Kahr PM9 vs CM9: The Little DAOs That Could
For those that like Kahr pistols, choosing a CCW pistol from their lineup often comes down to the Kahr PM9 vs. CM9. They don’t always get the same amount of press as some of the other gun brands do, but Kahr pistols actually have a lot to offer believe it or not.
Kahr pistols are simple, but that’s actually a good thing. There isn’t too much to learn about them, unlike a single or double-action pistol. Every single gun they make is DAO, with an internal hammer. Load, rack, aim and squeeze; repeat until empty. The stiff trigger is the safety feature (along with a firing pin block as a drop safety) and that’s about it.
They offer a few different trim levels with various differences, so what you’ll end up wondering is whether the upsell is worth the difference in price. Is it? Well, let’s go over that.
Kahr PM9: A Premium Pocket-Size Pistol
The PM series by Kahr are their subcompacts, which makes them popular for concealed carry. In candor, the price difference doesn’t yield any new features; the difference is in the materials and build quality.
The Kahr PM9 has a 3.1-inch barrel, standing 5.42 inches long, 4 inches tall and .9 inches wide, as it’s a single-stack. It’s also nice and light, at 14 ounces unloaded. The flush-fit magazine holds 6+1 of 9mm, though a 7+1 magazine with a pinkie extension comes with it as well.
The frame is polymer, the slide is stainless with drift-adjustable sights. The base sights are 3-dot, though night sights can be had as an optional upgrade as can a factory-installed manual safety if desired. You can also elect for a Rose Gold, matte stainless or black stainless finish.
The barrel differs from the CM9 as the PM9’s barrel employs polygonal rifling. Traditional rifling uses spiraling grooves cut into the barrel, but polygonal rifling cuts channels into the barrel. Through a borescope, it looks like hills and valleys that twist toward the opening. This creates a better gas seal with the bullet. This gives projectiles more consistent velocity, a more stable spin and better accuracy.
Granted, you probably won’t be making too many 100 yard shots with it…but every little bit counts.
Kahr CM9 For The Budget Crowd
The budget model is the Kahr CM9, which is virtually the same gun. The devil, of course, is in the details.
The specs are the same, save the barrel. The CM9 has a 3.0-inch barrel, the PM9 has a 3.1-inch barrel. Other than that, no difference. The CM9 takes the same magazines, except it ships with only the 6-round flush fit. You can buy the extended floor plate magazine a la carte if desired.
The base handgun sights are the same, except the front sight is polymer instead of steel, and pinned rather than dovetailed. The rear sight is still drift-adjustable, and they do make a model with night sights. There are some additional finish options available too, including Kryptek Camo, Armor Black, and even Tungsten with a Pachmayr Grip Glove and pinkie extension magazine floor plate for an additional charge.
The slide has a lot less machining and is very plain. You won’t have a problem getting purchase, but they spend a lot less time on it. The frame, though, is the same. The barrel is traditionally rifled, with spiral grooves instead of polygonal rifling. A number of components are also MIM rather than milled, though that doesn’t actually matter as much as people say it does.
In other words, the finished product gets less attention to the details to save cost, with no compromise in terms of function. It’s kind of like the difference between a run-of-the-mill GI-spec 1911 and a Wilson Combat. They both work, and in a lot of ways it’s the same gun. It’s just that one has been pored over a whole heck of a lot.
Deciding Between The PM9 vs CM9
The question is really whether the detail work of the Kahr PM9 vs CM9 adds up to enough to justify the difference in MSRP. The base PM9 retails for $810, the base CM9 for $460. Expect to pay closer to $600 (though possibly less) for the PM9 and closer to $300 (same again) for the CM9.
In either case, you get much of the same thing. Both guns are known for a smooth, crisp double-action trigger pull, with a break at about 8 pounds, give or take. You can get spring kits to reduce it, but a lot of people actually view this as a safety feature. The trigger won’t get pulled unless you darn well mean it, and a lot of shooters have found Kahr guns to have one of the more pleasant double-action triggers.
Both guns are known to be accurate and reliable, though at times discerning when it comes to ammunition. You may have to find a carry load and practice ammo the gun digests well, though reviews have found both eat almost all of what they’re fed.
Will the barrel rifling add up to a world of difference in accuracy? Given the short length…probably not. This is a subcompact CCW pistol, not a benchrest rifle. The sights…well, it’s really the same story. Having a drift-adjustable front helps, but these pistols are for use up close and personal. As long as that front sight is on target, you’ll hit what you aim at.
On paper, the CM9 appears the better buy. It’s practically the same gun, but with minor differences and for several hundred fewer dollars in asking price. Do those details really add up that much?
It’s really going to depend on what you think, because that aspect is far more subjective. Handle and shoot both, if possible. If a clear winner emerges, get that one. The gun that works better for you is better for you, and that’s the one you should get.
Have you shot these firearms? What did you like, and what didn’t you?
Let us know in the comments below!