I got my P3AT back from Kel Tec today, almost six weeks to the day after I sent it in. The little slip says they “polished feed ramp” and “Test Fired.” That’s exactly what the slip said the last two times I sent it in. The barrel and frame look the same, but I sent them a Parkerized slide and it was returned with a blued slide (a scratched up blued slide) . . .

While they had the pistol for the past few weeks, I also tried to return to them some mag extensions and a pocket clip accessories I bought, installed, decided I didn’t like. No dice. They felt these like new items were too “used” to return. Fine. I also asked them to buy back this pistol based on it having its third return to factory. No dice on that, either.

The MO at Kel Tec seems to be: sell pistol and hope it works or owner does not run it. Much. If pistol is returned, throw new parts at it, shoot it one or two times to confirm function, then return to customer. Repeat as needed. I believe they are counting on most owners of this particular pistol not shooting them much, if at all, despite their advertised 5000 round service life. The returns are just part of doing business and I imagine a vast majority of owners just don’t bother.

My experience with Kel Tec has been one of non-functioning firearms with barely decent customer service. I can not recommend them as a company in any way. Buyer beware. As for this P3AT. I’m not even going to bother running ammo through it. Straight to the safe, or cheap sale with full disclosure of its issues. At no time did Kel Tec know I wrote for this website during our interactions. One wonders if they would have even cared.

30 Responses to A Short Rant About A Small Gun: Eric on The Kel-Tec P3AT

  1. “My experience with Kel Tec has been one of non-functioning firearms with barely decent customer service.”

    I thought their rep was non-functioning firearms with very good customer service. That is bad news, I was very interested in the RFB and KSG. My plan was purchase > have failure > send in and get a quasi-custom for an off-the-rack price. Sounds like that’s not going to work (and neither are the guns).

  2. I feel your pain. I “had” a P3AT at one time. Retail on it was about $300.00. I traded it back in about 6 months later for $150 in gun store credit. While I do not have the same experience that you have, my MO is if a gun does not work flawlessly for me, and I can’t stake my life on it, I get rid of it even if I have to just trade it away. I don’t waste time hoping a company will fix a broken weapon. The Kimber SOLO, which everyone is raving about and the company is marketing the heck out of that “broken” gun, may soon follow the path of Kel Tec.

  3. Well, Kel-Tec never did care about quality that much, but they used to partially make up for it by taking their guns back and re-doing them, and taking them back again and re-doing them, and they used to either be faster with this process so that you had a better chance of coming up with a good working gun before you died, or they made it seem faster, or something.

    But I think it’s time we P3AT’ers wake up and admit what everyone else seems to have known for months: Kel-Tec just isn’t into us that much anymore.

    Kel-Tec’s not buffing our ramps because it’s been too busy servicing newer, sexier, more powerful guns, guns that involve a lot more money than ours ever did, guns that can keep on performing time after time after time, guns that are substantially thicker and longer than us ol’ mouse gunners could ever manage . . .

    Turns out, size does matter.

    I’m working on just moving past it all, and trying to keep KT as a “good” memory instead of thinking of the whole relationship as a failure just because it ended. Heck, any situation in which I get my bore buffed that many times with a smile has to count as a good one, right?

  4. I have followed this epic closely. I was witness to a DB .380 failing to eject every other round. I haven’t seen this micro .380 in action but I’m sure that I don’t want to bet on it. I sold the KT pistol I had because I did not like it and since that time this company and their firearms seem to only have gotten worse.

    I bought a Kahr P9. Really liked it. Does the comparable spec P380 sound like something I want to spend three times the asking price of a P3TA on though? No. I find a mouse gun that sells for ~$700 MSRP to be unfair; I feel a small gun should command a small price since I can get a new fighting gun that price but…if I want a reliable belly gun I will save my pennies and go all out. If I need it I will need it there and need it to work. Just buying it won’t cut it like KT seems to hope here in this wonderful future of declining Quality Control and Customer Service.

  5. My little Kel-Tec P-32 is fussy about ammo. So far I’ve found that Winchester Silver Tip 60 gr JHP and Magtech “32B” 71 gr JHP work well. Other loads e.g. Fiocchi FMJ, JHP and PPU FMJ, JHP have FTF or FTE problems.

    Some shiny spots are developing inside the little pistol presumably where it is “fluff and buffing” itself.

  6. My experience with Kel Tec service was very different. My PF9 good three calls and sets of parts to get up and running, but their service was prompt and efficient. I stayed ‘undercover’ also, although they could have looked me up and learned that I write here.

    Today Kel Tec seems to be shorting production of some of their older designs in order to ramp up production of the KSG. This would be a mistake in my book, because I suspect that shooters will tire of an endless procession of sparkly new guns that don’t function reliably.

    The extreme simplicity and reliability of the SU2000 proved that they could build a reliable gun, but they’re in short supply now.

