Reviews > Firearm Review

KelTec 9mm P11


If you haven't been following it, you can find our KelTec P11 Improvement Project thread here.  Also keep your eyes on the Gear Review section for reviews of P11 upgrades, holsters and more and a project overview on the GunLink Blog.  This thread is a review of the stock KelTec P11 and, when we're finished with the project, an second review on it.

Out of the Box
We picked up the all-black P11 from our LGS right around the end of last year.  Before taking it to the range, we field stripped it, gave it a good cleaning and put it back together.  Taking the P11 apart is a simple thing:  lock the slide back, pull the takedown pin using the rim of a fired cartridge (or, in our case, a Leatherman) and ease the slide forward and off of the frame.  From there, the recoil rod, springs and barrel come out in the normal fashion for semi-auto pistols. 

Putting it back together for the first couple of times was a bit of a challenge because the takedown pin didn't want to go back in.  This was because the barrel would get hung up on something and would not go forward far enough for the pin to fit into the locking lug.  After performing the takedown/reassembly process a couple of times, we've got it figured out and it goes right back together with no issues.

Range Trip #1
On our first range trip, we shot around 120 rounds of Federal 115gr FMJ out of the pistol.  Out of those, we had one unintentional FTE (failure to eject) malfunction.  Suspecting that this may have been due to "limp wristing," we were able to intentionally replicate the issue several more times.  After correcting the operator-error, there were no more malfunctions. 

Despite firing and cycling properly during the range session (when not introducing user error), the pistol didn't perform as we would have wanted or expected.  With "normal" sight alignment (front and rear sight dots aligned vertically), the rounds consistently struck very low.  Internet research indicated that this was a relatively common issue and adjusting the sight picture with the front sight dot slightly elevated above the rear dots yielded consistent, accurate hits on the target.  KelTec offers a sight kit with different sight heights, but it appears that we already had the highest rear sights and lowest front sights installed.  We are currently investigating other sight options so that we do not have to manually adjust the sight picture.

Aside from the "non-traditional" sight picture required to put rounds in the ten ring, the biggest gripe about the P11 is the trigger.  The sharply curved plastic trigger has a tendency to "bite" the shooter's trigger finger, leaving a blister or raw spot on the bottom of the finger where it can get caught between the trigger and guard or a sore spot on the top where it can get pinched.  The trigger also has some slight side-to-side movement and significant pre- and over-travel.  The heavy DAO trigger pull also proved to be too much for our female shooter to comfortably or consistently shoot.  Although the stock trigger isn't ideal, it is certainly usable and shouldn't be a reason to exclude the P11 from consideration.  The good news is that there are a number of trigger improvements available that eliminate virtually all of these issues.

Fit, Finish and General Observations
The polymer parts on the P11 had some "flash" from the molds that produced them.  This didn't affect the operation of the firearm, only the aesthetics.  A few seconds with fine sandpaper took care of the flash.  It would be nice to get it right from the factory with this already cleaned up, but the more time a KT employee spends working on the firearms, the more expensive it will be - and the low price tag of KelTec firearms is one of the big draws.

Something else that could have used a little more attention from the factory was the machining marks on the slide.  Once the blued finish was worn from the slide/hammer interface on the bottom of the slide, leftover mill marks were easy to see.  Although they didn't seem to be causing any problems, extra friction on this surface certainly will not help cycling.  Again, some 600 grit sandpaper smoothed this right out in a matter of minutes and sped up the process that would likely happen after shooting a few hundred rounds anyway (i.e. the "break in" process).  This is another thing that higher-end gun manufacturers might take care of in house, but it's also one of things that makes their prices higher.

Subsequent Range Trips and Carry
Subsequent range trips have seen a couple hundred more rounds through the pistol with no malfunctions.  Although the sight picture is not what I would like it to be, by using the modified alignment the pistol consistently puts rounds where they need to be.  The P11 points naturally and, when "point shooting" or focusing only on the front sight and target, performs as a defensive pistol should.  We still hope to get it to have a more traditional sight picture.

The unloaded weight of the pistol is 14 oz with dimensions of 5.6"L x 4.3"H x 1" W, the P11 conceals and carries nicely.  So far, the pistol has been carried in a leather OWB belt slide holster and all three models of N82 Tactical IWB holsters.  We plan on trying out other IWB holsters to see how they compare. 

With such a lightweight, compact package that allows for 10+1 rounds of 9mm on board, the P11 appears to be a great CCW option.

Got a KelTec P11 of your own?  Feel free to weigh in in this thread or create a review thread of your own in the Firearms Review section.

A couple hundred rounds in, it was discovered that the firing pin was broken into three pieces.  It was still functioning, but we sent it back to the KT shop for repairs, where it received a new firing pin, spring and trigger bar(?). 

Included with the pistol when we sent it back was a note detailing the low shooting, and a mention of the KT support email that said that it could be a rifling issue or other barrel/slide issue.  However, it appears this was not addressed and, after replacing the parts described above, it was only test fired to check that it functioned. 

It looks like it is going back to the factory again to let the gunsmith have another look at it.

This thing is amazing. Actually, this is my second one. I was hesitant and unsure about them but for the price, if I didn't like it not a big deal.

I've tried many for everyday carry. This thing is simply basic and amazingly comfortable. It works in any position. Take the leap. Trust me

my Kimber micro 9mm fits perfectly in it. The material is soft, not leather can't say how long a 18.00 holster will last but for now its seems ok. I also tried my SW 642 J-frame revolver in it, its a tight fit but it can work. Thumbs Up


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