The proliferation of “shall-issue” legislation for CCW permits, advancements in technology and constant reminders that we live in a dangerous world have all contributed to the increased number of licensed carry holders. Nevertheless, there are still few CCW pistols that have risen to the level of “classic” among firearm pundits. So the question is, What does it take to be recognized by handgun connoisseurs as one of the most desirable CCW pistols? To answer this, three celebrated models are given a closer look.

Walther PPK

This is the most famous premium subcompact pistol. With origins dating back to the late 1920’s, the PPK is a blowback-operated semi-automatic design. Among the world’s first successful double-action semi-automatic pistols, it went on to become one of the most widely recognized and copied designs. While originally intended as a compact version of Walther’s PP (Police Pistol) for use by detectives, that was just the beginning of its popularity. The Walther PPK continues to appear everywhere, from motion pictures to historical events. It was the celebrated sidearm of the fictional James Bond and the real-world pistol Hitler used to commit suicide as Soviet Forces closed in on his bunker. Available in a variety of small calibers, the .380 chambering was its decreed format of choice among defensive pistoleros in the United States. Through the mid-1990s, the Walther PPK remained the one “cloak and dagger” pistol against which all others were measured. It is still highly prized today by CCW practitioners and handgun collectors.

Heckler & Koch P7M8

Following terrorist activity during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the German police decided to upgrade their 7.65mm caliber handguns to the more powerful 9x19mm Parabellum. They sought an ambidextrous pistol, safe to carry with a loaded chamber and quick to draw and fire.

They eventually selected three different pistols for this mission, including one of the subcompacts chosen for our current comparison, the Heckler & Koch P7 (then called PSP). Incorporating a single-action trigger with a proprietary squeeze cocker in the grip and a ported gas system to reduce felt recoil, the P7 is arguably the fastest practical carry pistol of all time. Series production of the P7 began in 1979. The pistol was adopted by elite European military and police organizations. Over the years, the design was fine-tuned to meet the tastes of the American market (both police departments and private shooters), and in its most refined form the gun is designated P7M8.

Kahr PM9

The Kahr PM9 represents the state-of-the-art in today’s concealable pistols. Among those “in the know,” it is often cited as one of the best pocket pistols of all-time. When its buttery smooth DAO trigger is pressed, the PM9 releases a striker-operated firing pin and passive safety. The action is a Browning locked-breech and the barrel tolerances are among the most precise that you will find on any factory produced carry gun. As part of its patented design, Kahr pistols have a feed ramp offset to the left, allowing the trigger draw bar to lie flatter against the frame and reducing required slide width to just 0.90 inches on 9mm models. Kahr pistols are “shooters,” rated for +P ammunition with accuracy to rival full-sized sidearms.

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