Kel-Tec P-3AT Review

I’d like to review my Kel-Tec P-3AT, but it arrived out of the case with a defective barrel.  Wasn’t something I noticed under cursory inspection when I looked at it pre-purchase, because it was subtle, and lets face it, you don’t expect something like that to make it past quality control these days.  It probably wasn’t bad enough to prevent the gun from test firing.  It looked like something had impacted the barrel on the outside, because there was a visible tool mark, and if you looked at the inside of the barrel under a bore light, you could see that it dimpled through.

Now Kel-Tec is saying that it’ll take four to five weeks to turn around that part and get me a new barrel.  That’s an awful long time to wait for a part for a gun that never should have left the factory in the condition it was in.  I had been wanting a Ruger LCP, now I’m disappointed I didn’t hold out for one.  I can understand that sometimes a bad gun leaves the factory.  It happens to every manufacturer.  But a quick turnaround time on the part of Kel-Tec would have made it all better.  Four to five weeks is not an acceptable time period for fixing a gun that was defective out of the factory.

18 thoughts on “Kel-Tec P-3AT Review”

  1. I know what you mean. I looked really hard at the Kel-Tec’s and waited for the LCP. I couldn’t be happier with the LCP. Sorry to hear about your problem.

  2. Sure… just rub salt in the wound Martini ;) Just kidding.


    I was wondering that. If so, great. But I would imagine they should keep spare parts in inventory so they can turn around people who have defective guns out of the gate quickly. I’d be far more understanding if they were making me wait if I had just worn the barrel out. But I bought the gun, I want to shoot it.

  3. Boy, thats some review.

    I am real happy with my Kel Tec – but this is disturbing. One of the reasons I went with the Kel Tec was their reputation for superior customer service. Your experience pretty much ruins it. I can understand some delay – as you need to send the gun back to them, but really, how long does it take to switch out the barrel, or simply send you a new one??

  4. Not even switch out a barrel. I only sent them the defective barrel. They agree it’s defective, but they say a 4 to 5 week turnaround time for that part. All they have to do is put it in the mail and send me the new one. I was willing to give them a few weeks and declare their customer service took care of it. But 4 to 5 weeks for a new barrel on a defect out of the factory is pretty bad.

    Perhaps I am just unlucky, and Kel-Tec is swamped with orders. But when it was a QC mistake, I think you need to turn that around fast, even if you’re running at full tilt.

  5. Kel-Tec and “quick turnaround” have never been used in the same sentence before, unless it is to say “you can’t expect a quick turnaround from Kel-Tec”. I got my 3AT more than a year ago. After waiting 4 months on special order/backorder for spare mags, I gave up and bought a used on at a gun show. No more for me. They can’t keep up with their parts and it isn’t just a recent thing due to the election. And customer service? They got your money already, so be quiet and wait your turn…

    If mine ever breaks, I’ll give it to you for parts for yours. I like it, but if it ever becomes a broken tool it’s out of the rotation permanently.

  6. I don’t that I’d go quite as far as BillH. I had a first generation P-32 and I loved it. But the “they got your money already…” sentiment is something I don’t think I’d echo. It’s more that they don’t really have a clue. Much like I suspect Colt doesn’t. Fair or not, in this day and age I take how serious a company is about serving their customers by whether or not their website is built worth a S#!T. (And Kel Tec’s web store really isn’t.)

    I know, it could wind up being totally apples and oranges, but I think a company that’s serious about customer service will strive for it in all avenues. A company that doesn’t realize how important customer service is will say “we have a website”, but that’s about it. Like I say, the vibe I get from Kel-Tec isn’t “screw ’em they paid already”, so much as not knowing HOW to help customers any better.

  7. I have been looking at the Kel Tec Sub2000 due to most of the matches I go to have been holding carbine(pistol caliber) side matches and it takes my pistol mags. Maybe I should change my mind…..

  8. In three or four weeks the government might not approve you getting a fix.

  9. bummer to hear. I really like mine. It fits perfectly in the small watch pocket in a pair of jeans. shoots adequately well, too. And the only feeding issue is being a bit gentle letting the slide go–no problems shooting.

  10. The gun is a nice little thing; but I spent 30 years in retail and there is only one key to customer service… that person that already gave you or your company his money is standing in front of you and he’s not happy… what are YOU going to do about making him satisfied? Make him happy before he hangs up or walks away.

    I agree with Sebastian, 4 weeks to solve a problem that should never have left the factory is not the way customer service should be done. Ever read some of the customer service stories about Midway or Nordstroms? The person you talk to on the phone solves your problem right then. Kel-Tec is not a new company, so I’m not going to be as gracious as you are Eric ;-) They should know better.

  11. I called Kel-Tec customer service once. Probably 4 years ago now. I had lost one of the recoil springs and wanted to order a new one. I also asked about the problems I had with ejection.

    They shipped me new springs and a new extractor free of charge. Didn’t even charge for shipping. Kept me pretty happy.

    It is a bit disturbing that they didn’t have extra barrels laying around for replacement, but I gotta wonder just how often that kinda thing comes up. Never heard of it before with any gun.

  12. I hate to say it, but yeah…you should have just purchased the Ruger LCP from the start. I owned a Kel-tec P-3AT myself, and while it was a neat gun, I never fully trusted it. When I got my LCP, I sold the P-3AT and never looked back.

    The Kel-tec fanboys can whine all they want about how “Ruger stole the design!” (notwithstanding the fact that it’s literally impossible to “steal” an unpatented design), or whatever other nonsense and claptrap they care to offer. The fact of the matter is that Ruger came along, made some very real improvements on the Kel-tec design, and in the process built a better mousetrap. (Apparently, the capitalist idea of building a better mousetrap is anathema to the Kel-tec fanboys. It’s funny how brand loyalty causes some people to become completely illogical – nay, stupid – in defense of their favorite brand.)

    Regardless, and having owned both the P-3AT and the LCP, I can say without a doubt that the Ruger is most certainly the better of the two. The LCP has a more solid feel to it (probably because it is, in fact, built better), and unlike my old P-3AT, I trust the Ruger to go “bang” 100% of the time. I think the LCP simply looks better too, although that isn’t all that important. If I was you, I’d just get rid of your new P-3AT, and wait for a LCP. I mean, this IS potentially your life we’re talking about here! And because of that, there is no good reason to settle for “second best”, which is what you have done. Stop beating around the bush, and do what you should have done all along…get that LCP!

  13. I didn’t mean to rub salt in the wound. :)
    That said, I have to agree with Steve, the lcp does feel more solid, also, due tothe way they contoured the grip it is way more comfortable to hold. You wouldn’t think that a thumb rest that is that small would make a huge difference, but it does.

  14. As I understand it, different guns are made in batches to improve manufacturing effeciency. It could very well be that the p3-at isn’t scheculed for another run for several weeks. I agree that company policy should be to keep spare parts on hand for this kind of problem, but a sold complete gun brings in more than a bunch of spare parts on the shelf. Just my opinion here though.

  15. My lovely bride accidentally dropped my Kel-tec PF-9 two days after I bought it and chipped the rear sight. I called Kel-tec and I had a brand new sight in my mailbox in two days completely free of charge, including the Shipping and Handling. I’ve heard that about Kel-tec and it proved to be true in this case. I haven’t had another problem since!

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