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The new Kahr CM9 (and a whole mess of other ultra-compact 9mm pistols)

on Jan 29 in concealed carry, new guns by

UPDATE: Check out my pseudo-review of the Kahr CM9 here.

The firearms industry’s annual SHOT show has come and gone for this year, and some of the major press in the self-defense arena has been surrounding introduction of a few new “pocket” sized 9mm handguns. The lead contender seems to be the Ruger LC9. Coming on the heels of their massively popular LCP in .380, Ruger stands to make a killing on the mouse gun’s new big brother. From Sig, there is the new P290 (actually announced late last year). It will be priced significantly higher than the Ruger, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. If its quality is closer to the P238 as opposed to the complete flop that is the P250, then Sig may be offering a serious alternative to the Ruger. The big surprise announcement came from Kimber, who introduced their first non-1911 handgun with the Kimber Solo Carry. With an aluminum alloy frame, it’s the only non-polymer introduction into the super compact 9mm field. Unfortunately, all three of these companies have had some serious quality control issues in the past few years, and also have been known to release new products without all the bugs worked out  (I’m looking at you, Ruger), so I’m going to wait a few months after these products hit the market before giving them any serious consideration.

A couple of years ago, a terrible plague hit our country that convinced hundreds of thousands of people that a pocket-sized .380 makes the “perfect carry gun”. It appears that many of them are finally recovering, and are asking gun companies, “Why can’t you make this thing a tiny bit larger so that it’s easier to shoot? And while you’re at it, how about if you chamber it for 9mm?” Michael Bane predicted this a few months ago, and I don’t think we’re even close to seeing the end of new super-tiny 9mm pistols.

The only image of the CM9 available online so far is this screen grab from a downrange.tv SHOT show video.

Case in point: Last week on the SHOT show edition of Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio show, a representative from Kahr arms mentioned a new product that seems to have flown under the radar of most of the major gun bloggers. In April, Kahr plans to release the CM9; the budget version of their wildly popular, but premium-priced PM9. MSRP is around $550, so I suspect it will be sold for around $450, which is what Kahr’s other budget 9mm, the CW9, typically goes for. According to the Kahr rep on the radio, Kahr wasn’t even planning to publicize the CM9 at SHOT, but they changed their minds the day of the show. Maybe they saw all the other tiny nines and decided they needed something new at their booth to remind people that they’re still relevant in the carry market.

Lest ye forget with all these new fancy whiz bang teeny tiny 9mm pistols around: Kahr has been at this a long time. The PM9 came out 10 years ago, and it’s steel-framed counterpart, the MK9 (my current carry pistol) even longer than that. Kahr pistols have typically been too expensive for a large portion of the market, but a couple of years ago they released the CW9, a budget version of the P9, minus a few bells and whistles. In my opinion, 99% of shooters wouldn’t really notice any practical difference between the two guns, so I wonder how sharply the sales of their P9 fell after introducing the CW9. After the success of the CW9, Kahr could have chosen to produce the new CM9 at any time and know it would be a success, so why the delay? I can only guess that someone at Kahr is working the numbers to determine the optimal time for them to maximize profit. Sales for the CM9 are sales they are losing on the more expensive PM9, except for the large portion of the market who would never have given the PM9 a second thought with its $700 price tag. Except now, I suspect many of those people who would have bought the reasonably priced CM9 are already planning to pick up a Ruger LC9, which is even cheaper.

Was Kahr too late in introducing the CM9 for their own good? Maybe, but I think it will sell just fine. And if anyone asks me, I’ll recommend the Kahr over the Ruger (or any of the others, for that matter)… at least we can be fairly certain the Kahr won’t get recalled. Kahr is kinda like Glock. They really only have one design, but it works, and it usually works really well. It’s not perfect… I really don’t care for the length of the Kahr trigger pull, or the reset, but Kahr gets a lot of things right. And like I said, they’ve been at this a long time. With the LC9, Sig P250, or this new Kimber thing, we really have no idea what to expect.

7 Comments

  • shane says:

    “If its quality is closer to the P238 as opposed to the complete flop that is the P250″

    i know this is a bit off topic, but i have a sig p250 and it’s a quality handgun. i see a lot dogging this pistol in various forums but i don’t know why. yes, they had some issues with the 1st generation of them but they’ve all been resolved and judging by how quickly sig sells out of magazines, caliber xchange kits, holsters, etc., it appears to have quite a few fans. the tactical crowd poo poo’s any gun that’s double action only these days but they have their place and i like mine. just thought i’d throw that in there for what it’s worth. peace.

    • Chris says:

      And you just restated my point… Sig had issues with the 1st gen P250s. So why should I take a chance on their new pocket pistol when they’ve just proven they’re willing to release a product that hasn’t undergone proper testing?

