A detailed description of the pistol can be found here.
Caliber: 32 AUTO
Weight unloaded: 6.6 oz. 186g
Loaded magazine: 2.8 oz. 81g
Length: 5.1" 129mm
Height: 3.5" 89mm
Width: .75" 19mm
Barrel Length: 2.7" 68mm
Sight radius: 3.8" 96mm
Muzzle Energy Max: 200ft-lbs 240J
Capacity: 7 + 1 rounds
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs 23N
The Kel-Tec P32 is, as described on the manufacturer's page, is a semiautomatic locked breech pistol. It is Double Action Only with no re-strike capability. If a round misfires you have to partly rack the slide to engage the trigger.
Despite its closed breech design the pistol has a very sharp recoil. This is the price the shooter has to pay for the gun's extremely light weight. Combined with a rough trigger surface this can result is serious discomfort after shooting more that a couple magazines.
Another thing to consider is the gun's tendency to stovepipe if not held tightly with a stiff wrist. Due to its light weight the gun's recoil interferes with ejecting a spent case unless it is properly held. Don't limp wrist.
The short sight radius combined with a lack of adequate sights makes hitting a 10" diameter target at 7 yards somewhat iffy. There is no doubt that at short distances it would be possible to aim and hit a torso sized target but the distance has to be really short - 7 yards seems to be the limit. If you need to use this gun in an emergency don't waste your time aiming - just point and shoot.
The fairly hard trigger pull (relative to the small trigger and its uncomfortable surface) adds to the problem. There is a partial solution mentioned later on this page.
Field Stripping requires pulling out a pin on the left side of the gun. This requires a small screwdriver or a similar tool, which may be inconvenient.
Besides this field stripping is easy.
After the pins is out, pull the slide forward. It will come off the frame rails. The barrel and its springs come out easily.
We experienced several failures with this gun. Most of them required it to be shipped back to the manufacturer. Kel-Tec has a lifetime unconditional warranty and they pay the shipping costs but it is still a hassle. More important: after each failure the gun has to be tested thoroughly to insure its reliability before relying on it for self defense.
Here is a list of the problems we had:
After about 150 rounds the disassembly pin started coming out while the gun was being shot. Kel-Tec shipped us several replacement pins and springs, which didn't solve the problem. We ended up shipping the gun to them and they replaced the frame. We got a new frame with the same serial number as the old
one. This solved the pin problem. It is fair to say that the gun was an early model with a serial number in the 5000 range.
At about the same time as the pin problems started we also experienced feeding difficulties. The gun would stovepipe from time to time. We traced this problem to the plastic spring retaining rod (on the left
side of the picture) used by Kel-Tec. It was a simple matter to replace it with a polished nail. This solved the problem.
The last and most severe problem occurred about 600 rounds into the gun's life - the slide broke and separated approximately a 1/4" in front of the extractor. Needless to say that Kel-Tec shipped us a new slide. The new slide and barrel set did not fit the frame we had. It seems that Kel-Tec changed their slide design to make it sturdier. This required a new barrel and frame designs. In
the end, after some delays, the manufacturer figured out what model slide we needed and shipped us the correct one. We had no problems since.
The P32 is Double Action Only and has no other safety. If a round is chambered and the trigger sear is set pulling the trigger will cock the hammer and discharge the round. It will also load the next round and be ready to shoot it.
There are no variants of the P32 but there are several modifications that improve its performance.
We already mentioned replacing the recoil spring rod with a simple nail. Other modifications:
Replacing the magazine bottom with one from the NAA Guardian or with the one offered on the Kel-Tec site. A modified magazine looks like the picture on the right. It makes the hold a bit more steady by providing a finger rest for the second finger that fits on the grip.
Another modification, this one sold by Kel-Tec, is a magazine extension. It makes the magazine longer. The modified magazine (on the left) holds 8 rounds and is easier to hold.
One of the more useful modifications, especially for people who shoot this gun regularly, is a trigger shoe. It increases the trigger's surface and makes it much smoother. The result is a more pleasant experience and better accuracy.
For more accessories and improvements got to the Kel-Tec P32 accessories page.
The P32 is a good solution for concealed carry. It is small, light and easy to conceal. If you wear tight shorts and a T shirt this is one of a very few guns that will fit the concealment requirements. It
will also fit in a woman's dress purse.
We are not done testing our P32. If it is reliable for the next couple of hundred rounds it will definitely be a recommended carry gun. Test yours and make sure it's reliable before you decide to carry it.
For those who disregard the .32 caliber as not worth considering for self defense, think of whether you would rather carry the P32 or nothing. To us the answer is obvious. This is a caliber that was used as standard police issue in Europe for many years.