Excellent ergonomics and performance do not always equate with affordability. The Kahr CW40 is an exception. There are corners cut when a major maker introduces a price leader, true; however, the Kahr pistol hasn’t cut quality. Kahr changed some features. As an example, the front sight is not dovetailed in place, it’s staked on. The frame is polymer rather than steel—which some prefer.
Advantages of the Kahr CW40
There are a number of advantages with the Kahr pistol. These handguns are not compact versions of an existing service pistol; Kahr designed them from the inception as compact carry handguns. The dedication to purpose shows in the construction of the Kahr CW40.
- Ergonomics are excellent.
- The pistol is solidly constructed.
- The manual of arms is simple.
- The pistol is compact.
- The handgun is more than accurate enough for any reasonable task.
- When chambered for the effective .40 Smith and Wesson cartridge things get very interesting with this handgun.
There are times when discretion demands a compact handgun that is highly concealable. While I understand this, I do not wish to give up my life for the comfort of a few ounces less weight. The CW40 answers the need for a compact, powerful, reliable and affordable handgun for daily carry use.
Kahr manufactures only one type of handgun. This is a double-action only handgun with compact dimensions. And while they base all their designs on this program, there is much to choose from among the Kahr handguns. There are .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 and .45 caliber handguns. Most recently, I fired the CW 9 pistol and found it accurate, easy to use well and fast handling.
Now the question: How much difference would I find in the .40 caliber version?
Let’s face it, a 17-ounce .40-caliber handgun must obey the laws of physics; a .40-caliber bullet has more momentum than a 9mm. Recoil is snappier than a .45 in many cases. The superior wound potential of the .40 seemed worthwhile although only if I were able to control the pistol well in aimed fire and rapid fire.
A short 3.5-inch barrel might not get all of the velocity from a lightweight JHP, so load selection is critical. I ran a good range of loads through the Kahr, without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The loadings included Fiocchi 180-grain plated bullet training load, Winchester’s Train and Defend and Federal HST.
All proved reliable.
The well-designed dual-wound spring technology of the Kahr ensures reliability and recoil control. The 180-grain training loads gave the least recoil, while the the Federal 155-grain HST exhibited the greatest kick. The Winchester 155-grain Silvertip, tried for a single magazine, was much the same. The preferred menu seems to be 180-grain loads.
When drawing the Kahr from concealed carry, there is little to snag. There is no hammer. The only controls are the slide lock and magazine release. The pistol is striker fired while the trigger action is a true double-action only. The finger presses the trigger and the action both cocks and drops by trigger action. The trigger press is smooth at about 10 pounds, perhaps a bit less. This is probably the lightest possible trigger action to maintain reliable ignition.
A word of caution on trigger reset—when you load the Kahr:
- Lock the slide to the rear.
- Insert a loaded magazine.
- Use the slide lock or pull the slide to the rear and let the slide run forward.
- Do not load the magazine in the magazine well and then rack the slide.
There is a subtle difference. By loading the Kahr in the recommended manner, you achieve proper trigger reset. The Kahr’s sights are excellent for concealed carry and combat accuracy. The broad rear sight is easy to acquire quickly and the front post is adequate.
Firing the Kahr CW40
Over several weeks, I had the occasion to travel to the range with this .40-caliber handgun. Most of the loads fired were the 180-grain Fiocchi load. With this loading, I was able to place five rounds into less than 4-inch groups at 10 yards, firing as quickly as I am able to regain the sight picture. I achieved similar results with other 180-grain loads.
As for absolute accuracy, I benchrested the pistol at 15 yards. Firing a double-action only, compact .40 pistol accurately is a challenge, however, one that is not as difficult when you’re a trained marksman. While combat shooting will save your life, you need to take a careful benchrest to confirm the alignment of the sights and be certain the pistol is shooting where you aim it.
Firing the Fiocchi 180-grain loading, I found that a group of two inches or less at 15 yards was possible. The Winchester 180-grain Defend gave a similar grouping. The best group of the day was with the Winchester 180-grain .40-caliber training round, with a singular 1.5-inch group. I had to work for these results and you know that the pistol is capable of minute of belly button across the parking lot.
The pistol is comfortable to fire largely because of the give of the polymer frame and because of the intelligent stippling of the gripping surface. The sights are adequate; overall, an appealing package at a fair price.
Kahr CW40 Specs
|Kahr Arms CW40 Semi-Automatic Handgun|
|Operation||Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect|
|Barrel Length||3 inches, conventional rifling; 1-16 right-hand twist|
|Overall Height||4.62 inches|
|Overall Length||6.36 inches|
|Slide Width||.94 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||Pistol 16.8 ounces, Magazine 1.9 ounces|
|Sights||Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight|
|Magazine||1 – 6 rd, Stainless|
|Finish||Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide|
Share your thoughts about the Kahr CW40 in the comments section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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