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1788 Views 23 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Ogre
I have a habit of buying garbage guns. So many forum commandos decried the Bersa Thunder .380 and Taurus Model 85 as poorly made pieces of crap, but I bought them anyway. A thousand or so rounds through each of them, and they still run like champs.

So many forum commandos claimed that if I was ill-advised enough to buy guns chambered for .380 or .38 special, then I was bound to be way-laid by posies of meth-crazed Aryan Brothers, and me and my family would be violated in horrible ways, and it would all be my fault because I didn't buy a 25mm chain gun for self-defense. Many years later the meth-crazed crazies have yet to materialize and I have not yet been waylaid by zombies when walking to the neighborhood store for some milk. Nor have flocks of migratory sex offenders and mass murders swarmed my home because they sensed I only had a .380 and a .38 special (and a VZ-82 chambered for 9x18 Makarov - another sure kiss of death according to the commandos).

So it was with amusement that I read all the many horrible reviews of the P3AT: It's ammo picky, it has to be cleaned after 50 rounds or it jams, it's a hopeless jamomatic, it will blow up on me, it's inaccurate, it's unpleasant to shoot, and it's butt ugly. I suspected that they were probably without merit (for the most part) so I recently bought one just cuz I wanted to and because I really could use something just a bit easier to conceal than the snubby. (The price was pretty dang good, too).

I've carried it for about a week now, and ran 150 rounds (100 Remington and 50 Hydra Shok) through it today. Having done this, I'd have to say that the critics are right: it is butt ugly, it is uncomfortable to shoot, and it is not notoriously accurate (but in a snubby sense). Where they are wrong is that it is not a jamo0matic, it is not ammo sensitive, it is not prone to self-destruction, it is not inaccurate (yes, I know I just said it was), and so far I have not been violated by rouge Klingon crack addicts who sensed that I was carrying this pea-shooter. Verdict? it's a damn good little gun!

I suppose that if you tried to run poorly made reloads or uber hot self-defense ammo through it, right out of the box and off the dealer's shelf without cleaning it first, and you limp wristed it (.380's - regardless of gun or manufacturer - are prone to this) then so many of those horror stories might be true. It's even possible that a few substandard P3AT's got past the boys in quality control over at Keltec, I suppose. Maybe, even, a few of the early 1st Gen guns were problematic.

Mine is a 2nd Gen, and it was flawless except for two stove pipes that I can only attribute to the nine round magazine since I never had a single problem with the standard six round magazine. of course, I cleaned it first, I spent a goodly amount of time working the slide and cycling rounds, and I did not expect it to have Glock accuracy. It is what it is - a very concealable .380 self-defense pistol. Perhaps it should be better considered an auto-snubby, because it is an automatic pistol with snub nose revolver qualities.
With it's short barrel and practically non-existent sights, it's about as accurate as a snubby - and like a snubby, if you put in the range time and learn to work with it on it's own terms you will be rewarded with some damn fine groups. Just don't spend too much time expecting two inch groups at 25 yards cuz you probably ain't gonna get it. However, four inch groups at 10 yards I think is not an unreasonable expectation.

And that's the rub: After 50 rounds, this puppy will wear you out, but you really need to run about 150 rounds through it to break it in (just like you probably should with any auto-pistol). My experience was to focus as much as possible on accuracy with the first 50 rounds, and then just plink away for the other 100. I'm gonna guess that it's pretty well broken in at this point, and from then on devote 50 rounds per month to honing accuracy and shooting skills. Get some snap caps and practice dry firing and cycling and reloading - much like you would with a snubby. I really don't think there is anyway around this, and you probably shouldn't be packing a P3AT (or a snubby) if you're not willing to do this.

I broke it in like I would any automatic pistol, and it responded like any other automatic pistol. After 100 rounds of FMJ and 50 rounds of Federal Hydra Shok self-defense ammo (my preferred .380 carry ammo), I'd have to say that this little guy is completely trust-worthy, and I'll carry it with complete confidence that when it doe need to be deployed it will perform its intended function without flaw - the threat will be neutralized. It's not a range gun, it's not a beauty queen, and it does not represent the pinnacle of Old World gun craftsmanship - it's a self-defense work horse (or work pony, as the case may be). It delivers an acceptable punch from an ingeniously small package, and it really is a wonder of engineering.
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Mongo, you are dead on! I am an old time fan for the S&W 36 and 60; however, they carry like you have a
growth in your pocket or waist. The P3AT is ONE great carry gun with seven rounds rather than five. I have
only had mine for two weeks, with approx. 100 rounds through it and only two FTF. Given that these rounds
were with no cleaning of a new gun, I think that is excellent from any auto pistol. Although I am still a fan for
the snub revo, I am now an equal admirer of the P3At. Carry one every day. Most of the "commandos" you
refer to are also "ex" "Navy Seals" or "Green Berets". HA

Take care,
You hit the nail on the head Mongo!. I have put 1000 rds (quit counting at 600) thru my P3AT without nary a problem. They can't be beat. I also love my Tauruses. not a prob there either.
Ogre said:
It delivers an acceptable punch from an ingeniously small package, and it really is a wonder of engineering.
+1 . . . for several years in my case.  :cool:

A great summary of what a P-3AT is and what it ain't!!! [smiley=thumbsup.gif]
... and welcome to KTOG.

