Love and Hate; The Kel-Tec P32


November 19, 2007, 01:49 PM
Edit: Please disregard the word "hate" in the title. I couldn't imagine actually hating such a great little concept. It was just a figure of speech.

Hi All,

I am considering a pair of P32's for my wife and I for warm weather carry. I have read all of the threads, reviews, rants, praises, yatta yatta yatta...

So, I figured I would beat the dead horse a little more. If you own one of these could you kindly comment on any success/failures you may have had? Regrets, or joys of ownership? How common is "rim-lock" on these? Did you have to do any work to the gun to make it reliable, or did it work out of the box (IE fluff & buff)? Will you also include at least the first 3 digits of the serial number so we can assess the most successful batches.

Disclaimer... I know that these little guns are like the Bic lighter of guns... they work well for a given amount of time (5k-6k rounds), but they are ultimately disposable. Not an heirloom piece by any standard, and not a replacement for a "real" carry gun. However, I like the size and weight for those times when I must be "unarmed". So, for all of you guys that will have nothing less than a full sized 1911 with 230 grains of .45 caliber death in there... I have heard it all before so save your breath.

Thanks for your comments.

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November 19, 2007, 01:54 PM
Ummm, why not get the P3AT? It's a better round in ultimately the same packaging.

November 19, 2007, 01:57 PM
they work well for a given amount of time (5k-6k rounds), but they are ultimately disposable.That is not a true statement.
All K-T's carry a lifetime warrentee. If it eventually wears out, send it back to K-T and they will rebuild it and send it back, free of charge.

Go here for the best & most complete KT info on the net.

If you want to shoot JHP ammo, you will need to add either a KT rimlock kit, or a do-it-yourself Flyer wire to your carry mags.

Rim-lock isn't very likely, but Murphy's Law being what it is, insurance against it is advised.

November 19, 2007, 02:06 PM
I just bought a P32 this past Saturday and took it to the range on Sunday Morning. I ran 100 rounds of 71 grain FMJ through this little baby without a hitch. At Fifteen feet I was able to keep all rounds in a paper plate sized target which I thought was pretty good, I wish my Ruger P89 was that accurate :uhoh: The LIFETIME warranty really makes it nice. From what I have read Kel-Tec has great customer support.

BTW.. The P32 is my main CCW, the Glock 23 was just too big.

November 19, 2007, 02:12 PM
Ummm, why not get the P3AT?

I have read many times that the P3AT still has a lot of kinks that they need to work out, and has been less reliable for the most part. The P32 has been around much longer and is far more refined. Plus the difference in ballistics is negligible.

November 19, 2007, 02:32 PM
I have read many times that the P3AT still has a lot of kinks that they need to work out, and has been pretty unreliable for the most part.

That has not been true for years. The Gen2 model is rock solid.

Plus the difference in ballistics is negligible.

I'm not certain that that is quite true either considering the short barrels. But others can do the math on that better than I can.

Either way, negligible or not, when you are at the low end of the useful round spectrum, I’d take any advantage I can get.

I have a Gen2 P-3AT and I would not trade it.

I know that these little guns are like the Bic lighter of guns... they work well for a given amount of time (5k-6k rounds), but they are ultimately disposable.

+1 for what rcmodel said.

November 19, 2007, 02:37 PM
I have a P32 starting with 100 and have never had any failures at all. It is a first gen.

November 19, 2007, 02:44 PM
I have a Gen2 P-3AT and I would not trade it.

Understood... but I'm not asking about the .380

November 19, 2007, 02:48 PM
I'm a newly infatuated Kel-Tec owner. I got one a few weeks ago and am VERY tempted to buy a few more. They'll make it through a lifetime given the stellar warranty.

+1 for what rcmodel said... as always.

November 19, 2007, 02:55 PM
I have a Gen2 P-3AT and I would not trade it.

Understood... but I'm not asking about the .380

understood... But you made, what I consider, an untrue comment about the .380 and I was responding to that.

