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Concealed Carry Handgun Reviews Semiauto

Review: Kahr CM40

by James Tarr   |  April 6th, 2012 24
Kahr CM40

The new Kahr CM40 is an affordable, powerful concealed carry gun.

The CM series from Kahr is the latest in a long line of improved and evolving designs from this company. The newest member of the clan, the Kahr CM40, is at first glance no bigger than the CM9, which made its debut last year. But when compared side by side the CM40 shows more beef: it is both thicker (.94 inch versus .90 inch) and a hair longer (5.47 inches versus 5.42 inches) than the CM9.


That said, for its .40 S&W chambering it is a tiny gun. It has a three-inch barrel and weighs just 15.8 ounces, not quite two ounces more than the CM9. Those extra two ounces are all in the slide, which is machined out of a solid hunk of 416 stainless steel.


Kahr CM40 trigger

Kahr pistols have excellent DAO triggers, although the reset is longer than the author would've preferred.

The pistol is just four inches tall, the same height as the CM9. How do you make a .40 S&W the same height as a 9mm? You sacrifice capacity—the CM40 holds only five rounds in the magazine compared to the CM9’s six. The top of the slide sits slightly higher off my hand than the CM9 due to the increased bore diameter.


It is a DAO with no double-strike capability. I’ve found Kahr trigger pulls to consistently be the best in the pocket gun market, and the CM40 didn’t disappoint. Trigger pull was a consistent 6.25 lbs and relatively short for a DAO.


The only complaint I had with the trigger was the reset. To fire another shot, the trigger had to be released almost back to the starting point. If you’re used to riding the trigger this might take some getting used to, and lightning-fast double-taps with this kind of trigger (all other factors aside) aren’t really possible.


The stainless steel slide has a matte finish and is topped with excellent sights for a pistol this size: a white dot front with a white bar in the rear.

RELATED: The NYPD and the Kahr K-9: No Substitute for Training

The Kahr’s magazines are stainless steel and feature Wolff springs. They are made in the USA, plasma welded together and have a black polymer follower. The magazine catch in the frame is metal, so it won’t get damaged by the metal magazine.


Kahr CM40 ejection port

Because the .40 S&W cartridge is significantly longer than a 9mm, Kahr has relieved the front of the ejection port to facilitate ejection of loaded rounds.

Externally, the Kahr CM40 is identical to the company’s PM40, but it is more than $200 cheaper with a suggested retail of just $517, which is even less expensive than the initial price of the CM9 ($565).


The difference between Kahr’s two .40 offerings? The CM line takes the value-priced features from Kahr’s CW series and incorporates them into a smaller package. The PM40 has polygonal rifling in the barrel, whereas the CM40 has traditional land-and-groove rifling. The CM’s slide has fewer cosmetic machining operations done to it and does not feature rollmarked markings but instead simple engraving on the slide. The CM’s slide stop is a metal-injection-molded part as opposed to machined steel and is the only thing that mars the smooth lines of the pistol.


The CM has a polymer front sight and a drift-adjustable steel rear sight, as opposed to the PM’s all-steel sights. While most end users will hardly notice the differences between the CM40 and the PM40 (apart from having to buy a spare mag), I have concerns about the longevity of a polymer front sight in a gun designed to live in a pocket or purse, banging against other items on a regular basis.


The slide, which features functional flat-bottomed slide serrations, locks back on an empty magazine. The magazine well is slightly beveled to facilitate reloading.


Another way Kahr reduced the cost of the CM series is shipping the guns with only one magazine (the PMs come with two).

Kahr CM40 in pocket

While small enough to fit in a pocket, fully loaded the CM40 tips the scales at more than 20 ounces. The author recommends a pocket holster (and a belt) to keep things from sagging.

As expected, the CM40 has a very strong recoil spring that fits around a full-length recoil spring guide rod. The Kahr was so tight out of the box that when the slide was locked back and the magazine removed, pulling back on the slide wasn’t enough to let the slide stop drop down out of the way. Most Kahrs are this tight when new and just need to be shot a little to loosen up.


The Kahr CM40 is designed for self-defense and has a only three-inch barrel, so I tested it for accuracy at 15 yards. This is probably pushing the distance at which it would be used, even though the sights are good enough to shoot it much farther than that.


