Always looking to improve and upgrade their handguns, Kahr Arms just released their latest compact 9mm, the S9, and that is under review today.
Kahr’s Rep of “Rolls Royce” of Trigger Pulls
Many years ago, I remember reading about Kahr 9mm handguns, and how all the gun writers raved about their DAO (Double Action Only) trigger pull. The writers claimed it was the Rolls Royce of DAO trigger pulls. Having been a writer for more than 25 years in the gun, knife, and survival fields, I took it with a grain of salt, knowing how some gun writers hype things in their articles. I don’t! I don’t need to. It was quite some time, after reading those many articles about the Kahr 9mm handguns that I actually ran across a used one and was sold on the spot. The DAO trigger pull is that good; it’s super slick, super smooth!
Owning My Kahr Handguns
Since owning my first Kahr handgun, quite a few have come into my hands over the years for testing. I even own more than a few. The hype just isn’t there. They are what they are, which is some of the best of the best when it comes to trigger pulls. Plus, you can have your Kahr is several different calibers– 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, the most popular self-defense rounds available. And, you can even shoot some +P ammo through ‘em, but I don’t recommend a steady diet of +P ammo. The guns aren’t made for that, nor is your shooting hand. There’s plenty of recoil there, so you will limit yourself to shooting much +P ammo through these guns.
Comparison of S9 to CW9
Kahr recently sent me their new S9, 9mm pistol, which is very similar to the CW9 in many respects, except with some notable improvements. First of all, the barrel is still marked CW9, so the same barrel is being used as in the CW9. Secondly, there are front cocking serrations on the slide, which is a very nice touch. There are Picatinny rails under the dust cover, should you want to add a light or a laser to the gun.
The serial number plate has been moved to the grip panel, and that’s not a big deal! The sights, ah, are a great improvement. We have three dot white sights on the S9. Previous models have the white dot on the front sight and a bar on the rear. While fast to pick up, many shooters just prefer the 3-dot setup; it is faster for us to line up the sights.
Kahr also claims to have a newly designed magazine base pad, but I don’t see any difference between it and the CW9 mags. The CW9 mags work perfectly in the S9. Kahr also says the grip is redesigned. Again, I can’t see or feel any difference. So the changes are obviously very subtle, to say the least. The S9 comes with two 7-rd magazines, while the CW series only come with one 7-rd mag. The factory stock number for the S9 is S9093, if you’re interested.
S9 Overview- Barrel, Trigger, and Weight
The barrel is 3.6” long, and there is no magazine disconnect that I despise on handguns. Of course, the gun is striker-fired and has that same super-slick, DAO trigger pull. It is a long trigger pull, so no need for an external manual safety. Its empty weight, without a magazine, is 15.8 oz, and an empty mag is 1.9 oz. Really, when you strap on a Kahr, you just forget it is there in short order, because the weight is not a factor.
S9 Frame and Grip
The frame is black polymer with the serial number plate embedded in the grip area on the left side. The grip area is nicely checkered, for a sure hold. On my CW45, I actually took some extra fine sandpaper to the sharp “points” on the grip. The checkering was tough on my hand, and I’m no wimp. Several other people I know did the same thing and found the gun just that much more comfortable to shoot with the hottest loads. The slide is stainless steel. This is always a good thing in my area of Oregon where we get a lot of rain. There’s not much worry about the slide allowing rust to get a foothold.
Recommendation of 200 Rounds To Break In
If you read through the entire Kahr owner’s manual, and you should as I do with each new gun I get, you will find out that Kahr recommends that you run 200 rounds of ammo through their guns to break them in. This is excellent advice. Heed it! Most of the Kahr’s that I’ve tested and owned worked 100% right out of the box, but a few actually required that 200 rounds through them before they were reliable. And there is something “magic” about that 200-rd mark. Once you reach it, the guns start perking along without any problems with just about any ammo. Speaking of ammo, sooner or later, and I don’t care how reliable you handgun is, you will run across some ammo that doesn’t function 100% of the time in your gun. The answer’s simple. Change ammo brands or types!
