Are Kel-Tec pistols any good?


July 19, 2010, 11:36 AM
I just got myself a Smith and Wesson 586 for my house defense gun, but it's too big a gun for me to carry in my purse. I was looking at different guns for carry, and somebody said to look at the Kel-Tec guns like the ones here (

I never heard of Kel-Tec, and those guns are so small that they fit in your palm! They'd be great to put in a purse, but are they any good? It would seem like they're so small they'd break easily.

I'm sorry to be asking so many questions around here, but I'm just getting started.

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July 19, 2010, 11:43 AM
Can't speak for all Kel Tecs but I have a PF-9 that has given me 0 problems. If I were you, I would try to rent or borrow one and shoot it. My only complaint about the PF-9 is the recoil. It doesn't really bother me but it's not a gun I want to take to the range every weekend. Don't be fooled by the low price of Kel Tec's either...despite what some of the gun snobs will tell you, you don't have to pay $1K to get a good firearm.

Would I trust my life to it? I do on a fairly regular basis.

July 19, 2010, 12:11 PM
If you don't feel the need to practice often then they are fine for self defense. That said, if you want something a little more comfortable to shoot on a regular basis, you need to look elsewhere. My wife still carries a P3AT but hates to practice. It actually bruises her trigger finger because of the snappy recoil.

The guns are reliable and customer service is excellent.

July 19, 2010, 01:53 PM
Yes, they are good (great value as well) for their intended purpose (carry weapons). My experience is with the P32 and the PF9.

John Wayne
July 19, 2010, 02:06 PM
Yes and no. I have owned a P3AT in .380 ACP, a Sub-2000 in .40 S&W and a Sub-2000 in 9mm (the S2K is a rifle).

In my experience all were unreliable, and I ultimately ended up selling them. The PF9 seems to have a better track record, and the 3 PF9s that I fired were reliable. Their owners also said they had experienced no problems with the PF9 model.

It seems to be hit or miss though--if you get a good one, it will be reliable out of the box, and should stay that way. Crappy ones seem to stay crappy--my P3AT was unreliable even after the proper "break-in" and being sent back to the factory.

You may get lucky and get a reliable one, but I wouldn't bother unless you have other guns to use while testing it. Most of their pistols can be had for $265 or so, and you probably won't lose that much money if you resell it.

July 19, 2010, 02:21 PM
Depending on your needs, a P3AT or a P11 would work. I don't have any experience with the PF9. I have a P11 which has given me 9 flawless years of shooting (1,000s of rounds). I also have a Ruger LCP (VERY similar to the 3AT) which I've put a few hundreds of rounds through.

If possible try them both, shoot a few rounds through each and see what fits the best (grip, recoil, etc). What ever one you could carry with the least difficulty is the one to go with.

July 19, 2010, 02:22 PM
Just posted about kel-tec a moment ago. Personal experience, I'd rather have a hi-point, I'd rather have a pointed stick, I'd rather have a bad cold so I could sneeze on an attacker.

I had a kel-tec .40 a few years back that would ftf and fte about 70% of the time. It went back to the factory with a laundry list of problems and returned "fixed" the same way. First range trip back from the factory it destroyed itself while testing for function shooting brand new factory loads. Sent it back to the factory again, and threw it on a shelf for a year once it came back where it angered me every time I remembered I owned it. Traded it to a gunsmith for a .444 lever marlin and have been a happier person ever since.

I *hear* the smaller calibers are ok, but I'll never know.

July 19, 2010, 02:28 PM
My wife and I both carry P32's at times, and have not had a single issue with them in the past 3 years. They are good little shooters and they don't break the bank.

July 19, 2010, 02:32 PM
My .32 has been totally reliable over 300 shots.

Unless you have very strong hands you may have a problem loading the pistol - the recoil spring, which you must retract to load, is very strong and there isn't much to grip.

Also. They have no safety - they are either fully ready to shoot or unloaded, like a revolver. They have no sights to mention, and for me required a LOT of practice before I could hit quickly with it even close in - it is a difficult pistol for me and I'm a very experienced shooter. They have a very long trigger pull, and I had to trim on mine with a knife to smooth out the trigger and trigger guard so it would scrape my finger raw.

But mine is reliable, exceedingly small and light and will be there when nothing else would do.

One of the quality light weight revolvers, i.e. S&W M37 or Ruger LCR, may be a viable alternative, heavier but far easier to load, unload, and shoot accurately.

July 19, 2010, 03:31 PM
I currently carry one of the new PF9's...I've put approx. 500 trouble free rounds thru it so far .....

July 19, 2010, 04:00 PM
I've had my P32 for years. Some teething issues with the first 200 rounds or so, 100% since, with a couple thousand rounds through it. I trust it and it goes everywhere with me.

July 19, 2010, 06:20 PM
Yes, they are good. Just be sure to test it before carrying (just like any other gun).

July 19, 2010, 06:45 PM
I have a P-11 and a P32; both are very reliable. The P-32 is one of my favorite pistols.

July 19, 2010, 08:19 PM
+1 for the P3AT:)

Ala Dan
July 19, 2010, 09:03 PM
My KEL-TEC P3AT .380 has had 0 failures of any kind; thru 200 rounds~! ;) :D

July 19, 2010, 09:47 PM
They are great guns I have a P-32 it is a well built small gun, very reliable and accurate. Safe to carry with one in the chamber. I carry mine when its too hot to dress so that I can conceal something larger.

