Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kel-Tec P11

  This is not a full review of the Kel-Tec P-11. The following is merely my initial impression of this firearm, and I'll be the first to admit that I only have a limited amount of time with this gun. It should be sufficient to give a quick overall review. It is a gun. It's not like someone is trying to re-invent the wheel.

  Let's start off with the role that this gun is intended for.
It is clearly a concealed carry weapon. I doubt that anyone will buy it as a target gun, collectible, or even as a shared self defense gun. It's doubtful that most would even consider it a "Fun" gun.
The P-11 should easily be able to meet the needs of someone looking for a decent CCW firearm, and it could double as a home defense gun.

  Kel-Tec did a good job in keeping the exterior of the pistol smooth. Those carrying concealed will appreciate the effort.

  As it's light weight, smooth, and small, it should no doubt carry pretty easily.
Either IWB or OWB are definitely do able, and I think that pocket carry might also work depending on the clothing.
  I say, "Might," because this is a fat little gun. If you can pocket carry a Glock 26 then this weapon shouldn't be a problem. If the Glock seems a bit fat or if your pants are snug then it's just not going to work.
  If you're one of those guys that wears skinny jeans then just stop... and also don't even try pocket carry with this firearm.
  I'll be using the G26 as a frame of reference since most of us have some experience with them, or can at least find one at a local gun store for comparison.
  The overall length is almost an inch shorter than the "Baby Glock" , and the height and width are very similar. I doubt that I would be able to carry it in the pocket of my jeans, and would go with IWB or OWB carry. Carrying in jacket pockets would be easy.

  On the far right is my outstanding Kahr CW9. My equally outstanding Ruger LCR is on top and the Kel-Tec P-11 is on the bottom right. Hopefully the obvious comparison will help provide a frame of reference.

  Firepower is very good with a capacity of 10+1.
If the 10 rnd magazine seems a bit neutered then Kel-Tec offers a 12 round mag as well. Should 12 rounds seem insufficient, S&W59 magazines will also fit the P-11.
You'll find that 17 - 32 round S&W59 magazines are reasonably priced, and available from this excellent source. 
Let's revisit my earlier statement about firepower being, "Good." Actually, it's excellent depending on which mag you use.
If used in a home defense role, the Kel-Tec can carry the same load as a full sized service pistol. Hell... you can carry the same load as two full sized service pistols if you opt for the 32 rnd mags.
While I would much prefer a full sized handgun for home defense, you could easily switch back and forth between concealed carry and home defense roles with the changing of a magazine.
It's definitely a consideration if you're on a budget, and looking for one gun to do a couple of jobs.

  Obviously, Kel-Tec did a good job covering firepower in this little 9mm even though they only sell 10 or 12 round mags.

  Their little SUB-2000 (depending on the model) will also take S&W59 magazines so the P-11 could make a handy backup for the carbine if you want to keep your magazines standard.

  Moving on to accuracy. I'll be honest. I only put two magazines through this gun. 20 rounds isn't much to go on.

10 shots from 7 yards
I feel that you can get pretty decent defensive accuracy out of this firearm, but you will have to practice. This handgun is not an easy shooter by any means.

  The target on the right was shot at 7yds, and about 1 round every two seconds were fired.
Accuracy is OK for defensive purposes.

  BTW, the gun's owner had never shot a semi automatic handgun before today. While I only shot about 20 rounds through this pistol, I was handling it off and on all day while working with this new shooter.

  The trigger feels very revolver like, and it's clear that this was the intent. The problem is that while the trigger is very consistent throughout the pull, it is also very heavy. The manufacturer claims that it's 9lbs, but I have my doubts. I would love to put it on a scale.
  I'll be honest. I'm not a fan of this trigger. I can deal with it, but feel that it's one of the worst handgun triggers that I've tried over the last couple of years.
CCW guns often have heavy trigger pulls for safety purposes, and I agree with this principle. I think that Kel-Tec could/should lighten the pull a few pounds on this pistol.  Plenty of other manufacturers use DOA triggers without having them be excessively heavy.
  Unless the price was amazingly low, the P-11's trigger would probably be a deal breaker for me.

  BTW, you have a second strike capability with the DOA trigger on this firearm.

  The grip is short and fat. I wouldn't use the word, "Comfortable" when describing it.
Your pinkie is guaranteed to hang off of the bottom, but that can be remedied with the grip extensions from Kel-Tec (those with huge Andre The Giant mitts may still be out of luck). Naturally the grip extension will cut down on the concealability.

  The manufacturer's manual said nothing about a break in period, but it seems to be common knowledge that you need to run a couple of hundred rounds through their pistols before expecting reliability.
  This weapon belongs to a friend, and he shot a little over 150 rounds through it today. 100 rnds of 115gr brass cased (Monarch and WWB) ammo were fired, and later followed by 50 rnds of Tulammo .
   Reliability was perfect when using brass cased ammo. There were 3 instances of the bullet nosediving a little in the magazine instead of feeding when using the Tulammo. Racking the slide again would chamber the round. Some guns have issues with steel cased ammo.  The round count is still very low so it's too early to call the P-11 reliable. It looks better than I expected at this point.

