I’ve never carried a single-stack pistol. So when RF handed me a single-stack Kahr S9 in 9mm to review, I was on unfamiliar territory. While I appreciate the extra-concealability of a single-stack handgun, is it worth sacrificing capacity for stealth and comfort?
The Kahr S9, part of Kahr Arms S-series which includes the S9 and ST9, combines a matte stainless-steel slide with a black polymer frame. With its undersnout Picatinny rail and front and rear slide serrations, the look is half-tactical, half Bond, James Bond. But with the serial number bolted onto the grip, half-assed.
Both seven-round magazines, the trigger and slide stop are machined from stainless steel to match the slide. The traditional white three-dot sights are a blend of steel (dovetailed in the rear) and plastic (pinned in front).
The Kahr Arms S9 tips the scales at 17 ounces unloaded and the diminutive handgun stretches out at just less than six inches. Taken as a whole, the Worcester wonder is about 3/4 the size and weight of a fully-loaded GLOCK 19.
Where the Kahr pistol excels — its slim grip. The handle’s square stippling pattern — front and back — is aggressive enough to keep the gun in place while firing, but not so sharp as to cause concealed-carry discomfort.
The Kahr’s S9’s trigger guard is undercut; there’s a curve near the front that enables a higher support hand grip. The oversized slide stop is heavily textured for easy release (assuming you don’t slingshot the slide). It also doubles as a takedown pin.
To disassemble the Kahr S9, clear the firearm, pinch the slide slightly back, push out the takedown pin, pull the trigger and pull the slide right off. Push out the extra-large guide rod and solid recoil spring and remove the barrel.
Pop it all back together, function check the gun, load it up and press the double-action trigger. And keep pressing. And keep pressing. At some point, the trigger will break and send lead will downrange.
The trigger feels like a tuned revolver’s. While the trigger pull is as long as War and Peace, the press is manageable and smooth at 7 pounds. The recoil was sharp, but not painful, firing all the ammo I fed it: Cap Arms 115 gr. FMJ RN, Sellier & Bellot 115 gr. FMJ and Remington 115 gr. JHP High Terminal Performance.
The groupings were what I’d call average at various distances: 3, 5, 7, 15 and 25 yards. At combat distance, the benchmark for a concealed-carry pistol such as it was minute-of-bad-guy all day.
My main issue with the pistol was the magazine release. The base of my thumb on my support hand pressed the magazine release during firing, releasing the magazine. Sometimes it happened after one round, sometimes two, but all the damn time.
Jeremy experienced the same problem, although less frequently (sightly less than once per magazine, even though he was conscious of the problem). The mag release is just too flimsy and the springs too soft.
If I crossed my thumbs as I would for a revolver, as above, I could fire a full magazine without malfunction. And this was the only issue bedeviling the gun through 400 rounds.
Overall, the Kahr S9 is sleek-looking, easy to conceal and shoots accurately enough for the job at hand. However, the magazine issue is unacceptable. Until it’s fixed, the single-stack Kahr S9 doesn’t justify switching from a reliable double stack.
SPECIFICATIONS: Kahr S9 CW DAO pistol
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 3.6-inch barrel, conventional rifling; 1:10 right-hand twist
Overall Length: 5.9 inches
Height: 4.5 inches
Slide Width: .90 inches
Weight: Pistol 15.8 ounces, Magazine 1.9 ounces
Grips: Textured polymer with ID tag
Sights: Drift adjustable white two-dot rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
Finish: Black polymer frame with accessory rail, matte stainless-steel slide with front serrations
Magazines: 2 7-round, stainless
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
The matte stainless steel makes the pistol pop. The front slide serrations and the rail add to the tactical look. A handsome little devil that wouldn’t seem out-of-place in the hands of Bond, James Bond.
It runs flawlessly — except for the fact that the magazine drops out.
Ergonomics * * * *
Thanks to the right-sized handle (for me) and the grip stippling, the gun sits secure in the hands. The curved trigger guard is a welcome feature.
Accuracy * * *
The S9 is as accurate as you’d expect from a small, double-action-only 9mm pistol. But no more.
Customize This * * *
Snout-mounted Picantinny rail welcomes lights, lasers, bayonets, etc. Fiber optic and night sights available.
Overall * *
The double-action trigger is smooth and the ergonomics work for hands both large and small. If the mags stayed put, we’d have a winner. They don’t, so we don’t.