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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(part 1/2)

I thought I'd finally post my longer term impressions and experience with my 2nd gen P3AT, if only for posterity, though maybe Kel-Tec might read this and find some useful customer feedback.

Serial #J5K.. for those who track such things.

I've had it out to the range about a dozen trips, including two IDPA like matches and a steel plate match. All total I've run around 1500 rounds through it.

I broke it in on budget Independence 90gr ball ammo, around 200 rounds. Had frequent failure to feed, about every 4-6th round, for the first 50 or so rounds and things started to smooth out quite a bit after that. Went through the last 50 rounds or so with no feed issues. At the end, after a cleaning, tried some Federal HydraShocks, but had major failure to feed issues. Seemed like one out of three or four jammed. Eventually worked through the 20 round box, but was not happy with the results. The gun produced several smileys,.

After the initial break in range trip, I did an IDPA like match, using WWB 95gr FMJ SWC, and had a few failure to feed about every 20-30 rounds or so, probably due to the SWC bullet as opposed to the ball ammo I broke it in with. After the match, I also tried some Winchester 85gr JHP Silvertips through the gun with similar reliability to the FMJ SWCs. Mostly OK, but still some feed issues.

(BTW, I advise wearing a glove if you plan to run a couple hundred rounds through a P3AT on a single day, as it can really eat into your hand around the thumb webbing. It had worn off enough skin to draw blood by the end of the match ;-)

I then broke down and did a fluff-n-buff (IMO one shouldn't have to do such things to a new gun to make it function reliably, but... oh well). I payed particular attention to putting a mirror finish on the feed ramp and polished down a bit of the frame just below the feed ramp where there were signs of wear.

Well, the fluff-n-buff definitely did the trick insofar as feeding issues were concerned. Ran through a box of WWB FMJ SWC and a box of JHP Silvertips without a single failure to feed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Long term report/impressions

(part 2/2)

Shot another IDPA like match, this time with Independence ball ammo and had no feeding issues whatsoever which was encouraging (this time I made a point to put a bandaid at the "wear points" to avoid the abrasion incurred during the previous match). Unfortunately, near the end of the match, the gun stopped firing. Turned out the trigger pin had backed out, though I didn't figure that out until I got home.

Tapped the trigger pin back in, which seemed to resolve the problem, and ran a WWB through it just to be sure. But after around 30 rounds, the pin had backed out again. Tapped it back in. Another 20-30 rounds. Tapped it back in. Another 20-30 rounds, etc. Later put some blue locktite on the pin. That seemed to fix it.

Most recently, shot in a steel plate match. Overall, gun performed without any feeding issues (BTW, I've never had a failure to eject with this gun) but near the end of the match, after around 100 rounds, again the trigger pin backed out. This time, though, even when pushed back in, it wouldn't stay put for more than 8-10 rounds.

After getting home, decided to get intimate with the innards of the gun and disassembled the frame and the trigger assembly. I happened to actually have a new trigger on hand (Kel-Tec had sent me a new trigger to replace some cosmetic damage to the original trigger caused by a defective trigger shoe).

When installing the new trigger and replacing the trigger pin, put actual superglue on the pin and a bit in the hole of the axis around the spring loop. Put the gun back together and it seems to be holding after about 50 rounds, but my confidence remains impacted by my experience thus far.

I also have the slightest beginning hints of a peening problem in my slide (chrome, BTW, for those who care). Nothing particularly pronounced, but something I will be keeping my eye on closely.

Now, some folks might argue that the P3-AT really isn't meant to be shot in 200+ round matches (no matter how masochistic the shooter might be ;-) and it's not fair faulting the gun for not holding up.

However, I'm a firm believer that insofar as concealed carry is concerned, the gun you carry should be the gun you practice with and if one of your primary carry guns is a P3-AT then you should do a respectable amount of shooting with it -- especially given the fact that its size, weight, short sight plane, etc. make shooting it effectively much more of a challenge. I also feel that a gun that can't last 1000 rounds before a major mechanical failure has a quality issue.

After a couple months of ownership, and close to a couple thousand rounds through it, I'm left very pleased, even infatuated, with the features of the gun but dissatisfied with the quality and reliability (which seems to echo the greatest majority of reviews and opinions written about the P3-AT).

