Kahr CW40 vs. Taurus PT709 Slim – At Last!
One of the fastest growing market segments in the firearms industry in the past few years has been the compact, concealed-carry pistol and even the sub-compact .380 caliber ‘pocket pistols’. While I own one of these diminutive pocket gems (mine’s a Kel-Tec P3AT), I prefer the power of larger, more powerful round and the added accuracy of a longer barrel in my concealed carry firearm. This year, I’ve pretty thoroughly chronicled my experience with the Taurus PT 709 Slim I purchased several months ago. A quick glance back into the archives of this site will lead you to my writings about my previous experiences with this gun. I will summarize those writings in a few sentences for those who choose not to decend, lantern in hand, the creaky, dust-covered steps of the archives.
My PT709 Slim was an absolute dream of a CCW gun for the first 3oo rounds or so at the range. The trigger was crisp and the actual pull was short and predictable (once you got used to the longish ‘dead-space’ in the action). It was reasonably accurate for a three-or-so inch barreled 9mm although it did tend to shoot a tad low. It just fit my hand like it was made for me and I loved the futuristic, angular look of the thing. Then, the light-strike FTFs (Failure To Fire) started. Not an excessive number, mind you, but enough to reconsider it as my carry weapon. After all, the weapon you choose as your means of personal defense should elicit zero doubt in your mind that it is going to function flawlessly if you ever need to use it. and frankly, although I loved the gun, the Slim did not yet earn my trust. I sent it back to Taurus after talking a few times with a technician about the light primer strikes, and in 6 weeks, the Slim was back in my hands and my gun safe – along side a brutish Kahr CW40 I bought in the sexy Slim’s absence. Hey, I mean, a man has needs, you know?
Why the Kahr? Simple. In every discussion I’ve ever heard about dependable, concealable pistols, Kahr was always highly praised as being both. I always picked one up at the gun show and hefted it, but the price tag always gave me second thoughts. I know, I know. . what price do you put on your life? But, hey – I’m a teacher. we aren’t exactly rolling in disposable income, you know, so price always matters to me. Invariably, I sighed, and put the Kahr down. Until I discovered the CW line of Kahr pistols. These guns, available in 9mm, 40 S&W, and .45 ACP were built with the same Kahr dependability, but lacked the finer finishing touches that distinguished Kahrs from the more prosaic firearms. Where other Kahrs have a match-grade polygonal rifling in their barrels, the CW line has standard rifling. Regular Kahrs have finely machined slides, a machined slide-stop lever and drift adjustable front sights, the CWs have simple, engraved slides, injection molded slide-stops, and a fixed front sight. Sure my CW40 lacks the beautiful sculpting of the PM40 and came with one less magazine, but I got the vaunted Kahr dependability and workmanship while saving nearly $200 off a standard 40 S&W Kahr . Not too shabby. Sure, it’s boxy and brutish and utilitarian looking, but it goes ‘BANG’ every time I pull the trigger. And what more could you ask for? FYI: Since returning from the factory the Slim also goes ‘BANG’ every time I pull the trigger. And therein lies the dilemma. Which do I carry? Taurus or Kahr. What follows are my experiences with both as daily carry weapons.
I’ve been carrying one of these two slim and compact guns nearly every day for the past few months and have had ample time to put them through the ringer both at the range, and on my hip in an Uncle Mike’s #12 holster. Here are my impressions on both these wonderful weapons in a few selected categories:
As you can see by the photo on the left, the battle over which slim pistol is slimmer is pretty much a wash. The Kahr and the Taurus both spec out at .95″ and .94″ respectively – amazingly thin. Casually tucked into the front waistband of my pants, both the Kahr and the Taurus virtually disappear beneath a t-shirt. They make every other pistol I’ve ever endeavored to ‘conceal’ feel like I was trying to hide a Beretta 92. But thickness, or the lack thereof, is not the be-all and end-all of concealability. An equally important factor is grip length – as it is usually the bottom of the grip, or, more accurately, the angle the bottom of your grip makes with your body that causes it to ‘stick-out’ sometimes. Here, the Taurus has a slight advantave in two ways. First, as you can see by the picture below, the length of the 709 Slim’s grip is about .33″ shorter than the Kahrs, making it less likely to show beneath a cover garment – the dreaded ‘print’. It should be said here that these guns are so thin that the length of the slide is not a significant problem, just a point of departure for comparison. But not only is the Taurus’ grip shorter, but it’s bottom, the butt of the magazine, fits flush with the grip. The Kahr, on the other hand, is not only longer in the grip, but the magazine protrudes about .25″ from the bottom of the grip. While many may welcome the extra .25″ of purchase on a small pistol, the sculpting on the molded butt-plate is too wide on the shirt-side of the weapon and actually inhibits concealability. My solution? On the right side of the molded butt-plate, I used an exacto knife followed by a file, then some sandpaper to completely remove the molding for my pinky finger. The result is a much stealthier look, with no loss of purchase. If the truth be told, though, I can grip the Kahr with all three free fingers of my right hand – a very good thing while firing such a small pistol loaded with 40 S&W hollow points – while I must wrap my pinky around the bottom of the Taurus’ smoother grip. Therein is the difference in philosophy of both gun manufacturers. Kahr sacrifices aesthetics for a better grip while Taurus offers a more concealable, but less-than three fingered grip.
