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Kel-Tec P11.

In 1995 George Kellgren, of Kel-Tec, introduced his latest creation: the P11. Featuring a polymer frame and a double-action-only trigger, the innovative new gun was designed to fill the needs of those that carried concealed weapons. Less than an inch thick and weighing about 14 ounces unloaded, the little 9mm semi-auto is worth a second look.


The P11 fires from a locked breech and utilizes a modified Browning tilting barrel lock-up. Its firing mechanism is double-action-only, with a trigger pull of nine pounds and a rather lengthy pull. It offers multiple strike attempts in the event that the cartridge does not fire on the first pull of the trigger. Kel-Tec uses a special free-floating extension spring, lightweight firing pin and low-mass hammer in its design.

Dual, reverse wound, recoil springs and a polymer guide rod are used in the P11. Its 10-round magazine, manufactured by Mec-Gar, fits flush with the bottom of the grip frame. Preban S&W M59 high-capacity magazines may also be used with the P11, though they will extend from the bottom of the frame.

Because of its short grip length I was only able to grip the frame with my third and fourth finger while my pinkie hung under the magazine's floorplate. Kel-Tec manufactures an optional magazine floorplate with a curved extension that acts as a shelf for the little finger.

There are only two external controls on the P11; the magazine release in the familiar Browning inspired location and the small slide release. Both are snag free in design and unobtrusive.


I received my evaluation sample with a blued steel slide, but the P11 is also available with a parkerized or chromed slide.

An aluminum frame, machined from a block of 7075-T6, houses the firing mechanism and is pinned into the DuPont-8018 high-impact, Polymer grip. Checkering is molded into the side grip panels, oddly the front and rear straps are devoid of any grip enhancing texture. Though the slide looks like a stamping it is actually machined from 4140 ordnance steel.

The P11 uses a barrel with an integral feedramp and a belled muzzle for enhanced accuracy. With the slide in battery there is virtually no play between the muzzle and slide.


There are no manual safeties on the P11, but the long DAO trigger pull ensures that the gun won't fire unless the trigger is deliberately pulled. It is impossible to cock the hammer and it is protected from blows, which may cause a discharge, by the rear of the slide. The low-mass hammer and lightweight firing pin along with their springs are engineered to form a fail-safe dynamic safety system.


I have to admit that my expectations for this economical pistol were not high before my trip to the range. For a gun of this type and in its price range I anticipated groups in the five-inch range. Imagine my surprise when my first sighting-in group measured just over two inches at 25 yards. Groups were approximately two inches to the right, so I used a field expedient of an empty casing and a rock to drift the rear sight to the left to center the group on the bull's-eye.

After sighting the gun, I put 100 rounds of hand-loads downrange to test for function. I was at Rick Batory's new Desert Trails range in Tucson, and the former Pima County Sheriffs deputy has one pistol bay with steel reactive targets set up at 25 yards. Using a handload consisting of a Laser-Cast 147-grain bullet and 3 1/2 grains of WW231 powder I was ringing the steel with boring regularity.

I fired all groups from a seated rest using a Millett BenchMaster for support. Shooting groups with the P11 was a challenge of my ability to remain focused during the lengthy trigger pull. There were several times that I put the gun down and took another deep breath before attempting the shot. Keeping the 3-Dot sights aligned while moving the trigger smoothly to the rear was the most difficulty that I had with the P11. For this reason I have listed the best group of the three shot with each type of ammunition. My single best group measured under 1 1/2 inches with Winchester's Silvertip 115-grain bullet.

Setting a steel target up at 15 yards I wanted to test my ability to double tap with the P11. The target measures 12 inches high and 15 inches across and simulates the head and shoulders of a man. I counted only the times when I hit the steel with both shots. My best split, or time between shots, was 22/100ths of a second and the average was 25/100ths. Just for comparison I can shoot this same drill with a tuned 1911 with split times under 20/100ths of a second, and I attribute the difference in times to the P11's long, revolver-like trigger pull.

I fired over 300 rounds during the evaluation, and there was only one stoppage and hat was with a questionable reload which stopped halfway up the feedramp. Tugging back on the slide quickly chambered the errant round.


There are several options available for the P11. One of the most useful, in my opinion, is the belt clip. The shooter can simply stuff the gun in his waistband without the need for a holster. Simple and secure, it is a handy worthwhile feature. Also available are trigger shoes, night sights, grip extensions, flashlight mounts and a kit to convert the P11 into a .40 pistol.


In my estimation Kel-Tec gives the P11 owner loads of features normally found in higher priced guns in a lightweight, economical and concealable package. It is accurate, safe and reliable and possesses all of the necessary attributes for a good defense pistol and also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
AMMUNITION                             VELOCITY  GROUP
WINCHESTER 105-GR. JSP-SUPER CLEAN NT   1,137    1.71"
WINCHESTER 115-GR. SILVERTIP HP         1,160    1.43"
HORNADY 124-GR. JHP XTP                 1,035    2.71"
SPEER 124-GR. GOD DOT HP                1,111    1.95"
COR-BON 90-GR. JHP                      1,449    2.90"
FEDERAL HYDER-SHOK 135-GR. JHP          1,014    2.82"
PMC ELDORADO STARFIRE 124-GR JHP        1,077    2.50"
LASER-CAST 147-GR. WW231 3.5 GRAINS      857     2.05"
NOTES: All groups were fired at 25
yards, five shots to a group.
Velocities were measured with a Chrony
Caliber:       9x 19 Luger
Action:        Semi auto locked
               breech DAO
Wt. Unloaded:  14 ounces
Wt. Loaded:    Approx. 20 ounces
Length:        5.6 inches
Height:        4.3 inches
Width:         1 inch
Sight Radius:  4.6 inches
Sights:        Fixed low profile
               w. 3 dots
Trigger Pull:  Approx. 9 pounds
Suggested      $309 (tested blue),
Retail:        parkerized $350,
               hard chrome $363
Warranty:      Limited Lifetime
Manufacturer:  Keltec CNC
               Industries, Inc.
               Dept. GAH,
               P.O. Box 236009
               Cocoa, FL 32926
COPYRIGHT 2001 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 2001
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