My review of a Tiny Brute: The Kahr PM9 9mm autopistol
Because of budgetary constraints, it isn’t every day that we get to fill in a missing piece in the Giuffre Armory. We are very practical gun owners and shooters, and really only get kit that we need.My need started back when I first started carrying a defensive handgun when I was 21 years of age. I got my permit, and promptly bought the most futuristic and powerful handgun I could lay my hands on: The Glock 20 chambered for 10mm Auto.
This was a huge gun, and I had trouble concealing it on the best of days. Good thing was, it was a really powerful man-stopping round, and I could shoot it really well. I finally gave it up and bought the slightly smaller Glock 19, which was chambered for the more readily-available, much cheaper, but weaker 9mm round. I then went even smaller, and traded that gun in for the relatively tiny Glock 26, all in the quest for a small, concealable weapon for year-round concealed carry. Finally, last year, I traded back up to the 10mm Glock 29, which remains my powerful companion three seasons out of the year, usually riding in a Fobus holster on my right hip, under a jacket.
Enter Summer 2007. It had been a really hot summer, and concealing my Glock 29 was still impractical with jeans and a tee-shirt on. I wear my shirts tucked in, and think I look stupid in long, bowler-style shirts that would easily conceal my Glock. So I turned to a relatively new company – Kahr.
Their firearms have a really great reputation for reliability, and they recently released what was being called the smallest 9mm autopistol on the market. After doing a ton of research and checking with owners of the weapon, I decided to buy one. It took me forever to find one, as they seem to be in high demand right now, but I located one at the National Guard Armory Gun Show on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia a few weeks ago. There was only one of them at the entire gun show, so I snagged it, fully equipped with Trijicon Tritium Night Sights for $700.00. A bit pricey for a micro-nine, you might say? Well, I agree, but it has been worth the price so far.
The gun I bought was also the one with the blackened, diamond finish on the slide, giving the whole gun a uniform, matte black finish. I don’t go for flashy chrome or steel slides on my firearms. Better to be low-profile, in my opinion. Plus, I think they look really tacky.
I filled out my paperwork, waited while my background check was conducted, and then paid for my gun and left. The gun came in a sturdy plastic case, with a standard six round and an extended seven round magazine, a trigger lock and numerous owner’s papers and instruction manuals. No cleaning brush was included, however, unlike every Glock I have ever purchased.
The gun felt solid and well put together in my hands, and there were no sharp areas or unfinished edges anywhere on the weapon. All of the moving parts were a bit stiff, but that was to be expected with any new firearm. Kahr actually says right in the manual that the firearm requires a 200 round break-in period, which was a new thing for me. Every Glock I have ever owned shot perfectly right out of the box. That made me slightly apprehensive when I went to the range for the first time. My fears were unfounded, to say the least.
I went to Ready Aim Fire in Bristol, PA to try out my new little beast, with my chiropractor and good friend Wallace Shaffer. We set up an initial human torso target at standard gunfight range of 10 yards. I loaded 6 American Eagle 9mm FMJ practice rounds into each magazine and racked a round into the chamber. The gun cycled the rounds perfectly. The gun seemed very accurate within the ranges that I would be using (or hopefully NOT using) it . There were no failure to fire at all, and I shot almost 200 rounds through the weapon that day.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the way the extended seven-round magazine looks when it is in the gun. The magazines are both bright steel, and the extended mag hangs out of the bottom of the mag well, looking like it doesn’t belong there. The six round magazine looks much better, as it fits flush into the mag well, which also increases its concealability. However, the larger magazine actually makes the gun easier to shoot, because you have a place to anchor your pinky finger while firing. There is at least one manufacturer who makes after-market magazine bottoms that give you a pinky rest while concealing all of that ugly steel. I will undoubtedly be getting a few of these at some point in the future.
I went back to the range after I got an additional toy for this new gun. I ordered, and received in three days, an Armalaser aiming module custom-made for the PM9. It was a snap to install, and takes four small “button” style watch batteries. The whole laser snaps onto the front of the PM9’s trigger guard, and breaks up the silhouette of the gun while it is in your pocket or wherever. The innovative thing about this laser is that it activates automatically when you place your finger inside the trigger guard, or when your opposite hand’s thumb comes in contact with a metallic ribbon on the inside mount of the unit. The laser stays on for exactly twelve seconds, then shuts off. You can make it stay on for twenty-four seconds if you re-touch the activator again while the laser is on. This is an excellent energy-saving feature built into the laser’s software. If it sounds difficult or awkward, it isn’t. You get used to it in minutes, plus you don’t have to worry about accidentally telegraphing your position to an enemy with an inadvertently-activated laser beam. There is also a kill-switch on the bottom of the unit.
My second day firing this little brute was as good as the first. The gun fired another 200 rounds of FMJ flawlessly, not counting one failure to load with a malformed bullet head. I then ran a box of Federal 128 grain Hydroshoks through the gun, since this is the defensive round I plan to carry in the PM9. Not one failure to feed or jam occurred. I love that kind of reliability. I was skeptical at first, but no longer. The Armalaser was a wonderful addition to this particular weapon, making it easy to shoot quickly and accurately from almost any angle, after an easy sight-in adjustment with supplied hex key. The laser stayed completely sighted in after 500 rounds.
The gun is now broken in, and works like a charm. It also easily breaks down for cleaning, by removing the slide release lever pin (accomplished easily with the pressure of the bottom of a magazine) and then removing the slide, spring assembly and barrel, a la Glock.
I can’t say enough about this small powerhouse, and would recommend it to anyone who needs a deep or hot weather concealment option, but who is unwilling to go below 9mm for a defensive gun. Next time you see me in shorts and a tee shirt, I’m probably armed to the teeth, but you just can’t tell from looking at me!
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