A fantastic warranty, and outstanding customer service (both of which I give Kel-Tec full marks for) can IMO never make up for unreliability in a carry firearm, so while it's great to be able to send my P3-AT back to the factory again and again and again and again as often as needed to repair/resolve/replace whatever might at that point in time be ailing it, or get any number of spare parts anytime I need to fix something myself, I'd much rather never have need to enjoy such excellent service and be able to count on my gun to go "bang" again and again as needed.

In summary, and the one thought I'd like to leave Kel-Tec, if they're reading, is that I carry a P3-AT because at the moment, there is no better choice for ultra-lightweight pocket carry with at least a minimally reasonable load -- but the quality/reliability issues leave me "primed" to jump at the first competitor that offers the same light weight but superior quality/reliability for a price I can afford.

Cheers!
 

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After your initial break-in and F&B, it sounds like the trigger pin was the only real issue and it looks like you fixed that.

If I were going to use my P-3AT to shoot hundreds of rounds at matches and very frequent practice, it would be a good idea to have two of them. One broken-in and tested for carry, the other to shoot the heck out of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
alamo said:
After your initial break-in and F&B, it sounds like the trigger pin was the only real issue and it looks like you fixed that.
Well, actually, I've fixed it several times. I'm certainly hoping that the most recent fix will be a lasting fix, but I'll always be waiting for it to fail again...

I'm also looking at the beginnings of a peening problem.

I guess my point is that I'm left wondering if the convenience of such a compact, light wonder of a pistol is worth not being able to fully trust it. There's no garuntee that any gun, however well built, will not fail at the least opportune time, and as I noted, I trully am infatuated with this little wonder, but I just wish it exhibited a bit more reliability.

One of the things I love about my SP-101 is that it is built like a tank. I expect it will outlast me by a very long margin. Of course, it's also heavy as a tank (in comparision to the P3-AT ;-)

If I were going to use my P-3AT to shoot hundreds of rounds at matches and very frequent practice, it would be a good idea to have two of them. One broken-in and tested for carry, the other to shoot the heck out of.
Certainly something to think about.
 

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I guess the way I look at it is that it needs to function reliably for the first  6+1.  Sometimes problems develop after extended shooting sessions with loss of lube and build up of powder residue.  My P-3ATs have always gone bang the first 7 rounds. I generally only shoot 50 at a time starting with the rounds I've been carrying as a check, no extra cleaning & lubing prior to shooting.  I check it carefully after each session and clean and lube it well.

I had a few break-in jams with my first P-3AT but nothing since. I have 2 P-3ATs and 2 P-32s.  I don't shoot as much as I should these days but don't shoot the carry pistols much.
 

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I don't think George Kel-gren ever intended for this pistol to be used in such a way.  Due to it's ultralight construction and size, the heat and stress that develops in this pistol when you repeatedly fire hundreds of rounds through it are certainly going to take it's toll.  Look at what other IDPA shooters are using.  There is a reason that they generally use service grade pistols and I'm sure you see even those 2 pound steel pistols have the occassional meltdown.  You have seen how this pistol is built.  Do you really expect it to hold up under such punishing circunstances?

The P3s are intended to be backup weapons or deep concealment guns that can save your bacon should the need arise.  If they can dump a mag when you need it, they have done their job.  Kel-tec pistols are not range guns, target pistols or duty weapons and practically no one here pretends they are.  My advice to owners is to shoot them several hundred rounds to establish initial reliability.  Then carry them a lot and shoot them a little... a couple of mags when you visit the range to shoot other guns. Keep them clean, tuned and well lubed.  

