KelTec P17 Review - Not Recommended [2022]

Disclaimer: The KelTec P17 was purchased by the Author.

KelTec P17 Review Featured Image

A few months back, we published my initial impressions of the KelTec P17. My feelings were lukewarm at best, but they are more concrete now. I do recommend that you read that prior article before finishing this one.

I've surpassed my goal of 2000 rounds through the P17, so what are my final opinions?

Ergonomics & Features of the KelTec P17

My opinions on the ergonomics & features of the P17 are largely the same. The magazine release, safety, and slide lock are all positioned well for use. The slide release still fails to actually allow you to chamber the gun, but it is in a good location for locking it open (which I've had to do a lot).

The grip texture is still fine, not great but not good. It can be a little slick when shooting with wet hands, but there's no recoil to really jostle your grip. The blocky-ness of the grip actually works pretty well to make the gun easy to grip. Kind of like shooting a crappier Glock.

The trigger is well, a trigger. Mine has stayed at the same roughly 3lb point, but it has gotten a little less mushy. Still mushy, but not the worst thing I've pulled (that was a Nagant Revolver, nothing is worse than that).

The accessory rail on the frame is nearly useless. The only light that would reasonably fit would be a Streamlight TLR-7, which I don't have. Both my TLR-1 and X300U's were too big to fit and lock on. I've seen reports of the gun's reliability dropping when mounting a light too, due to the construction of the pistol.

How'd the thing shoot after more testing?

Reliability of the KelTec P17

After my initial review, I put another 900-ish rounds through the P17. The pistol was well lubricated during this testing, mostly with Slip2000 EWL. Below are the ammo counts:

  • 650 Rounds of Federal Automatch (Jacketed)
  • 333 Rounds of Winchester Bulk Pack (Jacketed)
  • 600 Rounds CCI Mini-Mag (Jacketed)
  • 600 Rounds Winchester Super-X (Jacketed)
  • 100 Rounds Remington 40gr (Unjacketed)

So, that brings ammo count up and over 2200 rounds. The additional 900 rounds were fired over 4 range trips, with a cleaning being done to the gun between each one. I did have a ton of malfunctions though.

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Most of the failures were "failures to feed", which meant that the slide needed assistance to strip the round off the magazine. Those are easily remedied with at tap to the back of the slide, but it is still a failure. Over the continued testing, I did keep having double feeds, stovepipe failures, and stuck casings, regardless of ammo.

During my last two range trips, I fired 200 rounds of Winchester Super X 40 grain, and 200 of CCI Mini Mag 40 grain. Among the 400 rounds fired, I ran into 35 failures to enter battery, 4 stuck casings, 8 stovepipes, and 6 double feeds. That's 53 failures for 400 rounds fired, making a 74% reliability rate with the gun. That's unacceptable to me.

Reliability on this gun sucks, even for a .22LR pistol.

Shooting the KelTec P17

When the gun wasn't bricking itself, it shot alright. The sights still shoot very high, but with a proper low hold, I felt confident in my hits.

I shot quite a few "The Tests" with the P17, all being good scores and times. Generally, when the gun worked, it was a pleasant shooter. It isn't snappy, it fits most hands well, and is simple to operate. It's really a shame that the reliability is the way it is.

Does it shoot better than a target .22 pistol? No, it doesn't. However, it doesn't weigh 3 pounds, and holds more ammo. The whole "working" part just needs some improvement.

My Final Verdict

KelTec P17 Two Cents
Just giving my two cents.

I think that in concept, the P17 is a great idea of a backpacking gun. Lightweight, high capacity, good ergos, and pleasant to shoot. However, the reliability is a massive issue with the P17. If it worked, I think I would love this gun. Alas, it does not. There is not really anything that I dislike more than a gun that doesn't work.

The biggest bummer is that no other .22 pistol comes close to the footprint of the P17. I'm very much interested in the Taurus TX22, but that is full size, not compact like the P17. Maybe the new SIG P322 will be a P17, but working. KelTec seems to have pulled a KelTec, and sabotaged another great idea with mediocre build quality. I cannot recommend the P17 until it is fixed, but I doubt that KelTec will ever do it. I'm just happy to be finished with this absolute failure of a gun.

P17 Sealed Away Gif

About Paul Whaley 183 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a zombie videogame or listening to Warren Zevon.

26 Comments

  1. This is the 5th .22LR pistol I've owned and I am very impressed with it. A bit concerned about the reliability of the plastic parts (and magazines!) over time. Will it crack?

    I do take umbrage with this observation in the review: "The slide release still fails to actually allow you to chamber the gun..." You are NOT supposed to use the slide release to chamber a round.

