Gun Review: Kel-Tec P3AT .380

Kel-Tec’s P3AT is one of the most popular pocket pistols pistol purveyors purvey. And no wonder. It’s small, light and cheap. And . . . there you have it. For most buyers, it’s enough; size, weight and price are the only three boxes a mouse gun needs to check. Especially one chambered in the doyenne of downsized destructive devices: 380. Of course, skin-flint gun enthusiasts want more. Safety. Reliability. Accuracy. Beauty. Ergonomics. Well, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you just might find . . .

An ugly gun. While the P3AT isn’t “knock-a-dog-off-a-gut-wagon” ugly, buying this weapon for its looks would be like marrying Kendra Wilkinson for her intellect. To be charitable, Kel-Tec set out to manufacture the lightest, most concealable .380 Auto in creation—not a beauty queen. Nonetheless, all the old 1911 guys can now forgive Glock for mainstreaming ugly guns and pray that the spirit of John Browning will smote Kel-Tec’s ballistic blasphemy.

Would The Great One really decry the Kel-Tec, given its engineering? He would have marveled at the miniaturization: Kel-Tec ditched the straight blowback design favored by mouse gun manufacturers in favor of a locked breech system. (Just like grown-up pistols!) Consequently, the P3AT doesn’t need a heavy slide to whoa nellie the action’s blowback.

Even though its name sounds like a “strong” password, the P3AT’s real strength is its ergonomic adequacy in the face of such fierce dimensional constraints. A size that was barely do-able as a .25 Auto just a generation ago is now the new .380, as manufacturer after manufacturer has followed Kel-Tec’s pint-sized polymer lead and introduced similar semi-autos of their very own.

Yes, a new niche has definitely formed. Its offerings are starkly different from the mini-nines of just a few years back. Our present subject draws perhaps the starkest contrast from this group. To wit: at café Kel-Tec, de-contenting is the dish du jour. No thumb safety, no trigger safety, no grip safety and no heavy, revolver-like double-action trigger pull (the P3AT is DAO).

True, the six-round, single-stack magazine yields an ultra-narrow grip; but the grip is so short that even in my small hands, only my middle finger and half my ring finger were able to grasp it. Finger extensions and extended, higher-capacity magazines are available from Kel-Tec, but each one makes the gun a little larger than the original design. Which renders the P3AT increasingly pointless.

Another niggling negative: the slide doesn’t lock back after the final shot. And another: the molded plastic grip frame means that you either learn to love the somewhat uncomfortable, hard plastic texture, or wrap it with some home-brew arrangement of soft rubber.

Handicapped thusly, it’s easy to see why someone might prefer something a little more conventional for workaday personal protection. Someone like a friend who owns one, but doesn’t use it as his everyday carry piece. Even before firing the Kel-Tec, I was beginning to understand why he carried a Kahr 9mm instead of the little Kel-Tec. But a funny thing happened on the way to a negative gun review…

After getting past the initial shock of a gun that muzzle-flipped me the bird on my first go, I rethought my hand position. I mentally prepared myself for the upward motion and tugged the trigger again. This time, the gun didn’t try and jump out of my hand and scurry away into a dark corner. It wasn’t so bad. Not bad at all.

The P3AT’s trigger stacked a little and exhibited a bit of over-travel, but it’s not the pinchtastic finger-maimer some claim. Speaking of travel, it’s long-ish, but not the pack-your-bags journey some would have you believe. Despite forumistas’ testimony that the P3ATs trigger has enough grit to please an 18th century miller, the current iteration makes mythical the myriad moans expressed by first-gen P3AT owners. Are there better mouse-gun go buttons? Absolutely. Is the stock trigger a deal-breaker? Not by a damn sight.

Regarding sights (damned or otherwise), the P3AT’s merely suggest rather than pinpoint the target. For two-thirds the price of a second P3AT, Crimson Trace can help. Does that make the P3T a snub-nosed semi-automatic belly gun for combat distances? Sure—just as long as you don’t make make muzzle contact with your foe.

The more lead I sent downrange, the more Kel-Tec’s slim semi-auto fulfilled all the expectations I’d set for it over the years. Shooting to point-of-aim better than I could, the P3AT’s 21-foot accuracy was almost on-par with a much heavier and well-controlled S&W J-frame .38. And once I learned to wrap my left index finger around the front of the trigger guard, my confidence and precision improved dramatically.

The P3AT’s has quite a checkered reputation as a temperamental toddler. Failure to eject is, perhaps, the most egregious fault you’ll find. There were no feeding or extraction problems with this example in over 200 rounds. Clearly not a picky eater, the P3AT devoured cheap, reloaded FMJs as well as hot defensive hollow points with equal verve. The only misbehavior: the occasional brass flying more backwards than to the side.

