Kahr PM9 Kaboom

There seem to be lots of KABOOMs recently. Is it the weather?

B18C5-EH2 wrote about his Kahr PM9 KB experience at The Firing Line forum

We read through the manual and I bought a 100 count box of Winchester “white box” from a local store. My “gun guy” friend had 200 rounds of ammo for us to use too as he’d gone through 1800 rounds of the stuff before selling his last 9mm pistol.

I disassembled and cleaned the pistol to make sure it was ready for firing.

–The KaBOOM!!! –

We took the PM9 to an indoor range for my wife and I to begin the “task” of breaking it in.

First 140 or so rounds went without incident except for one failure to eject – I expected more issues seeing as how some other internet stories included FTF and FTEs during the break-in period. We exhausted the Winchester 100 rounds, and then went onto the ammo my friend had given us. It was GA Arms “factory loaded” ammo.

If you’re not familiar GA Arms is a huge supplier of ammo and is very well known and respected. I saw “factory loaded” on the bag and also asked my friend if they were reloads (instruction manual says do not shoot reloads/reman ammo) and he said it was “new” so we started firing it. I noticed no noticeable recoil increase/decrease over the Winchester stuff. My wife kept plinking away as well with no mention of any change in feeling.

As I was loading a Glock mag I heard my wife yell out in pain, and say something to the effect of “now way look at what happened!”

So the side panel blew out and the concussion hurt my wife’s hand, but luckily no major injuries. As for the pistol the side panel had blown out, and we found the extractor on the floor. I had to drop the mag and unjam the slide to lock it open, then pick out a slightly deformed shell casing from within the feed ramp area of the barrel.

I looked at a few rounds of the GA Arms ammo and of the four/five I checked they all had the same marking on the shell, which still lead me to believe it was “new” ammo.

My wife was done shooting for the day, and she had her own reservations about even keeping/carrying the PM9 due to the KaBOOM. I wanted to do some investigating..

After getting home I examined more of the ammo and then realized that the casings were NOT all the same, and I was able to pretty much determine the ammo was reloads – I will admit my ignorance and also admit that I should have known better what my wife and I were shooting. I called GA Arms to confirm my suspicion that it was in fact reloaded ammo, but not the “guy drinking beer and watching NASCAR reload” type stuff. Reloads nonetheless though…

–The Kahr Arms Customer Service Experience –

I wrote an e-mail and sent it to Kahr Arms that Saturday when the malfunction happened. I sent them the same pics you see, but in my moments of anxiety I did omit the part about using the GA Arms ammo. I know, I know that was a total ding-a-ling move, but I did not want them to immediately assume it was the ammo and not something such as a feed failure or a firing out of battery situation.

I waited until 1:00 on Monday before I decided it was time to call Kahr Arms since they had not replied to my e-mail. A very matter-of-fact guy answered and told me I’d have to ship it in, they’d look at it, blah blah blah. I told him I didn’t feel like I should not have to pay shipping, so he sent a prepaid overnight priority shipping label. In the meantime shortly afterwards I got an e-mail reply from a gentleman that wanted for me to call him and discuss the issue. He was much more pleasant to deal with than the first guy, but would not say anything more than “let’s see it first then we’ll call you.”

Wednesday I tracked the package and saw it was signed for at 9:00am. I called that afternoon to double check my phone numbers that they had on file, and at that time the same nice gentleman informed me it might be the following Tuesday before they’d know anything.

On the very next Monday, three business days after them getting my pistol, I got my pistol back at 8:30am!!! I worried that they may have shipped it back still busted since I never got a call. I opened the box and found the pistol to be like new again, but still the same serial number. There was a repair order that listed:

  • Replaced extractor assembly and spring

  • Replaced side panel

  • Cleaned, lubed, and test fired “good”

[Hat Tip: BlueGunBlog]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • SpudGun

    Ah, reloads and kaboomery strike again. Glad to hear no one was hurt and that Kahr did such a good job with fixing the pistol.

