Kel-Tec P-11

By - Last updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - Save & Share - 6 Comments

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Summary: Bruce Eimer’s review of and rating for the Kel-Tec P-11 pistol, including a description, range report, photos, pricing, specs and user ratings. (Click here to see all of Eimer’s handgun reviews.)

Editor’s Review
The PF-11 from the left.

The P-11 from the left.

Until roughly 10 years ago, serious shooters and concealed-carry practitioners avoided little pistols for serious defensive everyday carry. Then, a relatively new company introduced an ultra-thin, semiauto, polymer micro-pistol chambered in .32 ACP and dubbed the P-32. That company is Kel-Tec.

Yes, .32 ACP is for mouse guns. But the P-32 is so small and light, practically anyone can find a spot on their body for it. As a result, the P-32 grew very popular.

Then Kel-Tec did what was considered almost impossible at the time: It created a .380 ACP version of its little gun, which it named the P-3AT. The P-3AT features the same dimensions and almost the same weight as the P-32, but fires a considerably more powerful round.

Of course, Kel-Tec already produced its P-11 pocket gun in a serious caliber, 9mm. I’ve owned, fired and carried P-11s for years, so I know them inside and out. My review follows.

The Details
The P-11 is a semiauto, locked-breech, double-action-only (DAO) pistol chambered in 9mm. This pistol is compact and lightweight thanks to its locked breech.

The PF-11 from the right.

The P-11 from the right.

The barrel is made of SAE 4140 Ordnance steel heat treated to 47 HRC. The slide is made from carbon steel and contains the firing pin and the extractor. The rectangular frame insert is machined from solid aluminum and houses the firing mechanism.

The trigger connects via a transfer bar to the hammer. The hammer is driven by a free-floating extension spring. The trigger cocks the hammer, so you can dry-fire the gun without racking the slide to re-cock the action. The DAO trigger pull is long and heavy, providing a great safety feature because you really have to intend to fire the gun to press the trigger all the way rearward to its break point.

The grip is made of the high-impact polymer. The grip also forms the magazine well and the trigger guard. The P-11 comes standard from the factory with 10-round magazines, but you can also purchase factory 12-rounders. That gives you 13-rounds of 9mm in your pocket gun (12+1 in the chamber). That’s not bad for a gun that, in my opinion, looks good to boot.

Carrying the P-11
The P-11 measures 5.6″ long, 4.3″ tall and 1″ wide, and it weighs 14 oz. unloaded (22 oz. fully charged). The P-11 feels easier to carry than does a Glock 26. In fact, if you have big pockets, you can carry it in your pocket.

One of the author's PF-11s with the clip installed, and carried via the clip inside his waistband.

One of the author’s P-11s with the IWB carry clip installed, and carried via the clip inside his waistband.

As noted above, because the P-11 features such a heavy and long trigger, it’s safer than most pistols to carry without a holster in your pocket. However, I still recommend carrying it in a pocket holster (as I do for any pocket gun) because the trigger guard should be protected and a made-to-fit pocket holster keeps the gun positioned upright in your pocket. I often carry my P-11 in a pocket holster made by Alessi Gun Holsters. I’ve had it for years and it will probably outlive me.

If I want to carry inside the waist band (IWB), I have P-11s on which I’ve installed Kel-Tec’s proprietary carry clip. The clip is easy to install without specialty tools, and it positions the pistol to ride deep for comfort and superb concealment. I find the clip works equally well over a belt or on my pants’ waistband.

(Yes, I know: This mode of carry doesn’t protect the trigger guard. But it’s different because it’s not in your pocket, into which you may stick your hand. How often do you place your hand inside your pants once you’re dressed?)

Alternatively, I have a very comfortable leather clip-on IWB holster, also by Alessi and called the Talon. It also allows the P-11 to ride deep and comfortably inside my waistband. This is definitely the way to go if you’re concerned about keeping the trigger guard covered and protected.

Range Report
The P-11 isn’t a match-grade pistol, but you can plink with it. It’s fun to shoot. It’s trigger pull stretches just about the length of Texas for its rearward pull and all the way back again to El Paso for the reset. I don’t find this to be a problem; I’m a long-time snubby revolver shooter, so I’m used to heavy DAO triggers. And, the trigger pull gives me the opportunity to practice the most important fundamentals of marksmanship—trigger control and sight alignment.

