Justin Moon was hooked once his older brother took him target shooting for the first time. The 14-year-old was eager to master the skills, learn more about firearms and by age 18, he already had his New York State concealed-carry permit. The pistols available at the time for everyday carry seemed subpar to the young man, though, and he began thinking how the perfect self-defense gun should be. It needed to be almost effortless to carry, in his estimation, safe, yet remain capable of stopping a felonious assault with authority.
Entry into college to pursue a degree in economics—in Harvard, no less—would have been enough to erase those thoughts in most college freshmen, but not Moon. He never abandoned that vision and, in time, was sketching designs for an improved defensive pistol. He’d decided 9 mm Luger was the right cartridge, but to trim the bulk felt a single-stack magazine was best. Along the way, he invented an improved double-action trigger for striker-fired pistols, one that’s now trademarked as the “Safe Cam” by Kahr Arms. Jeff Johnston reported complete details on the mechanism and the company for American Rifleman a few years ago, and it’s well worth a look.
Moon had assembled a small team to help make and market his first pistol by 1993. The few prototype P9s they produced for testing and review were getting glowing feedback and, as fate would have it, those reports were coming out just as President Bill Clinton signed the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban."
By late 1994, the fledgling company shipped its first major batch of pistols, the K9, which was capable of holding seven 9 mm Luger cartridges in the magazine and measured less than 1" in width. Their frames were CNC machined from steel, though, and as a result the gun weighed 23.1 ozs.
To lighten the load, Kahr Arms designed a polymer frame and in 1999, it first appeared in the company’s P9 pistol. The reception from enthusiasts was a warm one, and that demand has not slowed to this day.
Models currently available from the company still wear the trim 3.565" barrel it first appeared with and have an overall length of 5.8". Height is 4.5", and the slide's width is a trim 0.90". Weight comes in at only 15 ozs., empty. Adding an unloaded magazine bumps overall weight to 16.9 ozs.
The frame is polymer, grips are textured and both are black. The stainless-steel slide wears a blackened matte finish, and the barrel's polygonal rifling is twisted 1:10". The P9 is double-action only and is semi-automatic. The pistols ship with a pair of seven-round magazines and one eight-rounder. Sights are drift adjustable and contain tritium. MSRP is $795.
There are also two versions with an external thumb safety and loaded chamber indicator. Each wears a slide with a matte stainless finish. The model with tritium night sights has an MSRP is $996, but if you’re comfortable with drift-adjustable white-dot sights, the price drops to $876.