Criteria by criteria, my mind’s mental checklist kept saying yes – yes I could afford a gun like this, yes it would be easy and safe to pack (especially with my friend’s excellent trigger-guard covering pocket holster), yes I could be comfortable practicing with the P3AT every few months, and yes I could be accurate and effective enough to warrant staking my life on it every day.

Logically, I can’t honestly say that the Kel-Tec surpasses (or even really equals) the best compact 9mm pistols in terms of ergonomics or functionality. Designed to push the downsizing envelope, there’s no denying the fact that it’s got more compromises than a 1960′s GM union contract. But the constraints and idiosyncrasies that make the P3AT one of the smallest, lightest .380 Auto pistols in the world are hardly insurmountable. All you have to do is ignore them, which is more easily done than you’d imagine. Especially if you had to.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Kel-Tec P3AT
Action type: Double Action Only
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6-round magazine
Barrel length: 2.7″
Overall length: 5.2″
Weight: 8.3 oz. unloaded; 11.1 oz. loaded
Grips: Polymer; integral with frame
Sights: Fixed notch rear (integral with slide) and fixed front blade
Slide Finish: Blued, Parkerized, or Hard Chrome
Frame Finish: Polymer; various colors available
Current Value: $250-$350 depending on options

RATINGS

(Out of five stars)

Style  *

Nearly any small gun looks better.

Ergonomics (carry)  * * * * *

The undisputed champion size- and weight-wise. Safety is really your only concern here.

Ergonomics (firing)  * * *

A bit jumpy with an imperfect trigger, but overall, not bad. Once you become proficient with it, these minor annoyances become ever more minorer.

Reliability  * * *

Even though Kel-Tec has done a good job of improving this model over the years, you still hear about quite a few that have issues right out of the box. This particular example functioned flawlessly, though.

Customize This  * * * *

There’s more out there for this little guy than you would think (some of it available from a cottage industry spawned by Kel-Tec owners). Grip slips, lasers, mag extensions, numerous holsters, etc.

OVERALL RATING  * * *

Viewed in its proper context (as the be-all, end-all of small and light), it’s an absolute winner. Viewed in the context of larger alternatives, it still holds its own, despite some peculiarities.

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About Don Gammill Jr.

Don Gammill, Jr. is a freelance writer, educator and part-time musician living in the metropolitan Atlanta area. He acquired his interest in firearms from his family, with his WWII combat veteran grandfather being the most instrumental in fostering both a keen interest in, as well as a healthy respect for, guns and how they are situated in society. Although he is a proud gun owner and a practitioner of legal concealed carry, he doesn’t consider himself a “gun person” per se; with a greater interest involves how people relate to guns – especially people who see guns as foreign, often scary/over-politicized icons of danger.

78 Responses to Gun Review: Kel-Tec P3AT .380

  1. avatardeadc56 says:

    Don,
    I just bought my wife one of these. The big selling point was the it was 'cute'. Hey, whatever works…… She kept leaving her full sized 9mm at home because of convenience. So even though the the P3AT is not the best choice for SD, it does follow the adage that the 380 in the pocket beats the 1911 in the gun safe when the SHTF. And like the man said, I carry a pistol because a cop is too heavy and a 12 ga strapped to my leg won't fit in my chair.
    The biggest thing that we had to overcome was keeping her wrist stiff enough during recoil to allow the slide the necessary momentum it needed to cycle properly. Just a matter of training and practice really with most people. As you said it's not the most comfortable piece to shoot and definitely not a 'plinker' but it's comfortable enough that she will at least practice with it a couple times a month. (they are made in Cocoa, Fl just south of where I live so customer service is just a matter of hopping in the car for a short drive should it ever be necessary)
    She loves the little pocket clip that you can put on them rather than carrying deep in the pocket or in a holster. It is definitely a point-n-shoot punctuation to the verbal command that NO means NO or STAY BACK. Not a target gun or competition gun by any means.

  2. avatarAnvilWhackr says:

    I have carried one of these for about 3 years, and would add only two comments: Check it with at least 50 rounds of whatever ammo you plan to use. Mine digested nearly every kind of quality ammo except the Cor-Bon. The Cor-Bon ammo was a bit too hot for my slide, and it tended to jam. If the trigger tip is too sharp and bites your finger, and the grip serrations are too sharp for your hand, take a fine tooth flat file and knock off the sharp ends of both. Hey, this thing isn't going to become a fine collectible, and on my black finish P3AT you just rub the filed area with a little water/spit and you can't see any file marks. Definitely increased the comfort level, especially rounding/shortening the trigger tip by about 1/8".

  3. avatarCTone says:

    Good review! The mighty P3AT is with me at all times, which is more than I can say for my 1911 at this moment. I find that I will add a G26 or 1911 to my belt when I can, but most of the time that is not likely, so I have to live with the Kel-Tec.

