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Old January 11, 2011, 03:58 PM   #1
shanzlik
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Kahr PM9 vs CW9 (review & comparison)

Kahr PM9 vs CW9

One of the more common questions I come across in people's search for a carry pistol is, "what's the difference between Kahr's PM series and CW series?" To help answer that question, I put together this comparison of the Kahr PM9 and CW9 9mm pistols.

First, the differences between the CW and PM series are common regardless of caliber, and were done in the interest of having the CW available at a lower price point than the PM.

1. Sights: CW has a pinned front sight, PM has a drift adjustable front sight (which is easier to swap for night sights)

2. Rifling: CW has convential cut rifling, PM has "match grade" polygonal rifling (both have Lothar Walther stainless barrels)

3. Slide: CW has fewer maching operations on the exterior and uses more angular edges, PM9 is more rounded

4. Slide stop lever: CW has a MIM lever, PM has machined lever

5. Rollmarking: CW has simple engraving of model and manufacturer, PM has actual rollmark

6. Magazine: CW includes one magazine, PM includes two


CW9
Length: 5.9"
Height: 4.5"
Thickness: 0.90"
Weight: 15.8 ounces w/o magazine (magazine weighs 1.9 ounces)
Barrel: 3.6" stainless steel with conventional rifling, 1:10" RH twist
Sights: drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned polymer front sight
Capacity: 7+1 (single magazine included)
Ammunition: 9mm +P rated

PM9
Length: 5.3"
Height: 4.0"
Thickness: 0.90"
Weight: 14 ounces w/o magazine (magazine weighs 1.9 ounces)
Barrel: 3.0" stainless steel with polygonal rifling, 1:10" RH twist
Sights: drift adjustable white bar-dot combat sights, tritium optional
Capacity: 6+1 with flush floorplate, 7+1 with magazine extension (both magazines included)
Ammunition: 9mm +P rated



Other than the differences mentioned above, the CW9 and PM9 have much in common. The pistols are predominantly stainless steel and polymer. The CW line has a single MIM part discussed below. The PM line has no MIM parts.

Both pistols are striker fired with double action only triggers (no second strike capability). The barrel blanks are made at the Lothar walther factory where the high tensile strength steel billet is gun drilled and rifled. Kahr takes the blanks and completes the barrel machining at their own factory using CNC equipment.

The slide is made from 416 stainless steel on Kahr's CNC equipment and is heat treated and tempered for durability. The slide stop lever is machined from a different steel alloy for the PM, while the CW line gets a MIM lever.

Kahr magazines are also stainless steel, and after stamping are plasma welded for durability. The magazine follower has a steel slide stop pin to help with reliable slide lock after firing the last round. This is also supposed to prevent wear on the plastic follower.

The pistol is striker fired, and the striker is placed partially under tension when the slide is released. Kahr uses a DAO cocking cam trigger to unlock the passive safety, complete cocking, and release the firing pin. This trigger setup feels very comparable to a DA revolver trigger in that the pull is fairly long but very smooth. The trigger is also placed high in the pistol next to the offset barrel, which keeps the grip smaller and your hand close to the bore axis for less felt recoil.

Certain models are available with an external safety if you want one, but the long trigger pull combined with the passive drop safety make one unnecessary for my purposes.

Both pistols have good texturing on the grip, external extractors, and single column magazines. Another interesting aspect of the polymer frame is a small panel on the side of the grip that is an overpressure safety device. If a round is fired and generates too much pressure, the panel will allow some of that to escape in a more controlled fashion, possibly saving the pistol from damage and the user from injury.

Kahr recommends a 200 round "break-in" period, during which they say you may expect some possible malfunctions as the pistol wears in. After 200 rounds you shouldn't have any problems. In my experience, neither my CW9 nor my PM9 has had a single malfunction, either before or after the "break-in" period.

As for accuracy, the CW9 allows a more comfortable full hand grip and tends to be a little easier for me to shoot accurately. Rapid fire at 15 yards results in easy baseball size or smaller groups. The PM9 is slightly harder to hold since my little finger won't fit on the grip (without the extended magazine). That results in slightly larger groups during rapid fire, but during slow fire the PM9 is at least the equal of the CW9. All of that will be shooter dependent, as the pistols have shown to be more accurate than I can shoot them offhand and more than adequate for self defense. I don't test pistols from a rest, so I have no results to share there.

The white bar-dot sights are very quick to acquire, but they are a little harder (for me anyway) to shoot accurately than a target style sight. All that's fine, though, because these are meant as defensive pistols and excel in that role.

Neither the CW9 nor the PM9 is a handful to shoot in my opinion. I typically carry a compact .45ACP, so the 9mm pistols are noticeably more tame. Both are easier than most pocket .380ACP pistols despite the larger round because of their larger size and weight. If you can shoot a Ruger LCP or snub nose .38 special okay, you should be fine with either of these, too.

So which one should you buy?

It depends. For lowest cost, extended range sessions, and largest grip size, the CW9 wins. It is easily concealable in an inside the waistband (IWB) holster and very comfortable there with its thin it slide, but wouldn't work in most anybody's pocket. For greater refinement (polygonal rifling, no MIM, smoother exterior slide treatment), sight adjustability, or pocket carry, the PM9 wins. Weight isn't a big issue as they differ by just 1.8 ounces.
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Old January 11, 2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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CW9





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Old January 11, 2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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PM9









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Old January 11, 2011, 04:03 PM   #4
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Side by Side







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Old January 11, 2011, 04:11 PM   #5
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Good write up. Thanks for the info!
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Old January 11, 2011, 05:00 PM   #6
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Shanzlik. Great information on the difference of these two Kahrs. Possibly the best I've seen. You sir, or madam have contributed valuable information here for those looking for the perfect CCW. Thanks.

