When I moved from Illinois to Idaho over three years ago, one of the first things I did was apply for my concealed carry license. When I lived in Illinois there was no concealed carry available so my pistol choices leaned towards larger pistols. My smallest pistol was a Glock 19. While the G19 was a fine CCW piece, it was just too large for me to comfortably carry every single day. When I had my permit in hand a few weeks later, however, my search for the perfect carry pistol was on.

While shopping at my local gun store I came across the Kahr CW9 pistol. It was very thin, light and felt great in my hand. The CW9 is a 7+1 capacity, single-stack 9mm with a 3.5-inch barrel. I carried the CW9 perfectly content until the CM9 came out. The Kahr CM9 shortened the barrel to 3 inches and the grip to hold 6+1 instead. The CM9 was touted as the affordable alternative to the Kahr PM9.

Mod 1 Firearms

The full stippling provides a great grip without tearing up your hand.
The full stippling provides a great grip without tearing up your hand.

My Kahr story became more interesting once I met a man by the name of Pike Spraggins. Pike is the owner of Mod 1 Firearms out of Lexington, Kentucky. My first meeting with Pike involved me drooling over many custom Glocks and M&Ps he had stippled, Cerakoted and done custom machining on. The quality of workmanship was through the roof. Soon after that meeting, Pike had my personal Glock 17 in his hands to be worked over. After having the majority of my Glocks stippled by Pike, the wheels in my head were rapidly spinning. I looked down at my trusty Kahr and the light bulb illuminated! I quickly fired off an email to Pike inquiring about doing a custom Kahr. To my knowledge he had not done a Kahr before but he said he was up for the challenge.

“After a quick sanding, the grip had all the texture I desired with none of the abrasion I did not want.”

I started by completely disassembling the Kahr. The frame and bare slide were sent off to Mod 1 Firearms.

The stock Kahr frame has built in grip checkering, which tends to leave marks on my hands after a few shots downrange. The checkering is effective but too sharp. In my time of owning the Kahrs I’ve used a rubber sleeve over the grip and an Agrip. The rubber sleeve worked fine but added bulk to the grip, which I did not want. The Agrip worked well, but required occasional maintenance. Stippling felt like my best option. Pike stippled the frame the full circumference of the grip. The stippling grips your hand without punishing it. When it arrived, the stippling was fairly aggressive and had too much abrasion on my skin carrying it IWB. A quick call to Pike and it was determined that I could knock down the aggressiveness with some sandpaper. After a quick sanding, the grip had all the texture I desired with none of the abrasion I did not want.

The stock CM9 features rear cocking serrations machined into the slide. With its short slide and fairly heavy recoil spring, the Kahr CM9 can be difficult to charge. Pike was able to replicate the appearance of the rear serrations and add more serrations at the front of the slide. Due to the CM9 roll mark on the left side of the slide, the front cocking serrations cleverly skirt the marking. The new cocking serrations are beautiful and really complement the look of the gun. The Kahr CM9 features a beveled slide edge, and the combination of the serrations and the bevel really make the newly machined slide look very tough but modern. I hope that after seeing this fine example Kahr will consider incorporating it into its design.

Sniper Gray Cerakote and black Salt Bath Nitride finish the slide and barrel on the CM9.
Sniper Gray Cerakote and black Salt Bath Nitride finish the slide and barrel on the CM9.

Once the slide was machined it needed to be refinished. The slide is made from stainless steel so it could have just as easily been bead blasted to give it the factory satin sheen, but I wanted more. On my other pistols I have had Pike Cerakote them in Sniper Gray. The color looks really good on slides, so I decided to have him Cerakote the CM9’s slide in the same color.

Now that the slide was machined and refinished, I reinstalled all the internal parts. I polished all bearing surfaces myself to ensure smooth operation. The Kahr is already known for a super smooth trigger pull. The pull is long but it is very smooth. To help with the trigger pull weight I installed a Wolff striker spring. The lighter weight spring lightened the trigger pull while retaining reliability. The spring also provides a way to alter the trigger with no permanent modifications. It can also easily be swapped back to the stock spring if desired.

The only thing left on the slide to do was install a set of night sights. The front sights are staked on and were destroyed upon removing them to send to machining. I installed a Trijicon night sight set I ordered from Kahr directly. My other Kahrs wear the standard Trijicon night sights offered by Kahr, so I knew I would be satisfied with their performance.


Crimson Trace LaserGuard fits snugly to the CM9’s frame.
Crimson Trace LaserGuard fits snugly to the CM9’s frame.

The CM9 comes with a silver trigger, barrel, magazine and slide stop lever. I wanted to keep my custom CM9 subtle and muted so I sent them off for coating. WMD Guns answered the call on my coatings needs. WMD Guns is well known for its application of nickel boron to many firearms. I have owned a pistol coated by WMD in NiB-X before and found it to be a great coating, but its silver color was not right for this project. It was decided we would coat the remaining parts in what is referred to as Nitromet Salt Bath Nitrocarburizing. The process is more commonly referred to as Melonite. The process does not add any thickness to the parts so there is no fear of interference. The coating is not a finish applied over the surface; it seeps into the parts. The barrel, trigger and slide stop are all high contact parts so I wanted the most durable finish available for them. The black color contrasts quite well with the Sniper Gray Cerakote.

I have done a somewhat popular modification that involves adapting a seven-round magazine floorplate onto a six-round magazine. The floorplate, as it comes from the factory, is too thick to work on the six-round guns. It will not allow the magazine to fully seat into the pistol. The modification involves sanding the plastic floorplate from a seven-round magazine, which has a small lip. The factory six-round magazines use a flat metal floorplate. By doing this modification you gain a small lip of plastic that your finger can catch. After doing this, I can get all three fingers on the grip instead of having to tuck my pinky finger. The parts to complete this conversion run $15 directly from Kahr.

Now that the gun was fully assembled it was time to accessorize it. I have carried my Kahrs with lasers since the day I bought them. My PJ Holster is already molded around the CM9 with a Crimson Trace Laserguard attached. The Laserguard clamps around the full length of the triggerguard and offers an intuitive activation switch along the front strap of the pistol’s grip. Kahr pistols also have lasers available for them made by Viridian and LaserMax.

Final Notes

Accuracy was perfectly acceptable as a defensive firearm. Federal 115-grain produced this five-shot 1.59-inch group.
Accuracy was perfectly acceptable as a defensive firearm. Federal 115-grain produced this five-shot 1.59-inch group.

After first reassembling the CM9, I was taken aback with how beautiful it is. I had always seen the CM9 as a tool. It was the best tool I had at the time but I never thought of it as beautiful. After the modifications were done and the new colors applied during refinishing it is a beauty. The project has really made me want to do more custom Kahrs.

If you are looking to upgrade your gun I cannot stress enough how happy I’ve been with Mod 1 Firearms’ work and WMD Guns can handle all your coating needs. A disclaimer needs to be noted that the custom work done to the handgun will void the warranty provided by Kahr.

For More Information


Mod 1 Firearms

PJ Holsters

WMD Guns

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