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Thread: Kahr CW380 diary

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Default Kahr CW380 diary

    Some years ago, I started keeping a shooting diary from some of my more favored guns. For what it is worth and as long winded and disjointed it may be...…

    Kahr CW 380 ACP

    I purchased this little handgun on 04/05/2019

    from a local gun shop. After looking at the gun for a few minutes the owner of the shop handed me six Federal 380 Hydra Shocks and said to hit the range. It fired all six with no issues and I promptly purchased the gun along with a spare six round magazine.

    I am not a stranger to Kahr firearms having carried a CM9 9MM for the last five years. After almost 3000 rounds, I trust that handgun implicitly.

    I also have been carrying a Ruger LCP since it first arrived on the scene on 2008. My Ruger has almost 4000 rounds through it, with most of those being reloaded FMJ or cast lead bullets. The Ruger has been an excellent deep concealment handgun but the sights always left something to be desired. The slide did not lock back on an empty magazine and the controls and trigger were, while usable, just not very user friendly.

    I had a box of Fiocchi 90grain 380 ammo which the Kahr CW380 did not like at all. Now, in fairness to Fiocchi and Kahr I did not follow the manufacturer's advice to clean the gun before firing. Also, I fired the first 6 rounds from the gun at the gun shop and it was a new in the box handgun. Also Kahr recommends 200 rounds before the gun is reliable. So far it has 56 rounds downrange with quite a few failures to feed in the process. I have to bump the slide forward to seat the cartridge in the chamber.

    I left the gun lying in the safe for a week with the slide locked back in an attempt to loosen up the recoil spring a bit. My God that is a strong spring! I also work the action whenever I open the safe and look at the little gun.
    Now, having cleaned the gun and polishing the feed ramp and chamber, the next 75 rounds were fired with no gun related malfunctions. There were two misfires due to some questionable reloads and one older Corbon hollowpoint that was in a box of "trash"ammo I was trying to use up. I might add, the Corbon hollow point was from a lot I purchased in 2008! It had been in my Ruger LCP and was replaced with fresh ammo sometime in 2009.

    The Kahr CW380 has a very good trigger and locks back on an empty magazine. The sights are much better than the Ruger and the accuracy is almost unbelievable.

    My second range trip really gave me a good indication as to how accurate the Kahr 380 is at distance. At 20 yards I could easily hit 8" steel plates. Headshots at 7 yards were ridiculously easy. At 15 yards, firing carefully and slowly, I ,shot a 2" group with the Hornady Critical Defense ammo, that is my carry ammo of choice in a 380 ACP. Moving to a more realistic distance, namely 10 and 15 feet, I was able to keep 2 rounds in the 8" center of an IDPA target firing as fast as I could point the gun. At 3 feet the gun indexed well when firing from the hip and gave good center hits.

    I have also purchased a seven round magazine for this gun and it feeds reliably. I will carry that as a spare magazine,giving me 14 rounds of ammo on hand.

    Another 50 or so rounds and I will call this gun good to go and add it to the carry lineup, replacing mytired Ruger LCP.

    The 3rd range trip I fired another 100 rounds with no malfunctions except for the remainder of the box of questionable reloaded ammo which misfired on occasion. The gun is now in rotation and is being carried when I need a small pocket gun.

    Another 20 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense were fired. I noticed some bullet set back in these rounds (the cannelure on the bullet was no longer visible) but I cannot say it was due to the Kahr 380. The ammo had been in my Ruger LCP previously. I replaced the ammunition in the magazines with fresh Hornady Critical Defense and will keep an eye on the rounds for bullet set back.

    Another 50 rounds of Winchester 380 defend ammowas fired. My daughter, who does not like semi auto handguns, fired at least half of that 50

    rounds. She had one failure due to limp wristing the gun, but liked the little 380 and has asked for one for herself. There was also one failure to feed due to a split case. That was out of a fresh box of Winchester factory ammo!

