[Review] Kahr CW9: Perfect for CCW

Want to know if the Kahr CW9 ($349) is right for you?

Karh CW9 with 8 Round Mag
Karh CW9 with 8 Round Mag

I’ll cover everything from fit/feel and reliability…to accuracy, upgrades, sizing, and holster options.

Ready?

About the Kahr CW9

Kahr is known for making thin, single-stack, and highly-concealable handguns.  And while the brand is not universally well-known or loved…I had to find out myself when I found a deal online for $270.

One thing I also learned quickly is that Kahr’s gun models get really confusing…

Confused Wahlberg
Confused Wahlberg

The big ones to keep in mind are:

  • CW9 vs CM9: The CW9 has a longer barrel, longer grip, and more capacity.
  • CW9 vs P9: Almost the same, but the P series is the more “premium” model with better aesthetics, barrel, and more.

Here’s a good infographic that shows the two differences between the CW9 and PM9 (smaller but more premium).

Kahr CW9 vs PM9
Kahr CW9 vs PM9

Of all these…why did I gravitate towards the CW9?

Easy…it fit the best in my hand.  I actually managed to get a full grip.

Karh CW9 Other Side
Karh CW9 Other Side

The CM series would have left my pinkie tangling.

And what about the “premium” P9 ($670)?

CW vs P Series, Truth About Guns
CW vs P Series, The Truth About Guns

I just didn’t think it was worth almost $300 of a difference.  Sure…it looks better but functionally they are the same too me.  For the ranges you’re shooting, I don’t think the barrel will matter.

Smallest 9mm
349
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Pick up some extra mags and pocket the difference to buy training ammo!

Who Is It For?

Definitely not for competition (unless you want a huge handicap).  The perfect use of the skinny CW9 is for concealed carry.

It’s much thinner and shorter than other guns (comparing against a G19, G17, and G34).

Even against the G43…it beats it in thinness with .9″ to 1.02″…which doesn’t seem like much but against your torso I’ll take any reduction in width.

AND for me…I can get a complete grip.  So be sure you can do too otherwise it’s probably not worth it.

Fit & Feel

Karh CW9 with 8 Round Mag
Karh CW9 with 8 Round Mag

It felt great in hand although I always like more aggressive grip.  But since it’s a CCW I’ll leave it alone to avoid snagging issues.

The slide starts off a little stiff…as does the magazine release.  Make sure you can confidently rack it.

And because it’s the more budget of Kahr’s offerings…there’s some sharp corners in the ejection port and the front of the slide…and some machining marks on the barrel.

CW9 Machining Marks
CW9 Machining Marks

Now…the trigger.

It’s something special to Kahrs.

The best way I can explain it is a long smooth pull with a nice break…and then a long reset.

Some instantly hate it…but I kinda liked it.  Gives a little extra safety when you’re CCW-ing too.

It took some getting used to but once I understood I had to almost fully release my trigger finger I was shooting pretty well even rapid firing.

New kahr cw9 on fab defense self healing reactive targets. 👍👌

A post shared by Pew Pew Tactical (@pewpewtactical) on

Since it’s not micro-sized…it had enough weight to offset the standard 9mm.  Not light recoiling like full-metal guns…but not punishing like some pocket revolvers.  I wouldn’t mind shooting 100+ rounds in a training session.

My wife agrees too.

Accuracy

No bench rest shooting for the CW9.  If I’m using this it’s probably 7 yards or less.

7 Yard Target for CW9 Testing
7 Yard Target for CW9 Testing

I used some of my favorite plinking ammo and some self-defense stuff as well.  Check out Best 9mm Ammo for my full suggestions of both types.

CW9 and Assorted Ammo
CW9 and Assorted Ammo

Before all this testing I had run about 4oo rounds of plinking ammo already through her in the desert.

The sights are simple but work.

Karh CW9 Sights
Karh CW9 Sights

I shot standing up and with about a 3-5 second pause between each shot (first column).

CW9 Shooting Results
CW9 Shooting Results

I stayed on target at 7 yards except for a flyer or two each string.  And even at rapid fire (actually double-taps, 2nd column) almost everything was on paper…although a little spread out.

But still perfectly minute of bad-guy.

Reliability

This is a big one for possible CCW guns.

