Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kel Tec P3AT Range Report

So the general consensus is that I'm very happy with the new P3AT and so is Mrs. 45er.  The recoil was manageable but I would not call it light.  Mostly, it is the lack of much grip on the gun that makes it feel a little snappy.  With a proper and firm grip, it is just fine.  With the magazine/grip extension it was much nicer to handle.
Also, I guess the adage from Clint Smith: "Two is one and one is none" applies to cameras as well.  I was getting all prepared this morning and charging batteries, then failed to put the battery back in the fancy camera.  Luckily, I brought the back up for video in front of the muzzle so it took place as primary.

Ammo specs:

Blazer 95 gr TMJ (total metal jacket), aluminum case.  The cheap stuff.
Independence 95 gr FMJ (full metal jacket), brass case (still Blazer).  Medium quality stuff.
Hornady Critical Defense 90 gr FTX (bullet trademarked name, Flex Tip)

Gun stats (as weighed on digital scale):

gun unloaded, no mag - 7.90 oz
gun unloaded with empy 6 round mag - 9.10 oz
gun with loaded 6 round mag + 1 in chamber - 11.35 oz
gun with unloaded 9 round mag - 9.55 oz
gun with loaded 9 round mag + 1 in chamber - 13.00 oz

For comparison to some things we recognize:

12 oz can of soda - 13.55 oz
standard bottle of tobasco sauce (2oz) - 5.00 oz

So, on to the good stuff:

Just a little handful

In the DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster


I'm not going to make this post as wordy as some of my other diatribes that I've submitted you to because I have a TON of pictures and a video that I think tell the story.  Above is me taking the first shots using the 9 round extended mag.  I really like the grip extension.  If I'm not pocket carrying, that will be in the gun. Speaking of pocket carry, the DeSantis holster did great.  I've drawn both fast and slow and it hasn't pulled from my pocket in loose shorts, dress pants or blue jeans.

Front sight focus, if you can find it.

Yeah, the sights aren't huge.  However...

 Not bad.  We were shooting at about 6 yards, which is what I would consider medium-ish range with a pocket pistol.  That is 10 shots, so I'm pretty happy.  I also wasn't "bullseye" shooting.  I'm thrilled.  Then, along comes Mrs. 45er:

Do ya feel lucky, punk?
 She was very happy with controllability.  Of course, the 9 rounder with the grip extension felt much better for her.  She still did great with the 6 rounder.  As a matter of fact...

Well, do ya?
...she royally handed me my rear end.  She put a round or two in the center of mass square and wasn't happy that she couldn't track her shots in the group, so she decided to switch to the head square.  Show off.

So, here are some specifics.  I was using two types of plinking ammunition.  One (Blazer) is bottom of the barrel.  I probably won't buy it again, but thought testing with the cheapest would give me an idea of the worst that could happen.  I had 3 jams in about 25 rounds with the cheapest ammo and an unfired gun.  For now, that's fine.  I'll keep an eye on that if it doesn't improve.

The Blazer aluminum case ammunition is gone and isn't coming back.  The Independence did just fine (about 25 rounds fired).  The Hornady did fantastic.  The FTX bullet design has more of a rubber insert, the "Flex Tip" as opposed to the normal polymer insert you're used to seeing.  The bullet performance was pretty impressive.

I really liked the hydrostatic performance.  Yes, it didn't blow the thing in half like a 230 grain Hydrashok from a .45 ACP, but this is what I was hoping to see from good defense ammunition in a .380.  Now, the aftermath.

The bullet on the right penetrated through one jug of water and into a second but didn't exit.  The bullet on the left penetrated one jug of water and stopped against a phone book, hence the slight flattening at the front.  The bullet to the rear still has a date with destiny.  The red things are the rubber inserts (flex tip) in the FTX bullet.

Nice form, sir.

So, the final analysis is that I'm really happy with the gun.  I'm also satisfied with the performance of the Critical Defense.  This is what I want to see a defense round look like when it does its job.  The Hornady was flawless in function in the gun as well.  I'll be happy to carry this for defense.

For my initial thoughts when we first got the P3AT and more pics, you can see them here.

EDIT:  I wanted to add a video of the gun so you could judge recoil and a picture of the extended magazine with the new paint job. 


  1. Great report! I will only say keep running rounds through it. My experience with 2 P3AT's has been less than stellar. They are fun to shoot once you get used to them. I really enjoyed shooting them. They seem to have a limited life span here however.

  2. Very nice! I told you that you would be happy with the KT.

    Now you are going to end up with one of the Sub-2000 folders that shares mags with your Glock.

  3. Keads: I plan on continuing the test and "break in". I've heard reports of some of these that will run non-stop and some that are just lemons. I plan on making mine run like a top even if it means some trips home to the factory. I'm thinking another 200 rounds will give me the final answer.

    That Guy: your enabling is a serious sickness and yes, I have already been looking at those in .40 S&W to match up with my Glock 23. Though, for cost of ammo the 9mm might be an option to match with the G19.

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