Kahr CW9

CEO and chief designer Justin Moon knew what he was doing when he created this new mini masterpiece. The CW9 feels, points and shoots as well as any Kahr I've tested, and it's triple-digit cheaper to boot. If this was Consumer Reports, I'd rate the CW9 a "Best Buy."
MSRP: 
549.99
Headline: 

CEO and chief designer Justin Moon knew what he was doing when he created this new mini masterpiece. The CW9 feels, points and shoots as well as any Kahr I've tested, and it's triple-digit cheaper to boot. If this was Consumer Reports, I'd rate the CW9 a "Best Buy."

The working theory behind Kahr Arms' new CW9 carry pistol – by every measure that counts – is reliability, accuracy and user friendliness. It shares these attributes with the twin of the company flagship, the polymer-and-stainless P9. Plus it goes for $143 less. Now that's entertainment!
"Our goal was to break the $500 barrier, and we did," explains Kahr marketing chief Frank Harris. "We wanted to bring in new customers, so we decided to offer a product that competes with Taurus, Ruger and other lower-cost guns."
With the expectation, of course, they'd like it so much they'd reach for Kahr's more expensive offerings when their bank accounts grew. It's the old General Motors strategy: sell relatively-cheap Chevrolets to entry-level customers, knowing they'd eventually climb the GM ladder to Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and, finally, king Cadillac.
The CW9 – Kahr-speak for concealed Weapon 9mm – sells for $533. (Realistic street price is even better: under $500 new, $350 to $450 used.) Compare that to the P9's $676 – not to mention $814 for a Tactical 9 with Novak night sights or $828 for an NYPD-approved K9 and you'll see why Harris is excited about twirling his less-money lasso. "He's heard of Kahr and really wants one, but can't quite afford it right now," Harris says of that potential new customer. "The CW9 brings him in immediately."

Affordable Cuts
That 21-percent price break has to come from somewhere, though, nobody sells guns at a loss. Kahr shaved its dollars by replacing six P9 features with cheaper variants. The CW9 barrel features conventional rifling with a 1:10" right-hand twist (the P9 rifling is match-grade polygonal). The CW9 slide stop lever is metal-injection-molded, the P9's is machined. The CW9 front sight is pinned in place with no front dovetail cut, while the P9 front sight is dovetailed, making it drift-adjustable and easy to upgrade. (Rear sights of both models are dovetailed.) CW9 slide is less machined with no lightening grooves or scallops as has the P9 and the CW9 comes with one magazine, while its big brother, the P9, comes with two.
All of which means Kahr met its goal: a triple-digit price reduction without compromising "gotta have" accuracy and reliability. The Blauvelt, New York, company's engineers continue to amaze.

Kahr engineers dispensed with rollmarks and lightening grooves in favor of simple marking and beveling.
The CW9 front sight is staked in place, compared to dovetailed and drift-adjustable P9.
The front and rear sights are bar-dot, with rear angle-cut so you can see more of the target.
Action
The CW9 is double-action-only with an internal striker and locked breech. The stainless steel trigger is exceptionally smooth throughout its 3/8" ride from engagement to let off, with a crisp "snap" at the end. The eight-pound pull is a little heavy for my taste, but it increases the odds you won't shoot without meaning to.
The CW9 fits my big hands well. The 1/4"-thick magazine base ensures a place for all three fingers. (I hate pinky-finger dangle.) Frame and slide are less than an inch wide and flat as Nebraska, so the little gun disappears like a magician's assistant during concealment. "Kahr uses an offset barrel to slim the width of the pistol," Massad Ayoob explained several years ago in these pages. "This makes it very flat and easy to carry." The molded-in gripping area is stippled (sides) and checkered (straps). The front sight sport a white dot fat enough to pick up in rapid aim, while the rear sight has a white bar at the bottom of the aiming notch. The sides of the rear sight are angle-cut, allowing you to see more of the target. Even the magazine release button is thoughtful. It is grooved, oval and not overly prominent. The 3.5" stainless barrel locks up securely, with no play whatsoever when pressing on the barrel hood.
The only thing marring the CW9 – all Kahrs, in fact – is the slide release lever. It's just too clunky for a jaguar-sleek pistol. Contrast that with the CZ P-01's new lever, the most well-designed and beautifully scalloped I've ever seen. Do some thoughtful borrowing, clever engineers, and rid yourself of this problem.

Reliability
Speaking of tight fit, Kahr recommends you fire 200 rounds of ammo before trusting your life to the gun. Take that advice. I've owned four Kahrs over the years and every one needed the break-in period. After 200 rounds their reliability became absolute. As did the CW.
I put 200 break-in Federals, Winchesters, Cor-Bons and generics through my sample. One stovepipe jam, two failures to feed. The 300 rounds that followed fed and fired perfectly. Except for the times I sneezed while shooting (summer allergies, whaddaya gonna do?) every hard-ball and hollowpoint centerpunched the small paper plates I use to test defense-pistol accuracy.
CEO and chief designer Justin Moon knew what he was doing when he created this new mini masterpiece. The CW9 feels, points and shoots as well as any Kahr I've tested, and it's triple-digit cheaper to boot. If this was Consumer Reports, I'd rate the CW9 a "Best Buy."

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Kahr CW9

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