P320 Entry: Gun Review – Kahr CW380

CW380 Full

By PJ

When it comes to tiny handguns, it doesn’t get much tinier than the Kahr CW380. As the proud owner of a shiny new CHL, I’ve been exploring my carry options and I recently decided that I needed something suitable for pocket carry/deep concealment. After a healthy amount of research and a few trips to the rental counter at my local range, I finally settled on this budget-minded cousin of the P380. Set on a new Kahr, and being a firm believer that it’s always better to ask for forgiveness than permission, I found the best price online, put the pistola on the credit card, and began to ponder the best way to break the news of my purchase to my lovely wife. Two days (and one night on the couch) later I was the proud owner of a shiny new CW380, and the real question is: was a little domestic discord worth it? . . .

Like I mentioned, the CW380 is the budget-friendly version of Kahr’s P380. In my opinion, the CW retains all the qualities of its better-appointed sibling while making reasonable tradeoffs to lessen the hit on the pocketbook. Like the P380, the CW380 still has some of the best sights to be found on a pocket pistol, the slide locks back on the last round (unlike a lot of pocket .380s), and it comes with the great Kahr trigger.

Glock19vShieldvCW380

GLOCK 19 [L], M&P Shield [C] CW380 [R]

Savings come from switching out the P380’s match-grade polygonal rifled barrel for one with standard rifling, a fixed polymer front sight (driftable steel on the P380), less machining on the slide, simpler roll markings, a metal-injection-molded slide stop lever, and the inclusion of only a single 6-round magazine (the P380 comes with three). You’ll have to make up your own mind about whether these features are worth the extra $230 the P380 commands, but for me it was a no-brainer — with the savings on the CW, I can get myself a lot of extra magazines, and if I ever run across some unjacketed .380 rounds I can shoot them to my heart’s content.

kahr-cw3833-602686167314-1

Appearance

The CW380 is a good-looking little gun, if I do say so myself (and I do, because I just did…). While I know some can take it or leave it, I’ve always been a fan of the two-tone stainless and black color scheme. Sure, some night that shiny slide will probably catch the moonlight in a dark alley, giving up my location to the miscreants chasing me and leading to my untimely end, but I can at least take solace in the fact that my gun will look good in the crime scene photos.

The fit and finish are pretty good for a gun in the ~ $325 street price range. Fresh from the box, there were a few tags of polymer on the frame near the rails that were likely left over from the injection molding process, but I just left them and they seem to have worn off after a few hundred rounds. The slide does show a few tool marks on the inside, but nothing that bothers me too much, and everything seems to lock up nice and tight. In terms of overall looks, I don’t think you could ask for much more in a budget pistol. But looks ain’t everything.

Ergonomics

The CW380 is small. It has a small barrel (2.58”). It has a small slide (4.96”). It’s skinny (.75”). So what should we assume we are going to get in the grip department…? You guessed it — small! I have pretty small hands, and there is just no chance that I will be getting more than a two-fingered grip on this pistol. I don’t say this as a negative because the main thing that drew me to the Kahr was the size, but if you have monster mitts you’re going to want to get your hands on one of these before buying. I wanted a pocket gun that I could carry no matter my wardrobe choices, including the t-shirt and thin shorts that the Texas Gulf Coast climate requires eight months out of the year. The CW380 fits the bill perfectly, disappearing into pretty much any pocket I have. Packed securely in a good pocket holster, the Kahr even conceals in the front pocket of a few pairs of tighter jeans, easily passing for a cell phone thanks to its pint-sized… size.

G19  Shield and CW380

GLOCK 19 [T], M&P Shield [C], CW380 [B]

Inside the waistband, the CW380 absolutely vanishes. Using my Sticky Holster (the only holster I have for the CW at the moment) and wearing just a t-shirt, I could not find a single spot on my waistband where the Kahr would print. I can’t imagine a wardrobe situation where this little wonder couldn’t be concealed (Speedos included). However, while its small size is great for pocket carry and concealment, I’ve found that the same feature makes the CW380 somewhat difficult to draw from IWB. A combination of 1) short length which doesn’t allow the grip to ride much above the belt line and 2) the miniscule grip, make finding a quick and solid purchase on the pistol more than a little challenging for me. More practice or a different holster might help with this concern, but since I purchased this gun purely for pocket carry, I personally don’t see it as much of a downside.

I do have a grip gripe about the very aggressive stippling — due to its size, the CW380 is just a bit snappy. Recoil is not bad by any means, but when combined with the grip texture, comfort became an issue for me. After 300 rounds on my first range trip, my palm bore what I thought might be permanent imprints of the Kahr’s backstrap diamonds. Fortunately, I have since found that a rubberized Talon Grip does a nice job of taking the teeth out of the backstrap’s bite. I would definitely recommend investing in the aftermarket grip of your choice.

CW380 Disassembled

A note about takedown — don’t if you can avoid it (which you can’t, since this gun came from the factory dripping with oil and astonishingly dirty on the inside — you have to clean the CW380 prior to firing it). Ralph noted in his SIG P290 review that takedown required at least three hands, and that’s pretty much the same feeling I have about the CW380.

To breakdown the CW380, it’s necessary to pull the slide back about a quarter of an inch and line up the witness marks on the slide and the frame. Once the marks are lined up, just push on the protruding end of slide stop lever to get it started and then pull it right out. Seems easy enough, except for the fact that this pistol has an approximately 437,000 lb recoil spring (this pistol is not the choice for those with weak hands) and the slide stop is tighter than a clam with lockjaw. The only way to get the slide stop started is to hammer on the opposite side with something hard, but remember that you have to do this while somehow keeping the witness marks aligned with one hand. I ended up developing my own technique using a screwdriver, both hands, and my knees. Good luck.