    Mine feeds everything without a problem. I've only had one jam in about 500 rounds, and it was one of the first wheel weight cast reloads that I ever tried in 380. Not too shabby!

  4. avatarClaude says:

    I have had mine for about 4-5 years. I bought the first generation as soon as they became available. I experienced a few jams and sent it to Kel Tec. 8 days later, it was back. About a year later, in 100 rounds, I had 2 jams again. I sent it to Kel Tec again. To my amazement, I received a brand new P3AT second generation in a week!!! In the subsequent years, I have shot many different ammos and never experienced any problem at all with the second generation model. This is a gem and the manufacturer is exceptional in the customer service area.
    I carried this in my suit pant front pocket at the office for years in a Guru pocket holster that mimics a wallet better than any other pocket holster I have seen or tried. My next expense is a Crimson Trace laser sight in the Guru holster again.
    My regular “out of the office” carry is a Glock 19 with night sights and Lasermax sight built into the recoil spring assembly. Now, the Kel Tec P3AT travels on my laft ankle as a backup in a super comfortable and safe Elite System ankle holster.

  5. avatarTom says:

    Own two of them and both are 2nd generation. Totally reliable and easy to shoot. Both function perfectly with all hard ball ammo and Winchester PDX-1, Speer Gold Dots and Federal Hydra Shock ammo. One of the most useful guns because it is so small and travels well in a pocket holster. It’s there when you might need a gun and throws seven 95gr bullets (12″ in ballistic gelatin that expanding to .47 cal.) Not the greatest pistol stopper but useful in a pinch.

    I am careful to make sure that the pistol rails and friction areas have a light coat of lubrication grease to ensure easy movement of slide and parts. I use lubriplate grease which was developed for the M1 Garand and is an excellent light gun grease.

  6. avatarEric says:

    I bought a 2nd generation P3AT used from a pawn/gun shop. Intended for it to be the wife’s carry piece, but find myself packing it frequently, too. I carry it in my front R/H pocket in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster which does a fine job of breaking up the pistol’s profile. I’m really impressed with this little gun. It shoots to POA & does so accurately, isn’t fussy about ammo (including hollow points), recoil’s manageable, & trigger pull is very smooth & light in my opinion. This is the type of gun that gives one no excuse to leave home unarmed, as it is so light & small, & the .380 will do the job with reasonable shot placement & multiple hits. Kel-Tec’s P3AT is a winner! Why do you think Ruger basically copied it in their LCP?

  7. avatarDanny says:

    I just got my Kel-Tec P3AT .380 a couple of weeks ago at a Gun Show. My friend and I purchased one. I talked to several vendors there and I would say that about 8 of them had one of them in their pocket. They told me they really liked the gun. I’m in a wheelchair and have been in it for 33 years. I also have a Glock 27 40cal. It is kinda bulky to carry. I can’t put either gun in my front pocket or on a leg holster. I’m limited to where to carry it. The Kel-Tec is small and I carry it in a fanny pack or have a small holster that clip onto my belt. I can cover it up with just a t-shirt and no body knows that I have a gun on me at all. I would suggest anyone who needs a great little gun to get the Kel-Tec .380. It’s small, but powerful.

  8. avatarMark says:

    While clearing chamber on 2nd gen P3AT, hammer spring broke. I was in vacation. Kel Tec sent replacement hammer spring assembly to me in 2 days. They have great customer service.

  9. avatarGunslinger says:

    This is a great little “pocket rocket”.I love mine and and carry it every place I go. Baught a Ruger LCP first,what a piece of crap,pins came out in my hand while shooting the damed thing.Never had a problem with the P3AT, shoots to point of aim and never misses a beat,great little pistol! Get one and practice with it and it could save your life some day.God,Guns and Gold,Semper-Fi!

    • avatarHollis Rogers says:

      I had the same problem with a Ruger Lcp. Right out of the box, round # 40, the slide pin fell out and the slide, barrel and all flew down range. I’m standing there holding the frame only thinking what the heck happened. Nothing but a piece of crap. I have heard Ruger makes a good gun. I now know their manufacturing and quality control is crap. Unacceptable for self defense period. I traded it in at the gun shop where purchased the next day. I will never own Ruger anything and will tell others my story every chance I get.

      • avatarjake simonds says:

        @ hollis – that’s too bad you say that about Ruger – i have owned several rugers and have been extremely happy with all of them – never had the occasion to even fire the LCP – i currently own a SP-101 5 shot revolver and they do NOT come ANY better – also a P-95 in 9 mil. and have NEVER had a feed jam or problem one with it ! and the 10-22 plinking or varmint rifle has an incredible reputation – i can vouch for that as well ! just my 2 cents worth . . .

