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P3at - good choice or bad choice

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by moonshot, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. moonshot

    moonshot New Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    There is nothing as small, light, or economical as the Keltec P3at. I know the .380 round is at the low end of acceptable. To many, it is far below acceptable. My question is not about the caliber (although any opinions on Corbon's DPX in .380 would be appreciated). My question is...is the P3at a reliable and durable firearm (say for 5000 rounds), or is it a great idea poorly executed.

    I ask because I have spent close to a year trying to figure this out. I have held them, shot them, cleaned them, read all I could find in magazines and on line, spoken with friends who have friends who carry them, etc.

    I get the same info (or lack thereof). Some would never carry one because they are unreliable (but they never owned one). Some love theirs (but have only put 160 rounds through it). Some have heard nothing but good things about them, some have heard nothing but bad thing about them. You get the idea.

    I know KelTec has a lifetime warranty, but that is small comfort if my P3 goes tango uniform when I need it, or if the company folds in a few years.

    Should I just buy something close, but with a proven record? I would if I could. The J-frame is too bulky for my needs, and I know from experience that revolvers are not as malfunction-proof as some would believe. Mainly, I don't like the size efficiency. I could buy a PM9, but they are not cheap and I have heard just about as many complaints regarding their reliability as I have heard about the P3, and Kahr does not have as good a warranty. I could buy the MK9. It has the reliability issue down, but weighs far more than I want, and still costs 2 1/2 times what the KT costs.

    Why not just buy the P3 and experiment? I've done that, but lately I keep thinking about what I recently heard - the P3at works great right up until they don't.

    So my questions remains...is the P3at a reliable and durable gun or an exercise in wishful thinking.

  2. philbo

    philbo Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Houston, Tx
    True of EVERY tool ever made, not limited to pistols.

    Seems like you answered you're own rhetorical question... if nothing else comes close in size or power, then you have no choice. Reliability depends on Your commitment to maintaining the pistol, choosing reliable ammo, and practice. You can't take other peoples word for it, You have to make the decision if you're comfortable. IMHO the Keltec perfectly fulfills the role it was designed for, as a Bug, or for carry when you can carry nothing else. It was not intended to replace a primary weapon.

    I don't know if the 3at can hold up to 5k rounds, but I know I couldn't :D
  3. Gideon

    Gideon New Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    Wow, you're letting this get to you too much :uhoh:

    Remember that on forums you tend to hear the very good and especially the very bad about guns. So take it all with the grain of salt.

    bottom line:

    Reliabity, out of the box and follow-on
    1. J frame
    2. Kahr P9
    3. Keltec,

    However, the KelTec isn't that bad. They've sold a bunch and they are pushing the design parameters so they can have problems. I had a 1st gen and it had ALOT of problems. I lost all confidence in the gun after 2 trips back to factory. I wanted to try other guns. I got the Kahr P9 and it's been flawless and I have a J frame and it's been flawless but nothing fills the niche of a true pocket gun for the money as a KelTec. For a relatively low threat environment it's a good choice. Get one, run it, if it's good, it's good. If not, work it out with KelTec. The 2nd Gens are turning out to be FAR more reliable. I just got my 2nd gen and it's so far so good although I won't consider it for carry untill I get to 200 or 300

    Remember a high end Kimber can run bad out of the box.

    Then, after you get the Keltec, get either the Karh or the J frame for IWB or for carrying in larger docker style pockets.

    God Bless
  4. The Amigo

    The Amigo Member

    Dec 27, 2006
    San Juan PR

    2nd generation owner of a Kel Tec p3 with no malfunctions and over 500+ rounds cycled. Im happy with mine and its my everywhere gun.
  5. rolltide

    rolltide Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    if you want reliablity and a better service dept. and warranty than KT, buy a NAA. A little heavier, a little smaller, and VERY reliable. If you ever do need service of ANY KIND, it will be done fast, the first time, and courteously.

    A little more pricey, but worth every penny.

    Roll Tide
  6. xy17

    xy17 New Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Hi moonshot

    I've been considering getting a Kel-Tec PF-9

    Calibers: 9mm Luger
    Weight unloaded (no magazine) : 12.7 oz.
    Loaded magazine : 2.8 oz.


  7. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting Participating Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    Boise, ID
    As was stated, and I am sure you realized from your research, the P3AT is a purpouse designed gun. It is a BUG, true pocket carry, and built with the idea that you would only use it when you NEED it. It is not a plinker, competition gun, or intended for high-volume, extensive range trips.

    Will it last for 5000 rounds, sure, but it should probably take you 10 years or more to reach that.

