November 2, 2009

Kel-Tec P32PK 32 ACP

It’s hard to believe that the P32PK weighed in at just 7 ounces. This is a locked-breech semiautomatic with a flush-fitting seven-round magazine. Measuring just 0.8 inches wide, the P32PK was flat enough and light enough to be carried without detection—it could even be dropped naked into a pocket. But we think choosing one of the sheath-like holsters that protect its mechanism from lint or the trigger from loose objects such as coins is a better idea. There are even holsters, such as those from, that disguise its profile as a wallet.

The PK suffix stood for Parkerized, which is the black, glare-killing finish found on the top end. The P32PK is Kel-Tec’s medium-priced model. Fit with a blue steel slide, the P32 sells for a suggested retail price of $318. Topped with a stainless steel slide, the price was $377. All three guns are the same size, not quite big enough to fill the open hand of an average sized man. With the magazine in place, the base pad completed the front of the grip, measuring only about 1.3 inches from the bottom of the trigger guard. This meant gripping the P32 only required the middle and ring fingers. The sides of the narrow 0.7-inch grip were covered with checkering cleanly molded into the polymer.

Kel-Tec P32PK 32 ACP

Courtesy Gun Tests

A good choice for deep concealment; anyone trained on a double-action-only handgun will find the P32PK to be a most suitable backup.

The 1.8-inch-long backstrap featured vertical lines and a brief palm swell. The magazine release was found at the lower rear corner of the trigger guard on the left side. It operated in the traditional pushbutton manner. Inside the body of the grip was an aluminum sub-frame containing the trigger mechanism and the frame rails. The top of the slide offered enough of a front sight blade to be indexed through the sighting notch at the rear of the slide.

Aside from its small size and light weight, several other characteristics are worth mentioning. We liked the way the magazine clearly showed how many rounds were loaded. The extractor was mounted externally. Double-action ignition was driven by a hammer that stayed nearly out of sight. The trigger would drive back the hammer only after movement of the slide, denying second-strike capability. The pistol was kept narrow by the absence of levers such as a slide release. Locking back the slide was possible only with an empty magazine in place. Removing the top end required the use of a case rim to pry the slide stop pin from the left side of the frame. The owner’s manual showed someone using the rim of a live round. Call us careful, but we used a spent shell.

Kel-Tec P32PK 32 ACP

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The action and the support rails of the Kel-Tec pistol were housed in an aluminum sub-frame held inside the narrow lightweight grip.

From the 7-yard line, our tightest groups (measuring about 0.75 inches on average) were produced with the Winchester Silvertip HP hollowpoints. Second were the American Eagle total metal jackets, followed by the Gold Dot ammunition. From the 15-yard bench the difference in accuracy we achieved shooting these three loads did not seem as pronounced. We concluded that a careful marksman should be able to print five-shot groups that measure about 2.25 inches across with the P32PK.

After our benchrest session we went about hammering targets from close range. Our average elapsed time for emptying the seven-round magazine was 2.24 seconds. The average elapsed time between shots was just less than 0.20 seconds. Fully half of our shots landed inside the desired circle. Another 30 percent were grouped high and to the right. We also saw some shots spread out high and low, mostly to the right. Our wild shots during the action test were likely the result of not working the long trigger consistently in an even manner. In some instances we might also have been applying too much grip upon the little gun or simply trying too hard to go fast.

Comments (36)

Well, I finally gave in to higher caliber peer pressure & bought a Ruger LCP. Hooked on Ruger - the Kel Tec remains my ONLY non-ruger firearm! I'll keep the P32. At least I can buy ammo for it; the only 380 in these parts is "range use only," or Grandpa Reloader's "special recipe."

Posted by: blue88 | January 15, 2010 4:12 PM    Report this comment

Regardless of all the superlatives of the 45, the fact is if only 45 caliber was available somebody would come up with something smaller, lighter and with less recoil yet would be suitable for protecting the life of it's user. Hence, the existance of smaller arms. I'm a relatively big guy (6'2" - 250lbs) and I don't wear a coat every day that would conceal, plus after I get my rather large butt into my pants, I don't have much room left inside my waistband for artillary. Get my drift? So, as much as I'd want my .45 if trouble comes along, I'm not going to carry a 45 until I'm allowed to carry it exposed on my hip. For that reason I bought the Kel-Tec P3AT and I'm a happy camper, confident that my carry is discrete and comfortable in my pocket. Should I need some help with that 250 Samoan's handy. It may not take him down with one shot, but I've always been told that anything deserving to be shot one time deserves to be shot 6 more. Being able to hit it effectively remains, as with a 45, up to me. Thank you very much!

