C&S Custom Kahr
BY: Rob Garrett
Photos: Ichiro Nagata
The debate on what makes a
great backup or off-duty carry gun has gone on for
years. It has to be small but not too small.
It should be lightweight but still control-table.
It must be easy to shoot, allowing you to make
solid hits at a reasonable distance.
Finally, it should be in a caliber as large as the
platform can accommodate. In my early days
of working the road, the choices were a small
frame revolver such as a Chief's Special or a .380
Walther such as the PPK/S. Well, times have
changed and there's a new king of the hill.
Kahr Firearms has been
producing quality compact pistols for more than 12
years. Their first line of all stainless
steel pistols set the market on fire due to their
size and great shooting characteristics. In
1998, NYPD authorized the K9 9mm for officer
carry. While the K9 is compact, about the
size of a Walther PP, Kahr went a step further
when they introduced the MK9 Micro. It's
slightly longer than 5" with a height of only
4" -- just the right size for ankle or pocket
carry. In the minds of many, the K9 and MK9
rendered most, if not all, .380 and .32 ACP autos
obsolete. The only problem with both
of these pistols was they were constructed of all
stainless steel. For a small pistol, they
weighted a lot!
Now In Polymer
After several years of
research, Kahr developed the "P" series
of pistols featuring a polymer frame. The P9
is the full-size version white the PM9 is the
polymer frame version of the MK9. To get the
stats out of the way, the PM9 has an overall
length of 5.3", a height of 4", and the
slide is just .90" in width. More
importantly, the PM9 weighs in at 14 ounces.
It's striker fired with a long DAO-type trigger
and, with the exception of the slide release and
magazine release, is devoid of any protrusions.
It's very close to the perfect 9mm pocket rocket.
My experience with the stock Kahr pistols has been
very positive over the years. I have found
them reliable, comfortable and accurate.
However, the stock PM9, just
like any stock production pistol, can be improved
with the right touch. Enter Bill Laughridge
and Cylinder & Slide. Bill is mostly
known for his work on 1911s and Browning Hi
Powers, however, he does undertake other projects
from time to time. Several years ago, Bill
took an MK9 and performed an astounding custom
package. This past year, Bill decided to
build a complete self-defense package based on the
PM9 with the emphasis on "package."
The Cylinder & Slide crew has taken the PM9 to
an entirely different level as only a custom shop
this is a self-defense package, the majority of
the work is focused toward maximum reliability -
but, aesthetics haven't been overlooked either.
The bright polish on the slide cocking serrations,
trigger and slide stop enhances the appearance of
the pistol. As a final touch, the shop name
and the famous mustache logo are etched on the
slide. The result is a pistol that speaks to
the good taste and seriousness of the owner.
On the range, the PM9 ran as
good as it looked. I was agble to run over
15 different 9mm loads through the pistol.
These ranged from standard 124-grain ball to a
variety of self-defense loads. Remington
115-grain Silver Tips, Speer Gold Dot 124-grain
+P+, and Federal 124-grain +P+ Hydra Shok were all
represented. While recoil was snappy with
the hotter loads, I found it considerably easier
to shoot than a Smith J-frame with +P ammo.
I was happy to find the standard-velocity
124-grain loads still broke 1000 fps, ensuring
reliable expansion and penetration. The XS
sights are designed for speed, not precision.
With a little attention, I had no trouble shooting
quarter-size groups at 7 yards! After some
300 rounds, I experienced only one malfunction, a
failure to feed a 147-grain Hydra Shok. This
was early on when the gun was till tight and did
Custom Carry Package
You may have noticed this is
a Custom Carry Package that includes more than
pistol. Laughridge set out to put together a
complete system enabling the owner to transport or
wear an ensemble of protection. Laughridge
chose a Kydex paddle holster and single magazine
pouch from Center of Mass Tactical. The
paddle is molded to the rear of the holster
allowing it to ride close to the body and resist
shifting. The magazine pouch uses a belt
clip. Both have screws allowing the user to
adjust the tension to the desired resistance.