For me, perceived recoil is manageable, the gun points well and the little full-power 9mm pistol feels nice in my hands.

The P-11’s accuracy is acceptable up to 10 yards and good at 7 yards or closer in. This isn’t a gun you shoot a one-hole drill with. However, with practice, you can keep all 7 yard or closer shots on an 8.5″x11″ piece of paper, which approximates the high center-mass area of a bad guy’s torso.

Two of the author's PF-11s. Both have the carry clip installed, and one is in an Alessi Talon IWB holster.

Two of the author’s P-11s. Both have the carry clip installed, and one is in an Alessi Talon IWB holster.

The P-11 is easy to field strip for cleaning, making routine cleaning as easy as cleaning a Glock. Bonus: Also like a Glock, the P-11 can go a lot of rounds without cleaning. I shoot my guns a lot, and I hate cleaning guns. I’ve lost track of how many thousands of rounds I have run through my P-11s with no problems.

Kel-Tec offers a lifetime warranty on all of its guns. Three of mine were good right out of the box. I had to ship one back to the factory for service. It stubbornly shot left, and it wasn’t my trigger work or the sights. I also had difficulty inserting a fully charged magazine into this P-11. One month later I received the gun back from the factory, and it’s worked fine ever since.

Final Thoughts
Yes, I own four P-11s. Why? I like them. I bought all of them brand new, and now they are all well used. I have owned three of these four for close to 10 years.

The P-11 is my favorite in the Kel-Tec line, and one of my favorite small semiautos. What’s not to like in a lightweight and reliable pocket gun that holds 13 rounds of 9mm +P’s?

Eimer’s P-11 Ratings Breakdown
Overall: 8.2

Concealed Carry: 9.5

Reliability: 9

Accuracy: 7.5

Shootability: 5

Capacity/Size: 10



Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D., is a practicing licensed psychologist, a Pennsylvania State Police Certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor and an NRA Certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor who advocates for responsible gun ownership and thorough gun education. He is the founder and president of Personal Defense Solutions, LLC, a professional firearms training company in the Philadelphia area that offers non-resident multi-state concealed gun permit classes and private firearm instruction sessions as described at PersonalDefenseSolutions.net. Dr. Eimer also qualifies retired police officers to carry concealed firearms under HR 218, which is the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (for more information, go to RetiredPoliceCCW.com). And he writes a blog at ConcealedCarryLaw.com and runs the online forum DefensiveHandguns.com.




The Specs

Caliber Capacity BBL OAL Height Width Weight
9mm 10+1, 12+1 3.1″ 5.6″ 4.3″ 1″ 14 oz., unloaded


MSRP: $333

Shop for this item at Brownells, Patriot Outfitters or Blue Ridge Firearms.

6 thoughts on “Kel-Tec P-11

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  2. Ted Mann

    I own three of these, and I like everything about them, except for looks. I’m one of those people who appreciate beauty in a weapon, in addition to the usual requirements for concealed carry. The P-11 is an inexpensive pistol, and it looks it. However, it functions well, and I especially like the fact that certain higher capacity S & W mags will work well with the P-11.

  3. Andy

    I have one , had a good bit of trouble with it when I first got it , rear sight screwed up , chamber was too small for cartridge to go in , front sight fell off , I sent it back to Keltec and they fixed it , it is like new shoots well and eats anything I feed it . Will buy more Keltec’s in the future . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  4. JJ

    For those on a tight budget… this is a superior CCW pistol. Hi-cap, moderate recoil, surprisingly accurate, at least out to 50′. I gave mine to a family member, and prefer the Kahr P40 Black Diamond, but it was a very acceptable, reliable, lightweight carry gun.

  5. Hank

    I would recommend not dry firing it without an empty case in the chamber. I broke a firing pin that way and scarier still, didn’t know it had broke, so for weeks I carried a gun that, when I finally tried to shoot it at the range only went click.

    Keltec sent me a free firing pin in the mail (only took 3 days after I called them) and I repaired the gun in 10 minutes.

    All that said, I think it’s a good pocket or backup gun and reminds me of the venerable Walther PPK which due to it’s shape and size makes it, IMHO, the ultimate pocket pistol.

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