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Friday, April 15, 2011

CM9 or LC9...decsions...decisions...

Tough choices are the hardest because they are, well, tough...

Well, I have been eying getting one of those single stack 9mm pistols that I have a poll up for over the past few weeks. I figure it would be a nice compromise between my Glocks (which are service caliber but kind of bulky) and my LCP (which is a joy to carry but chambered in the "mild" .380 ACP). I have been trying to tailor my purchases to a particular need or niche I feel I might have for it and this is one pistol that makes sense.

I recently purchased a G26 "sub-compact" Glock which is similar in height and length to the models I have been looking at, but still has that Glock thickness to it. Its a great pistol and I don't see me getting rid of it (it is now my permanent "truck gun"). What I am looking for is something that is a bit thinner. "Thin is In" as the Kahr adds say. While height may be the attribute that contributes most to a pistol printing in your clothing, thickness is what I have determined is the most important in comfort.

There are more than a few "thin" compact 9's to choose from out there today. The Kel-Tec PF9, Kel-Tec P11, Kimber Solo, Kahr PM9/CM9, Ruger LCP, SIG P290 seem to be the ones everyone keeps talking about so I looked at them. The original point of the poll I posted was to get a feeling of what others thought of my choices. I originally wanted to buy one for the unofficial "BAG - Buy A Gun day" tomorrow (actually today when you read this) but ran into some issues deciding.

I have had good experiences with Kel-Tec before and I am sure there stuff is good. However I "upgraded" a P-3AT to my LCP for aestetics and I am sure the same urge would befall me again so I am dropping them from consideration, even though they would be the cheapest to get. The Kimber (while the nicest I think I have handled in the store), Kahr PM9 and Sig just plain outpriced themselves...$700 is steep for a pocket gun in my book. This left the Ruger LC9 and Kahr CM9 left to look at.
The Kahr CM9 is a "value" version of their already established PM9 pistol. Instead of a polygonal grooved barrel it relies on a standard profile barrel, a slide with less CNC machining, a pinned front site in lieu of a dovetail and a MIM slide stop and other MIM parts to reduce costs. It is a striker fired pistol using a patented design which moves the frame operation off center of the barrel so the barrel can sit lower, giving it a closer bore-to-axis alignment and making it a bit shorter than its market rivals. Being a striker fired design the cocking of the slide puts the firing pin under partial tension and the trigger pull just finishes the job and releases the striker. It is a real decent system and when dry firing at the store trigger is SMOOOOOOTH!! There is absolutely no stacking on it and it is light throughout the trigger pull to boot. The sights are very easy to acquire and its the smaller pistol between it and the LC9. It does cost more a bit ($469 vs $399) and the mag sticks out ever so much when inserted, strange but not a deal breaker.

The Ruger LC9 is the "big brother" to my LCP. I really want to like this pistol as it just seems to be logical to go with the next evolution of a pistol that already works for me. The LC9 is bigger than the CM9 by just a bit, the difference is hard to tell when holding them side by side because, in my opinion, the LC9 has a much more "melded" look to it with the side and frame being more rounded. It is a hammer fired design that the trigger must cock and fire all on one stoke. That stroke is LONG and stacks quite a bit from my limited testing. Its is like the LCP trigger in a lot of ways so I think I could get used to it. There are a number of people out there that have issues with the number of "extra" safeties that Ruger has included on this pistol

  • Loaded Chamber indicator...a huge loaded chamber indicator
  • Thumb seems to be more at home in the "off" position and can be ignored I guess
  • Magazine drop safety...a biggie for some people, I can live with it I guess...
  • An internal key safety..had one on the Bersa, S&W 637 and M&P and Taurus pistols..again, I can ignore them if I want.

Basically, its a gun that can be sold anywhere...even in those "evil" states, so I guess this is a nod to Ruger for making a pistol that anyone can buy anywhere (as long as its been put on the list of "acceptable" pistols in those states).

Again, I really want to like the LC9...the trigger may be a deal breaker...but it does come in at my local place for $399. Both pistols come with only 1 magazine so for the price of the CM9 I can get the LC9 with tax and an additional mag.

Big brother and little brother....could this possibly be my own picture in a few days?


At this point I am at a toss up between these two. I doubt neither one of these will spend much time in my pocket...I will keep the LCP as my only true "pocket rocket" because it just cannot really be beat for size and weight vs. caliber in my book. The "winning" pistol will be used as a lightweight carry piece that still shoots a service caliber round.

