Wife's B'day Present: P3AT


Fred Fuller
July 8, 2004, 12:06 AM
A while back my wife expressed the idea that a pocketable pistol might be nice to have. Shortly thereafter I ran across a new P3AT at my usual dealer's establishment, and staked a claim to it. This is the first Kel-Tec in the family.

While waiting for the purchase permit to come through (that's a NC thing) we sent the barrel, slide etc. back for hard chroming, and they were returned promptly for the usual $20 fee. When we picked up the little pistol my wife was pleased at its small size and light weight given its respectable caliber. There had been an article on the P3AT in a recent issue of her friend Peggy Tartaro's _Women and Guns_ magazine and she had read it, so there were no real surprises.

She had some difficulty racking the slide, as expected, but the 'push- pull' method worked for her. I lubricated it well with Militech and cycled the slide a hundred times or so to work it in a bit. That helped some. I also went after some of the mold flashing on the frame with a nail file, rounded off the toe of the trigger a bit and cleaned up the grooves on the trigger as well. Then we hied ourselves off to the back yard (we live on 5 acres well out in the country and have a small berm for informal shooting).

I had gotten a couple of boxes of ammo at wallyworld, one box of 100 rounds of Winchester 'white box' 95 gr. flat point FMJs and two boxes of 50 rounds of 95 gr. BEB (brass enclosed base) to start breaking the pistol in with. She fired 25 rounds (5 magazines of 5 rounds each) on her first outing with the little gun and pronounced herself satisfied. There we stopped for the day. There were no problems of any kind with the gun, ejection was markedly brisk and examination of fired cases showed strong firing pin strikes. She noted that the felt recoil was manageable but was getting painful on sustained firing, and that recoil seemed worse with the FMJ loads. She preferred the BEB load, and since the gun has run well with it so far we will keep using it for the break-in period. I brought the little beast inside and gave it a good cleaning, then stashed it back in its rug.

I had also ordered a couple of pocket holsters for it (you listening, Azrael??) and as soon as the holsters arrive and the gun has fired 200 rounds trouble free, she will commence carrying it at home.

She has never carried a .380 before, her only previous hideout gun is her satin nickel baby Browning. She is a well trained and experienced shooter and her primary pistol is a Glock, so transitioning to the little K-T will not be much of a problem for her.

I like the little gun as well. It is IMO not a gun for rank beginners, because the admin stuff is difficult given the small size of the piece and the burly springs inside. But for her purposes it will be sufficient to load a magazine full with six rounds, cycle the slide to chamber a round and then leave the gun alone until periodic maintenance is necessary.

Now I have to start looking for mine...


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July 8, 2004, 12:22 AM
Great Report!

Thank you for sharing.

July 8, 2004, 07:15 AM
I'm glad she likes it.

My wife's gun is a P32, and she feels it recoils too much. :rolleyes:

I've finally got my hard chromed P3AT running good, and it is the ultimate pocket gun.

July 8, 2004, 09:08 AM
Fun little bugger isnt it?

I enjoy shooting mine.

Just have to find the time to part with it to get it chromed.

July 8, 2004, 09:17 AM
Nothing says "I love you" like a new gun!:D

July 8, 2004, 05:12 PM
Nice report, and what a gift! I just LOVE women who shoot!

Here's a detailed report I posted when I bought my P-3AT in April: P-3AT report (http://www.ktog.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7632)

And a tweak and invention of my own:

Magazine well modification (http://www.ktog.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7835)

Rear sight for P-3AT/P-32 (http://www.ktog.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8084)

Wilson 17&26
July 8, 2004, 06:01 PM
Especially during break-in and lengthy range time. Install a pinkie extension on an extra magazine. Your wife will thank you. Extra factory magazines cost $17-$20 with NAA (my personal favorite) or Bersa finger extensions in the $8 range. See http://1bad69.com/keltec/p3at-fingerrest.htm and also http://1bad69.com/keltec/newownerinfo.htm for some good information.

July 8, 2004, 09:12 PM
Glad to read this. I finally found one locally I can get for $260. Going to pick it up tomorrow during my lunch break.

Craig M. Arnold
July 10, 2004, 12:41 AM
I have carried a KelTec P3AT as a BUG for some time now. I have about 750 rounds through it with zero malfunctions. The only things that I have done to the little pistol is polish the feedramp and chamber, which I do to all my semi-autos.

I want to get the slide and barrel hard chromed, however I didn't want to be without the P3AT, so I bought a second one. Once I get about 500 rounds through the new one, the old slide and barrel go off to KelTec with $20.00 for a new hard cromed slide and barrel.


July 10, 2004, 02:25 AM
If your female loved one is experienced with firearms like Mr. Lapin's is then the Kel Tec 3 AT might be a good choice. But I would strongly advise the readers of this thread that the Kel Tec 3AT is not for beginners at least in my opinion anyway. For many it is difficult to cock and aim and it has a strong recoil and report and the spent shells casings will at times strike you in the head. I like my Kel Tec 3AT but I have family members that after shooting one magazine through it, just plain fear it. A spent shell casing cracked the lens of my Dad’s glasses and he has not fired my Kel Tec again.

July 11, 2004, 01:03 AM
It took two trips to Cocoa, Fl, and a new extractor (which prompted the second Florida vacation) to get mine 100%, which it has been (200 rounds and counting). While it was there a second time, I had it chromed.

It's a bit punishing on the hand...a week after putting the 200 rounds through it.

It's a good gun for when you can't carry a gun.

July 11, 2004, 03:53 AM
I have a P3AT that is currently on the disabled list. It came with the old style assembly pin that came out from the recoil. I called KT and they sent me a new one. However, they sent me the wrong one, I think!! Anyway, the same problem happened when I shot it yesterday. I guess another call to KT is in order!!
Other than the pin issue, it shoots to POA, printing 1 1/2 in groups at 7 yards with no feeding or extraction problems!! As soon as I get this durned pin thing fixed, I'm good to go!!

