Gun Review (Take Three): Kel-Tec PF9

I too own one of these gems. Hard Chrome (rust avoidance). I’ve had it for about ten months now. I’ve put about 400-500 rounds through my PF9. Here were my results . . .

Clean the PF9 thoroughly before you shoot it

You have to make absolutely sure you lube the PF9 thoroughly after each cleaning. Glocks, Springfields, Smiths and other fine, higher end guns will shoot out of the box. Not this one. It would pay you to take a dremel and smooooooooth out the rails, ramp, and any burrs you may find along the way. Give yourself this edge as the manufacturer does not.

I didn’t clean my PF9 when new. I put four boxes through the gun and had to stop halfway through due to a 50 percent FTF/FTE rate. Rougher finish than what I had anticipated. However, at the range, I went to the counter, we pulled it apart, saw the excessive wear marks on the rails, lubed it, and voila, hardly an issue with the remaining 100 rounds or so.

Fit and Finish, Grip

The PF9’s fit and finish could be a little better; I would cheerfully pay the 30 bucks more if Kel-Tec would just do it. On the plus side to the manufacturer, Kel-Tec’s service is known to be excellent and parts are cheap.

The grip is awfully sharp without a mod. I bought the Hogue Jr. Grip and mounted it upside down. It’s perfect. Downside? The palmswell makes the gun fatter than intended. The upside? Palmswell makes it easier to control. Like all small guns the PF9’s a non-stop compromise; what you give up in comfort, you make up in concealability.

The fit and finish on the Ruger LCP is far superior to the Kel-Tec 380. I’m sure it will be the same with the 9m LC9. But that doesn’t mean the Kel-Tec won’t/can’t do the same job.

Magazines

I always use the finger extension to position my hand away from the mag release. I had trouble hitting the PF9’s release when practicing. Due to the sizeable recoil, it caused me to eject mags before their time. Premature ejection, if you will . . .

Trigger

The PF9’s trigger is not great. It’s steady but the takeup is too long. If Kel-Tec made this simple improvement they’d make the PF9 a whole ‘nuther wonder. It’s a long, albeit not bad trigger pull. somewhere near eight pounds.

Sights

Accurate enough. You can adjust windage and shim for elevation. Good enough.

Recoil

Recoil with standard pressure ammo is like the man said: similar to a .38 snubbie albeit slightly easier to control. I’m talking about shooting the PF9 with 9mm FMJ whitebox from Wally-Mart. It’s punishing with quick double-taps at five yards.

Ammo

I would NOT suggest Plus P’s. Keep it to simple HP’s of the 115 to 124 gr and no more. That’s sufficient. The Plus P’s are not going to pick up that much. Hornady Critical Defense and other soft/quick opening slugs will do the job; you don’t need the excessive blast, recoil and flash that a Plus P creates for very, very negligible gain. The PF9 is by nature a double-tap gun. Two quick and fairly accurate 115 gr HP’s should cure most of what will ail you in public me thinks. ‘Nuff said.

Concealment

That’s the whole reason I bought this rascal. I own a myriad of full-size 9′s, 40′s, and .45′s. Great guns from Springfield, Smith, Glock, and Ruger. But I don’t carry them; they’re all too fat and heavy. I guess I’m in search of the perfect concealed carry weapon. KAHR is probably the closest; it feels incredible in my hand. And yet I can’t make myself spend $600 for one. Instead I spend a few thousand on four or five others. Go figure.

The PF9 conceals quite well. I use Uncle Mikes ISP holster and their ISWB holster depending on the situation. Go with the Schwinn/Hogue setup over the Hogue Jr to keep that slim profile slim.

I now carry the PF9 over my Smith & Wesson 442. I like a 9mm over a .380 but, I want that .380ish footprint. This is a close as it gets—until the Ruger releases their next Kel-Tec knockoff: the 9mm LC9. I’ll have to get that too I guess. It’s very similar in size and footprint to the PF9.

Accuracy

Slow, long pull, do not lend well to double-taps (read: S&W Sigmas). Both the Kel-Tec PF9 and Sigmas are excellent value guns but they do have their limitations. I know how to improve the Sigmas trigger but, the Kel-Tec? Not sure you can. Anyway, slow, you should ne fine with deliberate firing on a sitting duck (i.e. any range target) out to about 15 yards. That’s a tad under 50 feet folks.

After that, you may have problems both legally and morally. The PF9’s a parking lot gun. I’ve read plenty of times that most altercations are at 21 feet or less (seven yards). That’s about the length of a pickup truck, give or take. This is the epitome of a self-defense weapon. No more, no less.

Assembly and Cleaning

Fairly easy but reassembly is a bit quirky. You ave to press the slide and barrel assembly down as you enter the ramp to line up the PF9’s retaining hold/clip. It’s not that hard when you are used to it but the manual’s directions could be a tad clearer. It’s a laughably easy process once you know how, but you have to learn it first.

Summary

I am always on the hunt for powerful, slim, light handguns in 9mm or less. I know I will carry something like this. If you are looking for a good value in a CCW, the 280 bucks or so PF9 will fit the bill.

Click here to read Chris Dumm’s Take Two on the Kel-Tec PF9
Click here to read Don Gammill Jr.’s review of the Kel-Tec PF9