      Having said that, if your P250 has proven reliability and you like it and can shoot it well, then ignore what I or anonymous people on forums say. If it works for you then it works. I, however, will be waiting for Sig to work the inevitable kinks out of the “1st gen” P290s before I take a closer look.

  • shane says:

    with all due respect, your original point was that the sig p250 is a “complete flop”, pretty harsh words. i didn’t restate that point, i tried to refute it. lots of manufacturers have issues in their 1st generation of a new design…even glock had issues with their gen 4 guns and made some changes to the recoil spring to deal with it. smith and wesson had issues with the take down lever falling out on their bodyguard .380 and made changes. does this mean glock and smith/wesson release products that don’t undergo proper testing like sig? sig also had to recall the p238 because of problems with the safety lever but you state that it’s a quality gun that you hope the p290 measures up to. anyway, this is getting long…maybe you could review the p250 at some point in the future, i’d like that.

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps “complete flop” is not the most appropriate term since it implies commercial failure, and I don’t know if the sales figures of the P250 reflect that. I do know that it showed some significant reliability issues during the trials when the ATF was selecting a new side arm. Additionally, I’ve read a few reports of Federal Air Marshals not thinking very highly of their issued P250s, which admittedly is anecdotal evidence, but doesn’t bode well. The problem of the trigger reset is based both on reports from others and on my own experience firing the gun.

      Maybe “initial release failure” is a more accurate description, and not one I would reserve exclusively for the P250… I don’t think the Gen 4 Glock has proved itself yet from what I’ve been reading, and I would have said the same thing of any new gun that a company beta tests on early adopters instead of working the kinks out before release. My point in the post is that recent releases from Ruger and Sig have had bumpy starts, but the Kahr CM9 is based on an old design that has already been tweaked and refined. I didn’t include other companies in that critique because they are not currently offering anything in the “pocket 9″ category. The problem is really industry-wide, and consumers should be especially wary of any new pistol that comes to the market, except perhaps when it is a minor variant of a proven design.

      For the record, I would love to review a P290 if I get the chance to, but I will probably not be the one putting down the cash myself.

  • shane says:

    “My point in the post is that recent releases from Ruger and Sig have had bumpy starts, but the Kahr CM9 is based on an old design that has already been tweaked and refined.”

    ok, that is a completely accurate statement and i agree with you. btw, i also have a kahr cw9 and i love, love that gun. kahr guns have a lot of haters too and i don’t get that either.
    admittedly you’re right in that sig didn’t perform well in atf testing but i’ve never seen any detailed explantion of the failures either, they just state it had 13 gun induced failures and 45 shooter induced failures (out of 4,000 rounds fired). not sure why they would hold shooter induced failures against the gun. but even if the sig had 0 gun induced failures, i don’t think the atf would have ever adopted it because the long reset of the p250 simply isn’t conducive to tactical situations, you just can’t fire as fast (accurately anyway) as the striker fired, short reset glocks and m&p’s so they never really had a chance at the leo market. in fact the rumor out there is that sig is working on a striker fired version of the p250 to better compete with those guns.
    interestingly and maybe as a reaction to the above, the hammer on the new single stack p290 is partially cocked by the slide to enable a lighter, quick reset of the trigger, it doesn’t have re-strike capabilty…kind of like a hammer fired glock. it’s not doa, it’s not da/sa and it’s not da striker fired…it’s yet another trigger variation. maybe this is the trigger that sig intends to ultimately offer as an option on the p250 for the leo market?

  • Mike Kole says:

    Yeah I know. I’m an old dinosaur. Carried a 1911 of one sort or another since 1963. I love the SA trigger and want a real pocket .45. Those two goals don’t match up. I started looking at all the new micro 9s and by stumbling onto the ParaOrd PDA with the LDA trigger, found my pocket .45. It’s almost the exact same size as the Sig, Ruger, Kahr, etc mini 9s and the weight difference is so small it isn’t noticible. The LDA trigger really surprised me. I shoot some double action revolvers and this LGA shoots like the finest tuned revolver I have ever shot. I know some of you won’t like this but, I also feel like I’m carrying a real caliber. I just can’t see how a 9mm coming out of a barrel barely longer than the cartridge is going to develop ballistics any better than a .380? In a 4″ barrel, yes. Not in one of these guns, so why not just carry the lighter and more convenient .380 in the first place? And as for the PDA, right out of the box, no cleaning, no lube, it destroyed the X ring at 12 yards and hasn’t had a feeding/firing problem with any of the many loads I have run through it.

  • Tony says:

    IS KAHR CM9 PISTOL MASS COMPLIANT

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