If you are going to continue to abuse your P3, I would follow Alamo's advice and get one or two more.  All things considered, I think it has held up reasonably well.  If you continue this regimen, I can almost assure you that will not continue.  Kel-tec pegs the life at 6,000 rounds, but that is probably assuming you do not heat it up like you are doing.  Of course when it crashes, they will rebuild it for you.

patrickstickler said:
...I carry a P3-AT because at the moment, there is no better choice for ultra-lightweight pocket carry with at least a minimally reasonable load -- but the quality/reliability issues leave me "primed" to jump at the first competitor that offers the same light weight but superior quality/reliability for a price I can afford.
You may be waiting a long time.  I don't think it is possible to build a weapon this small, light and cheap with any better results.  Something would have to give.  The NAA Guardian, for instance, at twice the weight and $150 more fairs no better, IMO.  The Seecamps may be better but they too are heavier and even more expensive than the Guardian, and they are not without issues.  Then there is the R9' at $1000 and more 50% more weight...  well check out their forum for the current crop of problems.  Of all the other U.S. manufacturers, NONE even have a entry in this category.  I wonder why not?   :-/

I do appreciate your post, none-the-less.  It's interesting that someone has the guts to shoot a P3 in IDPA matches.  I bet you get your share of attention and it was interesting hearing the history of your gun under torture test conditions.

P.S.  For your benefit, I hope Kel-tec does not read this thread.  They may invalidate your warranty.   ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
TxCajun said:
I don't think George Kel-gren ever intended for this pistol to be used in such a way. Due to it's ultralight construction and size, the heat and stress that develops in this pistol when you repeatedly fire hundreds of rounds through it are certainly going to take it's toll. Look at what other IDPA shooters are using. There is a reason that they generally use service grade pistols and I'm sure you see even those 2 pound steel pistols have the occassional meltdown. You have seen how this pistol is built. Do you really expect it to hold up under such punishing circunstances?

The P3s are intended to be backup weapons or deep concealment guns that can save your bacon should the need arise. If they can dump a mag when you need it, they have done their job. Kel-tec pistols are not range guns, target pistols or duty weapons and practically no one here pretends they are. My advice to owners is to shoot them several hundred rounds to establish initial reliability. Then carry them a lot and shoot them a little... a couple of mags when you visit the range to shoot other guns.

If you are going to continue to abuse your P3, I would follow Alamo's advice and get one or two more. All things considered, I think it has held up reasonably well. If you continue this regimen, I can almost assure you that will not continue. Kel-tec pegs the life at 6,000 rounds, but that is probably assuming you do not heat it up like you are doing. Of course when it crashes, they will rebuild it for you.

You may be waiting a long time. I don't think it is possible to build a weapon this small, light and cheap with any better results. Something would have to give. The NAA Guardian, for instance, at twice the weight and $150 more fairs no better, IMO. The Seecamps may be better but they too are heavier and even more expensive than the Guardian, and they are not without issues. Of all the other U.S. manufacturers, NONE even have a entry in this category. I wonder why not? :-/
All very good points. I guess I'm (not alone in) wishing one could achieve the degree of compactness of the P3-AT with the durability of a service grade pistol. I'm either expecting too much from the P3-AT or have not fully come to terms with the compromises inherent in carrying a firearm which achieves such compactness.

More to think about... ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
TxCajun said:
I do appreciate your post, none-the-less. It's interesting that someone has the guts to shoot a P3 in IDPA matches. I bet you get your share of attention and it was interesting hearing the history of your gun under torture test conditions.
;-)

Well, I did certainly get a fair amount of friendly ribbing, especially from the guys shooting 45s, not only for the size of the P3-AT but also for shooting 380s, but then they also ribbed the guys shooting 9mm and 38 revolvers as much (makes me wonder if 45 shooters need such big bullets to compensate for something, eh? ;-) I just told most folks I was shooting my BUG that day and that was usually the end of it.

Good fun, regardless.
 

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It doesn't hurt to wish. I think gun technology is constantly improving. If our 2A rights remain relatively in tact, we may eventually see other entries in this class of pistol. I do not, however, think anyone will be able to compete with Kel-tec's price point. Many complain that they need to improve QC. Basically, their guns are already under priced. Anything else they do will increase costs. At that point, they loose their competitive edge. Oh I think there are some things they could do differently for about the same money, but I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of manufacturing Kel-tecs. I do know that they have been making and selling 1000 P3ATs every week now for nearly 4 years. They must be doing something right. 8)
 

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Basically, their guns are already under priced. Anything else they do will increase costs. At that point, they loose their competitive edge. Oh I think there are some things they could do differently for about the same money, but I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of manufacturing Kel-tecs.

