kel-tech 32 or 380?


August 23, 2007, 11:53 PM
I want to purchase a small, easily concealable autoloader handgun-- the Kel-tech 32 and 380 seem very small. What are the pros and cons to these pistols? If you have a better idea of a handgun that falls into my criteria , please feel free to make suggestions. Thanks to all---- amt341

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August 23, 2007, 11:58 PM
Go with the .380. Do a search for "rimlock" and you'll see why.

Jorg Nysgerrig
August 24, 2007, 12:07 AM
People seem to have mixed luck with the Kel-Tecs. Some work great, other folks have reported problems. Overall, most people seem to be happy with them.

As far as caliber, both the .32 and the .380 are marginal when it comes to self-defense. .380 is less marginal and the size of the P3AT is great. That's the one I would go with.

August 24, 2007, 12:10 AM

August 24, 2007, 08:19 AM
The P-32 holds 7+1 rounds of .32 and has an internal slide lock, so the slide will lock back after the last round.

The P-3AT holds 6+1 rounds of .380 and has no slide lock, so the slide will close on an empty chamber after the last round is fired.

The P-3AT is a little heavier than the P-32.

Those are the basic differences between the two.

August 24, 2007, 08:34 AM
I have the P32 and am very pleased. I shot it yesterday at a 2" orange dot on a sheet of paper and put all 13 shots that I shot on that paper I think the reason that some of them were so low was I was trying to find out where I was hitting when I went up on the target I found 4 of them in the black on the target. It was 100+ outside and I was clearly shaking due to the heat but I was super pleased at 10-15 yds I trust my P32 more that I trust my S&W 3913 tactical a 32 in the target is much better than a 9mm 2' below poa. I am very pleased with my 32 and thinking of selling the smith just dont trust it anymore. I can say that I debated the 380 vs 32 for awhile and went 32 due to less recoil faster follow up and its pretty accurate. I have not shot the 380 but sure its a great gun also

August 24, 2007, 03:18 PM
Kel-Tec P-32 vs. Kel-Tec P-3AT, Pros and Cons

Kel-Tec P-32 Pros
1. Has slide lock
2. Holds 7+1
3. Very slightly smaller and lighter
4. Less recoil

Kel-Tec P-32 Cons
1. Rim-lock problems mainly with hollow-point ammo.
2. Smaller and less powerful round

Kel-Tec P-3AT Pros
1. No rim-lock problems
2. Larger and more powerful round

Kel-Tec P-3AT Cons
1. No slide-lock
2. Holds 6+1
3. Very slightly larger and heavier
4. More recoil

I debated the same thing and finally went with the P-3AT, here's why:
I wanted the gun that had the best compromise between size, weight, stopping power, and reliability at a reasonable cost.

The slide-lock wasn't a big deal to me because most self-defense situations are over before a 6 or 7 round magazine is empty anyway.

For this same reasoning the number difference between 6 more powerful rounds or 7 weaker rounds may be toss-up.

The P-32 would be better loaded with non-expanding ammo for two reasons:
1. The possibilities of rim-lock with expanding ammo and...
2. .32 does not have enough power to expand well, so itís probably better to go with non-expanding ammo and rely on the deeper penetration for stopping power.

The .380 ammo does expand quite well and at the same time the penetration is fair. With non-expanding ammo .380 penetration is more than adequate, and at any rate better than the .32.

So, for 1 oz. more weight and 0.1" more in length I went with the .380, and found that the recoil isn't all that bad, especially if you add finger extensions to your mags and a slip-on grip.

Two years and over 1900 malfunction-less rounds later I still think I made the right decision

August 24, 2007, 05:49 PM
The rim lock is overstated It could, or may occure. Reguardless its a 5 min fix and then it will never be a problem again. I have a ball mag for practice and a HP mag for carry. .
I have both 2 of the 32's and a 380 I carry the 32 a lot more than the 380 Because out of these short barrels Their really isn't a great difference. So I choose the extra round and slide lock.
On the old Golden Loki site the 32 CorbonHP was about the same in Peneteration as the 380 corbonHP .
I will bet BG won't be able to tell you what caliber he was shot with. He will just know it hurt and he wanted to leave.
Neither have that bad of recoil but 380 is a lot more. Wife packs other 32 and loves it. Didn't like 380 recoil.

August 24, 2007, 08:30 PM
.380 It is TINY.

August 25, 2007, 12:01 AM
I've owned both and I still own the P32, it's my everyday carry gun.
Shooting the P3AT is best described as trying to hold onto an exploding credit card. There is no argument that the .380 is a more stout round and a better self defense round than the .32 but I have more control and one extra round with the .32
If you go the P32 way...don't bother with hollow points, there isn't enough energy generated to get them to expand properly. Stick with regular ball ammo and you won't have to worry about rimlock. I don't actually take my own advice, I carry with Fiocchi semi-jacketed 60 grain hollow points and I practice with old Winchester white box FMJ before they changed the bullet shape.

I went to the safe and measured some of the rounds I have, here are the measurements.

