Kel Tec 380 improved???


August 18, 2004, 12:53 PM
I know this topic has been somewhat covered, but my question is the recently reliability of the P-3AT.

Can some of you who have recently purchased one reply? Does the reliability/quality seem to be better now? I'm trying to wait to try one until the bugs are worked out, seems like people have posted how they called KT and they are sent new "improved" parts. I want to see if these better parts are being used in current production.

I smith who I trust said overall KT's are designed well, and are fairly simple, but that he has seen the 380's go back more often than the 32's. And if they are the same size gun (pretty much) I would rather have the .380 cal.

I'm gonna keep carrying my J-frame whenever possible, but I'd like to find the "ideal" semi-auto for when I need something smaller. I like my Seecamp, but the KT 380 is smaller in every way except for overall length, and the .380 is a little better. But the burning question is the reliability.

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Bart Noir
August 18, 2004, 03:14 PM
... and it was a jammamatic. I sent the slide and barrel and two other parts back for the chrome upgrade. Each day I approach my mailbox all a-quiver, hoping for the package. I'll let you know the result. It would fail to extract every 3 to 5 shots.

Bart Noir

August 18, 2004, 03:15 PM
I have recently purchased a P3AT. It hasn't had one problem yet, although I do not have that many rounds through it.

Series 70
August 18, 2004, 04:00 PM
I bought one last month. Only about 75 rounds through it so far. I've had a couple FTF's - all but one I can attribute to a horrid grip. No issues with the pin moving at all. No other issues.

I shot it last weekend at a 40-yard IDPA target from an improvised rest. Four rounds shot, four rounds on the target. Two of 'em just nicked the bottom, but they were there. The other two were good COM hits.

So far, so good.

Fred Fuller
August 18, 2004, 07:36 PM

Bought one for my wife in June. See my thread at
for details.

In short, over 200 rounds of 4 types of ammo with nary a bobble, and my wife loves it. Guarantee you it's in her hip pocket right now.


Safety First
August 18, 2004, 07:39 PM
Bob, I would suggest you opt for the hard chrome slide option for 2 reasons: first this will assure you that you are getting a late production model that has the latest improvements for reliability. second, it is only a $20.00 upgrade and does wonders for the appearance. I have only put a couple of magazines of speer gold dot 90 hp through mine. Of course that is no where near enough to determine reliablity, but no problems with those. I just ordered some more ammo today and when time allows I will try to put a significant amount through it and report back (it may be few weeks before that happens) Most people who have posted results regarding FTF & FTE are having few if any problems with the gold dots. they are a little pricey, but after all it will probably be your always gun and you don't want any nasty (deadly) surprises if you ever need your kel-tec.
So the jury is still out on mine but I really think I am going to be happy once I have put couple hundred rounds thru it to test for reliablity..good luck

August 18, 2004, 07:40 PM
Bought mine 2 months ago and no problems at all. Recently put on the new P-sight but haven't got to shoot it yet.

Vitamin G
August 18, 2004, 08:01 PM
I have about 200 rounds through mine. No problems. Only very minor fluff and buff. not even dremel'd

August 18, 2004, 11:45 PM
New KT's have all the latest parts upgrades. If you want chrome and can't find one, get the blue and send the slide & barrel, assembly pin and recoil spring catch to KT and they will swap them for chrome parts for $20. Best deal around. Here's the full scoop:

August 19, 2004, 07:42 AM
Just sent mine back for all of the upgrades, and the chrome treatment.
The takedown pin still walked out, but they sent me a new one.
Over 300 rounds so far, with no problems.

It's my always gun, and I wouldn't carry anything that wasn't realiable.
I try to get to the range at least once a month, and the P3AT always gets several mags run through it.

I had to polish the chamber to get it to feed the cheap UMC ammo, but before the polishing, it fed several brands of hollow points, and S&B fmj just fine.
It still won't fee Wolf, but most of them don't.

