Kel Tec P32
Copyright 2009

The P32 is not a newcomer to the industry at the time of this writing. Actually, it is currently a 2nd generation version of the original. Nonetheless, I feel that it deserves some page time as it is a design that has made history, and changed the face of concealed carry guns forever.

Since its inception, the Kel Tec P32 and its offspring the P3AT have been the source for much debate. It seems as though most folks either love ’em or hate ’em. Regardless of how you feel about it, we must all admit that this ultra-compact, locked-breech, single-stack semi-auto pistol has proven itself truly revolutionary in the modern world. With a slew of shameless replicas already well under way, we can accept the notion that the design itself was highly successful. And as for this urban cowboy, I can’t get enough of what Kel Tec has to offer

In the past couple of years I have acquired 2 P32’s for CCW use. One is a standard blued version, and the other is parkerized. My wife liked the park’d version and confiscated it quickly after purchase for her daily carry piece, so I had to buy #2 shortly after losing #1. Neither of these pieces could be defined as eye candy in any sense of the word, but they have both proven to be true workhorses that we will likely never part with.

I started off by thoroughly cleaning them up and applying a bit of lube to the friction spots such as the frame rails. These guns don’t need but a very thin coat of light oil over the metal surfaces to protect them. However, I do recommend that you consider applying a bit of gun grease to the rails for daily carry. You see, light oil tends to dry up or shift to places it is not needed. A bit of grease on the other hand will lube like fresh oil without moving around. There are many good brands out there to choose from. I use Tetra Gun Grease, or even some copper-infused automotive anti-seize on my guns… either one will do. I also disassembled the magazines before use and cleaned them out.

On the range, the Kel Tec P32’s both performed without any failures of any kind. Keep in mind that I am only using ammo that has the correct OAL (Over-All Length) to avoid the dreaded rimlock phenomenon. This can happen when the cartridge is too short for the magazine, and the rim of the top cartridge gets stuck behind the rim of the cartridge below it. Many JHP cartridges will be too short and may require you to install a rimlock kit to prevent this occurrence. Since I could never really see the use in running JHP’s in a mouse gun, I stuck to FMJ and never experienced this problem.

On day one, both of our P32’s ate through 100 rounds each of hot European ball… we had a stack of Fiocci 73g, and some Sellier & Bellot 73g. I have also tinkered with putting a “boutique” round in the chamber and another atop the stack followed by the Euro ball loads. It worked well with Corbon 60g JHP, and Buffalo Bore 75g +P HC-FP. They fed, fired and ejected all rounds like I would expect from a defensive weapon. The recoil is mild, and the locked-breech design is much less susceptible to “limp-wristing” malfunctions than the older blowback designs.

Copyright 2009

The P32’s also placed the rounds into a reasonable sub-6″ group off-hand at 7 yards. The long double-action trigger takes a bit of practice to master. However, my groups are now less than half the size they were on day one, so I know this little gun can shoot. Perhaps your biggest hindrance to good accuracy will be the sights. They are minuscule, short-radius, and virtually impossible to distinguish at night. However, at the practical distances of a P32, I am betting on point-and-shoot methods. And, the tiny sights make for smooth draws from those painted-on jeans some of y’all like to wear.

Copyright 2009
Copyright 2009

Disassembly/reassembly is a breeze with the P32. Just lock back the slide on an empty mag, remove the slide retainer pin, and ease the slide forward off the frame. After almost 500 rounds through each gun in the past couple of years, neither of them appear to be showing any signs of significant wear. Keep in mind that these are “carry a lot, shoot a little” guns, and are estimated to have about a 6,000 round lifespan. If you do wear one out though, Kel Tec offers a serious warranty (lifetime) on these, and their customer service is top notch. It is hard to beat getting two great guns for around $500 new. For anyone seeking to venture into the world of Kel Tec, the P32 is a great place to start. I can’t wait to get it’s big brother, the PF-9.

P32 Link

Calibers: 32 AUTO
Weight unloaded: 6.6 oz. 186g
Loaded magazine: 2.8 oz. 81mm
Length: 5.1″ 129mm
Height: 3.5″ 89mm
Width: .75″ 19mm
Barrel Length: 2.7″ 68mm
Sight radius: 3.8″ 96mm
Muzzle Energy Max: 200ft-lbs 240J
Capacity: 7 + 1 rounds
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs 23N
Image and Specs Courtesy of Kel Tec CNC
In Review: Kel Tec P32
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2 thoughts on “In Review: Kel Tec P32

  • May 6, 2010 at 07:31

    the kel tec p32 is a great gun i just got one and all my friends are getting one the best light gun you can buy

  • December 22, 2009 at 16:21

    I have had a P32 for a few months now… great little gun that just disappears on me.


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