Gun Review: KEL-TEC P32 .32 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

Kel-Tec P32 .32 ACP

courtesy armslist.com

Reader Sean G. writes:

“You bought a KEL-TEC?!?”

I’m sure that’s the first thought running through the minds of many TTAG readers when they read the title. It was certainly the reaction a few of my friends had, as well. To be completely honest, it was even in the back of my mind when I plunked down my money for a brand new Kel-Tec P32 at my LGS.

We’ve all heard horror stories about some Kel-Tec products, So why buy one? In a word, curiosity. The P32 has always fascinated me. At 6.6 ounces and 0.75” wide at the grip, it is purportedly the thinnest and lightest pistol in production today. Ideal for concealed carry. It is also unusual in that it uses a locked-breech rather than a straight blowback action, a rarity in mouse guns.

Also, the reviews I ran across on various Kel-Tec boards were overwhelmingly positive for the little gun, with many of the opinion it was the best pistol Kel-Tec makes. When my FFL offered several of them at very competitive prices, it seemed like a good time to roll the dice and pick one up for myself.

Out of the several pattern combinations available, I opted for the model with the blued slide and gray frame. Not so much for aesthetics, but for the fact that particular color combo was available for $232, about $20 less than the other models offered. Nobody buys a Kel-Tec for its looks, and the extra Jackson paid for a box of range ammo. I left my LGS feeling pretty pleased with the deal.

Once I got it home, I field stripped the P32 and gave it a good once over. My first impressions of the pistol were mostly positive. Build quality is better than I expected. There are no obvious tool or machining marks inside or out, and the slide is nicely blued. This thing is built for concealed carry or backup gun use.

The polymer grip looks and feels a little “industrial”, but sturdy. The seam where the two halves of the grip are attached is noticeable, particularly along the trigger guard. On a $500 gun, I’d consider it a serious cosmetic flaw. In a pistol that cost me less than half of that, I can give it a pass.

Admittedly, there are a few areas where gun’s budget price is matched by budget design features. Plastic roll pins abound, and while the slide locks back after the last round, there is no manual slide stop. The mag release is a traditional button release, with the other end of the release mechanism protruding from the right side of the grip when activated. It works well, but feels a little sticky and cheap, even for its class.

Ergonomics are a mixed bag. The design of the P32, like its slightly bigger brother the P3AT, keeps the back of the slide well away from even the largest of hands. I have large (read: fat) hands and had no trouble establishing a proper grip without fear of being kissed by the slide (Look ma, no slide bite!).

That joy is somewhat offset by the fact that the slide itself is quite small, and doesn’t offer a lot of purchase even with fairly pronounced rear slide serrations. Racking the weapon is not at all difficult, but clearing a malfunction under duress could prove challenging.

The grip, like the rest of the P32, is narrow and short. I am able to get a not-quite-two-fingers grip with the standard 7 round magazine. It rests in the hand well for its size, but an extended 10 round magazine with a nice grip extension is also available from Kel-Tec for around $24.

It gives the P32 a bit of a Frankenpistol look, but it also affords a full three-finger grip to almost any size hands.

The checkering on the grip is quite aggressive, and might not be to everyone’s taste. I felt it provided a solid, positive-feeling grip on the pistol, but I have read stories of owners smoothing the pattern out a bit with high grit sandpaper in order to make it more comfortable to hold. In any case, there are a number of aftermarket grips and sleeves available from Hogue, Talon, and the like to meet most anyone’s “textural preference.”

As for the sights, well… a pocket pistol’s sights are going to be on the minimalist side, in keeping with the design’s need to be snag-free. The P32’s sights are about as minimalist as it gets.

Maybe if I was still 20, I could pick up the miniscule, all black rear notch and front post sights quickly enough to make effective use of them. My aging Gen-X’er eyes found them of only limited use at the range for slow aimed fire, and of almost no benefit for quick reaction drills. Still, this is not a target pistol, but a “Get off me!” gun, so I can’t fault the P32 too much on that point.

The P32’s first day at the range was a light workout, basically just to make sure the gun ran properly. I eschewed the advice on many Kel-Tec forums to give the little pistol a “fluff and buff”, preferring simply to clean and lube the gun beforehand. I brought along the single box of Armscor 71gr FMJ I’d purchased with the pistol.

50 rounds later, I was nicely surprised. The P32, launching a little .32 ACP round, is quite pleasant to shoot. The double action only trigger is light (five pounds) and very smooth, though the pull is long and the reset is all the way out. Felt recoil was very light with the standard capacity mag, even for a relatively mild round like .32 ACP, and almost non-existent with the extended grip. The dual recoil spring and locked breech action helped keep the pistol on target and made follow up shots easy. I had zero malfunctions.

The first post range session cleaning, on the other hand, was a little troubling. This little gun gets dirty quick. After 50 rounds, the inside of the slide and grip frame were positively sooty. Running my finger along the inside of either left my finger tip black with carbon buildup. Fortunately, this little gun cleans up just as quickly, and with a little Ballistol and some elbow grease, the P32 was again pristine in about five minutes.

