Why .32 vs .380? - Pistolsmith

Go Back   Pistolsmith > Pistol Forum > Kel-Tec Pistols

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-28-2004, 11:19 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 23
Why .32 vs .380?

I am not a Kel-Tec owner but am considering asking Santa for one. It seems, from all I have read, that the .32 is much more popular than the .380. This puzzles me as the .380 is more powerful and less expensive. Can anyone explain why the .32 seems to get the nod among Kel-Tec owners?
Remove Ads
Old 10-28-2004, 02:35 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 39
just an opinion

this is just an opinion, since both work fine. The P32 has a slide lock on the last round, or with an empty magazine. For me this is a big plus. The trigger on the P32 is more friendly too. From a final ballistic standpoint, they are not much different, both having short barrels, the P3AT being shorter relative to other .380's, while the P32 has a bit longer barrel than other .32's, like the NAA Guardian, Seecamp, or Beretta Tomcat. Both will sometimes fail to expand the JHP rounds available but FMJ gets good penetration from both. Check http://www.ktrange.com/articles/a10/a10.html
Being an old geezer, I like the P32 with the slide lock for an easier job of field stripping the pistol. The main 'con' for the P32 is what is known as 'rimlock' with JHP ammo. You can do a search for that on the KTRange site, at GlockTalk, and maybe here.
You just have to try them out and then chose the one you like best. They both will fit in your pocket, the P32 being a bit lighter.
I also have a Beretta Tomcat that I like very much too.
Old 10-30-2004, 05:20 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 13
I chose the Model 3AT (.380) solely because of the stronger ballistic characteristics of the .380 compared to the .32. True, they are both relatively small calibers, but the .380 is superior. So, given that they are almost identical in size and weight, why not go for more firepower? And the recoil of the .380 is very manageable. By the way, it has performed very well and I highly recommend it. I have heard of no consumer complaints that may explain the difference in popularity that you cite.
Old 10-30-2004, 08:38 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 39
both go boom!

Well, I didn't mention the main 'con' for the P3AT as it has not been proven to be a hazard as such. This is a topic known as 'smileys'. The design of the pistol causes the feed ramp on the barrel to hit the nose of the bullet in the magazine, the round under the one being chambered, leaving a dent in the nose and setting back the bullet in the case a few thousands of an inch. More or less depending on brand of round.

A long time ago on another site someone did prove the velocity went up with the setback due to the smiley. No pistol failure has occured as of yet due to this, that I know of.

Those of us at ktrange.com have done a mechanical fix of our own by filing the ramp to reduce or eliminate the smiley. Whether this bothers you or not is up to you. We did notice the effect was worse on JHP rounds, partially closing the hollowpoint in some cases.
To read the full information on smileys with the P3AT you have to join the ktrange site and read the members only section about modifications.
Smileys do not occur in other .380 pistols I have, nor have I ever heard of it in any other handgun.

My P32 does not suffer this problem, another reason I like it.

og.....I felt obligated to tell you this.
Old 11-01-2004, 05:55 AM   #5
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 13
Good point about the smileys. I too experienced this and believe it's a standard "defect" with the 3AT (unless Kel-Tec has fixed the problem). I did the mod to the feed ramp mentioned above (it's easy to do if you have at least basic mechanical ability). This has not eliminated the smileys entirely and I do not want to file the ramp any further. However, the 3AT's dimples are minimal now and I'm satisfied. BTW, I once owned a K-T P11 and it too required some work, therefore I have concluded that some imperfections might be expected with all K-T products. So, while noting the similey issue mentioned above, I still favor the bigger bang of the .380. As with all K-T products, you could argue that you get what you pay for. I have found that with a little work, they reprsent good value.
Old 11-13-2004, 07:43 AM   #6
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 50
Re: Why .32 vs .380?

Originally Posted by Willieboy
I am not a Kel-Tec owner but am considering asking Santa for one. It seems, from all I have read, that the .32 is much more popular than the .380. This puzzles me as the .380 is more powerful and less expensive. Can anyone explain why the .32 seems to get the nod among Kel-Tec owners?
Ask Santa for a Kahr. It is a little bigger, but it is a quality gun. I have both. If you shoot the Kel-Tec enough, it will have to go back to the factory, and you must use eye-protection and a hat with the P3AT, as it will throw casings back at you (sometimes very fast).
Old 11-13-2004, 07:44 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 39

good point, forgot about that, yes, for some people the P3AT will do that. So that's another plus for the P32.
And, yes for another 500+ bucks he can have a Kahr PM9 like the one I have.
But, he asked about the KelTec and we've tried to limit the comments to that.
Old 12-07-2004, 12:37 AM   #8
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 135
Dimple on round in mag.

Yes, as observed by others, I too have a dimple placed on the top round of a loaded mag. during firing of the chambered round, with the .380 variant. It almost resembles a cut across the tip of the bullet, with some bullet types being more damaged than others. It doesn't seem to cause problems, but it is odd. Otherwise, no problems.
Old 12-23-2004, 05:16 PM   #9
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 90
I like the notion of the more powerful round, but the P3AT still has reliability issues IMHO. Some folks here and at KTOG have had great success with the .380; others have not.
Count me among the second group. I have had three P3s, and all had different relibility issues.
The P-32s have gone 'bang' every time I've asked them, and ejected their brass as well.
Go with the P-32.
Old 12-23-2004, 08:39 PM   #10
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 39

good to hear from you, moon......

moon is right and always has good advice.

og.....Merry Christmas to all!!

  Pistolsmith > Pistol Forum > Kel-Tec Pistols

Search tags for this page
32 versus 380 pistol

32 vs 380

32 vs 380 ballistics

380 vs 32


kel tec 32 vs 380

kel-tec 32 vs 380
keltec 320
keltec p32 ballistics
p32 last shot lock fix
Click on a term to search for related topics.

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Top Gun Sites Top Sites List

Powered by vBulletin 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright © 1999-2012 Pistolsmith. All rights reserved.