Review: Kahr CT45 Value Priced 45 ACP Pistol
Major Pandemic 07.12.16
I am a fan of Kahr pistols. Kahr has produced an exceptional design that is actually different and not just another copy with a different logo. The Kahr design basically offers all the safety benefits of a Glock (minus the trigger split tongue safety) in a pistol with a simpler fire control mechanism. To me, the simplicity of the Kahr design is one of its primary selling points and one of the main reasons why their pistols are stone cold reliable.
Just as the Kahr CM9 is a “value version” of the PM9, the CT45 and CT9 models are the “value versions” of Kahr’s higher-end pistols. The value line of Kahr pistols is a terrific idea and offers a straightforward gun with proven reliability, minus a few cosmetic points. Although the CT45 chambered in 45 ACP and the CT9 chambered in 9mm are essentially the exact same pistols, I wanted to attack each of these in separate articles so there will be some repetition.
About Kahr Arms
Until about I tested the CM9, I had written off Kahr Arms as a brand I would consider. As a marketing professional, I generally steer clear of brands that use hot babes to sell their products. Generally sex sells, but this type of advertising sends the message that I need to be seduced into buying your product because the product cannot stand on its own.
Unfortunately, Kahr featured a disproportionate babe-to-gun ratio in their ads, so I’d thought they were all marketing hype until my FFL dealer handed me a Kahr pistol. Racking the slide and feeling the tight tolerances and crisp trigger pull changed my mind forever on Kahr pistols.
I still think there should be more gun and less chick in the ads. My wife loved the pistol but loathed the ads. This is something to consider because there’s a huge group of female shooters entering the market as first time shooters, and Kahr should market their product accordingly since they offer a gun grip sized for female shooters.
Kahr Arms is now part of the Magnum Research, Thompson, and Auto Ordnance firearm family. I have always noted that elegant simplicity is difficult, and Kahr pistols are an example of elegant simplicity in action. The saying of “If it was easy, everyone would do it” is reflected in the six patents held for the Kahr pistol design.
Where Kahr is different than many firearms manufacturers is that they do full 3D design and modeling before beginning prototype and manufacturing work on high tolerance CNC machines. It is clear to me after handling their pistols that even in Kahr’s value line they are making quality firearms.
Fit, Finish, Feel, and Features
The fit on the CT45 is the same as any of Kahr’s higher-end pistols I have handled. Even the internals are the same. The biggest differences between the high end and value lines are some additional machine work on the slide, the higher grade slide surface finish, milled vs cast slide release, and metal sights versus the polymer versions.
If you want a little more contoured pistol with a better finish and more durable sights, the higher end models may be a better choice. But for the majority of us who just need a gun for CCW and home defense, the extra luxury is neither required nor needed.
Comparing even these “value” lines to the competition, you see some huge differences. For instance, the slides and barrels are machined from stainless steel instead of carbon steel. The slide release is an actual dimensionally manufactured part versus being a stamped part. The trigger is metal versus being polymer, as are the magazines. Even the recoil spring is a stainless double captive spring recoil assembly.
Every Kahr pistol features the same operational internal design, which is a trigger cocking DAO (Double Action Only) locked breech “Browning-type” recoil lug design. Pulling the trigger disengages a passive striker block safety, further cocks the gun, and then completes the firing cycle by releasing the spring loaded firing pin. It is an extremely safe design, which in many way works more like a revolver then a striker fired pistol.
Thankfully, Kahr only offers external safeties on a handful of models, leaving the vast majority of their pistols free of external safeties and magazine disconnect safeties. So yes, you can fire the gun without a magazine, which is good because I consider the “magazine safety” the most retarded firearm invention ever.
Thanks to the double recoil spring assembly, the CT45 is really easy to manually cycle and charge. One of my biggest pieces of advice to new gun buyers is to ensure they can cycle the gun by hand. If they cannot due to ergonomics or hand strength, they should move on to another gun. In the case of the CT45, most shooters should find them extremely easy to manipulate.