Posted by: 2tapper | January 14, 2010 1:36 PM    Report this comment

There are some pretty big feral creatures out there and that is why the army issued the 45. To stop those 250lb Samoan beefcakes that a 38 could not touch. Most people do not notice much of what you carry anyway, how many people look at your waste for a long period of time? Or your body for a bulge? Bobby Kennedy was killed with a 22, but he took the rounds to his head, and was still alive but down. IF you can't get a headshot you might be in trouble and that is all (I think) some of the comments are trying to say. 10 rounds might be OK if you can plug away with 10 rounds; but it is nice to know that IF a cannibal is charging, you can stop it dead in its tracks and that is the whole point here--not IF somebody "notices" the heat you are packing....

Posted by: fezletter | December 12, 2009 12:27 PM    Report this comment

You are welcome, blue88. My wife and I carried P-32s as BUGs since 2001 until recently. I found them both to be defensive-handgun accurate and reliable. The .32 ACP round was the only real dissatisfaction I had with them, especially its rimlock potential. I never encountered rimlock during our periodic range sessions with the pistols, but I did encounter it twice while unloading magazines during rotation. I had a friend's 1st generation P3AT .380 for a couple of years while he was in NY and found it unreliable (Although I finally got it to feed most ammunition, I never got it to extract with 100% reliability--even with a new extractor with a wider hook face from the factory.) Consequently, when I decided to go to .380 BUGs, I chose the Ruger LCP. So far, I am satisfied with them. I understand that Kel- Tec finally got the P3AT extraction problems ironed out with its later extraction system, but I don't like the looks of their fix, the bolt-on external extractor spring, known by some as the "Frankenbolt." All that said, I had great service from the little P-32.

Posted by: JonSE | December 1, 2009 1:03 PM    Report this comment

Many thx for comments - my Kel-Tec P32 functioned flawless until I tried Winchester FMJ ammo (not hollow, but a full quarter inch shorter rnd) which caused rim lock. I didn't know they had a fix for the magazine.

I bought the P32 only because Ruger LCP's (and .380 ammo) were impossible to find. The 10-rnd mag on the .32 does help with grip. As for all the calibre posts, yes, a .45 WILL stop a man w/ 1-shot (that's what the army issued them for), but it's hard to conceal a sledgehammer!!

Posted by: blue88 | November 30, 2009 8:54 PM    Report this comment

It would be considerate to readers of if everyone was mature enough to keep their comments focused. This really is not a forum soliciting general commentary, but instead a place where readers of gun reviews can offer their experiences and opinions--about the reviewed gun.

Posted by: JonSE | November 21, 2009 12:40 AM    Report this comment

Very witty.

For a 12 year old girl.

Posted by: Markbo | November 20, 2009 8:03 PM    Report this comment


Posted by: KCSHOOTER | November 20, 2009 2:15 PM    Report this comment

Quote: "The Kel-Tec P32--.32 ACP is the pistol that I will have with me at all time. My other--larger and better pistols will be at home in a drawer".

That too is a personal choice. If you are not commited enought to carry enough gun, something is better than nothing.

Quote: "There are two kinds of cops. I know now which kind you are. If you don't get it, there's nothing I can do to help you."

I find that a pretty inflammatory statement. 'There are 2 types of cops'? Are you a cop? No? Then there's nothing lastcop can do to help you.

What an absurd statement.

Posted by: Markbo | November 20, 2009 2:11 PM    Report this comment

Hey Glenn, why the personal attack? We are talking hand guns here and personal preference. If yours is a mouse gun so be it, but don't attack someone you don't know who likes something different. Also, in case you didnt know it, there are small .45s that fit the discreet carry bill.

Posted by: lastcop | November 14, 2009 2:52 PM    Report this comment

There are two kinds of cops. I know now which kind you are. If you don't get it, there's nothing I can do to help you.

Posted by: KCSHOOTER | November 14, 2009 11:25 AM    Report this comment

Hey Glenn, Trog, I understand the concept of discreet carry. If a .32, or a .380, which is only marginally better, gives you confidence go for it. As for me, Colt .45 auto says it all. I carry everyday and it gives me all the confidence I want in a hand gun.

Posted by: lastcop | November 14, 2009 11:18 AM    Report this comment

The Kel-Tec P32--.32 ACP is the pistol that I will have with me at
all time. My other--larger and better
pistols will be at home in a drawer.
But I can take Keltie with me everywhere. end

Posted by: Trog | November 14, 2009 8:32 AM    Report this comment

The Kel-Tec P32--.32 ACP is the pistol that I will have with me at
all time. My other--larger and better
pistols will be at home in a drawer.
But I can take Keltie with me everywhere. end

Posted by: Trog | November 14, 2009 8:32 AM    Report this comment

You've missed the point of this weapon. What do you carry in a .45 that I can drop in my pocket and carry completely discretely in any situation? That's the void this type of gun fills. I carry a commander sized 1911 on a regular basis. Sometimes, however, in certain situations, I can't carry that discretely. So the KelTec (mine's a .380) fill a void and allows me to carry a weapon when the .45 has to stay home. Anyone who carries should be able to see the merit of owning a mousegun.

