Report on Christmas Eve Kaboom

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by crazylegs, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. crazylegs

    crazylegs New Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    New  P-3AT, serial# JKV## .   After the first 100 rounds with the jamming problems FTE and FTL, I called Kel-Tec customer support and they suggested that it was a break-in issue and should resolve itself.  He instructed me to clean and lube the gun and shoot another 100 rounds, trying different types of ammo.  
     I shot 50-60 rounds of different types of ammo with jamming on every shot. I went home to clean the gun and looked it over. I began to remove the screw #183 and found it was loose. I applied Loc-tite, tightened it as much a possible but the head was stripping out.  The next day I went and fired two successful mags with no problems and then it began to jam again on the 3rd mag.  I then tried to tighten #183 but it was stripped out head.  I returned home and removed the screw.  After taking the screw out of the gun, I placed it (the screw) in my vice and cut a slot in the allen head screw using a fine dremel cutoff wheel.  This allowed me to use a flat blade screwdriver. I applied Loctite and was able to get it good and tight with a flat blade screwdriver.
    On the morning of 12/24/07, I went out and I shot two mags of American Eagle with no problems or jamming, and from my best recollection the last case was extracted.  I then loaded a mag of the Wolf ammo and when I fired the first shot the gun blew up in my hand.  The pictures attached will demonstrate the damage. :eek:
    On 1-7-07 I talked to KT and they sent a call tag via Email.  KT said they would Manufacture a new gun with my same Serial # when they received my gun and ship it out to me.  I returned the gun on the 9th.  KT called me on the 10th with a “WOW”.  They sent my gun to manufacturing and sliced off the serial # for (big brother) and then sent it to engineering for evaluation.  KT then attached my serial # to the new gun and test fired it.  They sent it to me next day air and I received it on the Monday the 14th.
    The paper work included in the box stated;  “*****Steel, polymer and aluminum cased ammunitions are NOT recommended****”
    I cleaned, lubed and headed to the range.   I shot 70 rounds through the new P-3AT flawlessly.    I used American Eagle, Winchester and Remington with no problems.
    The 'controlled devastation' to the gun is evidence to me of the good engineering at KT.  I am still alive and have all 10 fingers and I can still see to count them.  (Thanks Kubmiester)
    I am very pleased with Kel-Tec costumer service.  They treated me very good with fast service and no problems.  I am happy with my 3AT and will have it in my pocket when CCP is obtained.  
    On January 22nd I received  a letter from Kel-TEC it stated:
    RE; Kel-Tec, P-3AT, JKV##
    January 17th 2008
    Mr. McConahay
    A preliminary examination has revealed both a bulge and pressure ring in the barrel approximately 0.383” forward of the chamber.  Damage of this type is consistent with the overpressure/ impact damage, at or in close proximity to, the reinforced chamber area to the stepped down position of the barrel.
    The most likely cause of such an incident would have been a bullet, lodged in the barrel from a previously fired round and a subsequent round being fired, driving the second bullet into the first bullet.  The resulting impact would have then forced the barrel to expand and release high-pressure gases.  These escaping high-pressure gases would have sheared off a portion of the barrel which in turn damaged the slide, at and around, the chamber area.  Kinetic energy should have driven the first bullet out of the barrel.  Due to the missing second bullet it is surmised that the lack of friction due to the ruptured barrel, coupled with the bullets forward momentum, carried the second bullet the remaining distance free of the bore. Kel-Tec firearms are both proof fired and function fired following assembly.  The lack of serious injury is a testament to the firearms design which incorporates safety features to help reduce the risk of serious injury in incidents such as this.In an effort to maintain customer satisfaction, Kel-Tec has destroyed the original firearm and replaced it with our latest model, transferring the original serial number to the new firearm firearm and reinstating its full factory warranty without charge.  :)
  2. cm

    cm New Member

    Jun 3, 2007
    Trenton, MI.
    Crazylegs. Welcome, a lot of info here.
    I had a reload stuck in the barrel, when I first got my P3AT.
    I was lucky. Just the cap fired. The gunsmith at the range removed it.
    I got rid of reload ammo. I now use only Indepandence 90 gm FMJ.
    No more problems. from reading you account. I lucked out.
    Thanks for shareing your experience.

  3. lagerbrewer

    lagerbrewer New Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Glad you're back in action crazylegs!!!
  4. BillK

    BillK New Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    Thanks for the update. Once again happy to hear that you were not seriously hurt.

    Take care ...
  5. RandyP

    RandyP New Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    Thanks for the update!