My CW9 with Crimson Trace laser has performed flawlessly. (aging eyes)
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Old January 11, 2011, 06:04 PM   #7
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Thanks for the compliment, glad you liked it.

(And I am male, but sir isn't necessary )
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Old January 11, 2011, 06:39 PM   #8
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Very nice review Shanzlik. But wouldn't a comparison between the CW9 and the P9 be more valid. My understanding is that the CW9 and P9 share the same frame and are the same size. You explained all the other differences quite well. The PM9 is, as you noted, based on a smaller frame.
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Old January 11, 2011, 06:53 PM   #9
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I've been thinking about the CW9 for quite some time... Sort of regretting the Glock 23 I went with instead.

Thanks for the write up!
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Old January 11, 2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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shanzlik,
I take it that you prefer the Kahr PM to the Bodyguard pictured. What are your thoughts on those two, comparison wise. I ask because my brother is looking at the Bodyguard and I'm unfamiliar with it. Haven't even seen one for sale yet.
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Old January 11, 2011, 07:58 PM   #11
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Nice comparison! Next we need to find someone who has both the CW9 and the P9, as suggested above, and have a write up done to compare those two.

I own a P9 and also did not have any reliability issues either before or after the 200 round break-in period. I am very pleased with mine.

Thanks for taking the time.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:13 PM   #12
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do you think you could post some comparison pic of the PM9 W/ the extended mag against the CW if you can? i like the grip size on the CW would like to see how they compare.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:21 PM   #13
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One other thing...the PM9 looks better

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Old January 11, 2011, 08:26 PM   #14
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e

If I had a P9, I agree it would have been a good comparison. I don't own them all. Yet.

Compared to the Bodyguard, the PM9 is basically the same size with a more powerful round. It's a bit heavier, so the BG would be more comfortable in the pocket. The BG is also 0.75" thick vs 0.90" for the PM9. Unless you need something really, really thin and/or need the lower price, the PM9 would be more desireable for many people.

The pocket .380s really excel at deep concealment while the PM9 gets very close, is more potent, and is easier to shoot well (in my opinion).

I am thinking of comparing these pistols soon in one long review:
Kahr PM9
S&W BG380
Diamondback DB380
Ruger LCP
Sig P238

Those are the smallest pistols I own. I don't typically write about something I don't own and/or have a lot of experience shooting, so that's why your choice(s) may or may not be in the list.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:27 PM   #15
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I do like those black rose editions.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:29 PM   #16
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I'll try to get a picture later tonight of the PM9 w/ the extension in place. They come out pretty close as I recall.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:52 PM   #17
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.

I've shot quite a few Kahr's from the P380 up. The PM9 is
my favorite. I would say it's Kahr's masterpiece. A perfect
balance of good power, size, and weight for a highly concealable
pistol.

PM9, how I love thee ! Let me count the ways...

1. small size, thin in width
2. low weight
3. good power
4. smooth, non-stacking, low pull, perfectly breaking trigger
5. superb sights for a gun this size
6. excellent build quality
7. excellent reliability
8. excellent accuracy
9. safety by design
10. very low felt recoil due to low bore axis

It excels in all these things a one time. That's a special gun !

dxr

.
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Old January 11, 2011, 11:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Next we need to find someone who has both the CW9 and the P9
My Kahrs have included the P9, CW9, K9, T9, TP9, P45 and TP45. You might say I like the Kahr line. I've not been attracted to the smallest Kahrs though as I prefer the longer grip.

The P9 and CW9 are as similar as guns can be. The major difference is the barrel, but that has nothing to do with how the guns handle or the accuracy. They have the same standard sights, weigh the same, have the same dimensions, use the same magazines and use the same recoil spring. Not much difference. They shoot the same, feel the same, recoil the same.

* The CW9 has a limited choice of night sights.
* Comes in stainless finish only.
* Has conventional rifling.

* One chooses a P9 if one wants the front dovetail for a certain brand of night sight not offered on the CW9.
* Wants a black finish.
* Wants a polygonal barrel.
* The second mag is worth about $35.

To me, the aesthetic difference are not worth considering, but others may differ. The guns fit the same holsters.
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Old January 11, 2011, 11:29 PM   #19
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Great review and comparison Shanzlik! Good follow up info from the other posters as well.
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Old January 11, 2011, 11:57 PM   #20
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A few more pictures for size comparison.

CW9 with standard magazine vs PM9 with extended magazine




CW9 & PM 9 with extended magazines




CW9 vs 3" 1911


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Old January 12, 2011, 06:33 AM   #21
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thank you i appreciate you getting those pics for me.
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Old January 12, 2011, 07:33 AM   #22
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No problem, proxpilot.
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Old January 12, 2011, 11:28 AM   #23
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This is a great thread for guys who like their Kahr 9s or those considering one.

PSP, thanks for your take on the differences between the P9 and the CW9. In the pictures, it seems to me that the CW9 also has a somewhat different bevel style at the front of the slide than the P9.

From your post, one gets the impression that you would choose the CW9 over the P9. My P9 choice was based on availability and good price and not having seen or handled the CW9 first. Since mine is stainless and I am fine with the sights provided, I could conclude that a CW9 would have met my needs as well, for perhaps less green. That having been said, I have absolutely no complaints, since I picked mine up for substantially less than MSRP.
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Old January 12, 2011, 01:18 PM   #24
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One other note, Kahr's specs show the CW9 to be 0.1" longer and 0.8 oz heavier than the P9.
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Old January 12, 2011, 04:43 PM   #25
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do you guys think there is any advantage to the P9 over the CW9 to justify $150 difference?
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