Kahr K9: The Cadillac of Concealed Carry?

Some folks drive Chevys and some drive Cadillacs. While both types of automobile have four wheels and will get you from point A to point B, the Cadillac is obviously built to a higher standard and will get you there in style.  Naturally, the owner pays more for upgraded features.

While sitting down to pen this review of the Kahr K9 pistol, the previous statement seemed to be the most natural analogy I could use. There are dozens of compact pistols available for the American shooter. Some are economy models that use economical parts and components. Others use more expensive components and are built with a greater attention to detail. In the end it’s up to you to decide what you can afford and for what you are willing to pay.

Kahr K9

Kahr pistols are renowned for their excellent DA triggers.

Kahr pistols are renowned for their excellent DA triggers.

Though their polymer framed pistols have been very popular for their price point, Kahr has a full line of solid steel pistols. Recently I had the good fortune to work with the model K9. This particular semi-automatic pistol arrived with a matte stainless steel finish.

A 3.5 inch barrel with 1 in 10 polygonal rifling is used in the K9. Overall length of the pistol is 6 inches with the height being only 4.5 inches. Being solid steel construction, this compact pistol does have a little heft and it weighs 23 ounces empty.  This would prove beneficial at the range, but I digress.

Hogue wrap-around grips surround the frame and offer the user a solid purchase on the pistol. Atop the slide on this particular model there were squared iron sights. Other sight configurations are available from Kahr including Novak and Tritium night sights. XS Sighting Systems also makes the Big Dot Express sights for Kahr pistols.

A Double-Action Only trigger activates the K9. While the trigger press was long and deliberate, it was also smooth and consistent.  As for manual controls, the K9 has only three including the trigger.  The other two are the magazine release button and the slide stop located on the left side of the frame.

My K9 pistol arrived in a hard plastic box with three seven round magazines. All Kahr pistol magazines are a single column affairs. The K9 also arrived with the obligatory trigger lock and owner’s manual.

Range Time

The K9 consumed a wide variety of 9mm ammunition.

The K9 consumed a wide variety of 9mm ammunition.

I truly wanted to give the Kahr K9 a thorough work out and so I set aside six different loads from five companies to run through the pistol.  The test ammunition came from CorBon, Double Tap, Federal, Hornady and Wolf “Gold”.  The “Gold” line from Wolf uses brass cases as opposed to their normal lacquered steel.

Over the last few decades I learned that the smaller the pistol the more finicky they become regarding what ammunition they will cycle. To truly test the K9’s eating habits I made sure that I had light-weight, fast moving loads and slower, heavier loads. Several styles of controlled expansion projectiles were used as well as full metal jacket.

My Chronographing chores gave the results I would have expected from a compact pistol with 3.5 inch barrel. The 147 grain loads were all sub-sonic and the 115 and 124 grain ammunition bested 1000 fps. Not surprisingly, the CorBon 115g. DPX +P load traveled better than 1100 feet per second.

From a distance of ten yards with my arms resting on a range bag for stability I ran a number of slow-fire strings with all the above ammunition.  I discovered that from that distance iron sight were set or zeroed perfectly in the factory.  All rounds impacted at point of aim.

While every load was able to print groups below two-inches from ten yards, the K9 seemed to prefer the Federal 147 grain Hydra-Shok ammunition.  This load clustered tightly and produced an amazing half-inch group.  Of course, a two-inch group from ten yards is definitely “Minute of Bad Guy” and any of the included personal defense loads would get the trick done.

Practical Drills

The Crossbreed SuperTuck holster completes the concealed carry package.

The Crossbreed SuperTuck holster completes the concealed carry package.

During my evaluation period I ran several drills with the pistol to include single-handed and off-hand drills.  The gun ran without an issue.  The slide locked open on all magazines reliably when they ran dry.

In the holster department I used the Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe.  The Crossbreed Inside-the-Waistband design has become my favorite and I’ve been wearing one a daily basis for better than three years as these words are typed.

The extra weight of the all steel pistol was a boon for recoil management and successive shooting.  Even the heavier weight loads offered little in the way of felt recoil.  Getting back on target for follow up shots was simple enough.

All told, somewhere in the neighborhood of four hundred rounds of ammunition were run through the Kahr K9 pistol. Like any other machine, I suspect that the more the gun is used the better the parts will mesh together and run all the more smoothly. Despite having a DAO trigger precise shooting was not an issue. Credit goes to Kahr for installing such a smooth and consistent trigger mechanism.

This Kahr K9 pistol is the same unit that was featured on Student of the Gun TV during the recent “Fighting Pistols” episode. Be sure to catch new shows each and every week on DISH Channel 266 or online at StudentoftheGun.com.