I believe the manual says to shoot 200 rounds through for proper break-in.  I read about some people experiencing malfunctions during this time.  But with AE 115 gr and Blazer 124 gr I didn’t any hiccups.

And this is through both 7 and 8-round magazines.

Hollow-points like the Federal HST and Winchester PDX-1 worked 100% too.  Although I could feel the additional oomph with the 147 gr compared to the 115 gr.

Upgrades & Accessories

As a CCW gun…you’re probably not going to upgrade a lot.  In fact…the only thing I would be remotely ok with doing is adding grip tape.  Make sure you get the rubber one and not the granulate which snags too much.

CW9 Grip Tape
CW9 Grip Tape

And of course…magazines.  Kahr magazines aren’t the cheapest but so far they have been working well.

32
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you get 8-rounders…make sure there’s a nice audible click when inserting a full mag.  I’ve heard some people having to file a little bit off the magazine where it meets the magazine well.

Karh CW9 Magazines, 7 and 8 Rounds
Karh CW9 Magazines, 7 and 8 Rounds

Finally…how about holsters?  If you’re CCW-ing…you’ll want a good one.

I got one from Talon Holsters specially made with shark skin.

Talon Holster and CW9
Talon Holster and CW9

It’s comfy, stays put, and does its job well.  But be sure to give it a few days to settle in with the shape of the gun.

Finally…what about night sights?  There’s the night sight version for a couple bucks more.

Now how about some specs before we finish up?

Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • 3.565″ Barrel
  • Trigger cocking DAO (double-action only)
  • 7+1 Capacity (or 8+1 with extended magazine)
  • Overall Length: 5.9″
  • Height: 4.5″
  • Width: .90″
  • Weight: 15.8 oz

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

No failures of any kind in the ~500 rounds I’ve put through of factory ammo and hollow-points.  Manufacturer suggests a 200 round break-in period but for me…it wasn’t necessary.

Accuracy: 5/5

I didn’t test 50 yards+…but at reasonable distances it’s still way more accurate than I could be.  

Ergonomics: 4/5

Fits my hand well and I can manipulate the magazine release + slide release.  Could use more grip but that’s personal preference.

Looks: 3.5/5

I couldn’t care less if it’s a simple roll mark vs engraving.  But the P series does look a little cooler.  And the sharp edges and machining on the barrel don’t help.

Customization: 2/5

It’s not really meant to be customized.  You can add some grip tape, magazines, and a holster…but that’s about it.

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

I got a screaming deal…but even at regular prices you’ll be hard pressed to find a small reliable gun like the CW9.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a concealable single-stack 9mm at a great price…you can’t go wrong with the CW9.

Smallest 9mm
349
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Be sure to try out the trigger in store and also the grip.  If you can’t fit all fingers on it I would recommend going with something bigger.

But if you can…get it!  Or check out the rest of our recommendations in Best Single Stack Sub-Compact 9mm.

Any of you already have the CW9…or ended up getting it (or something else)?  How do you like it?  Let us know in the comments.

41 Leave a Reply

  • Philip Conrad

    Although I purchased my CW 9 and CW45 some time back, gun stores now will not allow guns to be handed to a potential buyer with the trigger lock removed, it’s obviously impossible to evaluate the guns trigger. The plastic front sights... garbage. Even with careful handling, they splinter- possibly from carrying in a snug leather holster. Unacceptable! And the fact as you say the almost complete release of the trigger to reset for the second round just begs for trouble in a high stress situation. Save your money. I hate both of mine.

    1 second ago
  • David Deal

    Put night sights on a CW9 and Galloway Spring kit. Made the trigger much better

    2 days ago
  • John Maxey

    I bought one of these for my wife when they first became available - and paid way too much for it compared to current prices. She didn't care for it and since I was only interested in 1911's or big bore revolvers at the time, it sat in the safe for awhile. Then I decided to give it a try and I love it. It's my always gun now.

    1 month ago
  • Doug

    I lucked out and "won" an auction on gunbroker.com paying $255.00 for a brand new in the box CW 9, and that included shipping! This gun is soooo naturally pointable, I do not have to "go looking" for the sights- immediate sight acquisition!!! Shoots any ammo with crazy good reliability. Very well made. I give the CW 9 five stars without reservation.