Thinking the issue might partly be with the Armscor ammo, I opted to try some different brands of 32 ammo for my next range session. I’d long heard and read that European .32 ACP is loaded hotter than most American brands, and tends to be a bit cheaper, to boot. So, I purchased some GECO Red Box 73gr FMJ’s from AIM Surplus for less than $10 a box, and several hundred rounds of Fiocchi 73gr FMJ from Bud’s.

The second trip to the range found the Kel-Tec as willing as before. It ate every round happily, enjoying the GECO and the Fiocchi equally well. I could feel a difference in the performance of the ammo. Both were quite comfortable to shoot, but definitely felt “warmer” than the Armscor, with the Fiocchi being maybe just a hair warmer than the GECO. Both burned more cleanly as well. After a 100-round session, the P32 needed a bath, but wasn’t as dirty as it had been from just the 50 rounds of Armscor previously. I made it standard practice from that point on to do 100-round sessions each time, followed by a quick cleaning.

The P32’s accuracy is satisfactory for a pistol in this class, though it does take some practice. The long trigger and the pistol’s light weight make it easy to pull one’s shots off the original point of aim. My general clumsiness and subpar fine motor control likely make this more of an issue for me than for some others, but it is there. Once I got used to the trigger, however, I was able to get decent self-defense groups even with my modest skills. To illustrate that point, I shot two drills at seven feet, a third at five yards, and a couple at seven yards.

The first close-in drill was a one handed “point and shoot” exercise at 7 feet. I fired three quick groups of three without aiming, keeping my weak-side hand free to fend off a hypothetical attacker. I repeated the exercise with slow aimed fire, shooting off-hand.

The point and shoot groups were unsurprisingly a good deal looser than the aimed ones, but not too bad.

I also performed several drills at 5 yards and 7 yards. I was satisfied with the P32 at 5 yards, with consistent hits in the 10 ring. I did have one or two flyers – my fault, not the gun’s – reminding me not to get sloppy on the trigger. At 7 yards, my groups were still decent, though they did open up noticeably.

Seven yards is probably pushing it for a gun like the P32, though I do believe it is capable of more accurate fire. I may have to slap on some aftermarket sights, or even splurge on the laser grip, and give a follow up report at some point.

Not everything about range time with the P32 was as enjoyable as shooting it. Mag changes can be a little frustrating. The mag release pops the magazines out with authority, but those with large hands will have to adjust their grip.

My hands usually blocked the bottom of the standard seven-round magazine, and once I somehow managed to partially block the back of the mag release on the right-side grip. Not a big deal at the range, but not something one would want to fuss with in an actual DGU. A paddle-style release wouldn’t solve all these issues, but would be a welcome improvement.

On the final day of range testing, I put the P32 to the test. I fired as many FMJ rounds as I could through it, while purposely limp-wristing every shot, in hopes of causing a malfunction. I even threw in a wild card with some exotic ammo. I’d picked up a box of Underwood +P Extreme Cavitators, reviewed here at TTAG by Jeremy S. The ammo has a rep for hitting hard for its size, but also of being prone to hanging up and not feeding due to its unusual bullet shape.

With FMJ, the P32 was once again almost boringly reliable. I managed to cause one malfunction on the last round of the second to last magazine I fired. With a dirty gun and a wet noodle grip, I had a single failure to eject. I cleared the brass easily and finished with the final magazine without issue.

With the Extreme Cavitators, the jury is still out. The first round loaded and fired flawlessly. The second round, unfortunately, rim-locked in the magazine and resisted all efforts to clear it. I ended up having to disassemble the magazine when I got home in order to get the damn thing unstuck. I hope to do a follow up test with the Underwood rounds to see if it will feed in the pistol. For now, I’m putting the blame on sloppy loading on my part, and the inherent perils of a semi-rimmed self-defense round.

All in all, I was impressed with the Kel-Tec P32. It proved itself reliable, reasonably accurate, and dare I say it, kind of fun to shoot. That said, would I recommend the P32 to others? My answer to that is: maybe.

As with any product, you have to compare a firearm with the available alternatives. It’s not always enough to be good, you have to be better than the competition, or at least offer something that makes your offering stand out in the crowd.

In terms of bang for the buck, the P32 is simply outclassed. In 1999, when the P32 first came out, it was a novel design. In late 2018, there are a host of well-made micro .380’s and even a few decent micro 9’s available at the P32’s price point. Some offerings, like Taurus’s excellent TCP .380, can often be had for substantially less than a P32. .380 being absolutely a more powerful round than .32 ACP, and available in a wider variety of self-defense loadings (with no threat of rimlock), many shooters would be better served by one of those offerings.

On the other hand, the P32 could be a good choice for recoil sensitive shooters or for people with limited hand strength. Micro .380s tend to be snappy little critters, and not much fun at the range or anywhere else. Almost anyone could handle the P32, however. Racking the slide requires only moderate strength, and it is an absolute cream puff on recoil. Follow up shots are easy, and extended practice sessions are quite agreeable.

There is also the question of long-term durability. While my P32 has shown GLOCK-like reliability, it’s unknown if it will have GLOCK-like sturdiness. From what I’ve gleaned from Googling, it’s not unheard-of for a spring to fail at the 1200-1500 round mark.