  7. That’s too bad, all my experiences with kel-tec have been great so far. I bought a used P3AT an the magazine button was getting a little worn out, one call and they sent me a new one free of charge. Same story for my SUB-2000 butt stock.

  8. I thought about getting the KT a year or so ago. Went with the LCP instead. The Ruger just had a better look and more solid feel. Have put about 1000 rounds thru it, all different types of ammo. Not a single issue. For the small mouse guns, it’s the way to go.

  9. Look at the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act, a federal law that has been in effect for about 35 years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson%E2%80%93Moss_Warranty_Act

    Look at the warranty that came with the pistol. You MAY be entitled to a “buy back” if the manufacturer made multiple attempts to repair the item under warranty and the defect still exists.

    From WIKIPEDIA: (if it had a full warranty as described in the statute):
    “if the product, or a component part, contains a defect or malfunction, must permit the consumer to elect either a refund or replacement without charge, after a reasonable number of repair attempts.”

  10. I’m up to 300 rounds on my P3AT and not a failure yet. I guess I’m lucky. I tried three different brands of ammo. This weekend another 50 or so rounds through it, I’ll keep an eye out for FTF or stovepipes.

  11. The one and only Kel Tec I ever bought was a P3AT. After about 200 or so rounds through it, I had a catastrophic failure at the range one day, as in “pull the trigger and nothing happens” kind of failure. I sent it back (on my dime), and got it back a month later. Shot one mag through it and decided I could never trust it again. I sold it about 2 weeks later.

    My pocket gun is currently a S&W 442 loaded with 130 gr .38 +P.

    I will never buy another Kel Tec.

    • FYI, but a failure to fire is not a catastrophic failure. Catastrophic failure would be something like a case head separation. If you dont belive me, give your gun a barrel obstruction and then try to shoot it. Afterwards see if you think there is a significant difference between a failure and a catastrophic failure.

  12. I believe they are counting on most owners of this particular pistol not shooting them much, if at all, despite their advertised 5000 round service life.

    Are they actually pushing a 5000 round service life as a selling point? Because that doesn’t sound that impressive at all. That’s less than two years of putting one 50-round box through it per week.

  13. I agree with your portrayal of their MO. After much research I settled on the PF9. Hind sight says that was a mistake. Should have gone with the LC9 or CM9. It functions perfectly with one FMJ and HSTs, but won’t with a whole lot more…. Not worth playing boomerang gun with them. I’ll use it until it fatally flaws with all ammo and then dump it.

    Happy shooting, dv

  14. I’ve been a KT customer for years (early P-11, P3AT, Sub2K, PF-9). While I’ve rarely required it, in the past I’d admired KT’s CS attitude. My latest KT is the PF-9, and the only problem in ~1K rounds downrange has been with extended (Pierce or +1 plate) mags which tend to drop on shot. KT CS has responded in timely fashion with (free) new parts to try; no 100% fix yet. Of course I could return the gun for exam as they’ve offered but it works reliably with stock 7rd mags so not been a priority.
    However, I do agree that this “sell now, fix later” quality-out-of-control approach looks to be escalating judging from my experience and what I’ve read from others. I doubt I’ll be buying any more KT products. And my PF-9, which until now has been my primary EDC due to it’s convenient form-factor will soon be regulated to BUG duty only.

  15. Honestly I feel like I’m dealing with an entirely different company. I’ve never had anything but good experiences with kel tec products and their customer service. I’ve had two p11’s, so far and thats because I made a stupid move and sold it for a commander size 1911 and regretted it big time. Neither of them had any issues. My first one had probably a thousand rounds through it, and my second one which I’ve been putting through its paces since I shoot a lot more now, is going on 1500 with only 1 jam and I hadn’t cleaned it in several hundred rounds. In my experience the p3at is somewhat more questionable, though. I bought one for my girlfriend and it jammed on almost every other round out of the box. Kel Tec CS was more than accomodating to get it fixed and even threw in some extras I mentioned to the rep that I had wanted to try, free of charge. Maybe I’m just lucky I guess…

  16. You guys are either a bunch of limp wrists or whiners or both. My P3AT has about 250 rounds through it of the very cheapest ammo of all nose types, has never been cleaned or lubed, and has never had a malfunction. Example: You and your friends here complain about the sharpness of the grip pattern, something people pay extra for on custom guns. Why don’t you get a pair? And the LCP is nothing but an overpriced knock off. Does anybody remember Ruger’s mass LCP recall?

  17. I had a Keltec P11. I got rid of it after the internal trigger workings broke twice.

    I took a chance with the smaller PF-9. So far no problems with the trigger. I do occasionally have feed or ejection problems. It might be the cheap ammo I use… but my glock, beretta, XD eat it. I should have bought a Ruger LC9 instead.

  18. my P3AT works fine. I’ve also recently purchased an SU-22 and it shot 400 rounds of Armscor High-Velocity .22s w/o a single problem straight out of the box (after cleaning and generous lubrication).

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