Caliber - 9x19mm
Capacity - 7+1
Action - Striker-Fired Double-Action Only (DAO)
Barrel - 3.5 inches
Weight - 15.9 oz. with empty magazine
Fit and finish
The P9 is a spendy beast - street price is on par with or slightly higher than Glocks - but is well worth it. The P9 ships with two 7rd single-stack magazines, a trigger lock and documentation, in a lockable black plastic case.
My P9 is two-tone - stainless steel slide over black polymer frame. Though a blued model is available, I have found the stainless/polymer combination to be attractive, rust-resistant and low-maintenance. Parts fit is clean and tight, as is typical of Kahr pistols. Slide action is smooth, but the strength of the P9's recoil spring is evident - shooters with reduced hand strength may have trouble operating this pistol. The single stack magazines are identical to those used in the K9, and are of similarly excellent construction.
In the hand, the P9 feels incredibly thin, yet is still a palpably solid piece of hardware. Frame thickness is akin to the standard P9 with the grip panels removed. The polymer frame is stippled on the sides with checkered front- and backstraps, in much the same pattern as Glock. The most striking feature of the P9, of course, is its light weight. The P9, fully loaded, weighs less than an empty Glock 26! Yet thanks to its excellent ergonomics and stout recoil spring, the P9 does not recoil appreciably more.
Early P9's suffered various malfunctions as a result of a defective slide stop retainer spring. Mine broke during the gun's first string of fire, causing the slide to seize shut on the last round of every magazine. A quick trip back to Kahr Arms had the upgraded part installed, and the gun has performed admirably ever since. The chamber tightness reported in many K9's is not present in the P9, and it has proven totally reliable with reloads, FMJ and a variety of high-performance hollowpoint loads.
The P9 is one of the most naturally pointing carry pistols I own, and accuracy is outstanding. This pistol comes standard with Kahr's "Elite" trigger package, which is a $100 upgrade on the K- and MK-series guns. The Elite trigger has redesigned geometry, resulting in a shorter and smoother pull, though at the expense of about an extra pound of pull weight. Having trained extensively with the short safe-action trigger of the Glocks, I much prefer Kahr's Elite trigger over the standard pull, and would've had it installed in the P9 if it was not already so equipped.
Many have complained about the size of the slide stop lever on the P9. In truth, it is no larger than standard, although the lack of grip panels on the P9 makes it stand out more. I initially thought this part would be a source of discomfort, but that has not been the case in actual shooting. Still, Kahr Arms has listened to its customers and has introduced a slimmed-down slide stop lever as standard on current production P9s. This part can also be retrofit to older pistols. I would still like to see a more secure method of retaining the slide stop pin. The upgraded spring design is still not as secure as a good metal-to-metal fit, like that found on the K- and MK-series pistols.
The Bottom Line
The Kahr P9 is the best pistol the company has produced to date. It features solid construction, outstanding accuracy, good ergonomics, light weight and adequate firepower. Kahr has not yet achieved "big name" status among US shooters in general, but I believe the P9, P40 and their subcompact PM-Series counterparts will find favor among citizens who are serious about defensive weaponcraft. Lighter and thinner than the Glock 26 but more reliable and refined than the Kel-Tec P11, the P-Series pistols are positioned to secure Kahr Arms a large chunk of the concealable handgun market in the coming years.
UPDATE 2/06 After several years of trouble-free ownership, another bug has sprung up in the P9. The trigger pivot pin will "walk" about 1/16" out of the frame after just a few magazines have been fired. The protruding end of the pin abrades the base of the trigger finger on the shooting hand and is quite annoying. More importantly, additional slippage could cause functioning problems. I'm contemplating a course of action to remedy this.
UPDATE 10/01 Further reliability problems developed almost a year after having the slide stop spring upgraded, so I once more sent the pistol back to Kahr for warranty repair. Upon examining the repaired pistol, it appears that the spring retainer mechanism has been redesigned a third time, and the newest low-profile slide stop lever has been installed. I am confident that this combination of upgrades will permanently solve the problems that have plagued this particular pistol from the outset. Additionally, these features should be standard in new-production P9s by the time you read this.
UPDATE 12/00 P9 has been 100% reliable since having the slide stop retaining spring upgraded, and is now my primary carry pistol. Stay tuned for updates as events warrant.