That’s probably a higher round count than most pocket pistols in this bargain class will get in a lifetime, and replacement springs and pins are dirt cheap on Kel-Tec’s website, but it is something to consider. Keeping a P32 hale and healthy probably will require an above average level of preventative maintenance if one plans on shooting it often.

Ultimately, the P32 can be a good choice for an inexpensive self-defense tool. I’m certainly happy with mine. As with almost every gun, it’s not without its drawbacks, and there a lot of alternatives that might suit one’s needs better.

Armscor ammunition

Specifications: Kel-Tec P32 Semi-Automatic Pistol

Chambering: .32 ACP
Magazine Capacity: 7+1 round capacity (10+1 with extended magazine)
Construction: Blued steel slide, steel barrel, aluminum frame with polymer exterior
Action: Hammer-fired, DAO, no re-strike
Sights: Integral, non-adjustable blade
Barrel Length: 2.7 in
Overall Length: 5.1 in
Overall Height: 3.5 in
Weight: 6.6 oz
MSRP: $325 (Average street price: $230- $250)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * *
Not hideous, but no one will never mistake a P32 for a Tomcat, that’s for sure.

Ergonomics * * * ½
The P32 is ridiculously easy to carry, easy to conceal, and comfortable to shoot. Mag changes are awkward, especially for those with bigger hands. Some might find the grip texturing too aggressive.

Accuracy * * *  (* * * * in its class)
For what it is, the P32 gets the job done. It’s accurate enough at self-defense distances, but the minimal sights and long trigger pull make 80-yard gong shots highly unlikely.

Reliability * * * *
One forced malfunction out of 500+ rounds of FMJ, and a magazine issue with the Hornady EC ammo. Zero FTF, zero failures to hold open on the last round. Run good quality FMJ and keep the gun clean, and it should go bang every time.

Customization * * * 1/2
Kel-Tec offers several grip colors -none of them particularly attractive- and two slide options. A grip laser is available for $180 MSRP ($150 average street price), and there are couple of magazine options. Aftermarket vendors offer various grip sleeves, and there are a couple of outfits making improved sights for the P32.

Value * * *
The P32 is affordable and reliable, but faces a lot of competition from better regarded and more powerful guns in this price range and class. A good option for the recoil sensitive or those wanting an easy carrying BUG.

Overall * * * 1/2
I’m impressed with this little pistol. Impressed enough that I currently trust it as my “no excuses” gun. As in, no excuse not to carry. It’s not going to replace the 9mm I generally EDC, or the .38 snubbie I keep as my “truck gun.” But when I need to make a quick run to the store, or have to carry in deep concealment, the P32 and its Remora pocket holster disappear into my front pocket without a second thought.

comments

  1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    pew!

  2. avatar Gecko46 says:

    You bought a .32 ACP?!?

  3. avatar cgray says:

    First.

    Oh, and I have exactly zero interest in this gun.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Not first, no one would care if you were, and no one cares that you don’t care about the gun.

  4. avatar MD308 says:

    Don’t sweat it Sean, carry what works for you. I’ve had a P3AT for over a dozen years now that, unless in a place prohibited by law, is in my pocket all-day every-day. Have had no issues except finally having to replace the mag catch late last year. Yeah, I carry something larger as well when possible, but this baby never leaves me.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      I’ve owned several kel tecs over the years. They have been functional, and reliable.

      You did pay too much for this puppy. You could get a gen 2 LCP or EC9 for the same price. A gen 1 LCP would be cheaper and better.

      The 32acp does make sense for the recoil averse.

      1. avatar MD308 says:

        I got my “puppy” in 2006, which I believe was about 2 years before the LCP came out. And I don’t recall you being there to know how much I paid for it, but hey, nice to see you again.

        If/when I have to replace it, most likely it will be with an LCP, but fortunately not the case yet.

        1. avatar Art out West says:

          Sorry about that, I was somehow thinking of what the article author paid for his 2019 P32 mentioned above. My screw up

          The price of P32 and P3AT made sense back in the day when they were cheaper than Rugers. Now they seem to cost as much, but not be quite as good.

          I paid more for my 2013 P3AT than I did for my 2017 LCP. They are pretty comparable guns, but the LCP is a tad nicer.

          Of course Ruger totally ripped off the design.

      2. avatar Dave M says:

        For me, the Gen 1 LCP (without the hyphen in the ser#) is the way to go. Utterly reliable with any ammo & accurate. I even prefer it to the LCP II. The gun with no hyphen have a real nice trigger, was a running change that was made.

  5. avatar KH says:

    I adore my P32! Easily one of my favorites guns among a number of 9mm & 38 I have for CC. I can hide the P32 like no other on my 105 lb frame. Even my Sig p938 can be a challenge with skirts. I love shooting this peep & do so fairly well. A joy to own! No failures of any kind in the 2yrs I’ve owned it w/ approx 1100 rds through it. The only con is it cost more to shoot than 9mm.

    1. avatar Freeheel says:

      I’m with you. We bought my wife’s P32 as a back up and soon found an inside the bra holster for it. It holds the little pistol in the “side boob” position and is virtually undetectable. While not a shoot across the parking lot gun it has been accurate, reliable and certainly capable in up close conditions.

