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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all -

I have been considering switching carry guns for a while now and am starting to narrow down my choices. Let me give you a little background first though -

I live in So. Fla, so heat, comfort and lack of covering concealment garments are an issue. I been bouncing back and forth now for a while between a P32 and a S&W J-frame model 342 (Ti, not scandium) .38 Spec I own. Which one I carry depends on the situation, dress, and overall comfort. I would like to settle on one "all the time" carry piece and stick with it. I'm considering a P3-AT for a number of different reasons, but I just can't make up my mind.

Here's the sticky points though -

I've tried carrying various guns over the years and have settled that the only way I am going to carry at least ONE gun ALL the time that I can live with constantly, is in my pocket. This knocks out all the guns of my Glock 23's size and similar, which is what I would really rather carry instead if dress allowed it.

My P32 has been flawless since day one, I did the fluff and buff before a single round ever went thought it, it's all been great since. I love the way it shoots, it's accurate, fast to reload, and small enough that you forget your carrying it.:) On the downside rim lock IS always a possibility inherent in the .32's design (even though I've never had one yet, thank God), and it IS only a .32 :(. A .32 may be enough to do the job, but what if it isn't? I'd feel better with something that has all the positive things the P32, but with a little more "punch" behind it.

My J-frame is nice, it's light (a Ti model), has more power than the .32, and is ultra reliable compared to an auto. BUT, it is a revolver, and that means no matter what when dealing with guns of this type and size (pocket pistols), it's always pretty much going to be bigger and definitely WIDER than any other comparable small auto pocket pistol. Not to mention the fact that no matter how much you practice, it's pretty much a given that a revolver is just about always going to be slower to reload than an auto. Then there's also the issue of only five rounds and then having to reload (I don't plan on hopefully needing more than five rounds or less to get the job done, but then again, I've never been that lucky in general either).............

The P3-AT was pretty much looking like the answer on a number of different levels, but then I have some concerns with it too. :( Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for a "one shot stopper" here either, just something that will fit all of my needs the best out of these three candidates. I do like the idea of the .380 as compared to the .32 (although I'm sure there's not THAT much more power there, but then again, more is usually better in most cases), but does it have as much power as the .38? Most of my research (and no, I'm not talking about gun rags here either :( ) say "No". Penetration seems to be the overwhelming issue here when comparing the two. You tell me, but remember, the ballistics and other data have to comparable from a short .380 like the P3-AT and a .38 snub also (no medium sized .380 or four inch barreled .38 spec numbers here).

The P3-AT can be reloaded as fast as the P32 or any other auto can compared to a revolver, plus it's a lot easier to carry more ammo in a much thinner package too. But then you've got to consider the jamming issue (auto when compared to revolvers for the most part), and while I P3-AT may be good, I'll willing to be it'll never compare to a J-frame (reliability wise). That's also not to say that a revolver can't jam or lock up (it CAN), but if you were staking all of you cards in one deck and one deck only in EVERY situation, wouldn't you want it to go bang every time pretty much without question too? I sure do!!! :)

I even looked at the P11 and the Kahr PM9, but both are too large for me to carry comfortably, not to mention trying to control the PM9 as compared to the other three I'm looking at. I know and understand the old quote of, "guns should be "comforting", not "comfortable", but I'm more than likely not going to carry something ALL the time that is not comfortable either. Not to mention right back to the revolver's reliability issues versus the auto's..........


So there you have it, do I stick with a J-frame that is uber reliable and has ammo with a little more punch than either a .32 or .380 (supposedly?), but is harder to reload under stress faster, and holds less ammo? Or do I go with either the .32 that I know and love and hope it's enough, or trade up to basically the same system, but the next best tier in power that I can get in the same basic package and size?

I now many will argue the .380 vs. the .38 thing, and that for the most part both are the same or pretty close, and that only number of rounds and ease of reloading matter. But I don't buy that altogether due to the penetration depth issue, unless someone here can give me a good reason NOT to believe this anymore (I'm open to any and all suggestions here). I know the two are close, but I also don't think this is as simple as the old, "what's better ?" argument, five rounds of .38 spec or six (seven) rounds of .380?


I'm really having a tough time with this, and keeping going back and forth with it. About the only thing I do know, is that while I do LOVE the way my P32 carries, I definitely want to step up in power one way or another.......


