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; I'm looking for something very small. I recently started a new job. It's a small company(20 or so employees), and we're in a very rural ...

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

  1. #1
    Member Array Fjolnirsson's Avatar
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    Effectiveness of the .380? Kel Tec 3PAT?

    I'm looking for something very small. I recently started a new job. It's a small company(20 or so employees), and we're in a very rural part of Oregon, so I don't think carrying would be a big deal, and there's nothing I've seen or heard forbidding it. All the same, I have this job through a temp agency(for now), which means I must be very careful. I could find another job, sure. However, the hours are perfect, the work is what I want, the location(<5 minutes drive from my house) is great, and the pay increases are very generous. There have already been hints after 2 weeks, of my position becoming permanent after 90 days. To needlessly complicate matters would be plain dumb.
    I plan to go on a "don't ask, don't tell policy. If the boss doesn't ask if I'm carrying, I won't tell him. I don't forsee any disgruntled emplyees shooting the place up, and we are not in a violent city or part of one. However, crap happens, and Murphy's law does apply. My job is very physical, and concealment of my Glock 21, 22, or .44 special will not work at all. I need something tiny .
    I've looked at the Kel Tec P3AT, and it seems ideal. I can slip it in a pocket, and nobody will be the wiser. I only need a gun to get me to my truck, perhaps 100 yards away at most, then I'm gone. I plan to keep more gun in the truck, as well. The Kel Tec would also serve as a BUG when not at work. I'm close enough to an exit door in my work area that I could easily be gone quickly.
    The price is right, too.
    So, my questions are these...
    Is the .380 a reliable cartridge, and is the P3AT a reliable gun for my situation? Do any of you folks have a P3AT? What are the negatives? Would any of you feel uncomfortable in my situation with just the .380 for defense?
    Anyone?
    Also, anybody have links to ballistics testing for the round?
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  3. #2
    Member Array Q-ball's Avatar
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    The only problem I have with most .380's is less capacity. My Bersa 380 only holds 7 or 8 and that's not enough for me in a small caliber. I've always thought to myself if I had to use my .380 for SD I would try to do more head shots.
    I carry a Glock 19 now and I'm more comfortable with the 9mm cartridge and especially the capacity-15 rounds plus a spare mag.
    Seek safety at the heart of danger.

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  4. #3
    Member Array DirksterG30's Avatar
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    My P3AT has been reliable, but only after the 200 round break-in period. They say that every gun needs that sort of break-in, but in my experience my CZ and my Springfield 1911 have been pretty much 100% reliable out of the box. My P3AT, on the other hand, had numerous FTE's within the break-in period, with a variety of ammo (Wolf - stay away from this stuff; its junk, Winchester white box, Hydra-Shock). I also ran about 150 rounds of my carry ammo through it (Hydra-Shock) before I began carrying it.

    As the break-in period progressed, the FTE's became less frequent, and now it is 100% reliable. I went shooting yesterday, and it was flawless. One thing to watch - this gun is VERY sensitive to limp-wristing; if you think you are holding it tight enough, and your wrist is locked, hold it tighter and lock your wrists a little more.

    As far as the .380 being a reliable cartridge, most of the info I have read gives an avg. penetration of 7-9 in. with hollowpoint ammo; . The FBI standard is 12 in. or more. This may be too much to expect from .380, especially from the P3-AT's short barrel. I look at my P3-AT as the gun I carry when I can't carry a gun. If I were in a gunfight with my .380, I wouldn't feel confident, but then again, I probably wouldn't feel confident with my .45 either. What I have decided is that with the .380, shot placement is more critical than better-performing calibers; I train to get head shots, not COM.

    As far as the negatives: it is a very light gun, so it has a very harsh recoil, and the sights are almost an afterthought. This is in keeping with its intended role, as a 7 yd. backup gun. Don't expect to be able to shoot 1" groups at 25 yards with this one.

    Here's a good link for ballistics; keep in mind though that this is from a pistol with a longer barrel than the P3-AT, but it should give you some idea:
    http://www.firearmstactical.com/ammo_data/380acp.htm

    Here are a few websites for Kel-Tec owners; you may be able to gleam some info from them:
    www.ktrange.com
    www.ktog.org

  5. #4
    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    Hi FJ
    Personally, I've always enjoyed carrying a .380 due to the availability of the small frame guns, BUT you can also look at some 9MM guns that are about the very same size, OR take a look at one of those F E G R61's in 9x18 Makarov (looks just like a Walther PPK) They run around 155.0 to 175.00 or you can also look at the Bersa Thumder 380 but you're in the 200.00 to 300.00 price
    These little guns shoot well, and the ballistics of the Mak are slightly better than the 380. you could also look into AMT Backup D/A 380 or 9MM Both are D/A only, stainless steel, and are pretty reliable with a little polishing of the feed ramp. I have all of the above, with the exception of the Bersa. I believe Glock 26 might fit the bill as well, due to it's reliability and size. Here are some Ballisitc tables for you concerning Factory Ammo
    Just a final thought, How about a NAA Guardian in .380? Stainless DAO VERY SMALL, and it's the size of the Kel-Tec gun
    http://www.sportsmansguide.com/resou...ts/handbal.htm