  6. avatar Brye says:

    I have one for those “I don’t feel like carrying a gun” days.. I have the kel-tec +1 mag extension on it giving me 8+1 rounds in a pocket gun the same size as a wallet. It’s been reliable and fun to shoot. It replaced a NAA single action pocket revolver and I couldn’t be more pleased.

  7. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

    A friend has one. Shot it one day. Cleaned it. Carried it. Went to shoot it again. Broken mainspring. New one installed. Carried it. Went to shoot it one day. Broken mainspring. Remember. These springs broke while he was just carrying it. No repair this time. Tossed it aside and dropped a 642 in his pocket. Never looked back.

  8. avatar D says:

    Friends don’t let friends carry Keltec

  9. avatar Eddy Jolley says:

    Forgive my ignorance here – I didn’t see any comment on this in the review: Is the P32 hammer fired like it’s well-known copy, the Ruger LCP. The field-stripped photo isn’t clear at all but it looks like it may have a hammer. Either way, after reading this great review and some Googling – I’m going to get one of these little puppies …

    1. avatar joel says:

      they are hammer fired.

      I had a p-f9, and a sub 2k, and i have shot a p3at. I like keltec’s innovation, but not all of their guns are winners. The P32 is interesting to me, because of the cartridge. and the size. they make pocket .380s look big….

  10. avatar Mikial says:

    I got a P32 for my ex (before she was my ex) and she promptly blew it up with a squib round. So I bought her another one and the ammo manufacturer repaired the broken one which I took. I put Crimson Trace trigger guard lasers on both of them and we carried them for years . . . she took hers when she left. Good trade. I eventually sold mine because I traded up to a PF9 as a BUG and never regretted it. Almost as small as a P32, but with 7+1 of 9mm. I still carry it daily as a BUG.

    People dis Kel Tecs, but every one I’ve ever owned (6) has been reliable and accurate. Maybe I just got the best ones but I like them.

  11. avatar WaXman says:

    Why………….Just, why?

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    Read one of the worst reviews of the P3AT on TTAG and wondered why mine has been absolutely reliable for around 250 shots I put through it. Plenty of guns have troubles but none get the hate the micro keltec guns do.

    1. avatar joel says:

      i had a p-3at that wouldn’t feed a whole magazine.

      My Pf9 worked great after the fluff and buff.

      1. avatar Dub Dublin says:

        In my experience, the dreaded “Fluff & Buff”, which is almost always performed in a ham-handed fashion by people who should never be allowed to touch tools, is responsible for upwards of 80% of reported KelTec problems. I’ve never done an F&B on any of my KelTec pistols – which may be one reason all of mine have performed flawlessly, and continue to do so.

        1. avatar Joel says:

          I realize I am replying to a 6 month old comment, but my PF9 did NOT function reliably out of the box. AFTER the fluff and buff it was boringly reliable. But still painful to shoot.

          And I agree. Not everybody should attempt an F&B….

    2. avatar D says:

      250 rounds is a half day on the range. It doesn’t even cover break-in.

      The reason so many people never experience problems is that that don’t shoot them much.

  13. avatar Ransom says:

    In the late 90s I got a P-11 specifically for trail running. It was still a little too heavy bouncing up and down clipped to my shorts or sweats.
    So when the p-32 was announced I was ecstatic. I bought one at a gun show in Richmond…. ….on a Sunday. When I got it home a total of 2 rounds went downrange before it gave up (wound up being the sear). I couldn’t bring it back to the vendor who came from God knows where so I called Kel-Tec, dropped it in a box, mailed it and waited…. ….and waited…. ….and waited…. …. and waited. Multiple calls to KT over the next 14 MONTHS… ….yes! Over a year! finally had it heading back to an FFL where I had to go through a background check and pay $20 to receive my own gun. There was no apology or offer to pay the transfer fee from KT. On a good note about their customer service when cleaning it I lost this tiny recoil spring guide rod retaining thingamabob. I called and didn’t even get to explain. It was something like this… … ” HI!, I stripped my p32 and lost this little….” “I know exactly what you lost.. and I’m sending you a new one” (they sent 2). Since then I’ve put maybe 500 rounds through it without a hiccup. As I learned from the p11… you gotta’ keep your feed ramp clean. Based on that knowledge I probably wouldn’t take a KT into batitle but it’s a young company not afraid to think outside the box and willing to acknowledge and correct their mistakes. How many times did Eugene Stoner get laughed at? Now most of you possess a part of his legacy.

    1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

      Kel tech made some changes to the p32 design early on. You may have had a “gen 1” version. They soon went to the “gen 2” design, one key feature being a flat, external extractor. Greatly improved reliability, from what I hear, though I’ve never fired an older version myself.

  14. avatar Gecko46 says:

    What’s the average cost per round for 32 ACP? Double what you pay for 9mm?

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      No. I get target stuff from Aim or SGAmmo for around 10 bucks.

      Now Winchester Silvertips are another matter…..just as expensive as 9mm Silvertip….and rare.

      1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        Hollow points don’t expand worth a damn for .32 ACP.

        Just go with FMJ for the penetration. My most commonly used are S&B and Fiocchi.

        $17-$19 for 50 rounds. So, yeah, about double 9mm. Doesn’t break the bank. This isn’t a gun you shoot hundreds of rounds through every week per range session.

