Kahr Arms Model P45, double-action, semi-auto pistol. Image via Jag7720 (Wikimedia).
Life is full of compromises. This has been especially true for those that have faced the perplexing problem of selecting an off-duty, undercover, or backup gun.
Weight and size are usually the determining factors in making this difficult decision. And while the .45 ACP cartridge has accumulated an impressive record as a proven fight-stopper, the guns chambered for this mighty round are usually bigger and heavier than most officers want to carry off duty or as a backup gun.
This is where the compromise is usually made. Downsizing the gun to make it more concealable often means settling for a smaller cartridge. But maybe such compromise is no longer necessary.
Kahr Arms has just introduced the P45, a polymer-framed .45 ACP semi-auto pistol. Weighing a feathery 18.5 ounces, the P45 is bound to make the decision-making process a little easier for fans of the big .45 cartridge.
Kahr engineers made their first prototype of the P45 a few years back by cutting two steel-framed K9 pistols in half and welding in a spacer. Feedback from industry people and focus groups was invaluable in determining the path this project would follow. Folks wanted a lighter gun, despite its impressive bore size, and it was determined that the gun would have to be made with a polymer frame.
This development path is not unlike the one that Kahr followed with its original K9. Introduced back in 1995, the gun was an immediate hit due to its small size. Chambered in 9mm, it was about the size of most .380s. In fact, the only real criticism that people had of the K9 was that its all steel construction made it heavy for a 9mm.
So Kahr decided to make the gun lighter. The company briefly experimented with an alloy frame, which was abandoned when it was found that the frames were cracking after a few thousand rounds. The engineers then turned their attention to polymer and the P9 was born.
The P9 was an immediate hit because of its size and its light weight. The P9 was soon followed by the hugely popular subcompact PM9. Then came the P40 and PM40, both in .40 S&W. The .40 caliber pistols were hits, so Kahr's engineers set their sights on producing a lightweight, compact .45.
I first saw a prototype of the P45 about a year-and-a-half ago, but because Kahr wanted to make sure that the gun was absolutely right it waited until last fall to begin production.
I've had a chance to fire this gun quite a bit over the last few months, and I have come to the conclusion that it was well worth the wait.
If you're familiar with the Kahr family of weapons, there is nothing glaringly new or noteworthy about the P45. It features the same DAO trigger that Justin Moon designed for the very first Kahr offering, the K9. The pistol is a hammerless design, using a striker that is preloaded when the slide cycles. The smooth double-action trigger pulls the striker all of the way to the rear and releases it. Each pull of the trigger is exactly the same, from the first shot to the last.
There's about a quarter inch of very light take-up before the user encounters resistance, then another 3⁄8-inch of travel. My test sample required just under five pounds of pressure to push the trigger through its arc. There are no external safeties on the P45 or any of the Kahr pistols for that matter. Accidental discharges are supposed to be prevented by the relatively long trigger pull.
The gun sits low in the hand, like the rest of the Kahr pistols. Instead of putting the trigger action underneath the chamber end of the barrel, like most companies do, Kahr decided to offset the feedramp so the trigger mechanism could ride next to it. The result is that the bore's axis is very close to the hand. Guns with a high bore axis have more pronounced muzzle flip, whereas the Kahr design means quicker follow-up shots. This is especially important for a gun chambered for the powerful .45 ACP cartridge.