So, there's a really good chance that you can get one out of the box that will be reliable with the right ammo.

And, KelTec customer service is top notch.

August 19, 2004, 08:16 AM
I had problems with FTE, sent barrel and slide back and got the HC upgrade. After 100 flawless rds, its now clipped on the belt. The feed ramp appeared to be polished on the upgrade, just got it back Monday(16th), 2 and 1/2 weeks total turn around. :D

August 19, 2004, 10:32 AM
bought mine new 2 months and about 200rds ago. Not a single problem of any kind. Has been cleaned once. Have only shot PMC FMJ in it. My advice is to keep the black/blued slide until you notice rust/corrosion problems. Black in the back pocket is less noticable than chrome....
Only mod is to file the tip of the plastic trigger back so it isnt so sharp it cuts my big dumb finger.

August 19, 2004, 12:33 PM
To save bandwidth, see my detailed reply on this thread (

My P-3AT (s/n H09xx) was purchased in April 2004. It was a layaway which had been canceled, so may not have been the very latest production. As noted in my other post, I did the fluff & buff, and the pistol has been very reliable. The assembly pin backed out once during heavy shooting, but Kel-Tec sent me 2 free replacements after a quick email to them.

276 rounds and counting!

The only other thing I've done to it is add a P-Sight (, of course!

August 19, 2004, 10:55 PM
I have 2 of them...first one was bought when it appeared at the local gunsmiths...Prolly one of the first in this area....Because I frequent some of the KT forums I was able to have "fixed" any problems that were with the weapon...I did the mod on the pin and havent had any problems with it...400-500 rounds

The second one I bought about 4 months ago...Havent had any worries with it at all...Granted I havent shot it as much as the first one, but I carry it every day...250-300 rounds

P3AT's have had problems...99% of them are easily fixed either by your own hand or by sending it back to KT...They have the best customer service that I have ever dealt with..

People are buying these things by the bucket load...of the pocket holsters I sell prolly 75% are for the P3AT<~~~~Shameless Plug!:D

kt forums..

August 19, 2004, 11:06 PM
Man came in gun shop todat with his KT he had picked up on monday. Said jamed 2or3 times per mag. Wanted it sent to company for repair.Q-control seems to be very hit and miss,people that like them seem willing to work on them,A lot of people are like this person and expect a working pistol for there money. Iam in second group myself.

Double Naught Spy
August 20, 2004, 09:11 AM
gbundersea, let me get this straight. You had a pin back out during VERY HEAVY shooting and now you have 276 rounds through the gun?

You give the impression that 276 is some sort of high round count, so very heavy shooting is what, 6 rounds?

August 20, 2004, 11:40 AM
Thanks for the info thus far guys, keep it coming!:D

Although I think I may just stick w/ my Seecamp .32 for now, and give the KT 380 a little more time to have the bugs worked out. Seems as though there are still issues, even though the number of negative responses seems to be a little lower than threads I have read in the past.

With Kel-Tec seems you just run a higher risk than the rest of the manufacturers of getting a gun that needs work. Although it is comforting hearing people say KT is really good at trying to fix things, even though some people have posted they've sent guns back several times w/o luck.

I can deal with sending a gun back once, but I don't like the idea of several times, to me if somethings wrong, and I tell you what it is, then fix it the 1st time. I know you can get a .380 for about $250 brand new, but I'd gladly pay $350 for more reliability. That being said I can see myself getting one in the next 3-4 months.

August 20, 2004, 12:31 PM

I didn't imply that 276 rounds is a lot. It's just the number I've run through the gun.

The conditions during which the pin began to back out were "heavy" in that it was sustained rapid-fire through a pistol I intentionally left dirty. I quickly put several magazines through it, firing and reloading almost as fast as I could. On the last mag, I noticed the pin just beginning to creep out.

It was the old-style pin, probably due to the gun having been set aside for some time for the layaway which was canceled. Thus it wasn't the very latest production, in spite of the "H" serial number.