I have no comment on the P32 other than Kel-Tec will stand by anything they make.

November 19, 2007, 03:34 PM
My Bic Lighter has been around for close to 5 yrs. It has been everywhere with me. Long runs through bad neighborhoods training for a marathon, sweat,grime,lint and that baby just keeps on going...

My Bic Lighter is really more like a Timex watch, or The Energizer Bunny come to think of it!

November 19, 2007, 03:59 PM
Actually, the Bic lighter is one of the best lighters I have ever used. It was not intended as an insult. The Bic always works, it lasts for long enough, is nearly indestructible, and has a low price tag... hence the comparison. I just could not consider the P32 to be a Zippo.

November 19, 2007, 05:20 PM
We have 3 KT's started with 2 of the P-32's and I added a 380 for my self later .
All are Gen 2 and all have passed 500 trouble free rounds. I have installed the rimlock kit in both 32's This is insurance if you want to carry a HP other wise don't. Just carry ball or first 2 rounds (chamber and top round of mag) HP then ball. No rimlock worry that way.
Wife loves her 32 doesn't like recoil of 380. I keep both loaded with Corbon. She carries 32 as main I carry either of mine as back up.
Remember if you wear it out KT will rebuild or replace can't beat that.
These are great little pistols

Gen 2 don't seem to need the fluff and buff that first Gen did. Factory doing better.

November 19, 2007, 05:21 PM
I have a P32(CBY) that has been flawless in opperation. I went with the 32 over the 380 only because I already had another 32, and bought a set of reloading dies at the same time:D The ammo is more for the 32 than the 380, so if you don't reload, I'd go 380. Anyways, mine needed no fluff and buff, and has run 100%, out of the box. The recoil is very tame, but my gun groups about 6" low at 25', good groups, just low. Great little pocket guns.

November 19, 2007, 08:00 PM
I have both P-32 and P3AT. Both have been fired quite a bit, and
both have been 100% reliable.

The .380 generates about 50% more power than the .32. Using
Speer Gold Dot as an example: .32 cal 60 grain JHP at 950 FPS, about 120 Ft Lbs. .380 cal 90 grain JHP at 950 FPS, about 180 Ft Lbs.

I'm not sure that it makes any difference in the real world.
If you go by balllistic gel penetration tests, both rounds have about the
same penetration and damage. If you go by the Marshal/Sanow statistics
the .32 is 64% and the .380 70%.

The effectiveness of both calibers has more to do with shot placement
and penetration than anything else. My .32 can be fired both more quickly
and more accurately than my .380, and has much lower recoil. I feel
comfortable with either, but I generally carry the .32, particularly because
it is almost never carried alone, save in the very hottest weather and
lightest clothes. As a backup the slightly smaller size and lighter weight is
actually noticeable. I have Kel-Tec rimlock kits installed in two of my
magazines, and have fired several hundred of the hp's and the short
WWB ammo without any problem. All in all I would feel comfortable with
with either.

November 19, 2007, 08:19 PM
I like Kel-Tecs. I've had an early, hard chrome P-32 for about 7 years and it has been perfect. It is always with me as a back up gun.

Blue .45
November 19, 2007, 09:39 PM
I have a 1rst gen P32 which I bought used, about a year ago. The only time I experienced rim lock was with cor bon hollow points. I've never had any problems with FMJ. You can order a rim lock kit from Kel Tec. However, you will be limited to shorter rounds such as hollow points with the kit installed in your magazine. To avoid this problem, I load Fiocchi 73gr. FMJ for defense. I've never fired a P3AT, but the recoil is very manageable with the P32. there are also 10rd. magazines available for it which also provide a little more grip to hold on to. Over all, I've been pretty impressed with this little gun.