Wilson 17&26
July 11, 2004, 06:17 PM
Denfoote, check the frame before you call to Kel-Tec about the assembly pin. If you fired several rounds before noticing the pin walked out it could have damage the frame. If the well where the small end of the assembly pin seats has been wallowed out, the frame will need to be replaced. Kel-Tec will only reimburse $20 for warranty shipping (most wont pay anything) so you may want to read http://1bad69.com/keltec/shipping.htm

Fred Fuller
July 20, 2004, 02:28 PM
We're up to 75 rounds of wallyworld Win-Clean now, still not the first bobble or hiccup. While waiting for the pocket holsters to arrive, my wife has taken to pocketing the little pistol in its factory rug, magazine loaded and one up the spout. It's with her at all times at home and in the yard.

A recent story from the local paper, which was posted here on THR, was responsible for her beginning to carry it. A local woman was attacked by a rabid fox in her yard and had to shoot the critter off her leg. It's the rabies time of year in eastern NC, and that can present a problem for rural folks and suburbanites.

She has really latched onto the Kel-Tec, she likes it a lot. She still finds the admin details hard to manage, so the pistol gets loaded, zipped up and left alone in its case- that minimizes loading and unloading. She's accustomed to carrying a 'hot' Glock, so this is no real change.

She still prefers the Win-Clean 95 grain brass enclosed base load, it runs well in the pistol and with its flat nose configuration it should work as well as anything. Still getting really solid hits on primers, ejection is still violent to put it mildly. This little pistol is tough on brass. Haven't run it more than about 25 rounds per session, followed by a good cleaning.

Discovered it is a good idea to cant the pistol to the right a little when running contact drills with the gun at waist level, otherwise it tries to feed you hot brass.

More as things develop...


July 20, 2004, 02:55 PM
When I bought my P-3AT, the only extraction problems I had were with WinClean, but ONLY after intentionally letting the gun get dirty. Speer Gold Dot and Remington UMC both fed even when dirty. Some say Winchester uses softer brass, which molds itself into a chamber more tightly.

As long as the gun was clean, the WinClean worked just fine.

Don't forget about the newly available Winchester ValuePacks at Wal-Mart. Almost identical to the WinClean, except with with a flatnose FMJ bullet.

Fred Fuller
July 26, 2004, 09:26 PM
We're up to about 150 rounds on the happy birthday P3AT now, another half box of WinClean for her and a couple of hollowpoint loads for me- Remington Golden Sabers and PMC Starfires. Everything has run flawlessly in the gun so far, not a single bobble of any description. The recoil from the Golden Sabers was heavier but manageable, she preferred not to shoot any of them after watching me, and I didn't argue with her. This session wore on into deep dusk, and the muzzle flash from the WinClean was awesome.

Most of her shooting was draw and fire, had to convince her not to fire a single round and "re-holster" because I prefer her not to get in the habit of firing just one round and stopping. Multiple rounds are a better tactic for this gun and _any_ load, I think. I ran several magazines shooting pairs at about 5 yards, one handed, and was very happy with the results on the target- she still wants two hands on it "while I'm learning". The gun works better for me one handed, but again I am not going to argue with her over that, letting her learn the gun at her own pace.

It takes some getting used to in shooting rapidly, with its looong trigger squeeze. She complained early in this session that the trigger pull was so long she was losing concentration, I reminded her 'front sight, squeeeeeze' and she did better when not thinking overly much about the trigger pull. She also fussed about not being able to 'stage' the trigger the way she was accustomed to doing on her Glocks. But since even her 'baby Glock' can't slip un-noticed into a jeans pocket, she's happy to keep working with the Kel-Tec.

She is still tired of the gun after about four magazines, and again I am not pushing her to shoot it more than that. She goes after every opportunity to shoot it gamely, works at it with significant dedication, and is quite happy having the little beast in her hip pocket whenever she is at home or out in the yard. She has growing confidence in the gun and her ability to use it for its intended purpose.

And I am certainly happy for her to have it, and since it is small enough and light enough not to be a pain to carry she is not likely to neglect keeping it with her all the time she is home.


Fred Fuller
August 9, 2004, 12:18 AM
Wilson 17&26,

Took your advice and ordered three spare magazines and two Bersa finger extensions. Everything showed up at the PO Saturday, and I installed the two finger extensions, giving my wife two sets of two magazines- one 'standard' set and one set with extensions. After we got the weekend chores done, we headed for the range.

It is hard to believe how much difference the extensions made. It changes the character of the pistol in recoil to a huge degree. My wife is more pleased than ever with the little pistol. She says it even makes it easier for her to rack the slide.

I ran a couple or three full loads through each of the spares to make sure they functioned OK, and had absolutely no problems with any of them, or with the pistol itself. It's over the 200 round mark now so we will back off on shooting it to the point of maintaining familiarity only.

It was getting pretty dark toward the end of that session, to the point I couldn't see the sights any more and in fact could only just distinguish the shape of the silhouette target at five yards. I had taken over checking the new mags for function, as my wife had stopped this time after a couple of magazines. It was easy to keep rounds in the center of the IPSC silhouette, even though I couldn't see the sights at all. I was firing pairs one handed, using the leftover Winchester white box 95 gr. fmj.

Concluding the session, I loaded everything up and hauled it back to the house. As usual I gave the P3AT a good cleaning, lightly lubed the springs with Militech and the rails with Tetra gun grease, loaded it, and gave it back to its happy owner, who zipped it back in its rug and stuffed it into her pocket.


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