Monday, January 24, 2011

Meditations on Kel-Tec

The first gentleman who taught me combat with a firearm -- as opposed to shooting with a firearm -- had some squirrelly ideas about the subject.

As a "fer instance" he thought that each side of your brain could do one thing at a time under stress; so the obvious thing to do under stress was look at the threat with one side and kill the threat with the other side.

Anyhoo, he was of the opinion that the natural position of the human hand under stress was clenched into a fist. Based on this. he opined that the problem wasn't pulling the trigger, but rather relaxing your trigger finger out of the natural clenched fist enough to allow you to re-pull said trigger.

The solution? Pull the trigger, and keep the trigger pulled back through recoil, keep it pulled back until you reacquired the threat, then release your index finger and immediately pull it back. Rinse and repeat until the threat was gone, then relax your finger, remove it from the trigger-guard, safe your weapon and holster it.

When I got to the Panhandle Regional Law Enforcement Academy in the early '90's, Ken Ferrin and Mike Dunlap taught a similar method of shooting, called IIRC, "Trigger Reset". In this, we were taught on the first shot to pull the trigger until the pistol fired, then relax our trigger finger enough (about an eighth of an inch on the S&W 5900 series pistols we were training with) for the trigger to reset, then pull to the rear again.

When taught correctly, this is a fast and accurate way to shoot; but it can create a bit of a hullabaloo from newbie range-masters who see me transitioning to my second or third target with the trigger clamped all the way back*.

Good, bad or indifferent, under stress I default to this. Once the shooting starts, my trigger stays clamped to the rear more often than it's released. I do this with my pistol, with an AR15‡, and with my Mossberg.

Yes, under stress, I pull the trigger, work the pump, release the trigger, pull the trigger, work the pump, so-on and so forth.

I mention this, because by way of Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media we discover that this decades-old habit of mine renders the new Kel-Tec shotgun useless to me under stress.


I'm trying to like Kel-Tec's newest stuff -- really, I am -- but the last two of their guns I've played with have been problematical.

Oleg Volk brought his PMR-30 and his RFB to Blogarado, and I wasn't impressed by either one.

The first time I fired the PMR-30 -- and, granted, several other people had been playing with it before I got my paws on it -- it was pulling the rims loose from the case walls and failing to feed. I fired a couple of rounds through it and passed it off.

Later that day, Farmdad handed it to me after he had dunked it in CLP, and it went through a magazine fairly well -- only had to tap it into battery once -- but to my mind a pistol shouldn't have lube literally dripping out of it to get it to work.

The RFB was worse. Oh, it fired like a champ and ran everything we put into it ... but every case it chucked out had one of the most beautiful examples of primer wipe I have ever seen. To the point that OldNFO pulled the trigger once, looked at the case and then refused to shoot it again.

Vine, Farmdad, and I dinked around with that rifle for a while, trying to isolate the cause of the primer wipe, but only managed to launch the gas regulator knob across the Colorado high desert.

I understand that the Kel-Tecs that Oleg brought were early models -- if not prototypes -- but between the PMR-30 and RFB I've personally handled, and the news about the trigger bug feature on the new KSG ...

... folks, I've got to give the new Kel-Tec stuff a thumbs down.


*No, I don't move with the trigger held back, unless I'm shooting as I move.

‡No, auto-fire isn't a problem. Unless the weapon is belt-fed, crew-served and/or involves an electric motor, auto-fire is a fantastic way to convert money into noise, and is significantly less-efficient than rapid single-fire at punting critters in front of the Pearly Gates.


Anonymous said...

As you have stated somewhere, we don't rise to the occasion, we default to our training. It is wonderful that you know your limits er "features" and can, therefore, devise a workaround.

Now, if I could just devise a bullet which would go around corners and be shot from any rifle, I might have something ...

Ulises from CA

Dad said...

LawDog the trigger reset is NOT a feature and is being worked on. KTWM over at has commented on that very issue. I believe it will be a non-issue in future iterations of this innovative little shotgun.

The RFB issue... I got nothing for ya on that, except to say mine doesn't do that.

Keads said...