Posted by: KCSHOOTER | November 14, 2009 8:06 AM    Report this comment

Glenn A, you are right on both points you made about a.45 not always killing and a .22lr able to kill. Very astute of you, but you obviously missed the main point which is stopping potential.
In my 12 years in law enforcement i don't remember any fellow officer using a .32 for a backup to his duty weapon. I did carry then and still carry today a .45 Auto. I have been blessed in that I have never had to use it, but if I ever do, I know that it will stop the fight.

Posted by: lastcop | November 13, 2009 9:33 PM    Report this comment

Yeah, because nobody's ever lived after being hit by a .45, right? And a .22lr never killed anyone, right? Get a clue.

Posted by: KCSHOOTER | November 13, 2009 9:02 AM    Report this comment

I have read, with a smile, the comments on the kel-Tec cal .32. I don't own one and would never bet my life on such a small cal. pistol.
As a former police officer I saw a fellon shot twice with 2 .38 special 158 grain lead rounds. The guy walked to the ambulance. That convinced me that the .45 auto was the only pistol to carry. On duty or off.

Posted by: lastcop | November 12, 2009 7:17 PM    Report this comment

Caution - over time, hollow-points carried in this gun, because they are shorter than ball rounds, can cause a rim-lock jam. Kel tec knows abpout this and sells a rim-lock spacer kit for their mags. They CLAIM this is an infrequent issue - IT IS NOT! And if it happens, you have a one shot pistol! It takes 5 hands to clear this malfunction. I experienced this mal function and know if 3 others that also did.

Posted by: L. B | November 6, 2009 5:52 PM    Report this comment

When I wanted a gun that would not be noticed, the size and weight of the P32 made it the one I bought. I can carry it more often than any other gun, and that's the important part. Having a larger, more powerful gun at home or even in another room would not protect me as well as having a .32 on me and ready to use.

Posted by: michael h | November 6, 2009 1:21 PM    Report this comment

I have owned & carry a P32 for at least 10 years
It has always functioned flawlessly. I carry it daily (thru the worst neighbor hoods)neatly tucked in with the belt clip sold by Kel Tec & a DeSantis Nemisis holster. I wear it with a shirt tucked in & it has NEVER been noticed even by people who know I carry. My other carry gun is a Kel Tec PF9 (I used to have a P11 but found it as thick and heavy as my Glock 26)No a 32ACP is not a big blaster but it beat nothing at all. I carry it more than any of the other 9 carry guns I own because it so small and light.

Posted by: jminch | November 6, 2009 11:24 AM    Report this comment

"Have a .380 Kel-tec. It's a piece of junk."

Keith E, could you be a little more specific? And would you like to sell it?


Posted by: Lee W | November 6, 2009 12:42 AM    Report this comment

Last month I purchased a pr-owned P32 and installed a new crimson trace for my wife. I put 100 + rds through it yesterday and it performed flawlessely.... I was also sceptical at first (given the bad wrap that Kel Tec has recieved) but a friend who is a retired police officer says he and many of his fellow officers carried these little P32's as back-ups for many years. Even though I was willing to shell-out more $ for the LCP .380, she shot both and liked the P32 better (less recoil). She likes it because she can carry it concealed on her person - rather than in her purse. If a woman is going to be robbed and/or attacked, the purse is the first thing to go - so the gun and cell phone are gone. I must admit that I am impressed with it: best grouping at 15-21 ft was 2.5 inches and about 3-5 inches 30-45 ft - the little gun does take some getting used to.

Posted by: jgrove73 | November 5, 2009 8:50 PM    Report this comment

Have a .380 Kel-tec. It's a piece of junk. Sent back to the factory, they sent me back a piece of junk. If it didn't have a serial number on it I throw it in a ditch. I'm to embarrassed to sell it, especially knowing someone may depend on it.

Posted by: KEITH E | November 5, 2009 7:23 PM    Report this comment

"Shot placement and HAVING A GUN ON YOU is more important than caliber hooplah".
While that is technically correct, if I am going to have a gun on me, it is NOT going to be a .32! Why should it be when so many better options are available to start with... it's not like you can ONLY have a .32! I chose a P11 9mm, which is only marginally larger (and I consider the 9mm marginal - at best) but occasionally drop the P11 into my front pocket when I can't hide something better.

