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Another P-3AT Range Report

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Dave R, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    I traded my P-32 in for a P-3AT last weekend. I wanted the extra power of the bigger cartridge. And I reload for .380acp, but not for .32, so I wanted the savings and flexibility in ammo. Finally, I have has a lot of fun using Speer’s plastic training bullets in my other .380 (an FEG PPK clone) and wanted the ability to practice draw/present/fire drills in the garage.

    My P-32 had been very reliable. I had practiced with it enough that I could put the bullets where I wanted them in quickly and reliably. So I was concerned that the P-3AT would not be as controllable, or as accurate, or as reliable.

    When I took it home to clean it, I found it to be typical Kel-Tec (this is my 3rd, I also have a P-11 which I carry a lot.) That is, there was some flashing in the plastic, and some tool marks, but fit and exterior finish were OK and cycling and trigger seemed normal.

    At the range, the first round impressed me. Significantly more blast and muzzle flip than the P-32. But recoil did not seem significantly worse. More like a longer push than the P-32, which has a sharper impulse. But controllability was not significantly worse. No “bites†or any unpleasant rubs.

    I had several other pistols with me at the range. I wanted to shoot at least 50 rounds through the P-3AT to check reliability. I had planned to shoot 10 through the -3AT, then shoot another pistol, then come back, until I had fired the full 50.

    Comfort was such that I kept shooting the 3AT until I was running low on time. I shot another pistol briefly, then finished up with the 3AT. I felt like I could’ve shot it all night. I have long, thing hands. Maybe that’s what makes it comfortable to me. Or maybe I was just used to the shape from the P-32. I had no twisting, and was able to keep multiple shots on target pretty quickly.

    Accuracy was plenty good. I did some bench-resting, and found the sights well-regulated. Shot pretty much exactly to POA. Rested groups at 15 yards were 4†or so. Probably as good as the crude sights allow.

    At 10 yards, rapid fire groups were palm-sized or less, and the bullets went pretty much where I wanted them to go.

    Reliability was mixed. I brought a box of Silver Bear (Russian) .380, which I had acquired earlier. Also had some 102Gr. Golden Sabre, my favorite commercial load, and a box of lead reloads. I had 4 failures to eject, all with the Silver Bear. One stuck pretty well in the chamber, and I had to knock it out with a pencil. I had seen the same thing before with 9mm Wolf ammo and my Hi-Power, so I just stopped using the Silver Bear (which works in my FEG), and switched to the other ammo. No failures with the Remington Golden Sabres, and none with my reloads.

    It was easy to disassemble and clean.

    Yesterday, I shot it in the garage using Speer’s plastic training ammo. You can read about it here. Speer's Plastic Bullets (Uses no powder, just primers to power the lightweight plastic bullets). Since the ammo won’t cycle, and is too long to fit the mag, other than the top round, I put one in the chamber and one in the mag, and did pocket draw/present/shoot/tap-rack-bang drill. Again, I was able to put the bullets where I wanted them very consistently. The rough park finish and the slots in the slide mad for a firm grip when doing the tap-rack-bang drills. I only made one short-rack early on. Others went fine.

    I’ll do a few more sessions with carry ammo before I pronounce it good, but so far I am not disappointed. If it’ll prove itself reliable with carry ammo, it’s a keeper. My concerns about controllability were groundless. It was comfortable enough to shoot a lot. I understand that may not be the case for others’ hands, but I was fine with it.
  2. azrael

    azrael Well-Known Member

    kewl report:D
  3. tok

    tok Active Member

    Very nice report!

    P3AT is next on my buy list, definitely before summer, so I'll be looking for your follow up reports. I had one in my hand a little over a month ago, but opted for a PM-9. As the weather gets hotter, I might occasionally want something even smaller than the Kahr, and the P3AT seems ideal.
  4. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    Yup. The nice thing about the P-3AT and the P-32 is that you can put them in a pocket holster with a spare mag, and the whole thing is the size and shape of a wallet. So you can carry pistol, spare mag, and 13 rounds of .380acp anywhere you can carry a wallet.
  5. DigMe

    DigMe Well-Known Member

    I've never been real into the pocket-sized pistolas but the more I read about this gun the more I'm interested. Maybe next birfday or Christmas.

    brad cook
  6. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member


    I put another 80 rounds through the P-3AT tonight. No Silver Bear. All brass-cased reloads. I worked up to the maximum load listed in Speer's book, using Gold Dots. Probably comes close to qualifying as a +P load.

    Not a single hiccup. It seems to like the Gold Dots a lot. Accuracy was very good, including a 2" group at 10 yards, offhand! Nearly shot out the bullseye. I was pretty excited about that one.

    I've seen others complain about recoil, but this gun does not bother my hand. Again, I felt like I could've shot it all night. The max loads were noticeably louder than the "plinker" loads, but I didn't notice a big increase in recoil. I think the slight increase in size and weight over the P-32 makes it a bit more comfortable for me.

    My ONLY complaint about the P-3AT at this point, is that its extractor leaves a nasty gouge in the rims of the brass. I may have to limit myself to new brass, or reloads that have not been through this gun before. I'd hate to have the extractor grab a gouged section of rim. Then I'd have an FTE and it would hurt my growing confidence in the gun.

    It'll take a few more trips before I'm totally convinced, but I'm liking what I'm seeing in terms of reliability and usability--i.e. the ability to make the bullets go where I want them to go.
  7. Remander

    Remander Well-Known Member

    Nice report!

    Did you do any "fluff and buff" work?

    I did a poor man's version and just slicked up the feed ramp, slide, barrel, etc. with very fine steel wool. It helped mine feed a little better.

    It almost always shoots fine for the first mag or two, but then I get a stovepipe-type jam once every two or three mags after that.

    You are right about bending brass. Mine really bends the heck out of it. From posts on ktog.org and here, that seems to be the usual.

    Mine is not perfect, but it'll do for pocket carry here in shorts weather. And my wife likes it so much I may have to get on the list for another one.

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