My old Winchester White Box 71 grain FMJ with the nice round bullet .971 to .979 with most of them right around .975 total length consistantly.
Fiocchi 60 grain semi-jacketed HP .929 +or- 1 , A nice long HP, very consistant length and not very likely to rimlock. Also, many shooters report that the Fiocchi is a little hotter than most brands.
New Winchester W.B. 71 grain FMJ with the flat nosed bullet had the least consistancy and measured .905 to .919 with an even mix of all lengths in between.
And lastly, Winchester SilverTip HP's measured .907 +or- 1 throughout the box, very consistant length.
The point is, if you buy new WWB for practice and Fiocchi for carry, your carry ammo is LESS lickely to rimlock as it's longer than the practice ammo.

I hope some of that helps.

Mat, not doormat
August 25, 2007, 02:00 AM
I bought the 32, because when I did it, there was no such thing as a P3AT. Since then, I still carry the .32, even though my Dad has one of the .380s. I've played with both, and nothing I've seen has convinced me that the 380 is any better a choice than the .32. As such, I haven't bothered upgrading.

Another difference that I've noticed, is that the .32 will fire from short reset, whereas the .380 will not. I don't know why, as the trigger mechanisms are supposed to be about the same, but there it is.


Blue .45
August 25, 2007, 03:13 AM
I have a P32 loaded with Fiocchi 73gr. FMJ. Mine has been reliable and reasonably accurate for such a small gun. Even with the ten round magazine, it fit in my pocket with no problem. I don't know if they make a ten round mag for the P3AT.

August 25, 2007, 09:22 AM
I just traded for a P3AT...I wanted the 380 over the 32. I figured if the moment came and I had to shoot someone in self defense I would not even be conscious of the recoil. When I've shot deer I never even remember hearing the sound or feeling the recoil. With that in mind I wanted the bigger of the two. BTW you should visit the site...a very informative, knowledgeable and friendly group of folk over there...You'll learn everything about Kel-Tec both the good and the bad.

August 25, 2007, 11:39 AM
either work for intended use,get wichever,if you end up with a 32 use fiocchi ammo it closes the gap between 32 and 380.the 60 grain SJHP chronoed 1000 fps out of my seecamp.ww and speer were ~800. also if you use JHP in 32 get the mag adapter it elimanates rimlock.

August 25, 2007, 11:47 PM
I own a P-32 and I like it a lot.

You can prevent rim lock in your .32 Auto by buying a kit from Kel-Tec to prevent it or by modifying the mag yourself.

If you want some really hot .32 Auto ammo Fiocchi makes a 60 gr SJHP ammo that's rated 1200 fps w/205 ft/lbs of energy. That is 200 fps faster and just as much energy as a .380. PLEASE DO NOT answer this post by telling me you won't get 1200 fps when fired through a Kel-Tec P-32, that is very obvious. I'm only telling you what the velocity is when fired from a 4" barrel and even though you will lose velocity in the Kel-Tec that is true of any ammo you fire from a short barrel pistol. When you start out with 200 fps more than most other ammo you will end up with ~ 200 fps more when they all slow down.

August 25, 2007, 11:54 PM
.380 - and remember - CorBon DPX

The Lone Haranguer
August 26, 2007, 12:04 AM
I don't have one, but do have a niche for one (as a backup or hideout, not a primary weapon). I would choose the .380. For only a tiny size increase over the .32 you get a substantial (if that is the right word when talking about little bullets from short barrels) increase in cartridge power. For that I think can live without a slide lock.

August 26, 2007, 04:25 AM
The FPE for .32 acp and .380 acp are both anemic and must be used in very close quarters with point black shots to face, neck, eyes, ears to be effective.

As such, I chose the smaller and lighter P-32 for a true back pocket BUG.

If you are really into ballastics, a Kahr PM9 can be pocket carried.

August 26, 2007, 06:11 AM
Carried by plainclothes and uniformed officers for many years as a primary and/or backup weapon, history will tell you that the .38 snubbie revolver has been, and still is, reasonably effective as a defensive weapon.

As you have likely read a hundred times before, from a ballistics perspective, the .380 is very close to that non-plus P .38 snubby round.

A Cor-Bon load may even slightly surpass it.

The .380 round has a place in my safe, right alongside the .38s, the 9s, the .40s and the .45s.

And I'd have a 120mm Howitzer too, if I could find a tuckable holster to fit it.

August 26, 2007, 07:53 AM
Better a 380 in the pocket than a 45 in the safe.

If I have to use it in self defense I am not shooting for the face, neck or eyes...not only will I be less likely to hit the bad guy but I'll be more likely to hit a good guy :banghead: I'm shooting center mass and shooting until the person is down. I imagine 90 grains of hot lead in the chest will have some deterrent effect and if repeated I imagine the cumulative effect of continued rounds to the chest will be even more discouraging to the plans of the bad guy.

Ala Dan
August 26, 2007, 10:26 AM
I like the advantages that a .380 caliber handgun has over the .32 ACP~! ;):D

Probably not having anything to do with the thread, but when a .32 ACP is in order-
I carry a Seecamp LWS-32~!

August 26, 2007, 11:50 AM
One that has not been mentioned. ACCURACY. The P3AT is surprising more accurate than the .32. Show me how well you can hit a bullseye target at 25 yards with the .32. I can do well with the .380, even with the little sights.

August 26, 2007, 04:58 PM
P-3AT with Corbon 80gr DPX.

With this combo you always carry, and you always carry something effective.

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