November 19, 2007, 11:02 PM
I just bought a P-32 (Gen 2) last week. I took it (and my wife) to the range on Friday and I really like the pistol. Yes, it takes a little getting used to the recoil (even for a .32) but I was able to keep all the shots COM on a man-sized target at 5-7 yds. My wife was able to keep them on the body -- which is fine. She didn't like the recoil compared to my Beretta PX4, but she's very comfortable shooting it and it will make a good purse gun for her once she gets her CHL.

Right now I carry mine in a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster. I'm going to order an IWB holster for appendix carry (it's a perfect size)

Go check out the Kel Tec Owner's Group forum ( -- lots of info there on all the various models. I definitely see another P-32 in my future...because I'm not going to be willing to share my BUG with my wife!


November 19, 2007, 11:18 PM
Being a .32 acp fan I just chuckle when somebody decides they want a .32 and somebody else just has to chastize them for not choosing a .380.
Having the misfortune of being involved in real world shooting scrapes I can assure you if that moment comes to you whatever you are packing just isn't going to be big enough.

In the real world point blank ranges for which the guns are intended I assure you one will work about as well as the other and it won't matter what bullet you have loaded into the gun.

I own a P-32 and am quite pleased with the performance of the pistol so far.

November 19, 2007, 11:26 PM
My first-gen P-32 is wildly inaccurate with all types of ammo makes, but very reliable.

It's a POS in my opinion..

November 20, 2007, 12:26 AM
Kel Tec's aren't pretty, if K-T had to make them pretty they would cost more. But they do work very well.

As for longevity, I wouldn't worry about it. With ammo prices being what they are it might take awhile to go through 5-6K. On that note .32acp and .380acp are conspicuously pricey, 120x 50 round boxes (6k) of .32/.380 (very optimistically) at $12/box is $1440. You might consider a PF-9 or P11, as 9mm is actually cheaper (at least it is where I shop I can still sometimes get it at $8/50.) The only guns I even think about longevity anymore are the .22's, since lately that's the only ammo I can afford enough of to actually put some wear on a gun.

Plus, seems that every time I read about someone sending a K-T back to the factory it comes back better than new, or sometimes it is actually a new replacement pistol. These guys understand the customer support/ brand loyalty correlation.

November 20, 2007, 12:51 AM
I have both the P32 and P3AT. The P32 is a real tack driver of a gun and easier for a weaker person to shoot. You can even use 10 round mags for it (I do).

I carry both some times.

November 20, 2007, 05:44 AM
You might consider a PF-9 or P11

They look similar on the web, but man what a big little gun:D
The lady would not appreciate the hard kicking 9mm, the P11 has one of the worst triggers of any handguns, a hit with a 32 is better than a miss with a 9:neener:

November 20, 2007, 07:09 AM
have and regularly carry my P32. It is a newer one with the improved sights. It has been 100% reliable and is very easy to shoot quickly and accurately. I would hardly call it the "BIC lighter" of guns as BICs don't have a lifetime warranty and a company that backs that warranty. If you break a KT and throw it away thats your poor choice. Rim lock is not an issue for me. I load the top round in each of my mags with a Corbon or Fiocchi JHP and the rest are ball rounds so rimlock is not an issue. The .32 isn't a terribly powerful gun but if you practice with it and remember the limitations of the weapon it could be used very effectively.

November 20, 2007, 02:45 PM
As mentioned above, there have been several comments regarding the caliber. However, I see the .32 as an advantageous compromise of weapon size/weight vs. caliber effectiveness.

The thing is that I already have a 9mm Glock 26 for my usual carry gun. However, the size of the G26 makes it less desirable when deep-concealment is necessary. That being said, I would rather have a little .32 than having only my knife in these times.

So, for you 380 and 9mm guys, please realize that we want the .32 for a good reason. It is the smallest, lightest, yet reasonably effective gun on the market. Hell, people die regularly from .22LR, so I think that 7+1 of .32 is not the worst option for deep CCW.

