By Diane Walls,
Kahr has offered small-framed, well-made and reliable handguns for defense for many years. It’s only in the last few, however, that they have offered a budget-minded line of guns for those that want Kahr features and quality at a more affordable price point. The CM9 is their basic model comparable to their PM9 in style and design. At an MSRP of $517.00, it can be had for more than $200 less than its pricier counterpart, the PM9 (MSRP $786.00).
What’s the difference? The CM9 ships with only one magazine. The general fit and finish is good, but less highly refined than the PM9. The trigger is only a little less smooth than the more expensive model. My sample tested at an average trigger pull weight of 7 lb. Kahr’s signature long, even trigger stroke was present both back to firing position and out to reset for follow-up shots.
The slide-to-frame fit was less polished, making it necessary to work the two against each other in order to achieve disassembly. The disassembly process is identical to that of the PM9. After assuring that the gun is unloaded by removing the magazine, locking the slide to the rear and checking visually and tactilely that there is no ammunition in it, take it to a well lighted area with no ammunition present. Remove the slide stop pin after aligning the half-moon on the pin with the matching indentation in the slide (you need good light to see the little half moon). Pull the trigger to release tension and pull slide off the frame going forward. Carefully press the recoil spring assembly forward and sideways and remove it while gently releasing the spring tension. The barrel can then be slid out. After cleaning and lubrication, the reverse procedure will re-assemble the gun. The owner’s manual has good, understandable instructions. No special tools are required for field stripping the gun. Only light lubrication is required.
The factory magazine it came with didn’t fit entirely flush with the bottom of the grip which allowed it to pinch my pinky finger a bit when firing heavier or hotter loads through it. This might be remedied with the extended magazine they offer. This choice of additional magazine would give an extra round capacity (7+1 instead of 6+1) and costs the same when ordered from Kahr at MSRP $40.00 ea. for any additional magazines. The extended magazine would give more length to hold onto while firing this very compact gun. Even my small hands had scant room for all my fingers while holding it. The front of the grip is only 1-3/4 in. in length and the back 2-1/4 in.
Where it counts, though, the CM9 did well. It didn’t balk at any bullet weight or configuration I ran through it. It fed and extracted reliably, and accuracy was on a par with any gun of its size and caliber I’ve shot. The bar and dot sights are easily visible for consistent shot placement. See Table 1 for the results of my accuracy testing. The tests were performed at 15 yards with the shooter using a braced seated position.
The CM9 was quite controllable with any load I fired through it. The +P loads were a bit snappier but not unpleasantly so. The degree of muzzle flip was easily manageable, even firing one handed with my non-dominant hand. Though the gun is diminutive in size, it can, with a firm grip, be fired rapidly and accurately. Kahr’s low bore axis design (the barrel positioned low and close to the shooter’s hands) makes it a remarkably stable platform. The polymer frame flexes enough to absorb some of the recoil and the textured grips and front and back checkering allow it to stick in the hand without being overly aggressive and irritating to the skin of the fingers.
All in all, I’d say the CM9 is a good compromise for those that like the Kahr pistols but have always found them a bit expensive to consider adding to the collection. This very slim and small gun would be ideal for pocket or ankle carry as a back-up to a larger gun.
It is very concealable and low-profile while still retaining full 9mm punch. It would also serve well for situations where wardrobe dictates only a small gun would be concealable, as in while wearing close-fitting or lightweight clothing. If off-body carry in a purse or pack is all that is workable, this little unit would tuck away in a dedicated holster compartment without adding a lot of weight. It’s small enough to fit into some of the evening style purse designs that are becoming available from concealed carry handbag designers.
As always, my caveat to shooters considering a tiny gun is this: Practice with it until you can shoot accurately and quickly. It isn’t going to feel like your full-sized range training gun at all. That’s a whole lotta “Pow!” from something very small and close to your hand. Keep that in mind and accustom yourself to it if you are going to depend on it to protect your life.
These little guns are not the ideal for new shooters to learn their skills with. When it comes to handguns, it’s best (and easiest) to start full sized and work down rather than the other way around. Develop good skills with a full-sized handgun and you won’t be fighting the flinch as much. Make it easy on yourself, take it a step at a time and your training will be more productive and lots more fun!
Little guns are not designed for learning and training but rather as easily concealed defensive tools. The CM9 would fill this niche admirably and not break the bank in doing so.