Please help -

EricG23
 

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I own/carry the P3AT. I love it. For its size vs. power ratio I don't think it can be beat.

I like you, have used the same rational. Why buy a gun that's going to be inconvenient to carry and hard to hide. The answer of course, is that you'll find it more convenient NOT to carry it. I wanted something that for the most part be so comfortable to carry and hide that I'll forget I'm carrying it i.e., the P3AT.

Buy the P3AT and practice with it until you can land your rounds in the kill zone. The gun will do its job if you can place the bullets where they should go.

I absolutely love mine. Accurate and a pleasure to shoot and conceals in the smallest of places. I can actually put it in my shirt pocket! Also remember that a loaded P3AT weighs less than a loaded 1911 magazine. It's really hard to beat it.

Hope this helps and good luck to you in your decision.
 

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Quite frankly, it sounds as if you've already talked yourself into it! :)

I'm won't address the .32 simply because you've eliminated it from real consideration with your own logic. Seems to me that's why you've asked the question in the first place. Consequently, it's a matter of deciding between the .38 Snubbie or the P3.

You've pretty much analyzed all of the various issues with one exception. The new Speer 135 gr. Gold Dot +P elevates the .38 Snubbie somewhat in my view. I don't think there is an equivalent round in .380 that can compete with that one for effectiveness (quite yet). Of course, that further complicates your decision somewhat. But, it might be something additional you'd want to consider.

Then it becomes a matter of deciding which one you shoot best. If you can handle the .38 +P loads and are willing to accept the additional difficulty of concealing it choose that one. I don't think there is any question that the little .380 is easiest to conceal, so maybe you'll be lucky and shoot it better.

I'd suggest shooting both the .38 with the Gold Dot +P and the P3-AT and see which one you shoot best. Allow that to be the deciding factor.
 

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When looking for a pocket pistol, I feel the .380 is the most punch that is practically available. In addition, I prefer a thin auto over a revolver for any concealed carry. I believe the P-3AT is the best pocket carry pistol available today.

That being said, the P-32 is a great option, and several police departments around the world use the .32 as their standard issue firearm.

If you want an additional pistol, I recemmend purchasing the P-3AT. If you want to save a little money, the P-32 is a great option.

The he-men who won't carry anything smaller than a .45 may scoff at the .32 but none of them would be willing to test the wimpyness of the round by puting themselves in harms way.

Good luck,
BC
 

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BC said:
The he-men who won't carry anything smaller than a .45 may scoff at the .32 but none of them would be willing to test the wimpyness of the round by puting themselves in harms way.
Well, I don't necessarily classify myself as a he-man, but I'm one of those that carry a .45 as a primary weapon (most of the time) and only carry a P3-AT in my pocket (all of the time).

Heck, I wouldn't let anyone shoot me with a BB gun let alone anything more powerful! ;D

What does that prove?
 

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Hello,

For me, its an "alway's handgun" and rides close 24/7. It is the best balance of power, concealability and handling in all of the pocketguns I have tried.



You won't regret your decision.

Best,

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hutch01 said:
Quite frankly, it sounds as if you've already talked yourself into it!  :)

I'm won't address the .32 simply because you've eliminated it from real consideration with your own logic.  Seems to me that's why you've asked the question in the first place.  Consequently, it's a matter of deciding between the .38 Snubbie or the P3.  

You've pretty much analyzed all of the various issues with one exception.  The new Speer 135 gr. Gold Dot +P elevates the .38 Snubbie somewhat in my view.  I don't think there is an equivalent round in .380 that can compete with that one for effectiveness (quite yet).  Of course, that further complicates your decision somewhat.  But, it might be something additional you'd want to consider.

Then it becomes a matter of deciding which one you shoot best.  If you can handle the .38 +P loads and are willing to accept the additional difficulty of concealing it choose that one.  I don't think there is any question that the little .380 is easiest to conceal, so maybe you'll be lucky and shoot it better.

I'd suggest shooting both the .38 with the Gold Dot +P and the P3-AT and see which one you shoot best.  Allow that to be the deciding factor.

Thanks for the reply -

No, actually, I have not talked myself into it yet, I'm just stuck in the process of trying to rationalize it all and make a decision on which one wins out in covering the most amount of bases I am concerned with. Kind of the same process I went through settling on my Glock 23, Remington 870P, and other firearms I own that each fit a specific purpose without having to settle on multiple guns to cover the same situation.

