Review: Kahr T9 Elite

Review: Kahr T9 Elite

In this age of “shootable Tupperware,” Kahr Arms—with corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania and production in Massachusetts—still makes steel semiautos with well-machined parts and tight tolerances. While staying true to solid construction standards, the company occasionally offers a surprise in terms of looks and style. That’s the case with the T9 Elite, a double-action 9mm pistol released last year. I’ve had my hands on one for the last few weeks.

This pistol is the Cadillac version of the company’s T series and among the largest handguns made by Kahr. Some will find it challenging to conceal. The tradeoffs for that are less felt recoil and style, lots of style. With a glowing stainless slide and frame, and a beautifully grained and checkered wood grip by Hogue, it’s a high-calorie choice in the eye candy department.

The T9 Elite has steel construction, and every component is CNC machined. The match-grade barrel is CNC-machined from a single piece of billet steel. It has a Browning-style recoil lug and polished feed ramp. It is a bushing-less design with a guide rod and recoil spring that can be taken apart for cleaning.

On top, the polished steel slide is engraved with rear cocking serrations. The “T9” emblem is embossed in bold style, while the “Elite” designation, engraved in cursive, is quite subtle. The Elite model sports Novak tritium, three-dot night sights, with the rear one being windage-adjustable. The front sight dot appears rather large in daylight, with a light-colored ring around the tritium insert. In darkness, the glowing dots all appear to be the same size.


Kahr-T9-Elite-2
The wraparound grips are made of pau ferro and nicely checkered for a sure grip. The Elite model comes with Novak tritium night sights.

Warming up the icy sleekness of the frame is a wraparound wood grip by Hogue. It sports perfect checkering, providing good texture where needed. The beautiful, richly grained grip is crafted from tough, South American pau ferro wood.


The grip is surprisingly thick for a single stack. The wraparound design is lovely to behold, but it may add enough bulk to discourage some from carrying the T9 Elite concealed.


Three eight-round metal magazines are included. The base pads extend below the frame, and the front of the pads features a slight protrusion to provide extra purchase during malfunction clearances and tactical reloads.

Kahr-T9-Elite-3
The frontstrap is checkered at 20 lpi to aid control. The gun ships with three eight-round magazines.

Kahr’s pistols incorporate a partially cocked striker. Pulling the trigger operates a cam system that fully cocks the striker and fires the gun, so it’s essentially a double-action trigger. Two internal striker-blocking mechanisms prevent forward movement of the striker unless it’s cocked and the trigger is being pulled. The trigger lever is curved in a classic double-action profile, and it’s easy to reach despite the gun’s relatively fat grip.

There’s a grooved, standard magazine release button on the left side. It’s small and somewhat recessed from the outermost profile of the pistol, making it nearly impossible to unintentionally engage during carry. But that also means you’ll need to practice with the button to ensure you can execute clean and fast reloads. All three magazines in this test dropped freely when the grip was held in the vertical during reloads. That’s an efficient trait—one of my must-haves on any semiauto pistol. The release is not reversible for left-handed operation.


Kahr-T9-Elite-1
Kahr’s trigger system is paired with a curved DAO-style finger lever and sculpted trigger guard. The mag release doesn’t protrude a lot, so you’ll need to practice activating it.

It’s known that break-in periods are standard operating procedure for optimal performance of Kahr pistols. The accuracy test groups represent the first rounds fired out of this pistol, so it can potentially get even better. During later testing, I fired a five-shot trigger control drill from five yards on the T9 as a demo for a student. To my surprise, the T9 punched in a smaller single hole than is usually yielded from the striker-fired polymer gun I shoot twice weekly.

The 4.8-pound trigger pull on the T9 Elite maintains consistency throughout the press. When firing slowly for groups, I could hear and feel the trigger spring’s compression, but it was minor and didn’t interfere. The break is clean and reset removes approximately one third of the travel. As double-action-only triggers go, it’s the most like a match-grade trigger I’ve handled.

Despite the pistol’s somewhat chunky grip, the low bore axis and intelligent design of the grip-to-trigger relationship make the T9 a fit for a much wider variety of hands than any other DAO platform I know of. It’s also a vast improvement on the fit of the most prominent DA/SA pistols; it’s easy to reach and still has the easy handling of a full-size pistol.


Kahr-T9-Elite-4
Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of 10 shots measured with a Caldwell Premium chronograph set 12 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: FMJ, full metal jacket; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; TSJ, total synthetic jacket

The Kahr T9 Elite is an accurate, attractive, well-built pistol that should last a lifetime with good care and ammunition. My only criticism is the relatively low capacity for its size, but Kahr makes up for that somewhat by providing three magazines. It ships in a hard-sided case with the foam padding custom cut for two magazines and the pistol.

KAHR T9 ELITE
TYPE: trigger-cocking double-action-only
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
CAPACITY: 8+1
BARREL: 3.965 in., Lothar Walther match grade, polygonal rifling, 1:10 twist
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 6.5/5.0/0.9 in.
WEIGHT: 28.1 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: Stainless steel (matte frame, polished slide)
GRIPS: Hogue checkered pau ferro wraparound
TRIGGER: 4.8 lb. pull (measured)
SIGHTS: low-profile Novak tritium front and rear
SAFETY: 2 internal striker blocks
PRICE: $1,052
MANUFACTURER: Kahr Arms, kahr.com



Recommended for You

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol designed for personal defense. Compact

Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most parts in just minutes.
Instead, the curtain-rod engineer with a Accessories

8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol designed for personal defense. Compact

Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while early 1911

Remington Timeline: 2011 - R1 Pistol Is Introduced

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while...

See More Stories

More Semi-Auto

The American-made CZ P-10 F Optics-Ready 9mm is ready to take on the heavy hitters. Semi-Auto

CZ P-10 F Optics-Ready Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 21, 2019

The American-made CZ P-10 F Optics-Ready 9mm is ready to take on the heavy hitters.

Smith & Wesson has boosted the power of its excellent M&P Shield EZ with a hot new version in 9mm. Semi-Auto

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ – First Look

J. Scott Rupp - December 11, 2019

Smith & Wesson has boosted the power of its excellent M&P Shield EZ with a hot new version in...

The Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm pistol series upgrades the XD platform with four models and a number of significant new features. Semi-Auto

Springfield XD-M Elite Series – Four New 9mm Pistols for 2020

J. Scott Rupp - January 15, 2020

The Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm pistol series upgrades the XD platform with four models and a...

See More Semi-Auto

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.