by David Crane
KEL-TEC CNC Industries Inc. just introduced their new KEL-TEC P-3AT .380 ACP semi-auto pocket pistol at SHOT Show 2004. Billed as "the lightest .380 Auto pistol ever made", the P-3AT is virtually the same size and weight as the ubiquitous KEL-TEC P-32 (.32 Auto) pistol that has become the quintessential pocket gun carried by gun cognoscenti in the United States. At 5.2" long, 3.5" high, .77" wide, and 7.2 oz empty weight, the KEL-TEC P-3AT is only minutely larger than the P-32. The KEL-TEC P-32 is a super-thin, incredibly lightweight double-action-only pistol that holds 8 (7+1) rounds of .32 Auto ammo and is simply a breeze to carry in one’s front pocket. By contrast, the new P-3AT has…
a total capacity of 7 (6+1) rounds, which translates to a loss of only one round for the bump-up in caliber.
However, while the size and weight difference might be insignificant, the caliber difference isn’t, at least not in the minds of American LEO’s and CCW’s. Fact is, the .32 Auto cartridge has never really caught on with U.S. gun-carrying professionals or civilians in the U.S., at least not in large numbers. Americans have always been extremely hesitant to go below 9mm/.38 Cal. when choosing a defensive caliber/cartridge. The only reason the .32 Auto cartridge has been tolerated here in the last number of years is due to the availability of excellent semi-auto hide-out guns like the aforementioned KEL-TEC P-32, and the now famous (and comparatively expensive/hard-to-come-by) Seecamp LWS 32ACP, which have made it possible to hide a defensively-applicable caliber auto pistol in one’s pocket and almost forget it’s there. Interestingly, from what I understand, the terminal performance of the .32 ACP Winchester Silvertip (for which the Seecamp .32 is specifically tuned/calibrated) is impressively close to a lot of .380 ACP rounds.
With the KEL-TEC P-3AT .380 ACP pistol, plainclothes/undercover LEO’s (law enforcement officers) and civilian CCW’s who have relied on the KEL-TEC P-32 as their silent partner can now upgrade in caliber to the .380 ACP without their pockets taking a size and weight hit–assuming this new model proves to be as reliable and durable as the P-32. Of course, only time and real-world feedback will tell. I think the KEL-TEC P-3AT could proove to be a very big deal for both undercover LEO’s and civilian CCW’s. And, since KEL-TEC’s are so affordable, the hit to one’s wallet isn’t too bad, either. The KEL-TEC P-3AT, like the P-32, is double-action-only.
Suggested retail price on the KEL-TEC P-3AT is $305 for blued finish, $345 for the parkerized version, and $360.00 for the chrome version. DefRev is partial to the parkerized KEL-TEC models ourselves.
DefRev will try to acquire a P-3AT soon for a thorough T&E.
If you’d like to acquire a KEL-TEC P-3AT .380 ACP pistol, or would like to get some more info on it, you can contact KEL-TEC at 321-631-0068. You can also reach them via email at [email protected]. KEL-TEC is located in Cocoa, Florida.
You can also go to the KEL-TEC Owner’s Group (KTOG) website, which is the best information resource on the web for KEL-TEC firearms. It’s very possible that some members of the KTOG already have posted some user feedback on the P-3AT .380 ACP pistol.
Click Here to view the KEL-TEC P-3AT Instruction Manual. This is a PDF file.