Reliability

Now to where the rubber meets the road: does the CW380 work? All this talk about good looks and great concealability doesn’t mean much if the Kahr can’t be counted on to run reliably. Here’s the breakdown after 500 rounds of assorted flat-nosed and round-nosed FMJ and 50 rounds of 90gr. Fiocchi Extrema (somebody’s been watching ShootingTheBull410 videos…):

Failure to Eject:             3
Failure to Feed:             6
Failure to Fire:               0
Failure to Lock Back on Last Round: 10+

I’ve read a few horror stories on forums about problems with the CW380, but all in all I’ve found mine to be pretty darn reliable. How can I say that? Well the malfunction numbers might seem to indicate a problem with the slide locking back, but I finally figured out that my grip was putting pressure on the slide stop lever and keeping it from engaging. After a grip adjustment, I have had zero issues with the slide locking back on the last round. Also, it should be noted that all of the malfunctions except two of the failures to feed occurred within the first 100 rounds, and the other two occurred toward the end of a range session when the gun was extremely dirty. Kahr recommends a 200 round break-in period for all of its firearms, so I tend not to weigh malfunctions during the break-in very heavily in my assessment of the CW380’s reliability. To me the break-in isn’t an issue, but if you think a firearm should be 100% reliable right out of the box then this Kahr might not be the one for you.

I think two failures to feed (in a very dirty gun) in 300+ rounds after the break-in period is acceptable for me, but you can decide if you’d be comfortable with that kind of performance. Plus, these failures were with flat-nose Winchester FMJ ammo — I haven’t had a single malfunction (whether the gun was clean or very dirty) with 50 rounds of the Fiocchi ammo I carry on a daily basis. I did follow all of the break-in recommendations that I found on the KahrTalk forum, and I always chamber the first round using the slide release (recommended by Kahr), so that might help to explain the pretty good performance I’ve experienced.

 

Accuracy

CW380 Herters accuracy

Accuracy is as good as I could expect out of a pistol with a 2.58” barrel. The Kahr trigger is long and smooth, with a bit of take-up, no stacking, and a nice clean break, and honestly was one of the main things that attracted me to the CW380 over the other pocket .380s I tried out before buying (LCP, 738 TCP, Bodyguard, GLOCK 42). Coming from a GLOCK 19 and S&W Shield, it took me a bit to get acquainted with the trigger pull. One thing I miss is the short reset of my other striker-fired pistols, as the Kahr trigger must be almost fully released to reset, but I am quickly getting used to the CW380’s trigger operation. Subjectively, I’d still call it a great trigger — just know that it’s different from any other striker fired pistol I’ve ever handled so YMMV.

CW380 Win Train Accuracy

 

I’m by no means a marksman, but I was able to get very respectable slow-fire three-shot groups at 5 yards (what I consider a reasonable distance for a pocket pistol) with a variety of different ammo. In retrospect, I should have fired more rounds and done a few groups at a greater distance just to see how the CW380 would perform, but cut me some slack — this is my first review. Other than the flyer with White Box (which was completely my fault), all of the ammo shot to point of aim. As you can see in the picture the PMC I fired seemed to be keyholing, and I’m not really sure why that would be, but I attribute it to the ammo since all the other types I ran through the Kahr looked to be flying fine. Rapid-fire, I could keep three shots inside the 8-ring pretty consistently at 5 yards after some practice.

CW380 WWB Accuracy

Summary

If you’re in the market for a pocket .380, I’d say you would be hard pressed to do much better than the CW380. I haven’t fired them all, but I tested a lot of little .380s in my search, and the combination of concealability, accuracy, features, reliability, and price point make this micro Kahr a winner in my book. I know there are quite a few reports of reliability issues out there on the interweb forums, but all I can do is report my experiences with my pistol, and I certainly feel confident enough to carry it daily. Like I mentioned, I followed all of the break-in and lubrication recommendations that are out there for Kahrs and I would suggest that anyone thinking about becoming a Kahr guy or gal do the same. I feel like I’ve found a keeper, but my opinion isn’t the one that really matters — the CW380 is my wife’s new favorite pistol to shoot.

 

Kahr CW380 Specifications:

Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6+1 (flush mag) or 7+1 (extended mag)
Materials: Black polymer frame and matte stainless steel slide
Weight: 10.2 oz without magazine
Barrel Length: 2.58”
Barrel Rifling: Conventional 1 in 16 RH twist
Overall Length: 4.96”
Width: 0.75”
Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear, pinned in polymer front
Action: Striker-fired, double action only
Price: $419 MSRP

 

Kahr CW380 Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
Here we go again — either you love polymer pistols or you hate them. I love them all, and I think the two-tone CW380 is pretty sharp. A few cosmetic downgrades from the P380 (and comparison with the dead sexy P238) keep this at four stars.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * * *
They just don’t make them any more concealable than this. This thing disappears in almost any pocket and it’s basically impossible to make it print when carried IWB. The fact is, sometimes I just want to pop a pistol in my pocket and go, and the CW380 was made for just that.

Ergonomics (firing) * * *
I love the trigger. I love the real, quality sights. I hate the grip stippling, and I don’t like that it takes advanced yoga positions to take down. The recoil spring is…stout… but I suppose I’d rather have the benefit of reduced recoil over easier racking. Accuracy is great so I struggled with this one, but I can’t say the CW380 is better than average when my wife has difficulty racking the slide and it requires aftermarket grips for me to shoot comfortably. A note for lefties — the mag release cannot be swapped and the slide release is not ambidextrous. There is also no manual safety on the CW380.

Reliability * * * *
Not flawless, but really, really good. Everything that makes it into the chamber has fired on the first try, and the few failures to feed I’ve encountered can safely be attributed to the recommended break-in period or a filthy gun. I’m comfortable enough to carry it daily.

Customization * * *
Night sights and lasers are available, which is pretty much standard for all of the little pocket .380s. Not much sense putting on a tactical light that’s bigger than the gun. From what I understand, it should fit P380 holsters so there are a fair number of options out there.