    I fire 7 rounds out of mine every range trip (at least once a month). I clean it WEEKLY even if I do not shoot it. I found ammo that it likes (Speer Gold Dots) and exclusively use that ammo. Mine stays loaded 24/7 and lives in a night-stand safe when not in my pocket.

    I have 100% faith that should I need it, it will work. That is not to say I have never had stoppage. But since I realized what it was for and used it in those parameters, it has been flawless in performance.

    In case you were wondering, mine is a 1st gen, just under 4 years old with just over 1000 rounds and has been stoppage free for the last 3.
  8. Clipper

    Clipper Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Mt. Morris, MI.
    I've found that if I do my part and keep it relatively clean (pocket carry is dirty. pocket lint gets everywhere), mine will be fine. I have also found that your chamber should be cycled once per week or so, or the chambered round gets 'sticky' and can result in a 1st-round FTE. This seems both logical and reasonable to me, given the electrolytic action between two dissimilar metals, so I don't mind doing it. Some do not find it so and complain about reliability. Both my wife and I have 1st gen guns and though hers has been perfect from the get-go, mine needed a trip home first (though it would fire & function, the trigger pull was about 30#. The reciever needed to be re-broached. Being a Toolmaker, I understand tool-pressure issues, and gave it no further concern, and the piece has been fine since. Would I do it over? You bet. Wonderful little guns, and if I aim carefully, I can shoot those small fruit2o bottles at 25 yards!
  9. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Participating Member

    Sep 11, 2005
    I think the KelTecs are great pistols, for what they are.

    They are light, cheap and easy to carry.

    They are not service weapons.

    My first P3AT cracked like an egg at 300 rounds, right thru the frame pins. Sent it back to KT and they had it fixed and back in my hands in LESS than 2 weeks. Great customer service.

    Would I buy a P3AT and shoot hundreds of rounds every week out of it, NO. There are many with 1000+ trouble free rounds out of these guns and there are some who cant go 500 without breaking or failures galore. It has a somewhat iffy track record, you've done the research Im sure your aware of it.

    Go over to KTOG forums and you can read that even some of the KT lovers have to send their guns back 3 or 4 times before they are right. Some are flawless right out of the box.....again its hit or miss.

    I carry a KT when I cant carry any other gun, in that right its the best gun in the world. ANY gun is better than NO gun.

    Its not expensive so try it out, you may get a great one....if not keep plugging away at KT till you do. If your not one up for experiments or sending a gun back irritate you I suggest you pass.

    If your looking for something similar with a better track record check out a NAA Guardian, they are only .32acp and heavier but they are actually a bit smaller if I remember correctly - its been 6 months since Ive had one in my hands.
  10. halvey

    halvey Participating Member

    Apr 28, 2004
    I am one of them. I have 1000+ through my 1st Gen, yes, 1st gen and have never had a stoppage. I don't keep it cleaned, oiled and whatnot. I treat it like a cop treats a Glock. And it's never failed. I could be lucky, but my P11 is the same way.
  11. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Participating Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    West Palm Beach
    Mine has been nothing but superb for what it is. I am very accurate with this out to 7 yards. No malfunctions yet. As has been said, it fits a hole in my CCW needs so I bought it. The .380 is an exceptable SD round if you do your part. Of course I'd rather have my .40 or 45 but wouldn't feel at a disadvantage with my P3AT.
    I think it would take me 10 years to get to 5,000 rounds with this gun and by then I am sure I would want something else.
  12. moonshot

    moonshot New Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    Thanks to all for responding. I know how tiring it can be to see these posts over and over again. I am not trying to get others to make me feel better about some decision, or make that decision for me. I have already made it.

    When I can have a larger firearm, with a better caliber, I do. When I wish to have something truly small, I have the P3. So far, through about 150 rounds, it has been flawless.

    My fear is that as I continue to read about the experiences of others, I continue to hear of problems which seem to occur after break in, but well before a high round count. As an example, many have said that they experienced problems with the trigger, either the return spring broke or the pin behind the trigger worked loose, after only a few hundred rounds. Recently I am reading (and seeing pictures) of enlarged recoil guide rod holes allowing the inner recoil spring to work out the front of the slide, tying up the gun.

    These are the types of problems that can a) get you killed if they occur in a real self-defense situation and b) shouldn't be happening at all.

    I realize anything made by man can malfunction. I do not demand or expect perfection. However, this is not cutting edge technology. The problems which are occurring seem to me to be the result of either a design flaw, substandard material selection, or manufacturing errors. All easily corrected, but they seem to be continuing. The recoil spring issue seems limited to recent production guns - something which has prevented me from buying another P3. I called KT and asked if they could give me a serial # range to avoid, and they couldn't. This tells me they either don't know what went wrong, or havn't corrected the problem.

