I’m a sucker for interesting and budget-friendly firearms. It’s just an easy way to get my hands on more guns without slaughtering my personal hobby allowance. However, sometimes that does lead to a gun that’s nothing short of a total disappointment on the range.

So, I prepared myself for an acceptable level of regret when I snagged one of KelTec’s extra affordable P17 .22 LR pistols complete with three magazines for a song of a price. Thankfully, this light little plinker proved surprising when I got it on the range for testing.

Table of Contents

P17 First Impressions
Specs & Features
Range Time & Accuracy
Where Does It Fit In?
Pros & Cons
Final Thoughts 

P17 First Impressions

KelTec is rightfully one of the kings of polymer firearms, and the P17 clearly fits the bill. The gun is mostly made from a glass-reinforced nylon with minimal metal outside of the slide assembly, barrel, springs, and a host of screws that hold the entire thing together. 

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect with this gun when I first pulled it out of the box. It's incredibly light and features some unique lines even for a .22 LR pistol. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

It’s simple and amazingly light when you get it into your hands. The gun just doesn’t feel quite like any other gun I’ve taken to the range. It’s strikingly lightweight yet offers a generous 16+1 capacity. Better yet, the gun comes with three magazines and is suppressor-ready.

The P17 is the kind of gun that I would expect to find in a lifeboat when stranded at sea or tucked into a survival kit. It’s affordable, but it offers capacity, weight, and cost benefits that make it an appealing option for a rainy “zombie apocalypse” kind of day.  

Specs & Features

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The gun breaks down into two easy-to-clean parts for general maintenance. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The first and most obvious characteristic of this gun for me was the weight. At well under a pound, the P17 is a minimalist design. The gun is hammer-fired with a simple blowback action. Basic disassembly is similar to many other blowback designs, despite all the screws in the frame of the gun. Just hold down the front disassembly tabs, rack the slide rearward, and lift to pull the slide free. The metal barrel is fixed, so no need to fuss with that. From a field-cleaning perspective, that only leaves you with two parts for basic maintenance. 

Even with the gun’s unassuming weight, the recoil is barely noticeable with .22 LR ammo. I could shoot this gun all day with barely any fatigue. It feels almost like an airsoft pistol – to be completely honest – but it’s a joy to shoot. The front high-visibility fiber-optic green dot is easy to see in high sun or shade, and the rear is adjustable and cut to reduce glare. 

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
You can see the hammer at the rear. There is red paint on the back of the hammer that also serves as a cocked indicator. Overall, the design is about as simple as handguns get. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The slide assembly is actually quite small, and only the rear lends itself to gripping to rack a round into the gun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The P17 falls into the compact size with a very lightweight design that offers just enough grip area for me to get a solid grasp with all fingers. I have somewhat larger hands, but the gun is still comfortable. I find the addition of Picatinny rail at the front a bit ambitious for a gun that falls well inside the budget category. Though, I guess there’s no real reason not to have the plastic molded for a rail anyway, right?

The handle has the classic KelTec “gator grip” paneling. It’s aesthetically pleasing but provides only a basic level of “grippiness” to the gun. Given the weight and the caliber, controlling the P17 was never an issue. 

Here’s a list of the basic specs:

Weight (With Mag): 0.8 pounds
Length: 6.7 inches
Sight Radius: 5.14 inches
Barrel Length: 3.81 inches
Height: 5.25 inches
Width (widest point): 1.21 inches
Trigger Pull: 2.44 pounds
Capacity: 16+1
Thread: 1/2x28 TPI

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The trigger proved to be impressive for a low-cost pistol. Note just how many screws there are holding everything together. If it keeps the cost down, well, I guess that's a positive overall. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The classic KelTec texturing isn't what I would call positive, but the gun is easy to control. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The trigger pull has a light travel of 0.3 inches, some squish to the wall that is 0.16 inches, and what I would call a semi-crisp break. The reset is just 0.18 inches. It’s only slightly tactile and a bit quiet – no doubt thanks to all the polymer parts – but I never had a short stroke.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The safety is easy to use and also ambi. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
KelTec clearly understood the value of threading the gun and including an adapter. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

There’s a fully ambidextrous safety and magazine release. The slide stop/release is only on the left side, though I rarely used it because I prefer to rack the slide. The release is also rather small and awkwardly positioned high on the pistol’s frame. I figure it is more for manually locking the slide to the rear than anything else. As a hammer-fired gun, there is red paint on the rear of the hammer that acts as a cocked indicator. It’s visible through the rear channel on the slide assembly when shooting.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The slide stop/release is located in a somewhat high spot on the gun, but I really never bothered to use it. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The mag release is a paddle-style one, and I find it is easiest to just use my trigger finger to operate it. I have to slightly adjust my grip if I want to release the magazine with my shooting-hand thumb. Paddle releases are not my favorite, but sometimes they are the better option. The pistol grip is thin enough that my entire hand covers the grip. If that paddle was a button, I would likely criticize it as something that’s easy to bump on the range.

