Kel-Tec P3AT–3 Year Review

The right side of the P3At today, more than three years after I started carrying the gun.

The right side of the P3At today, more than three years after I started carrying the gun.

Buy one on GunsAmerica:

Read more at Kel-Tec:

Visit Recluse Holsters here:

Most of the reviews we write are short-term studies. We get guns in for a limited time, are free to shoot them as much as we’d like, but we end up sending them back to the manufacturers. While we can tell a great deal about a gun from how it handles the first 500 or 1,000 rounds, we have a harder time hypothesizing on how they’ll stand the test of time. But not with the P3AT.

I picked up this gun more than three years ago for my own use, and have been carrying it off-and-on since. This is my go-to warm weather pocket carry gun. In the winter, it often rides in the inside pocket of my coat. In three years, I could count the number of days on two hands that it saw the inside of the actual safe (and those were time when I was traveling somewhere that prohibited carry). Otherwise it is in my pocket, or in a fast-access safe close at hand.

So how has the P3AT stood up to 3 years of constant carry? Read on….

Polished steel from good honest carry. This is the side of the gun that's most exposed to the inside of my pocket.

Polished steel from good honest carry. This is the side of the gun that’s most exposed to the inside of my pocket.

But first, some specs

  • Calibers: .380 AUTO
  • Weight unloaded: 8.3 oz.
  • Loaded magazine: 2.8 oz.
  • Length: 5.2″
  • Height: 3.5″
  • Width: .77″
  • Barrel Length: 2.7″
  • Sight radius: 3.8″
  • Muzzle Energy Max: 250ft-lbs
  • Capacity: 6 + 1 rounds
  • Trigger Pull: 5 lbs

Round Count

When I first picked up this gun, I ran more than 500 rounds through it in about a month or two. After I’d developed some confidence in the pistol and found the right holster, I slowed down. Since then, I’ve shot at least a box of .380 through the gun each month. That’s an average.

If I’d thought through this review ahead of time–three years ago–I would have counted. But I didn’t. Those extra rounds were for practice. As this gun became one of the go-to guns for me, I began testing different loads. When I’m looking at other .380s, or testing ammunition, I use this gun as a control. I’ve yet to find a round it won’t cycle. Flat nosed bullets chamber fine. Even plastic cased ammo extracts with no issues.

Lots of rounds through this one.

Lots of rounds through this one.

Uneven wear on the hammer. Hardly ideal, but (in this case) it isn't an issue.

Uneven wear on the hammer. Hardly ideal, but (in this case) it isn’t an issue.

If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say I’ve got at least 2,500 rounds through the gun. That’s based on the fuzzy algebra of 36 (or more) months at 50 rounds each, plus at least 1,000 +/- from the holster tests, mag tests, ammo tests. And I know there were other times that I ran the gun heavy (and times when I loaned the gun out for others to test). So that 2,500 is likely low.

MAking hits with the P3AT is easy from reasonable distances. This is from 15 feet.

Making hits with the P3AT is easy from reasonable distances. This is from 15 feet.

But still. We’re talking about a polymer framed mouse gun. 2,500 rounds is way more than most of these guns will ever see.

And the gun still shoots just as gracefully as it did when I bought it. The trigger pull is a touch over five pounds. The pull is moderate, but smooth. The sights are actually usable. I can make reliable hits with this gun out to 25 yards on a 8″ target all day, every day. At closer distances, the gun allows for solid shot placement. But the P3AT really excels in defensive shooting drills.


There was only one problem with the gun. When it first arrived, I had a hard time making it through a magazine without the extractor snapping off. This was pretty serious. With no means of extractions, the P3AT grinds to a messy halt.

The extractor--the one that finally worked right.

The extractor–the one that finally worked right.

I will say that Kel-Tec was great to work with. I called, and they sent out a new extractor. When the problem happened again, I called again. This time they sent a small envelope of extractors. I broke a couple more and sent the gun back. When the gun came back two weeks later, it was well behaved. I still keep an extra extractor or two on hand, but haven’t had the need to replace one again.

Wear and tear?

