Personal critical perspective, The Kel-Tec PF-9 subcompact 9mm pistol.
Our additions to the collection, a pair of consecutively numbered Kel-tec PF9 pistols.
The Kel-Tec PF-9
Kel-Tec CNC Industries, an interesting little power-house of a manufacturer, the third largest handgun producer in the U.S. George Kellgren as Chief Engineer will likely continue to make a huge impact in the firearms industry for many more years.
This example of a subcompact pistol, taking the features and design work from the P-3AT and his earlier P11, is outselling the competition by a large margin.
Personal – This is a small lightweight cary pistol that has many points that make it well suited for concealed carry.
Small and thin
Can fit in a pocket
Quick reliable operation
Reasonable trigger and reasonable accuracy
Capable of shooting hand-loaded ammunition
The PF9 fits this list well and I was shocked at how accurate this little pip-squeak actually is on the range.
I do not “enjoy” shooting this pistol, more on this as I progress, I don’t have to love this pistol its reason for existing in the collection has nothing to do with recreation or even open carry, but a down and dirty backup or concealed carry.
Function – Using reloads, white box, bulk Remington and federal and my premium ammunition all worked with excellent results and without incident. I found a distressing problem with feeding with lead bullets as they would simply not function reliably, ever, this is not a huge loss because the pistol will not be used all that often and saving money on ammunition is not the priority.
The PF9 is a miniature 9mm with a high-power inspired tilting lock barrel that keeps the size very very small for a full powered handgun round.
I guess you could call the pistol ambidextrous but there are just not any features to speak of, at least not many that need any ambidextrous access for the use this pistol will fill.
The magazine release could be an issue, as it is with any small pistol there is simply just not much room and the magazine release button is at thumb level. Thinking clearly about the issue this pistol is just not designed nor would it be used for fast magazine changes – it is a “holy shit” self defense handgun for concealment – a concealed option with a full-power punch.
Take-down for cleaning is simple but not as fast as you would get with a more feature packed full-sized pistol. There is an unusual pull-pin that requires the rim of a case or a thin pry tool to remove the subsequent take-down is simple.
This pistol actually has a small mini-hammer in a protected rear slop that is double action only and non-recprocating – that is, it will not reset until the firearm is operated or the slide is actuated again.
Design flaws – The double action trigger on this pistol is smooth enough but is long as would be expected but exists inside a small trigger guard and is “pinch-prone” for larger fingers. The trigger has an exaggerated forward and lower angle with a relatively thin and pointed end. In examining the trigger it looks very similar to the profile of the trigger from the Russian Makarov pistol, but for whatever reason, unlike the Mak this tends to catch the trigger finger inside of the trigger guard and of course leaves little room in the guard for large fingers.
The non-recprocating hammer in double action is simply annoying – if it has to be double action with no single action feature at least make it capable of snapping twice if needed on a primer that is not cooperating as needed.
Small and lightweight, great for carry, painful and at best excessively “snappy” with this full sized round.
Magazine release at thumb-level can be a problem for some, in this case I would think that a rear frame mounted bottom of the magazine release would actually make changing the magazines quicker, a release similar to the Makarov pistol.
While not exactly a design flaw the heavy part of the pistol, the slide, is of course on top, the lightweight handle is very lightweight so the force of the 9mm is increased in its leverage making the pistol have a very unpleasant hard “snap” when firing, I found that after as little as 50 rounds I want to put it back in the box and go to another handgun, for most normal people that would be about a magazine of rounds down range.
Quality – Quality, safe-to-use “state of the art” manufacturing but the fit and finish tends to be, well, kel-tec ish, functional but not all that finished rough and ugly would be descriptive.
Caliber / Ammunition – 9×19 in a subcompact – damn thats both useful and painful. The PF-9 will accept +P ammunition with the recommendation of using it only “from time to time” +P – double damn!
Ergonomics – Ergonomic design to this pistol would be like talking about ergonomics for a smart-phone, it is just not the primary aim. This handgun’s design revolves around the ability to be small and lightweight in that it is tops in the market.
Current production – Production of the PF9 is priority out of the factory in Cocoa, Florida, while you cannot get some of the more interesting firearms due to backlogs this pistol seems to never have much of a lag in availability. The US factory produces a wide range of colors and finishes including camouflage base colors like dark brown, tan, gray, olive green, navy, and of course black with slides of colors, hard chrome plated and blued.
Nice little plastic boxes come with the pistols as a retail package.