Comparing the Kahr CW9 and Glock 43: Does One Have the Advantage?

Do you remember the Kahr CW9 pistol? It is a budget gun for the company that debuted in 2006. Kahr was a popular gun maker for a hot minute and then sort of faded from the spotlight. They were primarily known for their slim, single-stack guns that were perfect for CCW. That is until compact double-stack guns started to soak up all the attention of the CCW groupies. Kahr pistols may have fallen from the spotlight, but they are still running strong. Glock has remained one of the most popular handguns in the world for decades. Not wanting to miss out on the CCW action, they introduced the Glock 43 pistol in 2015, nearly a decade after the Kahr SW9. What remains the smallest of the Glock pistol lineup, it’s also a single-stack gun and a popular choice for many. While the Glock 43X has taken some of the attention away from the G43, it remains a solid self-defense weapon. But not everyone is a Glock fan, so what other options are there?

We have a multitude of choices, including the Springfield Hellcat, Sig P365, Ruger Max-9, Beretta APX Carry, FN Reflex, and more. But the Kahr should not be left out of the mix of compact CCW weapons. For those who want a slim gun that’s not too small but easy to conceal, it has a lot to offer. The Kahr CW9 is one of the first single-stack 9mm pistols on the market. But the later Glock 43 is the most popular. How do they compare?

Kahr SW9 and Glock 43.
The Kahr SW9 (left) and Glock 43 (right) are both 9mm handguns perfect for CCW. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Glock 43: Why So Popular?

I like guns in general, so it’s hard for me to fall into a specific brand-name camp. But regardless of your opinion of Glock pistols, it’s hard to ignore their reliability. Glock pistols are like Timex Watches; they take a lickin’ and keep on shooting. When the G43 came out, it was pushed as a CCW option but also a backup gun for law enforcement. My agency issued them out to all deputies for backup and off-duty carry. When you carry a full-size Glock each day, it only makes sense to carry a smaller version of the same gun, right?

The G43 is a good shooting gun for its size. With a firearm this small, you’re not going to win any shooting competitions or take down targets at 100 yards. But for up close targets, it does fine. When I first shot the G43, my thought was, “Yep, another Glock pistol.” It didn’t leave me excited or disappointed, it fired and handled as expected as a smaller version of what I carry every day at work. But that’s also the beauty of this gun. It’s a boring version of the same super reliable gun as the full-size Glock handguns.

Glock 43 9mm.
The Glock 43 single stack 9mm pistol. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Another reason that Glock handguns are so popular is the availability of factory and aftermarket accessories. Go to any store or site that sells lights, holsters, magazines, and other parts for handguns and you will find more options for Glock pistols than any other brand. This is worth considering if you want to upgrade or add a bit of bling to your CCW weapon.

Glock 43 Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Action: Single-action striker-fired
  • Capacity: 6+1 standard
  • Barrel Length: 3.41 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.26 inches
  • Height: 4.25 inches with standard mag inserted
  • Width: 1.06 inches at maximum / 0.87 across the slide
  • Weight: 16.23 ounces

Kahr CW9: A Worthy Contender for CCW?

Kahr didn’t win the popularity contest, but not all guns need to be popular to be good guns. The Kahr Firearms Group includes Kahr Arms, Auto Ordnance/ Thompson, and Magnum Research. Founded in 1995, Kahr Arms has continued to grow even though it is not a popular brand compared to other handguns on the market. However, they are American-made guns, and they have proven to be reliable.

When shooting the Kahr, there are a few things that stand out right away. The first is the long trigger pull, which is much longer than the G43. Kahr has a unique trigger system that cocks the striker and releases it with one pull. Some list it as a single action trigger, and others as a double. Kahr calls it a “double action only stroke.” Either way, it’s a smooth but long trigger pull.

Kahr CW9 handgun with US Constitution.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the US Constitution in the box with my Kahr CW9. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The second thing that stands out with the CW9 is the recoil spring. Wracking the slide on the Kahr is noticeably harder than the Glock 43. This may be due in part to Glock’s double recoil spring, which reduces the felt recoil of the slide. Using a longer spring makes the process of field stripping and reassembling the gun more difficult.

The final departure worth noting is Kahr’s magazine release. I’m not sure why Kahr used such a small magazine release, but it’s more difficult to release mags. Glock uses a larger square-style release that is easier to push. What I found the most difficult was when I had gloves on. Because the magazine release doesn’t stick out very far, any type of padding in gloves will make it nearly impossible to push.

Kahr CW9 Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Action: Trigger cocking DAO (double-action only)
  • Capacity: 7+1 Capacity (or 8+1 with extended magazine)
  • Barrel Length: 3.6″
  • Overall Length: 5.9″
  • Height: 4.5″
  • Width: .90″
  • Weight: 15.8 oz

Side by Side Comparisons

The Glock is, well, a Glock. It has the larger magazine release and smooth polymer feel of other Glocks. I’ve always wanted to see a longer slide release on Glock pistols. Under stressful situations, a larger slide release would make life easier.

I purchased one with a camo finish that almost feels a little rubbery when gripping. This makes it comfortable and easy to hold when shooting. Glock uses a short grip with a flush mag or optional extended mag that provides a little more room for your fingers. Kahr has a long grip with flush-fitting magazines. The Kahr frame fits better in my hands than the G43, so I prefer the CW9 frame a little better.

Glock 43 and Kahr CW9 field stripped.
Glock is much easier to field strip than the Kahr SW9. The G43 uses a double recoil spring, which reduces the felt recoil of the gun. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
There’s no question that the G43 has a lighter, shorter trigger pull than the CW9. But this doesn’t automatically make it better. This part depends on the person carrying it and what they are comfortable with. Many gun companies use a longer trigger pull for safety reasons for CCW guns. It makes it harder to hit targets further out on the range, and I shoot just a little slower with it. Personally, I like the G43 trigger better.

Field stripping the gun is better with the G43, and the sights are about the same, in my opinion. Ammo capacity is about the same (7), depending on which magazine you use in the G43. Holsters are easier to find with the G43 as well.

Glock 43 vs. Kahr CW9: Is One Better Than Another?

Sometimes, there is a clear advantage to one gun over another one. Glock has a lot of things going for it that make it hard to ignore. But when I shoot both guns, I enjoy shooting the Kahr a little more, even with that trigger. Part of this is the grip on the CW9 and how comfortable it is. I can get a full two-handed grip without my pinky hanging off. I can barely get a two-handed grip on the G43, but it’s hard to keep it while shooting. This is partly why I like that KRYPTEK coating on the frame of the Kahr.

IWB holsters can be found easily for the Kahr CW9, but not nearly as many as the G43. Deciding which gun to select may come down to accessories. But if you want a budget gun, I found my CW9 on sale for $275. From my experience with it so far, this is a great gun for that price. Kahr recommends a 150-round break-in before carrying it for CCW. Determining which gun is best for you all comes down to money, accessories, and personal taste. I think either option would be a great choice for CCW.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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