Gun Review: Kahr PM45

I told my wife: when you finally make the decision to start carrying I will support you 100 percent. When she decided that 2012 was her year of the gun, I was ecstatic. Until I found out that my beloved Ruger LCR wasn’t really “mine” in the strict sense of the word. With my backup gun having abandoned me for two X chromosomes, I looked around for a replacement. For the sake of ammo compatibility with my main gun I decided to investigate sub compact .45s. After days of research and fondling at the local gun stores, a dealer offered me a Kahr PM45 for a price I couldn’t refuse . . .

The Kahr PM45 comes packaged in a no frills hard case with all the required paperwork, a useless trigger lock and an extra magazine. The small box creates an optical illusion that belies the actual handgun’s diminutive size. You don’t actually appreciate how small this heater is until you hold it. It’s no LCP, but it’s as close as you can get with something that shoots .45 ACP.

I’ve held, shot and/or owned sub compact .45s from Glock, Taurus and Para-Ordnance. None have come close to the ergonomic glory that I felt the first time I picked up the Kahr PM45. With a magazine inserted I can fit all my fingers on the grip; I’m not sacrificing concealability for the sake of ergonomic bliss.

Compared to my usual pocket carry, I wasn’t really giving up much in the way of concealability either. As you can see below, there’s not a noticeable size difference between the Ruger LCR and the PM45. Kahr wins the oft-neglected width war, clocking in at a mere 1.01”( compared to the LCR’s 1.283”).

The PM45’s fit and finish is old school Mercedes: no slop or rattle and tight tolerances. The lettering on the slide has just the right amount of panache. YTMV, but I find the PM45’s two-tone finish is as easy on the eyes as 8675309 was on the ears.

The PM45’s trigger is Double Action Only (DAO). Anyone who’s ever shot a hammerless revolver knows the drill: a long pull paired with an almost equally long reset. That said, the PM45 isn’t your daddy’s S&W. The Kahr’s go-pedal cis one of those rare guns that puts Smith’s amazing trigger to shame. The PM45’s trigger has no grit, no stacking, no nothing; just a predictable ~4.75lb trigger pull. It creates surprising accuracy for a pint-sized powerhouse.

Kahr’s sights consist of a white dot front sight placed over a white line on the rear. The sighting system has its detractors. As someone familiar Big Dot sights, I’ve got no problem with their point and shoot prowess.

My first two slow-fired mags created a large hole to the left and low of the bullseye. My next, faster-aimed mag hollowed-out  the grouping two inches directly below the bull. Last but not least, I ran two mags through the PM45 as fast as I could pull the trigger and point shoot. As you can see by the scattered holes, accuracy at that level suffers, but not enough to be considered less than a minute of bad guy.

The PM45’s recoil is stout, as you’d expect. But not punishing. The aggressive stippling on the gun’s front and backstrap help keep the pistol firmly in your grip. In fact, the PM45 wins the cheese grater award; an extended range session with the PM45 leaves your hand feeling more-than-slightly worse for wear. In any “practical application” it’s strictly who cares?

Out there on the Interwebz, the PM45s has a rep for reliability “issues” and multiple trips back to the mother ship for repairs. I fired everything from TulAmmo to Hornady Critical Defense through the PM45. The compact .45 fired, fed and ejected everything I fed it without a hiccup.

Kahr recommends that PM45 owners use slide stop to release the slide to avoid feeding issues. Tactically, that’s a huge no-no; counting on fine motor skills during a defensive gun use puts an armed citizen at real risk. So I ignored their advice and used the “sling shot” method—to no ill effect. Even so, self-defense shooters should make careful note of this potential problem.

When I got back from the range though, I discovered a major drawback: takedown. To field strip the PM45, you have to line up two small notches on the slide and frame. Then use some sort of implement to push the slide stop/take down lever out from left to right. The PM45’s recoil spring is so stout that it requires 1.5 hands to keep the slide in the exact position needed for the slide stop to be pushed through.

It’s your basic three-handed takedown procedure. Once you get past that (thank you my lovely assistant), you’re golden. The PM45 comes apart like any other semi auto pistol; putting it back together is much easier than taking it apart. I’ve been spoiled by the take down ease common to Glocks, XDs and SIGs. And rightly so.

The Kahr PM45 is a seriously well-made compact .45 that shoots accurately and conceals easily. It’s perfectly at home in your pocket, an IWB holster, your wife’s purse, your “European shoulder bag.” Which is just as well, considering the MSRP clocks in at $850. Let’s just hope my wife doesn’t like the PM45 as much as I do.


Caliber:                   .45 ACP
Capacity:                 5+1
Operation:              Trigger cocking DAO
Barrel:                     3.24”
Length O/A:            5.79″
Height:                      4.49″
Slide Width:           1.01″
Weight:                    Pistol 17.3 oz., Magazine 2 oz.
Grips:                        Textured polymer
Sights:                      Drift adjustable, white bar-dot combat sights
Finish:                      Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
MSRP:                       $855

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * * *
Sexy two tone “paint job” and looks that make other polymer pistols self-conscious

Ergonomics * * * * *
Feels very comfortable in hand and points naturally

Reliability * * * * *
200 rounds without a hiccup or a cleaning.

Customizable *
Night sights are all that’s on the menu for this little guy

Carry * * * * *
Its diminutive size makes it easily to conceal in any setting

Overall Rating * * * *
Fifth star withheld for the lack of aftermarket options and a PITA takedown procedure.

[TTAG’s targets are supplied by Birchwood Casey]