Kel-Tec is a name you should be familiar with. If not, they are an American gunmaker based in Cocoa, FL. They make innovative pistols, rifles, and shotguns at affordable prices. Today, we will take a look at their line of concealable pistols. The flagship of their pistol line is the Kel-Tec PF-9, a less than 1” thick 9mm single stack pistol that’s great for concealment.
Kel-Tec was founded in 1991 By George Kelgren, a Swedish-born gun designer whose previous work included designing the famous (or infamous) Intratec TEC-9. The first pistol that Kel-Tec produced was the P-11.
This double-stacked 9mm pistol was first produced in 1995. Lightweight and compact with a 10+1 capacity, the P-11 was an excellent choice for a concealed carry handgun. (Unfortunately, the P-11 was discontinued in early 2020.)
Then in 2006 Kel-Tec changed the game with the release of the Kel-Tec PF-9. It was billed as “the thinnest and lightest 9mm pistol ever mass-produced.”
|Weight Unloaded||12.6 oz|
|Magazine Capacity||7 rounds|
|Trigger Pull||5 lbs|
The PF-9 (and all Kel-Tec pistols) has a polymer frame to cut down on weight. The slide is produced from a single block of 4140 steel, as is the barrel. The gun is hammer-fired instead of striker-fired to keep the cost down.
It has no external safety but has an internal hammer block safety. What this does is place a metal rod between the firing pin and the hammer. As the trigger is pulled, the hammer block is moved and the hammer is allowed to fall on the firing pin, firing the round. This hammer block style makes the gun impossible to fire accidentally by dropping it.
The magazine is a single stack, so that allows for the grip to be just .88” wide. The grip is checkered to help maintain your grip, but I find that the thin size coupled with the polymer material makes it hard to maintain a grip.
Add to that the considerable recoil produced from such a light 9mm and it can be downright hard to hold on to for some shooters. I’ve added a simple slip-on rubber grip to mine that makes all the difference in the world. The slip-on grip has a finger groove and fits my hand perfectly.
The trigger of PF-9 is one area that many people have complaints about. The trigger pull is around 5 lbs which are pretty standard in a concealed carry pistol. The issue that people have is a long amount of travel before the break.
It feels as though you have to squeeze and squeeze forever until the round actually fires. The long trigger travel is actually an additional safety feature. Because the gun has no external safety, the long trigger pull helps avoid accidental (negligent) discharges from the trigger snagging on clothes or holsters.
I’ve shot my PF-9 a lot in the 10 years I’ve owned it, and the trigger travel does take some getting used to, especially if you go back and forth from this gun to another, like when you’re at a range. But on the other hand, the trigger is consistent each time so if you have this gun as your primary concealed carry gun and shoot it often, it will become natural and you probably won’t even notice the long trigger pull after a while.
Despite being known as an “affordable” firearms company, I have had hardly any malfunctions with my Kel-Tec PF-9 over the years. That’s not to say that malfunctions don’t happen.
There have been documented issues with the extractor (located on the outside of the slide) loosening or even popping off. With a loose extractor, failure to eject (FTE) becomes an issue. But these are all issues that some basic maintenance and minor repairs can take care of.
When I take my PF-9 to the range with my other 9mm and .40 caliber pistols, I am constantly amazed at how much more accurate I shoot with the PF-9. At 7 yards, all of my rounds hit within the black 4” bullseye on my target.
Not the case with my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield or my Ruger P229. I don’t necessarily think that the PF-9 is that much more accurate than the other pistols. My theory is that with the longer trigger squeeze, it takes more focus to hold my sights on target longer.
Whatever the reason, the result is that it’s the most accurate concealed carry pistol that I own.
The Kel-Tec PF-9 is a great gun at an affordable price.
It revolutionized the concealed carry industry at the time it was introduced. It is not without its quirks, as every gun is.
The long trigger squeeze will take some getting used to, and if you have FTEs make sure to check the external extractor. But those problems are easy to fix. The PF-9 is a fun gun to shoot and a quality concealed carry choice.
Other Kel-Tec Pistols
Kel-Tec has a full line of concealed carry pistols. Besides the larger (but still compact) P-11 and the PF-9, they also carry a .380 Auto pocket pistol they call the P-3AT (clever name).
The P-3AT is nearly a clone of the Ruger LCP. It’s the exact same size and a full 2 oz lighter. Kel-Tec also has a .32 caliber pistol of a similar size called the P32.