    Having just purchased 500 rounds of steel case Wolf ammo in 380 from the local Cabela's I now reckon that's about $150 down the toilet for me? Disappointing to say the least. The only ammo disclaimers I found in my owner's manual stated NO reloads, that +P ammo was OK to use (but not continuous) and NO ammo where pressure levels exceed industry standards. I honestly was unware that Blazer and Wolf would also fall into the category of beyond +P rounds.

    Perhaps it will fire OK in my Bersa Thunder? I'll have to check on their web board. If not I guess I'll be shopping around for a 'strong' 380 handgun.
  6. artimus_prime

    artimus_prime New Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    Central FL
    Thank you for the update! Glad to see you're alright. Thats a pretty big testament to Kel-Tec's engineering. Unfortunately, I don't think the owners manual says anything about steel casings and hopefully that's something they will remedy for future purchasers.
  7. paulpetricas

    paulpetricas New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Wolf is the only ammo that my p-3at had problems digesting fte was my problem
    if you put that ammo on gun broker it will sell so you don't have to throw 150$ down the toilet
  8. RandyP

    RandyP New Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    I 'suspect' that my Bersa will gobble it up just fine, (it is of rather robust construction) but I will do some searching and asking first.

    I have been shooting handguns on and off for 35+ years, though this Kel-Tec is my first plastic pistol, and just recently started to investigate two things to let me shoot even more. One was the less expensive "range type" ammo like Blazer aluminum and Wolf and the other was reloading.

    Looks like a 2 out of 2 defeat, at least as it relates to my more fragile Kel-Tec. :-/ I confess I am now VERY leery about putting any 'higher powered" self defense ammo thru my P3AT. If it can't hold up to the pressures of an aluminum cased standard pressure range round...........

    I am also kinda surprised that more folks haven't been shooting Wolf or reloads and damaging their Kel Tecs- considering the substantial ammo increases of late. I do agree that the company should add a LARGE disclaimer to their instructions and perhaps even send out a warning to current owners in their database?
  9. artimus_prime

    artimus_prime New Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    Central FL
    I'm not entirely sure that Wolf ammo is standard pressure. Anyone else want to chime in? :-?
  10. Danner

    Danner New Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Wow! :eek:

    Glad to hear you are OK, I would have bet you'd have spent some time in the ER, stitching your hands back together and picking bits and pieves out of your face.

    So, Wolf ammo is a no-go. Check.

    I'm gonna take a wild guess and say Wolf packed too much powder in that particular round (QC issue) and you were the unlicky SOB that took the hit.

    Kel-Tec customer service sure seems to be tops.

    Buy American ;)
  11. Doc_S

    Doc_S Well-Known Member

    Maybe I'm wrong here, but from what I read, there was a squib round fired (bullet was left in the barrel) prior to the one that caused the failure.

    Any .380 would have probably reacted similarly, but you might have lost a finger or two in the "blowing up" process...

    From the Kel-Tec letter, I don't read the cause to be steel cased ammo. I did see that they are not recommending steel or aluminum cased ammo...

    For those of you who think the P3AT is too delicate, think about what would happen if you fired a full charged round in any pistol that had a bullet from a previous discharge stuck in the barrel...

    God Bless,
    Doc S
  12. RandyP

    RandyP New Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    If I'm reading the report correctly, it would have had to be the last round of American Eagle ammo that squibbed? That is if the owner is correct that the gun kaboomed on the 1st round of Wolf?

    I realize that my P3AT isn't a 'range' or target pistol and I do not hold it to the same standard as handguns that have those capabilities. I have however been REALLY getting interested in reloading - and my new Cabela's credit card gives me even MORE options and reasons to satisfy my every gun whim - :) - so not being able to shoot target strength reloads in all my pistols is something of a disappointment.

    I have NO problem saving my 500 or so rounds of S&B, WWB and Blazer Brass 380 for exculsive Kel Tec use. So it's not like I'm selling off the gun or anything. Just furthering my handgun education as to what works in these new fangled 'polymer' critters. Polymer seems to be the 'wave of the future' in firearms technology, so necessary adjustments in the way us 'ancients' do things are to be expected. ;)
  13. crazylegs

    crazylegs New Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    I was crying Wolf at first but KT's report has Squib written all over it.

    My lesson learned is to watch out for a Squib and avoid steel case ammo! :-
  14. Dreadnought

    Dreadnought New Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    I too will stay away from the steel cased ammunition (always have), but how the hell do I "watch out" for a squib? :-/
  15. Checker4Tix

    Checker4Tix Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    Yeah, I'm puzzled. The letter from KT seems to indicate that the last AE round squibbed. I would imagine that to be highly unlikely. I've never fired Wolf ammo, but have mostly read poor reviews of it. I'm inclined to think the Wolf ammo was just overloaded. I'll stay away from it.