July 19, 2010, 09:55 PM
I have a Kel Tec P11, and it's a great shooter, very accurate, and conceals easily on my body. The frame mounted belt clip is a great accessory, too. It provides easy in-the-waistband concealment without the need for a bulky holster. My only gripe is that the double-action-only trigger pull is too long and heavy to truly make me happy, but otherwise, it's a fine pistol.

July 19, 2010, 10:01 PM
I carry a PF-9. Very happy with it. If I ever have to use it, I highly doubt my assailant is going to be concerned that he was shot with "only a Kel-Tec."
Like others said, it is not an all-day plinker, but the reasons it's not make up the reason it's so easy to carry and conceal. Besides, the money you save (over, say a Kahr PM-9, which is a great gun) will allow you to buy yet another gun, maybe one that is an all-day plinker, like a .22LR Ruger..

Defense Minister
July 20, 2010, 01:04 AM
I had a kel-tec .40 a few years back that would ftf and fte about 70% of the time.

There's a reason KT doesn't make the P-40 any more.

I had a P-11 that was reliable, and my PF-9 has been great for 500+ rounds and is my daily carry. If you go with the PF-9, just make sure the extractor spring screw stays tight, and you'll have a very reliable pistol.

July 20, 2010, 01:09 AM
I rock a PF9. 100% reliable right out of the box.

July 20, 2010, 01:20 AM
It looks like I'd better rent or borrow one and go through a lot of shots. I don't like the idea of a painful gun.

Thanks for helping me out.

July 20, 2010, 01:52 AM
They arent range toys. 50rds through my pf9 without a glove on my strong hand is rough.

July 20, 2010, 02:15 AM
I have 4 in my house Wife and daughter both like the 32 for carry I carry the 380 or the 32 at times . One or the other is just about always in my pocket no matter what on the hip.

July 20, 2010, 02:16 AM
If you're looking for a fun little gun to spend an afternoon plinking with then don't get a Kel-Tec.

I've got a P11 and it is brutal to shoot. I have never found anyone including me that enjoys shooting it. Works as advertised and hasn't given me any problems of any sort but it's nasty to shoot the little booger.

They are a small lightweight easy to carry and conceal pistol.

If you need a good CCW type pistol then get one, but be warned you're not gonna have tons of fun practicing with it.

July 20, 2010, 07:41 AM
Here's my hat in the ring: Kel-Tec seems to be similar to Taurus in that it has its goods and bads. They are an innovative company. Just look at the variety of guns being produced and see where anyone else is doing it (ok, in the case of the P3AT, many people). Kel-Tec builds a product that sometimes lacks the fit and finish that a firearm being sold should have, and you'll often have a pistol that needs some "fluffing and buffing" (removing burrs, sanding down some of the rails, etc.) People either like them, or hate them. I fall in the former camp, but in the interest of full disclosure I have had good, and bad experiences with Kel-Tec.
First the bad:
Kel-Tec P-40, probably the most unreliable most painful handgun I have ever shot. With the attrocious DAO trigger pull, the constant jams and failures to feed, and this being the only gun that would bruise the webbing in my shooting hand, I eagerly sold it to a Kel-Tec Collector and I can see why Kel-Tec discontinued this gun.

Now the Good:
P3AT: Wonderful little gun, something like 8 ounces unloaded and I'd actually forget that I had it in my pocket. Mine ran every kind of ammunition and was reliable without the fluffing and buffing that you do see "needs" to be done. This is the perfect little BUG and has helped launch a mirco-gun production revolution where Kel-Tec is being pressed for the marketshare. Sold it when .380 ACP ammo dried up, been regretting it ever since.

PF-9: Wonderful little gun. A shootable, inexpensive pocket 9MM pistol. This shares the same kind of DAO trigger that the P3AT and P32 have and not the P-11. Put 600 trouble free rounds through mine. I miss it and I regret selling it to fund another venture.

SUB-2000 9MM rifle (Glock 17 variant). This one is set up to take Glock 17 pistol magazines. It's fun, easy to shoot, somewhat cheap to shoot (except if the 31 round fun stick is used) and folds up nicely. Aside from cleaning the bore, I haven't disassembled it. It digests everything from Wolf ammo to the hottest +P+ ammo. This is the only Kel-Tec currently in my inventory and it will stay simply because no one else makes a rifle that I can fit in a duffle bag without some silly NFA stamp.

As with each company, you will have plusses and minuses. Kel-Tec is no exception. What is likeable about the company is the way they make products that no one else does. They own a solid percentage of the Concealed Handgun market and have spawned other companies that have decided to get into the game.

July 20, 2010, 08:10 AM
My P-32 and PF-9 have been perfect. The P-32 is actually fun to shoot and unlike the P3AT the slide locks back.

Taurus 617 CCW
July 20, 2010, 08:22 AM
My P3AT has run flawlessly. Not even a hiccup from low power range ammo.

July 20, 2010, 08:29 AM
Check out this poll. Speaks for itself.

Keltec Quality Control Poll (

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