Kel-Tec P-32 Review 2016

After the success of Kel-Tec’s 9mm handguns (like its P-11, or the PF-9, the company went in another direction, and decided to create a .32 ACP caliber handgun, designed for civilians and off-duty use. This handgun was introduced in 1999, and it is still being produced today. That right there should attest to its ongoing popularity and everyday use. Even though there are those who look down at .32 ACP caliber rounds, they have been used very effectively by military and police, ever since the round was first introduced at the turn of the 19th century.

Kel-Tec P-32 Overview

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Kel-Tec P-32

Like other Kel-Tec handguns, the P-32 has no safety button. Rather than installing a safety switch, Kel-Tec gave the handgun a double-action only function, as well as a hammer block, both of which act as a reliable safety. There is also a drop safety, which is part of the internal mechanism, and it has been through stringent trials in civilian and military hands. The P-32 is constructed of several different kinds of materials. The slide and barrel are made of steel, the internal frame is made of aluminum, and the grip, external frame, and trigger are made of high-strength polymer. The milled steel slide has several finish options: blued, parkerized, and hard chrome. The aluminum is a 7075-T6 alloy, made by alloying zinc and copper in the mix. The polymer is Dupont ST-8018. Altogether, it is a powerful combination of lightweight materials which make for a neat little pistol.

Kel-Tec P-32 Specifications

  • Caliber – .32 ACP
  • Action – short recoil operated, semi-automatic, double-action only
  • Weight –  6.6 oz. unloaded
  • Length – 5.07 inches
  • Barrel length – 2.68 inches
  • Magazine – 7 or 10 rounds
  • Width – 0.75 inch
  • Height – 3.5 inches
  • Introduced – 1999

Kel-Tec P-32 Review

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Kel-Tec P-32 Alternate View

When Kel-Tec decided to produce their own firearms in 1995, their guns were designed first and foremost for everyday concealed carry by civilians and law-enforcement. Following those earlier designs, the P-32 is a small, lightweight, well thought-out weapon. All things considered, it is a good weapon to be walking around with, whether it is in your pocket, inside your waistband, or tucked away at the small of your back. Even when fully loaded, with its standard 7+1 magazine, this gun remains exceedingly light (only 9.4 oz.), and its rounded edges make for a great grip which won’t get away from you. This is a gun which is meant for straight-up drawing and shooting, and its sights are designed in a non-snag way which facilitates that function.

The lighter .32 ACP caliber makes so there is almost no recoil. This makes recovery time ultra-fast, and allows follow-up shots to be a lot more precise. The people who knock the .32 ACP round – I don’t know what kind of target they have in mind, but it is my humble opinion that it will still serve just as well as a 9mm in most situations, if not better. It is certainly a gun which is fit for self-defense, and it will be enough for most (if not all) shooters. Is the 9mm more powerful? – yes, it is. But not every situation calls for a 9mm round, and a .32 ACP handgun can achieve the same results in many cases, and with a significantly lessened recoil factor. There are always exceptions to every rule, but that is my take on the .32 ACP round. The manufacturer suggested retail price of the Kel-Tec P-32 handgun is $318, and you can find it for a cheaper price in online and offline shops. Any way you look at it, it is a fair price. For the security and confidence which come with this handgun, it is certainly a price which many are willing to pay.

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Kel-Tec P-32 In Hand

Kel-Tec had the foresight to come out with a line of incredibly slim and light handguns in the mid to late 90’s, back when it wasn’t a real standard of any kind. By doing this, they managed to become the standard themselves, against which many other small firearms are measured. The P-32 was launched in 1999, and it was followed in 2003 by the P-3AT (a .380 ACP caliber pistol). There were some changes which were implemented, but generally the gun was based on the strengths and success of the P-32. The P-32 is the size of an average hand, which is part of what makes it such an attractive candidate for everyday concealed or open carry. The sights are low, and are designed for that draw, point, fire kind of operation which many concealed carriers are in favor of.

Like others in its size class, the P-32 is not really meant for continuous target practice. It is a gun which is great to carry, and you should definitely be proficient with it, but it is not the type of gun which you would want to spend a day at the range with. It gets tiring to fire after a while, and that is because of the size and build of the gun. Like I said, there isn’t a lot of recoil to this little gun, if you have a good grip on it. However, even though recoil isn’t such a big issue, trigger control is. The main thing which may cause you to miss your target is poor trigger control. Keep your stance proper, and make sure that the double action finds you in a steady place. If you move the gun around or mess with the trigger when you fire, you will miss. It doesn’t take too much to cause the gun to move, and while it may not matter too much at very short distances, once you get out to 35-40 feet, it can make a difference. Most self-defense encounters will occur within very short ranges, so it may not be such an important factor in most cases. Still, it is good to know.