For pure concealability my vote goes to: the Taurus PT709 Slim.
While both guns fit my relatively slender hands very well, I like the feel of the Taurus just a bit more than the Kahr. The Taurus has an interesting dimple on the frame about 1.5″ in from the front that allows for easy indexing of the thumb of my support hand – a nice touch on a small-framed pistol. While both guns have good checkering on their backstraps, the Kahr’s pattern is slightly more pronounced and offers more grip that that of the Taurus. Also, speaking of grip, the Kahr gets higher marks for a much easier to grasp slide – making ‘racking’ easier, even with moist hands. The sights are pretty much a wash as they both function well and are easily visible. It comes down to whether you like the three-dot Taurus variety or the stacked Heine sights of the Kahr. Personally, I like the Kahr’s sights slightly more. The biggest difference between the two guns however, is the trigger. Here is where the Taurus shines. It has an interesting SA/DA trigger that has a short, single action pull for a chambered round, but allows for a longer, double action second-strike should a round fail to fire – second strike capability. Some people think this is a gimmick, some love it. I like this capability, but that alone is not what has sold me on the Taurus’ trigger, it’s the smooth, predictable break and very short cycling that sold me. That is not to say that the Kahr has a bad trigger. It most decidedly does not. It is smooth and firm throughout the length of its pull and also breaks crisply but cycles much further out than the Taurus making smooth second shots slightly more difficult. For those interested, the Taurus comes with a conventional safety as well as a trigger safety ala Glock. The Kahr, has no conventional safety, not does it have a trigger safety. It has a passive striker block and is double action only.
For ergonomics: Again it’s the Taurus.
Accuracy and Function
Here, perhaps in the most important category, is where the blocky, brutish Kahr outshines the sexy, smooth Brazilian Taurus. Even before attaching the Crimson Trace Laser, the Kahr was decidedly more accurate a shooter than the Slim. If the truth be told, I fancy myself a damned good carbine shooter but an average pistol man (but I’m working on it), so, perhaps in the hands of a more capable marksman, the results might be different, but that is not what this evaluation is all about now is it? In my hands, the Kahr, while offering a snappier recoil due to the 40 S&W rounds is a more accurate gun out to 15 yds. that said, the recoil prevents a very quick and accurate second shot, but I feel that is more a lack of training on my part and am endeavoring to correct that. The laser helps second shot target acquisition, though. the Taurus is not an inaccurate gun, it’s just not as fine a shooter as the CW40. Lock the slide back on each gun and jiggle them a bit. The results are telling, I think. The Taurus rattles significantly while the Kahr is nearly silent – a testament to the vaunted Kahr engineering tolerances. I’m no firearm engineer, but the ‘looser’ feel of the Taurus cannot help but have a deleterious effect on accuracy.
The Kahr has NEVER failed to fire or eject a spent casing and that is where the bottom line of this evaluation lies. While the Slim too, has performed flawlessly since returning from repair, in the back of my mind there has been planted a tiny seed of mistrust that refuses to die. Perhaps eventually, I will come to trust my lovely Slim as much as I do my blocky CW40, but that day has not yet arrived. I have fired some 300 rounds through the Slim since I got it back from Taurus and it has been flawless, but I have NEVER had a malfunction with the CW40 in over 450 rounds of ball and self-defense JHP ammo of all makes. Where my life is concerned: the Kahr CW40 wins. Period.
I hope this evaluation was useful. I await your feedback.
Be safe. be prepared.