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.

Some folks drive Chevys and some drive Cadillacs. While both types of automobiles 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.

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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.

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.

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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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