Kel Tec P3AT

by SL Freeman
(Houston Texas)

P3AT and Holster

P3AT and Holster

With one important caveat. The Kel Tec .380 must be broken in. Thats 5 or 6 hundred rounds. I was personally very disappointed with the little gun until it broke in. Now I trust it.

My test of the baby semi today is to start at the range with the seven rounds I have been carrying. The gun comes out of the pocket and must function 100% or I am going gun shopping. I've had this one for 3 years. It also forces a forgetful person like myself to change out the ammo on a regular basis.

A P3AT is slim and nearly fits in the palm of your hand. It is literally a pocket pistol. I usually carry in an inexpensive pocket holster in my back pocket. They are worth your consideration.

Webmaster Comment: If you have to take 500-600 rounds to "break in" this gun before it is dependable, most people will never get it broken in. Shooting the gun is a study in misery and putting 50 rounds through it in a single session is challenging to say the least.

I appreciate the writer's determination and durability in breaking it in, but this gun suffers from what all "pocket guns" suffer from. They cannot be depended on to operate consistently.

Everything you need to accessorize or repair your firearm

Comments for Kel Tec P3AT

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Apr 15, 2015
Well that was a nice NEW
by: Anonymous

Well that was a nice review about the kel tec. I am new to these guns as well as shooting. I feel very impressive to go through each of your share. In my child hood my uncle who's an assignment expert use to carry this gun, and it's very scary to me to hold it. But now i am anticipating to make try with shooting.

Feb 26, 2015
my favourite NEW
by: channingck

All the guns that you guys posting are so classy that it never lose its value even if it became old. I love you guys, because I love guns. And KEL TEC P3at isElectronic Medical Recordsone of my favourite machine I ever had in my collection.

Sep 27, 2012
keltech frustrations NEW
by: Anonymous

I will never buy another Keltech product again my 9mm has been the most unreliable gun ever and it was very frustrating trying to get the ejection port to work in the middle of firing at the range,plus there seems to be no one who can help me to fix that gun so I might sell it or melt it depending on how much more frustrated I get I wish someone from Keltech would contact me but they wont and I guess that is what's even more frustrating...

Sep 23, 2012
Nothing is perfect, however, NEW
by: Fritz

Out of the box: Feed ramp polishing is a must. A dremmel tool with a small polishing pad will do the trick +FLIX for THAT item. Then, before you shoot (I didn't) take an Allen wrench and check the Botton Cap and extractor spring tension. It will probably be tight, but check it anyway. After 50-100 or so rounds, check it again. If your issue was like mine, the botton cap had backed off and lessened the extractor spring tension to the exent that you could not see it, but the extractor blade didn't seat into the shell casing snugly, and FTE occurred sporatically. I took out the Botton Cap, cleaned it and the threads into the side mount of the slide, then I applied BLUE locktight (NOT THE PERMANENT RED!). The Blue holds the button cap thru box after box of rounds and can 'easily' be backed off with an Allen wrench if you want to replace the extrtactor at some point. CAUTION: Taking out the Botton Cap releses the firing pin, so when you reassemble you need to rotate the firing with the flat side toweards the Button Cap, hold it it and begin to tighten the Button Cap so that the Button Cap screw tip seats into the FLAT side of the firing pin. After the Button Cap is in a bit, you can release the firing pin and finish up with the Button Cap, as the tip should hold the firing pin in along the flat ledge machined into the firing pin. After that, you 'should' have no issue with losing extractor spring pressure,and hopfully, no more FTEs. ALSO-STAY AWAT FROM TULAMMO 380 -the raer of the casings are not machined at a contour to receive the extractor with a positive seat. 'TULA" simply has a small groove around the casing butt,and the P3AT extractor will struggle (and mostly) fail to seat and grap the casing and pull it back (my experience)ANYTHING but TULA and my P3AT does fine. There is a way to get an over & under sight into the little slide. It's easy and really works well for, if needed, a fast line up with the smaller upper dot lining up easily with the slightly larger lower dot (both hand drilled delicately into the slide with your choice of enamel appliance or 'glow
paint for both drilled indentations. This REALLY helps when you're at the range. Not sure why Kel Tec doesn't get this done at the factory. But as yoiu know, if you're up close and need to act, you aren't going to need the sights anyway. Hope this helps others to have a bit more confidence in the P 3AT.