    I understand this is a gun intended to be carried a lot and shot a little. It still needs to work, and I need to practice with it regularly. 5000 rounds was an arbitrary number I selected to allow for routine practice and still have a useful service life.

    The argument that it is what one carries when in a low threat environment seems to me to be a false one. If there was no threat, you didn't need a gun of any kind. If a threat does materialize, than the threat level has just become quite high, and that firearm better be up to the task. You may not need a lot of rounds or have to shoot through cover, but that gun better work (great warranties not withstanding).

    Again, on a positive note, nothing I have seen out there offers the same features as does the P3. I find shooting it to be pleasant, the recoil not bad at all. It is fairly accurate. It is easy to carry, and it all but disappears. With one in the pipe and an extended mag, I have eight rounds available before a reload. I wish the caliber were better (as in more versatile), but most ammo has improved in the last ten years, and I think the .380 has as well. I load mine with Corbon DPX, which seems to have a pretty good set of stats.

    I just wish I had more confidence in the durability of the firearm. I do not expect it to be up to the task of my next LFI class. I do expect it to work the next time I pull the trigger. I have the gun, but I do not have the confidence in it that I was hoping to have. To get something bigger is not the answer. That just trades one set of issues for another (I gain reliability at the expense of carryability).

    Oh well, life is full of compromise.


    MICHAEL T Mentor

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    I have a P3AT and 2 P-32. Today I went out back and emptyed the 380 every round of DPX went fine and as usual the pistol was perfect. It been pocket carried for at least 3 mo with out being cleaned . Just a outside wipe down . The KT is normally my BUG but not always.
    This isn't a range gun and 1 or 2 mag a mo should be plenty . To keep you familer with it. If it wears out at 5000 rounds KT will rebuild it.

    I see no reason to worry and Corbon DPX and KT is a match.
  14. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    In exactly one short word familiar to one and all: ugly.
  15. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting Participating Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    Boise, ID
    "In exactly one short word familiar to one and all: ugly."

    OK SW, and Glocks, AKs, and Mossbergs aren't? LOL You telling me you will only carry pretty guns?
  16. DaltonSpringfield

    DaltonSpringfield New Member

    Apr 16, 2006
    Keltec all the way

    The P3AT is a great choice if you want a pocket gun. It would be a bad choice for a high volume range gun. I can put about 100 rounds thru mine at a time before it starts rubbing a hole in the webbing of my hand. Mine has been 100% in 800 rounds.
    Regards, Dalton

    TOADMAN Active Member

    Aug 5, 2005
    Daytona Beach
    For self protection, the S&W 642/442 is head & shoulders above the p3at because of reliabilty..

    1BLINDREF Participating Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    SE Pennsylvania
    +1 TOADMAN
    I carry my 642 nearly every day. The P3AT is more easily concealed, but the 642 can be easy to conceal as well. I'd rather trust the reliability and the stopping power of a Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 135 gr +P 38 spl. in a J frame over the P3AT in .380 - Just my opinion. Check out this thread for more info on the airweight J frames. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=138658
    Good luck with your choice.
  19. obxned

    obxned Participating Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    OBX, NC
    I read every thread in several forums, studied all the reviews of the P3AT, and with grave doubts bought one only because there is nothing else in the same size/weight in .380.

    Do it, just go out and buy one! There's a reason they are in short supply, and it is not because they are pretty, or make good range guns.
  20. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    If your P3AT KEL-TEC .380 (or P-32 for that matter) un nerves you, then
    may I suggest you ssek help in the form of Larry Seecamps LWS-32 or 380.
    Yes, pricey- but well worth the cost~! ;) :D

    BTW, just to follow up- I own just the standard, blue/black P3AT
    .380, and what I did too help protect the slides finish, is that I
    coated it completely with a thin coat of Blue Wonder Armadillo.
    Folk's this is good stuff, and it works great~! Its like putting a
    raincoat on your firearm; without damaging your weapon in any
    way. I haven't had mine that long, but I carry it most everyday
    in my back pocket. It looks brand new, even though you would
    think the "wear and tear" would take its toll~! I highly recommend
    its use for anyone that might find themselves in any type of
    "hostile environmental" conditions; with ANY blued weapon~!

    Furthermore, I think the KEL-TEC line is a innovation that will be
    around for awhile; as more manufactuer'ers are turning to the use
    of polymer coated frames. As you know, I now sell firearms for a
    living; and these little KEL-TEC's rank right along with the Kimbers,
    Glocks, and Springfields in overall sales.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007

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