        Don’t use WWB or other flat-tip FMJs — they’re the length of hollow points and unless you mod the mags, you have a good chance of rim lock.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          They do in raccoons and possums. (No offense possum).

          Don’t know about armadillos.

          Things is, without a hollowpoint , there is zero chance of expansion.

          Haven’t tried any of the newer hollowpoints as I bought a brick 10 years ago on sale.

          My only 32 ACP is a Walther PP. Have thought about a Beretta Tomcat. Love me some Beretta.

        2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

          Are the bullets still in the raccoon or possum for you to find?

          I’ve never shot either with a .32 ACP, but when shooting groundhogs or possum with .22 magnum or .38 special, the rounds always go completely through. I’d have to dig in the dirt to find them, and never have. Exit hole on the possum I shot with .38 (out of a Ruger LCR-X 3″) didn’t seem particularly large to indicate there’d been a lot of expansion. That was a Remington Golden Saber, I think.

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      https://www.sgammo.com/catalog/pistol-ammo-sale/32-auto-acp-ammo

      71 grain Fiocchi and PPU stuff for 11.95 per 50. Goes up from there.

      Aimsurplus.com has Geco for 9.95

      So pretty cheap practice stuff.

    3. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

      I picked up my GECO FMJ for $10/50 and Bud’s carries Fiocchi FMJ for 22 cents/round. More than 9MM, but not prohibitively expensive. Euro 7.65/32 seems to be cheaper than most domestic brands, as well as being loaded hotter.

      The Extreme Cavitators were expensive! about $1.30/round. That’s kept me from doing a lot of testing with them. I’m thinking about sending a box to Paul Harrell to see if he’ll test them out on a “meat target.”

  15. avatar Hoyden says:

    Carried one for 2 years until I “woke”.

    Grip was abrasive to my flank when carried waistband/shorts. Not sure if they’ve changed this—wear a shirt between the grip and flesh. Hands are ok, nice in sweaty weather.

    Rimlock is a real thing. Luckily mine happened on the range. Don’t mix cartridges with different lengths in the same mag. Google: “wire down the spine of KelTec .32 mags”.

    So many better choices, like a 1903 for those with Trust Funds, or a .380.

    Semi rimmed auto cartridges, maybe NOT one of JMB’s best ideas.

  16. avatar John Boch says:

    I carried a Keltec for many, many years.

    In fact, my little P3AT was my backup piece. Or retention piece, depending on what happens.

    I carried a P11 too for a long time.

    Decent, affordable guns.

    My primary question: Why in .32?

    The P3AT is basically the same gun in a much more potent (or less impotent, depending on your take) self-defense round. I don’t know ANYONE who recommends a .32.

    A couple years ago I retired my P3AT for a Ruger LCPII, which is very similar to the P3AT only with a **vastly** better trigger and sights (at least after I painted them neon colors).

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      It is much smaller than the P3AT and lighter.

      Can be a short pocket gun.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Ha shirt pocket gun …..I guess short works too.

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      My question is…..why a P11. I never shot one that worked 80%, let alone a hundred.

      Always considered them a cult gun….folks always posting about THE magical fix to make them work.

      The Sccy pistols seem to work much better….sample of 2.

    3. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

      My primary question: Why in .32?

      A fair question. The truth is, I’ve always had a fascination with the round, and really enjoy shooting it. It’s got enough “oomph” to keep things interesting, but is mild enough that anyone can learn to shoot it well.

      I *do* have a micro .380 in the stable now, too. I plan on submitting a review on it to TTAG in the next couple of weeks.

  17. avatar Busterdog says:

    Right out of the box this has 3 things going against it. 1). It’s a polymer striker fired POS. 2). It’s .32 cal. And 3). Most importantly it’s a Kel-Tec. But it does have one thing going for it, at least it isn’t a Hi-point.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Its hammer fired….not striker.

      I assume you don’t care for 32 or Keltec.

      Lotta folks are armed because of them being affordable and carryable.

      Hi points shoot and are cheap. Not everyone can buy a (insert name of what you think is best).

      1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

        Kel Tec was the only thing I could afford back in the day. Damn thing felt like a hammer slapping my hand but it worked.

    2. avatar Dub Dublin says:

      I’ve had really expensive pistols, and really inexpensive pistols. There is really a lot less correlation between price and quality than most shooters like to pretend. There’s a lot of KelTec hate out there, but some of the most reliable and best-value-for-the-dollar pistols I’ve ever owned are KelTecs. If you don’t fluff-and-buff, you’ll find they can be extremely reliable after they’re broken in. (Many mouseguns are NOT properly broken in, for the simple reason that they’re not much fun to shoot that much – one of the big tradeoffs for compact size is having the gun beat up your hand a bit…)

  18. avatar Johnny Langston says:

    Great review of the gun you purchased very objective and to the point without dissing or praising good one

    1. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

      Thank you!

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Never had a Keltec. Shot my father in laws P32. Worked well.

    Whe they first came out I saw folks pay upwards of 350 for them…when you could find one.

    Just could not get a good grip on it and the trigger guard made my finger raw.

    I have the same issue with my LCP but it take 150 rounds to make my finger raw.