If there's something I'm missing here with either the .32 or the P32, please point it out. Again, I have not ruled anything out altogether yet, and am open to any and all suggestions and opinions.

You make a good point about the new 135gr Speer Gold Dot .38 round, and as a matter of fact I have been wanting to pick up a box of those to try though the 342 to see how they shoot.

As a matter of fact, I'm almost ashamed to admit it, for as long as I have been shooting and carrying guns, but I had completely ignored the issue of seeing which one I shoot best (the P32, P3-AT, and the 342) and having that be one of the more stronger points in my decision. I guess I have just been too focused on the other issues, as this shooting "which one I shoot best issue", had been one of the largest factors previously when I decided to stick with the G23 for my one main carry piece and "do it all" gun.

I guess all of our minds can get a little clouded sometimes when trying to rationalize things like this with this many details for something so important.

Thanks again -

Eric
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
BC said:
When looking for a pocket pistol, I feel the .380 is the most punch that is practically available.  In addition, I prefer a thin auto over a revolver for any concealed carry.  I believe the P-3AT is the best pocket carry pistol available today.

That being said, the P-32 is a great option, and several police departments around the world use the .32 as their standard issue firearm.

If you want an additional pistol, I recemmend purchasing the P-3AT.  If you want to save a little money, the P-32 is a great option.

The he-men who won't carry anything smaller than a .45 may scoff at the .32 but none of them would be willing to test the wimpyness of the round by puting themselves in harms way.

Good luck,
BC

I have to admit, I am one of those who may complain about smaller caliber guns (9mm and the like compared to .40, .45 and the like) but am NOT willing to go stand down range and take a shot with any of the smaller ones or even a .22 for that matter! :)

I'm not trying to make a hypocritical approach here (not saying that is what you were insinuating either :), but if there is something in my case here that will work as well as the P32 does for many of my needs but has more punch, I want it. I definitely think the field is a little more spread out when comparing the capacity and caliber of the P32 and a 5 shot .38 Spec J frame, but I think the field gets a little more level when looking at the P3-AT and the .38 Spec J-frame.

Again, I'm not ruling anything out here yet (meaning the P32 is still on the table here for me), but I just want to make the best educated and rational decision here that covers the most of all of my needs.

Right now I'm thinking about how much easier it's going to be to get off shots with the lighter and shorter trigger of the P32 and P3-AT systems than it is with the long DA only, non-SA ability of the 342's Centennial design. I know I could have the trigger reworked on the 342 to lighten and smooth it up, but I still think it may be easier to get multiple, controled shots off with the little auto instead. This also depends though on as long as the recoil in the P3-AT does not bother me as it does not in the P32 either.


Thanks for the reply -

Eric
 
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Go with the P3AT for the size, knockdown power, afforability, and the LIFETIME warrant Kel-Tec offers... You can't beat it!! I am an experienced marksman, as well as a Marine, and I love this weapon. It's the best "little brother" a GLOCK can have. ;) You won't be disapointed!

Semper Fi

B
 

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Hi Eric,

I went through the same thought process when I finally decided on my G-23 for concealed carry. I looked at many firearms on the market and was a avid 1911 collector and shooter at the time.

But times had changed and wasn't fully confident in my ability to carry the G-23 everywhere and all of the time. I bought a KT P-32 last year. It is a great little pistol, but 32 acp ammunition is somewhat scarce around where I live. I bought the P3-AT and was just amazed by the accuracy and handling characteristics of the pistol. It also conceals as well as the P-32 and I can find almost twice as much ammo for it in the local chain and shooting stores.

I do own a S&W 642 and enjoy it immensely. However, the P3-AT conceals better than a revolver in most of my clothing choices. I do carry both handguns depending on my choice of clothing for the day and where I am going.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
carolinaman said:
Hi Eric,

I went through the same thought process when I finally decided on my G-23 for concealed carry.  I looked at many firearms on the market and was a avid 1911 collector and shooter at the time.

But times had changed and wasn't fully confident in my ability to carry the G-23 everywhere and all of the time.  I bought a KT P-32 last year.  It is a great little pistol, but 32 acp ammunition is somewhat scarce around where I live.   I bought the P3-AT and was just amazed by the accuracy and handling characteristics of the pistol.  It also conceals as well as the P-32 and I can find almost twice as much ammo for it in the local chain and shooting stores.

