What do you consider "reliable"?

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by fltection, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. fltection

    fltection New Member

    Apr 25, 2010
    I have had some nagging issues with my P3AT (EDC weapon) that caused me to second guess it's reliability in a life-or-death situation. I was getting multiple FTE's per mag shooting WWB flat nose ammo. I thought that the flat nose might mimic the profile of the HP's that I carry. Carry ammo is either Speer Gold Dot (when I can find it) or Pow'r Ball.

    I tested the Gold Dot and Pow'r Ball (only a mag or two because of cost) and both ran fine. It was my extended practice sessions that were problematic.

    Before I packed it up and send it back to Kel-Tec I wanted to do everything I could to rule out operator error. I searched and read everything I could about limp wristing with a small carry weapon (lots of threads here on KTOG) and I also followed GoldenLoki's lube guide. Lastly, I found a good youtube video on disassembly of the P3AT [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T-z59HDeTk[/ame] and used blue lock-tite on the extractor screw (I was having to tighten it every so often).

    My local Wally World is stocking Federal 95 grain FMJ round nose, so I picked up a couple of boxes and headed out to the range to test my EDC. I had two FTE's in 50 rounds (one while I was firing strong hand only) and the other was apparently random. The last 30 I shot "rapid fire" as fast as I could pull the trigger and stay on target. Those went without a hiccup.

    My question is- have I proven it "reliable"?

    My only comparisons are my Glocks (17 for competition and 19 for "heavy carry") those have both been great and my 1911 which has had some issues.

    What do you all do to ensure your P3AT passes the "reliability" test? Any words of wisdom for my situation?
  2. Bobo

    Bobo Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 13, 2005
    If a gun will fire 200 consecutive rounds that will be used for defense without a gun related malfunction I consider the gun reliable.


  3. BillK

    BillK New Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    For me you ask a very difficult question. For a particular gun all you can do is "prove" its reliability past tense and that can be done with simple math. I attempted to fire 100 rounds one round stove piped, my gun HAS BEEN 99% reliable. Once broken in the more rounds we put through a particular gun without issue the more we trust the gun to fire the next few rounds without issue - but we have no "proof" that the very next round will fire, we can only feel that the probabilities are high that it will fire because of its history. How do you feel about your gun that has been without issues through many thousands of rounds? Surely some mechanical part is just about to fail, no? Even if our gun is fine we have no "proof" that we won't have an ammo issue on the very next shot or we won't limp wrist, or... It is thoughts like this that drive some folks to carry two guns.

    I know this didn't help any and now you got me paranoid.  :-/ Thanks a lot!  :)

    Bill K.
  4. rebootit

    rebootit Active Member

    Mar 25, 2011
    St. Petersburg FL
    If mine will fire 2 magazines without issue when clean on 5 separate range trips with the ammo I carry then I feel confident it will work as it should when called on. This is the criteria that I followed with my p3at before it replaced my airweight for daily carry. I even go one further in that after a range visit I clean it then fire one round into a bucket of wet sand in my backyard to assure it's put together correctly. After that one round I hold the. Slide back and run a patch through the barrel to get the powder residue but don't worry about the tiny amount in the internals. I feel as confident that the gun is 100% as I possibly could.
  5. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    I'm not much concerned about 1 or 2 failures out of 100 rounds when blasting FMJ stuff at the range.  Chasing down such an isolated failure is usually difficult and mostly guesswork.  Once these guns are broken in, I rarely blast a lot of rounds anyway.  In a new gun, after a couple hundred rounds of FMJ, I start testing SD ammo.  Then I stop doing a lot of high round count shooting.  I don't care if round #84 of WWB is going to fail to eject.   I'm far more concerned about the likelyhood of the gun dumping a mag or 2 of SD ammo when/if I need it.  That is it's only real job.  After break-in and SD ammo proofing, when I take these little pistols to the range, the very first thing I do is shoot the carry mag that has been in the gun, then a backup mag.  Often, that's all I do and I switch to other guns for range pounding.  Sometimes, I'll load up some range fodder and shoot a few more mags in the carry guns if I feel I'm getting out of practice.  But if they pass the carry/backup mag test, and they always do, they get cleaned, lubed, and go back to work.  The more times they've passed this (SD ammo) test, the more reliable I consider them to be.  I am about as comfortable as I can be with my Kel-tec CC pistols.
  6. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME New Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    If I bought a new Kel-Tec P3AT and shot 50 trouble free rounds of ball, then cleaned it and subsequently shot another 50 without fail I would likely deem it reliable, with that ball ammo. I might be content to shoot just 50 rounds of a given HP (after the initial trouble free experience) to give that HP a green light. I would take into consideration ejection of spent brass and how hard primers were hit as a component of my reliability judgement. I would not be prone to shoot more than 50 rounds prior to cleaning, if the pistol had a problem I have eliminated the variable of being dirty already.
  7. tomdickandharry

    tomdickandharry Member

    Mar 7, 2011
    Orlando Fl
    Its reliable when you don't have problems. I know people talk about gun error versus shooter error, but that doesn't matter. If there's an issue it needs to be fixed. When you've gone "long enough" without an issue, then its relaible.
  8. calcman

    calcman New Member

    Jun 12, 2011
    Sent mine back to the factory twice to get it going right - yeh, I possible could have worked on it myself, but that isn't why I buy a gun new. Anyway, one problem I can live with - two and the gun has bad juju. I bought one of the look-alike other brands in the meantime and like it. The 3AT will be relegated to non-carry range practice till it convinces me (lots of no problem rounds downrange) it'll work when the chips are down. Don't see any need to rush the decision.
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    You have to keep in mind that these little guns were never intended for extended range time firing a couple hundred rounds without cleaning & lube.