    1st rule ….have a gun….carry on.

  20. avatar somethingclever says:

    You get these for ~$150 online all the time. Gunengine is your friend.

  21. avatar former water walker says:

    Meh…hated my PF9. Why anyone thinks 32 is OK is beyond my comprehension. Ruger LCP II for the win. Or any good 380. Except KelTec(FYI I’ve gotten 5 Tauruses to run great).

  22. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Based on previous comments about Kel-Tec firearms in general, it is not “You bought a Kel-Tec”. It is “You were able to find a Kel-Tec to buy”?

  23. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    I cannot comment on the P32 because I don’t have one. I am going to shout out for Nitesiters sight dots. These are little dots, marginally photoluminescent, that you can very carefully glue onto the little sight bumps of Keltec’s, Ruger LCP’s, Taurus TCP’s, etc. http://www.nitesiters.com/ Only $11.98 and come in white or colors, 8 per pack. I guess that is enough for two guns plus two extra for when you screw up putting them on. I installed them on a TCP .380. You have to be very careful to get them centered on the sight bumps. They recommend using a toothpick. I think I used an Xacto knife. Once placed, you coat them with clear nail polish (supplied.) I was careful and got them right the first time, which I did not expect to be able to do. They transformed the TCP from “it doesn’t have sights” to “it has 3 dot sights like everything else larger”. At realistic distances the TCP is now plenty accurate, and I would suspect that with these sights the P32 would also be accurate. I had previously painted the little sight bumps with day-glo paint, which was OK, but these made a real difference. If you have a mouse gun with sight bumps and want something more, for very little money and a bit of care, these are the ticket.

  24. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    We have two P32s in the family and are very happy with them. When it came time to by the wife a concealed carry gun, I took her to the range and let her shoot a wide variety of revolvers and autoloaders. I included the P32 just as a sort of “and this is as small as you can get” example, not actually thinking it would be her choice. But when we were finished shooting, it was unequivocally the gun she liked best. Even in the face of some pretty uncertain “Are you SURE? That’s an awfully low-power round.” from me and the range officer we were chatting with. She practices regularly and she shoots it really well now, and generally uses the extended magazines to get a good grip.

    I carry mine as a backup or as a gun I carry when I really don’t want anyone knowing I’m carrying a gun. I use either a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster or a FIST kydex tuckable IWB holster. I shoot it well without the extended mag. I usually carry one spare mag with a NeoMag clip in the inside wallet pocket of a jacket (I’m lefty, so reach for the mag with my right hand) or the watch pocket of jeans.

    It’s really just such an easy gun to shoot and carry — so much more pleasant in the hand than a small .380. I know it’s not powerful, but it’s honestly as concealable as an NAA mini-revolver and a lot more capable. If you can’t conceal a P32, you’re probably on a beach in Brazil wearing nothing but a spandex banana hammock (or a thong bikini, if you’re a woman).

    1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

      “I know it’s not powerful, but it’s honestly as concealable as an NAA mini-revolver and a lot more capable.”

      This is the right comparison I think. You could accept a little more weight for a .380, and these days if you have a .380 you could accept a bit more weight for a 9 mm single stack, so you have to make the cut-off somewhere. If you are looking for your one-and-only carry gun, that might be different. But if you are looking for something close to the absolute minimum size and weight in a functional gun to fill a niche in the carry rotation, the p32 can still make sense.

      1. avatar JB says:

        I work in an office setting where the workplace culture is not gun friendly. I have never been “made” with the P-32 securely in my front pocket. I even had friends in law enforcement comment on how I really should start carrying concealed with all the crime around here lately (unaware I had one on me everyday). The P-32 is like a a truly good haircut. Nobody notices it.

  25. avatar NORDNEG says:

    I am pleased with everything I’ve bought from KEL TEK, got a couple of pieces & really enjoy them…

  26. avatar Gregolas says:

    In ’99, I bought the 2nd Kel-Tec .32 sold in my town. Waited a month for the dealer to get it. Why a .32 ? Because back then there was no .380 that could be hidden under any condition when you are a lawyer under jury scrutiny (but might have to shoot your client). The Kel .32 could. It was like it wasn’t there. I think I carried Silvertips in it. It went through about 300 rounds of FMJ and 40 rds of hollow point without a hiccup. It was a back-up to my P-11, which also worked flawlessly, but kicked hard and had a 382 pound trigger pull. Sold the .32 to a lawyer who already had a .32 Tomcat and wanted the Kel as a go-anywhere back-up. He loved .32’s.
    Got a P3AT as soon as they came out. Unlike my first 2 Kel-Tec’s, it turned into a single shot with steel cased practice ammo. Hydra-Shok worked with only a few jams. It went to factory twice with a one-month turn-around each time (which I deemed reasonable), no charge. After the second trip, it fed anything. Carried it as primary with 2 spare mags when teaching at 2 Car Pool Colleges (again, concealment a priority). Had it about 12 years until the G43 came along. Would I have bought the Kel .32 had the P3AT been available ? No way. But at the time, it was the best bet out there. By the same token, I’d have never bought a .380 had tiny single-stack 9mm’s been available. You pays your money and makes your choice. Good review. Thank you.