The trigger is wide and smooth, and with a relatively light trigger pull it wasn’t hard to shoot up to the little pistol’s full potential. Let’s be clear, though—this shouldn’t be anybody’s first gun. A small light .40 isn’t the gun you practice with to get good; this is the gun you carry after you’ve practiced and learned the basics. A small, light handgun chambered in .40 S&W will save your life and is easier to hit with than a J-frame, but it just isn’t much fun to shoot.


The little Kahr was snappy off the sandbags, and with some ammo I got a nice fireball. Shooting offhand the Kahr barked and shoved at me and hit a little low and left but was completely reliable with every type of ammo I tried. Occasionally the slide wouldn’t lock back on an empty magazine, but I think this was because my thumb was hitting the slide stop during recoil.

RELATED: How To Avoid Your Pocket Gun From Printing

Even for its size and chambering, I never had any worries the Kahr would fly out of my hand while I was shooting. This is because of the texturing on the front and rear of the polymer frame. It is not checkering, more like horizontal rows of interlocking squares, and even though it doesn’t look like much of anything the texturing does a good job of keeping the pistol in place in your hand.


If you do buy a CM40, however, I highly, definitely recommend loading it with .40 S&W ammunition specifically produced for the concealed-carry market, such as the Hornady FPD and Federal Guard Dog, which aren’t loaded to blistering velocities and are designed to expand at relatively slower velocities. Also, they have much more rounded profiles so they feed reliably. Loaded with this type of ammo the CM40 still isn’t a pussycat, but it’s manageable.


While it is small enough to fit in a pocket, fully loaded the CM40 starts to take on some real weight. 15.8 ounces for the pistol, 1.9 ounces for the magazine, plus six rounds of .40 S&W adds up to something more than 20 ounces. While that wouldn’t feel like much of anything in a belt holster or a jacket pocket, that’s a lot of weight to stick into a pants pocket. I’d recommend an inside-the-pocket holster if you’re going to go that route.


The CM40 is so small that even getting two fingers onto the grip might be difficult for people with meaty paws, but that’s the price you pay for a pistol not much bigger than a deck of cards. I wish the magazines didn’t have flush floorplates but rather ones with finger extensions. Actually, if I’m going to start a wish list, I’d want two magazines with flush base plates and two spare finger extension base plates.


All of those extras, however, cost money, and floorplate extensions might make the Kahr too big for most pockets. The charm of the CM40 isn’t just that it is a reliable auto chambered in a man-stopping cartridge and small enough to fit in a pocket, it is that it is affordable.


Fast Specs

  • Action: polymer-framed DAO semiautomatic
  • Caliber: .40 S&W
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Barrel: 3 in.
  • Overall Length/Height/Width: 5.47/4.0/0.94 in.
  • Frame: black polymer
  • Slide: stainless steel
  • Sights: white dot plastic front, steel rear with white post
  • Trigger: DAO, 5.5 lb. pull (as tested)
  • Weight: 15.8 oz
  • Price: $517
  • Manufacturer: Kahr Arms

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group: 155 gr. Hornady TAP—1.7 in.
  • Largest avg. group: 130 gr. Magtech—2.1 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (4 types)—1.9 in.
  • Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 15 yards from a sandbag rest.
  • geo1

    Khar…shot them…don't like them, and never will…you are better off buying a Springfield compact for the price.
    Great short distance trigger reset… more comfortable to shoot, better capacity, and about a 4.1 lb. pull instead of the 6 or 7 lb. of the Kahr.

    • Omar

      I doubt thus guy has "shot them". If he did, he would be raving about the PM9. This is the best pocket 9mm on the market. The Kimber Solo is not even as good or reliable to the pm9. Springfields are good guns, I got 2. But if you want the best most reliable POCKET 9mm, the kahr pm9 is it for you. Springfields are NOT pocket guns, not even their smallest, the xd9 subcompact! Kahr pm40 & cw40 is snappier, so I would take pm9 over it, and if you feel you need more punch for that "350lb Crazy Crackhead Convict" get some +p rounds. The fact that you get 1 more round, better follow-up shots, and can use +p ammo in kahrs is a WIN-WIN-WIN! But don't take my word, get yourself to the gunstore and see just how good the kahr's feel in your hand.