Kel-Tec has left a bad taste in my mouth. Two P3-AT's malf'ed and even sending one back to the factory did not resolve the problem. Yes they have a "Lifetime guarantee" but overnight shipment of pistols gets expensive. I gave up on the P3-AT.

Blog linkhere.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post. I just learned what "primer wipe" is and will have to look for it next time I shoot. "Slamfire" I had to look up also but it was pretty obvious from context.

I think your political talk is completely nuts, but it's posts like these, and your LEO's-point-of-view posts, oh, and your excellent posts about parenting your kid, that keep me coming back for more. Thanks for this.

Drang said...

Dad: Glad to hear KTWM says they're working on it, all I got when I cross-posted Caleb's observations was fanboiz trying to 'splain that it was to prevent slamfirng, which was totally cool for LEOs... (Granted I've been busy and haven't checked back in a few days.)
Although in comments to Caleb's post, Daniel of Cheaper Than Dirt said that a different KT rep than Caleb had spoken to had told him it was a glitch and they were working on it.

Firehand said...

If a fanboi thinks THAT is a feature, then he needs remedial education; that's insane.

I'm iffy about Kel-Tec, having talked to/heard about too many people who had to do work on their P3AT or P32 to make the damn things reliable; an absolute fail for a defensive firearm. Hearing this about the new scattergun, and your experience with the rifle, makes me even more leery their stuff in general.

phlegmfatale said...

Um, sweetie? You have offspring?

Cameron said...

Amusingly enough, I learned a similar technique when I was with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children during range qualification. Specifically, we used it during the rapid fire sequences: Pull trigger, slowly ease back until we heard the clunk, then sight in and fire again.

Anonymous said...

Of course, if we put a trench broom in your hands, you'd probably have an AD or three as you revert to training. ;-)

I think Caleb has a hard-on for Keltec. As others said, it was not a feature.

What strikes me is that given the number of people handling those guns at the shot show, it's quite possible some would get damaged by people racking slides and doing funky things. Sort of a stress test all it's own there.

As to the primer wipe, there's a reason you fire hard primers in a lot of military type semi-autos. Floating firing pins are a factor that's inherent in the function and design.

Oleg was carrying around a CNC Printed magazine, so, I'd suspect he had a VERY early model.

Given what I've seen out of the Keltec shop in terms of developments and the sand it takes to run a gun company in this day and age (BATFE) I'm willing to cut Keltec some slack to get bugs sorted out.

.45ACP+P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
.45ACP+P said...

I hope they get the problems worked out. Kel-Tec is producing designs that are well out into the "cool" zone. I have drooled over the PMR for over a year but I have neither laid eye nor hand upon one. My limited experience with Kel-Tec was a single stack 9MM we rented at a local range. It had the most horrendous trigger pull I have ever felt. With ammo left in our box, we were more than happy to turn it back in. Many Kel-Tec afficianados have assured me it was an anomoly. I can only hope. This shotgun has the drooling increasing but function overrides the cool factor everytime.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"I think Caleb has a hard-on for Keltec. As others said, it was not a feature."

Caleb wasn't pitching it as a feature - in fact, he was pretty adamant about it being unacceptable, and called it "a major design flaw" and "something that could get you killed if you used this gun."

He was told it was a feature by the Kel-Tec sales rep on the floor at SHOT. Later reports in the comments seem to be that Kel-Tec is contradicting that, so it looks like the reps at the time were misinformed or confused.

PA State Cop said...

I was taught the same trigger tech were I was shooting. The only time I had to not do it was with an Ithaca 37 without the disconnector. 'Course you could run that thing the whole way just holding the trigger back if'n you know what you were doing. :)

Rich Lucibella said...

Points well taken. However, KelTec is aware of the issue and points out that this is a pre-production model. Obviously, they wanted to get it to SHOT.

They have 6-8 months to iron out the squawks before their promised production date. I'm not saying the piece will be GTG when it's done, but I suspect the trigger reset will not be an issue on the final version. Let's see.

