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When it comes to pocket pistols, few companies do them as well as Kahr Arms. Unlike many gun companies that try to scale down their full-sized guns to create smaller versions, Kahr’s pistols are designed and engineered from the ground up as compact guns. In fact, many of the defining characteristics of Kahr’s guns can be traced back to the initial design efforts of the company’s founder and lead designer, Justin Moon. Those efforts not only redefined the modern compact pistol, they earned the company six patents for its groundbreaking innovations.

One of the newer additions to the Kahr family of guns is the CW380. Like its other CW-series pistols, it incorporates a number of cost-saving manufacturing methods to make it more economical than its premier counterpart, in this case the P380. But rather than focusing on what the CW380 doesn’t have, I believe it’s more important to emphasize what it does offer that sets it apart from many other .380 ACPs on the market. First and foremost, it faithfully includes Kahr’s “safe cam” trigger mechanism, which gives it an exceptionally smooth, light action and a thinner profile than most comparably sized pistols. It also has real, high-visibility sights (a drift-adjustable white bar-dot rear sight and a pinned polymer front sight) and automatic slide lock on an empty magazine—just as you would find on full-sized fighting handguns. All of this is packed into a gun roughly the size of your palm that weighs only 10.2 ounces empty and 13.7 ounces loaded with a chambered round and the one six-round magazine that comes with the gun.

A New Standard

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Kahr K9

To truly appreciate Kahr pistols and the company behind them, it helps to know a bit of its history. Kahr’s founder and CEO, Justin Moon, has been an avid shooter since his teenage years and is a long-time advocate of concealed carry rights. Frustrated that none of the commercially available pistols he tried provided the quality and features he was looking for in a carry gun, he decided to design his own. His fresh, innovative approach to compact pistol design, combined with the original Kahr company’s hard-won reputation for manufacturing quality, was a perfect match. Kahr Arms was born and a new standard was set in compact defensive pistols with its first gun, the K9.

RELATED: Kahr’s High-Performance Big Bores

The K9 showcased all the defining features of Kahr’s revolutionary approach to pistol design. Its cocking cam trigger system uses a double-lobed cam to both cock the striker and deactivate the internal firing pin safety. Simpler and more efficient than other trigger mechanisms, it yields a double-action-only (DAO) trigger pull comparable to a fine revolver. The “offset barrel” design combines a single trigger bar and an offset barrel lug to significantly reduce the width of the pistol, making it lighter and easier to conceal. It also lowers the bore-line of the pistol in relation to the shooter’s hand, allowing the gun to point more naturally and reducing muzzle flip. Kahr’s self-cleaning extractor design also greatly increases the extractor’s reliability and virtually eliminates extraction failures.

Thanks to these advanced features, the K9 provided an extremely reliable, easy-to-shoot 9mm pistol in a size that rivaled the best .380s of its day. It also paved the way for the K40 in .40 and the even more compact 3-inch-barreled MK9 and MK40. Kahr’s K and MK series pistols are also available in upgraded Elite versions featuring polished finishes and feed ramps, beveled magazine wells and laser-engraved frames. K and MK series pistols also feature premium Lothar Walther polygonal-rifled barrels, machined accents on the slide, drift-adjustable bar-dot combat sights and key components like the slide-stop lever and extractor that are machined from solid stock.

Let There Be Light(weight)

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Kahr P380

Another major branch of the Kahr family of pocket pistols is its P series, which features lightweight polymer frames reinforced with steel inserts. This series offers a full spectrum of caliber choices, including .380 ACP, 9mm, .40, and .45 ACP, in the form of the P380, P9, P40 and P45, respectively. In 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP, the series also includes the compact PM9, PM40 and PM45, which are about 10 percent shorter and typically offer one less round of magazine capacity.

RELATED: Kahr Arms Introduces the CT380

P-series guns, like most of Kahr’s premium models, are available with either a matte stainless or blackened slide and either standard sights or three-dot Meprolight night sights. Beginning in January 2014, all Kahr’s premium guns (K, MK, P, PM, TP) come complete with three magazines (two flush and one +1 extended) and a molded ABS plastic storage case.

Affordable Defense

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Kahr CM40

At first glance, Kahr’s CW series of pistols appears identical to its P series. However, a closer look reveals some subtle differences that allow CW series pistols to be priced more economically. Specifically, the machining and engraving of the slides of the CW series is less intricate than those of the P series and they are only available in a matte finish. While the slide stop lever and extractor of P-series guns are machined from solid stock, CW guns utilize metal-injection-molded (MIM) parts. CW-series guns also have conventional rifling in their barrels, as opposed to the polygonal rifling of the P-series, have pinned polymer front sights and are provided with a single magazine and a cardboard box.

RELATED: Customized Kahr CM9 for Everyday CCW

If you want the value-priced features of the CW series in a smaller, more concealable package, Kahr’s CM series takes the 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP CW pistols and shrinks them, reducing their barrel lengths from 3.6 inches to around 3 inches and reducing their magazine capacities by one round each. CM-series pistols also have conventional rifling and include a single flush-fitting magazine and a cardboard box.

Customized Compacts

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Kahr PM9

As if all these choices weren’t enough, Kahr also offers several variations of its 9mm and .40 pistols that feature external manual safeties and enhanced triggers that shorten the length of pull from about 0.37 to 0.25 inches. Additionally, the company offers upgraded features on most of their models, to include Crimson Trace Laser Sights, tritium night sights and Novak Low-Profile Tritium Night Sights. And, if your tastes are not limited to pocket pistols, Kahr also offers full-sized pistols delivering the same high-performance features as their compact models. Developed from the ground up to meet the needs of concealed carry and personal-defense shooters, Kahr pistols are in a class of their own.

For more information, visit http://www.kahr.com or call 508-795-3919.

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