There’s a lot to like about Kahr’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 template—compact, locked-breech DAO autos with single-stack magazines—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 company’s also got a custom shop that offers engraving).
I’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 it’s definitely a step up from the company’s similar-size 9mms.
There’s no hammer, so there’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 (I’ve got medium-size mitts, but I tend to grip high). Probably its most appealing feature is that it’s a very effective compromise between shootability and carryability. The K40 is just about right, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think I’d want a .40 any smaller or lighter, but for those who do, there’s Kahr’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, there’s no magazine disconnect. Basically, the gun’s nearly as free of snag-inducing projections as a bar of soap.
The K40 has what can probably best be described as a “little big gun” 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 it’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, I’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. I’m by no means a human Ransom Rest, but that’s about as well as I can group any handgun—compact or not—in a substantial caliber.
I’ve always liked Kahr pistols, probably due to the fact that I’m a revolver guy at heart. I’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 Kahr’s “just point and pull the trigger” simplicity appeals to me, particularly when that DAO trigger pull is as consistent and clean as it is. The K40 certainly can’t class as inexpensive, but you’re still getting quite a bit of gun for the money.