Parting Thoughts

When closely examining the K9 it is obvious that a great deal of attention to deal and meticulous machining went into the production of the pistol.  It is easily a “Cadillac” in the concealed carry pistol realm.

I am reminded of the written advice once offered by the late Col. Jeff Cooper.  Having listened to many shooters complain about the price of guns, Col. Cooper remarked that purchasing a quality firearm can be a lifetime investment.  A modern, high-quality pistol or rifle should last the user for their lifetime and, if cared for properly, be passed down to their children and even their grand children.

Consider this.  How many possessions do you own that you can legitimately expect to be passed to your kids or their kids?  Few automobiles or household items would ever last that long.  In our modern world of cheaply made, disposable goods, a quality firearm is one of the few possessions that will quite literally outlast the owner.

If your income level will allow it, spending a few hundred dollars more on an item that your heirs will someday own does not seem all that expensive by comparison.  In the end the choice is up to you and that is the great thing about living in this nation; the choice is still yours to make.

Leave Your Comments Below

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Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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  3. Darren Frodsham

    Great review my standard go to carry is Kahr PM9. I also like the smooth trigger pull on mine

  4. Leland Conn

    Very nice pistol. Obvious quality

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  7. stearling

    I own a Kahr CM9 and it is smaller than the K9 but I have never had any problem with it. Great little gun.

  8. A

    All guns last a lifetime, but if it is a cheap crappy gun that malfunctions when it is really needed, that lifetime may be quite short.

  9. John

    I have both a K40 and a PM40. both have night sights. I carried the K40 as a duty weapon while in plainclothes for many years. I always had supreme confidence in it as a defensive weapon. They are a little pricey, but when you figure the cost out over the years that you own the guns, it is minimal. They are definitely worth the extra money that you would pay for them. I have never had a problem with either gun with feed or function with any kind of ammo. For small pistols, they are surprisingly accurate.

  10. Phillip Sneed

    I started out with a Kahr PM9 with laser and loved it! Then I got the Cadillac Kahr K9 with night sites!! They are my baby’s and very accurate. I trust my life with them both. Depending on what clothes I’m wearing decides which one I am packing. The triggering on the Kahr is the best I have ever used. I have other pistols but Kahr is what I carry, period !!!

  11. Stuart Toth

    I own a K40 and like it. If I were looking for a same sized 9mm – this would be it.

  12. Dirk Keeler

    So does that mean that my Kimber Ultra CDP 45ACP is the Rolls Royce of concealed carry? I love 1911s. I have always wanted to try a Kahr. Maybe I will…. But 40 not 9.

  13. bill

    I think the NYPD would beg to differ. No way would I ever stake my life on one of these

  14. Chris

    LOVE love love my K9!!!! It is a VERY easily concealed sidearm, is solid, and feels wonderful in the hand. No whimpy lightweight here!!!!

  15. Harry Taraskus

    I bought a K9 in 1994 when they first came out as a back-up/off-duty weapon. It never failed to feed, fire or eject from the first shot through thousands of rounds. They improved the pistol slightly in 1998 by milling some of the metal off the frame, shaving an ounce or two from the weight. I sold the original to another officer and bought one of the new ones then. It too functioned flawlessly (5k rounds or so) from out of the box until 2012 when the trigger return spring broke. Since the trigger pin is pressed in, I didn’t want to tackle the repair myself. I sent it back to Kahr. Even tough it was long out of warranty, Kahr repaired it, gratis. As for the NYPD, and their foibles with the Kahrs, this was simply a training issue. Firearms don’t go off by themselves. You have to pull the trigger. Within a week of going to Glocks, an officer on my old department had a negligent discharge. A desk was killed. NYPD wanted Kahr to put a heavier trigger pull on the weapons. Kahr refused, and that is why NYPD doesn’t approve them. I have carried a K9 every day (except when the second one was in for repair for two weeks) for over 20 years now as a police officer (back-up/off-duty) and now as a CCW. It is one of the few weapons on which I’d stake my life.

    1. Mike

      Ten years of daily carry of the K9 has more than convinced me of the quality of this fine firearm. I figure nearly 4000 rounds have exited the K9 during this time without a single malfunction. This gun belongs in the same sentence with Rolex, Rolls Royce & Tiffany!

  16. Greg Reilly

    I’ve been looking for a quality handgun for my daughter. My current daily carry is a K40 in a Galco ankle rig. With all of the subcompact 9mm handguns out there the steel framed Kahr pistols are rock solid. Thousands of rounds through my K40 an I cannot recall a FTF, FTE or failure to fire. As this atrticle said and other here attest, quality has a cost, so with my life on the line I need the most accurate and reliablee handgun available. Kahr K series fits that requirement flawlessly. My mind is made up, I will be purchasing the K9 for my daughter as a gift.

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