Kel-Tec PF-9: unseen ’til needed

By Miguel C. Gil

George Zimmerman’s exploits may have resulted in an unexpected windfall for Florida-based arms maker Kel-Tec! Consumer interest for the company’s PF-9 pistol seems to be up following the much-publicized shooting involving the neighborhood watchman. Free media mileage can, after all, be good for business given the right circumstances.

Home Defense Journal (HDJ) was recently granted the opportunity to find out if the current hype over the Kel-Tec PF-9 is backed-up by substance! Our test session was facilitated by young entrepreneur Dino Rodriguez, co-proprietor of Defensive Armaments Resource Corp. (DARC), the local importer of Kel-Tec products.

Gun details

“Sub-compact” barely begins to describe the PF-9. In fact, we found its weight, or the lack thereof, somewhat disconcerting at first.

The diminutive polymer-framed pistol has an empty weight of a mere 12.7 ounces and a loaded weight of 18.2 ounces. Its overall length is only 5.85 inches, overall height is 4.3” and width is 0.88”—for a total package which barely covers the palm. Barrel length is a stubby 3.1 inches.

Kel-tec PF9: The pistol pictured here is laden with aftermarket accessories including the Clipdraw and a laser device. The PF9's short accessory rail is ideal for compact lights and lasers. (Photo by IGG)
Kel-Tec PF-9: Our sample pistol was laden with aftermarket accessories including the Clipdraw and a laser device. The PF-9’s short accessory rail is ideal for compact lights and lasers. (Photo by IGG)

The PF-9 joins the current crop of mid/big-bore mini handguns which are aimed specifically at the concealed carry market. There is apparently a high demand for super small handguns that shoot full powered rounds nowadays. While the real-world practicality of lilliputian pistols chambered for big cartridges may be open for debate—the reality of consumer demand is not.

Noteworthy is the fact that the PF-9 is even lighter than most pistols of its genre. The Smith & Wesson Shield, for example, has similar external dimensions but is six ounces heavier.

A close inspection of our sample PF-9’s steel slide revealed very good workmanship with no visible tool marks or other readily apparent flaws. Its polymer frame, which was tastefully in Olive Drab, was likewise well-made with deep grenade-styled checkering for a firm purchase.

Range session

Admittedly, we had initial concerns about how a pistol weighing less than 13 ounces would stand up to a sustained diet of 9×19 rounds. The 9mm may be far less abusive than the .40 or .45 but it still seemed big relative to the PF-9! Take note, Kel-Tec does not recommend the use of +P loads for this gun… although Dino told us that you can safely shoot them sparingly.

Any longevity concerns we had of this gun, however, were quickly assuaged after we emptied our first magazine! By the way, the PF-9 comes out-of-the-box with one 7-shot magazine and one 8-shot extended magazine. The longer magazine comes with an enlarged base pad which also serves as a grip extension.

    Palm-sized protection: The PF-9 is smaller than most classic .380ACP & .32ACP pocket pistols. But it has features more often found in full-size pistols including a nice set of 3-dot sights. (Photo by IGG)
Palm-sized protection: The PF-9 is smaller than most classic .380ACP & .32ACP pocket pistols. But it has features more often found in full-size pistols including a nice set of 3-dot sights. (Photo by IGG)

We had a hard time wrapping our head around the PF-9’s uncharacteristically moderate recoil! Yes, the kick was definitely there… but not so much as to make controlability a concern. Shooting tight groups at the realistic distances of 5 to 7 meters was quite easy. Even when shot rapidly, the gun was mostly on target.

What is most important for us, however, is the fact that the PF-9 ingested round after round of usually finicky range reloads with utter reliability! We intend to run hollow-points through the pistol, should we get another range session with it. After all, reliability always tops our check list.

Suffice it to say that our limited hands-on time with the Kel-Tec PF-9 was as  confidence inspiring as it was enjoyable!

Home defense?

There is no doubt in our mind that the PF-9 will make an ideal concealed carry pistol. This seemingly robust little gun will surely make for comfortable all-day carry even under light tropical clothing.

The recent signing into law of the Comprehensive Firearms & Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 (Republic Act 10591) means that this little pistol hit the Philippine market at an opportune time. Unless the Philippine National Police decides to emasculate the law by forcing through a dubious set of Implementing Rules & Regulations, more upstanding Filipino citizens should be able to carry pistols, like the PF-9, outside their homes legally.

Play: This video shows how the Kel-Tec PF-9 recoils with gusto—and yet with a firm grip, can be brought back on target with ease. (Video by IGG)

But how does the PF-9 rate as a home defense gun? Quite frankly, there are far better choices to fill this role. Those shopping for a dedicated home defense handgun will surely be better served by something bigger, heavier and holding more ammunition!

However, for those seeking a compromise pistol, that is to say, a single pistol intended for both carry and home protection—one would be hard put to find a more ideal gun!

SRP of Kel-Tec PF-9: Php 29,000 (gun only w/ two magazines)

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