KelTec PF9 Blued/Black 9mm Luger

An inexpensive pistol that functioned flawlessly. It reminded us of a good 38 Special snubbie with a seven-round magazine. We only wish revolvers had triggers this smooth.

2

GUN TESTS GRADE: B+

$358

We at Gun Tests have examined any number of KelTec designs, with the most recent being the company’s PMR30, a high-capacity 22 Magnum in the October 2020 edition. On the whole, we have found KelTecs to be inexpensive, functional firearms whose designs are usually simple. The PF9 continues that trend.

Action TypeSemi-auto, double action only, hammer fired
Overall Length5.9 in.
Overall Height4.4 in.
Maximum Width0.98 in.
Weight Unloaded12.7 oz.
Weight Loaded18.6 oz. with 8 rounds of 124-grain Speer Gold Dots
Slide Material4140 steel
Slide Retraction Effort16.5 lbs.
Receiver MaterialPolymer
FinishMatte black
Front Strap Height1.7 in.
Back Strap Height2.5 in.
Barrel Length3.1 in.
Grip Thickness (Maximum)0.88 in.
Grip Circumference4.9 in.
MagazineOne 7-round
Rear SightDrift adjustable, 2-dot steel
Front Sight1-dot steel, fixed
Sight Radius4.2 in.
Trigger Pull Weight4.8 lbs.
Trigger Span2.9 in.
SafetyHammer block
WarrantyLifetime for original owner
Telephone(321) 631-0068
WebsiteKelTecWeapons.com
Made InU.S.A.

Introduced in 2006, the PF9 has been an outstanding success for KelTec. It contains only 40 parts in its diagram, including those for the magazine, making it simple to use and simple to maintain. The slide is milled from a single block of 4140 steel and is finished in a not-quite-matte black. The barrel is also milled from 4140 steel and, as with all the pistols in this test, is fully ramped and should do a good job supporting the case in the chamber.

Takedown is accomplished via removal of a single pin (arrow).

The extractor is a simple bar and hook that fits in a recess on the exterior of the slide. It is attached at the rear with a Torx screw. The front sight is a short plastic post fixed permanently to the slide. The rear sight is also plastic and is held in place via a hex-head screw. Some lateral movement of the rear sight is possible upon the loosening of the screw.

Takedown is accomplished via removal of a single pin. Normal stuff here — remove the magazine, check the chamber more than once to make sure it is empty and lock the slide to the rear. The takedown pin is located immediately in front of the slide stop but does not project out from the side of the frame. It is slotted, and the rim of a shell casing can be inserted into that slot so the shooter can pull the case out from the side of the frame, bringing the takedown pin with it. Slide the top end forward and off the frame. Lift out the recoil-spring guide rod with its nested recoil springs and then the barrel to complete disassembly. Reassemble in reverse order, but watch the takedown pin when doing so. You will see a lateral spring that extends across the hole in which the takedown pin must be inserted. There is a small notch on the underside of the face of the takedown pin, and that pin must be inserted far enough that the spring slides up into that notch. Also note that the instructions state that when the top end is reassembled and ready to place on the frame, the barrel hood must be depressed for

The PF9’s front sight is a short plastic post fixed permanently to the slide. The rear sight is also plastic and is held in place via a hex-head screw. Some lateral movement of the rear sight is possible by loosening the screw.

the slide to be pushed to the rear correctly. Otherwise, the takedown pin does not capture the barrel correctly to the slide. As always, it’s a good idea to read the manual.

The frame is a simple polymer shell into which a chassis has been molded. The metal rails of the chassis are more than mere tabs and extend beyond 3 inches, giving a great deal of strength and support to the slide. Large raised rectangular bumps provide texture for grip control, though it is a little less control than we prefer. Fire control on the PF9 is double action only, utilizing a very simple linkage directly to the hammer. It really does feel like the trigger on a small revolver. The required pull is fairly long, but this KelTec trigger needs less than 5 pounds of pressure to break a shot, and the trigger stroke is smooth. The hammer is visible through a port in the rear of the slide and could be touched, but it does not protrude far enough to be manipulated.