Consider the price and quality of these value line guns and you really start to appreciate them. Street price for this gun is generally below $400, which is a great price for a well-performing new pistol.
Kahr is also one of the few companies who only offer single stack magazines. For less-free Americans living in communist states faced with 10-round magazine limits, Kahr pistols make sense. Why would you carry around a large gun with a truncated magazine when a slim gun would do the job?
Another benefit of Kahr’s single stack design is that it makes them slim-and-trim guns that fit the hands of gals and dudes with small to medium hands. If you fall into the smaller hand category, I would highly recommend Kahr pistols. In the case of the CT45, the shooter is greeted with an impressively slim grip–so slim that it makes you think you are actually shooting a 9mm.
The Kahr grip is not particularly ergonomic in the same way as a 1911. It is pretty much like a rounded and radiused 1″ x 1.5″ piece of wood, but it somehow still has a comfortable grip. Kahr does a good job not going nuts with over texturing the grips and focuses on the front and back straps.
Before the Walther PPQ and H&K VP90 entered the market with jaw dropping trigger feels, I would have said that Kahr had the best trigger in any polymer pistol. In reality, Kahr pistol’s triggers still have a better smooth stacking single action feel from the beginning to the break, although the PPQ and VP90 have more crisp final break at this time.
The CT value series offer traditional rifling versus accuracy-increasing hex rifling. I have shot both types of barrels and don’t really think you give up much when it comes to a defensive pistol at combat distances. There is an accuracy difference, but from a defensive perspective it is so marginal that I would not consider it a relevant point.
What I would point out is that this budget pistol has the ability to consume cast bullets whereas the high end hexagonal-rifled models do not have the same ammo flexibility and can only digest plated or jacketed rounds due to leading issues. Although accuracy may be a bit better with hex rifling, you can shoot less-expensive cast bullets in the value CT 45 and CT9 models for practice.
From a size perspective, you basically get a DOA 1911 sized gun without any external safeties. The Kahr CT45 even has 7+1 rounds just like a standard 1911.
Functions and Accuracy
I have come to expect Kahr pistols to deliver reliability on par with other more-well-known pistol brands, and this is what the CT45 gave me. I pushed more than 200 rounds of various ammo from Hornady, Winchester, Federal, CCI, Wolf, Liberty Extreme Velocity, and even some handloads and never had a problem of any kind. They are simple pistols that just plain work.
Accuracy was pretty standard defensive-grade accuracy, which means shooters can expect 2″ 10-yard unsupported groups and about the same off sandbags at 25 yards with most ammo.
The CT 45 produced very consistent groups with a variety of Hornady, Federal, Winchester, and other factory ammo, but if you reload you will have to do a little testing to find what will work best.
Generally in the price realm of sub-$400 (street price), buyers are looking at HiPoint and KelTec or questionable “import knockoff” models, or used guns. Even Taurus pistols have a tough time getting into the sub-$400 price range.
The CT line has a slim profile, which makes for a mighty comfy concealed carry gun even though it’s a full-sized pistol. Shooters with medium to small hands (ladies…?) should really take a hard look at Kahr and try to overlook the pinup girl marketing. In a 45 ACP chambered thumper, I think Kahr has introduced a category killer that will drive other manufacturers to play catch up in this value priced category.
- Caliber: 45 ACP
- Capacity: 7+1
- Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
- Barrel: 4.04″, conventional rifling; 1 – 16.38 right-hand twist
- Length O/A: 6.57″
- Height: 5.25″
- Slide Width: 1.01″
- Weight: Pistol 23.7 ounces, Magazine 2.4 ounces
- Grips: Textured polymer
- Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
- Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
- Magazine: 1 – 7 rd Stainless
- MSRP $449 – Street $370
- Learn more (manufacturer’s site)
See also: Kahr CT9 Review