Monday, May 21, 2012

A pocket-size pistol that's pleasing to shoot

I had opportunity to shoot a new, fresh out of the box Kel-Tec P32 last week. After a quick inspection and  a light cleaning, I was ready to go.

Kel-Tec P32
Overall, I found a lot to like. I detected only light recoil with the Kel-Tec shooting .32 acp rounds. It didn't seem nearly as rough on the hand as the much fatter and heavier Beretta Tomcat .32 which I'm more familiar with. The Kel-Tec was easily shot single handed, as well as the more traditional two hand shooting stance. So many light pistols feel like they want to jump out of your hand. Or fly off target. Not this one.

I won't get into all the details, but I did find the Kel-Tec to be a picky eater. Using ammo from over half dozen makers, I had good performance with Remington MCs, S&B FMJs and Fiocchi FMJs. A very limited test with Federal Hydra-Shoks went well, but Cor-Bon JHPs had some failures to feed in the initial break-in period. I also had a few failures to fully eject empty casings using Prvi Partizan FMJs. Again, this was with a new stiff pistol.

Failure to manually eject
After shooting, I had stumbled upon on something else. When clearing the loaded gun, most FMJ rounds got hung up and wouldn't eject when manually working the slide (Yes, I gave the slide vigorous pulls). Fiocchi's did okay, but the other brands wouldn't pop out. To clear a lodged round, I had to push it back into alignment with the barrel and, with my  thumb, push the round down and out through the empty mag cavity. The problem persisted after a field strip and good cleaning.

I carried the gun in a pocket holster for a couple days. I could hardly tell it was there. It's light enough that it doesn't cause the pocket to 'sway' like the Beretta does. After a few hours, the Beretta also starts burning my leg from all the weight rubbing. Not a problem with the Kel-Tec.

Aside from being finicky about ammo, I was pretty much impressed. Several people have recommended Winchester Silvertips for the P32 but at $35 to $40 a box, I'll hold off. We'll keep breaking it in with Fiocchis. But any suggestions how to make this pistol less finicky would be appreciated. Meanwhile, I'll be shooting Kel-Tec an email to see what they suggest.

Update 5:45pm 5/21/2012:

Kel-Tec isn't much help on the failure-to-eject issue. From Kel-Tec customer service:
Unfortunately, there is no fix for this. The clearance in our pistol ejection ports are very tight and do have trouble opening far enough to eject a live round through there...
The good news, I've tried cycling the troublesome rounds through another P32 with no hang-ups. At some point, I'll do a side by side comparison of components to see if I can find a difference between the two pistols.

Meanwhile, my work-around for the first gun is to either use Fiocchi FMJs, or to load a slightly shorter JHP round at the top of the magazine to serve as an easier-to-eject chamber round.

Update 6/4/2012: 

Tried out the second pistol with all the ammo types cited above. Every round fed, fired and ejected properly. Every variety also easily ejected by hand. Test consisted of approximately 300 rounds in one session. No hand fatigue after all that shooting, this is a pistol I'll enjoy practice with. I still haven't figured out what the difference is between the two guns.

1 comment:

  1. Just FYI, I know this is an old post, but I had the same issue with one of three P32s that I've worked on. The issue, in my experience, was ONLY on the P32 with a a hard chrome slide. It was lacking a certain machining operation on the breech of the slide, which made it impossible for round nose FMJ length rounds to eject while live. My solution was a flyer wire and only using the flat nose FMJ (WWB) or hollow points. Posting in case anyone else finds this post.