Review of the Kel-Tec P-11: A Pocketful of 9mm

Have you been looking for a powerful and reliable, very affordable, high capacity defensive pocket pistol–one that you can not only carry in your pocket, but also clip inside your waist band? In this installment, we take a look at such a gun.

George Kellgren

George Kellgren

It has been on the market since the 1990’s and has been reviewed elsewhere, but not by me. The first pistol designed by George Kellgren, the founder of Kel-Tec Firearms (www.KeltecWeapons.com), it is the innovative but inexpensive 9mm Kel-Tec P-11.

Pistol design

The P-11 is a semi-automatic, locked-breech, double action only pistol, chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge. This pistol is compact and lightweight, thanks to its locked breech. The slide is made from carbon steel and contains the firing pin and the extractor. The rectangular frame is machined from solid aluminum and houses the firing mechanism. The trigger connects via a transfer bar to the hammer and operates in double action only. The hammer is trigger cocking so the gun can be dry fired without having to rack the slide to re-cock the action. The light weight firing pin transmits the energy of the hammer to ignite the primer. The grip is made of the ultra high impact polymer. The P-11 comes from the factory with standard 10-round magazines. However, you can also purchase factory 12-rounders. That will give you 13-rounds of 9mm in your pocket gun (12 + 1 in the chamber). That’s not bad for a pocket gun that in my opinion is good looking to boot.

Pocket carry of the Kel-Tec P-11

The Kel-Tec P-11 is a small compact pistol. It is only 5.6 inches long, 4.3 inches tall, and one inch in width. If you have big pockets, it can be carried in your pocket. If you don’t, you need to use a different method of carry. The P-11 feels easier to carry than does a Glock 26. The P-11 weighs 14 ounces unloaded and around 22 ounces loaded with a magazine fully charged with 12 rounds of 9mm ammunition and a round in the chamber.

Because the P-11 has such a heavy and long trigger, it is safer than most pistols to carry without a holster in your pocket. However, I still recommend carrying it in a pocket holster, as I do for any other pocket gun. I pocket carry my P-11s in either a Mercedes. i.e., a custom Kramer horsehide pocket holster, or in a Hyunda, i.e., an inexpensive Uncle Mikes nylon pocket holster.

P-11

Kel-Tec P-11 with the Kramer leather pocket holster

The Kramer Pocket Holster ensures the gun will stay in the same place inside your pocket, stops the front sight from wearing a hole in your pocket, and ensures that your gun won’t be wrapped in a wad of pocket material when you go to grab it to defend your life. The Kramer Pocket Holster also disguises the shape of the gun given that the outside of the holster is covered with a piece of plastic laminate that breaks up the outline of the gun, so the bulge in your pocket looks like a wallet. The side of the holster pressing against your body is smooth, comfortable, precisely molded horsehide.

The Uncle Mikes pocket holster is made of a soft suede-like material, open and closed cell foam padding and a smooth nylon lining. This holster’s laminated construction conceals the outline of the gun, cushions the leg from the gun’s contours, and provides a barrier against perspiration.

You can easily install a factory pant/belt clip onto the P-11’s frame so that you can carry it deep inside your waist band. This is a good way to go. The gun is comfortable and conceals nicely this way.

The Kel-Tec P-11 is not a match grade pistol but you can plink with it.

The P-11 is fun to shoot. It has a heavy and long trigger pull the length of Texas with a full length reset. However, for me, perceived recoil is manageable, the gun points well, and it feels good in my hands. The gun’s long trigger pull has given me the opportunity to practice the most important fundamentals of marksmanship—trigger control and sight alignment.  With this gun, the trigger is the safety. You really have to intend on pulling the trigger to discharge the gun. It is highly unlikely to happen by accident.

You can shoot this gun in four ways. One way is to plink with it for fun. A second way is to shoot it as if your life depends on it at the moment. A third way is to shoot it to practice the marksmanship fundamentals, and a fourth way is to practice point shooting with the gun.

The P-11’s accuracy

The P-11’s accuracy is acceptable up to 10 yards and good at seven yards or closer in. This is not a gun to shoot a one-hole drill with. However, with practice, one can keep all shots within an 8 ½ by 11 inch piece of paper, the high center of mass area of a person’s torso, within seven yards.

The P-11’s reliability

I own four P-11s. Why? The answer is because I like them. Two I bought new and two I bought used. I have owned three of these four for over 10 years. As I shoot my guns a lot and I hate cleaning guns, I would say that they have been used a lot and cleaned very little. My fourth P-11, the green one pictured here, I recently acquired.

Kel-Tec offers a lifetime warranty on all of their guns. One of my P-11s had to be sent back to the factory for service. The other three have been good right out of the box. I have lost track of how many thousands of rounds I have run through my P-11’s with no problems. The gun I sent back for factory service stubbornly shot to the left, and it wasn’t my trigger work or the sights. I also had difficulty inserting a fully charged magazine into the pistol. One month later the gun was shipped back from the factory and it has worked fine ever since. 

Easy maintenance

The P-11 is easy to field strip for cleaning. Routine cleaning is as easy as cleaning a Glock. The nice thing, also as with a Glock, is that the P-11 can go a lot of rounds without cleaning.

Summary

The Kel-Tec P-11 is George Kellgren’s first commercial gun offering and my favorite in the Kel-Tec line. What’s not to like in a light weight and reliable pocket gun that holds 13 rounds of 9mm +P’s?

Sources

Kel-Tec. www.KeltecWeapons.com
Kramer Gun Leather. www.KramerLeather.com
Uncle Mikes. www.UncleMikes.com

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