  Let's quickly recap. Concealability is good. Accuracy is OK. Reliability seems pretty good when using brass. Time will tell on that one.

  What's next? Appearance? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think that the P-11's looks fall somewhere in between that of a Hi Point and a Glock. Make of that what you will.

  The price seems to average about $300. It may be all of the pizza and cheeseburger grease clogging up my brain, but I am positive that this gun was selling locally for a little over $200 about a year or two ago.
I liked it at $200. I could deal with it at $230. I'm liking it quite a bit less at $300. That's especially true considering that it comes with one 10 round magazine.

  The Kel-Tec came with one Mec-Gar magazine. It appeared to be well made and I've never had any issues with Mec-Gar mags in the past. I'm not going to fault the gun or mag for having problems with Tulammo. It's also worth remembering that the gun is still in the break in period.

  The 3 dot sights are OK for a gun this size. No complaints.

  I think it's time to talk about the slide serrations. They need improvement. A less tactful person might say that they royally suck. The serrations need to be cut deeper, spaced differently or have a different angle. Perhaps all three. Something needs to be changed in the future.
  It's much harder to get a grip on the slide than it should be, and I would hate to have to rack it with wet or oily hands. Those with weak hands, arthritis, etc will not want this firearm.

  The slide stop is small and can be difficult to operate. It's easier to rack the slide when chambering a round than it is to depress the slide stop. Maybe it will get better after the gun is broken in.

  Disassembly was pretty easy. Reassembly was a little more difficult (as it often is). A lot of  maneuvering of the barrel is necessary in order to get the assembly pin back in. Merely letting the barrel fall all of the way forward isn't going to do it. Be prepared to spend a while shifting it around until it's lined up. Perhaps it will be easier after the gun is broken in.
  There is also a spring that puts tension on the assembly pin when it's in place. I had to depress the spring  (SOG Aegis to the rescue) in order to get the pin back in place. Simply pushing on the assembly pin isn't going to get it in place (at least with this pistol). Those with 3 hands will find the process a bit easier.

  BTW, Kel-Tec warns not to dry fire this weapon. Kind of odd.

  They also warn not load the weapon by dropping a round directly into the chamber. The manual doesn't state why.
It's because this can break the extractor. Now you know.

  No info is in the manual or online about whether or not the gun is rated for +P ammo. I would assume that it's not until told otherwise.

  Nothing is in the manual about not using steel cased ammo. The usual warnings about reloads are present.

  No external safeties are present. Simply pick up the gun and squeeze the trigger.

  The magazine release is pretty good in my opinion. You will have to slightly rotate the gun in your hand in order to depress it, but you won't find yourself hitting it by accident. This is important since it's sometimes easy to hit the mag release while shooting these smaller handguns.
Magazines drop free easily.

  Let's wrap this up.

1) I think that this gun could satisfy almost any defensive role that I would need it for. It would not however be my first choice..
2) The round count is too low to assume that the reliability is there but it's performed well enough thus far.
3) I think that it's priced too high or it at least needs to come with a second magazine.
4) Some of the controls can be difficult to operate and the slide serrations need improvement. I do not believe that most women will be able to handle this gun very well. Those with small or weak hands are going to have problems. Those with hand injuries are going to have issues with this firearm.
5) There are many Americans that are living on a tight budget. A gun can be a big purchase for many families. If someone is buying a firearm that is intended as a family gun or shared self defense weapon (husband works nights, wife is home alone, etc), it would make sense to buy a weapon that everyone can easily operate. I don't believe that this would be that gun.
6) It's very concealable. The long, heavy double action only (DOA) trigger should greatly help prevent accidental discharges. Common sense, caution and practice play the biggest role in preventing AD's.
7) If given a choice, I'd much prefer a full sized gun for home defense. I wouldn't buy this gun unless I actually planned on carrying.

  In my opinion, the P-11 is an OK little gun. I think that it will easily fill the role for which it's intended. Unfortunately, $300 has become the price of a budget gun, and I think that a better choice could be found for that price.
CCW guns are always a compromise. They're lightweight so the recoil is felt more. The grips are generally smaller so they may be less comfortable. The sighting radius is shorter. The list can go on and on. Even knowing that CCW guns are a compromise, I still think that there are better choices out there.
One is in the Kel-Tec lineup. I would buy the PF9 over the P-11, but that is just my personal preference.

  I'll admit that even with some of the shortcomings of the P-11, the ability to find 17 - 32 rnd magazines is a big plus. Even the 12 rnd mags are pretty decent in such a small package.
  When I carry my Ruger LCR, there are 5 rnds in the gun and one reload in a pocket. Insert a 12 round magazine into the P-11 and you have more ammunition in the gun than I carry in my weapon AND on my person.
As these are self defense guns, ammunition capacity is always something to seriously consider.

  My friend seems pretty satisfied with this handgun and at the end of the day, that is what matters.

  BTW, my wife once again insists that I point out that the pistol rests on dirty rugs at the range, and not our carpet at home.

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