Kel-Tec P3AT – First Range Report

I managed to scrape up a little unexpected free time today, so I decided I needed to get my new acquisition out to the range. (I love it when the boss walks in and says “Go ahead and finish up what you’re doing, we’re going to cut out a little early today.” But I digress…)

I only had one box of 50 .380, so this was more of a “will it go bang when I pull the trigger” range day than real range time, but that was all I was planning on. I won’t carry something in the real world until I’ve had a chance to run some ammunition through it and make sure it will, y’know, work if I actually need it.

First, the good. As I expected, this gun is more accurate than I am. With the exception of about 4 or 5 flyers, all rounds were on the paper. I attribute those flyers to me getting used to the gun, i.e., finding the right grip, the right trigger pull, and so forth. Recoil is brisk, but not as bad as I’d feared. I wouldn’t want to go through a hundred rounds without a break – in fact, 37 rounds was getting to the limit – but it’s tolerable, and it’s really not a range gun anyway.

I did notice that even with a firm grip, I was having to re-adjust my grip every few rounds because the gun would shift a bit in my hand. If you limp-wrist this one, you’ll know it, because it will end up turning in your hand.

Now, the bad. After the third magazine (18 rounds), I started getting failures to eject that jammed the weapon. These were not “tap and rack” jams, either. Recovery required removing the magazine, pulling the slide back, pointing the muzzle to the sky, and shaking it until the jammed casing fell out. On my last 3 magazines, this happened 4 times, and the last time the case jammed in the chamber tightly enough that I was reduced to using the edge of the table to push the slide back so I could use my leatherman to grab and pull the case out (which didn’t work. I finally got it out when the slide slipped and went forward with enough force that the extractor engaged the rim and pulled it out – like it’s supposed to do in the first place). It did run smoothly for those first three magazines, though.

I suspect that this was a result of dirty ammo (American Eagle). The brass I recovered* was pretty filthy, and I assume some of that stayed in the gun. But still, this was rather… irritating. I’ll get a better idea once I clean it.

On the other hand, if I need that many reloads in a social situation, I’m pretty much FUBAR’d no matter what.

*Here’s a tip – If you use a public range and only want to recover your brass – because you’re not sure where all the other brass on the ground has been, or how long it’s been there – take a Sharpie and mark across the base of the round. It’s real easy to just drag the marker across the row of ammo while it’s in the box. Pick whatever color you think will stand out best, and it will let you distinguish your brass from everyone else’s, and can make it easier to pick out without having to bend over to see that it’s not yours. I used a metallic silver Sharpie this time around, but I think something that contrasts better with the brass and silver of the casing (blue, maybe) would be a better choice.

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