One email to Kel-Tec caused 2 of the correct pins to appear in my mailbox, free of charge.

For $229.99 plus about an hour or two of fluff & buff (which was besides a great way to familiarize myself with the pistol) I feel it was well worth it. With its size and light weight, it is truly my go-everywhere gun. It has been 100% reliable with my carry load, regardless of how dirty, and has only had 6 FTE's, all with cheap ammo and when filthy.

Double Naught Spy
August 20, 2004, 12:48 PM
So what is "sustained heavy fire" in a Kel Tec. Maybe the Kel Tec owners could come down to Texas for the annual Glock v. 1911 match and make it a Glock v. 1911 v. Kel Tec match. Bring 1000 rounds and expect some stages to go as far as 50 rounds (hits on target) before ending. You will need several mags.

While I was poking fun, I keep thinking Kel Tecs might be dandy little guns if the best thing I heard about them was not the extremely high number of happy customer service stories. Good customer service if fine, but something is odd when nearly everybody needs to use it.

So you had a pin back out and so they sent you two? Undoubtedly they don't expect pin #2 to last very long either. What a shame. For my other pistols, they don't even get broken down down for cleanng and lubing until after 500 rounds and yours was broken before 276. This is scarey for a gun that has a primary purpose of being a self defense gun.

August 21, 2004, 02:04 PM
In the first 7 months of production of the P-3AT, KelTec delivered over 10 times as many P-3ATs as NAA and Seecamp 380s combined!

Sure there were some problems with this new pistol, but if you look at the volume (30,000 P-3ATs in the first 7 months of production!) the problems were minimal and now are almost none existant.

August 23, 2004, 07:51 AM
Small pocket pistols are notorious for being picky about ammo, no matter who makes them.

I believe the typical "unhappy customer" does something like this:
1. Buy the gun, and one box of the cheapest ammo the store has.
2. Go straight to the range, no cleaning.
3. The gun jams on this first box of really cheap ammo.
4. Owner declares "This gun is junk!". :rolleyes:

I've owned handguns from most makers. I think, with any small auto, if you try hard enough, you'll find ammo that won't feed.

I do think KelTec could use better QC, but I love my P3AT.

August 23, 2004, 09:55 AM
While it's not a P3AT, my P32 has been as reliable as any gun could be. It has over 1000 rounds through it now and continues to hold up just fine. It has never been back to KT and I did NOT do a FnB. Out of the 1000+ rounds, 800 rounds were the hotter euro loads, 200 have been various commonly available self defense loads (gold dots, hydroshocks, etc), the rest have been my hot handloads (working with Clark's data for that). I've fired loadings that send a 60gr bullet upwards of 1200fps from this gun (chronographed, not guesstimate). The only thing I've done is replace the recoil and mag springs with heavier units.

The only time my gun has a problem is when I'm shooting ammo with smaller than normal extractor grooves. Aguila and Remington have this problem (Aguila's groove is microscopic, the ammo is useless to me). I also had a 5 FTEs in the first 150rnds while using Magtech. I switched to another brand and the problems went away.

Here's my 1000rnd P32:

BTW, I think the reason gbundersea got two pins was to ensure he didn't have to call again if the problem came back. It's a cheap part and cheap to ship. I would send two for any gun if it were my decision.


August 23, 2004, 10:16 AM
I purchased mine in April of this year and it works perfectly.

Even with the ejector missing. :o

Double Naught Spy
August 23, 2004, 07:03 PM
Obviously the ejector is an unnecessary part?

Kokapelli, I have spent time at the Kel Tec forum. I want to buy one of these guns, but every time I read up on what is going on, the problems a great customer service reviews turm me off.

I think you and I have different ideas on what "almost none existent" means.

August 23, 2004, 07:23 PM
Obviously the ejector is an unnecessary part
Seems that way. I cleaned the pistol at the range and the ejector fell off the bench and into a sea of brass below the grate you stand on.