We shot a quick video of the KelTec piece at the show. Audio is not great due to all the background noise, but for those who weren't there:

Best regards-
Rich Lucibella
S.W.A.T. Magazine

Old NFO said...

LD, you are correct, that sucker scared me... That much primer wipe (completely across the primer and onto the case) made me think the bolt was unlocking prematurely, possibly due to overpressure, and having seen a few kabooms in rifles due to that, I really didn't want to play anymore.

armedandsafe said...

My Model 12 and my Browning slam fire if I don't get off the trigger fast enough. :D Other than that, I have trained with the method you mention.

Steve C said...

To take that technique to the next step, you could go to a release trigger. It would sure make the critters nervous while keeping them covered.

Anonymous said...

Re: autofire. I shoot with a bunch of retrograde curmudgeons who, believe it or not, prefer to load their rifles from the front. This shooting is done at a range used by the local Sherrif's Dept. SWAT team. They shoot mostly full auto M16 type rifles from the look I get from about fifty yards, they won't allow us proles to come any closer.

I went over once after the SWATTIES were all done to look at the targets they left. At fifty yards the fifteen of them put a distressingly small number of holes in vital areas of the targets with their full auto varmint guns compared to what the ten of us crusty old curmudgeons would have done with our muzzleloading flint and caplocks in the same length of time.

Perhaps the SWATTIES would benefit from being issued muzzleloading single shot rifles and pistols, then being trained to be competent with them.

That these clowns are being sent out to roam around armed with machine guns they are not competent to use under color of authority frightens and distresses me.

On the other hand, I do live in an adjoining County.

Gerry N.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ruger will rip of the design, and fix all the bugs. We can only hope.

Anonymous said...

Jake, having spoken to Caleb about this, I think "hard-on" is an accurate characterization. He also said the [unloaded, 14 round mag tube equipped bullpup shotgun] balanced funny.

As to what I mean by 'feature' as a term.

-Feature is an aspect inherent in the design that is deliberate.
-Bug is an aspect inherent in a design or construction that is NOT desired.

Generally bugs crop up in engineering and construction and need to be removed from the product. Good companies do this. Sometimes bugs get left in as features by obtuse and pointy haired management (see also Microsoft).

It is my suspicion that this trigger issue is a clear bug and not a feature that is deliberate or that will remain with the firearm.

Cybrludite said...

Sounds to me like the booth drone was confused as to what the bugwas that was being reported, on account of the remarks about the LEO only version being slam-fireable and the later response from the folks who actually know which end is the naughty one.

Word Verification: knonel, how a Southerner pronounces the name of a land service O-6's rank.

Tam said...


I guess I have a pretty jaded opinion of Kel-Tec, too. Once you fill out your fiftieth or hundredth return label to Cocoa, FL, you get that way.

And then other people call you a "hater" because their P3AT is teh awesome and has run flawlessly!

When you buy a KelTec, you have about a 70% chance of being a happy owner. When I sell Kel-Tecs, I have a three-in-ten chance of seeing you back later as an irate customer. It leads to different outlooks.

Anonymous said...

Tam, fair comment. You do see a lot more guns cross your desk as it were than I do in a sales capacity.

So far as I've seen, they've gone boom when I've fired them and aside from a minor failure, of a minor non critical part I've seen no problems. The largest problem I ever had with a firearm was a cracked bolt face on an Century Arms Inc L1A1 FAL and that was one that was probably quite long in the tooth before it was sporterized in the US.

Anonymous said...

Glock trigger habits when shooting my Kel-Tec PF9 leads to a "click" instead of a "bang." Apparently (and this is mentioned on the Kel-Tec www) if the trigger doesn't completely reset forward it isn't properly setup for the next pull. Seems like an engineering oversight or corner-cut to me.

Lesser annoyances are having to press the mag release button when inserting a mag and the possibility of damage if dry-fired.

John B said...

I'm happy with my pf-9. I'm enough of a fussy customer that my 2 FFL agents have me fill out my own return paperwork, which they proofread.

I'm a bit disappointed that there is no working trigger reset.

I doubt it will be an issue if I ever need to use it.

Jason said...

Looks like they're fixing this problem: