My P-3AT Road to Reliability ... Revisited

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by dyno, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. dyno

    dyno Active Member

    May 21, 2007
    I had a go anywhere reliable anytime P-3AT ...
    (see the quote from my 18 Nov 2008 post below.)

    I had solved my mag dropping problems with a metal mag catch.
    I remember thinking when I installed it ...
    "Hummmn I wonder if the sparse little lip of even this metal catch will eventually wear out just like the stock ones do?"

    Well I've received my answer ... at approximately 250 rounds later all mags started dropping again.



    I've gone back to a new Kt polymer mag catch and the original flat mag base plates.
    The pistol is 100% reliable in this configuration.

    My new paradigm for the pistol is to treat it like any machine that has expendables to it (like tires on a car, or oil & filters for an engine.)
    This is a new thought train for me as I cut my teeth on my Dad's Colt 1903 Pocket Pistol and my CZ 75 9 MM ... both will just shoot forever.

    No problemo though ... I've become adept at changing the mag catch with just a pair of needle nose, a long flathead and a dental pick.
    And I don't remove the frame from the grip to do it. It's not actually too hard to do after you've done a few.

    I figure I'll just replace part 205 and 208 (catch & spring) every 100 rounds and I'll be good to go.
    It's not too much to pay IMO for the ability to so comfortably carry a 380 in your pocket.


    From my original post 18 Nov 2008 ...

    My Road to Reliability …

    •      P-3AT NIB serial JCBxx , cleaned & lubed, shot 100 plus FMJ flawless  
    •      Started trying JHP’s, many FTF’s, Fluffed & Buffed which cured problems
    •      200 plus rounds & signs of peening began, JFB washer, peening halted
    •      250 plus rounds tried One Rd Mag Ext & KT Grip Ext, mags started dropping at percussion,  
           experimented w/my grip, no change, replaced mag catch, reliable again
    •      350 plus rounds assembled 10 Rd 3AT mag (Nu_Agin_Shooter’s Guardian mod)
    •      Started dropping all mags again … trip to Mother Ship- new grip & mag catch
    •      Upon return still dropping mags!?!  (P-32 then getting all the carry time)
    •      Considered NAA Guardian replacement … put all mags back to original flat base plate & became 100% again  
    •      Found source for metal mag catch, installed it & put my mods back on all mags ...
           now 100% through three mags of each, slow & rapid fire, one & two handed.

    It took me quite awhile, but now I have a well broken in 3AT that is carry reliable!  
    Everything I needed to know to make it happen came out of KTOG’s Search function.

    Thanks KTOG!!!


    So now adays I don't use any of those extentions ... they were nice, but I can shoot it just fine without them.

  2. dyno

    dyno Active Member

    May 21, 2007
    BTW    ...    a P.S. to my above post ... ... ...

    Not my intent to badmouth metal mag catches ... YMMV of course
    ... and I consider my mag catch purchase to have been a good one.

    Also of interest ... right after my P-3at started dropping mags again, I bought a Diamondback 380.
    Guess where it is currently?!!  It went back to the mothership last week for dropping mags after about 150 rounds.  :-/

    IMO the 380 in this size pistol is so close to the edge of performance that "stuff" can and will happen.
    ... ... ... never a problem of any kind with my P-32.


  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    Hard to understand your mag catch problem every 100 - 150 rounds.
    Maybe you have a bad grip with mold flash in the mag catch hole preventing full movement of the catch?

    My 5+ year old P3AT is still going strong on it's original plastic catch.

    I do make it a point to hold the catch in when inserting mags.
    Hold it in, seat the mag fully, and then letting go of the catch takes all the wear factor out of the equation.

    It also will help a lot to break the knife sharp edges of the catch holes in the magazines with a fine needle file & polish. Just round off the sharp edges enough so they aren't shaving sharp.

  4. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    Same here.  I don't have any problems with the factory catches and I insert mags the way rc described.  I can't imagine needing to replace the mag catch every 100 rounds.  Maybe every 1000.  

    Your stippling job looks great.  Any chance that process (heat) could have somehow warped your grip.  If the interior dimensions of the grip get out of whack, warping, etc, it may not provide a tight enough connection for the mag catch and it's slot, thus the mag catch could pop loose under the shock of firing.  

    Years ago, I had to heat the grip on a 1st gen P3AT where it bowed out around the assembly pin.  Actually, I bought the used gun like that.  In the process of heating and reshaping the top of the grip I overdid it and the grip apparently became slightly warped inside, although it was impossible to discern.  It would no longer hold the mag in place under fire no matter what, even with a couple of brand new mag catches installed.  The fix was replacing the grip after which it has always worked perfectly.  Years and many rounds later it still has the same plastic mag catch.
  5. dyno

    dyno Active Member

    May 21, 2007
    Thanks for the helpful replies you guys.