I’m going to fess up and say that it has been at least 18 months since I cleaned this gun. I’m reasonably good at procrastination. And it hasn’t given me any issues. But when I took it apart for this photo shoot, I felt a bit foolish. There are some things that are simply worth doing.

Some slight rust on the top of the slide.

Some slight rust on the top of the slide.

Barrel, fouled up good, but no rust.

Barrel, fouled up good, but no rust.

I’m not talking about the rust. That happens to a gun that is exposed to humidity, sweat, and air. When I do lock this sucker up, it is in a small safe I keep beside the bed, and I don’t make any pretense about humidity control. The is the gun I keep closest to my skin. The Recluse holster is open on the backside, which means there’s only a thin layer of cotton from my pocket separating the steel from my skin.

Watch out for areas that collect dirt, lint, and pocket garbage. This one is in need of a serious cleaning.

Watch out for areas that collect dirt, lint, and pocket garbage. This one is in need of a serious cleaning.

Keep the gunk out of this part of the slide, too, as the barrel needs clearance to travel freely.

Keep the gunk out of this part of the slide, too, as the barrel needs clearance to travel freely.

Instead, I’m talking about the pocket lint. Look at these nasty pictures and you’ll see what I mean. If there’s any risk that this gun will fail, it comes from the outside possibility of lint clogging up the space needed for the movement of the hammer, or the travel of the slide.

That said, this is a locked breech, double-action-only, hammer-fired gun. There’s something to be said for that hammer. As much as I like my GLOCK, I still like the confidence that comes from pulling the trigger and watching a hefty hammer travel backwards.

Again, you'll find areas that need cleaning regularly.

Again, you’ll find areas that need cleaning regularly.


I’ve already hinted at it, but I’ve got no complaints. I keep it in my pocket, my coat pocket, and sometimes (since I added the Techna Clip) in my boot. I’ve logged thousands of hours with this thing in my pocket, and that’s where I’m most comfortable working with it.

Visit Recluse Holsters here:

Two types of holsters for pocket carry. The Recluse on the right, and the DeSantis on the left.

Two types of holsters for pocket carry. The Recluse on the right, and the DeSantis on the left.

Very little wear on this mag.

Very little wear on this mag.

The gun is super thin and light. With two mags, it weighs in under a pound. While I’d much rather have a larger gun at hand, concealment is an issue. This is the easiest gun to carry. It takes no time to set it up. The gun is easy to move or store in a pinch. The recluse holster has a trigger block that holds the trigger secure, which means I have no hesitation with carrying a loaded gun with no safety inside my pocket.

My favorite part is that I can stage the gun very easily. I can pull this gun from concealment and slip it into a coat pocket without anyone noticing. I can tuck it in a shoe, or up a sleeve, or in my waistband…. I can’t say that for any of the bigger guns I carry.

I'm a big proponent of staging for self defense. If you are walking back to your car in a dark garage, why keep your gun holstered? Get it where you can use it.

I’m a big proponent of staging for self defense. If you are walking back to your car in a dark garage, why keep your gun holstered? Get it where you can use it.

The gun is very small. There is enough to hold onto, but barely.

The gun is very small. There is enough to hold onto, but barely.

Conclusions after three years?

I was shocked at how dirty this gun is. I really should be more compulsive about cleaning. It doesn’t look neglected from the outside, but I see it everyday, so I may not notice the slow decline. I hadn’t even noticed the rust. That’s how much a-part-of-me this gun has become. It is like looking at photos of your kids. You don’t notice them change until you see how much they’ve changed.

But the old P3AT is still kicking ass. I can’t think of a more easily concealed gun. And as summer rolls up on me, it will get even more sweat and grime. And more range time.

And the price? They’re selling on GunsAmerica for the low $200s.

Buy one on GunsAmerica:

Read more at Kel-Tec:

Read more about Techna Clips:

Visit them here:

Visit Recluse Holsters here:

A nasty feed-ramp in need of a good cleaning.

A nasty feed-ramp in need of a good cleaning.

The bottom of the barrel.

The flip side.

The take-down pin.