      • Bill Wedgwood

        The PM9 is a great carry pistol. 100% reliable after the break-in period (with very few mal-functions). Lots of fun with 115 gr practice ammo – very tight groups at 10 yards. My carry round is the Corbon 124 gr +P with 434 ft/lbs – getting up there with the big guys. I just had the big dot/express tritium sights installed. I expect a bit less long range accuracy, but short range target acquisition should very fast. Very visible in the dark. I agree – this is the best pocket 9MM on the market. A bit pricey, but well worth it (I got a pretty hefty LEO discount – I have a US Treasury badge, but am not authorized to carry at work – the seller didn't ask any questions!)

  • SCfromNY

    I have the PM9m and it is a fantastic gun considering what is is designed for. Very comfortable to shoot and accurate. I have shot a PM40 and it has a much more substantial recoil. I would sacrifice the slightly more powerful cartridge for ease of use. Nothing wrong with a 9mm.

  • Bud Beeler

    My Kahr P40 is snappy to shoot but it fits my hand perfectly, disappears under a shirt, and is comfortable to carry. Try to remember… a tiny, potent, carry gun is meant to be carried often but shot seldom. After you put a hundred rounds through it to break it in, you'll prolly never have to shoot it again. Let's hope!

    • Dusty

      Bud, if you are going to CARRY it, you gotta PRACTICE with it!
      Ask any Instructor.

  • geo1

    Sorry there Omar…but I have shot them, but it sounds like you haven't shot a Springfield?? Even the author complains that the trigger takes some getting used to, isn't a firearm for the newby, doesn't grip very well. and is not that fun to shoot!!?? And as far as Bud's comment is concerned "meant to be carried often but shot seldom. After you put a hundred rounds through it to break it in, you'll prolly never have to shoot it again." You've have got to be kiddin' me! Your carry gun should be practiced with at least once a month. I have three carry firearms and alternate practice sessions with them about every two to three weeks to keep my skills honed and sharp.
    I know not everyone or every firearm is a perfect fit, but, shoot what you like and like what you shoot! Often!

    Kindest Regards…

    In God We Trust…

  • Joel Jaworowski

    I own a PM9 and a CW40. Both pistols are good carry guns. My PM9 has the CTC Laserguardto facilitate night time shooting and I like shooting it a lot. My CW40 is about the smallest .40 I would want to shoot as that particular round is pretty snappy. Any smaller like the PM or theCM would really kick like a mule but I have big hands and sausage fingers. I get a full 3 finger grip on my CW40 and it's fairly controllable to the point that I carry it as my main gun and my PM9 as back up.
    If geo1 likes Springfields so much, he should look into the new XD-S. It hold 5 +1 .45 ACP rounds and gets good grades from Patrick Sweeney, a well regarded shooter and author from G&A Magazine. I would love to fire a 100 rounds or so from the XD-S to see for myself how it handles. I am a big fan of little guns. I started out getting a Nortern Firearms Minirevolver .22LR about 40 years ago because they were so cute as are the Kahr pistols.

  • Pat

    My brother had to return his twice for warranty work-and sold it. One of the members of my gun range got rid of his because it wouldnotwork. My brother was a 25 year marine vet-the gun range member knows his guns and shoots them well. I know or have spoken to have had reliability issues. A carry gun must be reliable. I'll carry my Sig or S&W 357.

    • Pat

      should say-too many people I know or have spoken to have had reliability issues. Long day at Work!

  • Lamont W.

    I got the CM40 because my MK40 is too heavy for a "pocket gun" in certain types of trousers. A pocket holster is essential for pocket carry, regardless of the gun. My MK 40 has functioned with 100% reliability since day one, as has my PM9. I anticipate no "reliability issues" with the CM40 either. For a backup gun they are tough to beat and far more accurate than one would suspect. Both my MK40 and PM9 regularly give me "golf ball sized" groups at 30 feet. Only problem I've had were some magazine followers breaking, which was attributed to a subcontractor using the wrong polymer formula. Kahr's service department is outstanding, and they sent me replacement followers plus a couple of extras by express mail at no charge. Suffice it to say my experience with Kahr products has been very positive! I couldn't ask for a more accurate and reliable pocket pistol of this diminutive size. I own a couple of larger Kahrs as well which are equally accurate and dependable.

