Kahr Arms made a splash several years ago with the introduction of small, sturdy, no-nonsense double-action-only (DAO) pistols. The guns featured nested dual recoil springs and stainless steel construction, and they were solid little performers. However, while they were small dimensionally, they were noticeably heavy. That changed when the company began introducing polymer-frame models. The new guns retained all of the virtues of their heavier predecessors, but were lighter and required even less maintenance. Perhaps most notable in Kahr's now extensive line are the PM9 and PM40. The PM series guns - chambered in 9 mm Lugar and .40 S&W - are the company's smallest polymer-frame pistols. The latest version, 9 mm Lugar-cal. M9094A, features a blackened stainless steel slide matched to a black polymer frame.
Blackened stainless steel is becoming more common on tactical pistols. For example, it is standard on those from SiGARMS. Blackening has both practical and aesthetic value. It makes the pistol more discreet in low-light environments, prevents reflective glare in bright environments and precludes the two-tone look that many traditionalist gun buyers don't care for. The PM9094A's slide is coated with Tungsten DLC (formerly known as Black Diamond), an extremely thin and super-hard treatment by Bodycote. It is intended to prevent scratches and corrosion and seemed to do so during our test.
At first blush, the PM9094A is a small, blockish chunk of black steel and plastic. It has a distinctly chopped look with an abruptly abbreviated barrel and short grip frame. During initial firing, the gun was tight and balky, with stiff springs and a certain harshness to the action. Moreover, the gun couldn't be loaded by manually pulling the slide back and releasing it. The top round in the magazine angles upward, but would fall back to parallel with the other cartridge in the magazine when the slide was pulled back prior to releasing it. This caused the first round to strike low on the feed ramp, jamming the gun. One therefore had to rely on the slide release lever during initial firing.
The manual provided by the folks at Kahr warns that the pistol requires a minimum of 200 rounds to break it in. They aren't kidding. After 200 rounds, the pistol is a completely different animal. What felt tight just feels precise. Jamming tapers off to nothing and the action smooths out considerably, as do the controls. Even the need to use the slide release lever magically vanishes. Rarely-if ever-have we seen a gun so transformed by use as this one.
The post-break-in pistol was everything we had hoped for. Despite its light weight, it was controllable. Though the grip frame is short and allows purchase by only two fingers, the stippled and (molded) checkered surface provides a good grip. There is a sharp pronounced "snap" to the muzzle rise, but the pistol snaps back down nearly as fast and returns to the target quickly.
The trigger broke at less than seven pounds and had the smooth, predictable feel desirable in a defensive firearm. We also liked the fact that Kahr didn't feel the need to relocate the magazine release from its proper place behind the trigger guard. It worked well, freely dropping the magazine, but would benefit from a bit more tension to prevent inadvertent release.
With a weight of just under a pound unloaded, the PM9 has few rivals as a small pistol with 9 mm Lugar power. In fact, given its DAO trigger and absence of protrusions, it may compete more with the small-frame, lightweight, snub-nosed revolver than any other gun. The PM9 is in the same ballpark, weightwise, and is slimmer, more capacious, easier to shoot and has better sights. It carries well in a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster in heavy- or even medium- weight pants, or in a jacket pocket. A concealed hammer revolver's ability to be fired from inside a jacket pocket and its "out-of-the-box" readiness may be the only advantages held by a wheelgun over a PM pistol.
The PM9 is a pocket powerhouse with a lot going for it, once it is broken in. It's small, light, concealable, snag-resistant, thoroughly shootable and packs a considerable punch for such a diminutive gun. Moreover, Kahr provides a limited lifetime warranty.
At the 9 mm Lugar power level, the PM9 is one of the few true pocket pistols, and one of the most practical carry guns available.