The take-down pin.

Extended mags are availabe, and work fine, but (for what I want to use it for) they make the P3AT harder to conceal.

Extended mags are available, and work fine, but (for what I want to use it for) they make the P3AT harder to conceal.

The Recluse has a solid trigger block. Even with the clip, the trigger is still held secure.

The Recluse has a solid trigger block. Even with the clip, the trigger is still held secure.

You can see here where the clip rubs inside. No problems holstering the gun with the Techna Clip, if the holster can flex slightly.

You can see here where the clip rubs inside. No problems holstering the gun with the Techna Clip, if the holster can flex slightly.

The P3AT with the Techna-Clip.

The P3AT with the Techna-Clip.

Installation took about a minute, and that was on a cold day.

Installation took about a minute, and that was on a cold day.

The doubled spring.

The doubled spring.

There's a bit of wear inside the slide, but no rust.

There’s a bit of wear inside the slide, but no rust.

Rear sights in all their humble glory.

Rear sights in all their humble glory.

The front sight.

The front sight.

The whole upper.

The whole upper.

A bit of wear on top of the barrel.

A bit of wear on top of the barrel.

Finish wear on the edge of the rear sight.

Finish wear on the edge of the rear sight.

Not too much wear on the backside, either. This is the part that touches skin the most, as I put my hand into my pocket.

Not too much wear on the backside, either. This is the part that touches skin the most, as I put my hand into my pocket.

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  • Cal Porter (9Jeeps) November 6, 2018, 12:03 am

    It all began when we picked up P32/s. I already had the P40 and P11 for some time and still do. I was a GLOCK nut. But the KT/s got most of the work and fun…. Still do!

    The 32/s have been our hide a ways for years. Then when the P3AT/s came out and had changed the extractor, I had to have one…. It’s been a gem. And it’s gets the nod to pack every day… Even over the new G4,G42!

    Spring of 2017…. We purchased the CMR and PMR 30/s…. These are definite keepers, too. Wow!!!

    Tomorrow is Election Day 2018…. and I’m in the hunt for another P3AT….. Why? Because I like em and want two….. And , And,,, Just maybe I’ll check out a PF9…..!!!!!

    All my lil Pistolas are set up with extended Mags to give me 10 shots. I have no problem packing them nor hiding them IWB or otherwise……

    You Are the People that truly has your hands and minds what people really like in firearms industry.

  • daniel jay kinsler July 15, 2018, 8:40 pm

    Nice pics, but it would have been nice if you included some pics of the alloy frame rails after heavy use.

  • Tim May 13, 2017, 6:38 pm

    I have carried my P3AT for years with no complaints but when my hammer spring on my PF9 broke with less than 50 rounds through it I called Kel Tec and the guy was a total jerk didn’t offer to send me a spring but made me buy one and pay shipping for a total of about 16 bucks for a dam spring . I’ve been totally disgusted with Kel Tec ever since and would not buy or recommend one ever again !!!!!!!!

  • Rapidrob February 25, 2017, 4:53 am

    I bought my P3AT in early 2004 when my state allowed CCW. I wanted a small .380 and this pistol filled the bill.
    I’ve carried mine every day I was in a state that allowed me to other than when I fly.
    I’ve never had a breakage from use.
    Kel-Tec did in the first couple of years offer an upgrade to your pistol called “Extreme Carry”. You sent them your pistol and for a small fee ( 50 bucks? I don’t remember) they installed a hard chrome slide, stainless steel springs and pins and something was done to the barrel. I don’t remember if it was stainless steel or it too was hard chromed?
    None of my friends who carry a P3AT had this option done and their Series 1 pistols show 13 years of being carried. Mine shows no wear at all.
    I had a custom Left Hand front pocket holster made by R.J Redley in Winter Haven,Fla for me.
    The only thing I did do is replace the bottom of my magazines with the bottoms of a Taurus .380 magazine which gives me a finger hook. It not only helps control the recoil but it looks cool as well.
    I have shot hundreds of rounds through the pistol over the years,not sure if I’m in the thousand yet but I must be close. The pistol is very accurate. Much better than others out there.
    Would I buy another?….in a heart beat.
    Kel-Tec was the first small,lightest .380 pistol out there. It is still the best
    Many copied,but they all had problems. (like the Ruger LCP.)

