September 24, 2010
Cylinder & Slide makes a good pistol a perfect pistol
I recently tested Kahr's PM9 pocket pistol. I thought the pint-sized pistol had a few rough edges, but its reliability and compact size impressed me enough that I bought it. I was planning on working it over a bit myself until a friend of mine pointed me to Cylinder & Slide's website. There, he promised, I would find some packages that would make the little pistol just about perfect.
Clicking around on the website, I found a few Kahr packages. Any one of them would have worked, as all my gun needed was a trigger job and a minor carry bevel. But I didn't think the packages were all that expensive, and the wait reasonable, so I elected to go with the simply named Package 2, which sells for $600.
Reliability is key with any carry gun, so C&S started by throating and polishing the feed ramp to a mirror finish to ensure reliable feeding with even the most wide-mouthed hollowpoints. The gunsmiths also radiused the extractor and checked the extractor tension to make sure the little pistol would extract without a hiccup.
To make the PM9 more comfortable to carry, they broke all the sharp edges off the pistol. They also beveled the slide stop, which was a nice touch because the lever is a bit oversized on the Kahr. Beveling it keeps the bottom edge from rubbing my hand during rapid fire strings.
Though my Kahr shot great, C&S took a few steps to improve its accuracy. First, it re-cut the barrel crown to 11 degrees. Next, the gunsmiths radiused and polished the trigger and reduced the trigger pull to a smooth, easy-to-manage five pounds, two ounces.
Finally, they installed and zeroed a set of XS Sights' 24/7 night sights.
When the little polymer pistol came home, I was blown away with the quality of the improvements. Though subtle, they made an appreciable difference in the little pistol's accuracy and shootability. I fired more than 500 rounds through the C&S-customized Kahr over the next few months. In that time, I really came to appreciate all of C&S's modifications.
I was most impressed with the pistol's trigger. The polished trigger felt good, and the pull reminded me of a tuned PPC revolver, though it was noticeably shorter than my old K-frame's trigger stroke. It was, in my opinion, a big contributor to the pocket pistol's incredible accuracy.
I was also impressed with XS Sights 24/7 sights. Though I am long-accustomed to a classic express-style sight when tracking through thick brush in Africa, the idea of a big ivory bead front and shallow V rear sight on a pistol was hard for me to get used to.
But on the range, that brilliant bead stood out like a tie-dyed shirt at the Republican National Convention. My eyes were instantly drawn to it, making fast, accurate hits a snap, even on moving targets and in low light.
My PM9 was reliable out of the box, but it had a little hitch during reloads. Often, when changing magazines from slide lock, the slide would not close. This happened more often when I tried to slingshot the slide than it did when I used the slide release, but it shouldn't have happened at all.
It resolved itself for the most part by the time I got 500 rounds through it, but it hasn't happened once since I got it back from C&S.
The carry bevel package is another subtle improvement that paid big dividends. Now the pistol is smooth in my hand and doesn't snag my clothes on the draw. And the modified slide stop no longer cuts my thumb during rapid-fire strings. I could have lived without these improvements, but they sure make the pistol more civilized during extended training sessions.
Kahr's PM9 is a nice pistol right out of the box, but Cylinder & Slide made mine perfect.