The choice comes down to the pistol I feel comfortable in buying (LC9) versus the one I think may be more comfortable with (CM9). The PM9 seems to be highly regarded and the Kahr name carries a lot of prestige in the "thin gun" market. Both these pistols are under 1" in thickness so as far as thin goes, both make the cut. Weight wise the Ruger is about 1.8 ounces heavier, but again that difference is subjective, just like the comparative size. Ruger on the other hand, despite some semi-harsh words I have said about them, has shown to be a decent, honest company that is making quality products. Yes, they may be a bit on the shallow side on innovation, but I can honestly say I have not really seen a turkey from them. Sure they have had some recall issues in the past, but they have dealt with them openly and honestly and have done the public right. At least both companies are American born and bred so I will win on that factor either way I swing my final decision.

Give me some input people please.


  1. Even though I voted for the Kel-Tec PF9, if I was torn between your two options I would go with the Kahr CM9. For me, the extra safeties on the Ruger are a deal-breaker. I don't want all those things on a CCW gun because it is one more potential thing to go wrong. Not saying they will, but they could. Besides, gun safety is ALWAYS between the shooter's ears. Additionally, it is hard to beat the Kahr trigger. It breaks so smooth and clean and has a relatively short travel.

    If you can afford the difference, I would go with the Kahr.

  2. Not having fired either one and just off of looks alone, I'd pick the Kahr.

  3. I purchased the LC9 2 weeks ago after several months of checking the pro's and con's on several websites. I currently own a full size Glock 17 and wanted a pocket gun for CC in the same caliber. After shooting 100+ rounds through it yesterday I've come to the conclusion that I made the right decision. The long trigger pull did take a little getting used to, but after a few rounds, found it to be an accurate gun from approx. 25-30 feet. I do not find the safety features to be a bad thing considering I do own the Glock with only the " safe trigger" safety option which I also like. Glad I bought the LC9.....

  4. I am at the same cross roads. I am at the decision point between the LC9 and the CM9. I like the CM9 with an extended mag. It fired well and seemed to stay on target after the shot. I am very familiar with hunting and rifles but very much a novice and new to handguns in general (I have a 1911 but don't shoot much). The CM9 It is lighter but just feels bulker.

    The LC9 feels more slender and I will admit what I think swing deal for me IS the external safety. I have read and heard the "safety is between the ears". Well, I agree if it were only me. But I have young children and additional safety is important. In hunting you do not walk around the woods with the safety off, you fluidly turn it off as you draw. I was easily able to do that with the LC9. If the CM9 had the manual safety I'd be in a real bind to decide.

    I have learned you have to shoot the guns before you buy. Never buy on looks. I have shot some really nice looking hand guns and found out that they are not the right fit for me.

    Lastly, I think either one will do, the key is practice, practice and practice WITH good form. I look forward to doing that with my new gun.

  5. i sold my cm 9 after a few weeks....they r unbelievably unreliable. nose diving under the feed ramp . i was not the only person with this issue. sold it and bought the lc9, GREAT decison. it is flawless reliability with any ammo in a slim light package. even with the added safetys it is better than the cm9, and i am left handed so the thumb saftey i just leave off and it doesn click on accidently. so i would recommend to lc9 any day and would never recommend the cm9.

  6. Thanks for the input Ryan! You would be surprised how many purchases people make based on input and comments on posts like this.

  7. I bought a LC9 after a long time looking and studying, the price was right and I love my LCP. LC9Shoots good if you stage the trigger, but I could not get past all the safeties, long trigger pull, and it's a bit big for pocket carry. I ended up selling it after about a month. My next purchase will be a CM9, simplicity of a revolver in a thin auto.

  8. I have both. Both are good choices for carry. I like the trigger on the Kahr much better, but like the ergonomics of the LC9 better. I am keeping both, but my EDC will be the Kahr.

  9. Having shot both, the CM9 is a much better gun. Keep in mind that Kahr recommends a break-in period and I have had zero issues with mine. It is also very accurate (surprising to a lot of folks) and less things to go wrong than the Ruger.

  10. I had a PM9 and traded it in earlier this year. On paper it looks like a dream carry option, very small and light in 9mm. However, the magazines and the feed-ramp of the pistol do NOT agree with each other. This problem is evident in the fact that Kahr instructs you to charge the weapon in a specific way. I personally loved the pistol but the reliability issues with the magazine and/or feed-ramp made me turn it in.

    As a test; eject your magazine after firing a couple rounds, see what kind of position the top round is in. In my experience it is usually hanging out of the magazine.

    Good luck with your decision

  11. One other consideration... A real USA company was a must for me and Kahr is owned by Korea's Kook Jin Moon, son of Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church (web search "Kahr Unification Church" if you don't believe it).

  12. Rugers seem like loosely assembled plastic, which I suppose, is partly true with polymer. The Kahr feels much more solid and the size difference, though small, is an added bonus through subtraction. I hate the Kahr's protruding magazine - why can't that be fixed?- but overall, I would have to spend the extra and buy the Kahr.

  13. For a daily carry, I go with the LC9. It's flat, easier to reload, and easier to hide. I am using Ruger LC9 from last two years and I don't get any problem with it.


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