Kel-Tec P-11 Review 2016

The Kel-Tec P-11 has been produced since 1995, and it was Kel-Tec first in-house gun. Until that time, Kel-Tec were busy designing and manufacturing firearms for other companies, such as Husqvarna, Swedish Interdynamics AB, Intratec, and Grendel. After a few years of working on other people’s products, Kel-Tec’s owner and chief engineer George Kellgren decided to design and produce his own line of firearms, starting with the P-11.

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Kel-Tec P-11

This gun was designed to be carried in concealment, like many of Kel-Tec’s handguns. Kellgren designed it to be a service gun, so there is no safety. Instead, Kellgren designed it to be double action only. In other words, it takes a considerable amount of pressure in order to squeeze that trigger (the pull is about 9 oz.), and that is the feature which work to prevent any accidental discharge. There is also a drop safety, in the form of a firing pin spring.

Kel-Tec P-11 Specifications:

  • Caliber – 9mm
  • Action – short recoil operated, semi-automatic, double-action only
  • Weight – 14 oz.
  • Length – 5.6 inches
  • Barrel length – 3.1 inches
  • Magazine – 10 rounds
  • Width – 1 inch
  • Height – 4.3 inches
  • Introduced – 1995

Kel-Tec P-11 Review

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Kel-Tec P-11 Down Sight

This little gun is one of the smallest and lightest 9mm guns ever made. Some people take a look at a small and light gun, and immediately dismiss it as being a toy. I always say you should look no further than the Glock 17, and learn that even though a gun may look like a toy, it is still a deadly weapon, and a very useful one at that. There is no reason to consider the Kel-Tec P-11 to be anything else than that, even if it is a polymer-based subcompact. It is small and light, but it packs a 9mm punch.

If you are interested in buying an accurate, reliable 9mm weapon, the P-11 is a great choice. The manufacturer suggested retail price is about $250-300. Now, obviously there are others in its quality class, and others in its price range – but the P-11 is a gun which encompasses the best of both worlds. A good gun for a good price, and with a 10-round magazine to boot. When Kel-Tec decided to manufacture their own handguns, they knew what they were going for, and they executed it perfectly. The P-11 was a great success, and it paved the way for its many successors and variants.

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Kel-Tec P-11 With Ammo

The P-11’s recoil is manageable, but it is noticeable. When you are firing a 9mm round through a weapon in that weight class, there is no other option. Obviously, you are going to feel something, and it is your stance and your training which will help you manage that recoil in the long run. Plus, let’s be real. If you are ever in a situation where it is necessary to draw and fire your weapon, recoil is not going to play a big factor, providing that you have trained with your weapon properly. Dynamic tension and muscle memory will be your ally in those moments, and they will help you fire straight and true to neutralize your target.

As I said earlier, Kel-Tec designed the P-11 to be a weapon which can be used by civilians and law enforcement. That was probably the reason for constructing a gun with a 9mm caliber, as opposed to other calibers which may have made more sense, in regards to the weight and size of the pistol. Kellgren had used his skills and knowhow prior to the P-11’s appearance, and that is why Kel-Tec and the 9mm caliber go so well together. Kellgren had overseen the manufacturing of many other weapons, and when he finally decided to branch out and make some firearms of his own, he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the ins and outs of the various procedures and their results, so choosing the 9mm was not by chance.

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Kel-Tec P-11 Broken Down

The introduction of the P-11 9mm paved the way of variants and other calibers to become part of the Kel-Tec line of products. The build of the P-11 makes it clear that this weapon is not made for idle target practice. It is a gun made for concealed carry. A gun made for a quick draw and a quicker shot, which you can keep hidden from sight and use when the time is right. If you try to shoot this thing for too long a time, you may end up with some minor knuckle pains. Obviously, you should practice with it, train with it, and have a good grasp on it. But if you want a fun afternoon at the range, maybe stick to a good semi-automatic assault rifle. Now THAT is some fun shooting, in my opinion. But I digress.

Kel-Tec P-11 Holsters

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Holstered Kel-Tec P-11

A holster is a good idea in any case when you are carrying. But, for concealed carry of a weapon of this size and weight, a good holster is an absolute necessity. You may find that you need to try out several holsters before you settle on one which is best for you. It also depends a lot on where exactly you are concealing the weapon. With concealed carry, you have many options: small of back, pocket, hip, ankle, shoulder, inside or outside the waistband. Here are a few examples of holsters which may be useful.