  • Jerry October 30, 2016, 2:54 am

    I have the P3AT and carry it everywhere. It works. The trigger is stiff enough that I feel safe keeping a round in the chamber, although I try to keep it pointed at the ground in my IWB holster, or in my pocket. Don’t feel good knowing my gun is pointing at the person behind me at the grocery store, even if I know it’s safe. 🙂

    Election 2016 in 9 days. Her majesty may win despite being a known felon. She will try to take our guns from us or make obtaining guns and ammo harder, thus I’ll be buying another P3AT very soon – I figure these little plastic guns will not last forever – of course neither will I, but you never know when you’ll need another one – and may not be able to buy it.

    • Chuck Davis December 6, 2016, 1:18 pm

      Have had for 5+ Had some problems w/ blunt nose carts Carry in KNJ on belt or bicycle jersey pocket
      No major complaints Replaced a Grendal

  • Toney September 9, 2016, 9:16 pm

    My P3AT had around 600 flawless rounds through it when the extractor got a small, almost microscopic, chip on the tip. Even then, it would still cycle Gold Dots, though some cheaper rounds would fail to extract. Called Kel-tec and had a new extractor and leaf spring in the mailbox a couple of days later. Replaced the extractor and spring, and applied blue locktite to the buttonhead screw. I’ve got another 2000+ trouble-free rounds through it since then. Even after all that practice I still don’t shoot it well, but it’s always with me because I can trust it completely. It won’t even limpwrist a failure.

  • Steve September 4, 2016, 12:08 pm

    “I will say that Kel-Tec was great to work with. I called, and they sent out a new extractor. When the problem happened again, I called again. This time they sent a small envelope of extractors. I broke a couple more and sent the gun back. When the gun came back two weeks later, it was well behaved.”

    lol. fuckin kel-tec.

  • OFBG March 24, 2016, 7:47 pm

    You might like to get a “Dunk Kit” from Cylinder &Slide:
    Unless you literally carry your gun 24/7/365, you might be able to give it an occasional bath. I doubt that the Dunk Kit will remove the pocket lint, but most of the cleaning work will get done without much effort. If I remember correctly, it supposedly contains lubricants as well.

  • Grifhunter March 22, 2016, 5:51 pm

    an somebody give me a one paragraph comparison between the KelTec p3at and the Ruger LCP .380? Lightest weight and best trigger are my priorities.

    • Dave Higginbotham March 22, 2016, 6:11 pm

      The similarities? That’s a long list. And it is contentious ground. I once had both in for review at the same time, and did a blind test. I had a hard time telling the two apart in the dark.

    • Morgan March 25, 2016, 2:24 pm

      I have owned a P3AT for about four years. In that time it has been my primary summer carry. I did the recommended break in of 200 to 300 rounds. During the break in, there was one or two hiccups in the cycling. Since that break in, the gun has been flawless without a single issue. I have used several different brands and styles of ammo and the gun doesn’t seem to care.

  • James Barchok March 21, 2016, 9:07 pm

    WOW! Looks just like mine! I’ve had mine for more than 5 years. When I say it looks like mine I mean right down to the lint piles! I finally had to tear it down the other day. It was so filthy that I was getting some failures to fire at the range. Too much lint in the firing pin channel. I also use a belt clip on mine and carry it tucked inside my waistband or in my pocket. Your accuracy is on par with mine as is the overall reliability. I often carry it when traveling by motorcycle. The light weight and small size make it ideal for such occasions. And the ease of disassembly helps when having to pass through certain states where my permit is not valid. I recommend the P3AT highly.

  • jaenpop March 21, 2016, 6:43 pm

    I love my P3AT. I have carried in in -26 degree weather as a daily carry in Upstate NY, and at 105 in Texas summers. It never fails, is concealable in any clothing, and with the tech clip is easy to attach to your belt or clothing anywhere. Like someone else said in here, I did by the magazine extension for mine on both magazines, and by doing so, I can get every finger except my pinky around the pistol, which tames it’s response by over 50%. My wife even likes it, and she is not a regular shooter of handguns. Thanks for a great review about what I feel is a great gun.