So while I waited for Kel-Tec to send me another free of charge (2 in fact) I went out and put 50 rounds thru it without a hiccup. No failure to eject or anything.

August 23, 2004, 08:10 PM
Double Naught Spy:
I don't know why so many people want to knock the P-3AT.
Is it because it's inexpensive?
Is it because it isn't particularly good looking?
Well, after firing thousands of rounds through mine I can tell you first hand that it is without a doubt IMO, considering weight and size, it is the best designed really small and light true pocket pistol available.

When you look at the problems posted at the KTOG NG (and what a great NG it is) you have to take into consideration how few complaints there are compared to the volume (35,000 in 7 months) of P-3ATs sold!

35,000 produced in the first 7 months! There must be something about this pistol!

If you read the posts at KTOG, notice that a lot of the posters have purchased a second and third P-3AT. Does that sound like it's a bad pistol?

Sure there were some problems! What pistol doesn't have problems? But if you take into account that there were 35,000 P-3ATs sold in just the first 7 months of production, the complaints are really negligable.

There were probably more P-3ATs sold in the first month of production than Autuagua sold in their entire lifetime of production.

I have never fired an Autuagua and am not knocking it, but I do know it is a blowback design and that alone in my opinion makes it less desirable.

You mentioned the great customer service of KelTec. And what kind of customer service will you have for the Autaugua?

George Hill
August 23, 2004, 11:04 PM
Kel-Tec sent me a gun for evaluation. I'm sending it back tomorrow as I am done with the evaluation.
It is a gun that I want to like.
Unfortunately I had a number of failures to extract. This was with Blazer and Winchester White Box fodder and with Winchester Silver Tips and with every other round I had on hand.
The fired round would come back a bit and the extractor would jump off the rim causing a nasty jam. The reason for this was that the fired case would hit the next round and where the fresh round's case mouth was, there is a tiny lip... the fired case would snag that lip.
I have a photo of it that shows it clearly... but its huge... I'll email it if you need it.
I also had a couple failures to feed as well.

I can not give the P3AT my recomendation.
However, I can give it a conditional recomendation. These guns CAN be made reliable but it takes effort on the part of the shooter and some faith in the Kel-Tec company.
The gun is so light, small, thin, and just plain brilliantly designed, these little guns warant the effort to make them reliable. If done so and the gun is proven reliable with all loads to be carried - then this gun gets two thumbs up. Outstanding potential as a CCW gun.

It is also accurate. Minute of Liberal* at 7 paces.
I discovered that I was out of targets just as I was heading out to my range, so I improvised. Enjoy the photo.
(*No Garofalos were harmed in the making of this image.)

August 23, 2004, 11:06 PM
You're wasting bandwidth kolapelli. There's no convincing the Kel-Tec haters. They lurk around just waiting to bash them. BTW, I have 2 Autaugas, fine little pistol. I prefer my KT's though - 1 P-11, 2 P-32s and 1 P-3AT. Will get another P-3AT before long.

Badger Arms
August 24, 2004, 12:01 AM
While I've only fired a P3AT once (function fired 35 rounds), I can say that my P32 has been an aboslute dream and I've had zero problems with it. Not sure, most range sessions consist of me emptying what I carry in it (Silvertips) and then firing a box or two of European Ball 32 ammo for practice. I do this often and the gun is like an extension of my hand.

August 24, 2004, 09:29 AM
Alamo: you have it exactly right!

George Hill: KelTec recommends not using blazer ammo!
The only ammo I have had any problems with in either of my P-3ATs is Wolff and Dynamit Noble, all of the American ammo, S&B and Santa Barbra ammo I have used peformed flawlessly. Of course I have not tryed every brand.

How many rounds did you shoot and did you clean the pistol?

I have found that the P-3AT will get sensitive to dirt after around 50 rounds.

I don't consider this a problem in a self defense siduation.

