I’ve learned a lot about comfortable concealed carry over the last decade-plus. There are three goals anyone with a CCH license tries to achieve: safety/protection, comfort, and concealment. The desire to safely carry a weapon for protection is obvious. If you wear a handgun (or handguns, redundancy is your friend), then comfort is a major concern. I sit for most of the day, whether it be at the office or riding in my car. The fall and winter give you some allowances on clothing and holster options, but during the summer even small-framed handguns feel like wet anvils as you sweat just standing still.
Lastly, a key part of CCH is concealment.Freaking out that table of soccer mommies at your favorite restaurant doesn’t do anyone any good. You learn very quickly to reach for things at the store with your off-hand so that your shirt doesn’t ride up and show your piece. Take your gun out before you sit down on the toilet, or risk a nice “clank” if your handgun falls onto the bathroom floor. Sure, you might be able to pack a full-framed 1911 .45 ACP if you wear a suit all day, but my standard attire has been a tshirt and shorts/jeans. Even that is easy street compared to the poor guys who have to wear business casual. Too strict to keep a shirt over a belted handgun, too lax to wear a jacket all day. All of these issues combined lead consistent-carriers like myself to smaller and smaller handguns.
So, enter the pocket guns. Some seem too small, but the Kel-Tec pf9 is supposedly the thinnest 9mm automatic made. True to the hype, it’s pretty thin, less than one inch. It holds seven rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. Thanks to the polymer receiver and grip, the pistol is very lightweight. I was surprised to discover that it weighs 18.2 ounces fully loaded. The Guardian weighs 15.8 ounces, and a “big” Glock 27 weighs 27.4 ounces. While the PF-9 is heavier than the Guardian, the increased size makes it feel more balanced. It feels less heavy than the Guardian.
The Kel-tec is built for one thing only: deep concealment carry. It doesn’t have fancy gel grips, it doesn’t have a sweet take-down lever, it doesn’t have a decocker, or an external safety. There is no drop-in laser dot contraption for the Kel-tec. The PF-9 has cheap-o fixed sights with a little dab of high-visibility paint on for good measure. The slide lock lever doesn’t release like a typical auto, so you have to “rack” the slide to chamber a round. The mag release button is plastic but functional. The magazine is metal, but isn’t going to win any awards for design or ergonomics.
The PF-9 shoots like it looks. It’s all business. Lacking one of those “new-fangled” external safeties, the PF-9 has a really, really long trigger pull. I am sure it’s bad self-defense shooting form, but at the range I pre-loaded tension on the trigger before firing the gun. Tutorial: pull the trigger back about two-thirds, feel the trigger start to catch, and then slowly pull the trigger the rest of the way.
Recoil and report are both extreme. The Kel-tec is louder than many larger calibers due to the specifics of the gun. Trigger slap (rebound) is noticeable. My trigger finger hurt a bit after shooting the Kel-tec for the first time. The last time I took it to the range, I got a blister on my palm from the PF-9’s jagged grip pattern. I am able to successfully double-tap my target at seven yards, but shooting a full size Smith or Glock is a dream in comparison.
I was originally pretty down on how rough the PF-9 shot until I remembered I didn’t buy it to replace a nicer gun, I bought it to carry in my pocket. The PF-9 is a lot more accurate than smaller guns, feels more comfortable in my front pocket, and packs a bigger punch than most mouse guns. It’s okay if the sights are fair, that the trigger pull is long, and that shooting two hundred rounds in one session makes my hand hurt the next day. This isn’t a target pistol, it’s a people-pistol, and if I fire all eight shots in “real life,” it will have been a very very bad day.
I am very impressed with the form factor of the PF-9. Every time I pulled the trigger the pistol went “bang.” I’ve carried it along with my P3AT for months now. I put it in my pocket and no one is the wiser, though it is a bit larger than the P3AT.
It’s hard to find the PF-9 right now, but I found it at a very small-time local gun shop for $279.99. It only comes with one mag, but you can buy another one for about $40 (ouch). It hasn’t been too picky on ammo. It would even cycle re-loads that were 20% light. Glock won’t do that.
I do recommend this gun if you want more fire power, in a small size. A .380 will do in most cases, but the 9mm does give more peace-of-mind.