Neglected Kel-Tec PF9 Reliability and Ammo Test (Informal)

My Kel-Tec PF9 has been a super-reliable concealled carry pistol for the ~14 years that I’ve owned it. It’s fed many different types of ammunition without complaint over the years. Recently, I have neglected this pistol in some adverse conditions. This neglect has included summer sweat every day, a lack of cleaning, and a lack of shooting and practice. I’ve just let it sit on my side day after day, month after month (shame on me).

Now it’s time to see how this pistol will perform without the typical “clean and lube” with a variety of ammunition. Let’s do this!

Kel-Tec PF9: Small on Price, Small in Size

I chose the PF9 back in 2006 for a few reasons:

  • It didn’t cost much (a factor at the time)
  • It was the right size
  • I liked the features, and the styling

From the Kel-Tec product page:

Rusty and Crusty Test

This pistol has seem some abuse, and it looks the part. The user-facing side of the slide has a good bit of rust on it, and it’s full of lint, dust, and dirt. I fired the ammunition I had been carrying in the PF9 for about four months, and right away had some issues (stovepipe).

I proceeded to test with the following ammunition: (left to right in above image)

  • Federal UMC 124 grain 9mm factory ammunition
  • Handloads: Berry’s 124 grain Hollow-Base Round Nose
  • Handloads: Berry’s 147 grain subsonic loads
  • Freedom Munitions HUSH subsonic 165 grain 9mm ammunition

While the pistol functioned “OK-ish” with most of the ammunition tested, it did have a few issues with reliability including the aforementioned stovepipe, and a couple light strikes (the first time I’ve seen either issue with this pistol). Perhaps some gun oil will help!

Gun Oil To the Rescue

I applied a few drops of gun oil to each side of the slide/frame gap, and a couple drops on either side of the hammer, and then cycled the slide about 20 times. My hopes were to resolve the reliability issues. Well, it worked!

Above: The Kel-Tec PF9 after testing

After oiling the pistol I had no issues with the same ammunition tested in the previous tests. While not 100% conclusive, it was a clear case of cause and effect.

Should I upgrade this pistol? Or should I just do a detailed strip and clean? Good questions! Let me know what you think in the comments section!

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3 thoughts on “Neglected Kel-Tec PF9 Reliability and Ammo Test (Informal)”

  1. Take a look at an XDS, will feel close to your Keltec, better trigger and good mags. Then check out Highnoon Holsters, their leather stuff is great. I carry with the slide guard OWB and its the most comfortable holster I’ve found. Solid retention rides close to the body no printing great holster. Everyone that’s tried it buys it.

  2. Hit yourself in the back of the head…don’t do that again.

    I would take this opportunity to make the pistol ‘mine’ with a new finish on that slide… polishing to bare metal looks good, ceracoat, cold blue, gold anodizing…something.

    Or just buy a Sig.

    1. Clean it up thoroughly including the magazine, hit the slide with a bake-on spray finish from Brownells. The areas needing the lube are the barrel contact points ie the top of barrel that rubs on the slide at the front and at the rear where it locks up and on the bottom where it rides on the pin. Use grease on the slide rails. Get a .22 conversion from Twisted Industries so you can practice cheaply. If you like leather, get 2 holsters so one can dry while you are wearing the other. Get some legit ammo for CC either Speer Gold Dot or Hornady Critical Defense and verify they work in it. Then get your M1 rifle and give yourself an M1 Thumb for failure to maintain your weapon. Max effective range of an excuse is 0 meters.

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