Kel-Tec P-32 Holsters

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Holstered Kel-Tec P-32

Concealed weapon carriers know that one of the most important items you can acquire as a concealed gun owner is a quality holster. When I say quality, I don’t necessarily mean the most expensive or the most popular. I mean one which is convenient and well-fitting to your specific needs. Those of us who carry a concealed weapon know just how big a difference a holster can make. If you find yourself messing around with the holster, it is no longer a good concealed carry holster. It may be great for open carry, but a hidden weapon should remain hidden until it is time to draw and fire. Whether it is at the small of your back, your pocket, your ankle, hip, or waistband – a holster is probably your most cherished accessory. Sometimes, you will have to try out several holsters before finding the one which accommodates you perfectly. And let me be clear on this – it must accommodate you perfectly. Nothing else will suffice. If you plan on having a gun on your person all day, it has to be as comfortable as possible, and there are no alternatives.

Here are a few popular options:

  • Kel-Tec Belt Clip – This is Kel-Tec’s factory clip. It is one of the more inexpensive items for the P-32, and it fits perfectly. Tuck the P-32 into your waist using the clip, and carry on carrying. Mounts to the right side of the gun.
  • Pro-Tech Ankle Holster – An adjustable nylon velcro strap keeps your weapon secure on your ankle, with precise double stitching at high-pressure points.
  • Active Pro Gear Wallet Holster – an ambidextrous pocket holster, made of durable suede-like material, and lined with nylon. Designed for use in a back pocket, offers a fast and easy draw, and will not create an imprint of the gun on the outside. This holster will stay inside when the gun is drawn. Practice makes perfect, so keep on firing and re-holstering until it becomes second nature.

Kel-Tec P-32 Grip, Magazine Extension

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Kel-Tec P-32 With Extended Magazine

This handgun – like other Kel-Tecs – proves that good things do indeed come in small packages. But, it shouldn’t be so small as to obstruct proper gripping. If you are into the P-32’s specs, but are having some trouble adjusting to its small size, a grip extension is something to consider. It allows the shooter to maintain a stronger, tighter, and more secure grip on the handgun, and it brings a lot more confidence to the entire process. It aids the drawing, pointing, and shooting, since it gives the little finger a place to rest. Kel-Tec offers a grip extension which also acts as a +1 magazine extension. Made of black anodized aluminum, it completes the grip without compromising too much of the concealability. It adds a little bit to the size, but not so much as to render the gun inconcealable. That is part of the allure of such a small gun. Even with an extension, it remains completely hidden. Will also fit the P-3AT model.

Kel-Tec P-32 Accessories

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Kel-Tec P-32 With Laser

The world of accessories is really varied, but Kel-Tec handguns don’t have too many accessories to speak of. There is a good reason for that, too. Kel-Tec pistols are designed to be light and easy to handle. While it can be very useful to personalize and customize a weapon – since many times it facilitates readiness and proper aiming – adding too much size and/or weight to the P-32 can completely negates its original design and primary function, which is concealability. Too many cooks spoil the handgun, you know. For that reason, the only accessories which are worth mentioning are probably these:

  • Laser – At this time, ArmaLaser is probably the only one making lasers specifically designed for the Kel-Tec P-32. It is available in red or green, and it is the perfect companion for low lighting and other low visibility conditions.
  • Stainless Steel Guide Rod – A replacement for the factory part, which is made of plastic. It will not bend or flex under pressure.
  • Recoil Spring – Definitely a necessary item if you are shooting more powerful ammo. Reduces recoil and muzzle climb to pretty much non-existent.
  • Grip Sleeve – If the checkered grip is not doing it for you, check out the traction which a grip sleeve can provide. Adding a sleeve to your P-32 will ensure that no amount of heat or moisture will stop you from getting those followup shots off with accuracy.
  • Trigger – One common issue which some complain of, is the size of the trigger. Since the P-32 is a double-action only pistol, I agree that it can be something of a fly in the proverbial ointment. However, replacement triggers are available, so it is something worth checking out.

As always, the best way to see if it is a good match is simply to get yourself to a range or gun shop. Take the gun in your hand, fire off a few rounds, and see how you feel. It is that simple. Like I said, it is not the type of gun meant for target practice, so I do believe that a few rounds will provide you with all the information you may require.

Conclusion

The P-32 is a tried and tested firearm. There have been hundreds of thousands of units produced over its 17-year run, and more are still being produced today. Its not a gun which fits everyone, figuratively and literally, but it is a great little shooter. There is also an option for a 10-round magazine, though some would say that having those extra rounds in a larger magazine defeats the purpose of a conealed carry weapon. In most cases, a 7+1 count is more than enough. Statistically, most carriers won’t need to draw and fire, but if you feel that 10 rounds will give you more confidence, then try it out. A 10-round factory magazine is available from Kel-Tec, and its prices vary. Carrying a small weapon in concealment is not everyone’s cup of tea, but when the crap hits the fan, it is something worth having. And for a price of only $300~, there is no reason why it won’t fit in well with any other subcompact in your arsenal. Stay safe, and stay armed!\

Check back for more on Kel-Tec handguns here at Gunivore!

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