    • avatarVet says:

      I have some O both. I know the pin, but U should name it. I had to file my extractor on the 3AT to get it working properly and Kel-Tec sent me replacements when I was sure of the problem. Thanks Kel-Tec. Your criticism of the LCP is DAMN unwarranted. I had the same problem as you and fixed it post haste. Any firearm can have a glitch. So learn a little about your firearm or shut the hell up. PMCS your firearm before engage

  10. avatarPistol packing mama says:

    I just got one today and can’t wait to shoot! These reviews have really helped

  11. avatartomtom says:

    Kel-tec has one of the best customer service dept. I have ever seen. I have owned the P3AT for almost four years now and would carry it with me all the time. One day I was working around the house and got crazy glue on my gun and had to send it back to Kel-tec. Six weeks later it was back home looking brand new and all. They stand behind there product .

  12. avatarRR says:

    I’m starting to think that the Kel Tec Customer support thing is a myth. I’ve heard nothing but glowing things about their customer support. Then, their gun breaks on me and I have to dog them to do anything about it. Their gun shouldn’t have broken in the first place since this is for personal protection. And if it does, they should be so embarrassed for producing a defective gun that they should rush mail the part, not make people wait for weeks or months going back and forth. I made the mistake of buying a Kel Tec. Never again.

    • avatarJohn says:

      I agree, my son purchased a P3AT yesterday as a backup weapon (he’s a state trooper) and the mag release wouldn’t hold the magazine in the gun right out of the box. He called Kel-Tec, he said the woman was RUDE, but agreed to send a new mag release. He may can the gun, so I may buy it from him and straighten it out, as our needs aren’t as critical. What a DISSAPPOINTMENT!

  13. I bought a used p3at recently and I’m convenced it will be a good pocket pistol. There is one problem, however. The magazine self ejects when I fire the piece. Not every time, but often enough to make me not want to rely on it in a jam. And when else “would” I rely on it? Is this common? What is the cause and cure?

    • avatartoteguy says:

      I had the same problem when I first got my P3AT . The clue is it does not happen all the time . You are probably pressing on mag. release . You need to change your grip. I love mine have had no problem with it sense . I have had mine for 3 years and I trust it to go bang when I need it. As they say a .380 in the pocket beats a 1911 in the glove box.

      • avatarMark says:

        I disagree with changing the natural way you grip a firearm to shoot. Unless you do this many times (thousands perhaps), you WILL revert back to your natural grip in a bad situation. Every gun does not fit every person. Example: I normally use Sig but I also have several Keltec pistols, and all work well. I bought a PF-9, and found that I continuously hit the mag eject button (old hand injury probably caused this). I sold the gun after 30 rounds. No way will I trust a defense firearm whose design does not fit me naturally. I’ve seen far too many gun people who use various weapons that function differently than each other for self defense (ie: some have safeties, others do not). That’s a good way to get yourself killed. Another example is holding onto a partially empty (or fully empty) magazine while training instead of dropping the thing. You WILL do things the way you normally do them under stress. There have been cops who were found dead clutching an empty mag because that is how they trained. I say this as a retired Federal law enforcement officer with 20+ years experience as a firearms instructor for the Feds.

    • avatarMike says:

      It sounds like you’re using a “thumbs down” grip, which is a proper grip for a revolver but not for an auto. Keep your thumbs up closer to the slide, one thumb in front of the other. The thumbs down grip if probably causing you to accidentally hit the mag release.

  14. avatarAnon says:

    My P3at’s dis-assembly pin starts popping out when I fire the gun. I have to literally stop shooting, push the pin back in, and start shooting again.

    • avatartoteguy says:

      Send it to Kel Tec They will fix the problem . I had the same problem. I bought mine used and suspect it had too many +p ammo fired in it.+p is fine for self defense but not for plinking or range time. Kel Tec will fix it at no charge and it will be like a new gun when they return it.

  15. avatarBob says:

    I’ve read all the comments and I feel I must make a contribution. I’m a Viet Nam vet, fired a lot of weapons up to and including 44 mags. I have several weapons including Glocks, etc. Most of the time I need to carry a weapon that is totally hidden, such as work, etc. I bought a Kel Tec P3At and a pocket holster and OMG! This is an amazing mini piece of self protection. Never had a FTE or FTF. No one, not even my wife can tell I’m carrying. Love my Glock but it usually stays home ready for home defense. When I first took it to the range, the molding seams on the trigger guard rubbed my finger raw. I took a fine file and filed those down smooth and problem gone! I would recommend this weapon to anyone wanting a mouse defense weapon.

  16. avatarRoger says:

    I’ve had my P3AT a couple of years now and am completely satisfied with it. Only problem was the mag release button stuck out a little too far and released the mag a few times when I carried it in a rear pocket and sat on it. A few minutes with a Dremel tool took care of that. Also, I now carry it in an IWB holster which works well. I did buy the mag extension for 1 mag, which gives a better grip.
    We live in SW Florida and normally wear only light clothing, so this little guy makes concealment easy.
    My only other carry gun is another Kel Tec…..a PF-9. This is a single stack 9mm, which is a bit larger and heavier, but sometimes I feel better with a little more gun, depending on circumstances. I like it very much also.
    Guess I’m a Kel Tec fan!

