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A New Kahr

by Paul Scarlata   |  September 24th, 2010 2

The new CW45 offers concealed-carry punch at an affordable price.The new CW45 offers concealed-carry punch at an affordable price.


I’m a proponent of double-action-only triggers on defensive handguns, and some of the most user friendly of the many DAO pistols on today’s market are made by the Kahr Arms Company. The trigger stroke on Kahr pistols is smooth, light and stage-free. This is accomplished by means of a system in which a trigger stroke of approximately 0.7 inch rotates a cam that then unlocks the spring-loaded striker safety and draws the striker to full cock position before releasing it to fire the pistol.

There are no external safety devices on Kahr pistols. Instead, a striker block immobilizes the partially cocked striker from any movement, and it can be deactivated only by pulling the trigger through a complete stroke.

Locking is via the barrel hood bearing on the front edge of ejection port. Upon firing, the slide moves rearward and a cam on the barrel lug pulls the barrel down, unlocking it from the slide. The slide continues rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent case.

KAHR ARMS: CW45


Type: DAO semiauto
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity:6-round magazine
Weight: 21.7 oz.
Barrel length: 3.64 in.
Overall length: 6.4 in.
Height: 4.8 in.
Width: 1 in.
Slide: matte stainless steel
Grip: textured polymer
Sights: white bar rear, white dot front
Price: $606
Manufacturer: Kahr Arms,508-795-3919

 

A recoil spring, located on a full-length guide rod under the barrel, pulls the slide forward, stripping a round from the magazine and chambering it. As the slide goes into battery, the barrel and slide are locked together by the barrel hood moving up into the ejection port.

Kahr pistols use an offset barrel with the trigger mechanism beside it, rather than under it, to provide a frame design with a high grip close to the centerline of the bore, which provides enhanced recoil control while reducing muzzle flip and felt recoil A self-cleaning extractor forces powder residue away from the extractor to prevent fouling buildup, and a rather impressive ejector throws spent cases well clear of the pistol.

Kahr introduced its first polymer frame pistol, the P9, in 2000. The P9 was soon followed by a line of full-size, compact and subcompact 9mm and .40 pistols. To satisfy the fans of the most popular large-bore pistol cartridge of all time, next in line were the P45, TP45 and PM45 chambered for, you guessed it, the .45 ACP. The most recent additions to its line of polymer pistols is the CW45.

While it bears a strong family resemblance to the P45 and uses the same textured polymer frame (Kahr pistols have a snag-free exterior, a nice feature for a pistol meant to be carried and drawn from concealment) the CW45 is intended as an entry-level or economy model. It’s priced at $200 less than the P series .45s.

For this reason there are certain features that differ from the P series, the most obvious being the slide. To keep cost down, the exterior of the slide has fewer machining operations, resulting in a more slab-sided appearance, while the front sight is pinned in place rather than using a dovetail cut as on the P series. There are also fewer markings, and these are engraved rather than rollmarked.

The polymer grip frame is nicely checkered and textured to provide a non-slip purchase. The CW45′s slide stop is produced by a metal-injection-molding process; on the P series it’s a machined part. The barrel on the CW45 has conventional rifling, as opposed to the P series’ polygonal rifling.


The positioning of the CW45′s slide stop lever and magazine release catch contributes to a smooth outline for snag-free draws.

While none of these changes lessen the practicality of the pistol, they combine to reduce the price, freeing up money that could be spent on accessories and–most important–practice ammo.

I have been a fan of Kahr pistols since they first hit the market, and for the past few years one of my regular carry guns has been a PM9. This is especially true when I dress in a manner that precludes carrying a larger handgun, and since here in North Carolina we have eight months of summer and four months when the sunbathing is poor, I tend to dress light.

Upon first examination of the CW45, I didn’t get all that excited. I mean, to be perfectly honest about it, a Kahr is a Kahr. Every Kahr pistol operates in the same exact manner; the controls are in the same locations, and the DAO triggers have the same excellent pulls.