  • lee latham March 21, 2016, 4:37 pm

    My only problem with the article is it would have been more useful to see the various parts cleaned…so we could see the nature of any wear.

  • Gman March 21, 2016, 2:11 pm

    I owned one Kel-Tec, the PF9. With under 300 rounds the gun trigger failed to operate at all. I had read where Kel-Tec was a hit or miss chance and evidently I got the bad chance part. Kel-Tec practically rebuilt the complete gun and I sold it when I got it back. I don’t see my buying another Kel-Tec. To each his own as they say.

    • Glenn Zaring July 30, 2017, 4:09 pm

      I’e had my PF9 for 6 years and have never had a problem with it! I use a Galco shoulder rig when I can or a Yacqui Belt Slide the rest of the time. Added a Hogue grip (wrap) and it really helped control.

  • Don R. March 21, 2016, 1:11 pm

    One of the most balanced reviews I have ever read. From personal experience, everything is accurate and honest. When I purchased mine, there was an article that stated a simple polishing of the feed ramp would increase reliability. Used some Simi-chrome right out of the box and then went to the range. The first 250+ shots fired without a single problem of any kind. Ever since then, it has been in my pants pocket every day, without fail. Periodic picking out of the lint and light maintenance only (for those months my range time doesn’t allow for firing every gun), make this my always carry. Have thought about changing caliber or falling prey to some other gimmick, but for me the P3-AT will be at my side until I am fixed horizontal and require it no longer. Great review!

  • captainH March 21, 2016, 12:24 pm

    This was a valuable review. Thanks for the documentation. I have carried a couple KT 32s over the years and with a little cleaning of pocket lint, they work fine. I was a bit surprised that a gun writer would call a magazine a “clip” though.

    • Jason April 29, 2016, 4:17 pm

      He was not referring to the magazine, but to the Techna waistband clip on the side of the pistol.

  • James Hanna March 21, 2016, 11:44 am

    I had my P3AT 6 or 7 years can’t remember exactly carried in both Iowa and Arizona the pocket in pocket holster I do check it fairly frequently for function. As of yet I haven’t experienced any problems. Not sure of round count but try to shoot several time a week. These small guns are harder it shoot so they require more practice, I thought that the accuracy for such a small gut to be quite good. That was a pleasant surprise, it is harder to cycle a round in because of the stiffer recoil spring. When disassembling you have to be really careful not to loose a couple of the smaller parts that can easily be misplaced. I would rate this gun as a strong 8 for size accuracy concealment and caliber. I would buy another to have one in each pocket.

  • Tom March 21, 2016, 11:33 am

    Have had the P32, two P3AT’s and a P11. All have operated flawlessly for several years. Reworked the hammer on the P11 and added the KEL-TEK trigger shoe. Their accessories are very reasonably priced.

  • Bob Williams March 21, 2016, 10:21 am

    You are lucky you got your kel-tec to finally work. Mine is just a paper weight. Kel-tec sent me an extractor (which took forever) but still fails to eject. I bought the Ruger version and have had no issues. Also have a P11 that doesn’t work either. I’m done with Kel-Tec.

    • Tom March 21, 2016, 11:25 am

      I have two P3AT’s, one Pll, and a P32. Had them for years and never a problem with any of them. Guess I am just lucky.

    • lee latham March 21, 2016, 4:34 pm

      Are you an early adopter, perhaps? I’ve made it a policy never to buy the first run of a new gun–especially KT’s. Kel-Tec is good about working out the kinks in the second generation, and fixing first generation ones when you send them in.

  • Jack michael March 21, 2016, 10:09 am

    I have a ruger lcp 380 and don’t like two things about it.( 1) I had to go with std. Ball ammo because hollow points continuously jammed. (2) the extended trigger pull. I train with my glock 19 all the time and always carry the lcp which is hard to adjust to….any comments.

