Several years ago I was in a local gun store when a sheriff's deputy walked in and asked to see an inexpensive .25 auto that was on display. He bought it, along with a box of ammo. And as the owner of the store and I watched, he loaded the little pistol, slipped it into the side pocket of his trousers, and started out the door.
The store owner asked him if he would like to test fire it out on the range behind the shop, and he answered, "Nah, I'll probably never use it anyhow." While the odds are the deputy was correct when he said, "I'll probably never use it," the store owner and I were both left a bit aghast.
The choice of a backup/off-duty handgun deserves just as much attention as the choice of your service pistol. If used on duty it will be under the most dire circumstances such as your primary handgun being disabled or-worst case scenario- it being snatched from you. If you need to use it off duty for personal defense, the threat will most likely be a complete surprise, up close and fast.
For these reasons, a backup/off-duty handgun must meet four conditions:
- It must be utterly reliable.
- It should be compact enough to be carried concealed for long periods of time.
- It should have a very simple operating drill.
- It should fire a cartridge of sufficient power.
The Kahr Arms Co. of Blauvelt, N.Y., is one of several manufacturers that offers a line of pistols designed to serve as backup, concealed carry, and off-duty weapons. The latest Kahr model, the CW9, is an excellent example of a reliable, compact semi-auto, and it makes an excellent backup or off-duty weapon.
Simplicity is one of the signatures of Kahr's design. And it's one of the reasons why the Kahr CW9 makes such a great backup/off-duty gun.
Kahr pistols feature a double-action-only (DAO) trigger system with a 3⁄4-inch stroke to rotate a cam that cocks and releases the striker to fire the cartridge. A spring-loaded striker block immobilizes the striker and is only deactivated at the end of a complete trigger stroke. The only external controls on a Kahr are the trigger, magazine release button, and slide stop, which combine to present a snag-free exterior, important on a handgun meant to be carried and drawn from concealment.
To my way of thinking, the DAO trigger system is one of the CW9's most attractive and most important features. It provides the simplest operating drill possible: draw pistol, aim, and pull trigger. To make the pistol safe, all you have to do is remove your finger from inside the trigger guard.
The CW9 locks by means of a system used on most modern semi-auto pistols: The barrel hood bears on the front edge of the ejection port and as the slide moves rearward under recoil, the barrel is cammed down, unlocking it from the slide which continues rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent case. The recoil spring then pulls the slide forward, stripping a round from the magazine and, as the slide goes into battery, the barrel hood moves up into the ejection port, locking the two units together.
Kahr pistols are unique in having an offset barrel with the trigger mechanism beside it. This permits the frame to be designed with a high grip for enhanced recoil control. A self-cleaning extractor forces debris away so as to prevent fouling buildup.