Some people choose a small number of very expensive, fine firearms for their protection planning. While I have my share of expensive firearms, I also prefer to have a significant number of “additional” firearms.
There are many reasons, including the fact that if I’m ever involved in a self-defense issue, it is likely that whatever firearm was involved will be impounded; also there is a significant advantage in really scary times (like after a major natural disaster) to be able to arm friends/neighbors…
So I choose to purchase several lesser-expensive models, especially if crucial replaceable parts are available at low prices without hassle. Sometimes a bit of work is required to make these inexpensive firearms become thoroughly reliable.
I happen to have developed some familiarity with the Keltec line (manufactured in America) and while there may be better options, here I present some helpful hints for these firearms.
Two firearms that meet that my criteria are the Keltec PF9 and P11. I have several, and I also have the .380 P3AT.
First, let’s investigate parts because you want spares if you are a prepper like I am or just want to do your own repairs. Parts for both these firearms are readily and cheaply available from their Cocoa, FL USA maker via their website (keltecweapons.com). For example, an “extractor kit” for the PF9 is only $6.00.
The extractor itself for that model is $4.00; the spring that holds the extractor is only $1.00; the ejector is $1.50. A P11 extractor is $4.50; firing pin $2.50, ejector $1.50. (I’ve even purchased the entire plastic lower (minus frame) and switched out colors on one firearm inexpensively.)
Where some vendors will use handling charges to gouge the purchaser, Keltec charges only about $7 for FedEx delivery (USA) for even a miniscule purchase, a huge help to the home buyer who wants to have a few key components on hand.
These are not fancy firearms. If you want fancy, buy the Ruger versions that look very similar! On Keltecs, you may find edges that need sanding/filing, little plastic sprues from the mold etc, easy stuff for you to smooth and make the gun nicer. So do it yourself.
Both of these firearms under discussion are 9mm, and capable of occasional use of +P. With lightweight 9mm’s, I don’t like +P, so not an issue for me.
Both are locked breech (like most 9mm’s) with a takedown pin securing the slide on the frame. Keltecs have a really nice touch that the takedown pin can be levered out easily with a 9mm case edge, rather than needing a pin tool.
Firearms manufacturers (especially the ones who build their products with CNC mills) are always improving their product. They may well have fixed the issues that I’m going to tell you how I fixed.
At least some people who have current PF9’s and P11’s have problems with “failure to extract” – and also know how to voice their problems on forums, and as a result, these guns can be bought secondhand VERY inexpensively. Both models can be fixed with a little effort.
Let’s take the PF9 first because its fix is SO easy, and it is a really nice-feeling pistol in my hands, also!
The PF9 is one of the extremely thin single-stack 9mm’s (0.88” ) that could easily be concealable by many people, even in a pocket holster. I usually see them in the mid to high $200’s. Even new, they are not much more.
Like many other smaller pistols, this one is “semi-double-action” in the sense that the slide MUST have cycled in order for the trigger to fire the next shot. If a round doesn’t fire, you do the “tap, rack, bang” drill.
No safety needed; the trigger pull is considerable and this is a safe gun to pocket carry (in a holster). (I don’t like safeties on my defensive weapons.)
If your PF9 has failures to extract, you merely need to add a 2nd curved flat extractor spring ($1) on top of the existing one so that it grips the 9mm case more strongly.
The spring (see photo) is held in place by a 6-32 screw, and you’ll need to replace that screw with a slightly longer one that has just about exactly one more thread to make up for the additional thickness of the 2nd spring, because the screw (as in other designs) does double duty to keep the firing pin from leaving the gun!
Simply buy a couple pan-head 6-32 screws (ten cents each), accurately cut & file/grind the length correctly, and lock-tite when you have tested it. Fixed! I include a photo where if you look very closely you can see both springs stacked, and the new screw holding them.
On to the P-11. These go VERY CHEAP used, likely because of two issues: This slightly chunkier (1” wide) double-stack pistol (10 or 12 rounds) has what many consider a great self-defense trigger: it is FULLY double-action. The trigger both cocks and fires; as a result, if your primer doesn’t go off, you can simply pull the trigger again immediately and it works!
But it is a real trigger pull (no safety needed here either!) and many people don’t realize its advantages – including the fellow who made it possible for me to buy his turned-in specimen for $176 from my favorite retailer. I LIKE it that way in a defensive gun.
The second issue, in my opinion, is the design of the extractor tip (that grabs the 9mm case and pulls it back from the chamber after firing) which is built with a perfectly vertical straight edge sitting just at and below the midline of the case.
Because it is a straight edge trying to grasp a round groove, it grabs the circular case rim at only ONE point. Two out of three of my P11’s had extraction problems.
If yours does also, three bits of file work may make it perfect: (a) give a that extractor a “slant” (or even a radius) to the business end somewhat matching the case curve better, (b) take a bit off of the extractor “flat” that butts up against the slide, so that the extractor can go even further into the case groove, and (c) round the front (leading) edge just slightly so it will nicely bump over a case rim should it need to.
This idea is not original with me; I found here: Ref . In a photo below I show the extractor (silver sharpie dot) both on and off the firearm, and I tried to mark the places you could trim a bit to get more grasp of the case.
The part is CHEAP ($4.50) so buy a couple in case you err. It comes out easily by removing a roll pin with a tiny nail as a tool. The description of how to file in Ref  is much better than my photo, so read this carefully through; it only takes a few moments once you see what you need to do.
If you know this trick, you can take firearms that others practically GIVE away and turn them into very cheap and very reliable equipment!
The youtube video Ref  nicely demonstrates how to field strip and reassemble these Keltecs, and also shows a “gotcha” that some of mine also had– barrel doesn’t always slide easily fully forward on its own accord during reassembly (unless you “fluff & buff” the gun quite a bit) and as a result the takedown pin won’t find the proper slot in the barrel.
Clerks at gun shops may not even be aware of this, and it is another reason (once you demonstrate it) to argue for a lower price! Knowing this trick will save you considerable embarrassment when reviewing a Keltec for possible purchase.
Precisely because these firearms have a few rough edges, a few oddities and areas of possible improvements, they are available used for HALF or less what fancy new 9mm’s cost. Two for the price of one!
I prefer to have a small number of my very favorite carry/range pistols and I paid dearly for some of them – and then I prefer to have several “just for bad times” extra firearms that can be stored in locked boxes in each vehicle of our family. The Keltec’s have filled that niche very nicely.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an FFL, and I’m certainly not YOUR FFL. My opinions and modifications are presented here for you to review only – always seek the help and advice of a certified gunsmith before performing any firearm modifications. Presented here for informational purposes only.