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size comparison

size comparison 2

Thickness comparison

Glock 26 and Kahr P9 often come up in conversations about compact carry pistols. They are similar enough in dimensions and specifications that a side-by-side comparison seems warranted. I happen to have both available, and will share my impressions of the two models.

The two guns cost about the same: P9 was $535 new with optional Trijicon tritium sights, G26 was $410 used with standard sights. A new G26 with night sights costs about as much as the Kahr. Both guns use plastic frames with metal slide rails and steel slides. They have almost identical barrel lengths. Kahr uses a single-stack magazine and is much thinner, Glock uses a double-stack and is harder to conceal due to thicker frame.

Magazine width comparison

Magazine finger rests

The nine or ten round G26 magazines are much shorter and thicker than the Kahr seven-rounders. That is a dubious benefit, as I found grip extensions necessary for comfortable grip. Grip extensions replace the magazine floorplate and provide a better rest for the pinky. Pearce and Sherer extensions both work, I prefer the latter because it is textured.

P9 magazine

Although single-stack magazines allow for a thinner gun and spares are easier to carry, Kahr magazines have their share of problems. The three magazines I got with the gun would all dislodge the top round or two if handled less than gingerly. That caused no malfunctions in the gun but my magazine pouch would always have a loose round or two in it. Eventually, I called Kahr tech support and asked them about it: they said "bad magazines" and sent me three new ones free of charge. The new magazines had a slightly different weld in the back and worked perfectly.

G26 magazines cost about $25, P9 magazines cost about $35. The G26 will function with larger G18 and G17 magazines.

Mags compared

Glock magazines

In my opinion, G26 is slightly ahead on the magazine issue. Both guns will feed any kind of ammunition, with one notable exception: Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P will not work reliably in a P9. With old magazines, the cartridge would nosedive into the ramp, with new magazines muzzle flip would engage the slide lock prematurely.

P9 slidestop

Speaking of slide lock: my P9, as many others, locked the slide prematurely when new. Kahr replaced the part, with turnaround of about two weeks. I had to get the slide lock lever smoothed as the edges were too sharp for comfort at first.

Other than that, both guns have been pleasantly reliable. Both eject empties well away from the shooter's face, both feed a variety of ammunition. I have used almost every kinds of ball and hollow point ammunition available and they all worked fine. Both guns have their close zero at roughly ten meters.

P9 firing grip

Neither gun produces much recoil, but P9 shows rather more muzzle flip, especially with +P ammunition. I have fired over 300 rounds in a row from each gun without any fatigue. The thin grip of the P9, combined with a relatively short trigger reach makes it a good choice for people with small hands.

P9 sights

Although I prefer standard Glock sights to standard Kahr sights (dot over vertical bar), night sights are preferable to either. Sight acquisition is fast with both pistols, with a slight edge to the G26: its flat slide acts like a sighting rib to some extent.

Triggers on both guns are comparable for target or combat shooting. The striker of the P9 is released with a light double action which works surprisingly well. G26 has a standard Glock trigger which lends itself well to rapid fire.

Sample target

P9 backstrap

Overall, P9 has a slight edge in accuracy. Out to about eight meters, all bullets impact in the same hole. With G26, the spread is fractionally larger but it is still possible to hit a stationary shotgunning clay every time at twenty five yards. With both pistols, hollow point ammunition is noticeably more accurate than ball.

G26 left G26 right
G26 grip G26 top
Alessi Talon Plus holster
Hi-res

I have not had the opportunity to carry the two guns in the same kind of holster. P9 carried in an IWB (in waist band) Alessi Talon holster ($55) has been extremely comfortable, thin and light. G26 in an plastic IWB from Sidearmor ($60) has been quite uncomfortable. It is possible that I should have worn looser pants with it, as I have since carried a thicker G30 using a Sidearmor holster.

Alessi Talon for the G26 required break-in for the gun to fit. I wrapped the gun in plastic and holstered it for a day, then practiced drawing for several more days. Now the fit is very good and the Glock is almost -- but not quite -- as comfortable as the P9. The difference in width is more significant than the measurements would suggest.

In sum, Glock 26 has a slight edge in out of the box reliability and capacity. Kahr P9 has a noticeable edge in the ease of concealed carry and accuracy. Take-down and maintenance is simple for both designs. Both have a very similar manual of arms, so I can switch between them without getting confused.

Do these pistols make pocket autoloaders obsolete? I hoped that they would but found otherwise. Both the Glock and the Kahr are slightly too large for comfortable and discreet pants pocket carry. It is unfortunate, as pocket carry allows concealment without a jacket or a sweater.

G26 P32 muzzles
Hi-res

P32 G26 width
Hi-res
P32 G26 width
Hi-res

Kahr P9  Kel-tec P32 width Hi-res

As you can see, a P32 is much thinner than either of the 9mm pistols. For that reason, mouseguns are still useful for deep concealment. Although the length and height difference don't look like much, they make the difference between the ability to carry in a pocket or having to use a waist-band or similarly visible holster.

Holstered P32 P9
Hi-res
Hopefully, the upcoming Kahr MP9 would finally displace Colt Mustang Pocketlite and similar .380 designs as the most potent pocket weapon. Comparing the dimensions and weght to the Kel-tec P32, we can see that even these sub-compact 9mm pistols don't come close to the true mouseguns for hide-out utility.

Kahr hits like a semi
Hi-res

The true contribution of these two designs is in fitting reliability, control and accuracy of a full-size weapon into a package which can be comfortably carried all day. Further, unlike earlier entries into the sub-compact field (Grendel P12, AMT Backup, various S&W compacts), the P9 and the G26 can be fired extensively without tiring out the shooter or wearing out the gun.

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