Overall * * * *
This micro pistol retains almost all of the features of a full sized weapon but packs them into one of the smallest packages available. I tried quite a few small .380s in my search, and this little Kahr came out on top. A great trigger, real sights, reliability, solid features, and the ability to go unnoticed anywhere, anytime mean that if you’re looking for a great pocket pistol, the CW380 should be on your short list.

comments

  1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Dude, you carry a .380 acp?!?!

    You’re luck to still be alive!

    But seriously, the Kahr CW series are cool little pistols. I’m a fan.

    1. avatar Fidel says:

      I own one ,now in my 3rd 50 round box ,so far so good ,like he said not flawless ,but I ‘m happy with the piece,really concealed gun,I feel safe to be honest with you !!

      1. avatar García says:

        What brand you use as ammo on the Kahr CW380 ?
        Thanks in advance for your respond !

  2. avatar MadMedic says:

    The reliability on mine was a nightmare for the first 150 rounds. Then it broke in and has shot at about 98 percent reliability since then.

    It is also ammo picky. It absolutely hates fiocchi round nose. They have a second bulge/belt on the case that caused constant failure to feed issue. Could not get more than 2 rounds out if it at a time with it.

    All in all though, now that I know what it likes to shoot and I’m past the break in, I love mine. Perfect shorts and tee shirt gun. I leave the house armed almost every time now. There’s no excuse not
    To with this little guy.

    1. avatar John says:

      Mine also doesn’t like Fiocchi but that’s the only ammo I’ve had any problem with after the 200 round break in period. Recoil to me is very tame and much better than the TCP or other 380’s I’ve tried.

      +1 to the reviewer on the Talon grips. They’re a must with this gun.

    2. avatar BR549 says:

      I had similar issues with the Diamondback DB380 several years ago. Loved the gun. Hated to get rid of it, but you couldn’t rely on it. First they said it needed to be broken in. I mean really, if I have to spend another $50-60 in ammo to break this thing is, the factory short be rethinking their price-point strategy as opposed to some pieces which work right out of the box. Any woman in the city, who may easily not be a member of a gun club, should NOT look into these small pieces for security until the companies get their acts together.

      In the case of the DB380, I’ll say this, it was consistently accurate as hell for its size at 70 feet, which is astounding for that short a barrel. The problem it had, however, was exactly the same issues as the CW380 here and this was, in my estimation due to the weight between the ammo and the slide being too close. It was just too easy for the different bullet weights available for the 380ACP to throw the puny slide out one way or the other, resulting FTF, FTE, Stovepipes. I got the thing broken in and it wanted a different ammo size but that still didn’t cure the problem because then, after a few shots, the heat threw it out. Again, I think their problem was that the slide wasn’t heavy enough.

      My two cents.

      Once I got the sights figured out, though, as I said, it was 5 out of 6

    3. avatar Dirk Kiesewetter says:

      I agree on the Fiocchi FMJ. It won’t run in my P380 either. Having said that, when I checked a random sample (20 rounds out of the 250 rounds of Fiocchi I had on hand) none of it would fit all the way in a .380 case gage. I had no issues with Remington, Prvi or Winchester FMJ, or Federal Hydra-Shoks.

      Agree too on the Talon grips; I don’t use them to mitigate recoil, but they make the grip just a bit larger, which is all I need to be able to run the gun much better.

    4. avatar dave says:

      I have the same gun and it would not load fiocchi round nose either. Every round or every other round would not load. I would have to push the side to get it to shoot. I did even have a couple rounds not fire. I have had a sig p238 and and a Ruger LCP that also had issues. I shot 200 rounds of (another brand I have forgotten) and got about 90 something percent load and fire. I have not cleaned and re-shot but it did get a lot better. I will try a little break-in and see how it goes. I love the size it is perfect. I am hopping after cleaning and a little more break-in, I will achive better results. Probably going to try the S&W body guard. .380’s seem temperamental to me. Hoping to find the perfect one like my slightly larger Glocks. I have not tried the new Glock.380 42 model yet. In the large Glock’s (.40) and Sig’s (.45) they all are 100%. Hope this helps someone for a perfect.380 pick. Make sure you are 100% confidant with your .380 or go with a revolver or larger 9mm. I have been shooting for 20 years and consider average to make a recomendation on a firearm choice.

      1. avatar dave says:

        Accuracy was very acceptable and the trigger, which I did not like in the store, was no issue on the range. I liked the longer trigger pull and felt it was a good feature for this type of weapon (CCW) the magazine was fine also. Breakdown was had and I fear not knowing if I have done it correctly. Look up the re-assembly techniques and talk to a tech to make sure you know how it works. I still need to do this.

    5. avatar NC-joe says:

      +1 on the feed problems with fiocchi, have no problems with others like montana gold from freedom munitions, any reputable defensive round, even federal low recoil JHP

  3. avatar Utah Rob says:

    I own or have owned several small 380s, including the Kahr P380. It was a gun I wanted to love. Smooth trigger, good sights, reasonable recoil, and it’s SO small. But mine was very unreliable- nose dives, stovepipes, premature slide lockback, failure to lockback, failure to return to battery, you name it. It went back to Kahr FOUR times for repair, and some components were replaced repeatedly. Many problems persisted after all these repairs, and I recently sold it. Still, it is a very nice gun to shoot, and problems don’t seem to be universal…

    1. avatar SatinBow says:

      Oh Utah Rob, I so agree the name my Kahr has now is BRICK!! Just as you explained jamming, slide kicking open on the 5th shot like it was the last. You said you sent it back, but doesn’t sound like it was worth the effort in the long run. I did see someone else mention about using a non-round nose round, perhaps I will give that a try. You absolutely canNOT shoot reload through it. And you have the watch the shoulder (I doubt that is what it is called) some have a more distinct “shoulder” on the casing and the ones I found that work better have a very sloped shoulder to it for a better feed. I’m really curious to try the pointer ammo. However, I know that will not help it when it kicks open on the only the 5th round. I will never purchase another Kahr. The whole point of owning a weapon is to know that IF you need it — it will work. Oh and yes by now I’ve put over 700 rounds through it!

