When looking for a good example of the most popular American carry gun, the slimline 9, the Kel-Tec PF9 is a good place to start. It is among the least expensive quality handguns and a proven performer. The Kel-Tec PF9 was among the first ultralight 9mm handguns.
The pistol features a polymer frame and double-action-only trigger. The trigger is tight but smooth, breaking at 6.5 pounds. This isn’t a striker fired handgun, but the PF9 uses a hammer.
The unloaded weight is a light 12.5 ounces. The pistol is 5.25 inches long, and width is .9 inch. The PF9 is small but has an advantage in its seven-round magazine versus the six-round magazine of some small 9mm handguns.
When you compare the pistol with the 8.5-ounce P3AT .380 from the same maker, which has an overall length of 5.2 inches as well, the PF9 offers considerable advantages at very little extra girth. The big difference is in power.
The 9mm Luger has benefited a great deal from ammunition and projectile development, and the PF9 might look better today than when first introduced. The pistol is conventional for a polymer-frame gun. The grip treatment offers good abrasion and adhesion.
The sights are adequate, and the slide is slim and easily holstered. The double-action trigger is smooth enough with a rapid reset. The ejection port is large enough for administrative handling.
Firing the DAO trigger is much different than addressing a single-action trigger. The movement to the rear and to the front after reset demands coordination. The pistol is fired, and the trigger is given time for reset.
The DAO Kel-Tec is smooth enough for good hits at moderate range. The sights are adequate, and the pistol is a true pocket handgun. There is no manual safety; the DAO trigger is the safety feature. The locked breech action is conventional. The takedown isn’t difficult.
The PF9 illustrated has been fired extensively with a variety of ammunition. These included the Federal American Eagle 124-grain FMJ, the Federal Synetch 115-grain as training loads, and the Hornady 124-grain XTP +P. The interesting Hornady 100-grain Lite has been proofed for reliability.
For a heavy bullet choice, the 147-grain Sig Sauer Elite V Crown has been tested. All loads fed, chambered, fired, and ejected without issue. Be certain the hands do not ride the slide with this pistol. It is easy to do with the short-slide 9mm and a common cause of malfunctions of pistols this size.
As I fired quickly at the 7-yard range, the PF9 gave a good account of itself. The groups were adequate for personal defense, with none straying from the kill zone. Just the same, this handgun is more difficult to control than heavier pistols, which is to be expected. Inexperienced shooters might find it difficult to control. The of +P loads were not markedly more difficult to control in the PF9 with a strong grip on the handgun.
The magazine release is positive in operation. Speedloads were not difficult to accomplish with practice. After the combat firing exercises, it is good to take a few shots at long range, confirm the zero, and check for absolute accuracy.
The DAO trigger is long but smooth and demanded attention to detail. The Kel-Tec PF9 gave reasonable results, with the single best group running 3 inches for five shots from a solid benchrest firing position, with some 4 inches at 15 yards.
The pistol never malfunctioned and gave a credible showing. It is a true 9mm pocket pistol well suited to personal defense, concealed carry, and home defense. If you can carry a larger and more manageable pistol, you should. But the PF9 is a good choice for concealed carry.