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At approximately 1,200 round mark, my original P32 cracked its slide. The gun would still function but I sent it in to Kel-tec for repair. I paid $20 to have the replacement slide hard-chromed. Kel-tec gunsmith promised to fit the barrel to the slide to produce a closer correlation between the point of aim and the point of impact than my original barrel showed (3" low at 20ft).

P32 chromed left P32 chromed right
P32 sight picture

Although I never had any rust on the blued P32, having it hard-chromed increased my confidence in its ability to withstand harsh environments. Chrome plating turned out to have another bonus: a much better sight picture than the blued version.

I took the pistol out to the country and tried it out on a milk jug: at 15ft all the shots clustered within a couple of inches of the jug's center. The gunsmith was right about the fitted barrel: at 20 ft my shot was just an inch low. The snake at which I fired that shot was thrown up into the air by the fountaining dirt. Through experience, I have realized that the main ingredient of accurate fire with P32 is trigger control. If the gun remains steady thoughout the trigger pull, then acceptable accuracy is maintained to about fifteen meters. I can hit a half-gallon plastic jug rapidly and consistently at that distance.

A friend sent me a holster, a magazine carrier and a knife sheath that he made. Since I was on private property well out of town, I carried the P32 in the three holsters I had to evaluate them.

Uncle Mike's #1 pocket holster

"Tried to carry" would have been more accurate for Uncle Mike's #1 holster, as the gun did not fit. Enough of the trigger was exposed that it wasn't safe to use. The fit wasn't very snug, either. Some folks mentioned removing some of the seams for better fit.

The old reliable holster by Jack Fusilier worked well but the same flap that broke up the gun's outline so well made it harder to draw.

Holster and mag carrier by Jason

The lightweight leather holster made by JS Holsters worked quite well. It was far more condusive to drawing the gun and very comfortable. It did, however, require heavier or more patterned clothing to obscure the pistol's shape than Fusilier's holster. The moulding and stitching are very durable.

The magazine pouch was less successful. It required a small pocket to stay upright and did not protect the magazines from keys or change that were in the same pant pocket. It was also too heavy for a shirt pocket. It was, however, excellent for off-body carry.

Jason's next design became the definitive pocket holster. The suggestion for a fold-away flap was mine but the finer points of the design and high-quality work are all his.

two 7-round mags pocket holster
New superior design Inconspicuous
Improved mag holders Flap doesn't obstruct
Smaller than the smallest camera
In my opinion, Jason's design is the best of all that I have found. It enables a P32 owner to be armed where nothing larger can be carried. If you have a P32, I highly recommend the holster shown above.

Since getting the gun back, I fired a hundred rounds through it with zero failures of any kind. I am favorably impressed with the design and with the service rendered by Kel-tec. Whatever weakness caused the slide to crack must have been fixed as the only guns affected (I have read of two besides mine) were very early examples. Once the gun proved reliable, I gifted it to a close friend.

Much to my embarrassment, my gift failed to extract reliably during the first range session. Turns out that the frame cracked. Kel-tec replaced the entire gun and it has been reliable since. Just as the replacement slide differed from the original, so did the replacement frame: parts of it have been beefed up so I do not expect any problems in the future.

I purchased another P32 for myself, in blue because I tend to point-shoot mine and because the finish proved resistent to rust. That pistol also had to go back right away for a new extractor. Once back, it has been 100% reliable for about 500 rounds. What made me keep a gun with such an imperfect history of reliability is that it functions even with a cracked frame, though less reliably than normally...and that no viable alternatives existed. Other mouse guns are either much larger and heavier, or have painful recoil or chamber a much weaker round.

Over the next half a year, my gun began to lock back prematurely. Betty's P32 would often fail to extract. I looked at the diagram of the gun and detail-stripped the slide. Although the design is remarkably simple, I failed to fix either pistol. Lacking proper tools, I messed up the roll pin which holds the extractor in place (a poor manufacturing choice, in my opinion). I re-shaped the slide lock to keep bullet noses from touching it but that did not fix premature lock-back, not sure why. We considered dumping the mouseguns and trying to find used Colt Mustangs. Before doing that, we sent our pistols pack to Kel-tec.

Within a week, we had new P32s sent to us. Our old pistols were scrapped and we got two new guns (with old serial numbers) and a free magazine apiece. Obviously, we had little trust in their reliability. The first range outing showed that both of these weapons were absolutely reliable. A close inspection showed that Kel-tec finally solved their quality control problems: metal parts were machined much more accurately and plastic parts exhibited none of the molding flash, loose fibers or irregularities which showed in the older examples. In short, we are happy with the reliability of our mouseguns, and with Kel-tec's service as well. That was a welcome development, as the small Government 380 I tried proved extremely unrelaible and poorly built. Sig 232, a blowback .380, was reliable and accurate but too large for a pocket gun.

About a year later, having fired about 600 trouble-free rounds though the pistol, I gifted my P32 to a close friend. This way he got a weapon which was known to be reliable. I bought a third P32 for myself. This gun proved a pleasant surprise, as it was even better made than the second example. Fit and finish were comparable to a Sig Sauer product. I have experienced no malfunctions with it. My P32s proved reliable with 73-grain Winchester, Federal, Remington, Dinamit-Nobel, Sellior & Bellot ball, 73-grain Remington JHP (discontinued) and 60-grain Winchester Silvertips and Speer Gold Dots.

Recently, I test-fired a Walther PP (full-size all-steel blowback .32acp) side by side with a P32. PP had less muzzle flip and could be fired more rapidly. Due to sharp edges, recoil was actually more painful with the Walther than with the Kel-tec. Slow fire accuracy was roughly 3" at 10 yards with the P32 and 2.5" with the PP. Double action was smoother and lighter on the P32. Apparently, the drastic reduction in size and weight has not resulted in serious reduction in performance...though PP's longer barrel would still produce higher velocity.

For more information on the P32, visit the Kel-tec User Group site, complete with forums. Darvell Hunt has another informative page on pocket guns, including the P32.

Finally, if even the P32 is too large for your purposes, take a look at even smaller guns. In my opinion, these smaller designs compromise functionality too much.

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