      1. avatar Scott says:

        Totally agree…. can’t trust it, so can’t carry it. Just traded mine out.

  4. avatar tdiinva says:

    Since the failures occured after 300 rounds I wouldn’t sweat it. A carry pistol should be cleaned once a month whether you fire it or not. That way you will only be firing from a clean gun in a DGU. However, given your experience I would give it a full field strip cleaning after every range session even if only 50 rounds. Normally, I just clean the barrel and chamber until I get to 500 rounds or 1 month.

    It doesn’t surprise me that your pocket pistol doesn’t like Winchester White Box. I have lots of problems with my Nano when using cheap Winchester food. I stick to Remington and Federal for practice ammo.

    1. avatar SteveInCO says:

      ..and just to underscore that no two guns are alike–my nano had five failures in a box of 50 when I was using federal (not winchester) that came in a white box. It does OK with winchester’s nato spec (no failures in a hundred rounds fired after that Federal crap). Every gun is different. (I still consider the jury out on whether the Nano I have is to be trusted for EDC.)

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        Got to love that NATO spec 9mm. Bit of a snap to it. I think the Nano will work fine with +P JHP. Beretta even recommends it. I haven’t had any trouble with standard pressure Hornady or Federal so I haven’t been running +P as self defense ammo.

    2. avatar KCK says:

      So, you go to the range with your EDC, you shoot a box. Now your gun is a little dirty but you know it is working. Take it home, disassemble and clean it and put it back together.
      Is it back together correctly?? Won’t know for sure unless you shoot it. Not an issue with your full sized range gun but…
      Someone here once pointed this little issue out that I take seriously.
      So with your carry gun do you
      Shoot, clean, assemble, carry, repeat
      or
      Clean, assemble, shoot, carry, repeat
      ?
      I like the idea that was expressed by the other poster to have “shoot” in between assemble and carry

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        My EDC is either a 1911 or a Hi Power. They are full sized. I have discovered that Hi Power fits in the sour spot on my body when there is nothing between it an my skin except an undershirt so I am back to carrying an XD/m compact in hot weather. My other carry gun is a Nano which comes apart like a Glock or XD series so I have no reassembly issue. Another reason to not use a tiny mouse gun for EDC.

        1. avatar Skeptical_Realist says:

          I hesitate to inquire, but “sour spot”?

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          The Hi Power digs into my side. The 1911 is 3/4″ longer and the XD/m is almost an inch shorter and fit comfortably. The Browning is just wrong.

  5. avatar Charles5 says:

    Thanks for this review. It just so happens I am considering trading an M&P9c for a CW380 plus cash on his end. I originally bought the M&P for my wife to complement my 9c, but she won’t carry it because it is too big. I thought we might try a pocket 9 mm or .380 for her. I have nothing else in .380 and I already have a Kahr CM9. My wife likes the CM9 just fine and I was looking for one of those for her and then this guy offered me the CW380. I can’t make up my mind. I wanted her to carry at least a 9 mm, but the CW380 is so tiny, she would probably be even more inclined to carry it over the CM9.

  6. avatar TJ says:

    Great review! Very thorough. I bought a CW 380 a few months ago, but I haven’t had the chance to fully break it in. I shot 65 rounds through it, with 6 malfunctions. Most of those were failures to pick up a fresh round. It would eject, but close on an empty chamber. Is that what you’re calling a Failure to Feed? It also didn’t lock back on empty, but I assume I can remedy that with grip.

    1. avatar PJ says:

      Thanks!

      My failures to feed all involved the rounds seeming to hang up on the feed ramp — the slide was trying to pick them up out of the mag but they weren’t getting into the chamber.

      1. avatar TJ says:

        Hmm, okay. I don’t believe I had any of those. I think the recoil spring was just too tight, in the beginning. My suspicion is that, with a few more rounds downrange, the recoil spring will break in/weaken enough for it to reliably grab rounds. I also think that may be part of the last round thing, too. I think it’s just not going fully to the rear and grabbing the catch.

        1. avatar Joe Schmoe says:

          On any new gun with a very strong recoil spring, just leave the gun with the slide locked open for a few days. This will stretch out the spring a little bit. The equivalent of racking the slide 100’s of times.

      2. avatar TJ says:

        I’m also glad you mentioned the Fiocci’s. I was shocked when I watched his video, as I had been carrying the Win PDX1 and the penetration was terrible.

  7. avatar LongBeach says:

    I love this pistol, but for some reason all the gun stores in my area mark them up to $600 or more. And yes, they are the CW line and not the more affluent P series. Maybe FC runs all my local gun shops…

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    Sounds very similar to my CW9. I had two failures to feed in 200 round break in, both due, I believe, to the mag and not the gun. I also agree that their texturing is too harsh, which I solved with a Hogue Jr. grip sleeve, which is not only plenty sticky, it adds palm swells and finger grooves. Perfect, and very comfortable to shoot. It is, however, slightly too large for pocket carry in most pants because of grip length (the CW9 is 7+1 with a full three finger grip).

  9. avatar possumdog89 says:

    Great review! Probably the best ive seen in the P230 entry series. Reliability is a funny thing, it only takes one tiny hiccup to cause your faith and trust in a pistol to sink. I carried an LCP as my deep concealment/ backup gun and loved it. I could shoot it very well and in 500+ rounds i never had it malph with either fmj or my 90gr hydra shok carry ammo. Until the DAY…. i put 100 rounds of fmj through it at the range and went to load it back with my JHP for the trip home. Loaded my Ruger aftermarket 7 rd mag and placed it in the gun. Went to drop the slide and remove the mag so i could top it off and then to my HORROR, it had failed to go fully into battery. When i dropped the mag the next little piggy was just loose laying on top the mag and fell out. I tried 3 more times, same results. Tried the factory 6 rd mag and it was a mirror image. Tried some critical defense and Winchester silver tips and they jammed too. After cleaning it ran worked fine, mostly. About 1 out of 20 times i tried to charge it when its clean it will do that. Never with fmj though. I may never fully trust that gun again.