    I might add that she and I were able to hit a quarter sized steel silhouette with a full magazine each at 20 yards. No misses!

    The gun was cleaned and reloaded and will continue to be carried.

    There is more if anyone is interested.

    Last edited by JakeGa; 04-17-2021 at 04:01 PM. Reason: spacing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013


    No one is sending me ugly grams so here is more. I also repaired the spacing issue in the first post.


    Fired 50 more rounds thru the Kahr 380. The first two magazines fired without a problem. The next few magazines had failures to feed at least one per magazine. A quick bump on the back of the slide solved the problem. I at first thought it might be the ammo, MaxxTech hardball 95 grain. However I changed magazines and the problem stopped. Looking at the magazines there is a subtle difference in the manner in which they are cut along the sides of the mag. This needs further exploration and I have relegated the offending mag to the safe until I can contact Kahr.


    I purchased a Magguts systemfor the 6 round magazine. This allows the magazine to now hold 7 rounds. The magazine functioned like a charm. 40 more rounds through the gun. I have also decided it may have been the MaxxTech ammo.


    I fired another 40 rounds through the CW 380. No malfunctions and no issues hitting the target. I plan on changing carry ammo to the Lehigh Defense .380 Auto Xtreme Penetrator ammunition. I will buy a couple of boxes and check for reliability before adding it as a definite carry option. Reasons, I saw an autopsy report involving a suspect being shot with three rounds of Speer Gold Dot,penetration was not good. One round did not reach the vital organs and lodged in the stomach lining. The suspect did die, but only because one round hit the brachial artery and after he ran away, he hid from responding Officers and bled to death.

    Purchased 20 rounds if the Underwood Lehigh ammo, the 95 grain Xtreme Penetrator. I will try these soon for reliability.


    I test fired 8 rounds of the Underwood 90 grain Xtreme Penetrator round at 10 yards. The accuracy was excellent and functioning was flawless. It seemed to be a little hotter than the other defensive ammunition I have fired in this gun. I had the Underwood ammo loaded in the magazine with the Magguts spring and follower kit. I am very pleased with this setup. I also fired 30 rounds of a handload consisting of mixed 380 brass, a Berry's 100grain plated bullet, 3 grains of Titegroup powder and Rem SPP. This is a fine plinking/ practice load and 8 inch plates were no problem at 15 yards. I burned up another 25 rounds of the MaxxTech 380 ball ammo practicing with the little gun at close range firing with one hand from a retention position and with 2 hands at 3 to 5 yards. I have noticed that after approximately 100 rounds the gun wants to occasionally hangup a little requiring a bump to the back of the slide to finish chambering a round. In all fairness I haven't cleaned the gun in the last two range trips. It may also be the Maxxtech ammo as I have discovered it has a somewhat thicker rim than other rounds. I think the Fiocchi probably had the same issue.
    I did clean the gun when I got it home.

    I have also ordered the Xtreme Penetrator bullets from Lehigh ammo and will try brewing my own handloads for this bullet. They are not cheap, 20 rounds of loaded ammo from Underwood cost $38.42 total, shipping and taxes. The bullets from Lehigh ran me $40.31 including shipping for 50 bullets.

    Reloaded 10 rounds of the Lehigh 90 grain Xtreme Penetrator bullet into Federal brass over 3.2 grains of Titegroup powder. Functioned perfectly and accuracy was great.

    The Kahr CW380 has been carried quite a good bit and will need a range trip again soon. It travels with me on business trips as a second back up gun and has ridden in my pocket in a Sticky holster while walking, taking out the trash etc. My wife borrowed it for a time when she was carrying a smaller purse and her Glock 42 would not fit in the outer pocket on the new purse.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014


    Keep it coming!

