Some of us, especially those of us that live down south, find it difficult to conceal a handgun in summer clothes. I wear khaki shorts most of the time, and it is hard to hide a real pistol. Therefore, I sometimes only carry a small pistol.
The first really small pistol I carried was a Keltec P-32 in .32 ACP. It was small enough to fit in my pocket, but was chambered for a pretty weak round.
The next year at the SHOT Show, my old buddy Tman told the folks at Keltec that they ought to chamber the pistol in .380 Automatic. The salesman told him it couldn’t be done, and Tman argued with him about it for a while. But the next year, they did just that and announced the P-3AT in .380. Of course, Tman took full credit for the idea.
Here is my old P-32 on the bottom, compared to a P-3AT on the top.
As you can see, they are identical in size.
The only difference is in caliber.
Here’s the difference from the business end.
Not much difference, but a little bigger.
Here are the two rounds, with the .32 ACP on the left and the .380 on the right.
But ballistically, the .380 is superior to the .32 ACP. With the proper ammo, the .380 can make the FBI minimum penetration standards. More on that later.
I had been interested in the Ruger LCP when it was introduced. My friend Ted got one and we had a chance to compare the two pistols and shoot both.
Here they are.
They look a lot alike.
They are the same size.
The Keltec weighs 8.3 oz. and the Ruger LCP weighs 9.4 oz.
There’s just not much difference except for the names.
We took them apart and compared the slides.
And the frames.
And all the parts.
These pistols are at least first cousins.
So, how do they shoot? We took them to the range and each of us shot both.
We shot at 7 yards, which is about the maximum range that they could be effectively used.
They have no real sights and are mostly “point and shoot” pistols.
In the old days, a pistol like this was often called a “belly gun”, meaning that to use it you would have to stick it in the bad guy’s belly and pull the trigger.
I shot slowly, but was not very proud of my groups. They all hit the silhouette, but they were not pretty.
Ted even tried shooting off a bag, but that didn’t make a lot of difference in group size.
We thought the main reasons were the lack of sights, and mainly, the extremely heavy trigger pulls.
The triggers on these pistols are long, heavy double action triggers. This is good and bad.
The good part is that since the pistols do not have a manual safety, the heavy trigger pull means that you don’t have to worry about accidentally pulling these triggers.
The bad part is that they are very difficult to shoot accurately.
After shooting, we compared notes. We agreed that the trigger pull on the Ruger was heavier than on the Keltec.
We saw no difference in accuracy between the pistols. They both ran 100%, with no jams or problems at all.
In short, except for the better trigger on the Keltec (IOHO) there was no big difference between the pistols.
So, what ammo should you use in these pistols? We ran both Ball and JHP ammo through them and they both ran them just fine.
But presently (and this may change soon), no ammunition manufacturer makes a JHP in .380 that will reliably make the FBI minimum penetration standard.
But Ball will usually do so.
Therefore, I run Ball ammo in mine, until someone makes better ammo.
This pistol and caliber is not a real fighting pistol. It is more of a BUG (Back Up Gun) or a deep concealed gun. But it is better than anything smaller.
Here it is in my front pocket.
Hides pretty well.
Of course, if I ever really need a pistol, I am going to wish I was carrying this.
1. The Keltec trigger was slightly better, but this could be because I have shot it more and maybe it is smoothed out a little.
2. No difference in size.
3. No difference in reliability.
4. No difference in weight.
5. No difference in accuracy.
6. Get whichever you like the best. They are both fine little pistols.