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Kel-Tec PF9 – Ultimate Review Of 2020

Kel-Tec is an industry leader, known for manufacturing innovative and cheap firearm designs. Their latest product, the PF9, is a steel and polymer handgun chambered in 9mm. The pistol shares a lot of similarities to both the P-11 and the P-3AT pistols.

The assembly pin, slide stop, locking system, barrel, guide rod, recoil springs, and recoil are based on the P-11, while the extraction system and short trigger system are adapted from the P-3AT.

The Kel-Tec PF9 is designed for shooters who want a small-sized and lightweight handgun like the single-stack P-3AT, yet powerful like the double-stack P-11 pistol.

Kel-Tec PF9 Review

So let’s go through this Kel-Tec PF9 review to find out more about this incredible pistol…

About the PF9 Cartridge

The 9mm cartridge was introduced to the market at the same time as the Luger semi-automatic handgun. The cartridge was first used by the German Navy in 1904 and later adopted by the German Army.

Later, NATO and non-NATO nations adopted the cartridge, and now it is among the most used pistol cartridges in the world. As for performance, the 9mm round brags more power than the .38 Special, but is not as powerful as the .357 magnum.

The 9mm Cartridge Specifications

  • Cartridge: 9 mm Luger.
  • Parent case: 7.65×21mm Parabellum.
  • Case length‎: ‎0.754 in.
  • Overall length: 1.169 in.
  • Bullet diameter‎: ‎0.355 in.
  • Case capacity: 0.862 cm3 (13.30 gr H2O).

The 9mm Luger Ballistics for the PF9

Selected Bullet Mass: 124 grains
ME:322 ft-lbs
MV:1081 ft/sec

Kel-Tec PF9 Review Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm.
  • Action: Double action only.
  • Barrel length: 3.1″.
  • Round capacity: 7+1.
  • Grips: Black.
  • Sights: Adjustable.
  • Frame: Aluminum.
  • Width: 0.88″.
  • Length: 5.85″.
  • Height: 4.3″.
  • Weight: 12.7 oz.

PF9 Features

The PF9 pistol is fairly small, 5.85-inch long by 4.3-inch tall to be precise. With such a compact profile, it can easily fit in your coat pocket or car’s utility compartment. Moreover, it has an advantage in its 7-round magazine compared to a 6-round magazine of other 9mm pistols.

The barrel is short, though. It measures 3.1-inches and is manufactured of 4140 steel reinforced to 48RHC. The shorter barrel will make maneuvering the PF9 easier, but reduce bullet velocity and terminal ballistics potential at longer ranges.

Kel-Tec PF9 Review Specs

Lightweight and durable…

The manufacturing of the PF9 involves the use of both metal and lightweight polymers. The slide is built of the same steel as the barrel. The Dupont 8180 high-impact polymer- constructed frame, which shelters the trigger group, features a sturdy 7075 T-6 aluminum billet.

As a double-action-only handgun, the PF9 lacks an external hammer and relies on the safety of the DAO trigger system. However, there is a passive hammer-block safety that disengages when the shooter pulls the trigger. The hammer and breech safeties also prevent accidental discharge in case the pistol drops.

Safety first…

The pistol does feature a magazine safety nor second-strike capability. Though, most shooters see the lack of magazine safety as a positive. That being said. The trigger pull weighs five pounds, which is acceptable for a double-action pistol.

Shooters aim the pistol with a set of three in-built three-dot sights, with the rear sight modifiable for windage once its retaining Allen screw is released. The three-dot mechanism enhances sight visibility in low-light situations. A short rail below the barrel is used for mounting aftermarket lights and lasers.

Take control…

Two external controls are present in the gun- a standard magazine release button and a slide-release lever, both of which give the PF9 its sleek profile and reduces hang-up when drawing the pistol.

When the slide reverses backward, the hammer rotates downwards, and when the slide gets back in its place, the hammer moves forward until it is engaged, clutching it away from the firing pin.

We have seen that the PF9 has a polymer frame. However, the manufacturer refers to this design concept as the “grip.” The Dupont Zytel fiberglass-reinforced nylon houses the 7075-T6 aluminum chassis.

More colors for you…

Kel Tec PF9 Review Grip
Photo by Keith

The Kel Tec PF9 slide is available in several finishes: hard chromed, Cerakote, parkerized, and blued. The polymer grip housing, on the other hand, comes in either green, gray, and black.

Accuracy

The accuracy of the PF9 is as good as any other pistol of its kind. We had no issue with that. Earlier, we mentioned that the PF9 has a double-action trigger pull, which makes it heavy and harder than Kel-Tec claims. To fire accurate shots with a double-action pistol that is as small as the PF9, you need a lot of practice. Nonetheless, it is not bad once you get the hang of it.

Shooting the Kel-Tec PF9

AmmunitionVelocityBullet Weight
Cor-Bon Glaser Blue 154780
Extreme Shock EPR1226115
Cor-Bon PowRBall 1390100
Cor-Bon JHP Plus P1298115
International Cartridge HP1123100
Cor-Bon DPX 1219115

As always, we get excited taking weapons to the shooting range, and the Kel- Tec PF9, was not an exception. Unlike other pocket handguns we have reviewed, the sights of the PF9 were visible and easy to adjust.

Manageable while shooting…

Kel Tec PF9 Shooting
Photo by Rezz Guns (AZ GUNS-R-US)

While the grip frame is slim, it was easy to withdraw with a single hand. The PF9 digested several hollow-point and FMJ bullets without any failures or jams.