    The Lehigh load is what I carry in a 380.

    muggsy: Let's face it, being shot by a .380 will ruin anyone's day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013


    The rest of they say


    I took to the Kahr CW380 to the range today and fired 50 rounds of handloads. We practiced on steel and IDPA targets from 3 to 20 yards. This little gun continues to amaze me with it's accuracy and ease of engaging and hitting targets. I might add, other than one bad primer which was solved with a tap, rack drill, the gun fired the handloads flawlessly. However, I had abox of MaxxTech 95 grain .380 ammo which it does not like. It has consistentlygiven problems by failing to chamber completely. In fairness to the MaxxTech ammo, it functions perfectly in myWife's Glock 42. All other ammunition has fired without any issues. I am thinking about upgrading the striker with the Lakeline striker.

    The handload was

    Federal.380 ACP brass

    3.0grains of Titegroup powder

    Berry's100 grain hollow base round nose bullets


    COLof .995 Crimp was .373

    Very accurate and reliable

    I found Talon grip tape for the CW380 in a local gun shop. It has been installed on the gun. Great addition.

    I also went by Cooks holsters and they used my gun as a mold to manufacture a kydex inside the waistband holster for me. I will probably still carry it in the pocket but I wanted the option for IWB carry.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013



    After cleaning the gun I noticed the slide moving back a bit when starting to pull the trigger when thegun was empty. The recoil springs seems to be wearing in a little too much. I have ordered new recoil springs from Kahr. Obviously this gun will need springs every 500 or so rounds.

    I have yet to be able to install the springs. I simply cannot compress the springs enough to install them in the gun. I think a phone call to Kahr is in order. I have to say, I find this little gun in my pocket alot. I typically carry it when I walk the dogs or work in the yard, take out the trash, get the mail, that sort of thing. As a matter of fact it is lying on the desk in front of me as I type this.
    Fiocchi ammo. We'll see. At worst I will have to order another extractor from Kahr.
    Also,I finally got the new recoil springs installed. They were not easy, but I found some good advice from SlowBurn on the KahrTalk forum about how to install them without too much strain. (He advised the following: "FWIW whenthe springs are new I set the flat end of the rod on a a table top or bookshelf to push it through the springs into the hole. Works for me anyway"). This method worked very well. It does feel tighter and before I carry it I will fire a box of ammo down range to ensure there are no issues.
    I fired another 80 rounds of various types of ammo. The only issues were with some bad primers?????. These were some older Wolf brand SPP I was using. Some would fire fine others would take 2 to 3 hits before they would fire. The gun still shoots wonderfully. I haven't rounded the bottom of the extractor yet. I cleaned the little gun when I got home.
    I haven't shot this gun lately. I have carried it extensively while in the yard, walking etc. or when I need something small and very concealable. I did carry it all over Savannah, Ga while at a convention for a week recently. It rode well in my back pocket in a the Sticky holster. When I travel, it goes with me in the suitcase as a backup.
    No rounds downrange lately, but I still carry it around the house, on short trips to the grocery etc. or when I cannot conceal a larger handgun. With the pandemic and civil unrest troubles .380ammo is either impossible to find or ridiculously priced. I have some factory FMJ rounds stored away and a few hundred 100 grain FMJ bullets to load. After that, if things haven’treturned to normal, I guess it will be time to start casting bullets for the.380 guns again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013


    Re Maxxtech - you just never know what ammo a cw or p 380 won't like. Mine feed most everything but don't like Winchester White Box for some reason, I think its the flat nose. Thankfully there's other choices.
    Rest in peace Muggsy

    "Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world." Winston Churchill 1899

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013



    Ifired 50 rounds of reloaded ammo through the Kahr CW380 today. Function was fine with only a couple of hang-ups in the first 2 magazines. I chalk that up to the new recoil spring. After that the little gun seemed to smooth out. Also, these reloads were for my Wife's Glock42 and are loaded with 100 grain bullets and are a bit long for the Kahr. Accuracy was excellent and head shots at 5 yards were ridiculously easy. 8 inchplates at 20 yards were also easily taken down.
    I fired a few close range drills and I do like how well this little gun points. I have one drill I do at 4 feet in which I draw and fire a round to center mass and a round to the head area of an IDPA target while moving backwards. I had no issues doing this without the sights and simply pointed the CW380 at the target. My best time was 2 rounds in 2.13 seconds from the IWB holster. I was a little slower from the pocket holster.
    I still keep it loaded with the Lehigh 90grain Extreme Penetrator rounds.


