Friday, September 26, 2014

Kahr CT45 Value Priced .45 ACP Pistol Review

Kahr CT45 Value Priced .45 ACP Pistol Review
I am a fan of the Kahr pistol lines and models. Among the sea of companies who wanted to offer a pistol too, Kahr has delivered an exceptional design which is actually different and not just another functional copy with a different logo. The Kahr design basically offers all the safety benefits of the Glock pistol, minus the trigger split tongue safety, into a Kahr pistol design which actually has a simpler fire control mechanism. To me, the simplicity of the Kahr design is one of its primary selling points and one of the main reasons why the pistols are stone cold reliable.  I have been carrying and shooting the Kahr CM9 for almost two years and never had an issue with reliability.

This is the same philosophy as the CM9 "Value Version" of the PM9, the new CT45 and CT9 models are the "Value Versions" of Kahr's high end pistol models. What a brilliant idea - Kahr asked the public, "How about we sell a less expensive version of our $600 pistols for around $390 on the street." People rejoiced, glasses were poured with fine scotch, super models posed, the iPhone 6 was released shortly after, and shooters stormed gun counters with money in hand... well some of that happened. The value line of Kahr pistols is a terrific idea and delivers a straightforward gun with proven reliability minus a few cosmetic points. In this case you get a full bore .45 ACP powered pistol in a slim and easy to handle package.

ABOUT KAHR ARMS
Until about two years ago when I first tested the CM9, I had written off Kahr arms as a brand I would consider.  As a marketing professional in real life, I generally steer clear of brands that use hot babes to sell products when it really is not required.  We all appreciate a pretty face, and generally sex sells, however this type of advertising sends me the message that I need to be seduced into buying your product because the product cannot stand on its own.  

Unfortunately Kahr featured a disproportionate babe to gun ratio in their ads, so I had thought they were all marketing hype until about six months ago when my FFL dealer handed me a Kahr pistol.  Racking the slide and feeling the tight tolerances and crisp trigger pull changed my mind forever on Kahr pistols. I still think there should be more gun and less chick in the ads. My wife loved the pistol but loathed the ads... something to consider as a huge group of female shooters entering the market as first time shooters with a gun grip sized for female shooters.  Maybe Kahr should really shift its advertising focus.

Kahr Arms is now part of the Magnum Research, Thompson, and Auto Ordnance firearm family. I have always noted that elegant simplicity is hard and Kahr pistols are an example of that elegant simplicity in action. The saying of "If it was easy, everyone would do it" is reflected in the six patents held for the Kahr pistol design.

Where Kahr is different than many firearms manufacturers is that they do full 3D design and modeling before beginning prototyping and manufacturing on high tolerance CNC machines.  It is clear to me after handling their pistols that even in Kahr’s value line, they are making extremely fine quality firearms.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES
The fit on the CT45 is the same as any of Kahr's higher end pistols I have handled and shot. Even the internals are the same as the high end models. The biggest difference between the high end and value line is the additional machine work on the slide, the higher grade slide surface slide finish, milled vs case slide release, and the more expensive metal sights versus the polymer versions. If you want a little more contoured pistol with a bit better finish and more durable sights, the higher end models may be a better choice, however for the majority of us who just need a gun for CCW and home defense, the extra luxury is not required or needed.

Comparing even these "Value" lines to the competition, you see some huge differences. The slides and barrels for instance are machined from stainless steel instead of standard carbon ordnance grade steel. The slide release is an actual dimensionally manufactured part versus being a stamped part. The sublimely awesome trigger is actually metal versus being polymer as are the magazines. Even the recoil spring is a stainless double captive spring recoil assembly.

Like all Kahr pistols, the trigger feel is closer to a really light, smooth and crisp double action revolver than a striker fired pistol trigger. Every Kahr pistol features the same operational internal design which is a trigger cocking DAO (Double Action Only); lock breech "Browning - type" recoil lug design. Pulling the trigger disengages the passive striker block safety, finishes cocking the gun and then completes the firing cycle by releasing the spring loaded firing pin. It is an extremely safe design which in many way works more like a revolver then a striker fired pistol. Thankfully, Kahr only offers external safeties only on a handful of models, but the vast majority of pistols in their line are free and void of any external safeties or magazine disconnect safeties. So yes, you can fire the gun without a magazine in the gun which is good because I consider the Magazine Safety the most retarded firearm invention ever.


Thanks to the double recoil spring assembly, the CT45 is really very easy to hand cycle and charge. One of my biggest pieces of advice to new gun buyers is to assure they can hand cycle the gun. If they cannot due to either ergonomics or hand strength, they should move on to another gun. In the Cast of the CT45, ost shooters should find them extremely easy to manipulate.