The PF9 is safe to shoot with the +P ammo. But Kel-Tec says the +P ammo should only be used occasionally. Either way, it is not pleasant to shoot the PF9 with +P loads. Whereas the standard pressure loads are designed to reduce recoil, the +P ammunition is punishing.

The PF9 performed decently when we fired it off-the-bench at 25 yards. But the gun did an even better job with targets at 10 and 15 yards. We tested for accuracy using 5-shot groups, shooting without support, with targets placed at 12 yards. The Double Tap 80 Grain Barnes TAC-XP Hollow Point produced the lowest felt recoil, with an aggregate of 1.85 inches at 12 yards.

Although the Hornady 115-grain Z-Max produced an average of 1.75 inches at 12 yards, it had the most felt recoil. The HPR 124-grain jacketed hollow point was by far the best performing round with the lowest muzzle flash and low recoil, recording an average of 1.9 inches at 12 yards.

Disassembling the PF9

Quite an easy task, so, let’s go through it step by step…

Push the magazine release button behind the trigger to remove the magazine. Next, draw the slide back to make sure there is no round in the chamber. Note, a bullet will fall out if it is in the chamber. While doing that, lock the slide back by pressing the slide lock stop button.

Using a thumbnail or the tip of a flat blade screwdriver, pull the assembly pin out, and let the slide forward slowly to remove it.

Then to get the barrel out, start by carefully removing the recoil spring assembly. Now, push the barrel up and then back while lifting it to remove it.

Assembling the PF9

To put the PF9 back together, start by inserting the barrel into the slide, followed by the recoil spring assembly. Push the recoil spring guide into the slide and join the recoil spring pedestal onto the cutout in the barrel.

Align the recoil springs and barrel so that they are centered while pushing them into the slide. Thrust the slide toward the frame until its back is on the same level with the grip. If you have difficulties with the slide, check to see if the recoil springs and barrel are centered, and the hammer is half-cocked.

While pushing down the top of the barrel, pull the slide back, compress the recoil springs, and push up the slide stop to hold the slide in place. In the assembly pinhole, align the hole with its cutout and push the assembly pin until it snaps onto the spring.

Pull the slide back to release the slide stop and, subsequently, the slide. Work the slide several times to check the action. Do not dry fire the PF9 because you can damage the firing pin and extractor spring screw.

Lethal and lightweight…

This handgun is a great mix of being lethal and lightweight. The handgun holds seven rounds in its magazine. Being a semi-automatic pistol, having a loaded chamber increases the cartridge by an additional round, bringing the total rounds to eight. Kel Tec also provides an extended magazine with a grip extension that holds eight rounds, which brings the number of ready rounds to nine.

Kel-Tec P-F9 Grip and Magazine Extension

Kel-Tec P-F9 Review MagazineAs mentioned, this Kel-Tec PF9 is small and efficient. However, if you are using it and are experiencing issues with your grip, consider getting a grip extension. Kel Tec has a grip extension that has been specially designed for the PF9. Although there are other manufacturers that design and sell them as well.

Some extensions feature a +1 addition to the round count, while others come with better grips. However, a grip extension has its challenges, in terms of being slightly harder to conceal.

However, the good thing is that you get a comfortable unit that your finger can comfortably curl around instead of roaming free beneath the magazine. Whether you want an extension to get a good grasp of your pistol or to increase your round count, it is a component that can enhance your shooting. Therefore, it is considered a valuable addition to your handgun.


Kel-Tec P-F9 Accessories

There are many accessories available for the PF9, from both Kel Tec and third-party manufacturers.

Here are some of them:

Lasers

Even though most of your encounters will probably be within short distances, a light or laser can help you identify your target and neutralize them. In fog, rain, or low light situations, it can be challenging to shoot, even at short distances. For the shot to count, you need a laser or a light source to help you with target acquisition.

Trigger Replacement

This is ideal for people who want a lighter trigger pull.

Grip Sleeve

The difference between a magazine extension and a grip sleeve is that the former offers some pinky room while the latter facilitates your entire hand to get a grip. The grip sleeve, therefore, makes controlling the pistol easier. Another benefit of grip sleeves is that they are cheap and can make a considerable difference to your shooting ability.

Economically, this model has a competitive edge over other pistols on the market, in terms of price that is. When you compare the PF9 with the P3AT, which it is based on, the P3AT is heavier, bigger, costlier, and more complex. Either way, this handgun is an incredible choice.


More Options

Not sure if the PF9 is for you? No problem, check out our reviews of the Best 380 Pistols for Concealed Carry, our Glock 26 vs Glock 43 comparison, our Sig P250 vs Sig P320 comparison, and our Taurus PT111 G2 vs SW Shield comparison.

You may also be interested in our in-depth reviews of the Glock 43X, the SCCY 9mm, or the Ruger Security 9.

Kel-Tec PF9 Review Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Low price.
  • Great for concealment.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Significant recoil.
  • May be too small for some.

Kel-Tec PF9 Review Conclusion

When shopping for a concealed-carry handgun, you always need to consider its size and caliber. The Kel Tec PF9 is designed for the 9mm round, and this gives it enough power to carry out most tasks.

The PF9 is not only lightweight but also has a thin profile. This makes it compact enough to fit in your pocket, ankle carry, inside-the-waistband, wherever really? The sights and trigger are also exceptional for a pocket weapon, and its price can fit most budgets. While there are many 9mm pistols on the market, the PF9 is easily one of the best and should be very high on your list of guns to purchase.


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