Thereâ€™s a lot to like about Kahrâ€™s K40: bank-vault all-steel construction, simplicity of operation, sensible ergonomics and compact dimensions. Factor in a potent chambering and better-than-it-needs-to-be accuracy and it becomes pretty much an irresistible entry in the concealed carry market.
The Worcester, Massachusetts-based company sticks to a specific templateâ€”compact, locked-breech DAO autos with single-stack magazinesâ€”but it does so superlatively. Kahr has pretty much stuck to serious calibers, specifically the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP (although the company offers a very cool, and very diminutive, .380). Barrel lengths range from 21/2 to four inches. Construction? Either all-stainless steel or polymer/stainless. Other options center around finishes, grip materials and sights (the companyâ€™s also got a custom shop that offers engraving).
Iâ€™ve used Kahrs before, but not for several years and then mostly in 9mm. I was curious as to what one chambered in the more energetic .40 S&W would be like, and I soon found out. The K40, with its 31/2-inch barrel and 25-ounce weight, proved to be sufficiently comfortable to shoot, even with some of the stouter loads. But itâ€™s definitely a step up from the companyâ€™s similar-size 9mms.
Thereâ€™s no hammer, so thereâ€™s no chance of hammer bite. And that abbreviated beavertail was more than enough to prevent my right hand from being nipped by the slide (Iâ€™ve got medium-size mitts, but I tend to grip high). Probably its most appealing feature is that itâ€™s a very effective compromise between shootability and carryability. The K40 is just about right, as far as Iâ€™m concerned. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™d want a .40 any smaller or lighter, but for those who do, thereâ€™s Kahrâ€™s polymer-frame, three-inch-barreled PM40, weighing a bit over 15 ounces.
Like all Kahrs, the K40 has a minimal number of controls: just a slide release and a Browning-type push-button magazine release. And, saints be praised, thereâ€™s no magazine disconnect. Basically, the gunâ€™s nearly as free of snag-inducing projections as a bar of soap.
The K40 has what can probably best be described as a â€ślittle big gunâ€ť feel. The broad sighting plane seems as wide as a road. The sights are excellent: low-profile, three-dot, drift adjustable (tritium night sights can be had for an extra hundred bucks). The trigger does have a bit of takeup, but itâ€™s very smooth, breaking at about seven pounds. You can practically stage it.
Accuracy with a couple of 180-grain loads was a bit disappointing. Then I switched to 165s and things improved dramatically. The star of the show turned out to be MagTech 130-grain SCHPs. To be honest, Iâ€™d never shot any .40 S&W loads under 155 grains, but this one was an eye-opener, averaging 13/4 inches at 25 yards. Iâ€™m by no means a human Ransom Rest, but thatâ€™s about as well as I can group any handgunâ€”compact or notâ€”in a substantial caliber.
Iâ€™ve always liked Kahr pistols, probably due to the fact that Iâ€™m a revolver guy at heart. Iâ€™m certainly not unaware of the advantages of an auto (the primary one, to my mind, being the ease and speed of reloading). But the Kahrâ€™s â€śjust point and pull the triggerâ€ť simplicity appeals to me, particularly when that DAO trigger pull is as consistent and clean as it is. The K40 certainly canâ€™t class as inexpensive, but youâ€™re still getting quite a bit of gun for the money.