Kel-Tec P-32

Infobox Weapon
name= Kel-Tec P-32

caption= Kel-Tec P-32, blued finish
origin= flagcountry|United States
type= Concealment Handgun
used_by= Civilians and off-duty Police
designer= George Kellgren
manufacturer=Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc.
production_date= 1999 - Present
number= Over 280,000 of First Generation through 2005
variants= First Generation 1999-2005; Second Generation started in 2005
weight= 6.6 oz (187 g) unloaded; 9.4 oz (266 g) fully-loaded.
length= 5.07 in (129 mm)
part_length= 2.68 in (68 mm)
width=0.75 in (19 mm)
height=3.50 in (89 mm)
cartridge= .32 ACP
action= locked-breech
sights= Fixed, iron (two variants)
The Kel-Tec P-32 is a compact semi-automatic pistol using the short-recoil principle of operation. Chambered in .32 ACP, it is popular for concealed carry in the United States. It was designed by George Kellgren, the Swedish firearms designer associated earlier with the Husqvarna, Intratec, and Grendel brands of firearms. It is manufactured by Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc. It is designed for concealed carry by civilians and by law enforcement officers as a back-up gun; all edges are rounded and smoothed and nothing protrudes from the gun to get caught on clothing.


Manufactured by Kel-Tec CNC Industries (founded 1991) in the city of Cocoa, Florida, USA, the P-32 has a barrel length of 2.68 inches (68 mm). cite web
title = Kel-Tec P-32 Pistol
publisher = Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc
url =
] Trigger pull is five pounds to six pounds (22 N to 27 N), and the pistol is hammer fired, with a long trigger pull. The trigger mechanism is not a true double action and the hammer must be pre-set to a half-cock position. Magazine capacity is seven .32 ACP cartridges in a standard, single-stack magazine, plus one in the chamber. Optional ten-round magazines are also available from the factory. The ten-round magazines also extend the grip.

The P-32 operates on Browning's short-recoil principle. The barrel travels a short distance rearward while locked to the slide and the rear is then tilted down and unlocked from the slide through the action of a cam slot. The slide then continues rearward under inertia, extracting the spent case from the chamber and ejecting it. This design closely follows the Browning Hi-Power design. After the slide reaches the limit of its travel, the compressed recoil spring moves it forward again, stripping a new round from the magazine into the chamber. The cam slot and take-down pin move the chamber upward and the locking lugs on the barrel reengage those in the slide.

An internal slide catch is activated by the magazine follower; when the last shot is fired, the magazine follower pushes up on the slide catch, locking the slide open. The slide remains open when the magazine is removed. After removing the empty magazine, a loaded magazine may be inserted into the pistol; pulling back and releasing the slide will feed the top cartridge in the magazine into the chamber. The pistol is then ready for additional firing. Alternatively, after removing the empty magazine, pulling the slide back when the slide catch is activated will also allow the slide to close with the empty magazine removed; this enables closing the action and is used when the pistol is to be stored in an unloaded condition. The takedown pin, retained by a detent and spring, removes with a fired .32 ACP cartridge case. The gun disassembles like most standard semi-automatic pistols into slide, barrel, recoil rod/springs, frame, and retainer takedown pin. Re-assembly is likewise very easy.

The P-32 has no manual safety, relying instead on the long double-action trigger pull and an internal hammer block to provide safe operation. The pistol meets SAAMI guidelines, and will not fire if dropped, even with a round chambered. The P-32 has passed extensive SAAMI drop-testing at the H. P. White labs, as well as drop tests to military specifications. The trigger must physically be pulled for the gun to fire. Because of the lack of this manual safety, several American states prohibit the sale of this pistol.

The P-32 is made of the following materials: SAE 4140 ordnance steel for the barrel and slide; 7075-T6 aluminum for the internal frame which houses the firing mechanism (machined from a solid block of aluminum); and Dupont ST-8018 ultra-high-impact polymer for the checkered grip, frame, and trigger. This polymer material can be molded in a wide range of colors, although a matte black (blued) slide combined with a black polymer frame is standard. Other slide finishes include Parkerizing and hard-chrome.


