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We all love our Kel Tec pistols ranging from the rimfire magnum PMR-30 to the .32 and .380ACP model P-32 and P-3AT and the 9mm PF-9. However, a gun that popped up just for a minute and went away, and we wish Cocoa Beach would put back into production, is the mouse that roared-- the P-40.

Firearm Gun Trigger Starting pistol Gun accessory

(Photo by KTOG user P-40)

Why?

When George Kellgren put to bed his old Grendel company to form the new Kel Tec CNC group, the largest caliber handgun he offered was the PF-11, a beauty of a semi-auto polymer framed 9mm in double-action-only. Debuting in 1995, that parabellum-based pistol was an instant hit with the masses, its 3.1-inch barrel, and double-stack 10-round mag giving it a leg up on many of the popular CCW pieces of the day.

The thing is, America is a caliber-focused society among concealed carry shooters, with a segment of that population shying away from the old 9mm round in favor of heavier calibers like .45ACP. Well, Kel Tec met this demand with the compromise of the P-11, only redesigned to take the much heavier .40S&W chambering in 1998, and the 6-inch long P-40 was born.

Firearm Gun Trigger Starting pistol Revolver

(Now that's a handful of .40 Kel Tec)

Design

The lower frame of the P-40 is, literally, that of the 9mm P-11 with a gentle tweak. A composite polymer grip housing with a 7075 T6 aluminum (the same material as most AR-15 lowers) internal framework, it was strong and durable. DAO with a recessed bobbed hammer using an internal block safety (the P-11 used a transfer bar safety); the small pistol is a handful with determined grip needed to rack the carbon ordnance-grade steel slide. Speaking of which, the upper half is the model-unique part of the handgun, with the slide, steel guide rod, and 3.27-inch barrel setting it apart. Magazine wise, the P-40 held 9-shots in a flush-fit mag, or 10 in a +1 pinky extension.

Firearm Gun Trigger Gun accessory Starting pistol


The end-result was a near-pocket sized handgun that weighed just 15.6 oz. unloaded (23 ounces with a full mag) that gave the user the ability to carry 11 rounds of .40S&W as/when needed. This compared nicely to the Kahr CW40 (which was more expensive, has a single stack 6-round mag, and debuted six years after the Kel Tec P-40) and the 22-ounce 9-shot Glock 27. While recoil was a beast on these little pocket rockets due to the lightweight, it's still manageable.

Firearm Gun Trigger Gun accessory Gun barrel

(Note extension to bring the P-40 to an 11-round capacity)

History

The P-40 hit the ground running in 1999 with a MSRP of $325 with parkerized and hard-chrome models a little extra. Adjusted for today's dollars that is about $475, or what a Glock 27/Kahr CW40 go for wholesale currently-- which makes sense. However, this beautiful and unique Kel Tec big bore was not to be. Soon reports of problems arose that more often or not could be fixed. For instance, some users reported failure to feed issues with the gun that were actually due to limp-wristing.

Nevertheless, Kel Tec dropped the gun from their catalog by 2001.

Getting your own

Firearm Gun Trigger Gun accessory Revolver

(About as close as you can get to a pocket-carry possible 40S&W out there...)

In the past decade and a half since their being discontinued, the collector's value of these guns has risen significantly. By and large, the KTOG community is mystified that the gun is no longer in production. While Fjestad and Peterson only list the gun in their guides for $130-$275, good luck finding a nice one at that price. A typical price in online classifieds for all but shot-out guns runs closer to $350-$400.

Even though its discontinued, Kel Tec still sells new mags and extensions for the P-40 as well as offers support under their lifetime warranty. General consensus is that these guns have a 6000 round expected lifespan, which, if you shoot a box of rounds every quarter on the range to keep basic proficiency, means that you can expect a 30-year service life from your P-40 without too much of a problem.

Therefore, with that in mind, it is likely those still out there still have another couple of decades in them-- if you can find them.
 

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The P40 rules!
 

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Kel Tec also had a conversion kit for the P-11 to go to a P-40 by just changing the top parts. This was discontinued when sales of the P-40 finally became more established.
 

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A standard sized Hogue Handall fits nicely. Just shove up to the mag release button, then trim off the remaining material below the mag well.
 

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My P-40 is a safe queen and has had maybe three magazines of bullets through it without a hickup. It was just too snappy for me to shoot plus I already had My P-11. Since having the P-ll and P-40 we picked up two P-32's for deep concealment and still have them today. When the P3AT was introduced with the new ejector spring I bought one and It has been carried but never fired I've not followed KT for a long time and since reading here they make/ made a 22/22mag that I could be real interested in checking them out.
 

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My P-40 is a safe queen 9 months out of the year. I take it to the range with me every quarter and fire 2-3 magazines of rounds through it. It's a great handgun and I would probably shoot it more, but I have other handguns to practice with and can't devote my entire attention to only this one. In the years that I've owned and enjoyed it, I've only had 6 FTF's, all due (I admit) to limp-wristing while using heavy-grain ammunition and shooting it after some of my other handguns, (4 times with 180 grain rounds and twice with 165 grain ammo). When it dawned on me to practice with the P-40 first, the issue went away. Now, I use 115-to-155 grain ammo for practice and 115-to-135 grain for carry, with no problems whatsoever. I can only carry the P-40 in the winter (under a jacket) here in Las Vegas, as I'm smaller in physique and can't conceal it effectively in the summer months, (when I pack my P3AT). I had GoldenLoki (Don Haney) Duracoat and fluff-and-buff both handguns just before he retired, which noticeably contributed to smoothness of operation (and looks). If I had a bigger waistline, I would carry it all year, but a 3-way bypass has inspired me not to eat as much as I used to. The P3AT is now more appropriate for me most of the year, so I'll eventually let the P-40 go - after I burn up my stockpiled ammo...
 

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I had a P 40 and loved it. It was my daily carry when I didn't have my 357 snubby on my appendix. Unfortunately one day it fired out of battery and disintegrated. The indoor range refused to let me retrieve the parts from the floor in front of the bench, and it went in the trash I suppose. Were it now, I would have made a major fuss about their attitude, back then, not so.
 

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I still have my P-40 and carry it in rotation wit my P-11. Master blaster it is with recoil.
I love mine. Added the hogue handall and a trigger shoe and I get ridiculously good accuracy with quite manageable recoil and flawless function. I do also love the light weight and capacity of my pmr30, which also seems to outperform some users' experiences -- especially apparently the earliest run. So bravo keltec, and go team!
 
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