Kel-Tec P3AT

I’m going to go out on a really thin limb here, but I think the Kel-Tec P3AT was a significant contributor to the surge in people buying guns over the past decade. Sure, you have Obama, and the political threat on gun ownership, but the P3AT spawned Ruger’s LCP and then the .380 Auto ammo shortage happened and by then the snowball was rolling.

There have been a few variants since its introduction. Mine has the pivoting extractor while newer ones have the spring steel extractor. One thing all the variants have in common though is a locked breech, which is uncommon on smallish caliber guns such as .380. Usually they’re what’s called blowback operated meaning the slide is big and heavy and its sheer mass is what keeps the action closed when the cartridge goes off. Backward pressure “blows back” the slide, opening the action. Sometimes small blowback guns don’t even have an extractor because the cartridge case blows back with the slide.

Kel-Tec’s little P3AT is a .380 Auto-chambered semi-auto pistol that’s easy to conceal and very lightweight.

Kel-Tec’s little P3AT is a .380 Auto-chambered semi-auto pistol that’s easy to conceal and very lightweight.

The P3AT, in contrast, is a locked breech design. The rectangular block around the chamber locks up against the top of the ejection port so the action can’t open until the pressure drops. At the bottom of the rectangular block is a little kidney-shaped cut out that rides down the take-down pin and as it does, pulls the locking block out of the ejection port unlocking the gun.

Standard capacity for the P3AT is six rounds, so with it you really aren’t any better armed than if you had a .38 Special snub-nose revolver. But it is a heck of a lot thinner and lighter so it conceals easier, plus you’re more likely to slip the P3AT into your pocket every time you go out than you are a bulging revolver.

 

 

Scott Mayer

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“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Scott Mayer
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