S9 Measurements and Holster
The overall length of the S9 is 5.9” and height is 4.5”. The gun is slightly less than an inch wide, so it conceals nicely. I tried the S9 in several holsters from Blackhawk Products www.blackhawk.com , and the gun fit perfectly. I like the leather holster that has a spare mag pouch built into it. It’s very nice, indeed!
Operating at 100% After 200 Rounds
Speaking of break-in periods, the CW9 I received as a Christmas gift from my family took a full 200-rds through it before it would operate 100%. And being the kind of guy I am, I took the gun apart many times to see if I could figure out why the gun wasn’t functioning 100% all the time. I never found the problem. But once it hit 200-rds mark, it worked perfectly! Keep this in mind, before you rush back to your gun shop and tell them the gun doesn’t work or before returning it to Kahr for service.
Ammo For Testing
I always have a great selection of 9mm ammo on-hand for testing in articles, and this time was no different. From Black Hills Ammunition I had their 125-gr HoneyBadger subsonic all-copper load. It is not a JHP. There are three grooves milled into the bullet for deep penetration, and it doesn’t need to expand, either. It will create a deadly temporary cavity, just like a JHP does. I also had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, and 115-gr Barnes Tac-XP +P all-copper hollow point load.
From the folks at Buffalo Bore, I had their 147-gr subsonic standard pressure FMJ-FN load, 147-gr Outdoorsman load, which has a Hard Cast FN bullet and is rated +P, 115-gr Barnes Tac-XP all-copper hollow point load that is +P+, and last their 124-gr Penetrator load, which is a FMJ, FN load rated at +P+! So, a good selection was tested through the newest Kahr S9.
S9 Test Process
Shooting was done at 15 yards, and that’s a fair distance, since this little gun is meant for concealed carry because of its small size. Accuracy testing was conducted over the hood of my Jeep Wrangler with a sleeping bag as a rest. There was one failure to eject, and that was with the Black Hills 125-gr HoneyBadger load. I don’t think it was the load itself; I might have been limp-wristing the gun under rapid-fire. There were no other problems with this load or any of the other loads I tested. I will say that the Buffalo Bore 124-gr FMJ FN +P+ load was hot. I wouldn’t want to shoot a lot of this load in practice.
Then again, no gun maker says you can safely shoot +P+ ammo through their firearms, and this is a compact 9mm. Still, the gun functioned 100% with this hot load. I did run some extra Black Hills 125-gr HoneyBadger loads through the S9, just to make sure they would function 100% of the time after the one bobble. There were no problems, so I’m sure it was just me not holding the gun tight enough, and the smaller the gun, the harder they are to shoot, so you need to keep a firm hold on small polymer framed handguns at all times.
In all my shooting, I ran 400 rounds of ammo through the S9, and it just hummed along fine, with only the one malfunction. I was pleased there was no break-in period required. Even though I get a lot of ammo for free, for testing in my articles, I do have to purchase some out of my own pocket at times, for articles, so running 200 rounds through a gun to make sure it functions 100% can get expensive, even with cheap 9mm aluminum-cased ammo.
The S9 was carried for two weeks in that Blackhawk leather hip holster with the spare mag. It rode high and tight to my body, which is a requirement for me with any hip holster.
I’m telling you the truth when I tell you that at the local big box and little box stores, I’ve seen a few guns being carried “concealed” on a cheap leather belt with a cheap holster both of which were literally holding the gun and holster upside down. The gun and holster were flopping around on their belt and they didn’t even know it. How sad! Concealed means concealed! You should always buy the best holster and gun belt you can afford so you don’t have these problems. I wish I had the mind to take a pic of a few of these guys with their guns in a cheap holster that had actually flipped over to where the gun was upside down and exposed on their side. Sheesh!
Full retail on the Kahr S9 is $447, but it comes with a second mag, which is a plus in my book. The improvements are nice. I liked the new rear sight and the serrations on the front end of the slide. Check one out. I bet you’ll pick it over the CW9.