Photo: Butch Simpson
Kahr Arms is well known in the shooting community for making a wide variety of quality pistols used by both law enforcement and civilians for concealed carry. The newest addition to Kahr's line of subcompact pistols is the CM9, a value-priced 9mm subcompact.
The CM9 is a no-frills compact pistol. It's not as pretty as some of Kahr's other handguns, but it's a practical, inexpensive, quality gun.
Practical Not Pretty
The exterior of the CM9's slide has fewer machining operations, resulting in a rather slab-sided appearance. Its plastic front sight is pinned in place rather than mounted in a dovetail machined into the slide. Slide markings are engraved rather than rollmarked. The slide stop is a metal-injection-molded component rather than being a machined part. The three-inch barrel has conventional rifling rather than the polygonal used on higher end Kahr pistols. Lastly, the CM9 is shipped with a single, six-round magazine. Like I said, this is a value gun, meant to be practical, not pretty or luxurious. The result is a handgun with a suggested retail price that's significantly less than the company's "high end" PM9.
Kahr kindly provided me with a CM9 to evaluate for POLICE. While it was admittedly less glamorous than its higher priced relations, it is the very plainness that bespeaks a simplicity that I find desirable: There is nothing here that was not necessary for its intended purpose as a close range, defensive handgun.
But the CM9 is unmistakably a Kahr.
Kahr Arms is known for its compact and sub-compact pistols that feature a smooth, light, and stage-free trigger stoke. To achieve this, Kahr uses a system in which a 0.7-inch trigger stroke rotates a cam that deactivates a spring-loaded striker safety and then draws the striker to full-cock position before releasing it to fire the pistol.
Kahr pistols, including the CM9, feature an offset barrel with the trigger mechanism beside it to produce a frame with a high grip close to the centerline of the bore, which provides enhanced recoil control. The extractor is a self-cleaning design that forces powder residue away from it so as to prevent fouling build-up.
Most Kahr pistols do not have any type of external safety device and thus have a snag-free exterior-an important feature on any handgun meant to be carried and drawn from concealment. The CM9 is no exception.
Breech locking in the CM9 and other Kahr models is accomplished by means of a system common to many of today's service pistols. The barrel hood bears on the front edge of the ejection port, locking the barrel and slide together. When fired, the slide moves to the rear where a cam on the bottom of the barrel cams it down, unlocking it from the slide which continues rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent case. The recoil spring then pulls the slide forward, stripping the next round from the magazine and chambering it whereupon the barrel hood moves up into the ejection port, locking the two units together.
Shooting the CM9
A few days after receiving the CM9 I got a chance to run out to my gun club to try it out.
My first chore was to see how it performed accuracy-wise when fired from a rest at 15 yards.
While the CM9's double-action-only (DAO) trigger required some careful nursing, once I had the hang of it I found it not overly difficult to produce well-centered groups averaging around three inches. I feel this level of accuracy is more than suitable for a handgun of this type.
I then belted on a Galco Yaqui Belt Slide holster and ran the CM9 through several offhand drills at five and seven yards firing the pistol with supported and unsupported (one-handed) grips.
I found the trigger pull smooth and stage free and, even though recoil was "snappy," the pistol's excellent ergonomics, aided by its aggressively checkered grip frame helped recoil control significantly. I also have to comment on the white dot/bar sighting arrangement, which my experience leads me to declare far superior to the more common three-dot system.
I found the CM9 to live up to Kahr's reputation for quality and at a very affordable price. If your agency allows-or requires-its officers to carry a backup or off-duty gun, I believe that the CM9's size, weight, ergonomics, and shootability would make it a prime candidate. And in these recessionary times, it's also a great value for the price.
Why I Prefer DAO Pistols for Police
I make no bones about the fact that I am a partisan of handguns with a double-action-only (DAO) trigger mechanism for law enforcement and defensive purposes.
The DAO trigger system is my preferred police handgun trigger for a variety of reasons, including:
- Simplicity of operation. Under the stress of a life-threatening situation, you need a handgun that does not require you to manipulate any thumb or grip safeties.
- The drill is streamlined: draw pistol, aim, fire.
- To make the pistol "safe" all you must do is remove your finger from inside the trigger guard.
- The long trigger stroke greatly reduces the chances of an accidental discharge, which will cause joy to rise in the hearts of your department's lawyers.
If you look at those pistols most popular with U.S. law enforcement agencies today, the overwhelming majority of them feature a DAO trigger or a reasonable facsimile thereof, which further buttresses my position regarding trigger modes.
Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.
Kahr Arms CM9 Pistol Specs:
Magazine Capacity: 6 rounds
Weight (unloaded): 15.9 ounces
Barrel Length: 3 inches
Overall Length: 5.4 inches
Height: 4 inches
Width: 0.9 inches
Magazine: Detachable box
Slide: Stainless steel
Frame: Textured polymer
Sights: Front, white dot; Rear, white bar
Trigger: Double-action only
Extras: Carrying box, trigger lock