When I was rookie, a wise
veteran told me if I carried a gun, I should carry
a light. In the late '70s, there were few
pocket lights good for more than a few feet.
Today the game's changed. The PM9 kit comes
with a SureFire E1E Executive flashlight.
The E1E is small enough to be carried in a jacket
or pants pocket on a daily basis. Powered by
a single CL123 lithium battery, the 3" long
light puts out 15 lumens of light. This is
more than sufficient to identify a threat at 10 to
15 yards and is significantly distracting inside 7
yards. I've carried one daily for several
years and find I use it on a regular basis for
routine tasks. Like AmEx, I don't leave home
final accessory included in the kit is the Kalista
knife from BlackHawk Blades. When I first
saw this knife I was intrigued by both the design
and sheath system. The blade design supports
all styles of knife tac-design supports all styles
of knife tactics to include standard grip, reverse
grip and reverse edge methods. Made from
ATS-34 stainless steel, the blade is hollow ground
and coated with a durable Black Ti finish.
The wide blade and textured G-10 handle make it
suited for most utility functions. The heart
of the Kalista is the Total Concealed Carry System
(TCCS) sheath. The sheath body is made from
a molded polymer and comes with options for neck carry,
belt carry, inside the waistband carry and paddle
carry and according to the literature, the TSSC
supports more than 70 carry positions. I
don't know about 70, but I found the IWB carry to
be very low profile and comfortable. The
clip also allows the Kalista to be carried
suspended inside a jacket pocket.
The Whole Package
The pistol, holster,
magazine pouch, SureFire light and Kalista knife
are shipped in a watertight hard case. Bill
had to work overtime to fit the pistol and
accessories in the case but he made it work.
A decal with the Cylinder & Slide logo affixed
to the top of the case can be peeled off if a
lower profile is desired. It's ideal for
secure storage as well as trips to and from the
range when the pistol is not being worn. It
also meets FAA regulations for flying with
firearms in checked luggage and comes with a
padlock. As an added touch, Laughridge
includes a lapel pin featuring his logo.
I know there are some who
have an aversion to putting a custom pistol into a
"plastic" holster. For them, or
for those whose needs are other than a belt
holster, the Pocket Concealment Holster from Milt
Sparks Holsters fits the bill nicely. The
PCH is designed to be carried in the front
strong-side pocket and the shape and rough-out
construction ensure the holster will stay put when
drawing the pistol. The outer side of the
holster is enlarged to cover the entire slide,
breaking up the outline of the pistol, and a thin
wire is sewn into the edge of the holster to allow
the user to shape the outer edge for maximum
concealment and comfort.
Another well-suited holster
is the TSAC IWB holster from Bulman Gunleather.
The TSAC is an IWB holster made from premium
cowhide and molded to the specific pistol.
The rough-out construction and reinforced mouth
make it both attractive and functional.
Unlike other belt clips, the TSAC uses a patented
Talon Clip that attaches to the waistband of the
pants, under the belt. Using this system,
the PM9 virtually disappears, even under a
No Phone Trees
So we have a very slick,
very small 9mm auto, a convenient and practical
holster, a great little light, and a super cool
knife, all packaged in a James Bondish case!
Cylinder & Slide will put the entire package
together for you or Bill will be more than happy
to perform the same custom work on a pistol you
All in all, I haven't found
anything to give Bill any grief over. The
pistol is sound and reliable, the work is up to
the standards that Cylinder & Slide is known
for, and the quality of the accessories matches
the pistol. I guess the only issue is what
Bill will want to sell a slightly used PM9 to a
working cop with two kids in college for!
I'm sure the negotiations will be interesting.
One last item is that,
unlike some custom shops, Bill still takes calls
from potential customers. In the time when
we talk more to machines than people, it is a
pleasure to be able to talk to someone like Bill,
even if he's having a bad day.
this article are reflected at the time of
printing. Prices are subject to change.