Aug 13, 2012
One flaw NEW
by: kenmike

My P3AT goes everywhere in my bolt holster. After 200 + rds I've never had a mis-fire or jam. Only one problem and this is serious enough that I'm sellin it and tradaing for some other weapon.
Problem: Everytime I fire it the recoil bucks the gun up and back, my thumbs strike the eject button and the mag pops down. Thus, the weapon is only good for the one first shot!!

Aug 09, 2012
re: trigger pull NEW
by: Bob F

Either get used to it, or sell it. Even if you could smith this gun to have a shorter pull, that would be crazy! Think of this gun as a little, thin revolver, and you will probably not feel the need to change it anymore. The trigger is not a button, it is not a lever, it is a trigger. It should be tripped with an increasing velocity all the way through. Of course, it is not a revolver, but the operation is similar and much more pleasant if you compare it that way.

Aug 08, 2012
trigger pull NEW
by: Anonymous

The p3at is a very easily concealed weapon , my only complaint is the extremely long trigger pull. Can a gunsmith remedy any of this or is it what it is.

Jan 27, 2012
.380 kel-tec problems (won't eject) NEW
by: hanvin375

purchased .380 kel-tec p3at 3wks ago and have fired no more than 41 rounds. would not eject at least 50% of the time. the book said needs to be fired 50 to 100, but that's crazy. ruger doesn't have that problem. took it back to the dealer, get this, he said "more than likely it's the shooter." was not happy about his remark. called his bluff "lets go out on the range and show me what i'm doing wrong." no comment. i had a p89 ruger 9mm never had a problem. the dealer is going to send it back to the kel-tec for me. hope that does it, i like the gun. perfect carry gun.

Jan 08, 2012
P3AT a necessity NEW
by: Bob

I am a bean pole and sometimes this is the only thing I can conceal, esp in athletic clothing. I like it. I don't see what the fuss is. I can shoot 2 boxes of white box ammo even hollow points, with no problems or pain. Comfort doesn't mean anything, but it isn't too "uncomfortable other than the small grip. A 9rd grip ex. mag makes it a breeze.

Soak the barrel and slide in transmission fluid a couple days, it works into the metal, works flawlessly out of the box.

Dec 18, 2011
Kel-Tec reliability NEW
by: Doug Of Kilgore, Texas. s

I have an old model P3AT and the newer improved one and both worked without any problems out of the box. The only fault I can find on both guns is the bullet hits the feed ramp enough to crease the nose. On Blazer ammo, the bullet is actually set back enough to notice which increasas pressure. Kel-Tec didn't consider this much of a problem....

Feb 11, 2011
No Problems at all.
by: Tony S.

I read the comments out there about the guns that may have defects or have problems (P3AT), what about the thousands of guns that work seemlessly. I have never had an issue out of my P3AT, even with the normal pocketful of lint that i pull out of the gun when I go to bed at night. I love my P3AT and am sorry for those have problems.

Jan 31, 2011
keltec p3at .380 cal.
by: heckler

I Bought a keltec p3at .380 auto.The 1st couple of mags i put through it I was pissed,the gun jammed about every other round.So i took it apart to look for burs left on slide or anything that looked out of the ordinary oiled her up put her back together same thing.So i opened the manual and was reading and it said it needed a break in period of about 100 rounds i believe.And almost to the 100th round the gun fired flawlessly and still does.I suspect I have run about 300 rounds through it now and no problems so far.I Love it now because the only reason i bought it was for riding my motorcycle in the summer.I Cant believe how accurate it is also.But ive had numerous friends have had them and it seem like some function fine and others dont.Theres no inbetween though they either are accurate and functional after the break in period or they are junk.I love mine.My brother had bought a keltec 9mm though and nothing but problems so bad our local gun shop more less had to threaten keltec to get something done.But our local gun shop ended up giving my brother a gun of similiar value for free why they dealt with keltec.Heckler.

