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From an article in Guns and Ammo:

      

The P-3ATís .380 ACP chambering makes it an unsurpassed combination of concealability and effectiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This astonishingly compact .380 auto sets new standards in weight-to-power ratio.

By Wiley Clapp

Ingenuity is often nothing more than a combination of existing principles applied in unique ways. Kel-Tec's new P-3AT has no single feature that is not established in modern pistol design, yet it has no competition in its niche.

This simple little .380 is the thinnest pocket auto I can recall. It's one of the easiest-to-conceal handguns of effective caliber you could possibly find. The P-3AT is 3.5 inches high by 5.12 inches long (including a 2.75-inch barrel). It is the thickness of the gun--.78 of an inch at its widest point--that is downright startling when you pick one up. And the pistol's unloaded weight is just 8.5 ounces. Now, a half-pound .380 that is actually smaller than my outstretched hand is unique. This one is small and light enough to tuck away in ankle rigs, waistbands, almost any pocket, possibly even in a hat. By comparison, the lightest of the new wave of aluminum, titanium or scandium alloy revolvers is just about three ounces heavier.

With blowback autos, the breech remains closed until the bullet leaves the muzzle and does so because of the strength of the recoil spring and the weight of the recoiling parts. Building a pistol that works on this system is simple and inexpensive, so it is widely used. But it does require a certain amount of weight in the slide, enough that it wouldn't fit into the P-3AT size/weight envelope. For this reason, Kel-Tec builds its pistols with an ingenious miniaturized version of the Browning tilting-barrel system to keep weight to a minimum. The P-3AT is recoil-operated, using the same general breech-locking system as a 1911.

The P-3AT employs a unique DAO trigger mechanism that works with an unconventional spurless hammer that is very light, particularly at the end that strikes the firing pin. It develops the necessary energy to fire the gun as a result of speed rather than mass. This is a straightforward gun to load and operate. It consists of a polymer receiver shell that accepts an aluminum block with all of the action parts held thereon. The barrel is machined steel, fitted into a cast slide. There is a full-length guide rod to support the dual recoil springs. No manual safety and no slide lock contribute to the pistol's clean and snag-free lines.

Since the P-3AT is intended for close-range defensive work, I did all of the evaluation shooting at plain silhouette targets placed at seven yards. You load the gun by inserting a loaded magazine and racking the slide all the way to the rear and releasing. There is no provision for locking the slide back, and it will not automatically stay back when the last round is fired.

I ran a couple of different types of ammo through the pistol, shooting as fast as I could recover. There is a distinct upward flip to the muzzle. You have to accept this in an auto so light, particularly when most of the weight is in the top half. Still, it was possible to keep six fast shots in a vital zone, and that is all the P-3AT is meant to do. In my hands, the pistol delivered the first shot about eight inches low and left of the remaining five. There were no malfunctions.

This is a very interesting little gun. I hope that the company sees fit to use the same basic idea and chamber it as a suitably heavier single-stack 9mm.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

MAKER: Kel-Tec CNC Industries
ACTION: Recoil-operated DAO
CALIBER: .380 Auto
CAPACITY: 6+1
BARREL LENGTH: 2.75 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 5.12 inches
WEIGHT: 8.5 ounces
SIGHTS: Fixed, three-dot
STOCKS: Integral polymer
FINISH: Matte black
PRICE: $300

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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