Test: Kahr MK9 in 9 mm Luger

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.

Test: Kahr MK9 in 9 mm Luger
The Kahr MK9 is fitted with a recoil spring in telescope design. The barrel locks using a block in the ejection port on the slide, and is controlled by the rigid, closed cam beneath the chamber. The handgun comes with two magazines, one with six rounds, the other with seven

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. 

Test: Kahr MK9 in 9 mm Luger
Testing the Kahr MK9: the rear sight with drift feature has a white central line beneath the trapezoid-shaped notch
Test: Kahr MK9 in 9 mm Luger
A ridge front sight with lateral adjustment and a white twilight dot is perched up top on the Kahr MK9

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

ScorePoints
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
Test grade
outstanding
Rating
5 out of 6 

Shooting test: Kahr MK9

No.Factory cartridgeGroup size*V2E2
1.115 grs GECO JHP75 mm-/- m/s-/- J
2.115 grs PMP Denel FMJ66 mm-/- m/s-/- J
3.123 grs Fiocchi FMJ TC49 mm-/- m/s-/- J
4.124 grs Sellier & Bellot FMJ78 mm-/- m/s-/- J
5.124 grs Remington Golden Saber73 mm-/- m/s

-/- J


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.


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Kahr MK9
DATA TABLE

Test: Kahr MK9 in 9 mm LugerMichael Schippers

€ 1.050
ManufacturerKahr Arms
ModelMK9
Typesemiautomatic pistol
Caliber9x19mm
Actionsemi-auto, Browning-Petter-SIG locked breech, recoil operated
Trigger systemtrigger cocking Double Action Only
Safetiespassive striker block, no magazine safety
Capacity6+1, 7+1 rounds (magazine with grip extension)
Barrel3,0 inches (76 mm) polygonal rifling; 1-10 right-hand twist
Sightsdrift adjustable, white bar-dot combat sights
Overall length13,4 cm / 5,3 inches
Weight (empty)680 grams / 24 ounces
Materials/FinishesMatte finished stainless steel
NotesWraparound, textured hard nylon grip panels