    2 months ago
  • Sifter

    Very reliable, I upgraded the mag followers to all steel Lakeline. But still can't get as good, tight groupings as my baby XD.

    3 months ago
  • Blaine

    I’ve had my CW9 for almost 3 yrs and have put about 1000 rds thru it. I’ve never had a FTF or FTE issue. This is my choice for concealed carry. SG is probably going to give you the best deal at about $265 as of 12/2018. You can’t beat the quality for the price.

    5 months ago
  • Hoyden

    CT9–because Glock won’t build me a single stack 9x19 the size of 1911 Commander. And no, the G43 is to short and the G26 is too fat-azzed to be the Striker (fired) Commander. Actually the CW may be the best of the CM,W,T family. The M is a pinky dropper, and the T's grip is long enough for 5.5 fingers. The W is goldilocks~just right.

    1 year ago
  • Gene

    Nice write up! I LOVE my cw9 but not without some maintenance! I purchased it brand new when Kahr had a special that included an extra magazine. I took it out of the box and gave it a thorough cleaning like I always do with new guns. I disassembled it for basic cleaning and wow, there were all kinds of plastic flashing pieces inside! It took me well over 2 hours just to clean the pieces out. They were even in the bore and mag well. I know this is an "economy" model but I was amazed Kahr would even release a new economy gun with this much crap inside. I went to the range to try it out and it shot with zero malfunctions but by the 3rd magazine, the front sight blew off! I e-mailed Kahr and they sent a replacement right out. The front sight is plastic and has 2 posts that go into 2 holes in the slide and the posts are just melted down on the inside of the slide. I put epoxy on the underside of the sight before I put it in and then melted the 2 posts down. Took it to the range again and shot about a half dozen mags through it and the sight stayed on and again, no malfunctions of any sort. I had purchased 2 extra 8 round mags with the extension through Ebay and they too ran flawlessly. Kahr should be ashamed of releasing guns that dirty even though they are "economy models". Anyway, am I glad bought it even with these problems? Yes, I am! It's now a great, reliable shooter. It's SO THIN and the double action trigger is so smooth before it touches off, at least to me, it's easy to manipulate and keep on target. It shot reliably from the start without the recommended 200 round break in but maybe that was because of my thorough cleaning of it out of the box. It's now my favorite "pocket pistol".

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experience.

      1 year ago
  • Don T

    I've been carrying my CW9 for about 5 years. I've had one stovepipe in over 1000 rounds. That was a reload batch from the shooting range. I don't buy that ammo any longer. It's easy to conceal. I'm a bicycle rider and it fits perfect in the small of my back with a belly band. Doesn't print. I'm absolutely confident in carrying it for my CCW. Highly recommend it.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Nice, Don!

      1 year ago
  • Mike

    Worse gun I ever purchased. Still getting FTFs and stove pipes after 600 rounds. The eight round mag is useless - nothing but failures. CCW requires complete reliability and my Kahr does not delivery. I would sell it, but I would not wish anyone to risk their life with this gun as their carry.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      That sucks...did you ever contact them to fix it?

      1 year ago
  • Bob

    I've been carrying my CW9 for 5 years all the time. Have shot well over 1,000 rounds through it, commercial and mostly my reloads. It always functions great. The more I use it, the smoother it seems and the trigger pull is so great, I couldn't ask for better. I recently bought a S&W Shield 9mm, mod 1 or whatever the name before the Mod 2.0. It does shoot ok, but the trigger is tough to get good control of. And racking the slide for this old man is not fun. After about 3-400 rounds, it is still stiff and not-so-great trigger. To me, there's no comparison. CW9 carry all the time.. Recently introduced a friend's wife to pistol shooting. After range time, shooting 2 9mms, 1.22, and a .38 revolver she said she loved the Kahr. And her groups showed the Kahr was a natural fit for her. She now wants to get one and a CCW permit. Oh, did I mention that before our range session she was fearful of guns and had not fired before? Any way, I believe a CW9 is a great, dependable, easily learned, trustworthy, and affordable CCW choice for many folk.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Awesome, thanks for sharing your experience, Bob!

