Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Kahr CW9 is a lot like that. It's small enough for CCW, and that is obviously the role for which it's intended. It is, however, large enough for home defense and with 7+1 magazine capacity it should serve well in that role.
I included a picture of the CW9 alongside a Ruger LCR. Most of us have shot, owned, or handled 2" snubbies, so the size comparison should be familiar.
Once again.....most of us are familiar with 2" snub nosed revolvers, but few of us really enjoy shooting them. A lot of us own them, carry them, or keep them at hand for home defense, but based on what I see at the range I would say that most of us don't shoot them a lot. This is due to the recoil of these small lightweight guns. They're harder to shoot due to the short sighting radius, small grips and recoil. We all like fun guns and nice little groups, so these guns don't make it out to the range like their larger brethren.
The Kahr is a small-medium sized lightweight handgun. Unlike a J frame (and I know the LCR isn't a J frame) revolver the CW9 is a pleasure to shoot.
The grip reminds me a lot of M1911's. The shape and feel is similar although the grip is of course a bit shorter and more narrow. I have medium sized hands and have no problem getting my hand wrapped around the gun when the mag is inserted. As you see above the magazines have an extension for your pinkie and the grip fits small to medium sized hands pretty well. The 7 rnd mags are shown, but an 8 rnd magazine is available, and it adds a little more in length.
The trigger is double action only (DAO) with a long 7lb pull. I generally hate DOA triggers, but I don't mind it on this Kahr. It's very smooth and consistent throughout the pull. I will say, however, that there is a long reset on the trigger. After the first box or two of ammo, I've had no problems with the trigger reset when shooting fast.
The controls are what you would expect. The trigger, slide lock, and magazine release are all where they should be. The ergonomics are very good on this gun, and I feel that it's a very comfortable pistol to handle. Like most shooters the majority of my range time is with full sized handguns. They are generally what I enjoy the most, and ammo is expensive. Regardless of that I find this small-medium sized semi auto comfortable and fun to shoot.
The recoil is not bad with this lightweight gun. Beginners may not like it, but those that shoot regularly won't even think about it. I find that it has just enough recoil to make it interesting to shoot but not hard enough to effect accuracy or enjoyability. +P's aren't even bad in this gun.
The magazine release was a worry when the gun was first purchased. The mag release was very stiff and the magazines didn't drop free when the release was pressed. It loosened up within a few hundred rnds, and the mags now drop free without any problem. I have heard that others have had the same experience.
I have read that some people have had issues with the magazine release being accidentally pressed while shooting or while carrying their CCW gun. One gentleman wrote about his pistol losing it's mag when he was driving/putting on his seat belt. He later found himself walking around the store without his Glock's magazine. It was laying in his front seat. I haven't had any issues with the mag release being accidentally depressed. Maybe it's luck or maybe it's my choice in holsters. Perhaps it's a good gun design, or maybe it's the love handle locking it in place. We'll never know.
The CW9 weighs a little under 16oz and carries very well. I generally use a Crossbreed Supertuck or Galco Classic Lite shoulder holster. Both work well. I also have a Galco Stow-In-Go IWB holster, but I find that I need to wear an extra layer unless I want the gun to print. Retention is very good without all of these holsters, but I will say that I'm not doing a lot of running, jumping, climbing, etc. If you're carrying at work, and your job requires these motions, then you may want something different.
Now for the factory specs:
Weight: Pistol - 15.8oz Magazine - 1.9oz
Capacity: 7+1 (8rnd mags are also available)
Trigger: DOA (About 7lbs)
Sights: White bar dot combination. Rear sight is driftable
Slide: Matte stainless
Other than the CW9 I don't have a lot of experience with Kahr's. I've always liked their guns, but they were priced out of my range for what they are. The CW9 was designed for the more budget minded, and there are some cost saving steps in it's production. There's less milling on the slide, the model no. and name is laser engraved instead of the roll mark on the other pistols, it ships with 1 magazine, MIM parts, etc. I feel that this is still an attractive gun; the cost saving measures take nothing away from it.
The sights consist of a pinned front sight with white dot. The rear sight is driftable with a white bar in the center. I wasn't really crazy about this setup when I first bought the gun. I found over time that it does work well and is pretty good for defensive use. The sights line up quickly and are visible in most cases. So when are they not visible? How about when trying to get white dots to line up on white paper plates.
The targets above were all shot offhand at 15yds with WWB. The right plate was shot at slow fire without a break in shooting. The center target was shot a bit faster at about 1 rnd per second and the left target was shot at a more rapid pace.