Also due to the very light weight of the pistol, limp wristing can cause what you experianced.

August 24, 2004, 09:41 AM
Dynamit Noble

Amazing how different the two platforms can be. My P32 loves Dynamit Nobel. I've put upwards of 600rnds of the stuff through my P32.

BTW, fwiw, I've gone as long as 250rnds without any problems. Accuracy falloff was the only result.


George Hill
August 24, 2004, 11:46 AM
I used lots of different ammo. I had little problem with the Blazers.

August 24, 2004, 12:11 PM
I appreciate the warning, but I'm still going to get a hardchromed one if I ever see one. (I know about the slide exchange, but I'm not interested, I did it on my P32 SN 12xxx when I had the trigger axis fixed.)

Why am I going to chance it? I dunno, because it might work out of the box is the best answer I have. Heck, my pocket knife cost more than a new
P-3AT and I've certainly gotten my money's worth out of the P-32.


August 25, 2004, 09:25 PM
Over 400 rounds, and no problems with mine. Had doubts about the gun when I first got it, but it has proven me wrong so far.

August 26, 2004, 04:13 PM
Well, I found a great deal that just slapped me in the face. I got the gun, another mag (2 total), and shipping all for only $235. Then with the transfer fees it will bring it to about $265. That was through the web, and around here the best deal I could fine was $295 for just the gun. So if I had got it around here, it would have been about $340 by the time you figure in tax, extra mag, paperwork, etc. The gun is a serial # H9N**, and I even called KT and they said that was just about the newest one.

I plan on sending it to Jack Fuselier in TX to have him do the complete F&B work over, plus he nickel plates the slide, and one mag all for $60 + $15 for shipping. Everyone said he does good work, and I've seen the hard chrome job KT has done and it just looked OK (I really disliked the red/pink dots on the sights).

I hope it proves to be reliable, if it does it will probably replace my Seecamp, and I'll prob ending selling that (only if KT is reliable). We'll see though, wish me luck:D :D :D

George Hill
August 26, 2004, 05:12 PM
If this guy knows his stuff and really does a good job... it should work out just fine for you. Sweet price too.
I am going to be keeping my eye out for used P3AT myself. I can't think of a better pistol for an ankle rig. So light and thin... and only a hair bigger than the P32.
If I get one, I'm putting this on it:
That would help if I have to shoot across the street with it.

August 26, 2004, 05:38 PM
Jack doesn't put anything on the sights so you can get some sight paint (or model paint) and make them whatever color you want.

Great price you got. I saw one today for $205.

August 26, 2004, 06:34 PM
Bob79, I'm sure you are going to be very happy with your choice.

I have not used Jack Fuselier, but many at the KTOG NG have and they all rave about his work.

I have two P-3ATs and like them so much, I'm thinking about getting a third.

George Hill
August 26, 2004, 07:31 PM
You have 3 hands?

August 26, 2004, 07:53 PM
Ha! Ha! No George, I only have two hands, but some times I wish I had three!

I want to get a third P-3AT to try some modifications on.

Right now one is my always gun and it only gets shot about once a month. The other one is my practice gun and goes to the range once a week. I have been shooting a lot of Santa Barbra ammo through the second one and as you know that brand is pretty hot! I am not sure just how long the P-3AT will hold up to shooting large quantities of the "Hot" Santa Barbra ammo!

The frame does show battering from the Santa Barbra ammo, but it seems to have not gotten any worse over the last 100 rounds.

George Hill
August 26, 2004, 09:54 PM
"Right now one is my always gun and it only gets shot about once a month. The other one is my practice gun and goes to the range once a week."

Id make sure I rotated the guns between duties.

August 27, 2004, 08:08 AM
Every day you guys should be thankful that you don't live in the People's Republic of ********** where gunshops cannot even legally sell P-3AT's, or any Kel Tec for that matter. I feel SO much safer.

How soon before they outlaw martial arts?


August 27, 2004, 12:56 PM
"Id make sure I rotated the guns between duties."

I hesitate to use the practice gun for carry now because it will soon have 3,000 rounds through it.
I'm not sure how many rounds these little guns can handle and still be reliable.

August 27, 2004, 12:58 PM
Bruise, I used to live in California! Left there 1992 and moved to a state that honors individual rights.

August 28, 2004, 02:19 AM
I had a buddy who owned the Liberty Gunshop in Van Nuys. Because Van Nuys is in the City of Los Angeles where they card, thumbprint, and make you sign for ammo(!), he relocated his shop to Burbank. But, Burbank is still in the State of California, so like Kokapelli he relocated to Arizona.

If you like restrictive gun laws, high taxes, traffic jams, crime, insane housing prices, and earthquakes, then move to California. It's a shame, since except for earthquakes, all of California's problems are man made. The place really could be paradise if people hadn't screwed it up so bad.

Oh, I forgot to add our cars have less horsepower and cost more thanks to our special California only smog crap.


August 28, 2004, 10:00 AM

Never had a problem yet with a Kel-Tec that was not my fault:
1) With hot rod loads and failed case head, I have blown the extractor, mag bottom plate, etc out of a P11.
2) With hot rod loads I have sheered off the ejector in a P32 from recoil.

But so far I have not wrecked a P3AT, and I have been trying.

August 28, 2004, 02:30 PM
And when Clark says "hot", he means HOT.

August 30, 2004, 06:47 AM
My p3at is buffed to a purr (1500 grit autobody sandpaper kicks ass). Just got my Miltech-1 lub ( today, going to give it a wipe down and take her for a ride. Only done a 100 rounds bore break in thus far but no problems (even limpwristing like a frenchmen).
Seems to me Kel-tecs would fails due to one or more of the following:

1.) No fluff and buff. While its not required trying this gun out of the box is like firing blazers through a Glock. If you buy a gun do deligence in treating it right.

2.) Not cleaning. I've actually heard people say " I shouldnt have to clean my bore every 100 rounds". Gunk in the gun will make anything fail.

3.) Bad ammo/hollowpoints. Seems like feeding is a big issue. If your willing to stick to FMJ or other rounded nose ammo (powerballs, EFMJ, RBCD, etc) you should be good.

4.) Assumption of performanence based on limited usage. As we all know a gun will change slightly once its broke in good. Give her a chance, buy a 1k tub of Wolf for burn in.

These are just my opinions, based mostly on what I've read from others. I just hate to see a good gun get a bad wrap from user error. Definately not a pistol for right out of the box shooting.

August 30, 2004, 08:33 AM
4.) Assumption of performanence based on limited usage. As we all know a gun will change slightly once its broke in good. Give her a chance, buy a 1k tub of Wolf for burn in.

My P3AT is jam-o-matic with Wolf, or any other steel cased ammo. Blazer aluminum or every brass cased ammo I've tried has been fine. FMJ, JHP, TC, SJSP, and cast lead RN have all fed and functioned 100% as long as the case wasn't steel.

My wife's Beretta 85 love Wolf and it doesn't even have an extractor!

The P3AT pushes the envelope of size, weight and power, if you get a good one they are great, if not give Kel-Tec a chance to make it right. This kind of of out of the box crap shoot is only tolerable because of the unique size/weight/power attributes of the P3AT.


August 30, 2004, 02:27 PM
I talked to another guy at work and he said he had bought at P-3AT last week and it broke after 20 rounds. He said when he took it apart it looked like the spring or lever that works the trigger. He brought it back to the local shop where he bought it and then shipped it out, telling him it would be 6-8 weeks!

I told him he should have called KT himself, told them what happened, shipped it himself w/ including a receipt for the cost of shipping. O-well, I asked him what serial # it was but he couldn't remember, but said he though it may have begun w/ a number. I told him to keep me posted though about what happens. Hopefully I'll have better luck.

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