Friday, April 24, 2009

Kel-Tec P3AT - First Range Report

I managed to scrape up a little unexpected free time today, so I decided I needed to get my new acquisition out to the range. (I love it when the boss walks in and says "Go ahead and finish up what you're doing, we're going to cut out a little early today." But I digress...)

I only had one box of 50 .380, so this was more of a "will it go bang when I pull the trigger" range day than real range time, but that was all I was planning on. I won't carry something in the real world until I've had a chance to run some ammunition through it and make sure it will, y'know, work if I actually need it.

First, the good. As I expected, this gun is more accurate than I am. With the exception of about 4 or 5 flyers, all rounds were on the paper. I attribute those flyers to me getting used to the gun, i.e., finding the right grip, the right trigger pull, and so forth. Recoil is brisk, but not as bad as I'd feared. I wouldn't want to go through a hundred rounds without a break - in fact, 37 rounds was getting to the limit - but it's tolerable, and it's really not a range gun anyway.

I did notice that even with a firm grip, I was having to re-adjust my grip every few rounds because the gun would shift a bit in my hand. If you limp-wrist this one, you'll know it, because it will end up turning in your hand.

Now, the bad. After the third magazine (18 rounds), I started getting failures to eject that jammed the weapon. These were not "tap and rack" jams, either. Recovery required removing the magazine, pulling the slide back, pointing the muzzle to the sky, and shaking it until the jammed casing fell out. On my last 3 magazines, this happened 4 times, and the last time the case jammed in the chamber tightly enough that I was reduced to using the edge of the table to push the slide back so I could use my leatherman to grab and pull the case out (which didn't work. I finally got it out when the slide slipped and went forward with enough force that the extractor engaged the rim and pulled it out - like it's supposed to do in the first place). It did run smoothly for those first three magazines, though.

I suspect that this was a result of dirty ammo (American Eagle). The brass I recovered* was pretty filthy, and I assume some of that stayed in the gun. But still, this was rather... irritating. I'll get a better idea once I clean it.

On the other hand, if I need that many reloads in a social situation, I'm pretty much FUBAR'd no matter what.

*Here's a tip - If you use a public range and only want to recover your brass - because you're not sure where all the other brass on the ground has been, or how long it's been there - take a Sharpie and mark across the base of the round. It's real easy to just drag the marker across the row of ammo while it's in the box. Pick whatever color you think will stand out best, and it will let you distinguish your brass from everyone else's, and can make it easier to pick out without having to bend over to see that it's not yours. I used a metallic silver Sharpie this time around, but I think something that contrasts better with the brass and silver of the casing (blue, maybe) would be a better choice.


Brigid said...

Thanks for the good info. I've had most of my bad feeds over time, with dirty ammo. I won't use Wolf for that reason. I appreciate the information. The Sharpie idea is a good one.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Yeah, I tried Wolf ammo in my PT-145... once. Greater than %50 failure to feed, right from the start, and probably closer to %75.

Granted, the PT145 is somewhat ammo and grip sensitive - I have to focus a bit more on my grip with my usual practice ammo (American Eagle FMJ ball) than with my carry ammo (Winchester white box JHP). My average is < 10%, and I can tell by the feel when it goes "bang" that I wasn't holding it right. That's just going to take practice to build muscle memory and remove bad habits from a lifetime of casually plinking with revolvers. I couldn't tell with the Wolf ammo when it would misfeed.

Having 50%-75% FTF is ridiculously out of line, and I actually had a dud, too. Not a light strike - there was a perfect dimple in the primer - a complete dud. I know somebody is going to get a dud in any brand you care to name, but it's extremely discouraging when it's the first time you've ever picked up a box of that brand. I won't touch that stuff anymore.

1 Va Dem said...

I wanted to let you know that thanks to the dialog we had, I did some hard research and soul searching and I have amended my stance on the issue of gun control. As I blogged tonight I admitted that we need to support gun owners and go after criminals with all we have and also make the changes and sacrifices needed to live in a free society that supports the 2nd Amendment fully. Thanks for a civil and respectful debate.
-Sandi S

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...


You're welcome, and thank you as well. I enjoy reasoned, thought out debates like that. My biggest problem with the RT blog is that it moves faster than I can really keep up with (work interferes with my personal life, dangit!). Many topics get pushed two or three pages back and forgotten before they're really finished.

I read your post, and while I see there's room for future debate, I'm glad I've had some effect on your position. I look forward to more debates in the future!

(After I sleep, though. I had to post this before going to bed, but it's late for me tonight, and I think I'm less coherent than usual.) :)

Vote For David said...

If you are planning to have your Kel-tek for any length of time, go ahead and give it a "fluff & buff." It's not difficult and you get to learn a lot about your new weapon in the process. If they had put the effort into it at the factory, it would have made your P-3AT worth every bit of the $450 they would charge for it.

Also run a knife edge over the grip panels. Mine actually cut my hand until I took the points off the checkering.