Range Report -- KelTec P3AT 380ACP sub-compact pistol (ongoing) - Page 4

Range Report -- KelTec P3AT 380ACP sub-compact pistol (ongoing)

This is a discussion on Range Report -- KelTec P3AT 380ACP sub-compact pistol (ongoing) within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Just bought a PA3T (impulse buy) at the range last week, and am heading out with several boxes of mixed .380 ammo to see for ...

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Thread: Range Report -- KelTec P3AT 380ACP sub-compact pistol (ongoing)

  1. #46
    New Member Array JTODD's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Alexandria, VA
    Just bought a PA3T (impulse buy) at the range last week, and am heading out with several boxes of mixed .380 ammo to see for myself. I'm also not a big fan of .380s, but the size and design of the PA3T sold me. Based on previous reports, I'll 'wimp out' and bring a fingerless shooting glove with me so as not to chew up my hand. In a pinch, I won't care, but I'd rather miss the initial hand workout at the range :-) More to follow after my session tomorrow.
    Placement, placement, placement: Shot placement usually trumps caliber......
    SIG 226, ParaOrd P-14, CZ 75, Glock 19, Colt Python, S&W M29-3, CZ 50, RVN ChiCom Type 54 Tokarev, Kel-Tec PA3T, GP 100, Beretta Mdl 21, Ruger Mk II Bull Barrel

  2. #47
    Member Array cloudy's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    I reported in another thread about 4 weeks ago that my new P3AT failed at round 168 (commercial FMJ only). I was asked to report what I found out after sending the gun back to Kel-Tec. I guess I'll stick my reply in this thread.

    I was having many failures to eject and feed, but I had not polished the ramp yet (which should not be required of course, but this seems to be common on many guns). I was trying very hard to like this gun and give it a chance. Then on that last round the trigger would no longer operate the hammer. I sent the gun back to Kel-Tec telling them a gun should not break before 200 rounds have been fired and that I should not have to pay even for the shipping to them. The warranty card states that Kel-tec will only pay return shipping to the owner, and only if the gun problem is covered by the warranty. I also requested that they tell me exactly what broke on the gun so I could better decide if I wanted to ever trust this gun again.

    Four weeks later I received the gun back. Kel-Tec did agree to pay my shipping charges, and they did apparently fix the gun and even polishing the feed ramp. This is what they said they did:

    Replaced frame
    Replaced grip and or mag catch
    Replaced slide and or barrel
    Replaced internal parts
    Polished feed ramp
    test fired

    They described this work as "rebuilt a brand new pistol"

    Now, I'm not faulting Kel-Tec with their repair. They obviously did everything they could, though they did not explain what broke on the gun (perhaps some of you can tell me what would be the most likely broken part). My hat is off to Kel-Tec on this repair. BUT......, the whole point of carrying a gun is that it will work. I don't know if I can agree that Kel-Tec has a sound gun in the P3AT. I don't think I will ever trust it, and I don't think I will shoot several hundred rounds "breaking the gun in before I carry it" like I was going to do.

    I know that any gun can break, but none of my many guns ever have and this one broke too soon. I will still carry it, but only when it is absolutely nessessary (it's my only true pocket pistol). I also will not regularly shoot this pistol on the range, maybe a mag or two per year, though I know some of you have shot thousands of rounds through your P3AT's.

  3. #48
    Member Array Texas 48's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    san antonio texas
    [QUOTE=cloudy;354161]I reported in another thread about 4 weeks ago that my new P3AT failed at round 168 (commercial FMJ only). I was asked to report what I found out after sending the gun back to Kel-Tec. I guess I'll stick my reply in this thread.

    Same experience with my p32 only after 20 rounds. Kel-Tec told me 2 weeks to repair that was 4 weeks ago. I am anxious to see what they send me. I will sell it as soon as it comes back. Bought a Beretta Tomcat. Have put 200 flawless rounds throught it. Cost me a little over 300. Its Heavier but shorter. Looks and feels like a real gun instead of a plastic toy. Still fits in my back pocket. Not complely snag free but is DA/SA and has a safety. Much more accurate that the Kel-Tec.

  4. #49
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Moderator Central
    Just curious if the trigger related problems could be due to dry firing since the KelTec manual states that the P3AT should not be dry fired at all.

