Bargain Hunting: The Kel-Tec PF9

The nation of pocket nines is crowded.  It’s full of fine citizens from Kahr to Diamondback, SIG to Ruger, Walther to Boberg.  But all of those names come with a price, making them somewhat out-of-reach for people who just need a small gun they can depend on.  Kel-Tec PF-9 is a great affordable option here. 

The Kel-Tec PF-9 is the mousegun that’s so good that Ruger decided to make it.  Of course, Ruger called the pistol the LC9, added a manual safety, a magazine safety, a loaded chamber indicator, a couple ounces’ mass, and they charge an extra benjamin for it, so it’s not really the same gun at all.  Kel-Tec is an innovative all-American company that strives to make affordable guns for people who need a solid product but can’t afford a more mainstream firearm.  

A slender, (.88in) lightweight, (12.7oz empty, 18.3oz loaded, 7+1) small (5.85in long, 4.3in tall) 9mm handgun, it’s intended for people who need a gun for very deep concealment in a solid caliber.  Its three-inch (3.1in) barrel is plenty adequate for 9mm, even if you know it’s gonna be loud.  With a profile the same size and weight as ultralight snubbies with three more rounds in play, it’s hard to beat, especially for about $250.

PF-9s are available in a variety of finishes, the blued slide, black frame model being the cheapest.  Kel-Tec offers them in a few other colors, as well as with parkerized and satin hard chrome finishes for the slide.  All said and done, you shouldn’t drop more than $300 for one, even with the high-end finishes.  The magazines are available with flat floorplates or pinky extensions for more grip purchase.  

Although the gun comes with 3-dot sights and no one (yet, still) makes night sights for it, the gun has a hefty laser-based aftermarket going for it.  Crimson Trace makes a PF-9-specific LaserGuard for it, and thanks to its Picatinny rail, you can add any number of small lasers to it, like a Stingray sub-compact laser, or a Laserlyte RML.  Laserlyte also makes a rear sight laser for the PF-9 that leaves a lot more holster options open.  And since the gun costs so little to begin with, adding one of these options isn’t out of the question, price-wise. 

Early adopters of the PF-9 saw a few issues that Kel-Tec has aggresively taken care of.  Not only are the problems gone, but so are the guns.  Kel-Tec issued one of the most comprehensive replacement programs the gun world has ever seen and has replaced every single troubled firearm, on their dime.  The PF-9s you see in stores now are just as reliable, if not more, than some of the offerings out there that cost double.  But that also says something about Kel-Tec and their desire to really deliver quality products, even if they are inexpensive and rough around the edges. 

If the PF-9 has any drawback, it’s just how small it really is.  People who have large or beefy hands could very well run into problems handling the PF-9.  That being said, if that’s your problem, then you can probably conceal a larger handgun (like the P-11, which is priced similarly to the PF-9).  The PF-9s size is one of its strengths for most people; the fact that it’s so affordable, has a good trigger, and positive record are all just icing on the cake. 

All of Kel-Tec’s guns deliver with low prices; the PF-9 simply happens to stand out more on account of the cost of its closes competitors.  It’s just a bargain for what you get.