Kel-Tec PF-9 Review
Without further ado, here is my review of my new Kel-Tec PF-9, 9x19 semi-automatic handgun.
A few weeks ago, I started looking for a small gun, as my USP Compact .45 just isn't small enough for comfortable daily concealed carry. After much reading and shopping, I was honing in on one of two guns: the Ruger LCP, a tiny little .380 ACP, and the Kel-Tec PF-9.
At the end of the search, I had decided on the PF-9 for a few reasons:
- Cost - I was able to get the PF-9 brand-new under $300, sort of a mental price barrier which the LCP was always above.
- Ballistics - comparing any 9mm Luger vs. any .380 ACP, 9mm should make a bigger hole, and faster.
- Ubiquity of ammunition - when the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I am comforted by the fact that 9x19 is a universally used round.
- Size - I was going for a small gun, but, at the same time, I like to have all my fingers on the weapon - that just wasn't going to happen with the LCP unless I commissioned some custom, hi-cap magazine.
I did my share of homework. Unsurprisingly, people have a lot of bad things to say about the PF-9. Here are the bad points I read, along with my mitigation plan:
- The grip is horrible, it hurts your hand. I even saw a photo of a guy's hand that was torn up by the grip. Solution: this didn't phase me too much, as there is an after-market rubber grip add-on by Hogue, iirc, and one dude even hacked his own out of a bicycle tire inner-tube.
- The recoil is horrible. Solution: Well, I shoot a .45, so I'm used to a big kick. HTFU.
- The gun is ugly. Whatever, does it work? STFU.
- The trigger reset is a killer on the fingers. Solution: See #2, above.
- You shouldn't dry-fire the gun for practice. The extractor fastening screw doubles as the backstop for the firing pin. You can damage the firing pin, as well as damage the threads on the extractor's screw, meaning that if you ever need to replace the extractor, you may end up replacing the whole slide assembly if the peened screw strips the threads. Solution: Get snap-caps, you should have them anyway if you're practicing dry-firing.
Magazine with snap-caps and optional pinky extension installed.
I also read some good things about the PF-9. Namely, it's inexpensive, it's small (Kel-Tec bill it as the smallest 9mm ever made), and Kel-Tec has excellent customer service for failures/issues.
After getting almost a handful of anecdotally good recommendations, I whipped out the plastic and bought the gun.
The PF-9 receiver comes in four colors - black, gray, green, and tan - and slide in three coatings - blued, parkerized, or chrome. My dealer had only two options available - green / blued, or tan / tan parkerized. I nearly went for the all tan weapon, it looked cool, but I decided to use the extra $30 on ammo, instead.
Here it is:
As you can see, the PF-9 is very small. I can almost completely conceal it in my hand, so carrying it should be no problem. In fact, I did wear it tucked in my pants all day Friday, it was a breeze to carry. I still need to get a proper holster for it, but it's far from necessary. With 7+1 in the pipe, FMJ rounds, it was light as a feather.
My initial impression was that it's a cheap gun. But, really, it's not cheap. It's inexpensive. The cheapness was my spoiled ass comparing the HK, surely a Mercedes of firearms, to the Kel-Tec. The HK has lots of little ergonimicky things that are noticeably absent on the PF-9. But, that's not cheapness - rather, it shows Kel-Tec's version of refinement to be decidedly preferable for concealed carry. The PF-9 is a killing machine. Period. No frills (other than all the fancy colors). This is not a gun that you take to the range for fun every couple of weeks. This is a gun meant to stop/kill somebody that is trying to kill you. I have no doubts that it will serve that purpose for me, should that day ever come.
My first shot was dead-center of the target at 5 yards, and I maintained a 6-8 inch grouping for 21 rounds, with only a few strays. Despite the good shooting, it was a pain to shoot - literally. It kicks more than my .45, but that's manageable. You'll definitely want some practice if you want accuracy with quickly successive rounds, though. The grip didn't bother me a bit. That guy was a ***** with soft hands.
And the trigger reset? Yes, it hurts like hell. Imagine banging the side of your finger repeatedly with a carpentry hammer. It's kinda like that. I get similar soreness from shooting the HK, but it takes several magazines to get to the same level of hurt as just one round from the PF-9. I see this temporary pain as a small price to pay for having such a small and powerful weapon.
