Caliber - 9x19mm
Capacity - 7+1
Action - Striker-Fired Double-Action Only (DAO)
Barrel - 3.5 inches
Weight - 25 oz. with empty magazine

The Kahr pistols are the brainchild of Justin Moon, who wanted to combine the simplicity and reliability of the Glock with the accuracy and smooth trigger of the SIG-Sauer. The result was a superbly engineered single-stack pistol that has been heralded as one of the best concealed-carry weapons ever made! The Kahr K9 made its debut in 1996. The basic blue-steel pistol was quickly followed by a nickel finish option, and ultimately by a stainless steel version. The K9 also served as the basis for the rest of the Kahr family, which currently includes several models of 9mm and .40SW compact and sub-compact pistols, in both steel-frame and polymer-frame formats. Having shot all my Kahrs and Glocks, my wife decided she liked the size and weight of the K40, but would prefer it in a 9mm. I purchased a new stainless K9 for her in April of 2002.

Fit and finish
No surprises here; the K9 is nearly identical to the K40 I used to own, except that the .40 was about 1/8" thicker and an ounce heavier. The K9's frame and slide are of stainless steel and have a brushed, matte gray appearance. Rubber grip panels are by Hogue, and feature a pebbled texture on the sides for better traction, not unlike that company's Handall grip sleeve. Fit of components is exemplary, with only a tiny bit of side-to-side play between the slide and frame. Front-to-back lockup is rock solid, due in large part to enormously strong recoil spring. The downside to this is that those with reduced hand strength might find manipulating the slide difficult.

Being striker-fired, Kahrs have no external safety or decocking levers. The K9's only controls are a slide stop lever and a magazine release, both of which are low-profile designs located in the traditional American positions. It was a pleasant surprise to find that this Kahr, though a standard K9 model, came from the factory with the company's Elite-series trigger installed! This trigger features redesigned geometry for a shorter, smoother pull. It comes standard on the "Elite 98" and P-series pistols, but was a $50 add-on to both my K40 and MK9. I'm not sure if this K9 was just a fluke, or if all K-series pistols are now coming from the factory with the Elite triggers installed.

Baptism By Fire
While the pistol was in layaway at my local gun shop, I had it sent back to the factory to have night sights installed. Lori and I were going to be shooting an FR&I Level II class in Louisiana at the end of April, and I planned to pay the gun off once it came back so she would be able to practice with it beforehand. However, it seems the good folks at Kahr Arms were having some customer service issues, so night sight installation took a full SIX WEEKS, when it had only taken half that with my K40 and MK9. The pistol came back on Monday, and we were due to fly out that Thursday! I managed to get to an indoor range and fire about 150 rounds for general break-in, but the real test - and Lori's first time to shoot the gun - came during the 800-round Level II course.

The FR&I Level II is based on qualification courses taken from various state and federal law enforcement agencies, and includes shots from contact distance out to 25 yards. The little Kahr peformed admirably, proving that it was capable of shooting with full-sized service pistols, even in Lori's relatively inexperienced hands. Groups out to 15 yards were particularly impressive - I've shot several sub-2" at that range - and at the "typical gunfight distance" of 7 yards, it's one ragged hole. The all-steel K9 is rather hefty for its size, but the weight serves to dampen recoil, making this pistol very comfortable to shoot. Reliability during the Level II was also good, with just three failures in 800 rounds fired. These were all failures to completely extract an empty case, and were all experienced with aluminum-cased Blazer ammo, which I normally don't use. The gun has been 100% reliable with brass-cased commercial ammo and reloads.

The Bottom Line
I really can't complain about the K9. Lori is thrilled with it, which was the ultimate goal of this exercise, but I am too! Yes it's a little bit heavy, when I have a P9 which is the same gun but half the weight. And what's the point of a 9mm in the all-steel format when I could have a .40 that's almost identical? Because the K9 is just so darn shootable! It doesn't have the recoil of the K40, so it's more comfortable to shoot for extended periods. Nor does it have the muzzle flip of the P9, which means it's back on target for faster followup shots. Lori might be the one carrying this thing, but I must admit I've "sneaked" it out of the safe for more than one trip to the range! Between the K9 and her Ruger .22, I may never shoot MY guns again! ;-)

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