  27. avatar Rick Metzger says:

    I have a P-32 and love it. Bought it ostensibly for my wife, who complains about anything that makes her purse heavier. If you are accustomed to frequent pocket carry, the P-32 with seven rounds weighs almost nothing. It is my 100% go-to gun for when I’m in a hurry, wearing nothing but jeans (in Florida), don’t want to be unarmed (always) and don’t feel like the additional bulk and weight of a .380. My other carry guns are a P-365 and a Magnum Research 1911-U, but neither work well in this climate in the summer unless I think I am going to be in a dicey area.
    My P-32 choice was an option that you have to ask for – the nickel-boron (or whatever the term) finish on all major contact parts. It looks great atop gray grips. Since I always keep my strong-hand pocket clean, it is simple to drop the P-32 in without even a pocket holster. The DA action ensures I don’t have an accidental discharge. Will a .380 be better for self defense? Of course – but it will weigh more. When you are talking about a center-fire pistol with seven rounds loaded, that weighs a hair more than seven ounces, you’ve got a no-excuses-ever reason to carry.
    As for Kel-Tec, I am blessed to live less than 20 miles from their factory. Out-of-state Kel-Tec owners should be jealous. I have never experienced better customer service from any company, guns or otherwise. You can take your gun into their customer service office and be treated to customer service like we had in the 1950s – friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. I’ve done this three or four times, once for my PMR-30, once for a friend’s CMR-30 and once to get the cool boron finish added to my P-32. This last example gives you a clue. I walked in at 2:30 on a Friday with my upgrade request. The super-pleasant lady at the desk apologetically told me that the gun might not be ready by Monday afternoon but that they’d try. Mind you, I did not say it is an emergency. Sure enough, Monday afternoon they called and said the gun was ready and – tables turned – I felt obligated to apologize that I couldn’t pick it up until Tuesday.
    Don’t know if all this will fit into a TTAG reply, but I also own a P-3AT. Likely most out there do not know that the AT is a play on words, much like the Gateway 2000 slogan back in the 1990s. Say P3-AT fast and it is P-380. This is a great 100% American company that is as innovative as one could want. Their employees (a whole lot) love the company and I stand behind them 100%. Hurray for Kel-Tec and check out the P-32 for ankle, backup or just plain not-going-nekkid carry.

  28. avatar Enuf says:

    The .32 does feel a step too small to me but I understand people gotta’ use what they have and the gun came out before many better options arrived.

    Even so, I have a magazine for the P32. Ordered a P3AT magazine, the package said P3AT but inside was the P32 mag. You cannot load .380 into a .32 magazine without considerable force, which I didn’t do. When I informed them of the error they told me to keep it and my correct magazine would follow. So that worked out.

    Kel-Tec is alright by me. I bought a used P3AT, had problems with it. Followed all sorts of advice, including ordering new springs. Polished the feed rap mirror bright! I could improve the thing but not solve the problems of random failures to eject or feed. Finally broke down and sent it in to Kel-Tec along with the parts I’d bought.

    They quickly sent me a brand new gun with the same serial number. I know it was a new gun because I had a picture of my serial number and the font size was changed. So they marked up a new build, destroyed the old one I figure.

    For a well used gun and a small collection of parts they sent me a new one, I never expected that. In the end I still paid less than if I’d bought new in the first place. And that new one they sent me has worked flawlessly for countless mag fulls.

  29. avatar 1radman says:

    I really like my P32. Super easy to carry anyway you want….great BUG. It’s been very reliable except with hollow points or truncated cone ammo, which have shorter OAL and WILL cause rim lock…which is not a quick tap & rack fix btw. I recommend Sellier & Belloit FMJs or Fiocchi FMJs, which are both on the hot side and are longer to prevent rim lock. I also own a Sub2000 and a SU16C and both have been 100% reliable and lots of fun.

  30. avatar Datahut says:

    All my Keltecs work fine and have no doubt they’d do the job if I needed to depend
    on them. Especially the P-11 have owned for over 20 years and the 3AT. You want to pay more for a super compact, go ahead. Have had problems with way more
    expensive equivalents.

    Regardless of who makes them, couldn’t be more pleased that these .32s and .380s are finding their way into more pant pockets, and the word they are is wide spread. The one time I faced off an attacker, I was not armed. Putting my hand in my pocket and acting like I was proved herd immunity in a CCW state can be very useful. There was no doubt to this individual there could be something potent in my pocket that wasn’t glad to see him.

  31. avatar Marty says:

    Stick with 71-73 grain ammo and no rim lock. It you want to shoot the 60 grainers then there is a mag mod that will prevent the rim lock. Most folks put a Silvertip in the pipe followed by the 70 grain ball.

  32. avatar Matt o says:

    I picked up a used p32 on a whim from a coworker for about $100. I enjoy the tiny size and near weightlessness of it but I’ve only carried it a few times. I’ve got a 380 and a 43 and a 26 that I rotate but the p32 is my pajama gun. Just drop it in the pocket and you almost forget it’s there.

  33. avatar Neil says:

    I didn’t even know rim lock was an issue before reading this article.
    .32 ACP is available at my ammo store only from Fiocci. They’ll custom order others. 9mm has more flavors than Baskin Robbins…

  34. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I have two Kel-Tec products, a sub2000 which runs great, and a pf9 which will not pull an expended case from the chamber.