    Just wondering if any have dry fired their pistols.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  5. #50
    Member Array ak-kev's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Central Florida
    [QUOTE=Texas 48;359398]
    Quote Originally Posted by cloudy View Post
    I reported in another thread about 4 weeks ago that my new P3AT failed at round 168 (commercial FMJ only). I was asked to report what I found out after sending the gun back to Kel-Tec. I guess I'll stick my reply in this thread.

    Same experience with my p32 only after 20 rounds. Kel-Tec told me 2 weeks to repair that was 4 weeks ago. I am anxious to see what they send me. I will sell it as soon as it comes back. Bought a Beretta Tomcat. Have put 200 flawless rounds throught it. Cost me a little over 300. Its Heavier but shorter. Looks and feels like a real gun instead of a plastic toy. Still fits in my back pocket. Not complely snag free but is DA/SA and has a safety. Much more accurate that the Kel-Tec.

    I love Beretta's man!! In one of my trucks, I carry a 92fs!! But the Tomcat is no match for the P32. The Tomcat is 14.5oz(I think) which is more than twice the weight of the 6.6oz P32. Heck, the Keltec P11 is only 16oz, and it carries 13rds of 9mm!!!! Theres just no contest in my mind, especially since it goes BANG every time. I guess if I were to have gotten a lemon Id be turned off too, so I cant blame you.
    Jesus said "and if you dont have a sword (AK), sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

  6. #51
    Member Array cloudy's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Just wondering if any have dry fired their pistols.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks for bringing that up. I did dry fire my pistol perhaps 3 times. I have always hated dry fireing any firearm, but have gotten to the point of "just a few" won't hurt. I won't dry fire this one again.

  7. #52
    Member Array Ship A'Hoy's Avatar
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    Jul 2006


    Just bought a P3AT yesterday and put 50 rounds of Blazer thru it. Very accurate at 7 yards and no FTF?FTE problems at all. It ran flawless. Today I'm putting at least another 50 Blazers thru it and some hollow points too. To my surprise, it's a keeper so far.
    "Success is not Final, Failure is not Fatal, it is the Courage to Continue that Counts"
    Sir Winston Churchill

  8. #53
    New Member Array PocketProtector's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Love the Kel-Tec P3-AT. Contrary to the report, the ergonomics for me are perfect, points better than any other gun I have shot (and have shot many). Smooth trigger and IMHO easily managed recoil, not the "bear" some would have you think.

    Carried daily, rear pocket in a Grandfather Oak Pocket companion or in jeans a Nemesis.
    You will forget you have it unless you don't, then you will feel naked.

  9. #54
    Member Array Ala Dan's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Southeast, U.S.A.
    YES most definitely~!

  10. #55
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    Array ccman's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    CT, USA
    Hi, I picked up one of these P3AT [new] last week.
    I ran 120 rounds thru it on day one, some loose ammo from a friend.
    Some failure to feed. Win 380 85 GR Silvertip HP were ok.
    Took gun home and gave it second cleaning. I went back to the range today and ran Win 380 95 GR FMJ. 68 rounds no problem.
    188 total rounds so far. I have this gun on me since I got it, loaded with Silvertips HP. Others were to big to carry. Later.

  11. #56
    Member Array Larryes's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Shortly after I got my P 3AT, I was at my brother's farm. We were walking towards the barn and we looked out in a freshly planted corn field. There was a clump of brush probably 75 - 85 yards out. My brother carries a pocket s&w .38 and ever since we were kids we had shooting contests. So.... we were tempted and both of us pulled and fired. I went first and by just point shooting put a couple of rounds really close. He fired and missed by a mile. I fired the rest of the magazine and I was amazed at how close I came. It wasn't by aiming, just point shooting and that's all this tool is made for.

    People who aim with it are really disapointed!

    God bless,


  12. #57
    Senior Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    May 2007
    I made a report on a 2nd generation P3AT that I got in December of 2005. Since the report in May 2006 the pistol's had over 1000 rounds total put through it and has become smooth and reliable. I was beginning to have doubts about it last summer.

    Over Memorial Day weekend I tried out the P3AT at 165 yards on a couple of beat up galvanized garbage cans that were stuck together. It took 4 magazines-full to connect with the cans but a satisfying thump was finally heard. Upon examining the cans it was found that a handloaded round nose lead bullet penetrated all four layers of can. This seemed pretty good for a mild .380 handload at such a distance.

