Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Really A Mousegun, But It Was My Birthday

Back in the 90's I started a personal tradition of buying one really special gun per year on or about my birthday.  Regardless of how they turned out or worked, these were all going to be "keepers" that were never going to be for sale or trade.  To fund these purchases, I kept an aquarium in my bedroom and each day I would dump any change from my pockets into it.  When birthday time rolled around, I would bag up all the loose change and take it down to the bank so they could count it up and let me know how much cost I had defrayed through my yearly savings.  This went on for several years and I've still got some really unique pieces that were made or refinished or have some other special characteristic about them that make them unique to me.  This all came to abrupt end at the end of the 90's when I started shooting competitive trap and the "buy-in" for a top of the line fine Italian trap combo started approaching the price of a custom Ranger bass boat.

Spin the clock ahead a decade and I'm back on the one special gun a year program.  For 2010 it was a Seecamp LWS380 that was ordered in 2008 for delivery in 2010.  The backlog is still bad, but back then it was a full two years.  The only thing really special about it is a personalized serial number with my initials and birth year.  It's unique to me and the only custom serial number gun I've ever owned.

Back in 2009, my wife bought me a Ruger Mark III 22/45 Hunter for my birthday.  Nothing super special about that other than it was the first time I was ever gifted a firearm.  Requiring me do the transfer paperwork as the ultimate owner of the gun ruined any surprise factor, but it's the thought that counts.  Another part of her gift to me that year was a copy of American Handgunner Tactical Annual 2010 as seen below.  I really thought the cover shot  and inner magazine article pictures looked great.  I read the magazine and probably read through the cover story about 3 times since my experiences with the Kahr brand of pistols matched up so closely with those of the author of the cover story.  We were both exposed to Kahr pistols several years ago and really didn't think much of them.  I happened to see Kahrs for the first time at a S&W and Kahr Demo Day at a local range.  I tried the then new S&W 945 and a cute little MK9.  I loved the 945 and absolutely hated the kick and hand sting I got from the MK9.

In the summer of 2009 we were all scrounging for ammo.  This forced me to expand my horizons and get into more of the local pawn dealers and sporting goods suppliers.  On one of those trips, I happened to see this new in the box Kahr CW45 in the display case.
I asked to see it and one thing lead to another and it followed me home that day.  It's been a great pistol.  It's been 100% reliable and quite accurate for a cheaper version of the Kahr P45.  I have had such a good experience with it, I was considering using it for concealed carry, but wanted to add night sights to it first.  Then I remembered reading that magazine article about the Robar custom P45 which is about the same size as the CW45, but comes with some more extensive finishing and that sexy sculptured slide.  I was lucky enough to find the original magazine in the basement so I went over to the Robar website to get more specifics on the P45 package featured in the article.

Robar had a page on their site that detailed all the work they do to the box stock P45 to get it to what you see on the magazine cover above.  The worklist is detailed as:

Robar's Kahr Package

  • Forward cocking serrations
  • Texture grip
  • Smooth trigger operation
  • Dehorn & Bull Nose Slide
  • Round & polish trigger face
  • Add beavertail
  • Polish throat
  • Test fire for function
  • Ammunition
  • Engrave Robar logo on top of slide
  • XS 24/7 Big Dot night sight
  • Norton Special NP3 refinish
  • NP3 Finish two magazines

You can either buy the whole package at a discounted price, or take bits and pieces from the list at full price for each modification.  You also have to pay for shipping both ways so add in for that and you end up with a really expensive list of modifications.  If this was going to be my 2011 birthday gun, then I had to go all in for the whole package.  I was able to track down a NIB P45 from a dealer that was just down the street from Robar.  I put in my Robar order and then I sat back and waited for the work to be done.

The Robar P45 ended up being the most expensive pistol I ever purchased.  Probably not smart, but I really did want something special for birthday 2011.  So now I have to figure out how to pay for the package.  Well, I stopped the aquarium change bank at about the same time that I stopped using real paper money to buy stuff.  Not sure how things work for you, but using cash to pay for stuff seems to have fallen by the wayside for those small things that would generate a pocket full of change in a day.  On the other hand, if you have a credit card that pays you cash back, you can rack up a pretty hefty reward balance over time.  Let the rewards pile up long enough and you might find you have enough to pay for the Robar customization package so really the only cash outlay was the base pistol.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Robar was able to turn the gun around pretty quickly so technically, I received my birthday gun early this year.  That gave me some time to order up some holsters and spend some quality range time with the pistol before my birthday.  I did actually go to the range on my birthday and I look along the original CW45 and the new P45 for some head to head shooting comparison.