    http://www.speer-bullets.com/default.asp?s1=7&s2=26

    http://world.guns.ru/ammo/am02-e.htm

  6. #5
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    Pocket Pistols

    The .380 or the .9mm short (9mm Kurz) is a very reliable cartridge.
    Just buy high quality ammo.
    The .380 BERETTA was the Military Issue Sidearm for the Italian Army for a while there. (I just read that :~)
    You might want to go with the Speer Hollar Points if they will feed in whatever .380 you finally purchase. Good Carry Ammo.
    Remember that carrying that extra/spare mag in .380 GREATLY increases your firearm capacity without adding any real weight or unmanageable bulk.
    The Walther PPK/S in Stainless Steel is a great nearly indestructible firearm but, it is comparatively heavy for its small size.
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    Member Array michael t's Avatar
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    I am not a fan of Kel Tec. That said their is no 380 that disappears better in your pocket. Now I own and carry several 380's,no KT's Is it the best caliber for SD NO. will it work YES. Problem I've always had with 380 KT is the short barrel. The FPS you see quoted are from a 4" barrel. KT is shorter hence slower. So if your going to carry I would say ball. Now CorBon in next few weeks will be bring out their 380 DPX round and has been my understanding The Kel Tec 380 has played into the developement. So at last the KT might have a HP of merit. As the DPX is showing to be good choice in other calibers.
    If you want to carry and choose the KT just make sure its relieable with your choice of ammo get a pocket holster and keep your mouth shut. We weren't allowed to carry where I worked either. 2 dead and 2 wounded 1 lady now on SSN and weekly Doctor appointments because or trama from shooting Company now has a unarmed Rent a cop to check ID at entrance. If your caught with a firearm you will still be fired. as every body is safe because company has improved security.
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    Thumbs up Good Addition michael t

    Good helpful information.

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    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan of the Kel-Tec handguns, although I DID have a great time with the rifle that folds in two. If you can conceal a .380, why not go for a similar sized 9mm? Kel-Tec makes the P11 in 9mm and it's inexpensive. Although I'm certain you could find a better BUG in 9mm that's inexpensive (used) at a gun show. Most of these weapons will not have high volumes of ammo thru them and so their breakin period should just be achieved.

    In any case the key here no matter what caliber you pick or what brand weapon...the KEY is ALWAYS going to be effective ammo and shot placement. You've got to be sure enough of weapon accuracy and RELIABILTY. Sometimes, the weapon can be just inherently inaccurate...I've seen a few of those. Most often, it's operator failure. You've got to know your capabilities in relation to the specific gun. You've got to know where each type, brand and bullet configuration will print consistently when you shoot and if this is consistent at all practical ranges. It is, I think, a fairly involved process. Just like everything else.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  10. #9
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    Fjol' - you have plenty of good feedback already - so I won't try and repeat too much.

    I sold mine mainly cos of having R9. I will say tho it is perhaps the easiest gun to ''lose'' in a pocket - and the light weight aids that. Also the some gun/no gun argument is obvious - even if this is ''just'' .380.

    IMO the gun is potentially very ammo sensitive - plus needs broke in and possibly ''fluffed and buffed'' End of day tho you should have a reliable piece - once ammo choice is proven.

    I being a cheapskate, used Silver bear FMJ for practice - it was not super reliable. Quality factory stuff tho is way better - and I actually felt that for me FMJ was best option for this lower power level - bonus being better feeding.

    Limp wristing is probably the main cause of inconsistencies - so light, so little to hold - thus a good grip needs worked on. Pinkie mag extensions are a bonus.
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    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    So ther ya go FJ
    LOTSA GREAT feedback from the Forumites Chris stakes his life on the R9, which is a OUSTNDING weapon! not to mention he's given you lotsa options Ex has his great feedback as usual, which gives you food for thought. on a lot of other reliable guns out there. Dirkster has GREAT feedback for you as well. Good food for thought for the Kel-tec 9 mm. QK is right on the money as he always is.
    As for me, I go back and forth with a lot of guns, as I've bought, traded, sold dozens in my time as shooter, carry gunnr, an dso much more. I'm sure that we all can argree with the one basic theory, but a time tested piece, with lots of good reviews behind it, and practice, practice, practice with good quality ammo, and stick with the one brand that you know the weapon digests with total reliability. Check the USED guns, as there's lots of good deals as most people never really shoot them a lot, plust the "extra add-ons" they buy will help you out. Good luck with your choices, there's lots out there. Hey!! you might even find yourself with something you never thought you'd fall in love with!!

  12. #11
    Senior Member Array Free American's Avatar
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    Like I said somewhere just yesterday, the first rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun! Every gun serves the same purpose to either a lesser or greater extent and that is...make your attacker leak vital fluids.
    They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin


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    Member Array 02PSD4ME's Avatar
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    I have over 1500 rds thru my Kel-tec P3AT, and it is the gun I carry the most, even if I carry another gun the P3AT is in my pocket.
    02PSD4ME

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    I got rid of my P3AT

    I had about 150 rounds through my 3AT and was not happy with the failures to feed. I made sure to hold the gun very firmly and was careful not to limp wrist. It was a great little weapon to conceal, but I just couldn't rely on it. The other problem I had was that the assembly pin started to work itself out while I was shooting. I sent the gun to Kel-Tec and they said they fixed it - no charge, but I had to pay the overnight shipping to them - and when I tried it on the range, the pin started to work itself out again. I sold it quickly after that.

  15. #14
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    I don't know anything about a .380 Kel Tec 3PAT, but that's pretty much been covered anyway.

    What I was thinking is why not carry a S&W 340 Sc .38spcl.? It just weighs 12 oz and should fit any pocket a .380 Kel Tec 3PAT would and the .38 spcl is a lot better round than the .380.

  16. #15
    Member Array joe/OH's Avatar
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    A friend's wife has a Kel-Tec P3AT. He has shot several hundred rounds through it without a single failure (to feed or extract). The gun itself is very small and hides very well - like others have said. It is pretty snappy in the hand for a .380 and it ejects cartridges about 20 feet in the air - straight up. Accuracy and controlability are acceptable considering the package. Honestly - not for me - just because the cartridge doesn't offer enough. But any gun is better than no gun.

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