A .32 can penetrate the sternum. I shot a 2x4 with mine, 15 feet away. It went through and through, but it was a FMJ.
I've carried my .32 every day for the past 20 years.
I shot an animal in self-defense. It worked (on the animal).
The only reason I'm looking to retire my .32ACP is because I'm having a heck of a time finding ammo for it.
I carry Fiocchi FMJ in my P-32. I only carry it when I can't carry something bigger or if I need to make a quick run outside to take out trash, etc. at night. I call it a "get off me gun". If I ever had to use it, I'd empty the magazine into the perp. 7.65mm/32ACP has killed many folks in Europe over the years. Reduced recoil over the P3AT was enough for me to buy it.
I have several firearms of different calibers. While I prefer the 9mm or the .45, I have no problem carrying either the KelTec .32 or the KelTec P-3AT. My wife usually grabs the .32...she likes the small size, and I say it's much better than a 9mm in the safe.
Good feedback in this thread - thanks peoples.
the kel tec p3at has a place in my carry rotation as the weekend off duty gun. my wife likes the p32 for every day carry. is it better than a 45acp/40s&w/9mm? yes/no,, hard to say. seen some shot with these and they drove themself to the er. seen some shot with smaller guns, 22lr/25acp/32acp/380acp and they were placed in the body bag. you just don't now how it will come out. but i do know the gun in hand is better than the gun back home. carry something, practive with it, no matter the size.
My opinion (which is worth squat), it's ok if that's what you have and money is too tight right now to look at other options. It's ok if that's what you can and will carry as compared to larger guns. Practice as much as you can and get good with it. I think it's better than .22 and .25. I think there are better options available if you can swing it. As for similar size and not bank breakers, the LCP is a good option in .380. Kel Tec makes a small 9mm that is inexpensive. If you can manage to carry larger than those and spend up to $500, you can really open up the possibilities for larger caliber, higher capacity, and better ergos and recoil management.
For me personally, I never carry a caliber smaller than 9mm, and I very rarely carry 9mm anymore. I usually carry .40, .45, or .357. The reason? I have large thick hands and wrists the size of a tree limb and I can shoot large calibers in small guns with no problem (quick, accurate, and all day long)...so I figure why not. As I get older, that may not continue to be the case and I will be fine carrying 9mm if that's the largest caliber I can perform well with. The gun, regardless of the caliber, is only as effective as the person behind it. It's a matter of what weapon you can be effective with.
Most of the time, I have a P-32 in my front left pocket. On rare occasions, it's the only gun I'm packing and it's comforting when it's all I can carry. The .380 is probably better but I doubt it is substantially better, at least not in the short tube of a P3AT. I do know I can place accurate hits at a much faster rate with the P-32 and that's my preference with any mini gun.
^^^^^^^^^^^^While I have no doubt that .32 cal. will kill, and has^^^^^^^^^
You just have to make sure you run into the average bad guy,, and not one who would rather you die than he.
I myself won't carry less than 9mm, and that seems to be on the slight end at best.
Too many reports of thugs taking 6,8,12 and even more shots from larger caliber firearms and still having too much fight in them.
I believe I'll take the Ruger LCP for a test drive at the range this week to try to get a feel for the .380 and go from there. If I don't like it I'll go back to feeling secure in my decision.
Per the Marshall/Sanow Handgun Stopping Power study based on street results:
.32 ACP WW 60 gr. STHP: 61 shootings, 36 one-shot stops, 59%
.380 ACP WW 85 gr STHP: 59 shootings, 32 one-shot stops, 54%
.38 special, 2" bbl, WW 125 gr JHP +P: 41 shootings, 23 one-shot stops, 56%
There are other loads listed but these are most similar.
How "definitive" their study is has been argued to death so I am not going there. But their work does give a frame of reference based on something more than conjecture.