Cheap Bulk Pistols for Preppers the Kel tec PF9 and P11.

Today we present another article for our non-fiction writing contest – by PrepperDoc

Keltec PF9Some 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 to be able to arm trainable 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.

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.

First let’s investigate parts, because you want spares if you are a prepper. Parts for both these firearms are readily and cheaply available from their Cocoa, FL USA maker via their website ( For example, an “extractor kit” for the PF9 is only $6.00.

P11 extractor by itself with sharpie to show some of the areas for filing. (See Ref 2)

P11 extractor by itself with sharpie to show some of the areas for filing. (See Ref 2)

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.

PF9 extractor springs & original screw

PF9 extractor springs & original screw

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 usage 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.

PF9 with extractor (silver sharpie dot) in place. If you look very closely, you can see there are two of them sticked under the new bright screw.

PF9 with extractor (silver sharpie dot) in place. If you look very closely, you can see there are two of them sticked under the new bright screw.

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 it’s fix is SO easy, and it is a really nice-feeling pistol in my hands, also!

P11 with extractor in place, look very closely to see the slant on the previously vertical edge of extractor

P11 with extractor in place, look very closely to see the slant on the previously vertical edge of extractor

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 here: Ref [2]. 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 [2] 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 [3] 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.


Prizes For This Round (Ends October 11 2015 ) In Our Non Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a  Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of  Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy ofCamping, and a One Month Food Packcourtesy of Augason
  3. Third place winner will receive –  $50 cash.


  1. Great article thanks for the information on these pistols. I once had a Keltec .380 P3AT . But had numerous misfires, jams, and extraction fails. I followed some posts on filing parts as you described and also buffed the insides to smooth any machining marks or nubs. After that there wasn’t a single issue. I then cleaned it and promptly sold it for almost what I paid for it. I need to replace it but want to find something with a more comfortable grip for larger hands. Also something that won’t need any mods or finishing work.

  2. Chuck Findlay says:

    Then there’s the ultimate cheap pistol, the Hi-Point.

    I actually have a Hi-Point 9-MM that I traded 1/2 days work for. It’s always good to have another off-grid gun.

    Would I trust it more then my Beretta or Ruger? NO, but I have to admit it does go boom every time.

    • Axelsteve says:

      It is always good to know how to fix something that is useful. I think a 9mm is very is very useful. Parts are cheaper then even beer money ! I like the idea of getting something cheap that you can fix so easily. Someone can afford to arm up a friend or relative cheaply by doing this and 9mm ammo is so cheap and common these days.

    • Chuck, Glad to hear that yours goes boom every time. Mine doesn’t and I would never recommend it. Doesn’t seem to matter what kind of ammunition I use. For every 3 magazines I’ll get at least one failure to feed.

      • 9mm case is more tapered than 380 and this may contribute to increased reliability.

        • Chuck Findlay says:

          I run all auto reloads through a taper crimp die. It’s one more step in the reloading process, but I want to get the highest chance of a good feed.

          • Chuck

            You are wise to do so. I also taper crimp all of my reloads that head space on the case mouth, ( 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP ) and have never had any issues feeding.

    • Chuck, so do mine. I keep hearing about failure to feed, but I’ve never had the problem. Before I use a new mag, I load one round to see how it seats. Anywho, if mine were to break down suddenly, at least they’d be good bludgeons.

      • From what I hear either you get a good one or you don’t. wish I had gotten one of the good ones. Winchester, Rememington and Hornady, ball or HP doesn’t seem to matter. It picks up a round and it doesn’t chamber reliably. I had picked up a couple of OEM 10 round mags and thought that was the problem but going back to the 8 round OEM mags didn’t solve it. Glad to hear that you’re hearing about the problem from others as well. Sorry to hear that others are having the problem. They are very affordable.