    Glad you weren't hurt, and thanks for posting your experiences. Ever taken a look at all the KB's over at The Gun Zone? Yikes!
  16. PshootR

    PshootR Banned

    Apr 1, 2005
    I too will stay away from the steel cased ammunition (always have), but how the hell do I "watch out" for a squib? :-/[/quote]

    If you fire a round that results in a bang or recoil that is less than normal or sounds/feels "odd" that would be the only indication.

  17. adamsesq

    adamsesq New Member

    Dec 25, 2006
    I too will stay away from the steel cased ammunition (always have), but how the hell do I "watch out" for a squib?  :-/[/quote]

    If you don't see what that bullet goes (hole in paper, dirt jumping, etc.) maybe it DIDN'T. And as others have said, it will usually feel "odd."

  18. kubmiester

    kubmiester New Member

    Nov 18, 2006

    That's great customer service from Kel Tec! Although it looks like an ammo issue, KT stood up and made it right for the customer. The real show of a company is how they treat you AFTER they have your money.
  19. Doc_S

    Doc_S Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to point out that nowhere does Kel-Tec say that you shouldn't use full power rounds!!!

    I do believe it was mentioned, but I'll re-say it anyway...

    You can usually tell if you've fired a squib because you normally have a dramatic reduction in recoil.
    If you believe you may have fired one, clear your weapon and check.
    If you do determine you have fired a squib, use a dowell rod, cleaning rod or even a pencil (Pointy part removed) and push the offending bullet out of your barrel...

    I don't think I need to say this, but I will anyway...

    God Bless, be safe and have fun!
    Doc S
  20. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    Crazylegs - I'm glad Kel-tec took care of you and I knew they would.  It is a testament to the P3 design that an 8 ounce pistol can contain and dissipate that kind of catastrophic event.  There is no way that kind of damaged was cause by anything other than a squib load IMO.  I'm no engineer, but I don't think even a double-charged round would do that much damage.  That was brutal!

    Commie ammo for commie guns!

    I (and others here) have always recommended good quality, brass cased ammo in these guns.  Comblock guns were generally designed around steel cased ammo since many of those countries did not have access to brass for making ammo.  Just look at comblock weapons.  They are usually heavy, with beefy extractors.  Kel-tec pistols, designed for CC are quite the opposite.  One issue with steel cased ammo is that when fired, the case expands but does not shrink back down to size as readily as brass.  This makes them harder to extract.  Also, even though the steel used in those rounds is softer than the steel in your pistol, it is still harder than brass and tends to bang up the metal parts of the gun that it contacts.  

    While the owners manual does not exclude these rounds as they are factory, standard pressure ammo, the service department guys at KT will advise you to stay with quality brass-cased ammo.  Saving a few pennies per rounds is not worth beating up your gun, IMO.  Furthermore, I wouldn't trust the QC in some of those factories either.  I shoot Wolf in my Makarov, Mosin M38, SKS and AK (period).  It is true that there are folks here who regularly shoot steel-cased ammo in Kel-tecs and will tell you that it works fine.  They are welcome to shoot my share.

    On the subject of poor quality ammo, aside from reloads of unknown repute (you didn't load it),  there are at least two other brands I would not touch.  One is American Ammunition, often head stamped AMERC.  This stuff is crap.  Avoid it like the plague.  There have been many problems with this cheapo stuff.  The cases are thin and QC must be lousy as I have heard of a few squib rounds and other issues with the stuff (kabooms).  BTW, AMERC is not to be confused with American Eagle (Federal) which is fine.  The other brand that I have seen some issues with is Independence.  Over the past few months I have seen a couple of threads on other gun boards where squib loads and one over-pressure kaboom were attributed to that stuff.  It's probably not as notorious as AMERC, but I wouldn't use it.  I have seen it sold at Sportsman's Warehouse, and a range I frequent stocks it, probably because it is cheap and they can mark it up to "normal" prices.

    On the subject of squib rounds, I had one about a year or so back shooting some of that older Santa Barbara ammo.  When the round went off, it made more of a poof than a bang.  You better believe I stopped shooting, unloaded and field stripped the gun so I could carefully check it out.  The round had cleared the barredl so I continued to shoot. I made sure I did not do any rapid firing with that ammo after that.  Stay safe everyone!  :cool: