The perfect pocket pistol?

This is a discussion on The perfect pocket pistol? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I picked up a Kel-Tec P-3AT the other day and I think I've found the perfect back up pistol, at least for me. It's about ...

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Thread: The perfect pocket pistol?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    Thumbs up The perfect pocket pistol?

    I picked up a Kel-Tec P-3AT the other day and I think I've found the perfect back up pistol, at least for me. It's about half the weight of a Bersa 380 or PPK, 3/4 the size, is a DA only so it has no manual safety, holds 7 rds of 380 ammo (8 with an available magazine extension) and costs in the $200+ range. I took it to the range yesterday and fired about 50 rounds of a mix of 90FMJ and 95JHP without a hitch... at least so far. It has a nice bark to it and it weighs only 8oz empty so a good grip is needed, but it's no worse than a Bersa/PPK 380 once you get the hang of it. Accuracy with the minimal sights was so-so beyond 10 yards, though I was able to place five shots in a 6" circle. I'll probably improve with practice, but this gun is made for close up work and not distance shooting. I've read a number of reviews and checked some of the chat rooms and the gun is one you either love or hate. So far, I love this one.

    I know a lot of folks will have their own opinion about the "perfect" pocket pistol, but I now believe this will serve my purpose better than anything else I've seen. If anyone else owns or has shot one of these little jems, please feel free to post your opinions. I personally think this one is going to be a keeper!!
    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

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  3. #2
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    I think that the P3AT is a good gun with one or two drawbacks that one can get used to: a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong trigger pull and the very rudimentary sights (better with the newer second generation P3AT).

    Depending on who you talk to, the P3AT either needs a "fluff 'n buff" (FNB) to make the gun reliable or not....my didn't need a FNB thankfully.
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    Thumbs up I've Handled The Kel~Tec

    I am impressed with the way it feels "in hand" & it points really well.
    I also love its lack of weight.
    I would own one already except for the fact that I already have a reliable PPK/S (which is a great little handgun)
    BUT, the PPK/S is heavy for its small size (for pocket carry)

    Personally, I do not care at all if a "Belly Button Back Up Gun" has good sights....or not - as long as it's totally reliable.
    I'd almost rather that my "last ditch" pocket PPK BUG didn't have "snaggy" sights at all..........or just came furnished with a "Gutter Snipe" type "down in" simple sight system.

    Some of the Kel-Tecs have been problematic mostly with extraction/ejection type problemos & those pistols need a bit of "smithing" or a trip back to the factory to make them 100% reliable. If yours has no FTExtract - FTEject then you bought a good one & it will serve you very well for its intended purpose.
    Congrats on finding a great little BUG for yourself.
    Shoot it in good health.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    Distinguished Member Array RSSZ's Avatar
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    The short version is that I love mine. Long version to follow--------

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    I use my P3AT everyday as primary carry. Because I can't carry very well while driving all day long. I am totally confident in it and think it has enough power to solve most situations. I really like mine and am very accurate with it up to 15yds.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    Mine is a second generation model so the bugs should have been worked out. I'm going back to the range today and put another 50-100 rounds through the little banger. From what I've read in the forums/articles I've found about the P-3AT in the web, if the gun has any FTF/FTE problems it should show up by then. So far the only change I'm considering is getting mag extensions.
    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

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    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    I'm seeing a lot of the new Ket-Tec 380s go out the door at 239.95. I'm waiting to see one come back in, and find out why the guy returned it. So far, these little gun are working out VERY well.
    Why Waltz when you can Rock-N-Roll

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    New Member Array Lee Lapin's Avatar
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    I got my wife one for her birthday last year, and liked it so much that I got one for me too. We have not had a single hiccup from either pistol in the course of firing several hundred rounds each. Mine is carried pretty much every day all day, hers gets left home on days she has to work (she teaches at a local university and cannot legally carry on campus). Mine lives in a Hedley pocket holster, she keeps hers in the factory rug in her pocket and practices drawing from there.

    These guns are so little they are not easy to manipulate or shoot, but they are so handy to carry the tradeoff is worth it. They don't have slide stops, and that disturbs some people and complicates things a bit for everyone. I have installed finger extensions from the Bersa .380 on all my magazines, they fit perfectly with no alteration necessary and make the gun significantly more controllable to shoot IMO. My wife dislikes the finger extensions and does not use them, but she has smaller hands and can get better control of the gun as is.

    These guns are made to practice with enough to develop familiarity/demonstrate functional reliability, and then carry a lot- they are not intended for extended plinking sessions. Sights on our first generation models are indeed rudimentary but are adequate for use at defensive ranges where time allows getting a sight picture. Up close and personal they point quite well and using the 'slide silhouette' method works as well as sights out to about 10 yards.

    Tiny pistols like these demand to be kept clean and properly lubricated to function reliably. I clean ours every time we shoot them without fail, and check them for lint buildup etc. often. They can be picky about ammunition also, find out what yours likes and feed it that exclusively. Ours have been blessedly non-picky, digesting a variety of ball and HP without demonstrating any preference or dislikes so far. I personally see no real advantage to seeking massive expansion out of a short barreled .380 and prefer penetration instead- we carry flat nosed Winchester 95 gr. ball ammo, YMMV on that issue. These little guns are subject to limp- wristing- give yours a solid platform to recoil against and it will likely be more reliable.

    I have been carrying one handgun or another for about three decades now, in calibers from .22LR to .45ACP, and the P3AT is by far the least trouble to carry of any gun I have ever had.

    lpl/nc

  11. #10
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    Robert - I had wondered re that one being a G2 - which you mention it is - that might be a good plus because seemed the G1's were sometimes spotty for reliability.

    The one I had I did not like a huge lot - it did not have quite the reliability I wanted but most of all I was frustrated re the trigger guard - heck of a job to get finger in there ahead of trigger for that long pull.

    Certainly from a size POV, and weight too I guess - hard to beat tho my R9 fits the bill for me with pocket carry.

    My wife finds the Bersa an easier gun to handle and control and so would not like the P3 too much re its controllability. Sure suits many tho!
    Chris - P95
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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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    Member Array 02PSD4ME's Avatar
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    I carry one every day in a Desanti Nemesis pocket holster. Living in South Florida and most of the time wearing only shorts and a t-shirt, this is sometimes the only weapon that I carry, and it disappears in my pocket.

    I have well over 1800 rds thru it and it is a great little shooter, it has never let me down at the range.

    Is this the Perfect Pocket Pistol? i don't know if there is such a thing, but I like it a lot.
    02PSD4ME

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    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Like That One Song Goes
    If it makes you happy,
    then it can't be that bad...

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    Member Array Puppage's Avatar
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    "Mine is carried pretty much every day all day"

    Lee, how do you carry it? In a pocket holster or do you have a clip?
    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to
    rule." - H.L. Mencken

  15. #14
    Distinguished Member Array RSSZ's Avatar
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    My "take" on the KEL-TEC P-3AT. I bought this weapon several months ago from one of my female students that couldn't handle the recoil. Her husband was "doing her a favor"by buying this weapon for her for her B-day. Hey-guys---don't do this "for" the little lady. No surprises. Get them involved in the shopping/buying process of any of "their" weapons.Especially one that is so very important to their own safety. The little lady ended up borrowing a S&W J frame and some non +p loads and she fell in love with it. Anyway, I ended up buying the KEL-TEC from her husband so he could afford to pick her up a small Taurus which I hear she now shoots very well. I have professed to be a one weapon kinda person and I still basically am. I figured that the P3AT would be great for those quick trips to buy more lawnmower gas after you got half the grass cut. Also I have several lonely widow women in the neighborhood that are always asking me to come down and fix/"take a look at" their whatever. Ten months out of the year down here in Fla.,I wear shorts and while working in the yard or in the garage on my truck or boat I wear the kind of shorts with an elastic waistband.(no belt)Or drawstring only. This little weapon is perfect for this application. I do not carry this weapon as a BUG. Although, on certin instances where I felt the need,I surely could/would. This weapon is kept in a little box on a cluttered shelf in the garage. That way if I have to run to the corner store for some gas it is easy to grab and drop into a pocket.--------- My weapon is a Gen2 model with a HJ5XX ser no.It also has the green frame.This weapon had only 30rds through it when I bought it. I tore it down and thoroughly cleaned it. I did a modified F&B on it. I used my Dremmel tool,a felt wheel and some polishing compound ONLY. I did all surfaces of the pistol that rubbed on each other during the firing cycle. Especially the feed ramp and the chamber. They now look and feel like glass. I also contoured the front of the mags and the feed lips. I put 3;50rd boxes of Blazer through it and started trying some potential carry loads. I put another 40 or so rds.of the "good" stuff through it. CorBon is way too hot for double taps. The Hydra shocks shot fairly well as did the Magtechs. I settled on Speer Gold Dots. The GD's will shoot into a 3" group a little right of center at 10 yds(well rested). At 7yds I can put 6+1 on a 6" pie plate in 4 secs. That's without too very much practice. This is a little gun. (under 10oz loaded with 6+1)The recoil is stiff. This weapon is not a female's weapon for CCW. A lady would be much better served carring a small revo. And of course a .38 spec. is allot more powerful than any .380. My perticular P3AT is reliable,easy to disassemble,very easy to carry,not real powerful as the CCW weapons go,cheap to practice with and seems to be put together kinda well. This weapon(my weapon) will not be used for plinking,target shooting,or a BUG. It will be grabbed outta it's little box in the garage and taken for a ride once a week or so to the corner store and back. That's all. Nothing more. For this,I believe that the little KEL-TEC will serve me well. The above are my observations. I'm sure that some opinions will differ.----------

  16. #15
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    I could see that Kel~Tec being a super nice, light & quick firearm to pop into a "short pants pocket" on a hot summer day.
    Cripes...it's worth the asking price for that purpose alone.

    Incidently, I am also using Gold Dot for carry in my Walther .380 & it seems to be the best "ammo choice" for the PPK/S also.
    At least for mine anyway.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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