  17. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the web the simplest thing to remember of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed at the same time as folks consider concerns that they just don’t understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , other folks can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  18. avatarsean says:

    I just sent a disaster of a p3at to the factory for service. The best customer service I have had ever, for any product. Would not hesitate to recommend a kel tek to anyone!

  19. avatarRick says:

    I’m on my second PT3-AT now (let a friend talk me out of the first one) and all I have to say is “why would anyone ever want or need anything else”? The first thing I did with both of mine was to get out the dremel and polish the feed ramp, and I never experienced a single malfunction with either. I can drop it in shirt pocket, if need be, and no one is ever the wiser. Once you’ve fired it a couple of times, there’s no problems with recoil, and as long as you don’t ‘limp wrist’ it, no problems with ejection/feeding. On the two occasions I have contacted Kel-Tec (Once for extra mags, and once to order a front sight I had mangled) I got nothing but the very best of customer service – the replacement sights list for $1.00 each. They sent me two, spent $1.70 sending them, and charged my card a total of $1.00. As far as I am concerned, I am a convert, and now own one PT3-AT and one P-11, one or the other of which is within reach 24/7. This little gun, and Kel Tec in general, has proven to me to be top notch, and I have no reason to ever go anywhere else for my CCW needs. 40+ years of carrying a firearm, and I’ll pick a Kel Tec every single time.

  20. avatarDale says:

    This light and small gun is perfect for light clothing. I’ve never had any problems with it. I did find a site that tells how to break it in and do a little polishing here and there. I was packing a kimber, as it turned out it was more of a leftit gun now the kel tec goes where the wallet goes.

  21. avatarAndrew says:

    Don Gammill Jr., I really like your writing style. This laugh-worthy excerpt alone makes me want to read more reviews by you:

    =================
    Is the stock trigger a deal-breaker? Not by a damn sight.

    Regarding sights (damned or otherwise) …
    =================

    Thanks for the entertaining review. Who says reviews have to be all dry, facts and figures, and dull opinions? Twists of the language make everything fun.

  22. avatarTK says:

    Wow I’ve never had such a hard time reading a review. I love to read but your over the top adjectives are a bit much. Seems like your tryin to use every adjective out there without taking into consideration someone understanding your post. What I could understand was good tho.

  23. avatarTZH says:

    Just wanted to say that this was the last article before I purchased my P3AT. I’m a happy owner of my new .380 BUG.

    I chose this platform because it fits my carry and clothing lifestyle. Its hot where I live so light attire is necessary nearly all year round.

    For the past month I’ve been shooting 60+ rounds with it weekly and am enjoying the challenge of mastering the little thing since I’m used to full sized range toys.

  24. avatarmvento says:

    I bought this for my CCW, and so did my father. Out of the box I did nothing but put 200 rounds throughout it. It jammed twice. My father did the same. He had zero jams. the following day we each fed 150 round through the little guy. Zero jams for both guns. It is great for CCW, and also fun to shoot. I could have easily spent more hours and rounds at the range with no problem. great little gun. though I am an attorney now, when I was in the service I wish I has this little guy in my pocket.

  25. avatarwayne mosley says:

    love the gun but found that the shorter the cartridge, the less malfunctions you will have. the corbon is the shortest I could find and no malfunctions . does kick like a mule with them!

  26. avatarwayne mosley says:

    love the gun but found that the shorter the cartridge, the less malfunctions you will have. the corbon is the shortest I could find and no malfunctions . does kick like a mule

  27. avatartony says:

    Best super concealable weapon on the market. If you don’t hit your intended target, the explosion alone will deter any further menacing! Not for targets more than 10 feet away IMO. Strictly close quarters. More of a BOOM than a bang. Scary little creature….

  28. avatarrandall says:

    Great gun to carry in your pocket. Takes a little getting used to when you first shoot it, trigger pull is really long. To be so small it has a big kick and loud noise so hold on. Very accurate even at 10 yds. Biggest problem is sights is so small I took white finger nail polish an put on my front sight so I could see it, made a great difference. Great gun for the money

  29. avatarabe says:

    Thanks for the review & comments Iam getting my Kel Tec P3AT Friday & I can’t wait had my doubts but not anymore thanks again & for the two negative reviews sorry you guys had bad results with yours but everyone else thanks can’t wait ill let all of you know how mine does hope great like everybody else’s great reviews a day & a half can’t wait.