  35. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been thinking about getting one or at least test firing one. I have a Beretta 21a in 22 caliber. Its a DA/SA. I like pocket guns. When you can’t carry because your not allowed to, you need a pocket gun.
    Because a gun is better than no gun. Sometimes you just can’t get away with carrying a half or full size gun.

  36. avatar Frank in VA says:

    What is this rim lock you speak of?

    Tell me of your homeworld, Usul.

  37. avatar possum says:

    That was a very informative article, just when I’m rolling a problem in my head, light gun, small size, what’s the trigger pull, BLAM question answered. Well change ammo, might need more pressure, seal the case, BLAM, did it. This is a thumbs up write-up.
    👍

  38. avatar KT says:

    Not a fan.

    I do have their RFB rifle, which I mostly like.

  39. avatar bryan1980 says:

    I wouldn’t comment on the fact that you bought a Kel-Tec, but the fact that it’s a .32. Seems like to me that the micro .380’s out there wouldn’t be that much harder to operate. I have a Taurus TCP 738, and it’s very easy to rack the slide, and the recoil doesn’t seem all that bad, either. Even if it were, I’d certainly take that trade-off to have a more effective round at my disposal, not to mention a much wider selection of ammunition available.

  40. avatar Kap says:

    loved mine when I had them, owned three, no longer have them, made a great carry gun when riding Motorcycle, with extended magazine it fit well in the inside pocket of Jacket!
    know for a fact mine were drop proof, had a nasty accident and spent a couple weeks in hospital and months in rehab, anyway it was in my pocket when I face plant skidded down tarred road on my way to becoming a cyborg. still shot although wouldn’t pick up another round as slide was bent, sent it back they fixed it free by putting a new slide on it!
    best carry gun Ive had it went through 4 Motorcycles and about 88K miles on it! + 2000 rounds!

  41. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I believe the Seecamp is dimensionally smaller – at least it appeared so the last time I saw one next to the Kel_Tec.

    FYI on the 32 ACP

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw0BPSnrENA

    You be the judge.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      The P-32 is thinner, lighter and holds one more round.

      The Seecamp is a little less tall and long and more than $200 more expensive at MSRP.

      http://seecamp.com/products.htm

      https://www.keltecweapons.com/pistols/p-32/

  42. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    Maybe Kel-tec has finally perfected this gun but when my buddy bought one several years ago it went back to the factory 3 times because one of the cross pins kept falling out.

    As far as expansion with the .32’s all pistol calibers cannot be relied on to expand all of the time. Sometimes they do and a lot of the time they do not no matter what the caliber or what the brand of ammo. Speer seems to make a good expansive bullet and so does Hornady.

    I have a Seecamp but just like the Kel-tec its double action only and when you get into a pistol this small with that short of a sighing radius hitting anything beyond a couple of feet (in my case) is problematical. I practiced on a full size silhouette humanoid target and the accuracy was so poor that at 7 yards I mostly missed the vital areas most of the time. In contrast I shot .25 auto pistols that were single action and drilled the same target all the way out to 25 yards. That is one hell of a difference in accuracy. And the .25 acp with fmj bullets does indeed have plenty of penetration. Do not sell the .25 or even .22 l.R. pistols short as people have been shot stone dead with even .177 cal pellet guns and when you cannot hit what you are aiming at the advantage of the larger .32 caliber double action only over the smaller .25 acp single action is a moot point.

  43. avatar Juice says:

    My grandpa carried one in a pocket holster for over a decade. He picked it up not long after they were first released. He gave it over when his health started failing him. Still works fine today.

  44. avatar KT Fan says:

    Bought my P32 in January of 03. Carried it just about every day since. Biggest problem is that sometimes I forget I have it in my pocket! Say what you what about the .32 acp but it’s a hell of a lot better than the 9mm you left at home!

  45. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Thanks for the review. This adds to my research. I will be getting the keltec 32 acp.

  46. avatar Wood says:

    Thanks for the review. Been thinking about a coin pocket carry, this fits the bill. Still have some gold dots from the Tomcat that failed.

  47. avatar bearcatter says:

    Consider a NAA Guardian 32. ALL stainless except the grip panels and mag bases. Fifteen ounces loaded, 6+1. Great fit and finish. Mine has never hiccupped in several hundred rounds. About $100 more than a P-32, but well worth it. NAA service has an outstanding reputation, too.

    1. avatar Wood says:

      By contrast I had nothing but problems with my NAA Guardian in .32. Best I’ve tried so far for shootability was the Beretta Tomcat, unfortunately it cracked the frame where the trigger bar passes through to the trigger.

  48. avatar Walter Ross says:

    Okay I’ve read enough.
    The P32 is the lightest easiest to carry pistol on the market.
    I doubt that in the event I have to use it more than one or two shots will be fired.
    It fits in my pocket. I’m gonna use it to get away from the bad guy…not destroy him.
    Low recoil. Light as a feather. Never had a misfire in over 300 rounds. Cost under $250 w/tax and ffl.
    I wouldn’t carry it into battle. But I don’t go into battle very often.

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