  • DeSantis Soft-Tuck – Adjustable IWB tuckable holster. It can also be worn on the small of the back. Saddle leather-reinforced, and made of non-slip suede, it is available in left or right draw options.
  • Fobus – This Israeli company makes two great holsters for the P-11.
  • The Standard – Kydex-based, and compliments the P-11’s lightness in a great way. A very comfortable fit. So comfortable that you can almost forget you are carrying a 9mm weapon.
  • The Tactical – A lightweight polymer paddle holster, designed for right hand draw. A combat-proven holster with a “give” which cannot be achieved with leather or other materials. Great retention and high riding make this an excellent choice for concealed carry.
  • New Barsony IWB Holster – This one comes with a single magazine pouch included, and it is meant for compact and subcompact 9mm handguns. For use with open carry or concealed carry.
  • 6-Position Ambi Pancake Holster – Made of strong nylon materials, this holster features precise stitching and a very light weight. It can be worn left, right, or in the small of back. Adjustable velcro strap and thumb break make this a great purchase.
  • Brown Leather Pancake Holster – Extremely lightweight, made for a variety of positions. It is a comfortable holster once you break it in, and is one of the finest belt holsters around. Available in brown, black, tan, and burgundy.

There are many more models and holsters for the P-11, and it is wise to try out a few before settling on one. Concealed carry weapons are meant for just that – carrying. This is not the type of weapon you put away in a safe, but rather the kind that you walk around with, daily. The holster should facilitate that function, and if there is anything wrong with the holster – anything at all – pass on it. Do not compromise when it comes to holsters, since it is going to be a big part of your everyday routine. Don’t stop until you are satisfied with your decision. Some holsters cost more than others, but price plays absolutely no part in convenience, in my opinion. Go with what you are most comfortable with, even if it happens to be the cheapest holster of the lot.

Kel-Tec P-11 Grip / Magazine Extension

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Kel-Tec P-11 With Extension

The Kel-Tec P-11 is small, and while its size is one of its many attractions, it could pose a problem as far as grip is concerned. If you are interested in using the P-11, but seem to have some trouble with the grip, you can always solve that issue by adding an extension. Several companies make grip extensions / magazine extensions for the Kel-Tec P-11. Some extension add an additional shot to your count, while other simply add a place for your pinky to grip when drawing and firing.

Magazine extension do cause the gun to stick out a bit more, but for most people this is not a deal breaker. You give a little, you get a little. It doesn’t stick out so much as to compromise the concealability of the weapon, which is why it is a good solution for grip issues. Grasping the weapon with all five fingers allows a much tighter grip, and it also means that the recoil factor is cut down. It is an accessory which is very popular, since it is relatively inexpensive and can really help out. An accessory is meant to make you a better shot, and that is exactly what a grip extension or magazine extension does. Popular options are Kel-Tec’s own extension, and the one made by Pearce Grips.

Kel-Tec P-11 Accessories

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Kel-Tec P-11 With Laser

Not all accessories are equal. Some are very useful, others are utterly useless. A handgun as small as a P-11 doesn’t allow much room for debate. You cannot afford to put anything on it that should not be there. Anything which alters the weight, size, grip, or action of the handgun should be looked at very carefully, because those changes are crucial with such a small and light weapon. Here are a couple of accessories which may be of use, but make no mistake – the P-11 is great as it is, right out of the box.

Trigger – Some people find that the P-11 factory trigger hurts their finger, and a longer trigger can help to eliminate or at least reduce that issue. A very popular option is the RTK Short Stroke, which also fits the Kel-Tec PF-9. One thing is clear: when faced with a situation where you need to draw and fire, your finger will probably be the furthest thing from your mind. However, since you are no doubt planning on practicing and training with your P-11 – and please, please do so – a trigger replacement could be useful.

Laser / Light –  Surprisingly, not too many companies manufacture a laser sight specifically for the P-11. I honestly don’t know why, but that is a fact. ArmaLaser makes one which is custom designed for the P-11, and it is available in green or red light. Grip-touch activated with na 5-year warranty.

Other available accessories include a guide rod, recoil spring, and grip sleeve. There is a reason why there aren’t many accessories available for the Kel-Tec P-11. It does not require them. It is awesome as it is, and it doesn’t apologize for that.

Kel-Tec P-11 Warranty

Kel-Tec products come with limited lifetime warranty. If there are any problems with the materials or workmanship, send it away and Kel-Tec will either replace or repair your handgun. For the full details of the warranty and its specifics, check out their website or the P-11 user manual. Remember that any modifications which you implement, could make the warranty void. Take caution when you replace parts or modify them. The P-11’s warranty is valid for the original owner of the weapon, and it cannot be transferred.

Conclusion

The Kel-Tec P-11 was introduced in 1995, and its production and sale continue to this day. People like it, plain and simple. It is one of the lightest and smallest 9mm handguns around, and it has staying power. It remains a very popular option for many every day carriers, and it has a tried and true track record. If you are in the market for a small, yet powerful, 9mm handgun, check out the P-11. If you find that it is not a great fit, perhaps the PF-9 would be a better choice. Either way, Kel-Tec is a great option for beginners and veteran shooters alike. A 9mm handgun at a reasonable price, with sturdy construction and manageable recoil. The Kel-Tec P-11 has it all.

Check back for more great Kel-Tec features (like our features on the PLR-16, Sub 2000, KSG, and KSG accessories)  here at Gunivore – home of all things guns!

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