    May 4, 2006
    I spent Sunday afternoon at my local gun club range with several rifles and handguns including a KelTec P3AT that I’ve been breaking in as time permits. The pistol has greatly improved since I got it in December but still doesn’t qualify as a reliable concealed carry arm.

    Several have mentioned that they have a P3AT on the Forum. I'm hoping to hear from them about their impressions of the pistol.

    In peeking in on the KelTec forum I’ve read a lot of blurb about others’ experiences with these small .380 pistols. I’ve not joined as I’m not certain that an objective P3AT owner would be well received. There are some real fans of these pistols on that forum. They are “buffing and fluffing”, smearing special grease, recutting the extractor, and avoiding white box Winchester ammo, all in an effort to achieve reliable function of their pistols. Some apparently own multiple examples and make the small .380 their special hobby. More power to them. Different strokes for different folks.

    Throughout their forum mention is made of Santa Barbara .380 ammunition and its potent performance. I ran into a large inventory of this Santa Barbara stuff at Military Gun Supply in Fort Worth, Texas. Priced under $3.00 for a box of 25, it was easy to pick up enough to make a thorough function test in my P3AT.

    This ammunition was manufactured in Spain by Empresa Nacional Santa Barbara de Industrias Militares S.A. Toledo. The boxes I purchased showed a date of 6 Oct. 1983 on the bottom. Despite the age of the ammo it was perfectly clean and bright. It features a flat nosed semi-jacketed bullet. The box gave no indication of the weight of the bullet. The flat nose is slightly concave and the concave nose shows exposed lead. The load is put up in a Berdan primed case. The box indicates that the ammo is non-corrosive.

    This bullet looks quite similar in shape to the bullet used white box Winchester .380 ammunition that consistently chokes my P3AT with FTE’s. The first magazine full I fired down range convinced me that Santa Barbara .380 ammo is a whole different animal than the Winchester “WalMart Special” .380 ammo. If there is such a thing as +P .380 ammunition then this is it. It give every impression of living up to its potent reputation. The P3AT’s recoil was much sharper with the Santa Barbara ammo than with any other ammo I’ve tried to date. The report was louder too. Ejection was very forceful and was straight back, just missing the top of my head. I fired the gun from the 10 yard line and, when returning to the 25 yard line where my range box was sitting, I found ejected cases all the way back to my box. Accuracy was equal to any other ammunition I’ve tried in the KelTec. I fired a total of 50 rounds with no malfunctions of any kind.

    I made a quick search on the Internet and found that the bullet is variously listed as being 87 grains or 95 grains in weight. I found an article by our own Stephen Camp in which he obtained 1161 fps from a Walther PP. This would yield 284 foot lbs. of energy, making this an unusually powerful load for a .380. Some sites cautioned folks not to shoot this ammunition in the KelTec P3AT. After examining the fired cases I couldn’t see any excessive pressure signs indicated by the primer or in measurement of the fired case heads. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is expedient to fired large quantities in a P3AT or any .380. Its price is attractive but this ammo sure is hot and could cause problems if used for extended practice sessions or plinking. I’m willing to use it to a limited extent in my pistol. I intend to resurrect this post in a few weeks when I have time to break down a cartridge, weigh the bullet, and chronograph the load through my short barreled P3AT. I’ve only had the pistol to successfully run 50 rounds without a malfunction with a box of Remington-UMC FMJ round nose ammunition and this Santa Barbara ammunition. Perhaps at least the Santa Barbara offers a choice in functional reliability in my gun.

    I’ve fired 450 rounds through my KelTec and it still occasionally has a FTE. It has smoothed up considerably from the first time or two it went to the range. I really like the concept of a .380 scarcely larger than a Colt 1908 .25 but personally don’t care for the execution of the P3AT. I’d like an all steel frame for myself. I’m probably the only one who would want that feature. I don’t much care about saving weight. I could wish that the design could support a single action trigger feature but that would likely add bulk. The whole appearance of the gun seems cheap but then it is inexpensive to purchase. If mine will smooth out to run faithfully than it might make a toter to place in a small hidey hole.

