It seems that single-stack 9mm pistols have been gaining in popularity as more companies introduce new guns to serve this niche. But Kahr Arms has been serving customers in this market for a long time, and doing so with a highly respected line of handguns. The Kahr CM9 is an affordable subcompact pistol offering a range of features that should make it attractive to a large number of shooters.

For my part, I’ve owned a CM9 for nearly five years and have really put the gun through its paces. Some of the online scuttlebutt suggests that Kahr’s Value Series pistols may not be as durable as the company’s more expensive guns, but to that I say, “Hogwash.” My gun runs great, and I’ve put it through more use and abuse than most people will put to any of their pistols.

My First Kahr

Kahr CM9 pistol
With its compact dimensions and 6+1 capacity, the 9mm CM9 was born for concealed carry.

I wound up adding the Kahr CM9 to my personal collection after having tested one several years back. For me, the gun seemed to check a lot of boxes. It was thin and light while still being chambered in a serious defensive caliber and with good sights. I was looking for a real combat handgun that I could easily carry in non-permissive environments, and I didn’t like a lot of the other options on the market at that time. So, I picked it to be my first Kahr.

In regular range testing, I found the gun to be a reliable performer, and I felt comfortable trusting it to be part of my self-defense plan. As time went on and I shot it more frequently, I began carrying it on a regular basis.

At the time, I was still a uniformed police officer. I always carried my favorite J-Frame revolver, the Smith & Wesson Model 642, as a backup gun. However, as we began to encounter more armed felons and violent crime in our jurisdiction, I felt it was prudent to carry a second backup gun as a bit of extra insurance. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Although I had carried a Glock 27 previously, I wanted something a little thinner and lighter that would still be completely reliable should I find myself in a tight spot. The CM9 got the nod.

At that point, I trained very regularly with the pistol. In addition to my own practice, the gun became part of my ongoing training at the department. I simply don’t know how many rounds I’ve put through the gun, but I can safely say several thousand, including a healthy diet of +P self-defense loads. During all of that time, the gun ran very reliably with very, very few malfunctions. I’m happy to say that I never needed to use the gun in a serious situation, but I was assured it would have done the job if I had needed it to.

Kahr Shopping

Kahr CM9 concealed carry
The pistol sports a 3-inch barrel with conventional 1-in-10-inch-twist rifling. The stiff recoil spring helps the CM9 run reliably, but it also means the slide is harder to rack.

As mentioned, the Kahr CM9 is part of the company’s Value Series of handguns. Kahr makes a broad range of concealed-carry pistols, and in my experience, all of them have been high-quality guns. Even so, the company offers a Premium Series as well as the Value Series. Differences between the series include the use of metal-injection molded (MIM) parts instead of machined ones, reductions in the amount of machining steps on the slide and the use of conventional rifling instead of polygonal.

The term “value” has been abused by many marketing people to the point where some consumers assume it means “cheap.” But that is certainly not the case with the CM9. While the price is very affordable, Kahr still uses top-quality parts and construction, including a fully machined stainless steel slide and top-quality Wolff springs in the magazines. And everything, including the magazines, is made in the U.S.A.

It has been my experience that Value Series guns have all of the accuracy and reliability of the Premium pistols. Based on my experience with the Kahr CM9, I am comfortable in saying that they appear to have the same long-term durability as the more expensive guns as well. My gun shows no unusual wear from extensive shooting. Nor does it show any corrosion or dis-coloration despite being carried by a street cop in an ankle holster working close to saltwater.

For more from author Richard Johnson, visit

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