be machined into a more reliable package than a polymer-framed one.

  • George Bill June 27, 2016, 8:42 am

    43 years carrying daily, I pocket carry a PM9 the last 5, no less than a 9mm.

  • Mark N. May 30, 2016, 1:54 am

    I have a CW9 that I bought several years ago. It is cheaper than its polygonally rifled brethren (under $400 numerous places), carries 7+1, weighs just under a pound empty, and even with a 3.5″ barrel fits in most of my pants’ pockets. The trigger is the same as all of the other Kahrs, so the same description applies. It has been utterly reliable. My only complaint is that the slide lock/release has a sharp back edge that rubs my right thumb when using a two-handed grip. The only other nit pick I have is that the trigger release is almost all the way back, and can be a little difficult to manipulate if your grip is off.

  • Tom Benton May 28, 2016, 11:24 am

    When I decided to obtain a carry pernit 8 years ago, I began my search for the perfect carry gun. At that time, there was
    a sparcity of compact automatics to choose from. Fortunately I discovered Kahr and subsequently purchased a PM9.
    Many compact autos in .380 and 9mm have hit the market since my purchase but none have matched Kahr for it’s compact
    size and minimal recoil during operation . Everything about the gun exudes quality from the finish to the polygonal rifling.
    I have never had a malfunction with any ammunition firing over 500 rounds. It is currently loaded with Federal 124 gr HST.
    Ballistics and penetration tests from the 3″ barrel are excellent. I primarily carry the Kahr in a pocket holster as this mode fits
    almost any dress option. While completely sheilded from view with my hand in my pocket, I can present the gun under 2 seconds. Larger less contured guns would preclude this carry option and force one to employ different carry methods to match ones dress. Adapting to different methods undoubtably increases the time and accuracy of presenting a weapon under duress.
    The perfect carry option is the one that fits your lifestyle and it totally reliable in an emergency situation. I fortunately found
    my sidearm on the first attempt with the Kahr PM9. I look at newer guns but have never found one that meets the credentials of the PM9. It is not an inexpensive weapon, but when you amortize the cost over a lifetime it is a bargain. There are now less
    expensive models which may work just as well for concealed carry making Kahr a competitive option to the Glock 43 and S&W
    Shield. Pick the one that works best for you. I am totally satisfied I carry a Kahr PM9.

  • Michael Sorrentino May 27, 2016, 2:18 pm

    Where can I get this model?
    Iam interested in a model of this size!

  • Michael Sorrentino May 27, 2016, 2:17 pm

    Where can I get this model?

    • Brian Souza June 27, 2016, 6:38 am

      Google is your friend.

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