This Elegant All-Steel Auto Has
Gone From “Classy To Classic.”
By Payton Miller
In this day of striker-fired, polymer-framed CCW-type autos, the 9mm Kahr K9 is something of an anomaly. It is of all-stainless steel construction, weighing an unapologetic 23 ounces (unloaded and magazine-less) and priced at an equally unapologetic level. Today it retails for just south of 900 bucks (at least the bare-bones version we used does). It also has the distinction of being the company’s first model—introduced in 1996. This would’ve been a couple of years before I first had occasion to shoot one.
That first Kahr—in terms of trigger pull—had been an eye-opener. I hadn’t had much to do with what limited types of striker-fired DAO guns were on the menu up to then. The K9 simply reminded me of a very nice, tuned DA revolver. Very unlike the DA/SA autos I’d experienced in the 1970’s and ’80’s. No hitches, no rough spots, no stacking. And surprisingly little takeup. Just point-and-pull simplicity—the very attribute still keeping a lot of guys married to DA revolvers to this very day.
Since then, a lot of similar-sized polymer-framed guns of various makes and calibers have gone through my hands—GLOCKs, Rugers, Springfields, S&W’s and CZ’s. Yes, a few of them were also Kahrs, since the company was not long in succumbing to the siren song of polymer. In fact, a glance through a current Kahr catalog reveals all-steel guns—whether .380, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP—to be very much in the minority.
Simple, reliable and accurate, the Kahr K9 is shown here with
the extended 8-round magazine in place. Photo: Joe Novelozo
A 200-round break-in period is a good idea, although the K9 fed and
fired everything from first in the chamber to last out the muzzle.
Back to the Future
But for a long time I’d wanted to reacquaint myself with the original, which had impressed me back in the day with its shootability and accuracy. These qualities—then as now—were the result of the K9’s weight, smooth, 8-pound DAO trigger, broad “big gun” sighting plane and polygonal-rifled 3-1/2-inch barrel. Not to mention the lack of control “gizmos.”
What’s there is pretty simple to understand and operate: (1) a slide lock and (2) a JMB/1911-situated magazine release. That’s it—revolver-like simplicity in a 7+1-round single-stack configuration. Oh, and no magazine disconnect! It does have a passive firing pin drop-block safety.
My shooting partner Thomas Mackie and I decided to start the K9 off by first following the 200-round break-in suggestion in the Kahr manual. This is admittedly excessive compared to the usual T&E protocol around here, but the reasons for adhering to it were twofold. (1) We wanted to see if the pistol’s all-steel heft did as good a job of warding off fatigue as I recalled from years ago. (2) We were curious about testing the whole break-in concept anyway, and wanted to see if we could shoot our way out of malfunctions should any occur.
The two top 25-yard performers were Hornady 124-grain
XTP and SIG Elite 115-grain V-Crown JHP.
We just happened to have a pair of 100-round boxes of Federal’s aluminum case 115-grain FMJ ammo, so we could afford to be a bit exorbitant. This relatively inexpensive “fire and forget” stuff proved exceptionally reliable and surprisingly accurate when compared with some of the higher-priced stuff.
Thankfully, Kahr was pretty generous with the single-stack magazine allotment for each gun—two 7 rounder’s and one extended 8 rounder. In terms of ammo, we tried 115-, 124-, 135- and 147-grain loads in bullet configurations ranging through JHP, FMG, Truncated Cone and Horney’s polymer FlexLock.
Additionally, although we didn’t have enough rounds to group or chronograph, we tried a couple of CorBon’s scorching +P 90-grain JHP’s. These had been lying undisturbed in one of Thomas’ old GI ammo cans since God knows when. I don’t know if they made the manufacturer’s claimed 1,500 fps out of the Kahr’s 3-1/2 inch barrel, but they sure got to the 100-yard berm in a hurry!
But out of over 300 rounds from an NIB pistol, we had one failure to go into battery. Truth be told, it was when I tried to thumb off the slide lock instead of employing the more sensible—and tactically approved—“slingshot” method.
The K9 is, as far as I’m concerned, the class of the Kahr lineup. When a company gets things so right with the first model (think GLOCK’s G17) it makes for a pretty tough bar to get over again. The dead-stock matte stainless gun we used (K9093A) is one of five K9 variations featuring different finishes and/or sighting arrangements. Prices range from $880 to $1,086.
I’m glad to have shot one again after all these years. It’s every bit as good as I recall. Maybe better.
Shooting Facilities provided by: Angeles Shooting Ranges, 12651 Little Tujunga Rd., San Fernando, CA 91342, (800) 499-4486, www.angelesranges.com.
Maker: Kahr Arms
130 Goddard Memorial Dr.
Worcester, MA 01603
Type: Trigger-cocking DAO, locked breech semi-auto
Capacity: 7+1, 8+1
Barrel length: 3-1/2 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Weight: 23.1 ounces (w/o magazine)
Grips: Wraparound textured soft polymer
Sights: White bar/dot combat sights, drift adjustable, Finish: Matte stainless steel
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