three years ago, I wrote an article reviewing the then-new Kel-Tec
P32 auto pistol. I had been carrying the little jewel
for a few months at that time, and was thoroughly impressed with
the pistol. I had bought the first one that I had ever seen, and
had been carrying it daily. I still believe it to be the best
little .32 auto available for pocket carry. The little P32 has
developed a cult-like following, and many of those who carry one
daily would not even consider another pocket pistol….until
CNC of Cocoa, Florida has just significantly upped the ante
in the small-and-light pistol market by introducing virtually
the same little P32 chambered for the larger .380 Auto
cartridge. The new gun is called the P3AT, and is almost
the same size and weight as the original P32. The .380 is
minutely larger and just over a half ounce heavier than the .32
pistol. Even with both pistols laying side-by-side, it is hard
to tell that the .380 is barely larger. I took measurements of
the two pistols, with the specifications listed below.
|P32 .32 Auto
my bare hand, I am unable to tell which pistol is which. They
are, for all practical purposes, the same size. Kel-Tec has done
that which almost everyone else said could not be done: they
have built a .380 auto pistol that is smaller and lighter than
most .22 and .25 caliber pistols!
P3AT achieves this feat through the use of modern design
engineering, equipment, and materials. While most pocket pistol
builders use the straight blowback design, the Kel-Tec uses a
locked breech system, like modern large-caliber pistols. By
using a locked breech, the P3AT does not need a heavy slide to
retard the blowback of the action. This results in the lightest
.380 auto ever built. Like the P32, the new .380 fires with a
smooth double-action pull of the trigger. The pull weight
measured right at six pounds on the little .380. The P3AT does
not lock the slide open after the last shot as does the P32. Big
deal. This is a fair trade-off to achieve the small size of the
weapon and still chamber the .380 cartridge.
P3AT, like its little sister P32, slips easily into a front
pants pocket where it will ride unnoticed all day, every day. It
is small enough and light enough that it can always be at hand
if a weapon is needed. While a larger handgun might be left in
the vehicle or at home, the little Kel-Tec is always there
within easy reach. It weighs less than many popular pocket
knives, yet carries a payload of seven .380 cartridges.
three years of carrying the P32, I expected the new .380 to be
reliable, and I was not disappointed. I tested the P3AT
with several different varieties of ammunition, both factory and
handloads. The gun fed, fired, and ejected perfectly, with no
malfunctions of any kind. Loads were chronographed at a distance
of ten feet from the muzzle. My load of choice would be the Cor-Bon
90 grain jacketed hollow point. Even from the Kel-Tec’s short
barrel, the Cor-Bon load clocked an average of 916
feet-per-second, and shot to point of aim at fifteen yards. This
.380 load is almost the same speed as the Cor-Bon .32 ACP load
out of the P32, but with a bullet that is fifty percent heavier
and significantly larger in diameter than the .32.
recoil of the .380 is, while noticeably more than the .32, quite
controllable and not painful at all. Rapidly firing the .380
until empty, it is easy to keep all shots centered on a standard
silhouette target at fifteen yards.
most states passing right-to-carry laws, more and more people
are buying small, easily concealable handguns. Many people,
however, start out with a gun that is too large or too heavy to
carry all of the time, and end up with the handgun that is not
always within reach. Remember, the first rule of a gunfight
is…. Have a gun. If you can’t reach yours, it is
useless to you. Is a small pocket pistol the ideal weapon for a
gunfight? Certainly not. A twelve gauge shotgun would most
likely be much better. However, most of us do not carry a
shotgun as we go about our daily lives. Even a large-bore
handgun is usually not within easy reach for most people on a
defensive handgun is for the time when you least expect to need
a gun. When that time comes, you had better be able to put your
hand on your weapon. The Kel-Tec is a gun that can always be
there. It is almost as easy to carry as no gun at all, yet
delivers seven rounds of hollow point power if needed. It is a
gun that can provide a little comfort in a situation where you
do not feel the safest. Walking across a dark parking lot, just
knowing that the .380 is in your pocket is much better than
knowing your .45 is back in the car.
reading this, if you surmise that I am impressed with the
Kel-Tec .380, you are correct. It is, in my opinion, the best
defensive pocket auto made anywhere, at any price. Every handgun
is a compromise, but the little P3AT has the right combination
of power, weight, and concealability.
price on the blued version is just $305. That is just five bucks
more than the P32, and a bargain in today’s market.
out the complete line of Kel-Tec products on the internet at:
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