Nov 28, 2010
by: The OP

In the years since I wrote some comments on my little p3at a few things have happened.
First I took it out once to clean and noticed the trigger would pull but the hammer would not drop. How long had it been that way, while being carried? Off to Florida it went. Came back a month later with unknown repairs to the trigger group. Fired 50 flawless rounds and noticed the recoil guide springs were now hanging out of the front of the slide. Turns out there were some over-machined slides in the early 2nd generation. This means Kel Tec knew of the problem but chose not to tell anyone. Back went the slide on another Florida vacation. Only be replaced with a new parkerized slide. No complaints but thank God the gun caved at the range. Was going to retire it to safe queen status or sell it but decided to shoot it once more. 100 perfect rounds later, I decided to keep it around. But I am still going to buy the new S&W Bodyguard .380 with the exception of their Sigma line I trust S&W much more than KT. I may even post up some notes.

Nov 27, 2010
Kel Tec pf9 and crimson trace
by: Anonymous

I have a keltec p3at 380 pistol that right now i dont carry, it hag a hang fire issue, i will send it to kel tec and they will fix it..... now i need a backup gun for work, and for this i use a kel tec pf9 9mm pistol, this gun has never jammed and is dead on accurate at 20yards with my crimson trace laser on it, i carry it in a mika pocket holster in my left front pocket and use it AS A backup to my Glock 23 40 cal duty pistoli trust my life to both these pistols, neither one has ever jammed or failed to fire, the Glock is equipped with a laser sight as well....

Nov 27, 2010
500 rounds???
by: Anonymous

I didn't need to run 500 rounds through my P3AT to assure its reliability. All I did to mine was to field strip it, clean it, and use 400 grit wet-dry sandpaper to smooth and polish the guns feeding ramp and unblued metal parts; paying particular attention to the slide rails; then I just lightly lubed the gun and rails. It was very simple to do, and there was a free video on You Tube that showed me exactly how to do it, step by step.

I recently fired about 85 rounds of PMC brand FMJ through the gun over two days with not a single hiccup. Contrary to a lot of the stuff I've read, I didn't find the recoil or blast of the gun to be objectionable either. In fact, I thought it was a very mild shooting gun considering its light weight in relation to the size of bullet it shoots. Bottom Line, I consider my P3AT to be completely reliable when using the good quality (meaning correctly head-spaced)standard velocity BRASS-CASED FMJ ammo that it was built to shoot.

I still wouldn't try using aluminum-cased ammo, or steel cased ammo through it, or any kind of reloaded ammo, or any type of el cheapo ammo that may not be correctly head-spaced, and I wouldn't even think of using hollow points in it, either.

Aug 14, 2010
KelTec P3AT
by: Ted G

I've carried my P3AT 2 years now. Goes with me everywhere.
I attached a belt clip to the gun (works great) so no holster needed. Also added Crimson Trace laser & 7th round clip extension to two clips to add a little length to the grip. I polished the feed ramp & smoothed up a few rough spots. The gun works great & has never jammed. On occasion I will carry my Smith & Wesson 386 .357 airweight or a Para Ordnance P-12. My P3AT is so easy to carry with the side belt clip (I can even carry it tucked inside my gym shorts & no one can tell I'm packing). The laser is sited in at 30 feet & it shoots dead on. Ruger's little .380 has had one manufacturer recall. KelTec P3AT has never had a mfg recall. I love my P3AT!!

Aug 14, 2010
KelTec P3AT
by: Ted G

I've carried my P3AT 2 years now. Goes with me everywhere.
I attached a belt clip to the gun (works great) so no holster needed. Also added Crimson Trace laser & 7th round clip extension to two clips to add a little length to the grip. I polished the feed ramp & smoothed up a few rough spots. The gun works great & has never jammed. On occasion I will carry my Smith & Wesson 386 .357 airweight or a Para Ordnance P-12. My P3AT is so easy to carry with the side belt clip (I can even carry it tucked inside my gym shorts & no one can tell I'm packing). The laser is sited in at 30 feet & it shoots dead on. Ruger's little .380 has had one manufacturer recall. KelTec P3AT has never had a mfg recall. I love my P3AT!!