  10. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    Funny, I received the “no more guns” schpeil this morning from the wife.

    I predict a few more couch nights in my future, and this Kahr is a contender. I could use a .380 in my
    collection, ya know?

    So many firearms, so little fun-money…

    1. avatar cwp says:

      My wife and I have a deal: she doesn’t give me static about my firearms-related purchases, and I don’t give her static about her knitting-related purchases.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        I try and get a “spouse” receipt when I buy a gun. It’s a receipt that has a price far below what I really paid. And of course you know, you always tell the little woman, IT WAS ON SALE! Any woman understands that!

    2. avatar gemalo says:

      Way back when my father-in-law had his FFL, I got a hankering for a S&W Model 16. He ordered it for me, and mentioned to my wife, in a phone call, that he had a package for me. I was out by the pool; she came out and asked me what would be in the package. I told her, and the last words I heard from her for about 3 months were, You bought another gun?

  11. avatar Accur81 says:

    Nice review. I love the honesty of TTAG that guns actually do jam now and then. I’m not sure that I would consider the reliability that you experienced to be 4 stars, but appreciate your documentation of the issues with the gun. What you experienced seems to be roughly comparable to the reliability of the Glock 42. I’m looking at subcompact, and the S&W Shield 9mm is currently at the top of the list. I may give this Kahr a shoot at Field Time Range and Target if they have it available for rental.

  12. avatar MattG says:

    Kick-ass review, PJ. To the editors, I for one think this is worthy of a P320.

    Quick tip- In my experience with my Kahr CM9, I can manage to hold the slide back enough to unlock the barrel with my fingertips, then use my two thumbs to push on the “nub” of the slide stop until the nub is flush with that side of the frame. Then, the slide will stay back on its own, and I’m free to use the bottom plate of the magazine to pry out the slide stop.

  13. avatar SigGuy says:

    Nice review, looks like a sweet little gun. I have a Kahr CM9 and had those takedown issues just like you the first couple of times I disassembled it as well. I oil up the takedown pin now and after a couple hundred rounds it comes apart with relative ease.

  14. avatar Chris in NC says:

    I use the corner of the mag’s baseplate to push in the button-end of the slide stop for takedown. Because, hey, the magazine is out anyway, right?

  15. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    This is a solid review. One of my two EDC guns is a .380, plus I’ve owned a few others over the years and had experience with a couple more beyond those. Only thing I can really add on .380s is that everything you do (or should do) with a larger handgun, you should probably do even more of with these smaller pocket pistols.

    Definitely take them to the range and get familiar with them before carrying; getting up into the hundreds of rounds as you did and trying various brands and types of ammunition. I’ve found that .380s in particular are more than typically finicky about ammo selection. Flat nose and hollow points tend to have a little more trouble, until you find the right one.

    Overall, either due to design or because they are carried in lint-ridden pockets, these .380s need to be kept clean and extra lubed in order for them to cycle properly. Of course, a very firm grip is also mandatory, not only to cycle the action, but to keep the darn thing from flying out of your hands! Nevertheless, with its big bang from a small frame, a .380 is a great addition to your self defense collection.

  16. avatar former water walker says:

    Very good review. I honestly thought it could have been written by a regular. Never shot a Kahr so I don’t have a real opinion. I did own a TCP & loved it. I thought I’d never have CC in Illinois so sold it. I got some grief for suggesting tiny pocket pistols needed to be broken in. Not the Glock 42 with the heavy trigger. Hang in there-I’d vote for you to win a gun.

  17. avatar Eric says:

    My P380 was unreliable after four hundred rounds and many detailed clean and lubes. Returned to Davidson. Lesson learned. Glock 42 has been 100% reliable.

    Kahr 380 pistols are unreliable and yes, I would consider 9 FTF, FTE malfunctions in 500 rounds unreliable.

  18. avatar Gunr says:

    Time to pick on “Gunr”
    Most small pocket auto loaders have failures at one time or the other. Some may go a thousand rounds without a Failure to feed, or fire, but they are far and few between. You want to play “Bet your life”

    On the other hand a revolver,………………………just saying.

    1. avatar Jerry R Howell says:

      Got to completely agree with you on that.

      But I have noticed the striker fired pocket pistols have a higher failure rate than a DA one. It’s not extremely high for either, but I’m thinking the striker fired small pistol might not have the power on the springs at this size.

  19. avatar BR549 says:

    TTAG staff:
    You guys need to work on the text editing section.

  20. avatar Lfshtr says:

    .380, hmmm, pretty small in cal. with a very short barrel. I haven’t had any problems with my ccw 9mm, I know it’s a Sccy, but USA made and no problems, so , my 9 is good enough and is a bit less costly!

  21. avatar Jim says:

    I have a Kahr CW 45 that I bought brand new. Day I bought it, the only .45 ammo I could find was Winchester ball. Functioned flawlessly through 2 boxes. A week later, I tried Hornady Critical Defense 230 gr…total fail. FTE’s and then on several rounds the gun wouldnt fully chamber. After much cursing my purchase and wishing I had bought a Glock, I looked things over and determined it was the ammo, not the gun. More specifically, the bullet shape and Hornady loading the cartridges right out to max length had the bullet engaging the rifling before the round was fully chambered. A few boxes of assorted brand FMJ and a few boxes of REALLY expensive assorted HP’s later, I have a nicely broken in and very reliable carry gun. Kahrs are definately built tight, no doubt about that. I am totally thrilled with the CW45 and will probably purchase a CW9 at some point. I’d go for a .380 also but my LCP (my actual everydamnday carry gun) has never given me a reason too. When I first bought it I couldnt hit anywhere near POA..the Hogue grip sleeve works wonders on them lil pocket critters though. If you buy a Kahr, get as much ammo as you can scrape together and just blast away. Honestly, I was able to feel the difference in the gun after about 1000 rounds. Now it’s super reliable and accurate. Still wont feed that one particular Hornady loading so I carry it full of Winchesters. I think the entire Kahr CW series are really good deals compared price wise to any other top brand guns out there.