Consider the price of these Value Line guns given the quality and you really start to appreciate the high quality of Kahr's value line which is better in many cases than most regular production handguns on the market. Although the CT45, chambered in 45 ACP and the CT9 chambered in 9mm are essentially the exact same pistols, I wanted to attack each of these in separate articles so there will be some repetition.

The CT45 and CT9 represent a pretty aggressive $390 price point. It is way down under the price of most of the used Glocks, Walthers, S&W, and H&K pistol lines and you end up with a new gun. Kahr is also one of the very few companies who uniquely offer only single stack magazine designs. For the less-free Americans living in communist states faced with 10-round magazine limits, the Kahr pistols make a ton of sense. The gun's design begs the question, why would you carry around an extremely large gun with a truncated capacity magazine when a slim gun would do the job.

Another benefit of Kahr's single stack design is that they are very slim and trim guns which fit the hands of gals and dude with small to medium hands. They are basically the logical common opposite of the made for giants Magnum Research Desert Eagle. If you fall into the smaller hand category, I would highly recommend Kahr pistols. In the case of the CT45, the shooter is greeted with an impressibly slim grip which is so slim that it actually makes you think that you are actually shooting a 9mm. The Kahr grip is not particularly ergonomic in the same way as a 1911. It is pretty much like a rounded and radiused 1"x 1.5" piece of wood, however it somehow still delivers a comfortable grip. Kahr does a good job not going nuts with over texturing the grips and focuses on the front and back straps.

Before the Walther PPQ and H&K VP90 entered the market with jaw dropping trigger feels, I would have said that Kahr had the best trigger in any polymer pistol.  In reality, Kahr pistol's triggers still have a better smooth stocking single action feel from the beginning to the break, however the PPQ and VP90 just happen to have more crisp final break at this time.


The CT Value Series also most to traditional rifling versus the accuracy increasing hex rifling. I have shot both types of barrels and don't really see you give up much at all when it comes to a defensive pistol shot at combat distances. There is an accuracy difference, however from a defensive pistol perspective it is such a marginal difference I would not consider it a relevant point. What I would point out is that this budget pistol has the ability to consume cast bullets whereas the high end hexagonal rifled models do not have the same ammo flexibility and can only digest plated rounds due to leading issues with cast bullets on the Hex rifling.  Though the accuracy may be a bit better with the hex rifled models, you can shoot far less expensive home case lead bullets in the Value CT 45 and CT9 models for practice.

Essentially the CT45 is the same DOA (Double Action Only) Kahr design which the company designs into all its pistols. From a size perspective you basically get a DOA 1911 sized gun without any external safeties. The Kahr CT45 even has 7+1 rounds just like a standard 1911.

FUNCTIONS & ACCURACY
I have come to expect that Kahr pistols deliver reliability on par with other more known pistol brands and this is what the CT45 delivered. I pushed a little over 200 rounds of various ammo from Hornady, Winchester, Federal, CCI, Wolf, Liberty Extreme Velocity, and even some handloads and I did not have any stoppages or malfunctions of any kind in either the CT45 or the CT9 with similar rounds. Functionally they are simple pistols which just freaking work.

Accuracy was pretty standard defensive grade accuracy which means that shooters will expect 2" 10-yard unsupported groups and about the same off sandbags at 25-yards with most quality ammo. Reloads may change those groups a little or a lot. My cast lead reloads did deliver a pretty big difference in group size from "well that is awesome" sub-2" 10-yard unsupported groups to "I think we missed the paper" 10-yard unsupported groups. The CT 45 delivered very consistent groups with the variety of Hornady, Federal , Winchester and various white box budget factory ammo, but if you reload you will have to do a little testing as to what will work best.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Generally in this price realm of sub-$400, buyers are looking at the HiPoint and KelTec lines or the questionable "import knockoff" models or used police trade ins to get into this price point. Even the Taurus lines have a tough time getting into the sub-$400 price range. I think Kahr has made a brilliant decision to offer this quality at this price.

The CT line delivers a very slim profile which makes for a mighty comfy concealed carry gun even in this full sized pistol. Shooters with mid-small sized hands such as the new female shooter market should really take a hard look at Kahr and try to overlook the pin up girl marketing of the company. In a .45 ACP chambered thumper, I think Kahr has introduced a category killer which will drive other manufacturers catch up in this value priced category.

SPECS
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 7+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; "Browning - type" recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 4.04", conventional rifling; 1 - 16.38 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 6.57"
Height: 5.25"
Slide Width: 1.01"
Weight: Pistol 23.7 ounces, Magazine 2.4 ounces
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
Magazine: 1 - 7 rd Stainless
MSRP $449 - Street $370

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