Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kahr CT9 9mm

CEO Justin Moon founded Kahr Arms in 1995.  Moon had obtained a concealed carry license since age 18 but at that a time he couldn't find any quality made compact and sub-compact handguns that met his needs.  His first offering was the K9 and K40, two compact stainless steel pistols chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W.  These pistols were met with critical acclaim.  They were originally offered with wrap around wood or rubber grips that provided a superb feel when grasped.  The stainless steel series of pistols eventually included a sub-compact sized handgun, the "MK", and a full-sized pistol dubbed the model "T".  Kahr next introduced the same line-up with polymer frames with the "P" series being the compact handguns; the "PM" series being the sub-compact pistol and the full-sized pistols were dubbed the "TP".

Kahr's pistols were renowned for their long but extremely smooth double action only trigger pulls and their low bore axis.  The pistol's design was innovative and is protected by some seven patents making them truly unique.  I think it's important to remember that Kahr was making compact and sub-compact single stack 9mm and .40 caliber pistols twenty years before Glock introduced the single stack model 43.  

The one thing that may have stymied Kahr's market shard was the price.  Handguns of this quality were costly to produce.  Kahr overcame this hurdle several years ago by introducing a line of value-priced, polymer framed pistols, one of which we are addressing in this review, the model CT9.  The standard, and more expensive version, of the CT9 is the TP 9.  These are Kahr's larger framed polymer pistols that have a capacity of 8 + 1 rounds.  The barrel length is just a shade less than 4 inches; the overall length of the pistol is 6.5 inches.  It is 5 inches in height, 0.90 inches wide and weighs in at 18.5 ounces.  Even as Kahr's full sized entry the TP9 and the CT9 are fairly compact and very slender.

In my estimation the differences between the full priced and value-priced line-up are minimal and outlined in the table below:

Front Sight
Drift Adjustable
Who cares that the front sight is pinned?  Let me count the times I have drifted a front sight.  That would be “0”!  Being pinned in means less of a chance that the front sight will get knocked out of alignment.
Slide Stop
Metal Injected Molded
Metal injection molding is a cost saving measure.  Purists decry it but I have not experienced any problems with them nor have a seen any reports of their failure.
Barrel Rifling
When was the last time you heard of a finely tuned 1911 with polygonal rifling?  If conventional rifling was good enough for John Browning, Les Baer, Bill Wilson and Ed Brown, it is good enough for me and I experienced no issues with accuracy.
Slide Markings
Roll Marked
Again, who cares?  The slide markings have absolutely nothing to do with reliability or accuracy.
Slide Machining

The only machining on the slide are the rear slide serrations. 

As mentioned earlier, the trigger pull is excellent and the pistol has been completely reliable with everything I put through it.

So let's see how the CT performed for me on the range:

All of the targets below were fired from a standing two-handed hold using Magtech 115 grain 9mm ammunition.

The above target shows 10 rounds fired at 21 feet.

This target shows 24 rounds fired at 35 feet.

The final target shows 24 rounds fired at 50 feet.

I only have two minor issues about the pistol.  The first is that the value-priced models only come with one magazine.  I am not a person who needs 8 mags for each handgun they carry but I generally like to have two spare magazines.  That's easily remedied as Kahr mags are easily found.  My second issue is the width of the pistol.  At 0.90 inches thick it feels too slender for my fat hand.  I think this may account for some of my fliers at 35 and 50 feet.  However, I also realize two things; first is that all of the hits on those three targets would have been fatal (the accuracy was not bad).  Secondly is the realization that carry pistols require a compromise between what one would prefer in terms of handgun capacity in a size that is large enough to shoot well versus versus a handgun which is concealable.   Trust me, the CT9 is much easier to conceal than a 15 round pistol.

The good news is that, while I consider the differences in features to be minimal the difference is not.  The MSRP for the CT 9 is 30% less than the MSRP for the TP 9.

8 + 1
Trigger Cocking Double Action Only
3.965 Inches
Overall Length
6.5 Inches
5.08 Inches
18.5 Ounces
0.90 Inches
Matte Stainless Steel

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Performance Center S&W Shield Versus TALO Edition Glock 43

In 2012 Smith & Wesson introduced the Shield and it quickly became the "go to" gun for those looking for an easy-to-conceal, reliable and accurate pistol.  In 2015 Glock unveiled their long-awaited single stack 9mm pistol, the model 43.  Glock is poised to take the small, concealable market away from Smith & Wesson...or are they?