    You need to grasp the slide (even just two fingers will do!) and snap it back with a good tug. Like snapping the head off of mouse.

    For $199 you get quite the value. RHREE magazines! High rez front sight. Hard case. I believe the angle of the hript mimicks a Browning 1911. It will take a suppressor, so budget for that.

    I did not find the trigger spongy. It did feel a little light (2 lbs. or so?) almost like a hair trigger. Reset is quick, meaning I can empty 16+1 rounds in less than 15 seconds. More rounds downrange equals a better chance of hitting the target. I think the trigger guard will accommodate winter gloves.

    Re-acquisition of the target after firing a round is so easy! Hardly any kickback or rise of the barrel. The high rez front sight works very well in lower light situations.

    Try his is an excellent training pistol as a first gun for anyone. Practice shooting it one handed and with your less dominant hand. I think I would prefer this as my Every Day Carry because it is lightweight, easy and FUN to shoot. It should prove reliable enough until you want to graduate to a 9mm, .40 or a .45 ACP.

    Any recommended accessories? G
    Sticky tape for the grip? A hybrid holster? All METAL magazines that are easier to load with a spring that slides down to the bottom with two fingers. Red dot sight?

    • Michael,

      Firstly, thanks for commenting! To address a few points:

      The gun I tested was made some time in 2021, and I tested it through the end of that year, and finished my testing in Spring 2022. KelTec may have made the guns more reliable over that period, but from what I've seen, it's still a mixed bag.

      On the topic of the slide release, according to KelTec in the manual for the gun, it is a slide release.

      "Pull the magazine out. If you wish to continue firing, insert a loaded magazine, and slap the butt of the magazine to ensure it is fully seated. Then push down the slide release or pull back and release the slide to chamber another round."

      https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/5159794/Firearm_Manuals/P17_MANUAL.pdf

      It is a slide release, that generally did not work as a slide release.

      On the trigger, the weight and feel from individual P17 to P17 is wildly different. I've shot some that were too light, and some that were more reasonable. Some were spongier than others, while others were a little more crisp.

      The recoil impulse is certainly low, cannot fault that. However, I don't think it's great as a trainer gun, as the QC is wildly all over the place, and you cannot assure a functioning gun out of box. The Taurus TX22 Compact has been my recommendation for a .22LR trainer.

      Again, thanks for commenting!

      Paul

  2. Jam-o-matic if it can even chamber a round. Mine was absolute trash I had to push the slide forward on every round, (lubed and brand new). Sent it back to Keltec which was a nightmare, took them 3 months to "fix it" instead they just sent me a new gun. The new gun was actually chambering rounds but had at least 4 failures to fire with very light primer strikes (primer didn't look like it was touched), tested the unfired rounds in other guns they functioned fine, then I had an out of battery detonation. Got sprayed with After that I tested the gun with the chamber flag in the breach and it actually engages the firing pin with the breach open. If you out run this gun the firing pin will cause the round to explode out of battery. I sent it back in September, now Mid November and I have no idea when I will get it back really poor communication from Keltec worst customer service ever with a gun. High-point few days it came back. Citidel (Rock Island) about a week or two. I sent them the gun in July it is now November and they are still working on it. I think they beta test these guns with customers the quality control is really garbage, I'm really upset because the magazine capacity is great, inexpensive, and seem to function well, it is a shame the rest of the gun is so trash.

    • *got sprayed by powder and gas coming out of the open chamber. *magazines seem to function well (best engineered part of the gun). Wish other guns used the same magazine

      • Gill,

        Thanks for your comment! It really seems like the P17 is quite the mixed bag. You and I have had bad experiences with the gun, but then I've heard positives from other folks. Needless to say, KelTec needs to work on their QC and CS, to make the process better for the market.

  3. I've had mine for about 5mths 2200 rounds ran through it so far with high velocity CCI rounds not one single problem yet but I followed the directions to use high velocity ammo not super or just a 22lr but it's been working fine for me I guess I got lucky from what I'm reading

    • I own two of the P17s and have never experienced a single problem. Maybe as you say, you and I have been lucky....but I tend to think that maybe it might be even more so...rather that a small hand full of shooters have been, unlucky....in getting hold of a P17 that somehow missed out on something in Quality Control at the factory. I ran across a video by the very well known "22Plinkster" entitled "How Good Is a $175 Dollar 22LR Pistol--P17". Man...for that guy to give the P17 the try out...and review scores he did...was pretty amazing. What is funny is that he said the first one he started to try out would not work at all...and he figured out what it was (in the slide mechanism) and called the Kel Tec factory and asked them if they would like him to fix it himself or send it back. They said send it back...He got another from them (he bought two actually) and the rest is history, so-to-speak.