  22. avatar James Calico says:

    Had student in recent gun safety class the Kahr was flawless for a brand new gun no ftf ,fte etc .Complaint is she only had 1 mag included and it was a “bad mag”first 4 loads fed and fired 100%.
    Next we loaded up or at least we tried too a small piece on metal began to proturde out of the side of the follower .If you held it wih you finger you could load mag.Once you fired and emptied the mag the metal piece would stick out again.
    Told her to contact Kahr about replacement of mag.
    Anyone experience problems with their mags ?

  23. avatar ZM 1306 says:

    I love the random 7.62X54R used in the first pick to prop up the gun… what is the year and location of manufacture? I only have seemed to come across 1977 in romania…

    1. avatar PJ says:

      Romania 1977. Good eye.

  24. avatar gun papa says:

    I have the CW380. I am 6’4 250. No issue with the small size. No issue with the stippled grip. No new gun prep. Swabbed bbl and oiled rails. 160rds now with no failures to feed. Hand cycles just fine. Slide does not consistently lock back. Don’t care. Outstanding lock up. Outstanding accuracy. Eats what it is fed. Great little gun.

  25. avatar gun papa says:

    Trained as a bull’s eye shooter, this diminutive micro is a 10 ring gun at 12-15 yards with no problem, even though I know this gun is not designed for slow aimed fire, or two handed fire for that matter. It is nice to know that it is capable of great accuracy. Recoil is mild.

    This is primarily my ankle carry, back up gun. But is also fun as heck to shoot.

  26. avatar Tominator says:

    You could not trade me 2 of those for my BG 380.

    1. avatar Clinton says:

      really because the cw 380 looks better, feels better, better trigger, less recoil, rated for +p..I understand some of these things are matter of opinion but the bodygaurd 380 is one of the ugliest looking guns out there in my opinion. that being said it comes down to reliability. I got my girlfriend the LCP and its been flawless since the first shot even with cheapo steel case target ammo. And even the lcp looks much nicer than the bodygaurd. I have heard the body gaurd is reliable though so hey

  27. avatar Clinton says:

    cw380 p380 pm9 cm9 first thing you should do when you buy one new, before you take it shooting, LOCK THE SLIDE BACK and leave it that way for about a day. Yes a full day. This will not do any harm and will break in the spring. Then of course clean the gun and re-lube it then head to the range.

    1. avatar Clinton says:

      also don’t use flat nose fmj (like Winchester white box 380) or steel case. forget about it

    2. avatar Carl says:

      I also lock the slide back for a period of time (1 – 3 days) on a new gun or springs. Makes for shorter break in period, fewer failures and easier disassembly.

  28. avatar Tom -inCA says:

    I have 2 P380’s They are the more expensive model of the one reviewed but I think basically the same thing. First, I have to say they are beautifully made! Not just the ergonomics but also the steel hardness. Small, Light, Beautiful trigger pull! What’s not to like! I’ll tell you what is not to like; Ammo sensitivity. My P380’s (which admittedly are 2+years old so there may have been improvements) Oly like boutique ammo. Both of them are 100% reliable with:
    Buffalo Barnes 80 grain
    Hornady Critical Defense
    COP 80 grain
    Grizzly 90 grain

    Don’t work well with:
    Federal FMJ
    Rem FMJ
    Corbon HP
    Sellier & Belliot
    Federal HP

    They are great guns, will go thousands of rounds but I had to spend hundreds of dollars finding out what they will shoot.

  29. avatar Stealth128 says:

    Well I have two one went to Kahr, they replace the recoil spring and adjusted the slide release. Sent it on a Thursday got it back following Friday. They emailed me a RA Fedx prepay.

    Ran 300 rounds not one problem very happy with the stunning service from Kahr.
    I carry mine every day amd feel comftable with its relibility. The gun is a 10 and Kahrs customer service gets an A+* for gettimg it right!

  30. avatar dave says:

    I have put a lot of work and a lot of money and a lot of reading into finding a reliable .380. Honestly, it’s getting old. Oh yea, and a lot of paperwork selling the bad ones.

  31. avatar Kelly says:

    I own a KAHR CW 380, I have shot several different brands ammo through this gun and have nothing but problems with jamming and the slide failing to return fully therefore failing to fire. A bit of background about me, I spent 10 years as a police officer (not reserve, no disrespect intended), I was awarded “Best Shooter” at police academy when I attended, and I am an above average shot and have above average knowledge and experience with handguns and shooting.
    I recently returned this gun to KAHR (with their required letter for warranty returns) this letter is posted here:

    Dear K.A.I.:
    On 08/06/14, I purchased a new Kahr CW .380, Model RH7491
    From;
    Sportsman’s Warehouse
    11505 NE Fourth Plain Rd.
    Vancouver, WA. 98662
    (360) 604-8000

    Within the first week of ownership I shot 200 rounds of ammo consisting of the following:
    • 50 rounds, Remington UMC FMJ .380ACP
    • 50 rounds, Federal American Eagle FMJ .380ACP
    • 50 rounds, MagTech First Defense SCHP .380ACP
    • 50 rounds, 380 Auto Speer Gold Dot 90

    With all of these I found that the slide mechanism would not travel completely forward and that the gun would not fire unless tapped forward, I also had the gun jam about every third round. This is still the guns current malfunction.

    When I cleaned the gun I noticed that the polymer slide area had plastic burrs and little flakes of metal in the slide area so I called Kahr Customer Service (Approx. Date: 08/13/14) and was told “this is normal for a new gun, you should run several hundred more rounds through it to break it in”. I have since shot 200 more rounds through the gun and am having the same problems, except that now when the gun is disassembled the wear on the metal parts in the slide area are now extremely worn, and there are still polymer flakes and burrs showing.

