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]





About Ryan Finn

Ryan Finn is the Director of Operations and an Associate Instructor for Montana Tactical Firearms Instruction as well as a contractor for Vanguard Security Consultants when he isn't writing for TTAG. In his free time he is a volunteer firefighter and enjoys spending time in the mountains with his family.

28 Responses to Gun Review: Kahr PM45

  1. avatarMike OFWG says:

    Taurus PT145, empty weight about 22 oz, mag capacity 10, trigger, lets just say heavy and heavier. Actually, after about five or six hundred rounds, it is a lot better, lighter and smooth. Second strike capability, external safety, melted for carry. Best thing, price, under $400.00. It’s no target gun but you can keep em in the torso all day long at 25 yards. Feeds everything, I may be lucky, but no FTF, FTE or mag problems. The mags aren’t cheap, or used to be that way, considering the cost of a lot of mags nowadays, they are probably mid range. It’s certainly no Kahr, but then, it’s no Kel-Tec either.

    • avatarPD says:

      I had 2 different PT145s but I gave up on them for ftf issues even after several trips to the factory for repair. Just not reliable enough for me to trust with my life. I loved the concept of a lightweight .45 but at some point you may be sacrificing reliability. I am happy for you that yours are working for you.

  2. avatarGL Kohler says:

    Nice review. Kahr has been getting a lot of attention on TTAG lately. I think a PM45 is just about the polar opposite conceptually to the MK9 I reviewed here a while back–at least in terms of a power/weight ratio. I really wish Kahr didn’t put that extra cut in the slide on the .45s, though. I think it detracts from the Kahr look.

  3. avatarEric says:

    I shot one and liked it, but generally my marksmanship sucked with it (mine, not the guns). Agreed on the amazingly long and smooth trigger. It was fun to shoot back to back with a Glock and 1911 trigger because they are all so different.

  4. avatarJoe Grine says:

    $850 for a Glock clone? Yikes!

    • avatarBCM MIDDY says:

      You know Glock MSRPs for most of their models are $750 right? I dont think an extra $100 is bad considering this is a US-made pistol thats pretty much perfect for CC

  5. avatarbontai Joe says:

    Out of my budget, but sure looks like a good gun to me. Nice review!

  6. avatarDan Y says:

    I previously owned the PM45′s bigger brother, the P45. I would concur about the guns’ accuracy and cheese grater-ness. I took to wearing a glove when taking the ol’ girl to the range. She’s a fine carry gun, but less than awesome as a range toy: The first few magazines’ worth of lead fly down range no problem, but one white box later and your hand feels like it met the business end of a power sander and your gun fore-arm is aching from the un-dampened recoil.

    I too agree that 8 large for a plastic fantastic boom stick is a bit much. But, there is always the much more affordable yet very very similar CW45.

  7. avatarPC says:

    Does the Kahr have second-strike capability? If it does not, then the pistol should not be called double-action anything.

    • avatarDan Roth says:

      Who made that rule up? Who ever considers things like that? Get better ammo.

      • avatarKenneth says:

        Second strike ability is a “tactical no-no” also. 1) It’s gun specific 2) What if the second strike doesn’t work? Then you’ve wasted time and have to rack a new round anyways. In the heat of the moment you shouldn’t have a complicated decision tree for malfunctions. If the trigger goes click and the slide isn’t open, tap the magazine, rack the slide, bang.

  8. avatarrsu11 says:

    Two months ago I was standing in my LGS deciding between a barely used PM45 and nearly new Glock 36. I went with the G36 even though the Kahr was more concealable. I have other 9mm models of both makes and I’d sum up the differences as functionality to Glock and concealability to Kahr. I was also put off by Kahr’s famous 200 round break-in…for a small .45, that can be painful and expensive. This one evidently didn’t need it. Good thing.

    The Kahr PM series isn’t cheap, but a little shopping will find them at much less than MSRP. Good review. This is about as small as I’d ever want a .45 to be, even for a carry gun.

    • avatarBCM MIDDY says:

      The G36 is Glock’s worst performer as far as reliability, not a reputation I would want for a CC gun.

      Ask any Glock armorer, they all advise against a Glock 36. Also that 200 round break-in? Youre gonna do that on a Glock also before you start carrying it, at least you should…

      • avatarRoss says:

        That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. I did replace the recoil spring assembly once it started looking ratty at about 1000 rounds. But outside of a few FTE’s that I lay at the feet of WWB crap ammo… my G36 been an amazingly reliable firearm.

        Now I go googling for G36 reliability issues.

        • avatarGera B says:

          I have a glock 36 for a while now. Never had any problems. Never. Love this gun.

  9. avatarGOOFA says:

    Ryan… I wish you the best of luck with your new Kahr. I purchased 10 new Kahr’s in the last few years and I am down to 4. I have had my share of problems with 7 of the 10 and you must have patience in the event you have to send it back for service. If you managed to get a good one, you will definitely have one of the best CCW’s you could put your hands on.. One more item, before you put your life in the hands of your new PM45, please put it through some more demanding drills at the range, like rapid fire sequence, point and shoot at 3 yds, double taps, triple taps, put it through the paces as if you were in a real world situation. Many shooters go to the range and do nothing but shoot at targets with FMJ ammo and do it failure free. Most any gun could come through that with flying colors, but can your gun perform 100% during an attack with capable defensive ammo? You would be surprised how many guns come up short. Your CCW needs to be failure free, 100%, nothing else. Its your life, protect it.

    • avatarDan Roth says:

      Just a question for anyone here who knows from personal experience. How many military small arms are 100% failure free and can be counted on as such? Let us know. What do our troops do when the lead is raining down on them and the weapon jams? You got to be ready for that. Don’t ever beleive 100% or you are in for a surprise.

  10. avatarMark N. says:

    I’m confused…your wife WANTS your LCR?????

  11. avatarMichael says:

    I feel like anytime someone makes a PM review (of any caliber) there should be an * at the end of it and you should at least mention the availability of the CM/CW versions.

    You can get the CM45, which is identical in size for half the price.

    • avatarJohn Onderdonk Jr says:

      I was actually looking at those tonight and wondering what the difference is between the two. The lady running the counter confessed ignorance on the subject of Kahrs. Doing some digging right now as a matter of fact.

  12. avatarFred says:

    Nice review

  13. avatarDon says:

    Take down is easy!

    Clear gun inc. remove mag, turn upside down and place thumb in trigger guard, pull slide back aligning arrows, use corner of mag to eject pin. :)

    Over 1000 rounds through mine and I LOVE IT!

  14. avatarEddie says:

    Am I missing something?? Other than a tiny bit heavier and a tiny bit longer, I can’t see or find the difference between the KAHR CW45 and the PM45. I don’t understand why the PM version is listed at almost TWICE the price. Believe it or not when I called the KAHR company the lady in the sales dept said the CW version is the “economy” version. What? What does THAT mean? I can’t figure it out. What am I not seeing . . . . ? Can anyone help me figure out why the huge difference in price?

    • avatarJeff says:

      The CW version come with one magazine instead of 2. They are also manufactured with some MIM parts as opposed to the P and PM series that all parts are milled from solid pieces.

      The MIM parts are significantly cheaper to manufacture and the CNC machined are time consuming and expensive. Ya get what you pay for.

  15. avatarSteve says:

    I purchased one of these overpriced Kahr PM45 with night sights and put it through the 200 round break in, then through another 200 round break in, then another 200 round break in…needless to say it still jams a live round in it at least once every magazine. What a overpriced piece of crap,I cleaned it and put it back in the box and am waiting for the gunshop to get in a Glock 30s so I can trade it in. I should have just bought the Glock in the first place and saved myself a lot of money and wasted time at the range. Save yourself, dont buy this crap.

  16. avatarGreg says:

    If its anything like my high priced stainless Kahr MK9 which is one of there higher lines also this is the sweetest gun I have ever owned!!! I bought it used because new was close to $900 before taxes n fees. Like Jeff said you get what u pay for, my uncle had the CW45 and it was a nice feeling gun but the barrel is not a bull barrel, the guide rod n spring are totally different look up parts and the springs, trigger kits guide rods, barrel all the critical parts, it’s like comparing Toyota to a Mercedes Benz!

  17. avatarMark Telep says:

    The only 1 item I don’t like about the Kahr pistols is the fact that the magazine has sharp edges on the butt plate. It hurts when it is holstered. Otherwise it is very close to the Springfields, and Glocks. I would round the corners to make it more wearable. I chamfered it with some sandpaper in about 5 seconds.

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