I was always in the (Standard guide rod vs. full length guide rod) dilemma with my 1911 pistols, but now with my MK9 I entered a new quandary about guide rods and the like. (Captive or Non-Captive). All I knew for sure was that I didn't want a "Plastic" guide rod on my All Stainless MK9. I got some help on line, but most of all the chatter was dealing with personal "Likes" and "Dislikes" rather than any substantive facts or issues.
I got the basic idea though. A captive system made for easier and quicker disassembly and reassembly whereas a non captive system provided for easier spring changes. I figured that once I found the "spring" that I was after, then that would be it and "Spring Changes" would be few and far between, right? Well I also knew that I'd wanted to get some aftermarket springs from Wolff and found that they not only sold springs for my gun, but guide rod setups as well. So I finally had a manufacturer to add into the discussion about captive or non-captive. A biased viewpoint was quickly seen there though as "Non-Captive" was the mantra with "quick spring changes" the reason. Even and explanation for the "quick spring changes" Not only to find that perfect first spring for one's tastes, but now to equal extremes in your loads. Shoot some heavier stuff? Change your springs. Shoot some target rounds at the range? Change your springs. Shoot some competition rounds? Change your springs. To hear Wolff talk I'd of needed a case just to tote all the action springs I'd be taking along with me. NOT for me as I like to keep things as simple as possible.
So I figured that I'd go captive on my new gun, after all that's how is was shipped in the first place. Well I had to make some decision since the only way to get to the springs of a new Kahr was to CUT, yep that's it CUT the guide rod and catch the pieces that go shooting out all over the place. I did so and then I took a look at what the factory had provided. Seems like I'll be able to use the outer (larger tube) guide rod. Especially since it was out of stainless and the Wolff one (even though they spent the better part of their advertising bad mouthing plastic parts) was made of plastic. I found that last situation especially funny. So I gathered together the new 18.5 Wolff spring set and the original factory outer guide rod tube and laid them in order. Now the guide rod itself???
I didn't like going "blue steel" on this part (the way it comes from Wolff), and Kahr did offer an all stainless one in the Kahr Store (why don't they put that on the guns as they leave the factory???? after all, the guns are expensive enough to think that extra cost wouldn't be a problem for Kahr). On the Kahr part, it comes in two pieces with a solid flange ended rod capped with another flange screw on the muzzle end of the rod. Instructions state to bury the threads in a quality thread locker. Well, I just didn't like that idea because I've had even the "Red" thread locker come undone on occasion. I can just see me with flashlight in hand searching for the flange screw as it shot off the end of the gun during a shooting session. Again, not for me. I did have the Wolff, all metal (steel that is, albeit blue steel) guide rod??? Hmmm? What to do?
I had so many parts laying about my wife asked me just how many Kahr "New Pistols" did I have and was working on? So finally I tried out a few combinations and found the "captive" version was a pain to get put together in the first place so it went to the back burner for awhile. All plastic parts (Even new Wolff ones) went into the "I don't think so" bucket and I was slowly paring down my parts until I was left with the minimum necessary to get the gun to function. What I ended up with was two new Wolff action springs (long skinny one and shorter fat one), A Wolff all steel guide rod. A factory Kahr stainless guide rod tube and that was it.
What I found was that the "springs" counting all items that went with them to put between barrel lug and slide was simple enough to put together, but additionally it was quite simple to install into the gun. All the "Captive folk" were saying how incredibly difficult it was to install loose action springs and rods into their Kahr pistol and when you went to strip the gun, all of those parts went sailing across the room. I found none of that to be true. With the slide off the gun, the guide rod came up from the inverted barrel lug and into my hand without issue and the springs along with them. To install the assembly of parts back into the gun took no more effort than that. Get the parts laid out in the correct order, slip the large spring, muzzle end of the guide rod into its spot in the slide and push the flange side into its notch in the barrel lug. What could be simpler than that? Nothing I tell you.
I found that in most cases, people will tell you what they want you to hear and to do. If they want to sell you a bunch of springs, then they will promote a system that allows for quicker spring changes even if that might not be the best choice. The other group will (I feel) bemoan the competing system in an effort to support their preference.
I found that by going Non-Captive I could get the parts in the materials I preferred and it was easy to install and to work with and I will be able to keep all of those parts clean every time I go out and shoot. Smithy.