Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fighting Irish - a Review of the Kahr PM 40

There are few times I don't carry (I'll take my chances in the shower, I could always clobber them with the Irish Spring if the CIA knife doesn't cut it ). But then again, some might say a part polymer gun belongs in the shower.  Gun on a Rope?

But I carry most anywhere else. Certainly there are weapons I carry when where I'm going warrants some heavy iron, and then there are the "back up gun" days. Days I'm comfortable with something smaller, lighter, that will conceal a little easier. A gun that's reliable, accurate and will preferably chamber a duty-caliber round. I love my Sig and Smith and Wessons but I was wanting something a little bigger in caliber than the .380, while still remaining decently concealable. Something for the "Fighting Irish" in me that's also made in the USA.

Enter the Kahr PM40. It's ultra-compact without being wimpy, double action only (DAO), chambered in .40 S&W. For a long time my BUG was a S&W J Frame, (Speer GDHP 135gr +p) but when one of my range buddies brought one to the conservation club,  I had to try it, and liked it well enough to add to the "want to buy" list, though the S & W will always have first place in my heart. At the Gun Show this weekend I saw one for sale at an excellent price and picked it up.

When the first Kahr pistols appeared on the market in 1994 they were constructed entirely of carbon steel. The Kahr models such as the K9 were praised as being well-made and solidly constructed, but criticized for their excessive weight. Excess weight is a disadvantage in any weapon intended for concealed carry. Kahr took this in mind in refining the line, introducing pistols which were physically smaller, as well as a line of polymer framed models. The PM series combined both these approaches, introducing polymer framed pistols that were also the smallest Kahr models ever produced

They come finished in a blackened matte that almost borders on satin like the one above, (my buddy's piece) or like the one  I bought,  stainless and black polymer. Both are guns that aren't going to show up in an "ugly gun" blog post nor will you have to shoot them from a brown paper bag out of embarrassment.  With the many stainless components corrosion or pitting on warm, sweaty days won't be too much of a problem. It does sport a somewhat heavy spring so when you rack the slide you will need to grip it and rip it.

With an empty magazine it's only about 17 ounces and is less than an inch thick. It shoots a lot like a Glock 27 but it’s even smaller and thinner. I put a S&W 642 on top for a size comparison and the PM40 is smaller than the J frame, (and thinner when you take the cylinder and grips on the J frame into consideration).

Caliber? It’s a 40 S&W! Of course, there will be lots of debate as to what is the best ammo for it, though the Federal HST in .40 is quite the potent round, solid in a compact gun.

Is this a fun gun to shoot? Well, it put holes where I wanted. That in and of itself is fun anytime, but I'd have to say it's not for use all afternoon long  as a target gun. Give me my Sig or the 1911 or some plinking fun with the Mark III for that, but it's fun enough to keep proficient  for "just in case".

There is no external safety, the gun relying rather on that long trigger pull (think revolver). In an adrenalin situation, like defense shooting or dating, the fine motor skills are the first thing to go. Simplified controls are a positive attribute in my opinion and contribute to a desirable package for concealment use.

The trigger pull, though long, is buttery smooth without being insubstantially light, but that's what you want in a DAO "No Safety" firearm. What about recoil?  A little more than I imagined but quite manageable, if you're not going to shoot 100 rounds at a time through it. It's a light pistol with a high pressure cartridge, you're going to have recoil.

But the Kahr ergonomics are excellent and it's quite controllable. I'd say it was closest to the .38 special J-frame with heavy +P loads. If you're going to fire off a whole box of ammo, the web of your hand is going to smart. But that's not why I have it. It's lightweight, it's powerful, and it's small. It is also a gun you will want to practice with. Like the .45 caliber variant it can have some gun handling challenges in rapid fire due to the heavier recoil and resulting muzzle rise, the same as about any small and light large bore pistol. Not an issue for an experienced shooter who practices.

