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Old March 7, 2012, 08:15 PM   #1
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Opinions on small/tiny 9mm for carry

Realizing that gun choices are very personal and that ideally I'd shoot all these before buying one but probably won't be able to, I'd like to hear from folks who have experience with different small or very small 9mms for carry. On my growing list are the Sig P250, Kahr p9 (maybe even pm9) and Ruger LC9, but I'd be thrilled to have opinions on others as well.

Some background on me: I've had an SP2340 in .357 Sig for years and have sent a several thousand rounds downrange with it, and I've shot my brother's SR9 and my sister's LCP a fair bit as well. Never been too much of a revolver fan, though I do well with a K-frame .357 - obviously not a carry gun there. Lots of rifle experience as well.

I'll want to take a CCW course and likely get my permit for here in CO in the next year, but first I want to get a suitable gun so we can get to know each other. Topmost on my mind is that I'm short and slim, so concealability is a concern, and I want a gun I'll be able to shoot a lot, so I'd put comfort and affordable ammo (hence 9mm) as secondary.
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:47 PM   #2
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While not tiny, the Glock 26 is buff enough to be comfy to shoot, easy to conceal and legendarily reliable. The choice was easy once I picked one up. It shoots very well for a small gun.
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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IMO the best is a Rohrbraugh R9. It is a bit pricey but very small, very reliable and very well made. It is your life, what is it worth.
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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The Kahr PM9 is amazing. I have had mine for over a year and not one single malfunction using even the cheaper brands of WWB, Federal and Tula.

It is one of my favorite 9s and is built like a little tank.
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:57 PM   #5
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I had a Kahr MK9 that I carried for a while, a little heavy but carrys well. Also check out the other Kahr offering...PM9, CW9, etc.

Also consider a small 1911 platform like the Springfield EMP
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:15 PM   #6
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I'm just putting in a word for single-stacks.

8 or 7 rds. of 9mm is enough for me... Love my Kahr CW9 and that size in general: Ruger LC9, Bersa BP9, and the pricier Walther PPS are all nearly identical in dimensions/weight/capacity.

You can go smaller with the Kahr CM9/PM9 size if you don't mind two-finger (hanging pinkie)... 'Course all the Kahr 9mm mags will fit so you can always use one of the higher-cap ones for the range if you like.

I prefer 3-finger grips...
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:20 PM   #7
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Another vote for the Kahrs. Great little pistols. Reliable, durable & mostly affordable.
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:26 PM   #8
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Does it hurt?

Darryl - Thanks for the Glock suggestion - I don't have experience with them, but it sounds like a solid choice, and shootability is a big upside. I'll definitely give this one a try.

Groundhog - How is the R9 to shoot? It looks like I'd have trouble getting a 2-finger grip on it, and I'd ideally like to be able to put a couple boxes downrange without too much pain.

Spodwo - Have you by chance fired a P9 as well as the PM9? If so, how do they compare? If not, how is the PM9 on the hands? This is one of the smallest ones I've scoped out, so that's my big concern with it.

Gunluver - Hadn't considered a 1911, mainly because there are several reliable purpose-made carry guns to be had for much less cash. Any suggestions for a good 1911 that can compete on the cost front? If no, that's ok, they're already on my list for when I'm done with Med school and can afford such things. Several from Kahr are definitely on my shortlist.
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:28 PM   #9
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+1 PM9. Don't leave home without it.
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:30 PM   #10
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I like my Kahr PM9, good trigger and easy to shoot good... also easy to conceal.
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:47 PM   #11
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I have the Kahr CM9, the less expensive version of the PM9. It's just small enough for pocket carry and comes with a surprisingly good trigger for a handgun in its class.
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Old March 7, 2012, 10:33 PM   #12
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Spodwo - Have you by chance fired a P9 as well as the PM9? If so, how do they compare? If not, how is the PM9 on the hands? This is one of the smallest ones I've scoped out, so that's my big concern with it.
I can't comment on the size difference of the P9 compared to the PM9 - my PM9 comes with one extended magazine so there is no hanging pinky with it. This adds one round to the capacity also. The one thing I did do to the Kahr is add a Hogue Rubber Grip Handall Jr. Small Size Grip Sleeve. Those are only about $9.00 and help a bit. I prefer it on the pistol versus not.