    I don’t do gun grease. Never have liked grease. I am not going to “buff and fluff” a pistol purchase. I think it is bad form to sell a product that can’t properly function until it is worked over by an owner or gunsmith. Just reading all the “fluff and buff” posts on the KelTec forum is enough to give pause to the thoughtful handgun purchaser. F&B'ing a new P3AT is sort of like purchasing new tires that won’t hold air until one patches them.

    July 6, 2006

    Gave the P3AT a workout over the weekend. It's a mystery to me. Gave really good function. Even ate Winchester white-box .380 with only one FTE (it was the first round fired). I was at Brownwood shooting with my B-I-L. He had a good selection of .380 ammo on hand to try out in the gun including the first ever hollowpoint ammo it has been fed. Seems like I had a single hang-up with a Remington Gold-Dot but otherwise all fed and functioned well. We ran some of the hot Santa Barbara stuff over his chronograph which averaged 1020 fps from the short barreled P3AT. Not quite the speed Mr. Camp obtained but still pretty forceful for .380. One must remember that Mr. Camp's pistol has a longer barrel. I'm brain dead tonight but think we also tried some Remington Gold Dot which gave 870 fps. We both remarked that the Santa Barbara ammunition made our KelTecs buck and roar noticably in comparison to the five or six other factory loads he had on hand.

    I purposefully took down my P3AT and turned its spring around in an effort to make it jam as it did so badly a couple of outings ago. It functioned fine no matter which way the spring is installed. At one point I limp-wristed it, firing the pistol by loosely holding it with only my trigger finger and thumb. It fired off six Winchester WB rounds with nary a bobble.

    Now I'm reduced to thinking that I possibly reassembled it after cleaning and failed to lubricate it at all. It had smoothed out and was working fine after initial break-in. After the poor performance on the range trip in June it has worked well since.

    September 4, 2006

    I have to brag on it a bit today. My sister and family came to my parent's house for a Labor Day dinner. My B-I-L and I adjourned to the Gun Club range which is nearby, for a bit of .380 shooting before we ate. He'd just cast about 800 Lee 102 grain bullets and loaded up a couple of boxes with a moderate 3.something grain charge of Unique. These bullets are of a round nosed design with a single grease groove.

    It was spitting rain when we got there so we shot in the rain. My P3AT happily digested a whole box of 50 of the loads without once failing to function properly. Bo fired the handloads in both his first generation P3AT and his Colt Mustang. All pistols gave good function. The little Colt is a fun piece at the range in comparison to the KelTecs. Decent single action trigger and usable sights make it a joy to shoot. The KelTec .380's are good for "head shots" at 10 yards if one concentrates on the sights and trigger.

    I'm still thinking that I must have failed to lubricate the P3AT after cleaning it. I may test it by spraying it out with gun scrubber then re-assembling it and shooting it dry. It's hard to believe that it wouldn't basically function without lubricant.

    Bo's bullets left absolutely zero lead deposits in either KelTec barrel after 50 rounds fired through them. He's going to load up the remaining bullets from his production run with the Unique load. He'll have them shot up in no time, knowing him.

    I suppose I'll shoot a box of Winchester white box through my P3AT. If it functions with those then I'll call it done.
    Last edited by bmcgilvray; June 8th, 2007 at 01:49 PM.

  13. #58
    Member Array nicneufeld's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Kansas City, MO
    I love mine...I waited a year for the PF-9 to come out, and a month ago or so I gave up and went out and bought a P3-AT. Funnily enough a week or two later the PF-9 came available and I picked it up as well.

    The P3-AT is an immensely useful gun, and it transformed me into a carry-only-at-certain-times-when-it-is-feasible sort of guy into almost 24/7. Would I choose it if I knew I was going to a gunfight? No. But is really nice to be able to carry, virtually any time, any where. Not something I could do before.

    Oh, and mines OD green with a blued slide...they didn't have a black one, and just thought it was kind of cool.

  14. #59
    Senior Member Array Macattack's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rainy ol' Seattle, WA
    I love mine two. It goes with me as often as my wallet and car keys do. Have convinced friends to buy them as well and they are happy. What good is a bigger more expensive gun if it is too much of a hassle to carry it.
    "In those days, there was a lot more respect for other people and it showed in peoples values.... Today the word value means nothing more than something you get on the $1 menu at McDonald's." -BARK'N

  15. #60
    Member Array Frogman's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    Great little gun!!!

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