    • mortdecai March 21, 2016, 11:57 am

      switch to a Glock 42 as your small carry gun. same trigger as your 19 and will feed hollow points flawlessly. I beat the hell out of my 42 ( over 2000 rounds) and I have never had any type of problem.

    • lee latham March 21, 2016, 4:32 pm

      That’s odd–I switched from the p-3at to the ruger lcp because the lcp had a shorter trigger pull. Maybe they’ve changed the trigger in newer versions?

  • Ed Pilkington March 21, 2016, 9:50 am

    I started with a KT 32, loved it! Easy to conceal and shoot. Felt I should have a bit more firepower so went to PF9. Wow! After a free KT Polish and Set Up and a heavy spring with extended mags, this weapon has never failed to fire anything, with accuracy. Accurate and dependable. I even bought a .22 conversion kit for it and just bought another PF9 for my wife. I gave her the conversion kit and she loves it. CC clas for her next. I applaud Kel Tec and the people who run it.

    • Grifhunter March 22, 2016, 5:43 pm

      I just picked up a used PF9 and would be interested in the “free KT polish and set up”. And what springs are you referring to? Thanks!

  • Greg Webb March 21, 2016, 8:39 am

    Great review! I’ve carried my P3AT daily for 6+ years in my pocket in a DeSantis pocket holster. I’ve had zero problems- the pistol functions with every type of .380 round that has been tried. The only issue that has occurred is that sometimes the magazine will come unseated probably due to the magazine catch being accidentally depressed in my pocket. Now I see why all early pocket pistols had heel catches for the magazine.

    • Brent Wauters March 21, 2016, 11:10 am

      I had the same problem with dropped mags so I filed down the mag release button which solved the issue. Now i press the button with my finger nail which gives me a sufficiently fast reload.

      • john March 22, 2016, 3:04 pm

        i cut a hole in my pocket holsters for the magazine release button. had the same problem with my s&w bodyguard .380.

  • Kenneth D Wainwright March 21, 2016, 8:36 am

    Enjoyed the review.

    I also carry, and my P3AT is often my choice for the past 10+ years. Where we differ is I am one that keeps my carry pistols (actually all firearms) clean and lubricated … however, I suspect your closer to the average persons maintenance habits. Thus, you’ve demonstrated the little pistols dependability under less the ideal maintenance conditions.

    More articles on pistol performance under adverse conditions -vs- ideal could be beneficial in a reader’s purchase decision.

    Ken W.

  • Bob March 21, 2016, 8:35 am

    I have nothing but good things to say about my Kel-Tec P3AT. Owned it for years and never had a problem of any type. It works every time…no malfunctions. I bought a Glock 43 for CC which tried for a week. I went back to the P3AT. There is simply nothing more comfortable, flexible and convenient for CC. Everyone should consider 2 additions… TALON grips and a CT laser. The grips add control and the laser adds range. Both made a difference for me. It is not a pleasant gun to shoot, but it is accurate. I recommend a P3AT for CC with a Glock 21 in the car as a perfect combo.

  • Maynard Anderson March 21, 2016, 8:25 am

    The .380 is my favorite caliber for carry also, however mine is a Walther PK380 with factory laser. I’m not trying to be critical
    here but Isn’t the correct terminology magazine not clip. Just to keep the uneducated anti gunners straight on parts names.

    • Bob March 21, 2016, 9:13 am

      I don’t think he was referring to the magazine when using the word, “clip.” I believe he was referring to the Techna-Clip installed on the side of the pistol. In this case, the term, “clip” was accurate. I can’t blame you though. I can’t stand to hear the word clip within range of any discussion of a gun. 🙂

      • Jay Richman October 21, 2016, 7:37 pm

        Really having a hard time deciding on a Kel-Tec or S&W .380. HELP!

        • Rasputin February 25, 2017, 4:50 pm

          I would take the Kel-Tec over the Smith Bodyguard ANY day of the week. As with most semi-autos they have churned out for decades, the Bodygusrd 380 has many issues, especially light primer strikes.