For a single stack 9 - it is great. I have shot many 9s that are larger. I really don't have an issue with the size of the Kahr PM9. It shoots well for such a small pistol. I have shot about 120 rounds at one time and it doesn't hurt. I can't say the same for shooting my Taurus PT145 MP...ouch!
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Old March 7, 2012, 10:52 PM   #13
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I carried a Kahr PM9 every day for three and a half years. (That was before the CM9 was available.)

If you prefer pocket carry, I can think of nothing better.

The Rohrbaugh is a jewel, but they specifically caution against +p ammo. Any short barrel pistol gives up a good bit of velocity...using +p gets some of that back. My PM9 went through a fair number of 127 gr +p+ Rangers without issue.

The G26 is just too fat for pocket carry IME. "Small/Tiny" does not apply to any Glock. If you are going to carry IWB, you can make a Glock work, but if you are going to carry IWB, a G19 is a better choice.

You stated that you are slender--any double stack will be a challenge. At least it was for me, which is why I gave up on double stacks several years ago. I can carry a 1911 more comfortably than any double-stack, and more importantly, I shoot one better and have more confidence in the cartridge.

Note--an important interim step (for me) was a Kahr P45, which is about the size of a P9 but holds 6+1 .45 acp rounds. It was my daily companion for a year and a half, until I worked out the details on carrying a 1911.

PS--Neither the PM9 or the P45 is going anywhere.
I still carry each from time to time, especially when my 55-year old back acts up.
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Old March 7, 2012, 11:10 PM   #14
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I haven't shot a P9, but I own a K9. I prefer the slightly larger grip of the K9 over the MK9. That's not really much of an issue though because you can use extended magazines. For me it doesn't get much better than the Kahrs if you are looking for a small 9mm. I also have a CW45, which happens to be the only polymer handgun that I own. I've shot plenty, but I really like the Kahr triggers and their slim design. If CC were an option for me, I would definitely pick up a CM/PM9 to match my CW45.
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Old March 7, 2012, 11:20 PM   #15
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Look at the Keltec PF9.
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Old March 7, 2012, 11:36 PM   #16
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There are a lot of things I like about the Rohrbaugh R9.

It's the smallest 9mm that fires reliably - at least that's the concensus of Rohrbaugh owners.

Some of the things I don't like are:

The holes for the grip screws are drilled directly into the aluminum frame. This makes for problems with the screws coming loose (common problem) or screws stripping the drill holes out.

A better design would have been to have steel inserts into the Aluminum frame for those grip screws to go into. If you strip the threading in the drill holes - that's what you're going to get anyway, a steel insert.

The right grip panel actually holds the trigger spring and the trigger bar in place. Just a bad design IMO, and especially when you have the problem with grip screws coming loose. it's not a big deal to die-hard Rorhbaugh fans who have trained themselves to periodically check the screws, but I have to admit - it is disconcerting for me.

The other thing that's not so great bout the R9 is that it can be picky about ammo. They seem to like the 124gr Gold Dots which are a good SD round IMO, and once you find the ammo that your pistol likes - it will be reliable with that ammo. I've also talked to Rohrbaugh owners who have R9s that eat 147gr Winchester Ranger T and 147gr Golden Sabres without a hiccup - so it depends.

From what I gather, the PM9 and MK9 are the next smallest 9mm pistols - The Diamondback DB9 is the next lightest.

