Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together an ideal everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Kahr Arms CM9 pistol in a Blackhawk TecGrip holster. We also have a 5.11 Tactical TMT PL flashlight, a Blackhawk TecGrip magazine carrier, Steel Will Gekko Mini 1550 folding knife and a PHLster pocket emergency wallet.
Kahr CM9 (MSRP: $487)
While it’s tempting to think the Kahr CM9 came on the scene in response to other single-stack 9 mm semi-autos like the Smith & Wesson Shield or the Ruger LC9, remember that the PM9 upon which the CM9 is based was released in 2003 (the CM9, like the Shield, was released in 2012, a year after the LC9). As an everyday carry pistol, the CM9’s size makes it eminently concealable, but perhaps its small size is why it is often overlooked—it is somewhat of a handful to shoot a full-power round out of such a tiny pistol.
The CM9 really is tiny—14 ounce-weight, 5.4 inches long overall and less than an inch wide. It’s barely larger in size and weight than the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380, yet it’s chambered in 9 mm. Capacity is 7 rounds total, slightly less than larger single-stacks but on par with micro-380s, and in either case, hardly a dealbreaker, especially for a pistol that fits easily in a pocket.
Two drawbacks to the small size that should be addressed, however, are the position of one’s hands while shooting and the act of reloading. For those that favor a support-hand position far-forward on the pistol, be mindful of both where your support-hand thumb rests. As with most pocket-size pistols, reloading is more complicated than with full-size—the strong hand tends to capture the magazine and it will most likely require the support hand to remove.
The CM9 borrows heavily from the established PM9, with minor differences in manufacture and aesthetics—the CM9 has traditional rifling rather than the PM9’s polygonal, and has engraving on the slide rather than a rollmark. What remains the same, though, is the diminutive size and ease of carry—this is definitely a full-power pistol you can carry every day.
Blackhawk TecGrip Holster (MSRP: $18.95)
Introduced a couple years ago, Blackhawk’s TecGrip line of holsters features three-layer laminate construction with a sticky outside, smooth inside and closed-cell foam in the middle. This keeps the holster firmly anchored in the pocket, allows for a rapid presentation of the pistol and gives a good measure of protection and comfort when the firearm is holstered. While Blackhawk promotes this line for inside-the-waistband carry, I prefer my IWB holsters to have a secure belt attachment. They work exceptionally well as pocket holsters, though.
5.11 Tactical TMT PL Flashlight (MSRP: $19.99)
If you’re downsizing your carry firearm, obviously space is at a premium, so a small flashlight like 5.11 Tactical’s TMT PL is a great fit. At 3.2 inches long and an ounce and a quarter weight, it’s extremely easy to find a spot for the TMT PL in any pocket or bag. While the 24-lumen output isn’t going to blind anyone or light up an entire football field, it’s entirely adequate for scanning around your car or lighting a walkway. One triple-A battery powers the TMT PL for 3 hours, and it is weather- and shock-resistant.
Blackhawk TecGrip Magazine Carrier (MSRP: $14.95)
Blackhawk liked the TecGrip idea so much, it got expanded this year to include magazine carriers. Built with the same specs as the TecGrip holster mentioned earlier, the magazine carriers can also be carried inside the waistband or in a pocket. I don’t have a problem carrying a spare magazine IWB without a clip, and the TecGrip works quite well to keep a spare tucked away. When carried in a pocket, the extra “wing” on the carrier helps separate the TecGrip from the magazine on the draw.
Steel Will Gekko Mini 1550 Folding Knife (MSRP: $199.99)
The Gekko series from Steel Will incorporates micarta scales, single-hand opening via a thumb stud on either side of the blade, pocket clip with ambidextrous possibility and simple lockback mechanism for keeping it open. The N690Co cobalt-steel blade is 3.5 inches long and the Gekko measures 7.87 inches, open. Weight is 4.76 ounces, and other finishes and handle options are available in the Gekko line.
We’ve talked about the importance of an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) previously at Shooting Illustrated, and while it’s pretty easy to pull together a decent kit to lash to a range bag or bug-out bag, having a minimalist kit you can have with you all day long is harder. Fortunately, PHLster has done the heavy lifting and put together the PEW: Pocket Emergency Wallet. With a Snake Eater Tactical elastic sleeve, the PEW contains a pair of nitrile gloves, compressed gauze, a compression bandage and a sheet of Woundclot gauze. As always, we recommend professional first-aid training to best use this equipment, but having it on your person at all times means that even if you’re not fully trained, someone with the right training won’t need to waste valuable moments searching for life-saving gear.