  30. avatarabe says:

    Thanks a lot for all the great reviews I had my doubts even started to regret buying the gun but now can’t wait for this day & a half to zoom by sorry for the two ppl who had trouble with the Kel Tec but as for me can’t wait I hope like the rest of u ill have a great review to share after I shoot it thanks again

  31. avatarDoubltap says:

    In July 2009 two thugs jumped me behind a local hotel whilst I was retrieving a can of coffee from my vehicle. I punched one out, he ran off, but the other pulled a knife – bad move! I retrieved my P3AT [Loaded with WW Silvertip HPs] and lit him up with 2 rounds center of mass. Sent him to the ER, where they almost lost him twice. He spent 6 weeks in hospital, and lost 1/2 of his stomach. I was, of course, not charged with anything [Kansas has both SYG & Castle laws]. He was finally sentenced last fall as a repeat offender, and got 114 months for an armed robbery [the knife]. He literally brought a knife to a gun fight! While one of my 45s would have no doubt brought a more permanent end to the incident, I was quite happy with the performance of the little “hot weather clothing” pistol, and sent Kel-Tec a letter saying so.

    Here is the link to the local newspaper article:

    http://cjonline.com/news/local/2009-07-16/corrections_worker_shoots_assailant?page=4

    • avatarEric Long says:

      Awesome, I always love a happy ending ;-) You’re a good American sir, and I hope you are still doing well. Thanks for everything.

  32. avatarBob Kenney says:

    I have had my P3AT five years.
    While I experienced a few FTF conditions on the first few boxes of ammo, after about 200 rounds this became a thing of the past. While this gun competes with my SW340PD and Glock 36, I find myself carrying it more than the others simply because of its size. I use Buffalo Bore 100gr Hard Cast LFN for defensive use. I have every confidence this weapon will perform for its intended purpose.

  33. avatarBill says:

    “Never had a FTE or FTF.” What is a FTE or a FTF?
    Thanks; and also thank you for serving in South East Asia. I lost a good friend, my childhood fishing buddy over there. I served at Ramstein AB, Germany, during that time.

  34. avatarRobert says:

    I’ve owned the p3at for 6 months. Began encountering FTEs immediately. Contacted KT and they sent me a new extractor assy. After installing, I headed to the range. No help. I sent it back to kt and almost 9 weeks later got it back. They had replaced the frame and some internals. Unfortunately, there were more FTEs than before. I immediately sent it back to them. Four weeks later, after they had replaced the barrel, and a few things, I got it back. I am elated to report that I have had zero FTEs since, and I have regained confidence in the mouser! For the first time, I did have a few FTLs, but I re-polished the feed ramp and took care of that.
    As for Kel-Tec’s customer service, exemplary!

    • avatarTZH says:

      really glad it worked out for you, pretty cool that you stayed with it for that long too!

      I’m having fun with mine, I try to press it into range toy duty and so far so good. tiny sights have some white nail polish on them and they help a lot with distant steel plates. cheers

    • avatarRobert says:

      As a follow-up; The next time out I started having all kinds of problems. It was a total disaster. Got home, and in the process of cleaning it I noticed the ejector was MISSING. It must have fallen out when I cleaned it after the first successful trip to the range…. Can’t find that little guy anywhere. Another one’s on order, and I look forward to continued success with the p3at…

      • avatarDe-Rake...Dave..... says:

        I just got my .380 and strait out of the box it started FTE,and I have shot 200 rounds and it sucks un-jamming that many rounds but I kept thinking this is the last-jam…NOT…I’m pissed….$300.00 dollars and I have to send-it back…My Ruger LCP shoots great….Talked with the lady at Kel-Tec and I’m sending it back later this week….Bow-Humbug….I read some Kel-Tec Fourms and alot of people seem to have trouble with this gun…I guess I’m one…Wish I was one of you Lucky-ones…..

      • avatarRobert says:

        Another follow-up… Received the new ejector. My sister, neice and I went to the range where they proceeded to have terrible FTE issues with the P3AT. They shot two mags each and encountered a 75% (min) failure rate. I, on the other hand had zero failures. I guess this has to be attributed to the “limp wrist” syndrome.

  35. avatarBob Hartwig says:

    I recently fired my new Kel-tech and had 6 feeding problems out of 24 rounds of new ammo. I returned the weapon to Kel-tech, cost be $20.00. I called them to get a turn around time and was told 8 weeks for warranty repairs…….ugghhhh !!!

  36. avatarTJ. says:

    Basic quality on these guns seems to be hit or miss proposition. I am one of the lucky ones, I guess, as I’ve had no problems with mine. It sometimes give me a FTE with hollowpoints, but in this caliber I prefer FMJ so this is no concern for me.

    There isn’t much that hasn’t been said in the P3AT debates, but having followed this issue online for several years I feel compelled to add my few cents’ worth:

    First, the quality is, as I mentioned, inconsistent. Kel-Tec CNC needs to address this, no question about it. For 300 bucks one shouldn’t expect perfection, but she needs to go “bang” when needed.

