Before there was Kel Tec: The evolutionary Grendel P10

  1. Editor
    George Lars Kellgren's first .380 pistol was an innovative and curious design. This gun even nearly three decades later still holds the record for the largest capacity in that caliber in a 14-ounce pistol and it did it by the use of a rather 19th century loading method.

    Fresh from moving on from the old Miami-based company that took over production of the TEC-9 (which Kellgren had brought to the country from Sweden as the much better made KG-9), he set up shop in Rockledge, Florida with his Grendel company. While pursuing a number of forward thinking designs for rifles and shotguns, he first came up with the notion of a polymer pocket pistol chambered for the long-classic .380ACP (9x17mm Browning).

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    The design

    In 1988 Kellgren's new gun, the P10, was one of the few polymer-framed firearms on the market. With the exception of the Austrian Glock 17 that had only begun to wash up on the country's shores (which was still two years away from its infamous screen debut in Die Hard II as a "plastic gun"), it was largely a unique piece of combat Tupperware.

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    The five-component blowback action pistol (barrel, slide, frame, grip, trigger/hammer pack) used a 3-inch SAE 4140 ordnance steel barrel contained in a milled steel slide for added strength. The interior of the grip, rather than have a traditional magwell, consisted instead of a polymer-composite internal magazine that was fed through the open chamber by a stripper clip from a locked back slide.

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    This allowed a very decent 10-shot capacity in a small frame as it did away with the need for feed lips, baseplates, mag releases and other items that take up precious space. With those not needed, those extra millimeters added up to grant more cartridges.

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    Kellgren wasn't the first to come up with the concept. In fact, many early European semi-autos used such a method.

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    From left to right you see the German 1896 Mauser Broomhandle pistol, the Austrian Roth Steyr Model 1907, and the Austrian Steyr-Hahn Model 1912, all stripper clip fed handguns.

    It was a very simple design, with just 32-parts, one less than Gaston Glock's famous handgun. To fire the gun uses just four moving parts--trigger, transfer bar, hammer, recoiling firing pin. In addition, yes, as you probably noticed, it's not striker-fired.

    Weighing in at just 15-ounces, the 5.3-inch long handgun was the same profile as many "pocket pistols" such as the old Colt 1908 Vest pistol-- but with a larger caliber and more ammunition.

    Getting your own

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=claf_43Y66w
    GunWebsites sends the P10 through its paces

    The P10 was only made for four years, replaced by a follow-on design, the P-12, which used a more traditional magazine. Once Grendel closed shop and morphed into Kel Tec, people lost interest in these guns for a generation and just a few years ago you could find used models available for as low as $75.

    Currently however, they are growing in collectability and are breaking $200 in a search of recent online auctions and their popularity as a curio is rising. It is believed that less than 10,000 of these guns left the factory.

    While most are blued, there was a small run of chromed models produced.

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    The Holy Grail would be one NIB with all the accessories that included a threaded muzzle brake, grip extension, and mini-mag flashlight:

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    And don't forget the loading tool complete with M16 stripper clips!

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    Keeping it running

    As many on our forum have found out, this is not a gun that you want to perform a complete disassembly on. If you can get away with fieldstripping for cleaning and parts replacement, by all means stick to that. The process is easily enough to figure out with the help of the manual found here and here online for free download.

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    John Torelli's Jersey Small Arms Gunsmithing is one of the few Grendel experts out there and according to him; he bought the last known stock of new P10 parts available out there.

    Moreover, with the fact that it's a 10+1 .380ACP that weighs just 15-ounces, it can still hold its own as a personal protection piece if needed.

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