Welcome Ogre,
You spoke well for a lot of us. I really like my P3AT. Traded it off one time and had to pay extra to get her back. Never again. If I'm wearing pants, it is with me. To know and understand a 3AT is to love it. Thanks
Welcome to KTOG!

I can speak from experience that under the right (most?) circumstances that a functioning P3AT is more than sufficient to save the day.

Bill K.
I was a dedicate snubby man for years. Still am. However, this little guy is a real trooper and makes for a great alternative. Like the naysayers, I read some positing from vocal fans that also went over-board and made claims that were a little unbelievable - mostly claims of really tight groupings at 15 or 25 yards that I thought were just a bit on the unbelievable side.

I don't think this gun is a rhino killer or some sort of magic talisman, but it is a damn fine weapon. Frankly, I don't see how it could be much improved other than maybe a slide lock (which is a personal preference issue) and maybe a slightly longer grip - say one that takes on a seven round magazine and increases the length by a 1/2" to give it a grip closer in length to my Model 85 snubby.

However, a Pearce finger extension should work pretty good, along with a Hogue grip wrap, and one of those belt clip things and this is gonna be a damn fine weapon indeed. I see this being my primary carry weapon. It's not a matter of being cheap, it's more of a matter of not being held prisoner to paranoid fear of the world around me. The world can be a dangerous place, but I'm gonna wager that in my world a P3AT in my pocket will be more than enough to counter any threats that I am ever likely to encounter.

Good shooting,
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Ogre said:
I have a habit of buying garbage guns. So many forum commandos...
Best... post... ever.
TK421 said:
[quote author=Ogre link=1302303705/0#0 date=1302303704]I have a habit of buying garbage guns. So many forum commandos...
Best... post... ever.[/quote]
I wouldn't go as far as saying it's butt ugly, I kind of like the way it looks. Sure out of the box with all the rough mold lines etc. it looks like a toy, but a little 600 grit sanding and those lines go away. Now it's smooth as can be, fits my hand with the finger extension pretty good and has been very very reliable with any kind of ammo I have thrown at it. I trust it to perform as well as my Airweight does if needed. Does it have the refined lines and fancy styling of say a Kimber ultra carry? No, but I could buy 3 p3at's and have money left over for ammo for the money. Since it is in my pocket all the times how it looks isn't really a concern. How it functions is and function wise I couldn't be happier. Mongo your post is about the best description for anone looking for one I have seen ;D
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Nothing wrong with butt ugly. This is a case of form follows function, and I think it's truly a great functioning gun. I don't take it for anything other than what it is: a very good pocket pistol chambered for an effective round. It's meant for concealed self-defense carry, so it doesn't need to be pretty - just reliable. I wouldn't care if it looked like a Japanese Nambu, as long as it works. And it does.

I think that part of the problem the critics have with it is the price and who makes it. It's a gun that runs less than $350, and it's made by a company that started out making parts for NASA. No doubt they go around sniffing "Well, it's not a proper gun." Then comes the real rub - it works, and works very well. To follow that out to it's logical conclusion, I think a bunch of gun snobs are feeling uncomfortable because they spent much more on a gun that is actually no better.

Take a Glock. $600ish. The only real "refinement" made in years is the ergonomics on the polymer half of the gun. The "Baby Glocks" are merely refinement on size. If you don't mind strapping on a brick or you're into competition shooting, then it might be the way to go. If you just can't bring yourself to pack a .380, then it might be the way to go. Still, $600ish for a pistol that is half polymer? I doubt it costs anywhere near that much to manufacture it, and they sure haven't sunk much money into R&D because the only real change is cosmetic. Maybe the "Baby" versions might warrant some of that price because cutting down a pistol to subcompact size involves a lot more than just taking a saw to it. At lot of work went into that, but it's still not really a pocket pistol. So, what it boils down to is paying for the Glock name. Not to take away from Glock, because it's a fine weapon - but $600ish? Really? It's half polymer, and even Glock's polymer is not superior to that used by Keltec.

You really can't pocket carry a "Baby Glock" You can IWB carry it, but then you really have to modify how you dress and worry about whether the wind will blow open your shirt, or worry that somehow your shirt will snag open and scare the life out of the mall moms. Really discrete concealed carry leaves either an ankle holster or pocket carry, and just try to rapidly access that ankle holster when seconds count.

I don't think most gun owners are really "gun nuts." They're often working stiffs who don't have $600 to $1K+ to lay out on a gun, and generally they don't want to have to strap on seven pounds or more worth of hardware just to do yard work or go to the grocery store. They often don't much care to debate the finer points of ballistics, so they want a round that is generally accepted to be an adequate self defense round. They don't care much about anything other than the gun being reliable, effective, and easy to operate and carry. (Hey, I just described myself). For the longest time, this probably meant a snubby, a Seacamp, or a Colt Mustang. If you're a big guy like me, this also could have included a Bersa, Walther, Sig P230/232, or a Makarov. For me, this was the snubby and Bersa.