    Second, let’s put to rest once and for all the endless ranting about “mouseguns” and all of that. At point-blank range a .380, of any type, will spoil anyone’s day. Especially if said shot is between the eyes. End of show, period. Spare me the ballistics information about the .45 you have in your closet; this is about the gun you will actually have on you come when the proverbial stuff hits the fan. The P3AT is the easiest gun to have on you 24/7, hands down.

    Third, let’s relax about the accuracy and the sights as well. This gun is not to be aimed at something far away; it is to be point-fired at a murderous skell who is almost (or already) on top of you. You want to show off your stuff, get a target pistol and join a team. This little thing is for stopping someone at point-blank range. Period.

    Fourth, the above point speaks again to the issue of the caliber. No one questions the fact that the .380 acp isn’t as potent as larger rounds. But when fired from a couple of feet away the .380 is not exactly a BB. And, as I said before, if one of those shots is in the head, the fight is over. This isn’t deer hunting, and no handgun is an instant death ray, especially at a distance.

    Fifth, if the bad guy is not very close, you probably shouldn’t be shooting him anyway. With or without a “castle law” no one should be shooting when escape or avoidance is easily possible. If your skell is too far away to be easily stopped by a P3AT, he is probably too far away to be a genuine threat in the eyes of the law. Don’t argue with me; check with your state’s laws on deadly force. Better yet, get LE training as I have had. You shoot, you will have a lot of explaining to do.

    Ranges are filled with self-appointed experts who then fill the internet with all sorts of drivel that have the untrained newcomer thinking that he or she needs to walk around with a custom .45, three extra magazines, and a New York reload (otherwise known as a back-up gun). Even more amusing is the fact that so many of these Rambos live in very quiet areas with very low crime rates.

    For what it’s worth, when I went to put my P3AT on my license, the cop at the office told me that “everyone” in that particular agency (in New York) was getting them for off-duty. That’s goo enough for me.

    So that’s my rant. If you disagree, that’s OK. I may be right, or I may be wrong, but in America I have the right to be wrong. Keep safe, one and all!

    • avatarHollis Rogers says:

      My sentiments exactly. Doesn’t it just make you sick reading all the “experts” with all their statistics and absolutely no common sense.

  37. avatarT.J. says:

    As Columbo would say, “just one more thing…”

    The P3AT trigger is what it is. There is a long easy pull, followed by a quick break at the end. Get used to it. Anyone with real-world experience with double-action revolvers should have no trouble getting the hang of the Kel-Tec trigger.

  38. avatarMike Fredricks says:

    I’ve had my ne for a couple years and love it. I’ve got one of the shoot through holsters and carry it in a back pocket. Looks just like a wallet. I had to get used to carrying my wallet in a front pocket but no big deal. Mine goes bang every time and shoots accurately enough! I shoot 1911′s in competition but no way I could carry the beast. Mine is with me every day.

  39. avatargeorge traylor says:

    I have a p32 I love the way it carries, the first time I shot, three rounds smoke stacked right off the line then shot better as I went on. I am going to see if the my gun hold during fireing is solid enought! I understand that if the light gun as it is raises pass a point in recoil during firing it could be the problem they have to have a solid recoil also try a 10 round mag it gives more grip plus the extra rounds. Try a hundred rounds of the awful priced 32 ammo then decide. George From my dead hands.

  40. avatarmichael clim says:

    just shot my p3at for the first time, actually liked the little gun for what it’s intended for. ( a gun that I can’t tell if I have with me until I feel for it ) Rapid fire at 15 yards put all the rounds in the head area of my target. fired 80 shots and my range time came to a screeching halt. I looked down on the bench in front of me and found that the hammer spring had broke and left the remaining pieces of the spring, pin and small block that it attaches to on the bench. Nothing to do at that point other than pick up the pieces and go home. I am really thinking about selling the kel tec and getting myself a Beretta Nano. As soon as my ordered repair parts get here I’ll make another trek to the range and see if it was an isolated and infrequent happening or an issue that may resurface again.

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  43. avatarFatboy says:

    I picked up a PTA3 at a pawn shop, $190 out the door. Looked, felt like it had never been fired. Ran 50 rounds through it, didn’t start jamming up till about the 35-40th round, then it was impossible. Did a cleaning today, a little filing, polishing, see what happens next. Liked the gun, 10-15 yards, I’m hitting center mass, fits well in a desantis pocket holster on the back pocket of my jeans.

  44. avatarChris Short says:

    This is the email I sent Kel-Tec about my HORRIBLE customer service experience.

    I received my slide and barrel yesterday…finally. Thanks.