Starting with the slightly larger P3AT pistol, Kel-Tec began redesigning their pistols for greater reliability and to streamline production. Changes in the P-32 were primarily limited to the extractor, sights, and incorporation of the recoil spring guide retainer into the design of the slide.

The extractor on first-generation pistols, when viewed from the side, was a straight metal bar, held in place by a pin and tensioned by a coil spring. Second-generation extractors use a triangular leaf spring bolted directly to the slide body.

Sights on the new pistol are different because of manufacturing changes; first-generation slides are milled from hex-bar 4140 steel while second-generation slides are milled from square-bar steel. The first-generation front sight is a triangular "peak" milled on the front top of the slide, and the rear sight is a large groove milled into the flat rib of the slide and marked with a vertical white bar. To aim, the user aligns the triangular front sight over the rear white bar.

The second-generation front sight is rectangular, and the rear sight is a half-moon shape that is machined into the rear of the slide, with a rectangular notch machined in the top of the rear sight. The user simply centers the front sight in the rear sight notch. With either type of sight, shooters with presbyopia (age-related difficulty focusing on small objects close to the eyes) may find a "point and shoot" aiming method faster than using the sights.

Design commentary

Being made with a minimum of parts, the P-32 is very simple to maintain.

While .32ACP is not a powerful cartridge, recoil is moderate due to the extreme light weight of the gun. There is also noticeable "muzzle flip", where the muzzle tends to aim itself upwards after firing. The problem is exacerbated by the short grip that only accommodates two fingers for most users. A firm grip and practice can overcome this tendency; an optional extended magazine base that allows room for the pinky finger can also help.

Despite having a short sight radius, the P-32 is accurate at typical self-defense distances (7 yards / 7 metres or less). Defensive shooting rarely requires using the sights.

The P-32 pistol is well-regarded for reliability. One can fire any factory .32 ACP cartridge in the P-32, whether FMJ, jacketed hollow point (JHP), or even the higher-velocity European 7.65mm Browning cartridge (equivalent to .32 ACP). Nonetheless, it is wise to test any intended carry ammunition. As with any small pistol, differences in primer hardness, bullet shape, and case composition have significant effects on reliability. Compared to the more common .22 LR or .25 ACP pistols on the market, the .32 ACP provides considerably more stopping power.

As with many semi-automatic pistols, the P-32 pistol is also vulnerable to stovepipe malfunctions due to "limp wristing" (loosely holding the gun without locking the wrist). This malfunction can be minimized by properly holding the pistol with a firm grip to support the operating mechanism as it cycles.

In the United States, the .32 ACP ammunition is considered marginal in effectiveness for self-defense although the cartridge is widely accepted in Europe. The P-32 is seen as a last-resort, short-range self-defense pistol. Its small size and easy concealability makes it more likely to be carried, especially when wearing very light summer attire. An appropriate phrase would be, "the first rule of a gun fight is to bring a gun."

The .32 ACP cartridge is also prone to a condition known as 'rimlock'. Because it is a semi-rimmed cartridge, a small portion of the extractor groove protrudes beyond the body of the case. This rim can catch on the extractor groove of the cartridge below it in the magazine. This generally slows the velocity of the slide and increases the likelihood of a malfunction. Rimlock is not a common occurrence with the P-32, but can occur if cartridges are not loaded carefully in the magazine. Magazines intended only for hollow-point ammunition may be modified to increase reliability and to prevent rimlock with the addition of a "flyerwire", available as an accessory from Kel-Tec. FMJ ammunition is not prone to rimlock; no magazine modifications are required for it to achieve maximum reliability.

ee also

* Kel-Tec CNC Industries of Cocoa, FL
* Mousegun
* Pocket pistol
* Single column magazine


External links

* [ Kel-Tec CNC Industries]
* [ KTRange]
* [ Kel-Tec Owners Group ] (KTOG)
* [ Kel-Tec P-32 Reliability Preparation aka "fluff and buff"]

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