Home | e-mail

To begin with, P32 chambers a decent cartridge, .32acp (7.65mm). It is not Hammer or Thor and does not cause all enemies within ten miles to drop dead upon just hearing the report. It is, however, borderline adequate for self-defense purposes. As with any mousegun, you have to employ tactics that maximize the potential effectiveness of its diminitive bullets: fire multiple rounds at the upper torso or the head, if close enough to hit reliably.. Using a target shooting or combat stance that works for a full-size .45 on the range would not do for self defense at arm's length.

32acp | .22lr
70 grain (5 gram) bullet comes out at roughly 900fps (300mps). This level of energy combined with jacketed construction provides better penetration than 25acp and .22lr for which most other mouseguns are chambered. The probability of stopping an attack with a single shot is still very low, so the P32 holds seven rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.

Almost all brands and types of ammunition work reliably in this gun. Fiocchi 73 grain ball is my favorite, but Silvertips, UMC, PMC, S&B and other brands of hollow points and ball work reliably as well. Even flat-nosed FN ammuntion will feed, but its primers are too hard for reliable functioning.

Based on limited and informal testing, it appears that .32 ball and hollow points perform similarly and that neither can defeat cover such as furniture reliably. Both bullet types will defeat heavy clothing and, with luck, have enough energy left to punch part-way through the opponent. Dilligent practice is required in order to place these rounds where they will have the most immediate effect, face or upper torso.

The mode of operation is quite similar to a revolver. Double action only trigger has a long travel and is unlikely to be pulled by accident. The hammer, magazine release and sights are streamlined to reduce snagging on clothes. Like Glocks and revolvers, Kel-tec P32 in not complicated by external safeties: if you pull the trigger, the gun will fire.
Because of tiny size and long trigger pull, it is advisable to get a firm grip on the pistol, especially for rapid fire. Unlike every other tiny .32 pistol, P32 has moderate recoil, thanks to its Browning-type tilt-barrel design. The barrel moves back slightly on recoil, absorbing most of the kick. This design also allows much lighter recoil spring than those found in plain blowback pistols, so racking to chamber a round or clear a jam is much easier than with other models. With some pistols, people avoid practicing because of painful kick -- not so with the P32.
Two handed grip left

Firing grip right Hi-res

The small size and light weight of the pistol means that deliberate trigger control is required for accuracy. Although sights are minimal, hits on a half-gallon milk jug are guaranteed out to about 20 meters, provided that the trigger finger is articulated independently of the rest of the hand.

The short recoil mechanism is visible under the barrel. Such a design is very unusual in mouseguns. The increase in complexity is minimal while the benefits are numerous.
To disassemble the gun for cleaning, first lock the slide back and have it lock on an empty magazine. Remove the magazine and pull out the retaining pin. The slide will separate from the frame. As you can see, the design is simplicity itself. Note, the recoil spring bushing is tiny and can be misplaced easily.
The sights are rudimentary,a white dot for the front and a white bar for the rear. I have found point shooting to be more effective when time is scarce. For that reason, regular practice is essential. At 21 feet, it is easy to place all eight rounds into a palm-sized area. P32 is not a long-range weapon by any means: because of primitive sights and long trigger pull. It is possible to hit a human-sized target at 50 meters, but only after considerable practice with a specific P32. Rapid fire accuracy is limited and 10 meters is a more realistic limit of effective range.
The P32 I own had to be sent to Kel-tec right away, for it would not go into battery reliably. Kel-tec customer service has been excellent: they had fixed the gun in a day, polished the trigger mechanism and sent it back. Reliability has been excellent from then on, on par with Makarov and Glock 17. I have fired up to 350 rounds in one day (a mix of defense ammo and cheap practice ball) without cleaning the gun and had no malfunctions. Morover, my hand was not sore from recoil. P32 shows prominent muzzle flip but the kick isn't uncomfortable. The count now is at 1000+ rounds fired with no malfunctions yet.

The design is not perfect.

Double-action is similar to Glock design, with a fairly light pull but no re-strike capability. However, re-striking a defective round is not the right way to clear a malfunction anyway.

The ejector does not stick out when the chamber is loaded. This means that you have to visually verify that the chamber is loaded.

Sights are mediocre. A 1908 Colt Hammerless with better sights and a superior trigger will shoot one-hole groups at 21 feet...but the P32 will be with you when the much larger and heavier Colt stays behind. The P32, just like NAA Guardian and Seecamp .32, is a no-nonsense last-ditch lifesaver.

Considering that this design pushed the performance envelope, it would be reasonable to wonder if it would stand up to long-term use. My early production pistol has been a good test case for the study of P32 longevity.

Why people own guns

Fight, flight or surrender : Depending on others : Wearing arms : Homedefense : Real guns? : Martial Arts

Technology of firearms

Long guns : Handguns : Becoming a gun owner : My Garand : Art of the Arms : Image library

Politics of self-defense
Gun control : Stay Safe : Effective guns : Necessary Evil : Media Bias : Aesthetics : Get active
A fable : FAQ : T-shirts : Support this site : My forum : Newest posters