    No news or issues. I carry this gun quite a good bit, especially when biking or walking. I need to take it to the range and shoot a few magazines through it.


    I was finally able to get to the range and practice a little with the Kahr CW380. Using Federal American Eagle 380 FMJ, I fired 50 rounds at varying distances. I have been using a Sticky holster for pocket carry and practiced drawing from the pocket for most of the rounds fired. Once again there were no issues at all and center hits and head shots were very easily done. I tend to run "drills" with 2 targets (either steel or IDPA cardboard) depending upon the distance I am shooting from. There is also an 8" plate rack I like to play with at 20 yards. My best time today from a pocket draw on the plate rack was 6.84 seconds without a miss on all six plates. Slow by some skills but I was fairly pleased.
    The magazine with the Magguts floorplate and spring set installed still works perfectly. I also fired 8 rounds of Speer Gold Dot with no issues. Although I did notice the Gold Dots did not seem as accurate as other loads. Or maybe that was just me.

    My daughter laughingly refers to this guns as a "Noisy Cricket".

    I really like shooting this gun. I need to take it every time I visit the range and if nothing else fire a couple of magazines downrange. Factory .380ammo is still ridiculously hard to find and expensive, but that is no excuse for not practicing. I will clean the gun today, it deserves a good cleaning.. The first couple of rounds I fired today had dust bunnies flying,probably from my pocket carry.

    Best as I can figure, the gun has around 750 rounds through as of today.


    I ordered another Magguts kit for the other6 round magazine today. The currentmagazine is completely reliable so I see no sense in not converting my other 6round magazine.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013


    Yes sir,

    DavidR: I do like that round. I have seen quite a few gun shot wounds in my career. I follow the theory of the 4 Ps. Placement, penetration, practice, and Prayer.

    SlowBurn: I would really prefer it function with any ammo I can find these days. But, it is very reliable with Federal, Winchester, Remington, etc and my reloads. I sill have issues with Fiocchi and MaxxTech .

    I may still try the extractor tweak. What do you guys think? Would you try that rounding the bottom of the extractor?
    Last edited by JakeGa; 04-18-2021 at 10:23 AM. Reason: addition of missing text

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013


    My latest addition to the story.


    Magguts kits arrived and easilyinstalled. I will ensure it functions soon.


    I member of had 2 magazines he sold to me for $30.00 shipped. That gives me 5 spare magazines for this gun now.

    These have arrived and look unused. I will test fire them and add them to my stash for the Kahr CW380.


    Our retail store (Adventure Outdoors) had boxes of Hornady .355 90 Grain XTP bullets for sale. Given the cost of .380 ACP ammo these days, I purchased a box to handload. I also ordered 750 1X firedcases. Lord knows when I will see those.
    .380 ACP ammo is nearly impossible to find and when found sells for over a dollar a round. If these bullets do well I will buy a couple more boxes of them and load as many .380 defensive rounds as I can. I also have several hundred Berry’s 100 grain .355 plated bullets and will probably set the Dillon 550 up and load all of those when the brass order arrives. I also have the ability to cast and powder coat 102 grain .355 bullets as well.


    Loaded 20 rounds of the 90 grain Hornady XTP bullets today.