    • Picking mine up on Monday, I looked at/read over 30 different sources before purchase..All but a few of the reviews that used high velocity CCI had no issues and the ones that did were in the first 25 or so shots..that was the determining factor for me...Just some added info....

  4. Well Sir, mine performed well the first 150 rounds or so, except for the annoying sloooow chambering using the slide release. The ammo was Federal bulk 325 count plain lead 1200fps. At the first failure, I cleaned and lubed and got another 150 or so rounds through before a stove pipe. The ammo is pretty dirty, so my routine is clean and lube liberally every 150 rounds.
    Then at about 1500 rounds I experienced the same problems you had. On tear down of the slide/bolt assembly, I found the culprit to be a bent extractor spring. It's a coil compression spring of ridiculous small size. Instead of locating in a hole it just rides in a slot whose floor is a radius of the cutter that machined it, forcing the spring to gradually get bent. By trial and error I found a position that allowed the extractor to function properly, and the gun functioned perfectly for another 600 rounds.
    Rinse and repeat for a total of 9000 rounds. This is a major annoyance for I have grown to really like this gun. So I have decided to redesign the extractor and spring fitment to permanently solve the problem. I wish Keltec hadn't cheaped out to save drilling one little hole.

  5. After watching & reading both your "Impressions" I feel you had it out for this pistol from day one. You began with looks, feel & even trigger guard size and shape. Then to finish it, malfunctions. 22 cal semi auto pistols are known to be finiky and can be easily made to operate poorly with improper cleaning and lubrication, and the use of the ammo that particular pistol does not like.

    • Jerry,

      I wouldn't say that I "had it out" for this pistol, but rather had an expectation of how the handgun would perform. A good buddy of mine from another website had serious reliability issues with the P17s that tested, and I had similar results.

      Discussing the looks, construction, and ergonomics, this is a weird gun. It has strange proportions, dubious build quality, and components that did not work (slide release). I mention it, as these are all factors that play a part in reviewing the gun.

      I tested the gun with a range of ammo, from decent bulk to fairly premium stuff. I also kept the gun lubricated, and deep cleaned it between every shooting outing after the initial testing article.

      In both my impression and full review articles, I'm merely documenting my experience with the P17. The gun would have been good if the reliability was anywhere near acceptable. I've owned a mess of .22LR pistols over the years, and the only one that has been less reliable than the P17 was the Beretta Bobcat that I tested for my pocket pistol series.

      I'm sure that there are production ranges of P17s that work, but the one that I had (and a sequential serial number specimen that my father had) just did not function in a manner that I would consider acceptable. Just in the time since publication of this review, I've owned two TX22 models, a Smith SW22 Victory, and a Ruger Lite Rack LCP that were all significantly more reliable than the P17 that I tested.

      Maybe I'll do a return to the gun in 2024, but as it stands, my review is a summation of the experiences that I had while testing my gun from 2021-2022. I've got no emotional investment in any of the guns that I test, and I'm not in the pocket of any company. As such, I just report my experiences with the thing I'm testing, with no ulterior motives.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. I handled one a year ago. It just felt good. I purchased one 4 months ago.did it malfunction, yes, during the first 150 rounds. 1 FTF due to bad ammo; 2 failures to chamber completely, slide needed a nudge; 2 failures to feed due to other reasons. Cleaned well, lubed and grease oh slide rails and voila, it has run perfecthe for another 600 rounds.

  7. I've had trouble with mine since I got it. Stovepiping has been the biggest issue. At first it was an issue with half a dozen different specs of ammo, so I sent it to Kel-Tec under warranty. It seemed to work better after I got it back, but now it stovepipes with some ammo and not others. Winchester is the worst. Stovepiped first round of every mag. Federal American Eagle, Auto Match, and Champion Value Pack stovepipe inconsistently, but more than once with each mag. So far, Aquila Super Extra Hollow Point, Remington Golden Bullet, and CCI AR Tactical are cycling well. It appears you have to get one that's not a lemon and/or find the right ammo that works.

    • Barry,

      It's really a shame, truth be told. If the gun worked more than it generally does, it would be a fantastic gun. I've got a complete LCP22 review coming up next month, and that gun was significantly more reliable than the P17. Reliability on 22LR guns is becoming more and more understood as time goes on, but some designs are slow to pick that up.

      I'm glad that you've found a smattering of ammo that works in your P17. Thanks for commenting!

      Paul

  8. " I'm very much interested in the Taurus TX22, but that is full size, not compact like the P17."