In this review we talk a look at two enhanced editions of both pistols: the Performance Center Shield and the TALO Glock 42 edition.  

Let's start by listing the enhancements of both special edition pistols:

Performance Center Shield

  • Hi-Viz green fiber optic front sight
  • Hi-Viz red fiber optic rear sights
  • Ported barrel
  • Trigger job
TALO Edition Glock 43
  • Blaze Orange Pro Glo front night sight
  • Black serrated "U"-notch rear sight

I did have an issue with the sights on the G43.  In drawing the pistol in complete darkness I found, upon illuminating the pistol with my flashlight, that the front sight consistently wound up outside of the left sight rear post. In other words my point-of-aim was significantly to the left.  I have these exact same sights on my Glock 19 but this phenomenon does not occur.  I think the width of the G19 helps me attain a firmer grip and truer sight picture in darkness and the much thinner G43 allows for some pretty significant deviation.  Realistically though, the chances of shooting in total darkness are somewhat slim.  Between the moon and streetlights there is always some ambient illumination coming into the house along with my ever present stash of flashlights.

Another issue I have with sights concerns my aging eyesight.  Looking through the sights of the G43 I have double vision and see two blaze orange dots at the end of the slide.  On the Performance Center Shield I view the fiber optic front sight as one brilliant green dot.


Performance Center Shield
TALO Edition Glock 43
3.1 Inches
3.39 Inches
Ported Barrel
Front Sight
Hi-Viz Fiber Optic Green
Blaze Orange Pro Glo Night Sights
Rear Sight
Hi-Viz Fiber Optic Red
Black Serrated “U” Notch
18.2 Ounces
17.95 Ounces
Overall Length
6.1 Inches
6.26 Inches
.95 Inches
1.02 Inches
4.6 Inches
4.25 Inches

According to the specifications the two pistols appear to be about the same size.  The major difference is in the height of the pistols.  The specifications show the Glock to be about a quarter of an inch shorter than the Smith & Wesson.  But this is deceiving in how the Glock feels in my hand. Both pistols are equipped with magazine extensions to give your little finger a chance to assist in gripping the pistol.  On the Smith & Wesson that extension is present in both the front and back making the entire grip frame a little longer. The Glock extension only provides a front surface to for my little finger but does not extend the rear surface of the grip.  Hence, the base of my palm is not engaging the lower back-strap.  This tended to make me feel as if my grip wasn't exercising full control over the pistol.

Price-wise, the TALO Glock 43 is about 5% more than the Performance Center Shield.


One of the biggest criticisms of the Smith & Wesson M&P series of pistols is the sloppy trigger pull.  They addressed this on the Shield and the pull on the Performance Center version has been worked on by the Performance Center gunsmiths resulting in an enhanced trigger experience.  The trigger pull on the Glock 43 is...well, a standard Glock trigger pull.  The battle for the better trigger pull goes to Smith & Wesson.  


As you can see from the comparison targets below the Shield shot slightly tighter groups than the Glock 43.  I do not mean that the Glock had poor accuracy, it's combat accuracy was just fine.  The Shield's accuracy was just a little bit better.

Targets at 21 feet:

Targets at 40 feet:

When the Shield was first introduced four years ago I reviewed it and found it to be good, but unimpressive.  The Performance Center version is a significant step forward.  But one word of caution on the ported barrel.  The most common place for a civilian to be attacked is when getting into your car.  This is extreme close quarter combat.  Most likely you will be fending off the assailant with your weak hand while you draw and fire with your dominant hand.  This shot will be in very close proximity to your body.  As a result, the ported barrel will funnel flame and hot gasses upward.  You need to make sure that your face is not in their path.

I liked the Performance Center Shield quite a bit.  If my personal carry situation required that I carry the smallest 9mm semi-automatic pistol I would choose the Glock.  Based strictly on performance...I would choose the Performance Center pistol from Smith & Wesson.

Find the Performance Center Shield at Arnzen Arms here

Find the TALO Glock 43 at Arnzen Arms here