Kahr CW380 Striker-Fired Polymer/Stainless Pocket Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 13th, 2013

UPDATED March 15th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.





Slide locks open on an empty magazine.





Magazine release.











Just got in a variety of Buffalo Bore ammunition.



Author's favorite 380 load.



Barnes XPB bullets as loaded by Buffalo Bore (left & right) fired into ballistic gelatin at ten feet, compared to conventional 95-grain Hollowpoint (center). All three penetrated slightly over ten inches, after passing through heavy denim.



Striker block safety prevents the weapon from firing unless the trigger is held to the rear position.













It was just a bit over four years ago that I reviewed the Kahr P380 pocket pistol. At that time it was one of the best choices in a lightweight, compact 380 ACP carry gun. Today, the P380 is as good as it ever was, and is a dandy little pistol, but in my opinion, the new CW380 shown here is a better choice for most of us. The CW380 is the same size, weight, and quality of the P380. It has the same wonderful Kahr-smooth trigger pull, and the same Kahr reliability, but it sells for a much lower price. Kahr is able to sell the CW380, like the pistols in the CM series, for a lower price by making a few changes which make the CW less-costly to manufacture, without sacrificing quality.

The CW380 uses standard rifling, instead of the polygonal rifling of the higher-priced Kahr pistols. Standard land-and-groove rifling has worked perfectly for over two hundred years to impart a spin to stabilize the bullet in flight, and it is the type of rifling used in probably at least ninety-five percent of the weapons produced in the world today. It works well in this Baby Kahr, and allows the pistol to sell for less money. The sights on the CW pistols are also different, but still are fine pistol sights, and better than most others offered on small pocket pistols today. The way in which the slide is marked is also a less-costly method, and is another feature that allows the CW to sell for a lower price than the P series pistols. Lastly, the CW380 only ships with one magazine instead of two, again lowering the cost.

In the real world, the only one of the above differences that concerns me as meaningful is the one fewer magazine provided with the CW380. However, the CW380 sells for $230 US less money than does the P380 as of the date of this review, and that will buy about seven Kahr 380 magazines at my dealer’s shop. The MSRP on the magazines are $40 US, but they go for around $32 each. Even at full MSRP, you can buy five mags, with enough money left over for a box of premium 380 ammunition. The CW380 is pretty much the same gun as the P380, just at a price that is competitive with other quality 380 pocket pistols.

Critical specifications for the CW380 are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine floor plate. Maximum width is measured across the top of the frame, and includes the slide lock.

Chambering 380 ACP
Weight with Empty Magazine 11.4 oz.
Trigger Pull 3 lbs., 12 oz.
Barrel Length 2.58"
Barrel Diameter 0.469"
Overall Height 3.93"
Overall Length 4.88"
Grip Width 0.776"
Slide Width 0.756"
Maximum Width 0.9"
Trigger Reach 2.32"
Sights White Dot, Rear Windage-Adjustable
Magazine Capacity 6
Magazines Supplied 1
Accessory Rail No

I fired the CW380 with every brand and type of 380 auto ammunition available to me to check for reliable function. I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS). Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. TAC-XP and DPX are Barnes hollow nose homogenous copper bullets. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FP is a full metal jacket flat-nose bullet. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast flat-nose lead bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature around the fifty-one degree Fahrenheit mark, with thirty-five percent humidity.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore JHP 90 984
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 795
Buffalo Bore HC 100 902
Buffalo Bore TAC-XP +P 80 1161
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 90 1098
Buffalo Bore FMJ +P 95 1104
Buffalo Bore HC +P 100 1046
Remington JHP 88 821
Stryker FP 95 887
Atomic JHP 90 832
Cor-Bon JHP 90 983
Cor-Bon PB 70 1207
Cor-Bon DPX 80 950
Handload JHP 88 824

The little Kahr is a pleasure to shoot. The trigger pull is butter-smooth, and the shape of the trigger is just right for pain-free shooting. Kahr got the trigger right. Some others do not, and the result is a sore trigger finger when shooting some of the 380 pocket guns on the market. Even after a long session of firing ammunition through the CW380 for function and velocity testing, the Kahr remained very comfortable to shoot. Reliability with each type of ammunition tested was perfect. Every round fed, fired, and ejected flawlessly, and the slide never failed to lock open on an empty magazine. Plus P or standard-pressure ammunition, it didn’t matter. The Kahr fed it and spit it out. Accuracy was excellent. I fired the CW380 hand-held at targets from seven to twenty-five yards, and in good light, the sights are very easy to use effectively. For even better accuracy, and especially for use in low light, I mounted a Crimson Trace Laserguard laser sight on the little Kahr. The laser sight that fits the P380 ( part number LG-433 ) also fit’s the CW380, as the polymer frames are the same. The CT laser is very easy and instinctive to use, and adds less than an half-ounce of weight to the pistol. For me, the Crimson Trace laser is a “must have” on a carry gun.

Any of the hollowpoint or the hard-cast bullet loads listed above would be a good choice in this little Kahr, but my favorite is the Buffalo Bore load that uses the Barnes TAC-XP bullet. This bullet is homogenous copper, and expands reliably, even when fired from a short barrel. It is rated Plus P, but is easy to fire from the CW380. If you prefer milder loads, Buffalo Bore now also offers a variety of standard-pressure ammunition.

The CW380 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price as of today of only $419 US, pricing it competitively with other quality 380 pocket pistols, but offering Kahr quality and reliability. I did something with this new CW380 that I have never done before. The invoice arrived the same day as did the pistol. Kahr, like most other manufacturers, sends out their firearms on a ninety-day consignment, and after I do the review, I can either buy the weapon or return it. I opened the box, looked at this Kahr, and immediately wrote the check and mailed it in, before I ever fired this CW380. It isn’t that I was in dire need of a 380 pocket gun. I have a few already, but I knew that this little jewel was not going back to Kahr, so I mailed the check without delay. I can’t recommend any weapon higher than that.

The little Kahr CW380 is a great choice for a pocket-sized 380 auto pistol. It is small enough and light enough to always be within reach. It is reliable, accurate, well-made, and made in the USA.

Check out this and other Kahr firearms and accessories online at www.kahr.com.

For the location of a Kahr dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the CW380 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order a Crimson Trace laser online, go to www.crimsontrace.com.

To order quality 380 ACP ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.midsouthshooters.com, www.doubletapammo.com, and www.luckygunner.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



CW380 comes with hard case, instructions, Triggerguard lock, and one six-round magazine.



Triggerguard lock.





CW380 (left) compared to Jeff's Ruger LCP 380 (right).





Crimson Trace Laserguard.



Laser activation button.