... Inside Kahr Arms

... Inside Kahr Arms

On Target 2009 Tactical Special Issue, p. 42 - 45
by Ben Battles

This is the evolution of a PM9 slide (top) and PM9 barrel (bottom), from raw material to finished product. A match-grade, button-rifled Lother Walther barrel blank is shown as it is received from Germany (bottom left).

Bob Holmes, head of the Kahr Arms/Auto-Ordnance Custom Shop, is shown holding one of the very first Auto-Ordnance Presentation Grade 1911 A1s produced. The inset photo shows a Custom Shop gunsmith putting a mirror polish on a Black Rose Edition Kahr PM9.

Founded in 1994 by Justin Moon to produce his first pistol design—the now-legendary Kahr K9—Kahr Arms has risen to prominence in the gun industry based entirely on the quality and reliability of its unique line of striker-fired pistols.

Unlike some gun “manufactures” who do little more than assemble guns from parts produced by others, Kahr Arms is a full-blown engineering and manufacturing company with production facilities in Worcester, Massachusetts, where every Kahr pistol is made, start to finish.

Kahr pistols were an instant success, and only five years into its corporate existence Kahr Arms acquires Thompson/Auto-Ordnance. Founded in 1916 by General John T. Thompson, Auto-Ordnance was established to produce the Thompson submachine gun for the U. S. Army in World War I, but the war ended before the Tommy Gun could be put into production. With its 50- or 100-round drum magazines, the Tommy Gun earned its reputation as “the gun that made the ’20s roar” in the hands of American gangsters, and it wasn’t until 1938 that it was finally adopted by the U. S. military. Ultimately, over 1.6 million Tommy Guns were produced in several variations during World War II.

In addition to 19 models of Kahr pistols chambered in .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP—all designed by Justin Moon—Kahr’s 70 employees now manufacture semi-auto Thompson submachine guns and pistols, as well as Auto-Ordnance 1911 pistols and M1 Carbines, at their Massachusetts facility.

A relatively new addition to the company is the Kahr Arms/Auto-Ordnance Custom Shop, headed by Bob Holmes. While plans are in the works for an expanded range of Custom Shop products, their first two offerings fall into the “breath taking” category: Auto-Ordnance Presentation Grade 1911A1 (see OT, August/September 2008) and the Kahr PM9 Back Rose (see OT, October/November 2008).

The accompanying photos walk you through the production process of a Kahr Arms pistol, but you’ll never fully appreciate the unique features of these compact, utterly reliable personal defense pistols until you try one at your local Kahr Arms dealer.

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