Size Matters. About 5 and a half inches long and 4 inches high, it will fit under most of my shirts without obvious bulk. Kahr has done a bang up job in making a weapon that will fit perfectly in my delicate but "large for a female" hand. If you've got really large hands, this might not work, but this is for concealed right? Small concealed. If you have Shrek sized hands and want something that fits it perfectly you'd best look at a full-framed pistol. It's solid, and if you need to point it at someone, the look of it alone will get their attention more than that slim little Kel Tec.

The compact size of this piece makes it an excellent choice for carrying. It comes with two stainless magazines, one 5 rounder that is flush with the mag well (pictured above)and one 6 rounder that sticks out below the mag well with a place for your pinky to grip (the last picture on this post).

But if you try it and the grip just isn't going to work, even considering why you are carrying it, you might look elsewhere. This is not a gun you can mess around with your grip with. "Firm and relaxed" need not apply. You need to grip this gun like a snake with PMS. Hold On. After your first shot, when you realize that the recoil you expect is much more pleasant than something light weight in the .44 Magnum category (ow, ow ow) you might be inclined to smile and relax just a little. Don't. Hold on tight. You'll be surprised how well you can shoot right off the bat with a firm grip. It's also quite accurate, with a firm hand.

The first one I shot straight out of the box was the piece one of the guys at the club had. The target below was my first time with it, and my very first magazine at about 30 feet. I bent my support hand a little more on the next round, but I was pleased. My buddies didn't snicker at me either.

The only problem encountered was shooting one that was brand new. When a loaded mag was placed in the weapon and the slide was pulled manually back and let go, it did not go all the way into battery. The fix?  Go from slide locked back position and use the thumb release to chamber a round, and there you go. This may have been a one time, being new thing, as after a few rounds through it it worked great, no misfeeds, misfires or jams. The manufacturer states that the gun is not to be considered to be reliable (aka broken in) until at least 250 rounds have been run through it.  I'd likely agree.

The sights? Bar-dot like my Sig. Easier to pick up than 3 dot in my opinion.

My only complaint is that slide release. The pistol is so small, and the release so sharp, I ended up away with painful gouges on my shooting hand thumb until I adjusted my grip a bit away from the frame. I don't know if it's enough that I'd want to take a file to those edges though. There's no getting around it, the slide release lever is SHARP from the factory.  It would be nice if they came out with one that was dehorned, but apparently in keeping the cost down, that item was left as is.

As for price, well they are a tad expensive compared to some firearms in .380 and even .40, but still reasonable compared to other pieces of the same quality. They run between $660 and $700 for the full stainless one depending on where you get it and around $580 for the stainless/polymere one.That's a lot of cash in today's economy for a back up gun.  But you are paying for life long quality and although quite a few have been sold in the local gun stores you don't see them often among used guns.. I picked up this one at the gun show from someone Mr. B. knew well from the gun show circuit and it was a very fair price.

All in all, it's a super small, light, high quality, big caliber pistol that you can depend on. There are other guns out there in that category but this is one that I like. An excellent piece. . . . to keep up the good fight..


  1. A new gun is always a great acquisition! Well, almost always.
    My concerns with the Kahr are 1) she's plastic - plastic guns have no soul, and 2) she's in .40.
    (although I did own a Beretta 96 for a short time that put them all through the same ragged hole @ 15 yards!)
    But, otherwise, looks like great stuff! Congrats!
    PS - If you haven't already, your CIA letter opener will take a sharp edge!

  2. I think an AK in the shower would be the ideal solution... Because AK...

  3. She's beautiful. I need to get me a Kahr.

  4. I remember tucking a Kahr in my waistband in place of my P232 Sig and being immensely surprised at how much thinner it felt. Only a couple tenths of an inch, but it felt like a lot more.

    Haven't shot one though. Not yet.

  5. "In an adrenalin situation, like defense shooting or dating, the fine motor skills are the first thing to go."

    Have I mentioned lately that I think I love you? :-) And snakes with PMS........

  6. I don't have hands quite the size of MattG, but they're still paws... and I'm pretty happy shooting my PM9. Yes, it's tiny and a solid grip is required, but it shoots very well.