KelTec’s polymer pride is on full display with the P17, and even the magazines are non-metallic. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice any wear on the gun after my testing, and the ambi thumb safety remained positive and easy to use.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The sights are surprisingly decent for the price of the gun and the fact that it is a very basic .22 design. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The magazine release is ambi but also a paddle design next to the trigger guard. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I think it's fair to call this a budget gun, but KelTec did open some interesting doors by offering it with a 1/2x28 TPI threaded barrel. The gun has that 16+1 capacity, is extremely lightweight, and .22 LR chambering could make it a great candidate for a suppressor. 

There are lots of screws holding the entire thing together. That is what you should generally expect from KelTec. I never noticed any of them walking themselves loose during testing, but I still recommend checking them after high-volume shooting sessions. If you find one that is getting loose, the solution is simple. Add a drop of Loctite, tighten it, and move on. 

Range Time & Accuracy

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
Here's a shot of my grouping with my first magazine through the gun at 25 feet. The lack of recoil was honestly surprising, even for a .22 LR pistol. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I’m sitting at a wide variety of .22 LR rounds through this KelTec without cleaning. I took it straight from my gun shop to the range, and I have been generally impressed with its performance. I have air-powered guns that “kick” more than the P17. But there are other features that I find even more appealing.

The sights are simple but fast to use in sunlight and dimmer indoor ranges. The magazines are easy to load, and the slide racks with very little effort. So far, I have experienced three malfunctions across 750 rounds. Two were light loads that failed to fully cycle the slide. 

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
I can manage some decent shooting, left, when I take my time at 25 feet. But you can also run the gun faster at the same distance and reliably put multiple mags inside the center of a target. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

That ammo was from an old stash of .22 LR, and I could feel that the rounds were somewhat sluggish and underpowered. Those ended in easy-to-clear stovepipe jams. My third and final malfunction was a failure to extract. At that round count, I’m not unhappy with the reliability for budget bulk-pack .22 ammo. I also ran some CCI Velocitors, Federal Punch, and Aguila hollow-point rounds through the gun just to see how it handled non-target loads. Reliability remained solid.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
Extra mags are affordable, but the gun comes with three 16-round magazines from the factory. That's very much appreciated for a .22 LR pistol. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
I ran a variety of loads through the P17 and found reliability to be about as good as I would expect given the .22 LR rimfire round that it's chambered to shoot. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The gun isn’t a bullseye shooter, but it has some accuracy chops. At just over 5 inches to the sight radius with a short barrel and lightweight design, it was never really meant to win any accuracy competitions. That said, most of my shots fell in the red at 25 feet, and I ran three mags through rapid-fire drills that provided decent accuracy and reliability for self-defense purposes. 

Where Does It Fit In?


KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
The gun fits the hand fine, and the ambi controls make it easy to turn into a training pistol for left-handed and right-handed shooters. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I have this crazy dream that my wife and I will become range buddies. She’s somewhat open to the idea, but she generally dislikes most of my handguns and suffers the common curse of being a left-handed shooter. Most guns, especially with manual safeties, just don’t work well for her hands. 

The P17 breaks the mold for her. It’s almost the perfect trainer for inexperienced shooters – righties or lefties. There is barely any recoil, the sights are decent and easy to pick up in high sun or low light, and the gun is easy to load and operate.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
I'm going to give another slow clap for the fact this gun comes at a budget price with three magazines right from the factory. It seems small, but that extra magazine is money on the range for training and to make it a more practical backup piece. I wish more manufacturers did that. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The design is intentionally basic with just a simple blowback action. It breaks down into just two main parts – slide and barrel/lower – making this hammer-fired pistol quick to clean and simple to assemble and disassemble without tools. I personally never cleaned it during testing, but it kept chugging along. Since there are few metal parts, I had zero fear of corrosion issues as well. 

Given its extremely lightweight design and affordability, the gun is also a clear candidate for a go-to plinker, backup, emergency, or survival handgun. I wouldn’t put it on my duty belt before going out on a patrol, but it would be a welcome companion in a pinch when weight, capacity, and simplicity are lifesaving qualities.

Pros & Cons

Here’s a quick list of my pros and cons for the P17.


  • Very lightweight design
  • Light trigger pull
  • Reliable
  • Cheap to shoot
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • Threaded barrel with adapter
  • Accurate
  • 16+1 capacity with three mags
  • Simple and easy to maintain 
  • Low recoil
  • Mechanically interesting and fun


  • Some people dislike paddle mag releases
  • Lots of screws
  • Minimal metal parts
  • Small slide stop/release

Final Thoughts


KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
After several range trips with the P17 and a few opportunities to hand it off to friends on the firing line, I don't have any regrets given the price and performance. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

I’ll caveat the following statement by acknowledging that I bought this gun with my own money already. It’s been hanging out in my safe just waiting for its chance to hit the range. It’s not my favorite to shoot, but I do shoot it pretty well. It’s fun. It’s very easy to control on the range for long shooting sessions, and it’s just as easy to clean.

For the price, I really like it. There are more solid .22 LR options out there for backup guns or tactical trainers. The Taurus TX22 comes to mind. But KelTec has hit the nail on the head when it comes to a survival/plinking gun that’s low maintenance, lightweight, easy to shoot, offers a large capacity, and is affordable to boot. The price hits that point where you can tuck it away for a rainy day or occasional range therapy with no guilt. 

I have zero intentions of selling it, and I expect it will be a go-to option when it comes to teaching other people how to shoot handguns for the first time. 

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