    I am not sure where to begin but let me just say that I am so dissatisfied with your customer service on a firearm LESS than 90 days old that I intend on sending a copy of this, along with my frustration, to any customer review site I can find.

    A friend had convinced me to purchase a P3AT because it was not only a great firearm but he had gotten such great customer service. He had sent his in after losing a part while cleaning it. The tech called him the day it arrived, discussed the problem, corrected it, tested it and shipped it back free of charge the next day. That is great customer service. I, on the other hand, sent mine in after the email exchange below for a corrosion issue on the chamber cover. The tech below said they would parkerize the parts to eliminate the problem so I sent the slide and barrel to you with it arriving on the 13th of May. Through emails and phone calls I placed to Kel-Tec I was assured by folks there that this was a routine fix and should be back to me shortly. After a MONTH my patience had run out and I apologize to Tim because I vented a bit on him but this was ridiculous! I was told by more than one employee that Kel-Tec was moving their Parkerizing equipment to a new building and that was the hold up. I am in business myself and could understand such a situation causing a delay but someone there should have picked up the PHONE and called me.

    Well, after waiting 42 DAYS for my slide and barrel to come back I finally received it and was filled with joy until I open the package only to realize that I was shipped a blued one not a parkerized on as had been mentioned!!!!!! I was willing to accept the unnervingly long wait for my part to return in light of the “parkerizing machine being moved” but, as if to add insult to injury, you shipped me a blued one instead?????? That could have been done a month ago!!!!

    If this is what Kel-Tec calls customer service I will never purchase another of your awesome firearms.

    I had mentioned to Tim that it would be nice as a consolation prize that they stick an extra magazine in the box for me………… instead of that you shipped me the part in the wrong finish that should have been handled 30+ days ago. WOW…..

    You’ve played me for a fool once Kel-Tec, Unless I hear from you about correcting this don’t expect a second chance.

    • avatarMikeyMikeMB says:

      waa.waa.waa … all the way home.

      Me. Mine. Now, now, now. I want and demand immediate attention and moved to the front of the line.

      Gimme.Gimme.Gimme something free for being inconvenienced.

      I want H&K quality and service from my $225.00 pistol.

      waa.waa.waa … all the way home.

      You and your moronic brethren tickle me.

  45. avatarThomas says:

    I picked up a Kel-Tec P3AT the other week , I have not shot too many rounds thru the weapon as first of all .380 ammo is not that easy to obtain now adays ! I did not experience any problems with the Federal ammo that I did shoot, weapon shot perfectly, a word of advice, do not shoot the steel cased Russian made ammo, only shoot brass cased American made .380 ammo and stay away from reloaded ammo from unknown sources, swapmeets, yard sales etc, an individual I know blewup his automatic by shooting reloaded ammo ! The Kel-Tec pistols made recently are much better than the first ones made, as I purshased on of the first P-32′s and had nothing but trouble, misfires, failure to extract and a trigger pull that became almost impossible to pull ! The problems seem to have been worked out !

  46. avatarThomas says:

    I forgot to mention before you shoot you P3AT oil your weapon’s metal parts with a good quality gun oil lightly not too much an oil such as Rem oil made by Remington and your weapon should function perfectly, since the P3AT is a small weapon it must be kept clean to allowed to get dirty !

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  51. avatarSteve Walters says:

    My Kel-Tec P3AT is horrible. Failure to eject, no matter what ammo I use. I would only recommend this gun to my worst enemy. At the range I have to use a small wood dow rod to clear out empty brass from the chamber. The gun is totally UNreliable. I have put at least 400 rounds through the gun and can never get the gun to eject all rounds in the magazine. What a waste of money! If you want a good reliable .380, I recommend the Walther PK380. It actually works!

  52. avatarCharles T Cope says:

    My P3AT will jam on the first 3 of the 6 rounds when I’m chambering the rounds. I bought a new clip with the same results. What’s my next option. The last 3 rounds chambers perfectly ,

  53. avatardaryl shankles says:

    my P:3AT with 100 gr fn hard cast bufflo bore stoped the nabors golden retriver today from getting ME!

  54. avatarBud Burkhart says:

    My 3AT is six years old now, and thank God I have never had to use it. I’ve used several different factory ammos, and so far have failed to shoot a complete clip through it without a jam. Sometimes it fails to feed properly , and sometimes the trigger fails to reset. And, yes, the hammer spring broke once. Its the perfect gun to carry as it will almost fit my T-shirt pocket. I just wish it would shoot!

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  56. avatarmanymoonsbigbang says:

    mine was reliable. I did the fluff and buff before shooting it. It hurt my trigger finger to shoot it so I sanded the seams and trimmed the trigger. That helped but did not fix it. Finally I sold it after having to replace the firing pin. The first round out of the mag always needed a little bump on the slide to get it to feed. That bothered me and does not happen with my TCP.

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