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Accuracy Results: KAHR CW45

.45 ACP Bullet Weight (gr.) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Average Group (in.)
Federal Hydra-Shok 165 1,040 1.80
Cor-Bon +P DPX 185 1,032 2.13
Black Hills FMJ 230 777 2.50
Winchester SXT 230 852 2.25
Notes: Accuracy is the average of four, five-shot groups fired from an MTM Predator rest at 15 yards. Velocity is the average of five rounds measured with a Chrony chronograph 15 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviation: FMJ, full metal jacket.

What I found especially attractive about the CW45, though, was the checkered, hand-filling grip and how the pistol sat low in my hand. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the CW45′s ergonomics because when I lifted it to eye level it was pointing where I was looking.

And the sights get my wholehearted approval because I believe that the white dot (front) and bar (rear) system allows the fastest sight alignment of any setup on the market today.

Last, the supplied six-round magazine fell free when the easy-to-reach catch was pressed–empty or loaded, slide forward or locked open.

Since the Kahr’s purpose in life is to be a close-range, defensive pistol, accuracy testing was conducted at an intermediate 15 yards from an MTM Predator rest. Considering my past experience with Kahr pistols, I should not have been surprised at the level of accuracy that the CW45 displayed, but I was.

While it showed a preference for Federal’s fast-stepping Hydra-Shok load, everything I stuffed into the magazine shot to point of aim and produced groups running in size from 1.63 to 2.75 inches.

After chronographing the four loads, I got down to the more serious (and fun) part of the handgun evaluation process. I belted on a Galco Yaqui belt slide holster and dual mag pouch and, after loading up several spare magazines, I proceeded to run the CW45 through the following offhand drills on a pair of D-1 targets.

Drill 1 Three yards. Draw pistol and fire three rounds on each target with an unsupported (one handed) grip. Perform a combat reload and repeat twice.

Drill 2 Seven yards. Draw pistol and double tap each target with a supported grip. Re-holster and repeat three times.

Drill 3 Ten yards. Draw pistol and fire six rounds, slow aimed fire, on the first target. Reload and repeat on the second target.

Despite the fact that it was firing large, heavy bullets–some at pretty impressive velocities–out of a lightweight pistol, the CW45 handled very well. Felt recoil, while stiff, was very controllable, and I was able to make fast, accurate follow-up shots with no problems. I could reach both the slide stop and magazine release without moving the pistol around in my hand to any noticeable degree, and the beveled magazine well allowed smooth, fumble-free reloads.


Kahr pistols feature a massive claw extractor and monster ejector to ensure 100 percent reliability.

This expenditure of ammunition produced a pair of targets with every single round inside the confines of their respective X and 10 rings. No complaints here.

The only complaint I did have about the pistol was a relatively minor one: The supplied six-round magazine feed lips had sharp edges, and if I wasn’t careful when loading them I scraped my thumb and fingers rather painfully. (I received another CW45 magazine at a later date, and the feed lips had been reshaped to correct this problem).

I used the CW45 for several weeks as my regular carry gun and found it easy to conceal and tote around all day in the Galco holster. I was hardly aware that I was packing a .45 under my vest.

I believe the CW45 would be an excellent choice for those fans of large caliber handguns who need–or just want–a lightweight, easily concealable, fine shooting pistol chambered for the most popular big bore pistol cartridge of all time.

Whether you are a police detective, armed professional, licensed civilian or homeowner, the CW45 should be capable of doing whatever you want or need a pistol to do–at an economical price.


The white dot/bar sight system allows very fast alignment. The rear sight is cut and angled to reduce glare.

  • Mat

    I just purchased the CW45 as my first carry gun. I couldn't be more pleased with how it performs! A great gun at an awesome price! Coming from shooting six guns, I couldn't believe how smooth the trigger was. So far I have put 50 rounds through it. I plan on putting about 150 more through it to break it in and get familiar with it. Great review!

  • Fred Johnson

    I too just took my new CW45 to the range pumped 200 rounds thrue it and not a single problem. Smooth , nice trigger action, slide worked great, recoil easy to manage for a small pistol. Came apart nicely with no problems for a through cleaning and plan to put my Kimber custom eclipse away as my carry gun for the Kahr, lighter smaller, feels good in the hand and still 45 for the knock down power in short range protection. simple operation draw, aim, fire. Fred J.

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