    I find this observation amusing. The TX22 is a 5/16" inch longer, 1/8" taller, and 1/16" wider. If the TX22 is full size, the P17 is far from "compact" in comparison. You make it sound like the TX22 is an Tahoe vs a Civic.

    • James,

      If you just look at the measurement differences on HandgunHero, it will not provide a full picture. The TX22 is a handgun that has proportions that are a lot closer to traditional designs. The P17 has strange proportions, like trigger guard length and shape, grip profile, and slide height, just to name a few. Another meaursement that you won't see there is grip thickness. The P17 is much thinner from side to side than the TX22 is. Weight is also massively different between the two. Other elements, like accessory rail length play a part too. You aren't cramming an X300 on a P17, but it'll fit on the TX22.

      Since the publication of this P17 review, I've now owned two different TX22 models. I got a TX22 competition model in May of 2022, to which I shot fairly extensively until I sold it back in March of this year. I did that, as I scooped up the TX22 Compact after SHOT, and found that I much preferred that to the full size TX22 model. Now, the TX22 compact is a lot closer in footprint to the P17, but is still a fatter and taller gun. It's also a gun that has been significantly more reliable than the P17. We'll have some content on the TX22 Compact before too long on the site, it's just that the .22LR shooting has been exclusively focused on the pocket gun series that I've been working on.

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Perhaps you can elaborate on the following statement of yours;
    After my initial review, I put another 900-ish rounds through the P17. Below are the ammo counts:

    650 Rounds of Federal Automatch (Jacketed)
    333 Rounds of Winchester Bulk Pack (Jacketed)
    600 Rounds CCI Mini-Mag (Jacketed)
    600 Rounds Winchester Super-X (Jacketed)
    100 Rounds Remington 40gr (Unjacketed)
    As far as I am aware, and certainly not in the UK, no company makes jacketed .22RF ammunition.

    • Bob,

      When I refer to jacketed 22LR in that section, it's a way to simplify stating that I shot ammunition that had a copper or nickel coating over the bullet. I shot a mix of exposed lead bullet ammo, and copper jacketed ammo, and wanted to list the differences in that section.

  10. I read about everything on the net including this review and bought one. I am very happy with my $200 investment. I have shot about 600 rounds of mixed brands. Occasionally I have a failure to feed. Less than 1 per 100. I have arthritis and wanted someone i could practice with that didn't hurt my hand. It is very comfortable to shoot and I shoot it very well. BEST 200 DOLLAR PISTOL ON THE MARKET;;

  11. One would think that think that that it might be your ammo or cleanliness of your pistol I have one runs perfectly 3000 rounds plus using all ammo that I can stick in it if you stove pipes and failure to feed may be six times in 3000 rounds

  12. Did you contact KelTec? you got a lemon. and you deserved a replacement. I'd love to know how they would have replied to you.
    Mine is still going strong, with no issues... Doesn't like Winchester ammo as well as CCI, (flawless with mini mags) but most of my rimfires have trouble with Winchester. You are one of very few negative reviews, and it's sad you are trashing a good firearm.. send it back....

    • Dan,

      I ended up ditching the gun, rather than to send it back to KelTec. Reliability issues on the P17 are quite common, and I don't have enough time or patience to deal with them long term, especially on a gun that costs $200. I put many different brands of ammo through my gun, with uniform issues throughout the process. My father also had a P17 with similar issues, and he ditched his too.

      I have a plethora of 22 caliber handguns from various companies (S&W, Ruger, Taurus, Beretta, etc.), and none of them have had reliability anywhere near as bad as the P17. Did I get a lemon? Maybe, but I've seen enough P17s fail to know that I'd rather not deal with the headache going forward.

      In regards to "trashing a good firearm", I've merely reported my experiences with the gun during my time with it. I had very, very poor experiences with it, but they were my objective ones, not subjective ones. If the gun had worked, the article would have turned out much differently. But alas, it did not.

      Thanks for the comment! I'll have more .22 pistol reviews/impressions coming down the pipeline in the near future!

      Paul Whaley

        • James,

          The P17 was well lubricated throughout my testing process. For cleaning and lubing at home, I used Slip2000 EWL, and if I applied more lubrication while shooting the gun, it was ALG Go Juice. I wrote this article nearly two years back, and did not realize that I had not posted the lubrication within the body. It'll be updated by the time that you see the comment.

          All of the guns that I test or carry are lubricated extremely well. The three primary causes of stoppages are poor magazines, bad ammo, and a lack of lubrication. Well, I tested the P17 with plenty of lube, a range of ammo, and the OEM mags. My testing is a snapshot of time, as I had a 2021 production gun, and tested it from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022. Maybe the newer guns are better, but the one that I used shat the bed quite hard.

          Thanks for commenting!

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