Review: Kahr CW9
Affordable Single Stack 9mm Pistol for CCW
The “perfect” concealed carry pistol is often a compromise of size, caliber and capacity. Each shooter has to make his or her own decision on what they deem most important. Fortunately, the market is wide open and manufacturers are always trying to turn out guns that meet the needs of the buying public.
The Kahr CW9 has a blend of features that make it appealing for a great number of people. It is chambered in 9mm, giving it adequate energy and penetration with good ammunition. Capacity is seven plus one, which is adequate for most armed encounters. But, where the CW9 really shines is in size.
The CW9 is thin. Very thin. Excluding the slide stop, the pistol is only 0.9 inches wide. In an inside-the-waistband holster, the gun virtually disappears under a shirt. While I frequently carry a double-stack Glock 19 or Smith & Wesson M&P 9, the Kahr is far easier to carry and to conceal.
The grip portion of the frame is long enough to get a complete hand hold on it. I hate the way a lot of compact guns leave the pinky finger out in space. The CW9 is long enough for a shooter to get a good grip.
Barrel length is a touch more than 3.5 inches, meaning you won’t get a crippling loss in velocity that you might experience with very short barreled 9mm guns.
The CW9 is also relatively light. Unloaded, the pistol weighs 17.1 ounces including the magazine. Part of the lightness comes from the fact that the frame is polymer.
CW9 Pricing – Cheap or Inexpensive?
Kahr pistols have been widely regarded as quality pistols, and have had price tags to go along with that sentiment. However, the CW9 is significantly less expensive than its more pricey brethren.
The Kahr P9 is similar in size and function to the CW9. However, the P9 carries a MSRP of $739, while the CW9 is a more affordable $485. So, how does Kahr shave more than $250 off the price tag?
Kahr is able to save money on CW9 production costs by:
- using traditional rifling instead of polygonal;
- using some MIM (metal injection molding) parts instead of machined;
- shipping with only one magazine;
- using a fixed, plastic front sight instead of a dovetailed, metal sight; and
- less “finish work”: simple stamping on the frame rather than the more elegant appearance of the Kahr name and model number found on the P9 for example.
An extra magazine carries a suggested retail price of $40. So even if you pick up a second magazine, you are still more than $200 cheaper than the P9.
Price savings don’t mean much if the gun doesn’t shoot well or is unreliable. I’m happy to say the CW9 turned in a stellar performance.
Home, Home on the Range…
I’ve shot a lot of tiny guns lately. Some of them performed very well, but none are nearly as much fun to shoot as a full size gun. Shooting the Kahr CW9 was closer to shooting a full size gun rather than a similar compact pistol.
First of all, the double action only (DAO) trigger is very smooth. I’ve seen a few complaints that the pull is too long, but I never got that impression. I love shooting revolvers, and the Kahr’s trigger was not as long as any of my revolvers.
Using a digital Lyman trigger pull scale, my Kahr CW9 measured an average of 6 pounds, 11 ounces on 10 pulls. A smooth double-action pull at less than seven pounds is a winner in my book.
Recoil was very manageable, even with +P rounds. Even in rapid fire, keeping the front sight on target was not any great feat.
Reliability was 100 percent. As with any gun, putting several hundred rounds through it before carrying is a must, but the Kahr was perfect right out of the box. At this point I have put more than 1,000 rounds through the gun, and I have yet to suffer any malfunction.
The Kahr CW9 is a personally owned gun. I bought it and have no interest in trading it. I think it is a great gun and a fantastic value.
If you are looking for an easy to carry gun for CCW purposes, you could do a lot worse than the CW9. The only thing I suggest is picking up an extra magazine since it only ships with one.