But the Kahrs are really the only pocket nines that digest everything. From what I've been able to read on the forums, the PM9, CM9 and MK9 fire everything from cheap 115gr WWB, 124gr, 135gr and 147gr "premium" rounds like PDX1 / HST / Gold Dot / Golden Sabre


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Old March 7, 2012, 11:57 PM   #17
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strange that the walther pps hasn't been mentioned yet
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:03 AM   #18
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Walther PPS. The best of the bunch IMO.
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:09 AM   #19
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I have a Kahr CM9, and have owned a PM9 and K9. Have also rented a P9 (equivalent to the CW9) a couple of times.

I don't find a huge amount of difference in recoil, accuracy or controllability among the polymer Kahr 9s. They all have nice triggers and are pretty comfortable to shoot. Probably a slight edge to the standard-size ones ( P9, CW9), but not so much a difference that you'd feel you made a terrible mistake by going smaller.

One key is how you want to carry. In a front pocket, the CM9/PM9 will work. Not as tiny as an LCP, but will work fine. Bellyband or IWB, the bigger ones will work well, very thin. But the bigger ones are not front pocket guns, and for comparison the Kel-tec PF9//Ruger LC9 would be very marginal for pocket carry as well.

Unlike some of the above posters, I have grown a bit leery of Kahrs. They don't work perfectly for me. My P380 has been a huge disappointment, and the Nines have not functioned perfectly either. The CM9 and PM9 especially are sensitive to how they are held. I can get an occasional stovepipe while shooting lefthanded. I know technique matters, but to me a gun that has any sensitivity to how it is held is not ideal for a panic defensive situation.

I find all of my Kahrs also sensitive to how long (OAL) their ammo is. Even FMJs will hang up in the feed ramp if they are longer rounds. And of course Kahr insists that you have to load the pistol from lockback using the slide release.

In terms of reliability, especially under pressure, I would go with the P9 or CW9, which is the original Kahr design envelope and probably the most debugged. But the CM9/PM9 will likely work OK too. I have had 7 malfs in 1000 rounds through my CM9, and 6 were either lefthanded or using long ammo.

I would trust a Glock 26 to be less finicky than any Kahr, but it is a bit thick.

The Kel-tec 9s offer excessive recoil and the P11 has a lousy long, heavy trigger. Kel-tec quality control historically not as good as Kahr either, and definitely a couple of notches below Glock.
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:10 AM   #20
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I guess I zeroed in on the word "tiny" in the OP and the PPS is not tiny.
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:12 AM   #21
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Kahr PM9

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Old March 8, 2012, 12:25 AM   #22
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The Glock gen 4 G26 pistols are not so reliable as G26s made in the past, and they are sensitive to limp wristing. IMO the G26 is not tiny.

The Beretta Nano isn't tiny either IMO.

Springfield Armory's sub-compact XD is very chunky.

I'd get a Walther PPS instead of a Nano, or Glock G26 or Glock G19.

For size I think there is the Rohrbaugh R9, Kahrs, Sig-Sauer P290, Boberg XR9-Shorty, Diamondback DB9 and then the pistols get substantially bigger from there - Kimber Solo, Ruger LC9 etc...
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:44 AM   #23
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Some of the things I don't like are:
And I'll add:
1. The $1400 price tag
2. The requirement by the manufacturer that the recoil spring be replaced every 200 rounds.

Are they afraid that in there $1400 gun the recoil spring will be so fatigued in 200 rounds that it could fail?
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Old March 8, 2012, 12:55 AM   #24
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I want a gun I'll be able to shoot a lot
I haven't read where too many people put 100 rounds through a Rohrbaugh and want to put another 100 rounds through it.

Carl Rohrbaugh says the pistol is meant to be carried a lot and shot seldom (or something like that).
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Old March 8, 2012, 01:08 AM   #25
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Kahr P9, K9, PM9 or MK9 are great choices, as is the Walther PPS.

Also nothing wrong with the Ruger LC9, although the trigger isn't that great.
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9mm , carry , ccw , concealed , subcompact

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