  • Scott March 21, 2016, 8:21 am

    You must have bought a good one. I purchased one a few years ago and ended up sending it in to Kel-Tec for repair a total of 3 times. It had a FTE or FTF on almost every magazine. I got it back the third time and it still didn’t function properly. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I will never buy another Kel-Tec again. I did purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .380 that functions perfectly after 500 rounds. It also feels like a well made firearm as opposed to the P3AT which feels cheap. To anyone reading this I advise you stay away from Kel-Tec, or at least the P3AT; it is a gamble whether or not you will get one that works or one that doesn’t. Do some research and find the firearm that you can trust your life to. It’s hit or miss with Kel-Tec, unfortunately.

    • BillM March 21, 2016, 9:44 am

      I think that if you polished the ramp, with some 500 grit sandpaper and then used a Dremel tool with some fine metal polish on it, you would have solved the problem. I own a 380 Ruger, the Kel-tek, and the Taurus 380. Each of them have some machining problems on the ramp, and it is easily taken care of, the way I suggested. Of the three, the Kel-Tek seems to be the most accurate, however I carry the Taurus because I love the trigger pull on it. I have installed Lasers on all three so being on target quickly is no problem, even at 25 feet.

  • Magic Rooster March 21, 2016, 7:24 am

    Great read about a gun that more than just a few actually EDC. I am just as pleased with my EDC, a S&W380 Bodyguard semi auto. A .380 is a close in weapon that you use when “walking away” is just not an option. After all, wouldn’t you rather walk away if you could? While a .380 is not for taking shots across the parking lot, do not discount it’s effectiveness at close range. There was an instance locally where a bad guy took a .380 HP to the head at 10 feet or so. The result was like you see on YouTube when a melon gets hit.
    Just one suggestion, please keep the damn thing clean!

  • Aaronosaurus March 21, 2016, 5:03 am

    I was happily surprised to read your review. My experience with one of these was short lived…… After putting a few boxes through it thinking it was doing well, I dry fired it. I just held it up and checked the trigger pull with no ammo, and no snap caps. The firing pin jammed and I had a difficult time getting it to retract. I convinced myself it was the guns fault and got rid of it. After reading your review I am wondering if I should have taken the blame, and kept the little bugger.

    • ArvadaDude March 21, 2016, 4:28 pm

      The kel-tec manual and website say that the kel-tec P3AT is NOT dry fire-able. No one ever reads the manual. (I’m guilty too!)

      I have 2 PF9’s and a P3AT, and have not had a single problem with the .380. I have noticed the PF9’s really need to be lubricated liberally but otherwise I’m happy. I do admit I will most likely sell the PF9’s and get G43’s. However, the little .380 is perfect. My Wife has the Ruger LCP .380 and that boger kicks like a mule, compared to the Kel-Tec .380. I love that little .380. My buddy has the non-laser S&W bodyguard .380 which he likes.

      • Jackson September 3, 2016, 10:41 pm

        In our CCH class the instructor made us dry fire our pistols to practice trigger reset. Probably 50 or 60 times… No problem. 700 plus rounds later still works as good as ever.

      • SpeedBump November 29, 2021, 10:57 pm

        Started carrying mine in 2004 while working behind the counter of a local gun shop.

        The greatest focus with these little guns is keep them clean and lubed if pocket carrying. Mine stays in an Uncle Mike’s #1 I think, and it carries secure and safely.

        I’ve never tried HP ammo, as I consider penetration far more important in this little gun, than expanding HP ammo.

        With ball ammo, she runs clean and reliable, have never had issues after the initial break in.

        Can’t say enough good things about Kel Tec, me interaction with them has been 100% satisfaction.

        I replaced the recoil springs, and ordered som spare parts a few years back.

        They doubled everything I ordered, and only charged me for the single purchase.

        I punished them for it though..

        To get even with them, I later purchased two PF9s, and this past year I finally gave in to the purchase of a KS7.

        Their products are somewhat crude and unrefined, yet Cutting Edge in overall design.