    Mine came with a set of A-Grips from Brooks already on it, and I left them on. I hadn't heard of the stuff before, but I am VERY happy with it. No slipping from a sweaty hand, no noticeable increase in thickness, and far more control. Worth investigating. (Pics here if you're curious.)

  7. But to give up the J-frame? No, I have options other than my M-38, but in 9mm, which I shoot better than the 40's I've owned in similar platforms. Not to get into the "which is best" thing; I just enjoy shooting them, and hope I never again have to look over the top of a gun at my fellow man, dirtbag or no.

  8. That's a great book, too.
    Somebody gave me a copy when I was 13 on a flight to Ireland...Loved it!

  9. Thanks so much for the info...I'm learning... Now for my "simple newbbie" question...what do PM & CW mean?

  10. Love the book (How the Irish Saved Civilization)! I think I have read it a few times over the last several years.

    Oh and the pistol sounds cool too ;)

  11. I love my PM40. And you are right, it's not a gun for an afternoon of shooting. But it's just right for dropping in my pocket and not having to worry about it.

  12. My wife settled for her SP101 because she couldn't rack the Kahr, but I've been happy with mine.
    Your review is right on in all regards, down to the slide not going all the way home with the first few rounds (I'd whap mine with my palm), but that was a long time ago and I'd forgotten.
    Not a fun gun, because every trigger pull is long, but still accurate.
    The Rev. Moon connection still cracks me up.

  13. I likes me Kahr. Is with me most all the time except in this gun free zone (hospital based EMS) I work at(and the shower).
    Is a CW9 and keeps me comfortable as I travel about and with Bill's Gun Shop only a hop away practice is limited only by funds...Heh...
    Yes enjoy your Kahr...now to make up a bumper sticker..'My other Car, is a Kahr!!'

  14. ...Outstanding, ya know what? in all my world yer the only other person i know with a Kahr...mine are a bit older, K-9 and K-40, both fantastic shooters, both CC, both blackened stainless, both heavy(by comparison...lol) no sweat tho' once used to them...

    ...good choice

  15. armedlaughing - Plastic might not have a "soul" but many think we made a mistake leaving the M-14, or even leaving the trees int he first place... my 1911 is special to me, but I never leave the bed w/o a Glock or a Keltec at my side/pocket.

    Sounds like a great "medium" pistol Brigid... I just can't use .40 cause it's not in the storage system.

  16. armlaughing - I have lots of firearms with soul, but they are too bulky for a small sweater in the shop.

    TinCanAssassin - well yes. . .

    45-er - Thanks!

    PPPP - it's pretty light but it feels sturdy. I like that.

    Stephen - ahhh (blush). Best to you and your family.

    ZerCool - I will check it out. Thanks!

    Mick - not to give up on the J, just as back up in certain situations or when clothing doesn't allow it to conceal.

    Fuzzy - if you come to one of the IND blog shoots where I'm around you are welcome to play with it.

    Cormac and Matt W - yes, it is excellent, and I reread it as well.

    Don - set it and forget it as the infomercial says (but don't forget to practice).

    Ed - thank you. Racking it isn't for the wimpy, but I did OK. It takes a little getting used to though. But I was very nicely surprised by the accuracy.

    madmedic - I haven't been up to Bill's in some months. Great little store.

    Ken - I've only run across the one and was thankful the friend from the range let me try his out (I think he bought it for his wife but ended up using it more himself).

  17. Brighid - Sorry - I thought I included this. PM stands for polymer micro. CW normally stands for "concealed weapon" but I'm not sure if that was the context in which you saw it. TMI (too many acronymns! Big hug girlfriend!

  18. @BePrepared - Different strokes and folks, do as you wish!
    Something is better than nothing.
    I'm just 'old school', and at one time owned 3 Glocks (17, 26, 30) and a Keltec .32.
    Nothing materially against plastic - it's just not the same as blued steel and walnut.

  19. Love mine, and yes, you DO need to run at least 250 rounds through it.

  20. Great. Now I want one. Thanks for that!


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly, kid safe, and open to discussion, not criticism. This is my home. You can live in yours as you wish, but this is my place.