    I think we’re going to see a lot of problems with small CCW autos and ammunition for the next few years. There seems to be a reasoning ‘blind spot’ with consumers when it comes to compact firearms.

    If you had a small car with a tiny engine, you wouldn’t rag it around town all day and rev it to the point of failure. But putting 500 rounds of +P or some other high pressure reloads rapidly through a micro gun is supposed to be acceptable.

  • Bandito762

    I’m guessing that with the economy circling the drain people are trying to save money any way they can. Reloading is one way to do that.

  • B18C5-EH2

    Wow I didn’t realize my story would get posted on a large site such as The Firearm Blog. I don’t know if I should say “oops” or “cool” for this one.

    I want something to be perfectly clear to anyone reading who might not follow the link to my original story I posted, and also this is a response to SpudGun (whom I agree with):

    1. This PM9 was purchased as a deep conceal/carry pistol

    2. We (my wife and I) do not plan on taking it “plinking” with +P ammo

    3. We would have never intentionally shot reloads through the PM9. The reloads were only $2.00 cheaper in price than good old Remington UMC per 50 rounds, but again this ammo was at the time understood to be “new” and was not being shot as “cost-cutter” ammo.

    4. The story here stopped short of me posting that the PM9 now shoots flawlessly and that only Remington UMC 115gr is being used for the range along with our carry ammo, Speer Gold Dot.

    5. The story here also leaves out that Kahr Arms also polished the feed ramp of the barrel free of charge

    6. The story posted here also leaves out that I am 100% satisfied with Kahr’s customer service, and I’m actually looking into another Kahr Arms pistol such as a P40 or PM45.

    In closing I hope my story can show that it’s extremely important to know EXACTLY what ammo you’re using when firing these tiny pistols. I also want people to understand that Kahr Arms has an amazing pistol and customer service even if the pics “look” to show otherwise. I hope someone doesn’t read the headline, see the pics,m and write Kahr Arms off as “junk” when the exact OPPOSITE is true.

    • B18C5-EH2, great to see you on the blog!

  • Lance

    Steve, Steve when will you stop blowing up every gun put there for cool pics??? You’ll run out of your collection soon. LOL

  • jdun1911

    As long as the handgun is rated +P it should be alright to feed +P ammo or lower. From what I understand, all Kahr firearms are rated +P and not +p+.


    My rule of thumb is never buy reloading ammo. I use my own reloads and sometimes my friends reload because I know they have the same standard as I do when it comes to reloading.

  • SpudGun

    Hi B18C5-EH2,

    I wasn’t trying to single you out, so thank you for taking my post with such good grace.

    A lot of CCW autos have tiny little parts, weak springs and are just plain flimsy in comparison to their full size brethren. Running high pressure, hard kicking +P’s is going to take a heavy toll on any pistol, nevermind a smaller, weaker version.

    I think the way you are (and did) plan to shoot the PM9 before the unfortunate ammo mix up is superb.

    Welcome to the blog and happy shooting amigo!

  • Mark L.

    “There seem to be lots of KABOOMs recently. Is it the weather?”

    Of course, it’s global warming. Haven’t you been watching the news?

    • A.D. Hopkins

      I think weather actually has an influence, if you’re dumb enough to leave a pistol and ammo in the glove box all day in triple-digit weather, as I was, and go right inside a range and start shooting. And the ammo was reloaded by a commercial local reloader who marketed largely to various “practical’ shooting communities, so he had it loaded hot in the first place. Only time I ever blew up a pistol. It was a borrowed Taurus, and fortunately Taurus stood behind it completely and promptly, fixed the gun like new, so I didn’t have to buy my friend another pistol. That pistol was a licensed copy of the U.S. 9mm service pistol, and despite this experience, if I were buying a full-sized 9mm, I think that is what I would buy.

  • Kyle Huff

    “If you had a small car with a tiny engine, you wouldn’t rag it around town all day and rev it to the point of failure. ”
    This is exactly what I would do with such a car.

  • Rome

    reloads are not the bad guy here. the poor quality standards of the ammo company are. i have been reloading for years and never had a problem. my kahr cw9 has 2000 rds through it. all of them reloads by me. they can be just as good as factory ammo, imo.