Posted by: Markbo | November 5, 2009 4:12 PM    Report this comment

I've had a P3AT since they came out. Originally mine had to back for service but I had it back in hand within 11 days. Since it has had _many_ hundreds of rounds through it and works fine.
I carry a .40 SIG on duty and have a very small Kahr .40 for od/bug .. BUT sometimes I need tiny, unobtrusive, out-of-the-way and that P3AT is perfect and has gone undetected in more places than I care to remember.
Insofar as effectiveness, .32ACP (for the P32) isn't a deathray, but I've seen people dead-right-there from .22s and .25s. Pleanty of folks have walked away from worse. Shot placement and HAVING A GUN ON YOU is more important than caliber hooplah.
Oh, the P32 in my opinion, is more comfortable to shoot than the P3AT. Something to keep in mind when arming novices.

Posted by: CeltKnight | November 5, 2009 1:10 PM    Report this comment

I have a p32 and carry it everyday without even noticing it. It wears an armalaser and is carried in a desantis nemesis. Like everyone else I sanded the sharp plastic off and carry the 10 round extended mag with it. The gun has about 500 rounds of everything from cheap wolf to expensive corbon through it with not one malfunction. Talk about a great value.

Posted by: puki biker | November 5, 2009 11:59 AM    Report this comment

I've had a P3AT .380 for almost 2 years. Aside from having to put about 150 rounds thru it initially(for proper functioning)it's all I could ask for in a lightweight carry gun.

Posted by: harko5 | November 5, 2009 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I have a P3AT, its so easy to conceal that I actually carry it. Mine did require a break-in period, and has been flawless since. Every now and then I empty the carried ammo right from the pocket. I consider that the real test, shooting it like I needed it. Great mouse-gun.

Posted by: slfree | November 5, 2009 11:31 AM    Report this comment

I prefer to carry my S&W 340PD but it isn't always an option so as a backup I carry a P3AT that I have put well over a thousand rounds through without even a hiccup... Is it my first choice, no but one in the pocket is better than one in the nightstand at home...

Posted by: cctc2006 | November 5, 2009 8:43 AM    Report this comment

If you think that you can conceal a compact revolver anywhere near as well as these mouse-guns, you haven't seen either one. As far as failure-prone, KelTec has a history of reliability and outstanding customer service backing up thier lifetime warranty. Ayoob has endorsed them, along with many others. My P38T is a perfect backup gun, completely hidden when carried in even jean pockets and reliable as anything can be, accurate enough to save my butt should I ever need to.

Posted by: KCSHOOTER | November 5, 2009 8:13 AM    Report this comment

I have owned two Kel-Tec P32s for several years. I shot them enough initially to give them a good function test and break-in. I also polished the feed ramps and chambers, added trigger shoes (for great improvement in perceived trigger pull), and sanded off a few sharp edges on the plastic frame. I run a magazine or two through them now and again just to keep their feel, and carry one in my front pocket whenever I am upright and breathing land am not wearing a more formidable weapon. My wife uses the other one whenever she needs a last-resort, deep-conceal weapon. A .32 may not be the best self-defense round, but it certainly beats having nothing in hand. I have found Kel-Tecs reliable and pretty darn accurate at self-defense distances. I carry mine in a holster fashioned from a leather wallet with a plastic insert from milk-jug plastic to eliminate printing. My wife did the sew-up on the wallet. The rig in my front pocket appears to be a wallet located where some guys carry theirs for safety. No one ever has questioned that I have a gun there. In my opinion, a P32 is what it is, a reliable, accurate-enough, last-ditch weapon.

Posted by: JonSE | February 5, 2009 1:05 PM    Report this comment

Another answer to a question nobody asked.
I can't believe people serious about saving their lives would consider carrying something so ineffective and potentially failure prone as these when a good compact revolver will do the same job better.

Posted by: Mikarome | January 30, 2009 1:56 PM    Report this comment

Having used the nemesis, i found it to be lacking somewhat. I have found that the Galco pro 436 to be a better choice, It is formed to fit the gun better and has a better retention hook.....c lindquist1/26/09

Posted by: chris l | January 26, 2009 11:49 AM    Report this comment

I use a Nemesis pocket holster that I bought from Dillon. It rides in my left front pocket and works great. The only drawback was the fact that the mag release button rubbed the inside edge of the holster and popped the mag free occasionally, so I had to reduce the mag release button's height to prevent that.
Also, be aware that the Kel-Tec's mainspring is open to air at the butt, and is subject to corrosion if it's not maintained, and ditto with the muzzle, which is not covered by the Nemesis holster's open bottom.
Keep your gun clean and oiled, and you'll have no problems.

Posted by: Gaviota | January 17, 2009 9:04 PM    Report this comment

I would like to learn about carry solutions for this gun

Posted by: TCole | January 15, 2009 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments ...

New to Gun Tests? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log In