I do own a S&W 642 and enjoy it immensely.  However, the P3-AT conceals better than a revolver in most of my clothing choices.  I do carry both handguns depending on my choice of clothing for the day and where I am going.

Chris

Thanks for the reply -

Realizing that recoil is a subjective thing, how does the P3-AT seem to you to compare in recoil to both the P32 and the 642 (assuming you're shooting the 642 with .38 Spec +P ammo)?

How about shootability? Am I correct in my assumption that it is easier to shoot the P3-AT better when compared to the 642 in DA?

Thanks again -
 

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Hello,

Realizing that recoil is a subjective thing, how does the P3-AT seem to you to compare in recoil to both the P32 and the 642 (assuming you're shooting the 642 with .38 Spec +P ammo)?

How about shootability? Am I correct in I disagreeumption that it is easier to shoot the P3-AT better when compared to the 642 in DA?

Thanks again -
First of all, the 642 is immenitely easier to shoot, but does have a "stiffer" double action trigger pull. It does recoil a lot more as the load and bullet weight increase in the +p and 158 grain categories. However, that is an advantage when one realizes the wide variety of loads that are available in the .38 special for self defense.

The P3-AT recoils less, but handles a little more poorly due to its diminutive grip size. It does have a lighter trigger pull in my opinion. I like the fact that my P3-AT is capable of some very fine accuracy in spite of its rudimentary sights.

Also I am more prone to pick up the P3-AT with its DeSantis Nemesis Holster and slip it into my pocket when running out to the store than I am the 642 and here in hot, sunny SC our clothing choices are similiar to those of you living in Florida i.e. light clothing. The P3-AT just plain conceals better in shorts.

Best,

Chris
 

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I carry them both. I carry the S&W 340PD .357 Mag Scandium J Frame that weighs 11.6 ounces in my right front pocket and my 1st generation P-3AT in my left front pocket.

I've shot 326 rounds through my P-3AT without a single failure of any sort and I never needed to do a fluff and buff either. Mine has been perfect from the time I took it out of the box new.

The only time I carry my P-3AT by it's self is when I'm wearing dress cloths where the revolver is a bit to big for a pocket and uncomfortable to carry. The P-3AT can be carried in any type of cloths it's so small.
 

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I have seven "j" frames.  I bought my first airweight bodyguard in 1972.

My current favorite is a 642.  I am fast becoming a
P3-AT convert.  The more I shoot it the more my confidence in it as an automatic grows.  My threat exposure is low (at least I hope so.)  The often quoted saying of "when in a gunfight have a gun" applies.  It sure is easy to drop a P3-AT into your pocket and forget it.  I am considering a P32.  Some posters believe it may be slightly more reliable when limp wristing comes into the picture and it is slightly smaller and lighter.  I am not enamored w/ the 32 ACP but, if I can't run and hide it would still give me a serious edge.

If I think threat exposuer is high..... Rem 870 & SU16C (will not fit in pocket.)
 

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I spent a lot of time agonizing over the purchase of a really small gun. Finally bought the P3AT because nothing else gives the same power in such a compact, light weight package. I was prepared to suffer through some break-in problems.

However, I bought it, cleaned it, shot it, love it. No problems at all!!!!

I now am using the belt clip - perfect for warm weather carry. ;D
 

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I love my P3 and it is my everywhere gun. I'd consider waiting on buying a P3 though until they fix the peening issue that seems endemic to some of the more recent serial numbers. Check the peening posts to see what I mean. That said, I would never give mine up and am going to buy a second one to nickel plate once the peening problem is solved. I'm 6'5" and could easily carry a lot of the larger pocket pistols but my first choice for everyday carry is the P3.
 

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Hello, Eric! I live in New Orleans where the climate is the same as yours. My "fashion style" is generally jeans or slacks, shirt tucked in, NO sweater or jacket as often as not: so like you, pocket carry's the thing for me.

I'm in the process of moving up from a .22 NA Arms to a .380 Kel Tec, so can't offer any real advice on the latter, based on personal experience.

However, I see that we're both thinking along the same lines so far as "what do you shoot best"? or rather, "what do I shoot best?"

Too often, we concentrate on "what I can conceal best?" or "what's more powerful?" and forget that it doesn't matter if we can't hit our intended target the way we need to.

I DON'T think that rapid reloading is an issue, though. What's going to happen generally happens very quickly.

Seadogge
 
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