    I again called today, 11/13/2014 and spoke with your Kahr Customer Service and was told that Kahr would not pay for return shipping, I should take it back to Sportsman’s Warehouse and that they could call you for return/warranty info.
    Sincerely,

    This gun was returned this week, 12/7/14, with a note from KAHR stating they “Reworked the slide and fired 30 rounds through the gun with no problems” When I disassembled the gun I found that the slide area looked worse than when I sent it to them, it looks like they took a flat screwdriver to the slide area and scratched it up terribly! none of the metal parts that were being worn were serviced in any way, and they didn’t even clean the gun after firing it, I supposed that was their way of giving proof they fired it, but come on!
    I will NEVER buy another KAHR brand gun in my life, I am very unhappy with the company, and none of my very extensive family and friends will buy a KAHR either after witnessing this experience.

    Buyer beware! The warranty is only as good as the company backing the product!

    I plan to shoot the gun this week to see if it truly is fixed, but as a side note; After getting the returned gun, I went home and put a loaded mag into the gun, racked the slide and the first round jammed. Not surprised!

    1. avatar Christopher Meissen says:

      Kelly, I wish I’d read your post before I purchased my own CW380. At the moment I’m convinced that the CW380 as well as the people who manufacture it are rip-offs.

  32. avatar Doug Petri says:

    Yikes to the last comment by Kelly.

    My CW380 ran pretty well for about 700rds.
    I have had a striker break. Kahr sent me a new one. After that I was getting consistent light primer strikes.

    I sent the gun back to Kahr. Turn around time was about 1 week.

    They said they “reworked the slide”. I got it back yesterday, and have not shot it or looked it over. Hope to get to it tonight. I hope my “reworked slide” is not like yours.

  33. avatar Jason says:

    I have Kahr CM40 and have exactly the same problems mentioned above. I ran 300 rounds through it and had a failure to feed consistently after every second or third round. I tried several types of ammo. Returned to Kahr and they replaced the recoil assembly and polished the feed ramp. I took it back to the range and still had feed problems but not as consistently. Now Kahr says that because it’s a new recoil assembly I have to put another 200 rounds through it to break it in. Frustrating. I believe they have some serious quality control issues.

  34. avatar Christopher Meissen says:

    I wish my experience with this pistol was as positive as yours. Frankly, I wish I’d never purchased one and will probably NEVER purchase anything by Kahr again.

    I was quite excited when I purchased my CW380. The ergonomics seem decent and it disappeared in my front pants pocket or anywhere else I might want to carry it. Then I tried to load it. I first tried some 88 gr. Silvertips left over from the eighties. They simply would not feed. The nose jammed against the feed ramp with the cartridge sides parallel to the slide and the cartridge still completely contained within the magazine. Every. Single. Time. This was while attempting to feed by releasing the slide with the slide release. So I tried some 90 gr. Fiocchi hollowpoints with the same results. I happened to dig up a box of old Federal FMJ so I gave that a try. Same results — they would not feed.

    Thinking that it appeared that the cartridges appeared to be being kept from feeding because the case rims didn’t want to feed up under the extractor enough to allow the cartridges to release from the feed lips, I field stripped the gun to check it out. When I tried to feed the case rims under the extractor by hand, it was all but impossible. By that I mean that I could do it but the effort required was just short of sitting the frame upside down on a flat surface and using a nylon punch and hammer on the rim of the cartridge. The extractor tension on any other pistol I’ve ever owned was generally just enough to hold a loaded round but light enough to allow the round to be released if the slide was struck. Not this Kahr CW380; the extractor tension is such that it doesn’t even want to allow a rim to go under the hook at all without massive persuasion.

    So, I called Kahr’s “customer service” for advice. The very first thing out of their CSR’s mouth, before I’d even explained the problem, was “what ammunition are you using?” My immediate response was, “What difference does that make? Case rims are the same across all brands.” He then explained that Kahr only guarantees apply only if using “quality American-made ammunition.” Apparently, Fiocchi ammo doesn’t qualify even though they have a plant in Ozark, MO only ninety miles from me. No matter.

    I explained about the stiff extractor and the near inability to manually push a round under the extractor even with the gun field-stripped. In a very supercilious and condescending tone of voice, he informed me that “Kahr recommends at least a 200 round break-in” and that I should “fire at least 200 rounds before reporting any problems.” When I started to ask about the feasibility of at least polishing or lightly chamfering the bottom edge of the extractor hook, he repeated again, as if reading from a script, “Kahr recommends at least a 200 round break-in before considering any problem.” When I asked just how I was supposed to shoot those 200 break-in rounds if the d***ed gun wouldn’t feed, he just repeated the same phrase in the same smug, supercilious tone of voice.

    I’ve owned quite a few handguns over the past three or four decades, some new and some used. I expected the occasional mis-fire or mis-feed during break-in of new guns although it rarely proved necessary. But I’ve never before had one that the factory expected me to expend over $100 worth of ammunition simply to get it to function at all. If that’s Kahr’s attitude toward their customers and their product, I guarantee this is the last Kahr product I or any of my children will ever own. (And that’s without even considering the wear in the polymer frame rails already visible simply from manually working the slide.)

    1. avatar Dirk Kiesewetter says:

      Not to discount your experience, but case rims are not the same across all brands. I have seen quite a bit of variation in .380 and 9mm brass. Also, I have had issues with Fiocchi .380 FMJ being out of spec. I bought 5 boxes of the stuff, and it would not chamber in my P380 or a Bodyguard. 380. It did run fine in a P3AT and a P238. I tried the Fiocchi in a Wilson .380 case gauge, and it would not fit all the way in. Looks like the P238 and P3AT have looser chambers, but the Fiocchi was still out of spec.