Jacobus Rex
November 20, 2007, 03:52 PM
I have fired the P32, P3AT, and the P11. To summarize my thoughts with comparisons made relative to the P3AT:

Advantage: 9mm round, higher mag capacity
Disadvantage: A little large for a pocket gun. P3AT is a good bit smaller.

Advantage: Super concealable, The most powerful of the "pocket" cartridges.
Disadvantage: No second strike ability on trigger.

Advantage: Does have a second strike ability unlike the P3AT.
Disadvantage: No real reason to carry a .32 if you can have a .380

I own and carry the P3AT because I don't see carrying a .32 if you can have a .380. That being said, I think you get an extra round in the mag of the .32 and you do get second strike ability on the trigger if you are paranoid about that kind of thing. I suppose you could also say that the recoil is a little bit less. If I happened to have a P32 on me, I would not feel undefended. The first rule is to always have a gun and 90% of the time, no shot will even be fired. Overall, for me, the P3AT was better. The 2nd gen P3AT is reliable. The most important thing is to have proper skills and actually carry the gun.

ETA: I wanted to make a correction. Posters below are correct in saying there is no double strike ability on the P32. It had been a long time since I handled one and just double checked. I was wrong about that.

November 20, 2007, 04:43 PM
There is nothing wrong with the P32.
The design has been solid since inception.
Where KT got into trouble is when they adapted the design to the P3AT.
It took awhile to get the bugs worked out, but, it too, is now solid.
Incidentally, they ran into the same problem when they combined the "AT" and the P11 to produce the PF9, but unlike the P3AT, KT has been very proactive in fixing the bugs in their newest wunderwaffe.
It is now solid.

Mat, not doormat
November 20, 2007, 04:49 PM
I've got one, SN in the 108XXX range. I've had it for about six years, shot maybe 4k rounds through it in that time. I'm still not entirely sure what rimlock is, but as it has only ever had two malfs in that time, both stovepipes, it's not something I worry about. It is surprisingly accurate, once one masters the difficult trigger and ridiculous excuse for sights. I can hold groups of about 4" at 50', with a two handed grip, standing. It took quite a while for me to get used to shooting a gun this small. I don't have the world's biggest hands, but they're not tiny, either. My standard "finger laid along the frame until ready to shoot" hold actually puts my fingertip forward of the muzzle. My right thumb has to be kept crooked and high, otherwise it will interfere with the trigger. Once that sort of thing is dealt with, they're fine little guns. I carry mine every day, as a BUG to my 1911.


November 20, 2007, 06:14 PM
O.K. here is where i admit i don't know everything. What is a rimlock kit? I looked on the KT site and could not find any mention of one. I thought rim lock was when the rim of the top round caught behind the rim of the round below it. I have had that happen but only with the 10 round mag. I fixed that problem by reducing the rim diameter about .012 of an inch. Have had no FTF or eject.

Second, what is a generation 2? My KT does not have a double strike setup in the trigger. I have never had any malfunctions with my gun but have shot less than 200 rounds. Thanks in advance for any input. Thomas.

November 20, 2007, 08:30 PM
Advantage: Does have a second strike ability unlike the P3AT.

Uh...the P-32 doesn't have a second strike capability. You have to rack the slide (about 1/8 inch) to recock the hammer.

Advantage: Less recoil, follow up shots faster and more accurate.

Second, what is a generation 2? As the name implies, it's the second generation of P-32's. The most obvious (visible) difference is the extractor. Compare this one: with the pic of my new P-32 on my web page, here:


Blue .45
November 20, 2007, 09:36 PM
What is a rimlock kit?

It's basically a shim you install in the magazine to take up the extra space, which prevents shorter rounds from shifting back and forth in the magazine. Unfortunately, the web store I bought mine from either no longer exists, or is down for maintenance.

However, you can make your own if you want to.

