Effectiveness of the .380? Kel Tec 3PAT?

This is a discussion on Effectiveness of the .380? Kel Tec 3PAT? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Tangle, You have to hold the P3AT to appreciate it's value. It is far more concealable than a snubbie due to it's slimness. But I ...

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Thread: Effectiveness of the .380? Kel Tec 3PAT?

  1. #16
    Member Array joe/OH's Avatar
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    Tangle,

    You have to hold the P3AT to appreciate it's value. It is far more concealable than a snubbie due to it's slimness. But I agree - I would go with the much more powerful .38 +P for the concealability.

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  3. #17
    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    I think it's important to realize that the P3AT and the P32 from Kel-Tec are really in their own little class. There isn't a lighter weight, thinner profile "TRUE" pocket pistol out there. The NAA guardian series are like small bricks in comparison. The Rohrbaugh 9mm is probably the very best but at $1,000 for a pocket pistol, it's been priced outside of the range of many if not most of the folks who'd want one. The only reason they can charge that much is because of limited supply so they're catering to the true hard-core gun affection ado.

    I think we'd all agree that .380 is a nominal caliber at best and we've all heard it a 1000 times how having any gun is better than no gun. I agree with that statement and you can always find a story about someone who killed someone with a BB gun, BUT .32, .25, .22's etc., won't even always kill rabbits much less a human, so we all agree, the pocket gun is a last ditch proposal when you simply can't/won't carry anything larger. What amazes me is how protected some "FEEL" when they have a Kel-Tec .380 in their pocket.

    Now having said all this, I'm a preacher and a professional so I'm always in tucked in dress clothes. I'm on the short side and only a tad over weight so even a J-Frame in a tuckable prints like crazy. An ankle holster is the most obvious thing in the world. I do carry a Kahr P9 in an IWB under my suit coat but in Missouri when it's 100 out, it's enough to give you heat stroke.

    So what have I done? I bought a Kel-Tec P3AT. With a pocket holster from RJ Hedley, it looks like I have a palm pilot devise in my pocket. It's very noticeable in dress pants but no one would ever guess gun. The problem is that this gun as been VERY UNRELIABLE. I've done the fluff and buff, modified the feed ramp, etc but the P3AT is on the opposite end of the spectrum as compared to the Rohrbaugh. That gun has a lot of engineering and high-end machine work in it. The Kel-Tec is super simple and the manufacturing tolerances wouldn't compare to a gun like the Rohrbaugh. The result is a gun that is lighter and thinner than anything you can get and it's just over $200.00, however, you get what you pay for.

    Now you can always find someone who owns a gun that works perfectly, but I'm convinced the Kel-Tec's are just not the most reliable gun because of how they're made and what they're trying to do with them. Kel-Tec recently changed the P3AT and came out with the second generation. They say they did this to use less expensive material which I believe, but you'll notice they also changed the extractor set up significantly! That tells me a lot.

    Mine has had a number of problems with FTF, FTE, light strikes, and then no strikes at all. I'm on my second trip back to Kel-Tec. The first time took nearly six weeks and this time it's been gone five weeks and no word yet.

    While I'm waiting, I've tried carrying a S&W 637 J frame in my pocket but it prints bad and feels like a big chunk in dress pants. There really is a BIG difference between pocket carry in lightweight dress pants and heavy jeans or Dockers. I've considered buying a P32 from Kel-Tec because IMHO it seems to be a much more reliable gun. But I'm nervous about putting another $250 into a gun that may or may not work out. If you get one and it works, you're golden, if not....

    Sorry for the long post, but if I was you, I'd think long and hard about buying a Kel-Tec .380 for self defense. If you choose to do so, keep in mind you might get a great one or you might end up with one you'll never trust. Can that happen with a Glock or Sig? Yes, but its nowhere near as likely.

    When my P3AT gets back from Kel-Tec, I'll put its through it's paces but if it's not 100% after 2-300 rounds, I'm dumping it...

    Good luck

    Gideon

  4. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe/OH
    Tangle,

    You have to hold the P3AT to appreciate it's value. It is far more concealable than a snubbie due to it's slimness. But I agree - I would go with the much more powerful .38 +P for the concealability.
    I used to use a signature line (original, I might add), that says, "If you're in a gunfight, ease of carry and comfort are meaningless, only effective hits with effective bullets count."

  5. #19
    Member Array joe/OH's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more Tangle. Was just saying that the P3AT is much more concealable than a wheel gun. What's the other quote - 'A gun is suppose to be comforting, not comfortable' or something along those lines.

  6. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe/OH
    ...What's the other quote - 'A gun is suppose to be comforting, not comfortable' or something along those lines.
    Yep, I believe that's a Clint Smith's original. Clint is the Director of Thunder Ranch.

  7. #21
    Member Array Frogman's Avatar
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    I'm very happy with my 2nd gen P3AT!