  35. avatar Ralph Pettorossi says:

    Failure to feed, failure to fire, failure to return to battery, failure to lock slide open after last round, slide locking open before last round, stove pipes, exhaust pipes (empty shell stuck in ejection port BACKWARDS) ejected shells directly to face, ejected shells bouncing off top of head, every malfunction imaginable and then some, and a nightmare to strip and reassemble. I purchased another magazine (7 round) with the same results, I have fired over 600 rounds of every make of ammo that I could find, and this little monster is completely non-prejudiced, it hates all of them. I have never been able to empty a complete mag without some sort of malfunction. When I called customer service I was told I’m limp-wristing, so I lent it to a friend who owns a dozen and a half semi-autos of all makes, but no Kahrs. His comment when he returned it was short and terse: “Get rid of this POS.”

  36. avatar Bing says:

    I own a P380 which is very similar to a CW380 and I echo Ralph Pettorossi’s comments. This is an awful gun. I have sent it to be fixed by the factory 6 times and they can’t fix it. Moreover it has developed more problems since I have been sending it in; the worst one being that it won’t return to battery. It is clean, then I shoot a mag or two through it, then it won’t return to battery until I clean it again. Mind you this happens when the slide is being held back by the slide stop. I put a mag in and hit the button. Then I hit the back of the slide again to get this POS to return to battery. It is also extremely picky with ammunition. It jams every 10 rounds I would say. It won’t even feed Fiochi .380 ammo. I tried to trade it in and a major sporting goods chain was going to give me $110 for the gun, three mags ($40 a piece new) and a $60 holster. That tells me these guns are not valued in the market. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT BUY A KAHR! I know I never will ever again.

  37. avatar Robert W. Haldi says:

    I have had my CW380 for over 2 years now and absolutely love it. I carry in in a Sticky in my front pocket. Because of it’s size the first thing I did was bu a Hogue rubber grip and Pearcy grip extenders which made it very comfortable to shoot and add practically nothing to its size weight and concealibility. Next I added a Crimson Trace laser (ad to modify the Hogue rubber grip). I practice at 30-36 feet and am working my way up to the 50 fit range. Can’t think of another pocket carry gun I would use/carry. You can learn to disassemble it as I do – I clean if after every range session. Once you learn how, it’s not bad. Hope you ontinue to enjoy your CW380 as much as I enjoy mine.

  38. avatar Joel David Chewning says:

    I bought my CW380 about 5 months ago. I knew if I was going to carry all the time, the pistol would have to be as unobtrusive as possible. I would really like to carry a revolver, but… see above. I got a black horseshoe Recluse holster for it. The CCW instructor at my mandatory class said everyone makes bad decisions when first carry on gun type and holster type. He was wrong. I made the right decision . I literally forget I am carrying many times. I broke the little Kahr in(along with my wife’s CT9) with 200 rounds. The only round it did not like was the Grizzly 90 jhp. Out of 20 rounds of that, 3 failed to go fully into battery. Everything else was flawless, including the extremely accurate Buffalo Bore Barnes +P 80 jhp, which is now my carry load. My wife’s CT9 was completely flawless from round one. It shoots to point of aim at 15 yards. The trigger pull is very DA revolver like. I can’t think of one Damn thing I don’t like.

  39. avatar James says:

    I found with my P380, (since it’s pretty much the same gun), that it likes the hollow point ammo with the more pointed bullet. It choked bad on hard ball with the blunt round bullets. I had boxes of Fiocchi and Hornaday .380 ACP and it eats that stuff perfectly.

  40. avatar Shannon says:

    ((robinson.buckler @ yahoo . com)) is a wonderful spell caster. Very trustworthy, he saved my marriage

  41. avatar Gymowner says:

    After carrying for almost 50 years, I learned a long time ago that with these tiny guns, you break them in, then shoot them a couple times a year just to make sure they run. Clean it and put it back into the pocket holster. They are not made or meant to be a range gun. The more you shoot it, the more it will have a tendency to fail when you need it.
    Springs and other undersized parts can lose functionality very fast. Clean it and shoot a few mags, if it runs right , put it away. Just my 2 cents from dealing with small pistols all my life.

  42. avatar James I. says:

    I am glad to report after 10k rounds my cw380 has had no big issues whatsoever at the 6k mark the trigger pin started walking , SUPER GLUE! It will not feed white box or any heavy flat meplat bullets reliably but ball and most hp’s your good to go. If you reload you definitely have to go kahr my brass lasts forever due to the perfect I mean perfect chamber dimensions and traditional rifling. And at this round count it will chamber a round without having to use the slide stop which worried me when I first got the pistol because I refused to change my grip to let the slide stop work since it’s small I need all the grip possible that being said since my mags are always loaded the spring stops applying the force needed on the follower to actually lock open after about a month (without feed issues still) so I make sure to incorporate reload drills as you should always train the way you carry! Always! Thanks ttag

  43. avatar Andrew says:

    I’ve had my P380 for a couple of years and put several hundred rounds through it. It is very finicky with respect to ammo as a result of the feed ramp design, a design that is driven by the compactness of the gun. Just the right bullet nose configuration is needed to function with the ramp. Winchester flat nose FMJs hang up on the sharp side edge of the ramp. Larger hollow points likewise. Hornady Critical Defense 90 gr FTX rounds with relatively pointed polymer tips fed flawlessly in my P380.

    I was frustrated with the ammo limitations and added a nice Sig P238 to my collection with the intent of substituting it in place of the P380 for daily carry when no particular threat was anticipated. Shooting both guns side by side extensively, the Kahr outshot the Sig in my hands, and was significantly lighter and printed less. So I kept the P380 with the assumption that the ammo limitations were offset by the accuracy and compactness and light weight. Not to knock the Sig, which I am keeping also, and which fed all ammo flawlessly with a much better ramp design.

    The P380 is my 4th Kahr, others are P9, P40 and PM9. The other 3 have been fired extensively and none has ever malfunctioned even once.

    All the Kahrs have very heavy recoil springs. A trade off for the light weight. The Sig is much lighter and easier to rack.

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