Originally, I though I would like to try a tuckable hybrid holster for the CW45 so I ordered a Comp-tac Minotaur MTAC Holster that works best at 4 to 5 O'clock.  At first I wasn't really excited about the holster, but I think that will change as cooler weather comes and I find that I'm wearing a coat more frequently.  I ended up buying a second kydex shell in order to use the Comp-tac holster with both the CW45 and P45.

What I have been using most frequently is a selection of clip-less in the waistband holsters from Remora.  One nice feature is the holsters work equally well with the CW45 and P45.  I ended up with 4 different holsters that all fill a specific role.  I like wearing these holsters at at 1 O'clock or 11 O'clock as cross-draw.  The best part of this is that 4 different Remora holsters will run you about the same price as the Comp-tac with two shells.  You can also wear them in the waistband without a belt or with a belt if you happen to be wearing one.

Ordering holsters from Remora can be a bit daunting at first.  There are just so many varieties and options available.  I'll walk you though what I learned by ordering from Remora and maybe it might help you decide on one model vs. another if you decide to add a Remora to your holster stash.  I knew I wanted a holster for the range so the 4 RTF-SS fills that need.  The RTF is remora short-hand for reinforced top which keeps the soft holster from collapsing after the draw and aids greatly in reholstering.  SS is shorthand for sweat shield which means the body side of the holster is larger to keep the pistol away from your skin and your sweat off the gun.  I'm not really good about packing along a spare magazine, so I thought I would try the 4P-SS.  That's the holster on the right in the picture above.  It works, but could be improved with some cross stitching across the magazine pocket to keep the mag from dropping down too far into the pocket.  That's something I'm going to have a local shoe repair shop do one of these days.  4-SS is the basic holster for the Kahr P45 and CW45 with the added sweat shield.  The 3C is a brand new size from Remora that was created specifically for the 3.5" barrel Kahrs.  The size 4 fit well, but the 3C has been modified slightly to make the fit a bit tighter.  I like the 3C a bit better than the 4 as it allows a little more grip on the draw.  I will probably get a 3C-SS at some point in the future.  All Remora holsters look similar so the folks at Remora will write the model inside the holster.  That's very helpful if you end up with a few of their holsters. 

I've been asked if the Robar P45 was really worth the money considering I had a CW45 that worked just fine.  I really like the XS Big Dot night sight system on the P45.  It's quite a bit different than the stock CW45 sights and takes a bit to adjust to, but after you make the adjustment you can really see how this sight system shines.  You just put the dot on what you are targeting and make sure the lollypop stick on the rear sight is aligned with the dot and you are good to go.  I thought I would lose some of the fine aiming that you can do with standard patridge sights, but my concerns were unfounded.  On a carry pistol, these sights really appear to be a better solution for rapid deployment and getting the muzzle on target.  The grip stippling feels great and I don't feel compelled to add a grip sleeve like I did on the CW45.  The carry melt done on the slide and controls makes a really big difference.  There are zero sharp edges on the P45.  The only negative I have is the Robar NP3 finish is very slick by design and when the gun is new the slide is very difficult to retract as the recoil springs are at their strongest.  It took many rounds down range to get that spring loosened up a little so retracting the slide was easier.  The plus side of that NP3 slickness is the gun cleans up with a dry rag.  Nothing sticks to that finish.  We'll see how it holds up over time.

One more note on ammo selection.  Both the CW45 and P45 will shoot any 230 grain fmj I've fed them.  They both choke on Hornady TAP 200 grain XTP.  Something about the bullet engages the rifling of the barrel and causes the slide to stop just short of battery or will go into battery, but can't be manually ejected.  I've read that others have the same problem with Kahr 45s and Hornady XTP ammo.  Otherwise, everything else I've tried seems to work just fine.

I thought the CW45 was pretty accurate, but I didn't expect the P45 to be much more accurate.  I was hoping they would be similar.  Hands down the P45 shoots tighter groups.  I made a video that shows me shooting a similar target with both the CW45 and P45.  I used the same ammo in both guns.  The P45 wins.  I also threw in some extra video of me shooting two strings with the P45 at a special target from Gun Fun Shooting Targets.

Happy Halloween!!!  Watch out for zombies. 

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