  • I’ve used Georgia Arms/Master Cartridges ammunition without issues in the past, but it has been a long time. The sister companies make both factory new and remanufactured ammunition. Back when I was using their ammunition, Georgia Arms sold direct to customers while Master sold through dealers. They typically had a large group of tables at any decent gun show in the southeast US. The business was started by Curtis Shipley and Larry Haynie, a pair of PPC shooters. They started out making ammunition for their own use in competition. As a result of their success, other PPC competitors wanted the same stuff Shipley and Haynie were using to win in matches, and things grew from there. Shipley later used his ammo to place well in the Masters and Bianchi Cup. In 1991, their ammo was used by Riley Gilmore to shoot the second perfect score in Bianchi Cup history.

  • drew

    I have a Kahr PM9 & am impressed with it. The design of this pistol is very well engineered and remarkable…the side panel is designed for “blowing out” which probably reduced to some level the debris flying toward your wife’s eyes…

  • Poppy

    I just received a Kahr PM9 as an early Christmas present from my wife. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet as we left on a trip the day after I received it.

    I have been super impressed with the feel and size of the PM9 every since the first one that I picked up in the gun shop. I appreciate this blog and am looking anxiously forward to breaking in my Kahr.

  • Cody

    I had the exact same thing happen to me, although I knew I was shooting USAammo reloads. But I didn’t think it would explode on me. Still, those same reloads have NO PROBLEM in any other gun I shoot them in. I think there is something different about the Kahr chamber and hood design or dynamic action that creates a weakness at the rim of the casing.

    I love the gun, but no more reloads for me.

  • Really enjoyed reading this blog. May read on…

  • Bobby

    I had a new CW9 do the same thing. I can not say for sure if it was reloaded ammo; as I loaded the magazines from old stock. I haven’t bought reloaded ammo in many years, but still have a couple old boxes around, so it’s entirely possible the round was a reload.

    I’ve fired many thousands of those reload rounds (if it was a reload) through several other guns and have never had an issue, until the side of my Kahr exploded.

    I currently own three (3) Kahr 9mm’s, and use one of them as my primary CCW gun, I still have faith in its reliability; so please don’t misunderstand. The day it happened, I was participating in an IDPA shoot; and had successfully finished the first round, with ammo from the same old ammo compiled lot. As you can now tell, I am not competitive, I shoot full power loads, not +P, but normal stuff one would shoot at a range or routinely carry. I fired a few round, and was moving and shooting at the same time, when ‘PoP!’ I felt numbness and tingling in my hand, I stopped immediately and looked at the gun to see the right top part of the grip missing and springs beneath. I instinctively and immediately laid the on the ground facing down range and looked at my hand. Thankfully I had no cut, no burn, no injury.

    After closer inspection it looks like Kahr made an overpressure ‘window’ on the top part of the grip just for this purpose. That little window blew out and that’s all. I mailed Kahr the parts I found and a brief explanation of what happened along with the actual round that ‘exploded’. They replaced the one missing part and charged me for the part and labor. They also cleaned, +polished/buffed the ramp and sent it back promptly.

    Thankfully I had a second gun with me that day so I continued shooting the match. At important events I now take two guns and prefer to wear gloves. Better to have a back up gun than a mag to reload.

    Respectfully submitted,

  • Mike

    Kahr arms are junk…sorry to say. I had a cw .45 and had a ton of issues. Failure to feed…firing pin issues…traded it in…

    • Dr. Daniel Jackson

      Well you did buy from their line of cheap pistols the CW series,that is your first problem.Generally their higher end guns are better in just about every way.

  • A.D. Hopkins

    I’m pretty happy with Kahr Arms PM9 but not with the company. They do not appear to allow other outlets to carry their magazines, so you have to buy them from the company. When I ordered one, it never showed up, but they told me they sent it and kept my money. Wouldn’t do anything to make it right or even meet me halfway. Attitude was completely, “Our records show we sent it so tough luck, Jack.”