Any man who shoots my bow can't use his hand for half a day!
The PF-9 is DAO, and the trigger will not properly reset if it is partially depressed when the slide operates. Or, so I've heard. I had no fail-to-fires as a result of this supposed flaw. But, maybe that's because I was aware of it going in.
Another of the HK frills that I've become accustomed to is a magazine that slides neatly in and clicks. The PF-9 requires operation of the mag release button to both insert and eject a magazine. I quickly adjusted to this quirk, so it's no longer a bother.
Mine came with a metal mag release button - I saw a youtube video which suggested this was an upgrade from the stock plastic button. I'm not sure if mine represents an update or an accidental upgrade - I certainly didn't order it like that. But, it's a $5 part, so it could easily be an update to the overall design.
Disassembly is nothing special, except, this one requires the rim of a 9mm cartridge:
In pieces, it's standard fare:
One thing that does concern me is the recoil spring guide. It is made of plastic, and it seems to flex slightly when the slide is all the way back. That brings me to another consideration. This gun is 100% made in the USA. Cocoa, Florida, in fact, only about 3 hours drive from me. So, if the little $2 plastic rod does become an issue, I can pretty much drive to the factory to get a new one (and visit Ron-Jon's). Thus, it should be no problem to get it shipped quickly to anywhere in the USA.
My final observation is that the bright white paint (not glow-in-dark) on the rear sights is very distracting. I actually just shoved a black sharpie in there, here's a photo pre-molestation:
And, a photo post-sharpie:
Despite what may read as a fairly negative review, I love this gun. It is everything I wanted it to be - small, light, inexpensive, and functional. I might even get a little bitty laser to mount on the accessory rail (but I might need to file it down a bit, first):
Nice, awesome review. Was it really such a pain to shoot? That makes sense that it would take some getting used to for firing quick successive rounds. I am going to have to find this so I can fire it myself and find out! It sounds like a great gun for concealment carry.
It jumps, surprisingly much, but I found it easy to get back on target - probably because it's so lightweight.
Originally Posted by EmetShamash
The painful part is really the trigger reset, it snaps back with a vengeance. This is likely just me being a ***** - it is a DAO gun with a fairly long trigger travel, and I've become accustomed to DA/SA operation - seems like there's less energy behind the HK reset, since the hammer is already cocked when the trigger kicks back? I'm not knowledgeable of the internal mechanics, so don't quote me on this.
Yeah, you can hear me say "whoo" in this video in response to the first time I fire it; the thing does snap pretty hard.
This thing is a major pain to reassemble after you field strip it, but I'm happy with it for the most part.
I actually hate kel tec handguns. Lots of reasons why. Mainly, I really don't see them as reliable weapons. Nor durable. Parts wear out and need replacing if you fire it regularly for practice, which you absolutely should. You need to do some labor to get it operating smoothly and reliably. All of this is unacceptable for me in a defensive handgun. To me Kel Tec handguns are more like really good saturday night specials you use and throw away.
There are a lot of handguns in that size range that are of quality construction, unlike all of Kel-tec's pistols. If you ask me, don't get this gun. Man up and carry something a bit bigger; glock 26 or the sorts. Its still very doable. Even the ruger SR9C (which used to be my carry gun, and I HATE ruger automatics) are built to much much better standards.
Or if you don't mind DAO pulls like the kel tec, look at older smith and wesson pocket autos. Very well built.
I HATTTTEEE Kel tec. sorry to poop on your review.
All of that being said, I think the PF9 is the most desirable one out of the kel tec handgun lineup.
My Kel-Tec P3 is without a doubt, the worst firearm money can buy.
These holsters look pretty cool. They are originally just for glocks, but they released a bunch of other models for other guns including some Keltecs.
I have a P11 and do not like it because of the DAO. The long trigger pull makes accuracy an issue for me. But my dad bought 2 and gave me one - so can't knock a free gun. I usually keep it in the console. The magazine extender made it...better.
YKroon9, just keep practicing. I personally think for pure self defense use double action is a godsend. lower chance of negligent discharge, and with all the adrenalin pumping you'll hardly notice the pull.
There should be more gun reveiws on this site. I'm pretty much a die hard XD guy , but this reveiw made me consider gettting this weapon. I think you should do a video reveiw.