The Kel-Tec P-11 is a semi-automatic small-frame pistol chambered in 9mm. The P-11 uses a locked-breech system where the backwards force is absorbed by a spring in the slide instead of the frame. It has a double-action only trigger that sets off the action with a nine-pound pull. It doesn’t have a safety, but it’s less likely something other than a trigger finger will pull a double-action trigger all the way back, so this kind of balances out the no safety. It has an aluminum, composite frame that’s very lightweight putting it around 1.25-pounds loaded. And it has fixed three-dot sights.
Kel-Tec recommends the P-11 for concealed carry.
|Sights:||Fixed three-dot sights|
|Material/Finish:||Aluminum frame<br />Steel/blued, parkenized and hard chrome barrel|
|Trigger Pull:||9 pounds|
A Face Only a Mother Could Love
The Kel-Tec subcompact pistols are delightfully pure in their intended purpose. They are easy to use, reliable, highly concealable, and effective close range weapons. While Kel-Tec is a relatively new company as gun companies go, their guns are made in the United States, and cost a fraction of what most other American made guns cost.
I bought a Kel-Tec P-11 back in 1997. I didn’t know much about guns at the time, but I had a concealed carry permit and a need to carry. The P-11’s bare bones simplicity and the ease with which it disappeared under my clothing were most attractive.
But the gun was oddly frustrating. I spent a lot of time at the range, running rounds through the thing, wondering why I couldn’t get decent groupings. The 3” barrel should have shot straight enough. By my estimations, it should have shot better than the 2” .38 Iver Johnson revolver that I had grown up shooting, but it didn’t.
To me, the Kel-Tec felt too light. The P-11s are made of aluminum and plastic and steel. The barrel kicked up at an odd angle during ejection and the gun was jumpy. I finally accepted that I needed to pull the targets in close and practice reflexive, defensive shooting. That was why I had bought the gun.
Like I said, I didn’t know much about guns. I didn’t understand that many people want a light weight concealed carry gun. The simplicity of the gun (no external safeties) seemed unusual to me. Since I wasn’t really comfortable with guns, I wanted as many safeties as I could get. I wasn’t satisfied with the 10-round magazine either, so I bought extenders and made the grip long, which defeated the purpose of its compact design.
And here is rub. I carried my P-11 for a while and never needed it, so I stopped carrying it. What good was it then? I took it to the range and hated that. I didn’t need to practice with the gun because it shot straight—I knew that much—so I sold it.
Now, when I look back, I have more respect for the gun. In the years since, whenever I have needed a concealed carry gun, I regret not having my old P-11.
After all—a double action only pistol with no manual safeties will shoot when the trigger is pulled. The P-11 can hold 11 9mm rounds. That’s better than 5 .38s. But pistol is not pretty—but it doesn’t need to be either because the P-11 proved to be a great back-up gun, perfect for concealed carry, designed to require very little thought during use, and is dirt cheap American craftsmanship from a company with a solid business model.
So why only four stars?
I’m still a sucker for a pretty gun.