Then comes Keltec, using space program technology to finally make a pistol that is reliable, affordable for the average Joe, is chambered for an acceptable round, and is truly capable of being pocket carried without a distinct print. It might have been copied over the years, but having fired both the Ruger and Kahr offerings, I can say that it has not been out-done. (I can't speak for the DB or Hellcat products, or any of the other products put out during the "Mouse Gun Wars").

Now that concealed carry is legal in most states you have many people flocking to buy a gun. Considering that most of these people are not "gun nuts" and most are simply looking for a reliable concealed carry weapon, it's no wonder that they flock to a weapon like a Keltec. The gun snobs will continue to sniff about it because most of these people will appreciate their Kimbers, Wilsons, Glocks, and Sigs as wonderful guns - but nothing to be worshiped. To make matters worse, these new comers and their "Kelcraps" (to use the common slur) will be just a well and reliably armed. The only problem I have with a good many Keltec owners is that they don't put in the range time like they should. This could be said about owners of other guns, but the problem is still serious - "spray and pray" can get a lot of bystanders killed or seriously injured, and six rounds of indiscriminately dispensed .380 rounds is a very bad thing.

I bought my P3AT knowing exactly what I was getting, both in terms of strength and weakness. I refuse to be held hostage to paranoid fears of crack-fueled zombies or hordes of sex offenders, and I really don't want to have to strap on a full-sized 1911 and spare magazines. I don't chase after the newest wonder guns or ammo. I don't need a frame made from unobtanium, and I don't want a rail with which to load-up gizmos like photon torpedo tubes or flame throwers. My social circles are pretty tame, and my biggest threat is a random meth-monkey looking to make some quick cash or a disgruntled probationer or parolee looking for easy payback. I just want an effective and reliable gun that I can drop down a front pants pocket and go ab out my bidnis. For the longest time that was my Taurus Model 85 or Bersa Thunder, but now its the P3AT (especially since .380 ammo supplies are on the increase). The other two are very good, but none offer the advantage of P3AT.
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Ogre, you have said it exactly.  I am not a gun nut, but I do have a reason to carry.  My P3AT fits the bill for 90% of my needs.  If I think I need more power, I have a .357 K frame that will go with me.
Bilbo said:
Ogre, you have said it exactly.  I am not a gun nut, but I do have a reason to carry.  My P3AT fits the bill for 90% of my needs.  If I think I need more power, I have a .357 K frame that will go with me.
Is that .357 a LadySmith? I had one of those once and let it go - to this day it's the only gun I ever got rid of and then really regretted later
Ogre said:
[quote author=Bilbo link=1302303705/0#12 date=1302463144]I have a .357 K frame that will go with me.
Is that .357 a LadySmith? I had one of those once and let it go - to this day it's the only gun I ever got rid of and then really regretted later[/quote]

It's a Model 66-2, 4", in stainless.  This thing is a flame thrower, and I like it! :D  Only problem is the "large" size, hence the P3AT.  I looked a long time for a 9mm in the sub size that I liked but just did not find anything small enough for daily carry.  At that point I found the 380 as a caliber that would work, and the P3AT was my final choice.

Now I am thinking a backup P3AT may be on the way.  Just something to keep in the safe in case I need a second.  At the price, this is an easy concept.
Hey theres another Bersa fan here! Cool. First time I have seen that gun mentioned. What do I expect, it is a Kt board. But if anyone is looking for something to shoot along with your 3at and is just as reliable, and economical you can't go wrong with Bersa.
Model 66 is a great gun, but you're right - there is no way to really conceal it. I'd like to get the P11, but I don't have the disposable cash to buy another gun anytime soon since I need to rebuild my supply of ammo. Seems like either the ammo companies are making more .380, or maybe people just are not hording it any more - either way it's a lot easier to get here of late. My local Wally World has the Remington FMJ for $17.95 a box, so I'll be buying a box or so a week as funds permit just to restock the ammo locker. Unfortunately, the days of cheap ammo are long gone, and $17.95 a box is the best deal I'm going to get around here. Maybe it might be cheaper on the internet, but when you factor in shipping and handling I'm gonna guess it comes out to about the same.
rebootit said:
Hey theres another Bersa fan here! Cool. First time I have seen that gun mentioned. What do I expect, it is a Kt board. But if anyone is looking for something to shoot along with your 3at and is just as reliable, and economical you can't go wrong with Bersa.
Bersa is the bomb! It's the gun Walther wanted to make when he designed the PPK. I think the only full-sized .380 that beats it is the Sig P232, but that costs about three times as much. However, no matter how good the Bersaa might be, it can't conceal like a P3AT!
If you don't need ammo today and can wait on average 3 days then check out I got a case of PMC which is great stuff for $14 a box after shipping 2 weeks ago. Brands in stock are always changing but they have great prices. Just stay away from the super cheap stuff they offer.
You guys are right. My P3AT has been my main carry gun for 5-6 yrs. Keltec got it right and it has taken the other manufacturers several years to try and catch up.
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