    Hornady .355 90 grain XTPbullet

    Federal 1X fired .380 ACPcase

    Cases were wet tumbled with pins and detergent

    3.4 grains of Titegroup powder

    CCI SPPs

    COL .965

    Crimp .372

    I will shoot these for function and accuracy this week while I am near the gun club. I am curious as to the velocity from the short CW380 barrel and will try and chronograph a few rounds.
    Ifired 20 rounds of the above load today. They fed and functioned fine, however,this bullet has a very short body and while not dismal, I did not see the accuracy I had hoped for. Groups at 15 yards were around 4 to 5 inches. Velocity was an average of 1047 FPS for 5 rounds. That is not too bad from the short barrel onthe CW380. I am pretty sure this load may be a little hotter than normal. Recoil was easy to manage though a little snappy. I also fired 10 rounds of Remington JHP and a few rounds of Federal FMJ. No surprises as the CW380 shot it all well. I was able to impress my friend by backing upto 20 yards and keeping a magazine full in the center portion of a 3/4 IDPA steel silhouette. It was 7 rounds in a 4 to 5 inch group.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013



    I've been carrying the Kahr 380 all weekend. It rode in my pocket all day Saturday while doing yardwork, planting vegetables, etc and stayed there until nearly bedtime. I wore it IWB with a Cooks kydex holster while on a 10 mile bicycle ride on Sunday afternoon. It was very comfortable and concealed well under a simple t-shirt during the ride. I also carry an extra magazine and have decided I need a mag pouch of some type, instead of just dropping the spare magazine in a pocket.

    Given that my typical carry is either a Glock26 Gen 4 9mm handgun (this is probably 99% of the time) or a Kahr CM9 9MM whenI needed something smaller. I felt I did not want to carry anything smaller than the 9MM Luger caliber.
    Having said all that, I find myself carrying this gun with confidence more and more these days. Given how well it performs and the ammo I chose for it, I don't see the need for anything larger while muddling around the house, exercising, or short trips around the city I live in.


    While on vacation and wearing shorts and a t-shirt most of the week, this little gun rode in my pocket everyday. I have acquired a soft magazine pouch that fits IWB and works quite well. It actually has a small magnet sewn inside to help hold the magazine. I wore a spare magazine in the pouch everyday with no issues while keeping up with my 6 and 8 year of age grandchildren.

    I tend to carry it while a bicycle, walk,exercise etc. It does not weigh me down and the small size makes it disappear.


    .380 ammo is non existent these days and you take what you can find. I can thankfully reload, however components, especially empty casings and primers, are difficult to locate. Given all of that, I have rounded the lower portion of the extractor in an attempt to convince this gun to reliably feed ANY .380 ammo I can find or reload these days. The issue with reloading is the empty cases that I can lay me hands on. They are all mixed head stamps and there is a lot of Maxxtech and Fiocchi etc. brass in the mix.

    I will test the gun today with a variety of headstamps and loads, both factoryand my handloads.

    The handloads are as following:

    Hornady .355 90 grain XTPbullet

    Federal 1X fired .380 ACPcase

    Cases were wet tumbled withpins and detergent

    3.3 grains of Titegrouppowder

    CCI SPPs

    COL .965

    Crimp .372

    These showed much betteraccuracy than the previously tested load. Maybe it was just me that day.

    Berry's 100 grain HB platedbullet

    PMC 1X fired cases

    3.0 grains Titegroup powder

    COL .980

    Crimp .373

    CCI SPPs

    These were very accurate and reliable

    I gauged all of the cases in a case gauge for both handloads.

    I have come to realize, thisis very important when you have a variety of .380 handguns for which you areloading for ammo. Clean cases of the same headstamp that gauge out within a couple of thousands of each other and a COL that is as close to SAAMI specs as possible given the bullet used.

    My handloads functioned perfectly as did the Winchester and Federal factory ammo I had. The Maxxtech, GECO, and Fiocchi had issues.

    I even tried some old Tula steel cased, it was horrible, but that case rim is much thicker than any brass casing I haves een.
    Last edited by JakeGa; 06-29-2021 at 08:33 PM.

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