Friday, October 23, 2015

Kahr CW45 Review

Just one look at Kahr's CW45 and you realize this is a stripped down, no-holds barred combat pistol.  The highly aggressive stippling on the back and front strap of Kahr's polymer frame grips lends assurance to the thought of sweaty, highly stressed hands in unforgiving situations.  Though I've heard people say they had problems shooting more than a mag or two, due to the aggressiveness of the stippling on their hands, I found this pistol to be a joy to shoot - even after 100 rounds.

The CW45 is the "Value" model from Kahr, the inexpensive version of the P45 with the Kahr name and emblem rolled onto the slide vs engraved - an MIM slide stop - a non-dove tailed, pinned front sight - and arrives in a cardboard box with only one mag.  The gun comes from the factory with a mirror polished feed ramp.

Upon opening, you realize the fit and finish is superb and though top heavy (as to be expected with big bore guns with polymer frames) it feels terrific in the hand - well balanced, light (21.7 oz empty) and ergonomically pleasing.  Continuing as a combat pistol, it is devoid of any manual safety, has an extended mag release and a crisp, striker fired, stage free double action trigger described by Kahr as being accomplished "... by means of a system in which a trigger stroke of approximately 0.7 inch rotates a cam that then unlocks the spring-loaded striker safety and draws the striker to full cock position before releasing it to fire the pistol."  For some, the downside of this trigger will be the very long reset - releasing nearly all the way forward.  For me it's not a big deal, as trigger reset isn't a part of the training I do, something I don't much think about.

Out of the box, racking the slide takes a lot of effort and is certainly the most difficult I have experienced with the few guns I have used.  I have large hands and racking the slide was punishing without a decent grip - as could be seen after the rear sight gouged the webbing and palm of my hand when I lost control of the slide.  I will say this... Kahr suggests 200 rounds downrange to break in the gun, and after 100 rounds, the slide was much easier to manipulate and now, I'm sure it will improve with use.

Field stripping the gun is a bit of a pain.  After aligning the witness marks, you will need a dowel or other pointed object to push the slide stop out.  This sounds easy enough, but is difficult to do with one hand holding the slide in place while turning over the gun and pressing from the back side with a tool.  Once the slide stop moves, you still won't be able to jiggle it out without using a flat edge to pry under the piece to remove it.  After freeing the slide stop, you will then need to point the gun in a safe direction and dry fire to release the slide.  Once that is done, it's everything back to normal.  I for one don't like having to use tools to do a field strip and I'm hoping the slide stop will start freeing up with more rounds down range and several more cleanings, allowing me to push it out by hand.  Here is a video of how to adjust the slide stop spring, which may allow easier removal of the slide stop, but which may screw with the consistency of the slide stop doing its job... We'll see.

A unique characteristic on the Kahr - which further affirms this carry piece as a 'combat pistol' - is the users inability to release the slide stop on an empty magazine.  This design is intended to give you an immediate tactile signal that your gun is unloaded - which would classify as a colossal 'fail' when carrying.

Finally, one more aspect you will notice is the sights.  They aren't conventional three-dot sights, but a white dot on the front, sitting atop a vertical white line on the drift adjustable rear sight - often referred to as 'dotting the i'.

You can order the Kahr CW45 with either a 6 round or 7 round mag.  I chose the 6 rounder because it sits flush to the magwell, where the 7 round extends another 1/2".  I did buy two extra 7 round mags for carry on the off hand side.  I found, like everything else on this Kahr, the mags were very tight (strong springs) and were difficult to load to the maximum - you either use a mag loader or just muscle them in.

At the range, due to time constraints, I was only able to put two boxes down range and even though Kahr recommends 200 rounds for break-in, I am comfortable with the sidearm after just half that amount.  The gun ran flawlessly with nary a hiccup for the session.

After firing off mag number one my first impression was this gun is a surprisingly soft shooter with very light and balanced recoil - for a .45.  I own and shoot an ATI 1911 Commander and have shot my sons G-30 among others and the Kahr was tame by comparison.  This is probably due to Kahr's "patented 'offset barrel' design [which] places the trigger mechanism beside the barrel lug, raising the shooter's hand closer to the center line of the bore. This, with the ergonomically designed grips, results in a remarkable degree of shooting comfort and control with reduced muzzle flip and felt recoil."

I would have to agree - soft and quick to reacquire the target.  A real joy to shoot.

After the first mag, it was plain to see I was shooting low.  Mag #2 was spent getting a better feel for the 'dot the i' sights, while by the end of the third mag, I not only had adapted to the sight picture, but I found I really like it.  Just. Dot. The. I.  Simple.

Reloading and continuing left me with a sense of confidence and satisfaction as the gun handled better than I could have expected.  No FTF, FTE, jams or mishaps.  Just click, bang - the six pound trigger feeling smooth and clean every time.

The ejected casings flew back over my right shoulder in a low, flat, hard line that was far different than the higher, looping arc of other guns I've fired.  These whizzed passed my head at ear level like a Steve Dalkowski fastball.  I was plunked once in the forehead, the shell casing bouncing away, my forehead none the worse for wear.

The only real hiccup was self induced.  I mentioned the extended mag release, and I was introduced to it - rather ignominiously -  with the very first pull of the trigger.  I attempted to fire the second round, only to realize the gun hadn't chambered the round.  Why?  Because my right thumb had inadvertently pressed down and released the mag. Although the mag didn't drop to the table, it was resting freely on the last finger of my left hand.

At this point I stopped, reset my grip and took notice of how this might be avoided.  Truthfully, it was
just a matter of being aware of the release and without much further thought, I didn't have this problem again.  I will continue to work with the pistol at home, just to further ingrain the feel of the correct hold, as no one wants to be in a bad situation and have the mag drop out when its most needed... no one wants to be Barney Fife.

It ran everything I put through it - PMC, Winchester White Box and my Hydra-shoks.

All in all, this has quickly become my favorite carry pistol.  It is now mated to an Alien Gear 1.0 holster, which I'm not too happy with.  I have another IWB holster (non-hybrid) due any day now.  The gun is light, easy to carry and a joy to shoot and shoot accurately and it goes 'click bang' every time.

Kahr CW45... I 'm sold on it.

UPDATE 5/4/2016

Went to the range and with only a total of 250 rounds downrange, the spring in the six round mag broke.  Kahr's price on a new spring is $12.50 + shipping, so I took a spring from an old 1911 mag and used that.  It works fine. (1911 mags will work in Kahr's cw45, though the slide may not lock back when the mag is empty.)

Price - $335.00 Buds Guns

Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; "Browning - type" recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 3.64", conventional rifling, 1 - 16.38 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 6.32"
Height: 4.8"
Slide Width: 1.01"
Weight: Pistol 19.7 oz., Magazine 2 oz.
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide

My new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - is now available at Lulu.comAmazon and Barnes and Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.