    • I have a high point 40 caliber carbine. First edition out of the box. I bought several mags for it lets just say because I am anal when it comes to having enough magazines and ammo.. Hey the bad guy chose the fight not me. I do not want to hear that loudest sound ever heard in a gun battle “click”. I loaded all them up and fired them all one right after another thru that carbine without a hiccup. While it won’t win any beauty contests but then again can’t say I will either this is just one solid little firearm that you can count on in a pinch. I must say though hi point is getting better in the beauty department.

    • Hildegard says:

      I’ve known several people who had Tokerev 9MM pistols (Russian design (chambered an odd caliber), Chinese made in 9MM). About $110 (in the 90s). These pistols would eat anything and never hiccup. They went bang every time the trigger was pulled. Ugly single stack guns. Crude but effective.

  3. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    If I want to arm a neighbor or friend who has no experience with a firearm, then I would skip the handgun and go with a single shot shotgun. 20 gauge (12 in single shot has very heavy recoil). Extremely simple operation is why.

    If the person has SOME experience (gaming doesn’t count in my book), then a revolver. Most autoloaders intimidate new shooters even in a controlled setting. Giving one to an already nervous individual – I see potential trouble there. There are surplus .38 Specials that will do this with few problems.

    But thats just me.

    • PrepperDoc says:

      Revolvers certainly have advantages–wife uses one. Thanks!

      • P Doc

        Good article. My PF-9 is straight factory, and frankly it has digested all bullet weights, 115, 124 and 147 grain with ZERO malfunctions. Now my then new Smith M&P 9mm and Walther P99AS both needed several magazines and thorough cleaning to experience clean running. Ironic how the cheapo pistol worked great from the get go, and the more expensive pistols needs some break in shooting.

        By the way I recently purchased a Kel-Tec KSG. Gads what a fun shotgun that one is! Short, handy and it is now my favorite grouse/woodcock hunting shotgun. The only thing is you must be forceful cylcling the slide back so it picks up the next she’ll. Most slide action gunners probably know that, but I have only owned semi autos and side by side until this gun. I recommend it.

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      DITTO. We have evolved in our carry iron. Ruger LCRs… and training .. training. I’ll buy a good wheel gun when I have the extra rat hole cash every show. Old Mod. 10s are a favorite. 20 ga. single tubers are another.

      Good post MD …. it’s a nice affirmation of one of my bad habits.

      • TPSnodgrass says:

        I positively LUST after round buty 2 inch Model 10 revolvers. Love those things, can’t afford to acquire as many as I “want”!!

  4. TPSnodgrass says:

    I also find that when I travel(especially by air) it is easier to have two pistols that are the same (both are “lower cost models”) one is a back up for the other; to be used when the first is impounded if/when I ever need to use it t defend myself.
    I’m not keen on having more expensive handguns tossed into an evidence locker or shelf for who knows how long(maybe forever in some jurisdictions). Better to have two or more “logistically attractive” handguns with me, and not mind having one go into evidence. I also prefer standard pressure rounds in the “logistically attractive models” at the distances I use them at, for when trouble cannot be avoided at all, I don’t worry about the rounds performing. Great article, good information. Lots of inexpensive ways one can also tailor something like the PF-9 to one’s needs as well. Good job.

  5. I have a p11. It broke on me at the range during normal firing. The trigger bar broke, a piece dropped out when I took the magazine out. Sent it back and they fixed it for free but it took like 3 months.

    • PrepperDoc says:

      Can’t find that part on their website, however the entire hammer spring assembly is only $15. Things break on anything, but cheap parts are a plus in my book… Glad they fixed it.

  6. I would love to see more articles on how to repair things that go break at the wrong time. Seems to me that if SHTF. Trust is going to be in short supply till things settle down. What say anybody else.

  7. Genealogist58 says:

    Great article , I own a P11 and find that handgun to be well worth the money . While on a long road trip I was tired and stayed at a less than reputable motel . During the night the shoot out at the OK Corral took place in the unit next to mine . All I had was my P11 and the single 10 round magazine . I always carry in with my luggage . It was not much but I knew it would go bang when I needed it . That night it was not needed but I was sure glad to have it .