    They are pushing the envelop as far as size, weight, and friction goes, and they need to be clean & lubed to be 100% reliable.

    Your Glocks are designed to be combat weapons, and are intended to work indefinitely with zero maintenance.

    Kel-Tec belly guns were not.
    If they were, they would be as big as a Glock.

    BTW: WWB is underpowered, and some of the dirtiest ammo anyone makes.
    The flat point bullets are not feed ramp friendly either.
    If my gun would make it through a 50 round box without cleaning & lube, I would be perfectly happy.

    On the other hand, I would expect at least 100+ rounds of my XTP JHP reloads to function 100% without cleaning.

    But in real life use for it's intended purpose?
    From a clean start, if it will go through two or three mags of defensive ammo without cleaning & lube, 100% every time, it is doing what it is intended to do.

  10. JAB

    JAB Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2010
    East Tennessee
    I agree.

    To paraphrase one of the previous posts, just because a pistol will shoot 200 rounds flawless doesn't mean it won't jam on 201.  Sure, it sets a 'trend' but is no guarantee.  Further, I have to admit that (again, as stated in another, previous post) I sometimes worry that everything in a semiauto pistol is aligned just right, etc. when I field strip to clean then reassemble.

    I do carry the P3AT sometimes and I also have other semiautos that I 'trust'.  Generally, if a pistol can do what RC states above, I figure that it is as 'reliable' as I am going to trust it to be with that ammo.  Still, the more experience I have with carrying/shooting semiautos and the more threads like this I read, if pressed my response to, "What do you consider 'reliable'," would be, "A revolver."
  11. haugrdr

    haugrdr Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 4, 2008
    Daytona Beach
    From being a KTOG member for a few years, I find a lot of people buying Kel Tec pistols are buying them for the wrong reasons.

    They aren't range guns, they aren't combat guns, they are not target guns.

    They are designed to be small, light weight, easily concealable back-up guns...mainly for LEOs. Most of us use them for concealable primary weapons, which is still with-in the realm of the design.

    I believe they are made to be shot a little, and carried a lot. I shoot 50-100 rounds thru mine once a month or so...sometimes more, sometimes less. I use other pistols for serious range time. Even then, I have around 4000 rounds thru my PF9 and probably 1-2000 thru each of my others. Over many years. I'm probably stretching what they are designed for with the amount of rounds fired. I do know, if I wear one out, Kel Tec will take care of it.

  12. cash50

    cash50 New Member

    Jun 14, 2011

    I would carry the 17 & 19 for now. Either send it back, or fluff n buff and polish everywhere and try like hell to get it working.
  13. redjacket

    redjacket New Member

    Nov 23, 2007
    my P3AT is for everyday pocket carry. I'll run two or three magazines through it at the range every couple of months just to exercise it and make sure there is no issues with it. I have other guns for range use. Like others have said, it's not a range gun. and I probably have less than 400 rounds through it over a period of 5 or 6 years. It works better than new, and I have NO issues with jams and such.

    using a 15 round magazine is a bit of an art though! :p
  14. Had to send mine back a few times. They got it right. I fired 300 rounds only doing a clean every 50 rounds. Worked perfect. I carry it every day now.
  15. JAB

    JAB Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2010
    East Tennessee
    I now have something else to add to this thread.  My S&W 642 has been my gun for pocket carry/easily concealed belt carry since I got it a few months back.  In that time, I really haven't carried the P3AT so I have been doing a little informal 'experiment' to test it's reliability.

    See, back in its first gen days mine was never reliable and had become a jam-o-matic.  This was despite attempts to make it reliable and field stripping/cleaning every time I shot it.

    In it's new, second gen incarnation (rebuilt as such by Kel Tec) it hasn't given me any problems and I have come to believe that it is much more reliable, now.  To test that idea, since I had the 642 as a super-small, light gun to carry, I haven't cleaned the P3AT since it's carry hiatus began.  In that time, I'm guessing I have put a few hundred rounds through it.  Just weekend before last I ran a box of fifty - mostly WWB flat nose with a few Remington UMC HP rounds mixed in - through it.  I did this with three, different magazines; the two I have been carrying and a brand new 9 rounder that the gun store guys let me try out to make sure it worked before buying it (it did and I did.)  Nary a hiccup.

    Now, since I haven't been able to find the Hydrashoks I traditionally carry locally, I am going to try out Winchester PDX1 in it to see how it works.  I hope to get to test it this coming weekend.  For that reason, I cleaned it yesterday.  Saying it was dirty is an understatement.  It was filthy inside - all kinds of residue, etc. to the point that the top of the inside of the slide was pitch black as if it had been rubbed down with coal dust.  All this and it still fired those last fifty without a hitch, even with a brand new 9 round magazine.

    I have to be honest in that my experiences with the first gen really soured me on the P3AT.  I strongly considered trading it when it came back from the factory but decided that it was still technically a 'used' gun either way so I had might as well give it a chance.  I am glad I did and it is slowly regaining my trust.  I love the 642 so I don't think it is going to get entirely bumped out by the P3AT but, small and light as it is, there are still times when the P3AT would work better.  Strangely enough, I bought the 642 largely as an 'ankle gun' for those rare times that I need/want to use that carry method but, while it has bumped the P3AT from my pocket, I have since found that for me the P3AT is a much, much better (more comfortable, etc.) ankle gun than the 642.
  16. rhinokrk

    rhinokrk New Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    For me, 3 mags through a clean pistol each range trip, I carry one spare mag. I don't expect it to run 50+ rnds with out cleaning, although I'm pleased every time I do.
  17. gbarber010

    gbarber010 New Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Prattville, AL
    150 more round 100%, I consider good. I've got about 1550 round in my P3AT and 250 round in my PF9. I'm good.