    One of the 1st things I learned on KTOG was the"right" way to handle inserting mags so that's not a factor.

    Your suggestions regarding the grip & mag catch hole could be germane remodel, thanks, I'll investigate those.
    TxCajun, those are "TractionGrips" on there, so I've done no heating of the grip ... Don seems to be a great guy there & I really like his product.
    But I do think it could be the loose play of the mag in the grip ... the grip was replaced at KT back a ways ...

    I'm thinking my hand hold puts pressure on the very bottom of the mags when the extensions are installed and the shock is enough to cause the wear you can see in the pics.
    Eventually the mags start to pop loose at percussion.
    My pistol is fine with the poly mag catch and straight flat bottomed mag plates.


    Thanks again for y'alls help.

    Maybe somebody else has some ideas ... do others see this kind of wear on this narrow little purchase area of their mag catch?
    Perhaps as rcmodel suggests, my catch should extend further into the mag catch hole.
  6. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    I have seen a few people who's had size/geometry was such that they put too much pressure on the curved mag extensions and thus a lot of downward pressure on the mag causing it to release when the gun went off. I've never seen anyone wear through a metal mag catch so I'm guessing your hand is a really tight fit about the extensions. Switching to the standard base plate should work or possibly the +1 extension that has no curve to it.  

  7. rhinokrk

    rhinokrk New Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Hmm... I've got over 1k rounds thru one and 800 thru another, I haven't replaced a thing other than an ejector lost a long time ago. May be time for new springs come to think about it.
  8. dyno

    dyno Active Member

    May 21, 2007
    "Ohhh Ahhh ... whitewash the Black Knights"

    Hummnnn is right --- This Kel Tec thing certainly can be a love - hate relationship.

    Suffice it to say that the vast majority of P-3AT's don't have any of the problems mine's been (continues) through.
    But I have much sunk into it and it sure is easy to stick in your pocket ...
    and thanks to KTOG & the great KT warranty I do have it good to go as a reliable self defense close in weapons system.

    It's true, I thought about selling it on more than one occasion ...

    Nahhhh ... it's in my pocket! ;)

    P.S. my P-32, PF-9 & Sub-2000 have all had flawless performance to date.

  9. menocu

    menocu New Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    I had the same thing happening w/the factory catches on my two P3ATs.. mag would eject w/every fired round. (yes, verified nobody was touching the button under recoil)

    Got two metal catches from Beach(? years ago..) and have never had a problem since.

    My only regret is that I sold one P3AT and left the metal catch in it.. and as far as I know there is nobody making metal catches anymore, so I'm hesitant to buy a new P3AT. (I miss having a pair)
  10. RPM_64

    RPM_64 New Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    Send an e-mail to KTOG member DaveNC... [email protected] DOT com (change the word DOT to .)  ;) he is making them. I have them in my two P-3AT's last one only a few weeks ago. He does nice work, and ships quickly.  :cool:
  11. Picatinny_Pete

    Picatinny_Pete New Member

    Sep 2, 2009

    I looked at your photos and your description of what was happening.  The problem may be caused by aftermarket magazine and accessories.  The dropping problem doesn't seem to be happening with stock magazines.  It might be that the extra weight is enough to eventual wear the magazine catch.

    Best Wishes:
  12. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME New Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    I sent my 2nd generation P3AT back to the factory in 2006 due to a weak magazine catch spring. They fixed it.
    Last year, I felt like the magazing catch spring tension was becoming weak again.
    I also was of the opinion that I did not need that magazine catch sticking out as far as it does.
    Taking matters into my own hands, I decided to "reduce" the amount the magazine catch protrudes.
    A couple of minutes with a Dremel tool and that magazine catch stuck out just about right. ;)
    With the catch not sticking out as far, after my "operation", I was satisfied with the magazine spring catch tension; I'm no longer worried about the magazine release accidently being pushed and dropping the magazine.
  13. Monolithman

    Monolithman New Member

    Jul 15, 2010
    Send an e-mail to KTOG member DaveNC... [email protected] DOT com (change the word DOT to .) ;) he is making them. I have them in my two P-3AT's last one only a few weeks ago. He does nice work, and ships quickly.

    Thanks for the heads up.  My problem is not just wear, but accidental magazine ejections in the pocket -- maybe a metal catch that is also shaved down would cure that????
  14. RPM_64

    RPM_64 New Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    Unless I press the magazine release, it stays in the weapon! I prefer these over the factory ones.