There are dozens of compact pistols available for the American shooter. Some are economy models that use economical parts and components. Others use more expensive components and are built with a greater attention to detail. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what you can afford and are willing to pay for.

Gun Details

Though their polymer-framed pistols have been very popular for their price point, Kahr Arms has a full line of solid steel pistols. Recently, I had the good fortune to work with the model K9. This particular semi-automatic pistol arrived with a matte black stainless steel finish.

The K9 has a 3.5-inch barrel with 1-in-10-inch polygonal rifling. Its overall length is 6 inches, and it only has a height of 4.5 inches. Made of solid steel construction, this compact pistol does have a little heft and weighs 23 ounces empty. This would prove beneficial at the range.

For this particular model, Kahr has applied what they call their matte black stainless steel finish to the pistol. This finish is very tough, being both corrosion- and scratch-resistant. Hogue wraparound grips surround the frame and offer the user a solid purchase on the pistol. This particular model came with drift-adjustable iron sights atop the slide. The front sight had a white dot and the rear sight a white bar in the center. Other sight configurations are available from Kahr, including Novak and Tritium night sights.

A double-action-only (DAO) trigger activates the K9. While the trigger press is long and deliberate, it is also smooth and consistent. As for manual controls, the K9 has only three, including the trigger. The other two are the magazine release button and the slide stop located on the left side of the frame.

My K9 pistol arrived in a hard plastic box with two magazines, a 7-round version and an 8-round extended version. All Kahr pistol magazines are a single-column affair. The Kahr K9 also arrived with the obligatory trigger lock and owner’s manual.

Range Time

I truly wanted to give the Kahr K9 a thorough workout, so I set aside six different loads from five companies—CorBon, DoubleTap, Federal, Hornady and Wolf. The Gold line from Wolf uses brass cases as opposed to their normal lacquered steel. To truly test the K9’s eating habits, I made sure that I had lightweight, fast-moving loads and slower, heavier loads. Several styles of controlled expansion projectiles were used as well as full metal jacket cartridges.

My chronographing chores gave the results I would have expected from a compact pistol with 3.5-inch barrel. The 147-grain loads were all subsonic, and the 115- and 124-grain ammunition bested 1,000 feet per second (fps). Not surprisingly, the CorBon 115-grain DPX +P load traveled better than 1,100 fps.

From a distance of 10 yards, with my arms resting on a range bag for stability, I ran a number of slow-fire strings with all the above ammunition. I discovered that from that distance, iron sights were set and zeroed perfectly in the factory. All rounds impacted at point of aim.

While every load was able to print groups below 2 inches from 10 yards, the K9 seemed to prefer the Federal 147-grain Hydra-Shok ammunition. This load clustered tightly and produced an amazing half-inch group. Of course, a 2-inch group from 10 yards is definitely “Minute of Bad Guy,” and any of the included personal defense loads would get the trick done.

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