March 2013

Mid-Size Compact Forties: Smith & Wesson Edges Out Kahr

We thought the Kahr CW40 was a decent gun, but it cut itself internally — a turn off. We decided we would be happier longer with the S&W M&P Compact 40, despite its higher cost

Gun Test’s Idaho test team has spent a lot of time looking at relatively tiny 9mm handguns over the past year. We’ve found there are a few good designs that permit the use of some relatively hot ammo in the small 9mm packages. But some people want still more power, so we’ve decided to sample a few of the forties out there. For this test we looked at a S&W M&P Compact 40 ($569) and a Kahr CW40 ($485). They are a bit larger than the tiny nines we’ve been trying, and there are good reasons for that. The 40 S&W is a lot more cartridge than the 9mm Parabellum, and when forties get smaller than these two test guns, recoil is entirely unfriendly. However, Kahr and a few other makers do offer smaller guns in this caliber if you must have one. We tested these two compact forties with three types of ammo, Remington 155-grain JHP, Black Hills 165-grain JHP, and American Eagle 180-grain FMC. Here’s what we found.

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