  • Andy

    If it's anything like my cm9, no thanks…

  • Ralph De La Huerta`

    You need to understand, these writers are paid by the gun manufacturers to give them a good review.
    Take it with a grain of salt and do your own studies.

  • freddie d

    Kahr PM9 is a great gun, but stay away from the P380, it needs to be recalled!

  • Edward P

    Well I have a pm 45/pm40/ and my wife carries a cm9. Never a problem with either of them. Maybe I'm just lucky. I love them all. One thing for sure you can't limp wrist fire these guns. Use a good grip and let her rip. Better than average group for a short barrel.

  • Dusty

    I carried a Kahr P-40 for about three years and practiced with it – 200 rds a month downrange – and it became a greulling drudge. Even my cop friends thought I was nuts. "Those things HURT!!" was their concensus.
    So it went away and I now carry an Officers 1911 or S&W M+P Pro series in 40S&W.
    MUCH better and more comfortable to practice.

  • craig blough

    Took my new cm40 to the range today and I cleaned it and lubed before I shot it. First 50 was winchester white box 180 gr jhp. It shot all 50 perfect, then 20 fedral premium 135 gn hydra-shock jhp flawless pereformance, Then 100 remington green&white box 180gr jhp every clip I had 1 or 2 jams and 1 ftfeed, fired it with 2 different clips same thing.So now a break out what I was going to carry for defense bullalo bore 155 gr jhp. cound not get it to shoot 2 in a row! stove piped almost every one.Man I was disapointed, so I open a box of the winchester white box 180 gr jhp and it shot them all perfectly. So my conclusion is that it is defently ammo picky! 100% reliable with the correct ammo. Love the trigger.

    • Millard Lester Jr

      I love mine too.Its not to awfully picky about ammo but I shoot Winchester 165 grain,federal 180 grain And PMC 165 grain.It will shoot and eject flawless. The only ammo i’ve shot (Never again) was some russian wolf ammo..That stuff is pretty much junk and very cheap.Oh yea for self protection I shoot Remington golden SaberHPJ hollow points with no issues what so ever..Good luck guys with your shooting

  • Kyle742

    Hafta agree w Edward P on this. I grabbed a used pm 9 on the practice range and I was poppin all black in no time.
    I decided to get a cm40 for more stopping power. a little more recoil and as Ed said, u cant limp wrist a gun with a 3 inch barrel. a few stove piped(reloads) but after 3 magazines, I was shooting all black again at 14yds and I'm used to a lunky M9/92fs. the only thing I don't like is breakdown is a pain in the ass, compared to the Beretta.

  • Lpham

    I just got my CM40. This the first gun that I have a hard time releasing the mag. Cocking the gun back was tough too. Has anyone have the same problem? Haven't shot the gun yet but will update after I put some rounds in.

    • richard

      i just picked up my cm 40 i have the same problem . i love the gun thought.

  • craig

    Update on my cm40- It now shoot the Buffalo bore reliabley only because I filed the sharp edge off the brass, Hey Buffalo Bore take note!! Also I tryed the stock Bullalo Bore in another cm40 and it wound not chamber the round either.

  • Robert

    I have a kahr cw40 that ejects the mag every other shot. I have herd that changing the mag catch and spring will help. Does any else have any experience with this. I love the gun other than that shoots acurate

  • Andy Linnemann

    I just recently purchased the Kahr CM40; I have Glock’s and
    wanted a pocket gun that I could carry more often and regularly. I shot 100
    rounds of ammo at the range and found the gun to be extremely accurate with
    tight groupings. My biggest complaint with this gun it’s not a lot of fun to
    shoot, I wore the skin of my trigger finger after firing 100 rounds. My finger
    rubbed against the bottom of the finger guard causing this issue. The trigger
    itself seems to pull very nice; however seem to have a very long pull. I find
    myself waiting for it to discharge. I do love the size however I will need to
    practice with this gun a little bit more to get use to the trigger and possibly
    pulling the trigger back with just the tip of my finger? Like I said I will
    need to practice more with this gun but it is no comparison to the comfort and
    fun in shooting my Glocks.

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