About Me

I am a full-time law enforcement officer with experience in the Patrol, Tactical, and Gang Divisions and a part-time martial artist. I believe that law abiding citizens should learn to defend themselves with whatever tools they may legally carry. I am currently in the process of starting the "5 Rings Tactical" training school where I hope to encourage good people to become protectors of their own lives and the lives of their families. This blog will contain reviews of defensive and tactical products, all of which I have purchased with my own funds. I will try my best to give my honest and unbiased opinion of all the products featured. I hope to eventually make the items that prove to be of quality available to customers of 5 Rings Tactical. Before distributing any of these items, they will be purchased privately by me and evaluated. I do not pretend to be any type of expert or master. I'm just a guy trying to share my experiences with others. I am always looking for more training and good people to learn from.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kahr P40 (aka The Noisy Cricket) - ALMOST the Perfect Carry Gun


Several years ago I was in the market for an off-duty pistol that I could carry concealed. At the time my duty gun was a Glock 22, which is a full-sized weapon. I'm not a big guy and trying to hide that pistol was not easy for me. Naturally I picked up a Glock 27. It was a 40 caliber Glock, just like my duty gun only it was a sub-compact size, affectionately called a "Baby Glock". The smaller Glock was a great pistol. It was reliable, accurate, and could even accept magazines from my full-sized gun. It was still too thick though. I wanted something with a slimmer profile that would make concealment easy. Carrying the Glock inside my waistband made me look like I was trying to smuggle a bratwurst sausage in my pants. If I needed that kind of self-esteem boost, I'd have just gotten a roll of quarters or shoved some socks down my crotch.

My search for a concealed carry gun continued and I ended up with a Kahr P40. The P40 is another 40 caliber pistol but is thinner than the Glock, just like I wanted. It has a short, 3.6 inch barrel but comes with a grip that is long enough to wrap your entire hand around. Many sub-compact pistols are chopped short and you have to curl your pinky finger underneath the handle when gripping the gun. Not the case with this stainless steel bad boy.
The P40's frame is made of polymer, resulting in a lightweight firearm that is comfortably carried, even when fully loaded with all seven rounds. That's right, it only holds seven. Part of the reason the gun is so slim is because it uses a single-stack magazine. So the gun only holds six rounds in the mag and one in the chamber. That's only one more than a snub-nosed revolver, but at least it reloads faster. The factory sights are white bar-dot combat sights, which are fine. XS makes a great night sight with a giant front dot for this gun though. If I choose to continue carrying my Kahr, the XS will be my next upgrade. Just a side note, there is a "budget" version of this gun that Kahr manufactures called the CW40. It's a great gun too but if you plan on upgrading the sights, get the P40. The dovetails are apparently friendly to aftermarket products where with the CW40, you may be stuck with the factory units.

The trigger is nothing to write home about. It's a fairly standard DAO (double action only) trigger. There is a lot of take up, then a break. Completely acceptable for a defense gun. You pull the trigger, the gun goes bang, and hopefully you had it pointed at this: 

and not this:

Shooting the P40
So I had found a gun that was small enough for me to carry concealed, but still packed 7 rounds of a decent sized bullet. I had to see how it would shoot though. I grabbed several hundred rounds of mixed practice ammo, Winchester, UMC, Wolf, whatever I could get my hands on. I also brought a few boxes of hollow-point duty ammunition to test in the gun; Hornady TAP, Ranger SXT, Speer Gold Dot, and Federal Hydra-shocks. Then I hit the range.

Kahr suggests that you put 200 rounds through the P40 to break it in. I loaded up the magazines with some practice ammo and began by firing slow, steady shots. The first thing I noticed was the recoil. It was definitely snappier than my Glock 22 and any of my 1911's. It was nothing overwhelming though. It didn't hurt my hand and the gun didn't go jumping out of my fingers with each shot. It was just a 40 caliber bullet being fired out of a light, tiny gun. I did notice that at distances of over 15 yards, my shots were landing just a little high. At 25 yards, I was shooting almost an inch high of my point of aim. The shot groupings were about 3.5 inches at their widest though, which is pretty good for a short barreled gun at 25 yards. Someone with more skills could probably have done much better. Not many gunfights occur at distances as great as 25 yards anyway.
After a 200 round break in period, another 100 rounds of practice ammo, and 100 rounds of hollow-point ammunition,  I had experienced only one jam. I had a stove pipe which occurred in the first 40 shots. It was easily cleared and the gun kept running. Now, I say only one jam but I have to put this out there. Each time I reloaded the pistol, it would fail to feed if I chambered a round using the "power stroke technique" of pulling back the slide and releasing it. At least 50% of the time, the gun failed to feed when I did this technique (The Kahr slide release was very sharp so I opted for an alternative method of dropping the slide). I did not count these as jams because after my shooting session I contacted Kahr about the problem. A representative informed me that the gun was not designed to chamber a round by pulling back the slide. I was told that Kahr pistols will only reliably chamber a new round when you hit the slide release. This sounded really strange to me but I went back to the range later and gave it a try. Sure enough, no problems chambering a round when using the slide release. I set my Ipod to Kenny Loggins, cranked up the volume, and fired off rounds as fast as the Danger Zone would allow me to. This gun shot great, and was small enough I could probably have carried it through a rigorous game of men only, shirtless volleyball.

Earning the nickname "Noisy Cricket", the P40 has now been with me for several years. After over 4000 rounds, it has proven to be very reliable and I have faith that the little pistol will run when I need it to. It has been my primary concealed carry gun, usually worn in a holster tucked into the front of my waistband. The P40 is a stealthy gun and makes for perfect urban ninja-ing equipment. I would not hesitate to recommend this gun to any friends, but there are a few complaints I would have to make known to them.

1. The gun comes with very sharp edges. Particularly the sights and the slide release. I can shoot the gun for hours without the recoil hurting my hand, but using that slide release cuts up my thumb after a while. It's like playing Game Boy... with a cactus. I could probably fix this problem with a file, but I've been lazy.

2. Field stripping can be a little bit annoying. Definitely not a deal breaker, but I hate cleaning my guns as it is. Having to line up two little, invisible dots in order to take the gun apart is just one more obnoxious part of shooting. Glocks, Sigs, M&Ps, and XD's are all easier to strip.

3. It really irritates me that I cannot chamber a round by pulling back and releasing the slide on this gun. That is the way I train and feel it is probably the best method for most pistols (for me). Yes, yes, I know the slide release is "faster" etc. If the slide release works better for you then great, I just tend to prefer the power stroke for my personal use, though I will probably incorporate more slide release training in my drills from now on. I worry if I ever have to perform a reload in a stressed situation, I will default back to what I've drilled the most and I'll rack the Kahr slide, causing a failure to feed. I'll be stuck there with a little gun that won't shoot and Skeletor will be able to conquer Castle Gray Skull.
The P40 is shown here with a failure to feed from power-stroking the slide to chamber a round.

If you can live with using the slide release to drop the slide, the Kahr might be for you. It hides well, rides well, shoots well, and serves it's purpose as an effective self-defense gun. If this were the only gun I carried, I would just train myself to drop the slide with the slide release and call it a day. It would be nice if Kahr could redesign their guns to work with either method of dropping the slide. Overall though, I have to give the P40 a thumbs up. I'm sure Maverick would agree.


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