When it was previewed at the end of 1998 and first made available starting in 1999, the Kahr MK9 became the smallest 9 Para pistol on the market at its debut. The striker-fired semiautomatic pistol was designed with a Browning-Petter-SIG locking block combined with a rigid, closed control cam in the style of a CZ-75.
Traditionalists appreciated the material selected for the Kahr: the Massachusetts-based manufacturer chose a slide and frame made of solid stainless steel. Which didn’t make much difference in terms of weight: the gun came in at 658 grams – not even 100 grams heavier than a Glock 26 and a whopping 200 grams lighter than the 9 Para pocket pistol classic, the Star M 43 Firestar and others.
The gunsmiths in Massachusetts had an eye for another detail as well: unlike in the many stainless steel firearms produced during the 1980s and 1990s, the MK9 came with black, inlaid sighting elements with white trimming to ensure that the naked metal wouldn’t have a negative impact on aiming.
The Kahr MK9 test:
The pistol has been around for a while already, so testers have had numerous opportunities to test the weapons over the past decade and a half. It’s a real plus that the manufacturer has managed to maintain an essential level of quality.
That’s not to say that the bantam class steel pistol was faultless. It may be true that the trigger-frame design is well-executed, but some of the testers still felt that the grip panels were a touch too smooth (-1 point).
The sights offered a clear view, although a few of the tested models demonstrated overly narrow halation (-1 point). As with all pocket pistols developed for close range shooting, the lack of a height adjustment feature was not assessed here.
By and large, the finishing was excellent, even though a certain amount of play was detected, sometimes more, sometimes less over time, between the upper and lower structure. Another mercurial factor was the size of the gaps beneath the firing pin cover. Those with somewhat meatier fingers were well advised to take care during discharge if they wanted to keep their skin from getting caught between the upper front edge next to the trigger and the frame material (-3 points). Kudos to Kahr for always providing stainless steel magazines, one of them even with an extension.
As for the handling elements: Although it was easy to reach the slide stop and the magazine release, they were only designed for right-handers. A more serious concern than this one-sided bias was the fact that disassembling the weapon required pressing the trigger.
It may well work, but it’s a bit dated in terms of safety (-3 points). Apart from the travel on the double-action-only mechanism, which was by general consensus overly long (-1 point), there was not much to complain about with respect to the trigger characteristics, – which were, broadly speaking, entirely serviceable.
The portion of testing on chambering/safety confirmed that the weapon worked properly with all loads and behaved impeccably in the shooter’s hand. An internal firing pin safety provided an added touch of protection. In two instances there were feed problems with the 147-grain hollow point ammunition by Winchester (not listed in the table) (-1 point). The shooting distance was cut to 15 metres to test precision; the 49 mm showed the best performance (-7 points).
Test summary for the Kahr MK9
Its robust and reliable character has long since made the diminutive Kahr a classic -- the perfect handgun for hunters who like the feel of confidence found in steel. Moreover, this little beauty is thoroughly elegant in design with harmonious lines -- which may be irrelevant from a practical point of view, but is at least worthy of mention.
Score for the Kahr MK9 in 9 mm Luger
|Precision (max. 50 points)||43 points|
|Chambering/safety (max. 10 points)||9 points|
|Trigger characteristics (max. 10 points)||9 points|
|Trigger-frame design (max. 5 points)||4 points|
|Handling elements (max. 10 points)||7 points|
|Sights (max. 5 points)||4 points|
|Finishing (max. 10 points)||7 points|
|Total score (max. 100 points)||83 points|
|Rating||5 out of 6 |
Shooting test: Kahr MK9
|No.||Factory cartridge||Group size*||V2||E2|
|1.||115 grs GECO JHP||75 mm||-/- m/s||-/- J|
|2.||115 grs PMP Denel FMJ||66 mm||-/- m/s||-/- J|
|3.||123 grs Fiocchi FMJ TC||49 mm||-/- m/s||-/- J|
|4.||124 grs Sellier & Bellot FMJ||78 mm||-/- m/s||-/- J|
|5.||124 grs Remington Golden Saber||73 mm||-/- m/s|
Note: group size = 5-shot groups, fired at a distance of *15 metres from a sandbag support, stated in millimetres, measured from bullet hole centre to bullet hole centre. A technical malfunction in the measurement device meant there was no V2 or E2 data this time. Bullet abbreviations: FMJ = Full Metal Jacket. TC = Truncated Cone.