November 21, 2007, 12:31 AM
Well thanks guys. I have the generation 1. My extractor doesn't have that chattered look. Mine is smooth but without the screw. Looked at the rim lock. Don't think i'll do it. I like the FMJ better and i solved my problems with a simple ammo modification. The rounds feed much slicker. Just like 380s or 9mm.

November 21, 2007, 12:39 PM
I have a first gen P32 I picked up a couple of years ago, I carry it all the time in the summer months.
The first 200 or so rounds through it were problematic, failures to feed, mostly. I did a KT 'fluff and buff', and now it seems to work fine. It is kind of ammo picky, though, but as long as I shoot what it likes, it now works without fail.
I'd recommend it, as long as you know the limitations. It does disappear in your pocket like nothing else.

November 21, 2007, 03:10 PM
I had a .32, found it to be reliable but inaccurate for me, regardless of ammo, and got rid of it. Bought a P3at a couple of years ago and it is quite accurate and has been 100% reliable.

Like others here, I think the Kel-tec is a great gun and a great idea made even better by being offered in .380. Even if my .32 had been a good shooter I'd have traded up to the .380. Every little bit helps!

November 21, 2007, 03:14 PM
+1 for the 3AT. I've had mine for a year and it's trouble free. It is THE summertime carry gun.

November 21, 2007, 06:31 PM
I actually prefer the P32 over the P3AT. The 32 round is slightly more controllable and the ballistics difference is negligible. Plus for me, it was a more economical decision because I have a few other 32ACP guns and already have a decent stock of ammo.

I bought a 1st gen from my dad who was trading up to a J-frame. I feel pretty good about the purchase and I like him carrying the .38 Special as his "always gun" rather than the 32ACP. An S&W 642 is most often my CCW of choice as well.

Due to the slightly anemic round, the little Keltec will never be my first pick among the CCWs I have available in my collection. However, I know my dad never had any trouble with it since day one and it's never bobbled once since I've owned it. I load FMJ only, and have never had any rimlock issues. The gun is fairly easy to control. Is simple to operate and maintain. My dad didn't ever clean it well (I don't think he ever field stripped it), yet it never jammed.

I like the gun for what it is. It's light, very small and practically undetectable in a pocket, belly band or IWB holster.

I like the reference to the Bic Lighter. It is plastic, small, light, cheap and always fires dependably. If it is ever lost or seriously damaged, it's economical to replace.

I think Keltec has a real winner in the P32 and I love the little critter.

Edited to add: Mine's an early serial number: 920xx

My dad's not very mechanical and is generally afraid to take things apart, so it's never had a fluff & buff. By the time I got it, it was well broken in and proven reliable so I never saw the need to do anything but field strip it to give it a good inspection, clean and lube. Oh, and I did add a +1 extension to two of my four mags.

November 21, 2007, 06:57 PM
I would get the .32. I have two that are of the first generation and the first one had to go back to k/t as the ejector spring was too weak. I have several friends who bought the newer k/t .380's and they have had a lot of problems with them. One went back to k/t twice and it still was jamming so he ditched it and got a revolver. The sad thing about it was he had a p32 that worked just fine and traded it in on the .380.

You won't have any rimlock problems if you load fmj or you can load 2 h/p's (one in the chamber and one on top of the mag), if you like. Or you can get another magazine with the metal shm which prevents rim lock on the shother hollow points. I've had trouble with corbon's .32 ammo as I got 2 boxes (different lot numbers) and both the rims were too big and were not tapered as .32 cases should be which caused feeding problems from the mag. I cured this problem by chucking the rounds in an elec. drill and removed enough of the rim (they fed fine). I contacted corbon to alert them to this problem and they thought I was out to lunch. I doubt they have fixed this problem. No two guns are alike so if you decide on the .32 corbon may work just fine.

Another good thing about the p32 is it has a slide lock which the .380 does not which makes it more difficult to take apart and reassemble.

If I knew I could buy a new k/t .380 that worked I'd probably get one as they are more powerful.

I've never shot the .380 but have heard of some people complaining of the recoil.

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