Aug 12, 2010
I love my gun
by: Eric

I am a deputy sheriff and carry mine as a backup gun. My wife got me this gun because I carry some type 24/7. Most instances a gun used in self defense is less than 7yds,who needs a laser? My gun stays in my pocket no matter where I go(Wal mart,grocery store) as a law enforcement officer, I am ready to defend myself or others! I recommend this gun for the first time carry due to its light weight and concealabilty. I have never had a jam of any sort.Kel Tec you make a great gun.

Jul 11, 2010
Kel Tec 3AT
by: Anonymous

Both my Kel-Tecs 3AT and P11 jam and misfire regularly. I have sent them both back to the factory for repair. They were sent back with a note saying that they are fine. They jam or fail to eject every 4th or 5th round. I do not carry them anymore for obvious reasons. I am very disappointed because they are small and easy to conceal carry.

Apr 04, 2010
Not a range gun
by: Charles

I have owned the Kel Tec P3AT for 2 yrs now and it is my summer carry gun. This gun is very accurate, and haven't had any problems. I never shoot over fifty rounds at a time out of this gun, to painful. I have no problem with carrying this gun and sometimes forget I have it. That is the definition of a good conceal carry weapon.

Mar 14, 2010
by: Butch

I have had my KelTec for more than 4 years and it has never had a jam or missfire.I never had to break it in.It is my every day Bug.

Feb 19, 2010
kel tec
by: john b

I had a kel tec 32 and it would jam about ever 2nd mag. so I gave it away and bought a 9mm kel tec.It jams about ever two or three mags so I won't carry it.I don't feel I should have to shoot 300 rounds or polish a gun to make it dependable.I'm back to a good old 38 and I FEEL IF NEEDED IT WILL SHOOT.

Dec 31, 2009
Kel Tec P3AT
by: Anonymous

I had a Kel Tec P3AT for about 2 years, and as soon as the Ruger LCP came out, I traded in the KelTec for it, and couldn't be happier...

So far, the LCP has been super reliable, and hasn't jammed or failed to fire like my Keltec did...

I certainly could not depend on the KelTec to protect myself or my family, and I don't think most people should either... They need to redesign it, and come out with a better model before I'd even consider it, but then again I don't trust Keltec enough to carry anymore.

Dec 11, 2009
by: Jim

I like the laser because, I wear trifocals, and for open sights I either have to concentrate on the sights or target, with the laser I just put the red dot on the target, I prefer CT because of the button activator, have tried armalaser, OK but prefer CT. Something to consider is in a SD situation you will probably be at close range, and just point and shoot a necessity.

Dec 10, 2009
laser sights on Kel-Tec P3AT
by: Anonymous

For those of you who are using laser sights what do you think of them? How well would they work in a fast draw setting and which ones (lasers) really are user friendly in a critical one hand (not a good two hand grip) shoot out?

Dec 10, 2009
prefered carry
by: Jim

Been carrying mine for nearly 3 yrs, nearly all waking hrs, CT laser, OWB holster, Hornady CD's, +1 mag. Over 600 rds down range, and feel well protected.

Dec 07, 2009
kel tec p3at
by: Anonymous

I carry this pistol often mostly as a back up because my primary is a Kimber Ultra Carry II. I can shoot this gun and have no problems I can let my girlfriend shoot it and it jams. This gun requires a firm grip to shoot and function properly it does not fair well to limp wristing. That is the only problems I have ran into with this firearm.

Nov 16, 2009
Kel-Tec P3AT
by: Anonymous

I have had this little gun for over a year and enjoy it very much. I have not had to put hundreds of rounds through it. It is a very accurate gun. I have bought the side clip for it which allows me to clip it inside my pocket. If I want to carry it on the outside I put it in my Fobus Holster. I have 3 magazines for it and finger extension which help alot when you shoot the gun.

Oct 07, 2009
at today's prices?
by: Anonymous

Six hundred rounds of almost anything at today's inflated prices (thanks again, Mr. President)is beyond the reach of most people I know. There are more reliable weapons out there out of the box. Glock, H&K, and Sig come to mind. Most of these are larger than the P3AT but then again in a life or death situation larger guns mean larger and wider bullets, therefore bigger holes and hopefully a quicker end to something we all wish never happened in the first place. More money, invested in a more reliable gun right from the start seems a better investment than a semi-reliable minimally effective weapon. Guns are supposed to be comforting not comfortable. If the .380 was so effective, cost conscious Police Departments would issue them because they cost less. I don't see this happeneing anywhere.