      1 year ago
  • Lee

    I carry a CW9 almost exclusively since I bought it about 3 years ago. I love this little gem. I liked it so much I bought my wife a CM9 for her purse. It is readily concealable under a T-shirt if the shirt is a little oversized and a heavy fabric helps. Last time I shot at a range, I blew out the 10X ring of a standard PPC silhouette target.. I have never had a misfire or any other problem with this gun. Wish I had one of these when I was working undercover narcotics.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Nice...his and hers Kahrs!

      1 year ago
  • Lonnie Gamble

    I cary a CW9 Kahr and have for 3 years now. Not one problem with this gun. It functions flawlessly with any ammo that I have out through it. I am now used to the trigger and it isn't a problem. Easy to break down and clean and is very accurate at close range.and not bad at up to 25 yards. I love this gun.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Great to hear, Lonnie!

      1 year ago
  • Stevejb

    I carry the P9 and I really like these guns. Two things I would add to this review. First, if you compare the barrel length to other handguns with the same or near same overall length, you will see the Kahr is getting almost a half inch more barrel length out of the same form factor. The other thing is the offset feed ramp allows Kahr to raise the internal mechanisms within the gun, resulting in a low barrel axis compared to your grip. They just seem like well designed guns to me.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks, good to know too!

      1 year ago
  • Scott R.

    I just wanted to let you know I have owned 3 of them. The reason I have three of them is because two of them blew apart in hands causing powder burns to the shooting hand. One of them the slide seized on the frame. Plus their customer service is very poor. Even with one of the guns being repaired it now bulges the brass at the base, When I talked to Kahr about it they say it is fine.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Dang, Scott...sucks to hear but thanks for sharing your experience with us. Were you shooting reloads or anything?

      1 year ago
  • Dan Hue

    Is it a true DA, or do you have to rack the slide between shots when dry-firing? I'm asking because I am interested with such an action for training with a laser ammo.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      They call it double-action only but it's not "true" in my opinion since you still need to rack the slide for dry-fire.

      1 year ago
      • Dan Hue

        Thanks. I did some more research on the subject, and the only modern pocket size "double-striker" I could find is the Sig P290 RS, which was recently discontinued. There may be others I just don't know about.

        1 year ago
  • James T Kirk

    I've been a proponent of the CW45 for years. For some reason I think it shoots nicer than the CW9. Very under-recognized gun. It was a Glock 43 before Glock ever thought about loosing a stack. You should try the 45. I use it when I run or goto the gym.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hopefully try it soon!

      1 year ago
  • Jacob

    I like my CM9. It's about as small as you can get in a 9mm and still dies a great job. Flexibility for pocket or ankle carry.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      The CM9 is getting a lot of love in this article!

      1 year ago
  • Mike Leonetti

    Love mine. I use it for in the pocket carry when it's too hot to wear concealing clothes. I especially like being able to get a full grip on it.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for sharing, Mike. Love the full grip.

      1 year ago
  • alexander kovaloff

    how do I go about buying the Kahr? alex kovaloff

    1 year ago
  • paul

    I have a CM9 and like the compact size with the slip on rubber grip for CC and the reliability is awesome. It groups same as your photos you showed. Only complaint is the mag release has become too easy.. Paul

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      I'll have to try out the CM9 at the range soon. So far only held it.

      1 year ago
  • Andrew

    Loved my Kahr CW9 so much I upgraded to a K9. If you get a chance to try the K9--you'll love that one too.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hopefully soon!

      1 year ago
  • DaveO

    What's wrong with an MP9 Shield?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Dave, I personally don't like the trigger and safety.

      1 year ago
  • Justme

    Use CM9 for CC. Do all my practice with the standard length mag. Second mag is extended. The pinky off the grip does take getting used to but after that I was good to go. Being use to competition triggers in the 2 lb range, the Kahr trigger takes getting use to. But that is one of the purposes for practice. Completely stock. No issue on any ammo I've run through the pistol. I change the front polymer front sight for a metal on one day soon. Other its good to go, Pluses: I works. I works with all the ammo I shoot in it including 124 gr., 1050 fps RN reloads. Smaller than the CW9. Lighter. Does a more than adequate job for the intended use of the pistol. Don' regret the decision. P.S. Much easier to conceal in summer than my winter months Colt Defender.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Awesome, great to hear the smaller CM9 is working for you.

      1 year ago
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