Even with the long revolver-like trigger pull, the KelTec did very well with the Black Hills
HoneyBadger ammo. This is the best group with that load.

Feeding and function were perfect. The KelTec shot the largest groups, with an average of 2.10 inches, but a good part of that seemed to be that this pistol just did not like the SIG V-Crown ammo. Average group size on those was larger than 2.5 inches. Average shooting-drill time was about 0.5 seconds slower than the other pistols being tested. We thought that was a function of the longer trigger stroke. We also don’t know that half-a-second spread over five shots from a small defensive handgun is statistically significant.

Our Team Said: This is an inexpensive pistol that functioned flawlessly. It reminded us of a good 38 Special snubbie with a seven-round magazine — only we wish the revolvers had a trigger this smooth.

9MM Luger Range Data

All our range shooting was done from a well-sandbagged Caldwell Pistol Rest. We shot each pistol for accuracy using five-shot groups at 12 yards. Muzzle velocity was determined using a LabRadar chronograph ($559 at BuyMyLabradar.com). Test location for this comparison was American Shooting Centers (AMShootCenters.com) in Houston.
Black Hills HoneyBadger 100-grain Scalloped CopperTaurus G3CS&W Shield EZ9Ruger AmericanKelTec PF9
Average Velocity1106 fps1159 fps1190 fps1136 fps
Muzzle Energy272 ft.-lbs.298 ft.-lbs.315 ft.-lbs.286 ft.-lbs.
Average Group1.83 in.1.43 in.1.15 in.1.82 in.
Best Group1.40 in.1.34 in.1.06 in.1.36 in.
SIG Sauer V-Crown 115-grain JHPTaurus G3CS&W Shield EZ9Ruger AmericanKelTec PF9
Average Velocity1084 fps1115 fps1141 fps1073 fps
Muzzle Energy300 ft.-lbs.318 ft.-lbs.332 ft.-lbs.294 ft.-lbs.
Average Group2.03 in.1.28 in.1.49 in.2.55 in.
Best Group1.50 in.1.16 in.1.23 in.1.76 in.
Speer Gold Dot 124-grain JHPTaurus G3CS&W Shield EZ9Ruger AmericanKelTec PF9
Average Velocity1131 fps1182 fps1217 fps1128 fps
Muzzle Energy352 ft.-lbs.385 ft.-lbs.408 ft.-lbs.351 ft.-lbs.
Average Group1.68 in.2.08 in.0.67 in.1.93 in.
Best Group1.19 in.1.64 in.0.43 in.1.38 in.

Drill Data

Drill 1 Process: Fire five shots from low ready, USPSA target, 7 yards. Numbers are averages for three repetitions.
Drill 2 Process: From low ready, fire five shots into a 5-inch circle at 5 yards. Numbers are averages for three repetitions.

DRILL #1 Data

PistolTime to First Shot (seconds)Split Average (seconds)Total Time (seconds)
KelTec PF90.8970.3312.22
Taurus G3C0.8630.2131.71
S&W Shield EZ90.8470.2061.67
Ruger American0.8130.2081.64

DRILL #2 Data (5x5x5)

PistolTime to First Shot (seconds)Split Average (seconds)Total Time (seconds)
KelTec PF90.940.3742.44
Taurus G3C0.9630.2752.06
S&W Shield EZ91.040.2492.04
Ruger American0.8970.231.82

2 COMMENTS

  1. Good review. Compare weight and size should be better covered as it is there that the pistol shinesc… beating out th egg competition by doing yeoman’s work. Needs a rail for light/lazer. How does finger pointing work by using index ? Needs work but both article and pistol are outstanding! The⚓

  2. This has been my carry pistol for twelve years. Perfect for concealment. A little snappy, but extremely dependable.

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