  8. #22
    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    As an instructor I try and encourage the 9mm as the minimum size for self defense. However, as we all know everything boils down to shot placement. The .380 is definitley superior to the 32, 25, or 22.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  9. #23
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Personaly and speaking only for myself i have shot 1 p3at and from that experiance i wouldnt want one , the one i shot was relyable , BUT i could not shoot MOBG ( minute of bad guy ) past 10 yrds ( would not group on a paper plate ) there are better options out there , i love and carryed for years a ppks, i now carry a kahr, but many s&w snubbys fit the same gap , small is worthles if you cant ( as jeff cooper said i belive ) get there the fastest with the mostst i guess i would say shoot 100 rds thro the p3 if you still like it and want it buy THAT ONE , as others will attest quality is spotty , if ya shoot a good one pay a premieum for THAT pistol lol

  10. #24
    Member Array kelsey's Avatar
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    I owned a kel-Tec P3AT 380. It was one of the worst pieces of junk I ever owned in my life. Even after sending it back to Kel-Tec twice and running a minimum 300-400 rounds through it, every single magazine would either have a feed or stovepipe failure. Didn't matter which ammo you used in JHP or FMJ. I would be dead if I ever had to use it to protect myself or family. I will never own a Kel-Tec again, even if it's free. I use a Taurus PT111 Millenium 9mm when I need to carry something small. Easily hides, it has never had a failure and shoots excellent groups.

  11. #25
    Senior Member Array BlueLion's Avatar
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    In my opinion don't drop below .38 for protection. I carry a SW Model 37 and it is very concealable. Many people get into shot placement and stuff and that is true I would just rather place a good .38 round than a .380,but, if that's all I had I would use the .380.

    Moreover, it is hard to conceal any pistol in a pair of dress pants. They are thinner and made differently. I would never try to conceal a pistol in the pocket of some dress pants.
    Listen, Think and React.....Nuff Said.....

  12. #26
    Senior Member Array cmidkiff's Avatar
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    A compact 9mm gun in a smartcarry rig would be my suggestion, and is my solution to a similar situation. My P11 just disappears. Smartcarry does a great job hiding a gun that's too large for pocket carry.

    The R9 has to be the premier gun for this purpose, but the price puts it out of range for most of us. Hopefully, they won't be alone in the tiny single stack 9 market for long. It's some serious engineering, but it _can_ be done. Kahr would be my pick to make it happen at a reasonable cost.

    I've shot the P32 and the P3AT, The P32 seems to be a little more reliable, and doesn't punish you quite so bad, but it's not much of a defensive caliber. The P3AT, when you get one that works, is a great little gun. Reliability can be an issue with some of them. As others have said, a .380 isn't what I would want in a gun fight, but it's way better than throwing rocks!

    Great comments all!
    Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. It's worth it.

  13. #27
    New Member Array Ready2Fire's Avatar
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    I have had a Kel Tec P3AT for about 6 months now. I recently purchased a North American Arms Guardian .380 and I plan on selling the Kel Tec. I like the feel of the NAA much better, it has less recoil, and I believe is a little more accurate.

    I also have a Kahr PM9 which I really like. It is a little bit bigger, but not too big that you can't put it in your pocket. It is another nice option for you to look into.

  14. #28
    New Member Array Slaughter104's Avatar
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    Good Gun

    I've had my Kel-Tec 3PAT for over a year now. I have found it to be the easiest gun to carry with shorts and a T-shirt. I usually carry my sub-compact .357 (Glock 33), but it's really hard to take on a run / jog. I prefer having a larger caliber, but before I got the .380, I found myself completely unarmed when running early in the morning. I would rather have my .380 than nothing at all. Plus, I've had no problems at all with my Kel-Tec. No malfunctions and believe or not, for it's size it's pretty accurate. I had to qualify with it on a 60 MBA course and shot 90%. Not bad considering you shoot 18 rds from 25 yds, 18 rds from 15 yds, and 24 rds from 7 yds. About 25% of our officers have purchased the KT 3PAT .380 in the past 12 months and everyone is very happy with them.

  15. #29
    Member Array bubbygator's Avatar
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    The 2nd generation KelTec is definitely the answer to lack of reliability. Mine has had zero malfunctions out of the box with no fluff/buff or anything.

    Yes, .38Spl in a J-frame is a better cartridge/carry - & I carry a 442 also - but the P3AT is "the" answer for dress clothes or just pick up & go.

  16. #30
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    My first generation P3AT is a good gun...no reliablity issues with no F&B needed. I shoot Corbon 90 grain JHPs through mine...and it kicks pretty hard, but is controllable.

    The one major negative are the "sights" on the gun....I have a hard time shooting any meaningful groups at even seven yards with those so-called sights.
    USAF: Loving Our Obscene Amenities Since 1947

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