New Kahr CW380 Review

At SHOT Show 2013 Media Day at the Range, I was able to shoot five small handguns that are new to the market for 2013.  My first was the latest “budget” offering from Kahr Arms, the CW380, designated the CW3833.

I may have said “budget,” but the Kahr CW380 still has all the important functional features that have made their pistols popular with shooters and ’carryers.  The 10.2 ounce micro-sized CW380 has a polymer frame with 4140 steel inserts, matte finished 416R stainless slide with bar-dot sights, “Safe Cam” DAO firing system, and quality fit and finish.

The C-series of Kahr handguns finds its lower price point by using conventional barrel rifling instead the P-series Lothar match grade rifling, changing the CW’s slide stop to MIM as an alternate to machined steel, engraved markings standing in for more expensive roll markings, having fewer machine operations to “melt” the CW slide, and shipping the CW with just one magazine.  If you can handle those details for a $230.00 reduction in MSRP from the P-series, then this is a Kahr for you.

I own a Kahr PM9.  I like it very much.  Had the CM9 been available when I went to the LGS, I may have walked out with a little more change in my coin purse.  The differences Kahr makes to the CM9 or CW380 do not decrease from the gun’s intended purpose for close range self defense, in my opinion.  The CW380 will get the job done just as well as its pricier parent.

As I said, I made it to the Media Day firing line to test the gun.  I came up as a revolver shooter from days of yore, so I like Kahr’s smooth double action trigger pull, which is reminiscent of one on a good wheelgun.  It does not stack and it breaks cleanly and predictably.  The rest was easy.

The CW380 I fired was COM at 15 yards, soft in the recoil, and ergonomically familiar in the hand.  My partner in range crime, Aaron, also shot the gun.  Neither of us suffered a malfunction.  Nor did anyone else I saw igniting primers in one.  The range ammo was, admittedly, American Eagle FMJ.  My own PM9 has digested everything from ball to Gold Dots without a problem.  I think this will be the case with the CW.

Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 2.58″, Conventional Rifling, 1 – 16 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 4.96″
Height: 3.9″
Slide Width: .75″
Weight: Pistol 10.2 ounces (w/o magazine)
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 – 6 rd, Stainless

Kahr has often been kicked in the pants for what is seen as its higher prices than others’ offerings on the gun shop shelves.  A look into the engineering that Justin Moon put into Kahr’s unique pistol design may reign in a few from that point of view.  As a result of the cost disparity, I think Kahr is on the right track to introduce more “competitive” models to silence the stingy critics.

Kahr Arms firearms are Made in the USA (Worcester, MA) and are packed with innovation.  Considering the CW380’s small size and weight, it makes for a convenient off duty carry gun.  Wearing an MSRP of just $419.00, I think the CW380 will be a smart purchase.  The Kahr rep said they will be shipping this week.


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