        I believe the P3AT single handily saved the .380 acp cartridge from completly going away. Prior to it’s delivery to market, we really had no viable .380 pistol that generated any real interest in the New Gun market. Any .380s for sale were either the fire once “disposal” types, or the high dollar Browning BDA, or Betetta models.

        Think about the design innovation Kel Tec has gifted us over the years. At least they have had the guts to go where other manufactures wouldn’t go. Sadly though, some of their designs have been stolen, and marketed by the larger names in the gun world. As a manufacture, I’d be honored by that.

        I don’t mind having to do a Fluff and Buff on a new Kel Tec to sometimes get them to run right, I’ll keep the few hundred dollar savings in my pocket, thank you!

        I know what a Kel Tec is, and what it is not, and I fully support and appreciate what they have done, and continue to do.

        Yes, I’ll keep punishing them in the future!!

    • lee latham March 21, 2016, 4:36 pm

      Kel-Tec’s are some of the only centerfire guns that you should never dry fire–as stated in the manual 🙂

      That being said, I dry fire mine now and then without issue..I think you got lucky. Er, unlucky.

  • Pro2AGuy March 19, 2016, 11:36 pm

    Great review of your Ruger LCP .380 😉 Yes I like to give credit where credit is due.

    Like you, I have the identical results with its ‘big-brother,’ namely, my very reliable, rugged Kel-Tec P11. When Iread this I felt like I could literally substitute Pll for P3A.

    • Outlaw March 26, 2016, 2:25 am

      Great but you have it bass-ackwards. The Kl-Tec predates the LCP and it was Ruger who did the copying.

  • Rick March 18, 2016, 10:43 am

    Excellent article and assessment of this very capable tool. I’ve been a fan of the KT line having a P32, P11, P3AT and Sub2K (9mm-G17 Gen 1) in my stable. The P3AT was (and still is) a daily carry in my EDC or truck while its been recently replaced by on body carry by a Ruger LCP (that I got for a steal from a friend). Both have been reliably carried in either various flavors of pocket holster or a Fobus paddle OWB. I highly suggest the Fobus for any of the KT’s. Very comfortable and retention is very good. Customer service from KT is outstanding from the very few times I’ve had to use them for my P32 and P11. The P3AT has never failed me. Anyone on the fence about KT’s need to get over themselves and pick 1 (or 4).

  • L Jones March 18, 2016, 1:04 am

    Great Article! I purchased a NIB KelTec P3AT well over 12 years ago.
    1) It’s always with me. In summer I use a Desantis IWB holster & practically forget about having it on. In winter, it fits inside my good leather jackets lower inside pocket. Again, I almost forget I’m carrying. 2) While I don’t have as many total rounds thru mine as the author has, it does see regular practice at the range & has proven its reliability. ( I have yet to have the extractor issue the author described.) Most of my practice rounds are reloads. The gun has never failed to feed, fire, or eject. 3) I have added two items to my P3AT which does take some of the bite out of its bark. That being a Hogue Rubber Grip Handall Jr Small. A perfect fit with just a little trimming; it gives the grip just enough purchase to make the gun easier to hold & shoot. I also added Pearce Grip Extentions to the magazines. While not adding rounds, the extentions allow for my pinky to fully wrap around the grip instead of dangling underneath. These 2 add-ones, I believe, truly make the gun more comfortable & accurate to shoot, without adding weight or to the overall size. For the record: .40 s/w is my caliber of choice, but it’s been along time since this .380 has seen the inside of the safe.
    The Kel Tec P3AT is not my only carry gun, but its size, weight & proven dependability is perfect for the great tool it is!

  • Will Drider March 17, 2016, 12:31 am

    Refreshing to see a EDC gun that actually looks like it is one. Like a few scars on the hunting dog, a bit of rust is a badge of honor for standing duty. In Fl, salt, humidity and sweat are a constant. Daily oil wiped downs start degrading as soon as you gear up and over time the hours exposed to adverse elements will far exceed its “clean” time. A gun is a tool, let it serve its purpose. I also gave up on leather IWB holsters due to the same “environmental” conditions. Kydex: rinse tem and done. Execellent Article!

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