The pistol comes in this rather unattractive and otherwise useless box. A box is a box, and if it saves me a few dollars, I don't care if it's this box that ends up unused at the top of my closet or if it's one of Springfield's truly outstanding gun boxes sitting up there.
The gun comes with the usual literature, 1 magazine (no ammo despite my pics) and a ridiculous locking device.
I find the reliability of this pistol to be excellent. Kahr has a recommended 200 rnd break in period for this gun. I don't consider this unreasonable. Kimber's break in period......ah.....that's a discussion for another day.
I have over 1,000 rnds through this gun at this point. The majority has been 9mm 115gr in the usual flavors (WWB, Federal, Blazer, Blazer Brass and Remington). Most of it has been target loads but as this is one of my carry guns I have also run several boxes (ouch) of Speer Gold Dot 124gr JHP +P.
I had two jams in the first 100 rnds using my one 8 rnd magazine. There have been no issues with the other four 7 rnd mags, and there have been no problems with the 8 rnd magazine since that time. I will say that I was slingshotting the slide instead of releasing the slide lock. I'll talk more about that later.
The slide serrations are very good. They work. That's usually all that needs to be said, but I've had pistols in the past (Hi Power) that really had mediocre slide serrations. This usually isn't noticed in the gun shop, but it's noticed when you're showing your wife and/or girlfriend the gun, and she can't rack it. It also comes out when you're at the range and it's 95 degrees.
The Kahr CW9 was priced all over the map in my area. We are truly lucky to have so many gun stores so close to my home. The CW9 was priced from $420-$480 at my LGS and averaged $400-$440 at the gun shows. I got mine for $400 and felt like this was reasonable. They are currently running $369 at Bud's.
I do feel that I should point out once again that the gun only comes with one magazine, however, and that's just ridiculous with a semi automatic. Extra magazines for this gun are few and far between in my area. www.cdnninvestments.com had the best pricing when I ordered extras. They are currently running $34 (8 rnd) and $30 (7 rnd). I've ordered from them a few times in the past and will definitely use them again.
Disassembly is pretty straightforward. It's harder than a Glock, but easier than a M1911. I won't go into detail. The manual does a good job and anyone with at least mediocre hand strength should be able to easily disassemble and assemble the gun.
Now on to the weirdness associated with this gun. As I said earlier, Kahr has a 200 rnd break in period. They also state that you should not load the handgun by dropping a round directly into the chamber. This can damage the extractor. Only load the gun with a magazine. OK....that makes sense. I'll listen to the clever people that wrote the manual...this time.
The manual also states that you should load the pistol by locking the slide to the rear, inserting the magazine and then releasing the slide stop. Pulling the slide to the rear and releasing it may cause the slide to not fully go into battery.
This is what the manufacturer wants, but frankly I find it stupid. This gun is intended as a self defense weapon, and I don't feel that you should only be able to load it by using the slide stop. Suppose you bump the gun and accidentally release the slide before inserting the mag. Do you then drop the magazine back into a pocket/pouch, lock the slide open, release the slide stop, and then finally get back on target? Sounds pretty time consuming.
The manufacturer is always right, but I'LL continue to operate the gun the same way I do every other semi auto that I've owned until I find that it doesn't work.
With that said I have to admit that I had two jams while not following Kahr's loading instructions, BUT they both were in the first 100 rnds and both were with my 8 rnd magazine. I slingshotted the slide instead of depressing the slide stop as the manufacturer recommends. I haven't had any issues in the last 900 rnds no matter what method I use to load the gun. Others that have shot this pistol also have racked the slide by hand without any problems. I'll continue to rack the slide by hand or use the slide stop depending on my mood at the time. If a problem develops, I will follow the instructions and this is entirely on me should I induce a jam. I am responsible for my gun handling. You are responsible for yours....except apparently in Florida.
I looked hard the the Glock 26 and Kel-Tec PF9 when I bought this gun. The Glock felt a bit chunky for IWB carry, and I didn't care for the feel. I know, I know....heresy!!!
I like the Kel-Tec, and they seem like a good value. I've heard good things about them from a friend, and they can be found for $260 in my area. I just wanted the Kahr. It felt more like quality when I picked it up. It just felt more substantial. Pick one up, and you'll see what I mean. As I buy way too many guns I'm sure I'll have a PF9 follow me home sooner or later, but the CW9 was my first choice among small striker fired carry guns.
So in summary, I recommend this gun based on the last year and the 1,000 or so rnds that I've put through mine. It's accurate when I do my part, and don't try to crank off rnds at white targets using white sights. It's reliable, and it's reasonably affordable. It's a fun shooter and can crossover very easily from being a CCW gun to a home defense gun.
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