I also don't know the ins and outs of Kel-Tecs manufacturing process.

However, I would gladly pay $1,000 for a P-3AT that was rock solid and didn't have any (very many) reported problems.

A "Custom Shop" version......perhaps.
 

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alphonso said:
However, I would gladly pay $1,000 for a P-3AT that was rock solid and didn't have any (very many) reported problems.  
Not me. I already have one. It cost $200, hard chrome. 8)
 

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patrickstickler said:
....have not fully come to terms with the compromises inherent in carrying a firearm which achieves such compactness.

More to think about...  ;-)
That's it, in a nut shell.  Like when Tom Snider was interviewing Tim Leary, he asked Tim "What about brain damage from the drugs?"  Tim looked at him, cocked his head over to the side, twitched three times and then said "Well Tom, you have to make tradeoffs."
 

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alphonso said:
Basically, their guns are already under priced.  Anything else they do will increase costs.  At that point, they loose their competitive edge.  Oh I think there are some things they could do differently for about the same money, but I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of manufacturing Kel-tecs.

I also don't know the ins and outs of Kel-Tecs manufacturing process.  

However, I would gladly pay $1,000 for a P-3AT that was rock solid and didn't have any (very many) reported problems.  

A "Custom Shop" version......perhaps.
...maybe u shud try to find urself a Colt Mustang Plus II... i have one in stainless(u can't have it :p) and it is a fine little weapon... 7 rounds of 380, compact and a pleasure to shoot... or the Government Model with a little longer barrel i believe...

absolutely not in the same class as the P3 with it's greater weight & size...but a fine weapon just the same...

it's beyond me why Colt quit making them and/or has not started making them again... ??? i wud think it wud b a great seller...

also i don't know if anyone has tried but the Mustang mag fits the P3...with a little modification to the mag and a different spring i bet the mag cud hold at least 8 rounds ???
 

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alphonso said:
IHowever, I would gladly pay $1,000 for a P-3AT that was rock solid and didn't have any (very many) reported problems.  

A "Custom Shop" version......perhaps.
Well, there's the Rohrbaugh which costs close to $1,000. They are very well made, with lots of fit and finish. They are fine pistols but it appears from browsing their forum that they are subject to the same finickiness that some Kel-Tecs suffer from. For various reasons, some need some tweaking or a trip back to the factory to run reliably.

There are various reasons but I think it mostly gets down to a relatively powerful round in a very small, lightweight pistol. I think this is why you'll never see a P-3AT or Rohrbaugh sized Glock. They don't need the headache, let the niche manufacturers have that market.
 

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kenzo said:
it's beyond me why Colt quit making them and/or has not started making them again...
Colt had more problems with the Mustang then they could keep up with. The return rate was very high for feeding problems.
Some worked fine, but many more didn't.

Besides, Colt has just about gone clear out of civilian handgun sales. All they still make is a few models of 1911's, and the Custom Shop SA Army. No more DA revolvers, and no more small pistols.

They just don't care to compete anymore it seems.
Plus, all the frivolous lawsuits from the N.Y. Mayor  Bloomberg's & N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin's of the world were about to bankrupt them.
I think they just got tired of fighting it and made a business decision to get out of handgun sales almost completely.


rcmodel
 

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i did have a few issues with FTF long ago until i did a little "fluff & buff" now all is well...

damn lawyers muck'n up everything now a days... worthless until ya need one ::)

i shoot my P3 and then the Mustang...night and day difference...the Mustang feels like "butta"... but Lord help ya when trying to get it out of ur pocket... :eek:
 

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kenzo:

I also love my litte Mustang (Pocketlite)! But I agree it's a little too big for a pocket!!

From what I have read Colt was sued by Kahr for Colt's patent infringement in the design of the DAO Pony. It caused Colt to throw in the towel for the whole pocket auto line.
 

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I agree with TxCajun.......break it in with a few hundred rounds.....then shoot a few now and then to be sure it is reliable. This pistol is definitely not designed for high volume rapid shooting. It is what it is and I love mine.
 
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