In my opinion, some of the most user friendly of the double-action-only (DAO) pistols on today’s market are made by the Kahr Arms. I feel that the DAO trigger on Kahr pistols is one of the primary reasons for their popularity. The smooth, light and stage-free stroke is accomplished by means of a system in which a trigger stroke of approximately 0.7 inches rotates a cam that unlocks the spring-loaded striker safety, drawing the striker to full-cock position before releasing it to fire a cartridge.
The triggers on the Kahr pistols I have fired were all smooth, relatively light and stage free. Kahr offers the customer a choice of a metal or polymer frame on their pistols. There is also an absence of external safety devices on almost all Kahr pistols, which gives them a snag-free exterior, a very nice feature for a concealed-carry pistol. Kahr does offer several models with an external thumb safety and/or loaded-chamber indicator so as to be able to sell their products in states that require such devices.
Breech locking is accomplished via the barrel hood bearing on the front edge of the ejection port. Upon firing, the slide moves rearward and a cam on the barrel lug pulls the barrel down, unlocking it from the slide, which continues rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent case. A recoil spring, located on a full-length guide rod under the barrel, pulls the slide forward, stripping a round from the magazine and chambering it. As the slide goes into battery, the barrel and slide are locked together as the barrel hood moves up into the ejection port. The striker is held in a partially cocked position where a striker block immobilizes it, and it can only be deactivated by pulling the trigger through a complete stroke.
Kahr pistols use an offset barrel with the trigger mechanism beside it (rather than underneath) to provide a frame design with a high grip close to the centerline of the bore. This provides enhanced recoil control while reducing muzzle flip and felt recoil. A self-cleaning extractor forces powder residue away from the extractor to prevent fouling buildup while a rather impressive ejector throws spent cases well clear of the pistol. Originally, Kahr pistols featured all steel construction, but in 1999 they introduced their first polymer-frame pistol—the P9. Since then, Kahr’s “plastic” line has expanded to include full-sized, compact, subcompact and micro-compact pistols in .380, 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers.
All polymer-frame Kahr pistols bear a strong family resemblance with textured polymer frames and matte-, bright- (Elite Series) or black-finished stainless steel slides. The iron sights consist of a white dot on the front blade and a white bar at the bottom of the rear sight’s square notch. You simply align these to form a lowercase “i.” In my opinion, they are the fastest into action of all the white insert sights available today. For the cost-conscious shooter, Kahr offers their CW and CM series, in which the metal-injected, molded slide has fewer machining operations, the barrel has conventional rather than polygonal rifling, the front sight is pinned in place rather than using a dovetail cut, and it is shipped with a single magazine.
Intended to appeal to the growing number of women who carry concealed, Kahr now offers their Black Rose Edition pistols. These P380 and PM9 pistols feature engraved, bright-finished slides. A long-stemmed rose is engraved on each side of the slide and set off in black chrome with 24-karat gold inlay. Other features include all beveled edges, a Lothar Walther match-grade barrel (P380 only) and a tuned trigger. A quick perusal of Kahr’s website will show you that they offer a wide variety of pistols suitable for concealed carry. In fact, I discovered 24 pistols in four different calibers that fit the guidelines set for this article.
I have been a long-time fan of Kahr pistols and obtained a polymer-frame PM9 when it first hit the market. It was small and light, allowing me to conceal it under the lightest clothing or, with a Galco inside-the-pocket holster, carry it in the front pocket of my trousers without it displaying any signature. And despite its demure dimensions, and being chambered for a powerful cartridge, it was accurate and very controllable.
AT THE RANGE:
Kahr kindly provided me with a P380 to evaluate for this report. As I have owned a number of Kahr pistols over the years, except for its tiny dimensions, I found little to remark upon—and that’s a good thing! All Kahr pistols have the exact same operating drill, and once you know how to use one, you know how to use them all! But don’t let my lack of excitement detract in any way from the pistol itself. It is constructed from the finest materials and shows a great deal of attention to manufacture, assembly and fitting. It is truly a quality item. As I could see no relevance in attempting to shoot little groups from a rest with this type of handgun, I set up a D-1 target at 5 yards and I proceeded to run it through a series of drills, firing it both supported and unsupported (one-handed).
The P380’s trigger was a delight to use, and I was able to put most of the rounds into one ragged hole in the target’s X ring. This was one darn fine shooting little pistol! I ran about 170 rounds of three different .380 loads through it in two shooting sessions, and regardless of bullet shape or ballistics, the pistol ate up whatever I stuffed in the magazine and spat out the empty cases. Despite its tiny grip, recoil control was very good and, unlike most pistols of this class, the sights were easy and fast to align, which allowed me to actually aim the pistol instead of having to “point, pull trigger and hope.”
There is little doubt why Kahr pocket pistols have proven so popular for concealed carry by licensed civilians, undercover and off-duty police officers.
For more information on Kahr Handguns, visit kahr.com or call 508-795-3919.