Pocket Pal


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn


Once upon a time in this country, the 32 caliber pistol was looked upon with a certain amount of distain. It was not considered powerful enough for anything much bigger than a rabbit, and with the roundnose bullets available in years past, that was a pretty accurate assessment of the capabilities of such a cartridge. Even for such a use, the 22 caliber rimfire was superior, cheaper, and easily obtainable. The .380 ACP could be had in just about any pistol that would chamber the .32, so the market for the cartridge, at least in the U.S., was very limited.

In the more recent past, a number of events have taken place that have changed the shooting public's attitude toward the little .32. First, Larry Seecamp managed to squeeze the little round into a pistol the size of many .25 caliber pistols. The demand for his little gun has always exceeded the supply, causing people to pay scalper's prices to obtain one. Another huge factor in the tide toward smaller pistols was the fact that many states passed right-to-carry laws, enticing many people to carry that had not been willing to do so illegally. Finally, the limits imposed upon the civillian population as regards to magazine capacity has encouraged a trend 
toward smaller, more concealable handguns. It is rewarding to note 
that the actions of our anti-gun politicians has actually helped to increase the number of people carrying handguns. 

Several gun makers have lately developed smaller and lighter designs around the .32 ACP. One such manufacturer is Kel-Tec CNC of Cocoa, FL. This is one of the lightest, thinnest pistols ever made. When lifting the pistol, the lack of weight is immediately noticeable. This little gun weighs but 6.6 ounces unloaded and only slightly over 9 ounces loaded with eight rounds of .32 caliber hollowpoint. To get the weight down to this level, Kel-tec makes use of a polymer frame that contributes almost nothing to the weight of the weapon. The most notable feature on a pistol this small is Kel-tec's use of a locked breech instead of a blowback action. This allowed them to trim the weight of the slide to a minimum, and at the same time precluding the use of an over- powerful spring. 

The result is impressive. At only three quarters of an inch thick, the pistol all but disappears in the pocket. Kel-tec's literature lists the tiny pistol as being available in three finishes; hard chrome, parkerized, and blue. The latter of the three is the subject of our test, as I have personally never seen the chrome or parkerized versions of the gun. Over the course of several months carrying the test piece daily in a sweaty jeans pocket, I can see the advantages of a more rustproof finish. I have noticed from time to time a bit of surface rust start to appear on the slide, but a generous dose of Break-free wiped it right off. I have since been sure to properly keep some of the stuff on the slide, and have had no further problem with rust.

I tested the piece with three brands of ammo available to me at the time: PMC 71 grain round nose, Aguila 71 grain roundnose, and Speer Gold Dot 60 grain jacketed hollow point. I fired all rounds at a range of 15 yards at an eight inch steel plate, hearing a satisfying ring with each pull of the trigger...most of the time. The gun functioned perfectly with all but the Mexican Aguila stuff. About one out of four rounds would not fire on the first pull of the trigger, requiring a second strike to ignite the primer. As the trigger does not reset if the slide does not cycle, I had to pull the slide back about one quarter of an inch to cock the gun for a second try. This gun, by the way, has one of the best trigger pulls available on any pistol of it's type, breaking at a smooth five pounds. The pull was the same for each shot, a double-action pull of about one inch travel. Although the sights are small, it was no trouble keeping all the shots on the afore-mentioned steel plate. The gun fed every round from the seven shot Mec-gar magazine supplied with the pistol. I did not get to try any of the new Cor-bon .32 in the gun, but when it becomes available in my neck of the woods, I will give some a try.

Until then, I will feed mine the Gold Dot ammo and avoid the cheap stuff, except for practice. Overall, I was very impressed with the little gun, and plan to carry it daily, unless someone manages to squeeze a magazine full of .45's into a pistol the size of a Zippo lighter. 

Jeff Quinn


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The Kel-Tec .32 Auto






The Kel-Tec .32 Auto





The Kel-Tec strips to its basic components in seconds without tools