Gun Digest

The KelTec P32: A Beloved Backup Piece

From police ankles to grandma’s purse, the KelTec P32 has been the preferred pocket pistol of many since it was first released.

KelTec P32 Features:

Molded out of what appears to be the same plastic used to make action figures, the KelTec P32 emanates a certain 1990s charm that brings to mind neon-splattered movie theater carpet and paper cups with a wavy blue line across the center. Despite how it looks, the KelTec P32 was an instant classic for the role it was designed for. While the polymer used doesn’t look as sleek as what we’re used to today, it’s high quality, durable and accomplishes one of this pistol’s main goals—being lightweight. Old, all-steel pocket pistols may be compact and work fine when actually being carried in a pocket, but another common carry method used is ankle holster carry. Any cop who used to chase down suspects with a Colt .38 snubby strapped to his ankle will tell you that ounces matter, and that’s where the KelTec P32 shines.

Many Ways To Carry

Many of the KelTec P32’s features make it ideal for deep concealment, especially when weight is a factor. The gun operates by using a short-recoil, locked breach system despite only being chambered for .32 ACP. By choosing this system over direct blowback, the P32 can use lighter recoil springs, resulting in a smoother action. It has an internal hammer and a double-action-only trigger with about a five-pound pull, but KelTec claims that it should be smooth and consistent all the way through. The double-action trigger acts as this gun’s only safety (besides an internal hammer block to make it drop-safe). The lack of a manual safety, external hammer or other controls help keep the KelTec P32 snag-free and extremely simple to operate—all qualities of a good backup piece.

Weighing less than seven ounces unloaded, it’s no wonder why the P32 became so popular for those who carry with an ankle holster, but the gun’s light weight enables more carry methods than just ankle alone. Belly bands, neck-lanyards and other unorthodox techniques that are often thwarted by a gun’s heft suddenly become accessible when the piece only weighs as much as a roll of nickels.

Best In Its Class

As far as polymer-framed .32 ACP pocket pistols go, the KelTec P32 is undoubtedly the best in its class, and not just because it’s the only one in it. Since it was released in 1999 there hasn’t been another pistol quite like the KelTec P32. There are other, metal-framed .32 ACP pocket pistols such as the Seecamp that outclass it in terms of compactness, but there are none that I know of that outclass it in weight. The extra grip size also contributes to better ergonomics and a higher capacity.

KelTec P32 Vs. Seecamp Model 32. Photo: HandgunHero

On one hand, the DAO trigger and tiny sights make the P32 difficult for inexperienced shooters to make hits with, but the low-power round being fired should help compensate. An eight-round capacity also isn’t bad for a pocket pistol with flush-fitting mags, but they even have extended magazines available for sale as spares.

KelTec P32 with extended 10-round magazine and a pocket clip. Photo: Wikipedia

The KelTec P32 may still be the number one choice for a police backup gun more than twenty years after the gun’s release. Its uniquely lightweight and simple operation makes it particularly suited for the role in ways that not every pocket pistol can be. It has a slew of aftermarket accessories available for it and still has a reasonable MSRP of $360, making it an attractive option for anyone looking for a deep concealment piece. The KelTec P32 fills a niche that no other pistol does quite as well, and for that reason this retro-looking chunk of plastic will likely be remembered as a classic for years to come.

For more KelTec, please visit

More Pocket Pistols:

Next Step: Get your FREE Printable Target Pack

Enhance your shooting precision with our 62 MOA Targets, perfect for rifles and handguns. Crafted in collaboration with Storm Tactical for accuracy and versatility.

Subscribe to the Gun Digest email newsletter and get your downloadable target pack sent straight to your inbox. Stay updated with the latest firearms info in the industry.

Get Free Targets

Exit mobile version