May 29, 2009
Kel-Tec P3AT
by: Eric

I have owned a Kel-Tec P3AT .380 for 3 or 4 months now. It is not my normal carry gun, as I usually carry a Taurus 24/7 .40 S&W. However, I purchased the Kel-Tec for the specific purpose of carrying in the summer when adequate clothing isn't available for concealment of larger pistols. That said, I have not put hundreds of rounds through the P3AT. I did however, go straight to the range the day I bought it and shot a box of reloads through it. I also shot one clip of Powerball ammo which is what I carry in the gun for defense purposes. Not a single round jammed, misfired or misfed. I am highly confident that this gun will perform flawlessly if I ever have to use it for my defense. Rest assured though, that this gun may never see 500 rounds on the range. It is just too miserable to stand there and throw lead with this thing. It will get periodic test fires but never more than 50 rounds at a time.

Apr 23, 2009
Break-in and Jamming P3AT
by: Anonymous

I have had my P3AT for 3 months. I was very disappointed with it when I first got it. The gun is known to need a break-in of about 300 rounds, which I did not know, and also that it had problems with jamming. After doing some research, which I should have done before buying it, I would have known to polish certain parts of the barrel / receiver, and slide guides BEFORE using it the first time. After firing about 200 rounds and still having jamming issues, I called Kel Tec and they told me to run another 100 rounds (that would make 300)and if it did not clear up to send it back and they would fix it for free. During this time I found information on other owners who had to polish certain parts of the gun. What seems to be the problem, at least for some including mine, was that there are very small machine marks on the on the receiver ramp which causes the bullet or the lip of the cartridge where the bullet is inserted, to hang up. After polishing these few areas, removing some manufacturing burrs on the slide rails ..... THIS IS ONE SWEET DEFENSIVE GUN. Jamming issues are now not a concern for me and I have been able to fire hollow points, in rapid fire, with no hangups. I use a back pocket holster I bought from Stoners Holsters in Ohio, and find this to be a very comfortable combination to carry. My defensive ammo is Speer Gold Dot JHP. If you get a Kel Tec P3AT or own one, make sure you inspect the slide rails, barrel and reciever for machine marks. When I polished mine I use 1000 Grit sandpaper and polishing fiber. Be careful polishing ... the word is POLISH not sand or grind!! If you are not sure of how to do it get a gun smith or send it back to Kel Tec and have either of them do it. GL and God Bless

Jan 22, 2009
Mine works great
by: Just my Comments

I guess everyone has an opinion. I have had my Kel Tec P 3AT about 3 months now. It is a great conceal, carry weapon. I have put 200 rounds of Remington ammunition thru it and have NOT had even one FTF or FTE. I have had a 38 special and a 357 Mag for over 40 years, and both are very hard to conceal. I also have a Bersa 380 and a Taurus PT 140 40 Cal. I shoot as often as possible and really enjoy the P 3AT. It is usually my carry weapon because it is so easy to conceal. I think I like to shoot the Bersa best, but then, If it goes bang, I like it.

Jan 17, 2009
Kel-Tec Report
by: Gordon Vandermeulen

I have the Ruger LCP which is stangely similar (identical) and I agree with the assessment. It hurts to shoot this gun. Until I got the mag extension from Ruger along with the callback upgrade, my middle finger would slide off the gun . I also have a problem with my thumb to index finger webspace due to an accident. It's tender and breaks the skin easily. Therefore, this gun is for sale and I have ordered Kahr's 380. Much more pricey than kel-Tec or Ruger (about 2X the price), but should be more comfortable to shoot. From the specs and pictures, the grip is longer and more fingers will fit for a better hold, even though the gun is slightly shorter amd thinner than the LCP or Kel-Tec. Already own Kahr's PM9, so I have more confidence in their ability to build an acceptible gun. I'll let you know how that works out.

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