Kahr CM9 vs S&W Shield
Some people just refuse to buy a Glock. (Nothing wrong with them...but good on you for being original.) Among the options to choose from are the CM9 vs Shield, two compact, single-stack 9mm pistols that are designed for easy concealed carry.
Granted, a lot of people are going to gravitate toward the M&P Shield and for good reason. It's one of the most popular carry guns on the market. However, you shouldn't discount the Kahr; Kahr pistols are actually overlooked to a degree that some might consider criminal. They deserve a look, and for reasons we will get into.
Kahr CM9: Simple, Yet Classy
Kahr pistols, including the Kahr CM9, are all based on the same firing system. It doesn't matter which caliber or size you choose; all you add is features, an inch of barrel length and a few more bullets.
Kahr CCW handguns are all DAO, with an internal hammer that is cocked by virtue of a squeeze of the trigger. That said, the trigger pull is light for a double-action pistol; 6.5 pounds to 7.5 pounds is typical, so not much more than most poly-striker pistols. However, the trigger pull is long, adding about another .25 inches of pull or so compared to the typical plastic fantastic.
The CM9 is a subcompact 9mm, with a stainless steel slide and a polymer frame. It has very clean rectangular lines, so it has something of an old-school look with modern materials. There are a couple of color options too; you can opt for a Tungsten or Armor Black finish on the slide. There's even a Kryptek frame model if you want.
Base sights are a front white dot and rear white bar in the notch, which is actually the Kahr's party piece. This sight arrangement is unique, and many reviewers and owners have found it makes target acquisition a lot easier than with most subcompact pistol sights. The front sight is pinned, but the rear is drift-adjustable. Controls are simple: you get a magazine release and a slide release/takedown pin...and that's it.
The tale of the tape...barrel length is 3 inches, standing 5.42 inches long, 4 inches tall and 0.9 inches wide. Capacity is 6+1 of 9mm, though a CM40 (same gun in .40 S&W) and slightly larger CM45 can be had with (both) capacity of 5+1 with the flush-fit magazines. Extended magazines with a pinky rest can be had from the manufacturer, adding a round.
It weights 14 ounces unloaded, about 16 ounces with an unloaded magazine, and MSRP is $460. For that, you get everything you need, nothing you don't, and it cleans up very well, so to speak.
M&P Shield: Miss Congeniality For A Reason
We all know about the M&P Shield. It's a poly-striker gun, with a whole bunch of options in the offing. Choose 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP in the larger Shield 45.
However, a big difference is the Shield is ultra-modern, with polymer everything in the lower half and black steel on the upper half. Controls are ambidextrous and there are more of them; even ambidextrous manual safety levers if desired.
The Shield, just like the CM9, is an ideal size for daily carry. Barrel length is 3.1 inches, and dimensions are 6.1 inches long by 4.6 inches tall and 0.95 inches wide. It weighs 20.3 ounces unloaded, so it is a tad heavier. It's a bit taller, which does give you a bit more capacity, 7+1 or 8+1, with a flush or extended magazine.
MSRP is $449 for the base model, but there are a whole lot of factory upgrades available for the outgoing model. The outgoing model could be had with or without night sights, with S&W Performance Center upgrades, with or without a factory-installed laser. The M2.0 doesn't have quite as many options, but is almost there.
CM9 vs Shield: Which To Get?
On paper, it sort of depends on what you want. If you like something that's simple yet refined, the Kahr CM9 is the better of the two. It's simple, but it will work. The trigger is lighter than typical double action pistols, including snub nose revolvers, and in truth is not too far off from the Shield itself in terms of pull weight (the Shield's typical pull weight is 6.5 pounds, barely lighter than the CM9) but the CM9's trigger travels a little further.
If you're THAT guy who obsesses over trigger reset and insist only the finest of striker triggers will do...the Shield will be a bit more to your satisfaction.
It's light, it carries enough for a CCW pistol, the CM9 is known to be reliable, accurate and shootable, and it's pretty much everything you need (and nothing you don't) in a carry gun. There's something to be said for that.
The Shield, on the other hand, can be customized to a much greater degree. It's practical and tactical, since you can easily add a light, a laser and so on. Carrying capacity is slightly more (1 or 2 more rounds in the magazine) but it does weigh a few more ounces than the Kahr, though since the Shield weighs in at about 20 ounces...it's not going to make a huge difference.
So, the tangibles hinge on what YOU like in a carry gun. The Kahr is as simple as it gets, but is also quality. While it hasn't gotten the sort of praise or coverage of other subcompacts, the reviews out there indicate it's as reliable and accurate as every best-seller you can name of the same dimensions, and just as shootable with good ergonomics.
The Shield has so many options that it can be almost all things to all people, though it is also a quality pistol; in fact, it's one of the most popular carry guns on the market and for good reason. It's small enough to be endlessly portable, but far more shootable than its dimensions would suggest.
However, you may not find a Kahr in-store as easily, which is something to think about, but dealer prices are about on par with the Shield.
Then there's the intangibles. Namely, how it feels and how it shoots for you. Handle both guns. Shoot both if you can. The one that feels better and shoots best, for you, is the one to get.
Have you shot these firearms? What did you like, and what didn't you?
Let us know in the comments below!