Skip to main content

KelTec P17 Review

The new KelTec P17 semiauto offers a 16-plus-1 capacity of .22LR and costs less than $200.

KelTec P17 Review
Photos by Mark Fingar

Sometimes the so-­called “new” guns don’t seem new at all. Many are a rehashed version of the latest firearms trends with a few new features that dodge someone else’s patents, and finished with a new logo. If you’re tired of the last-­night’s-­leftovers approach to gun making, let me remind you of KelTec.

Based in Cocoa, Florida, this year marks 25 years of manufacturing for KelTec, and from the start they’ve done things differently. You could also argue that KelTec were the ones who started the single-­stack 9mm trend in ’95 with its P-­11 — 20 years before the Glock 43 debuted. And who could forget the SUB-­2000 9mm folding carbine, the radical KSG series of shotguns, and the compact RFB and RDB bullpup rifles? Today, this innovative company is introducing its latest super affordable, semiautomatic plinker, the P17.

Budget Minded

Let’s address the P17’s price to start. It’s advertised at $199 (which sounds better than $200), but in reality, gun store prices will offer it for a little less. That would make this gun a steal if it proves to be reliable, accurate and fun to shoot. The P17 is also easy to carry and conceal — not that Guns & Ammo would endorse carrying any pistol in .22LR as a primary self-­defense tool, but you could — and some people do.

The P17 does have some competition. The excellent Taurus TX22 was G&A’s “2019 Handgun of the Year.” However, the P17 has its price and size in its favor. The TX22 is $150 more expensive and slightly larger in scale. But to each their credit, both offer a 16-­round-­capacity magazine.

Of course, there are other compact semiautos that shoot .22, but they are usually offered with 10-­round-­capacity magazines and are generally larger and heavier. Worthy examples are the new Glock 44 ($430); the Ruger SR22 ($439); Smith & Wesson’s M&P22 Compact ($389); and the Walther P22 ($300). Another comparable pistol that emulates the more powerful LCP II centerfire models is the Ruger LCP II Lite Rack ($349) in .22LR, which offers a capacity of 10 rounds.

Initial Observations

The P17’s operating system is one feature on this gun that is conventional. It is a straight blowback design that uses energy from the fired cartridge to move the slide rearward, and then uses the compressed spring’s pressure to slow the slide and return it to battery. This same system has worked on guns ranging from the venerable Colt Woodsman to the Ruger Mark series, among others.

Storied .22 pistols have paved the way for contemporary rimfires. Like many other .22s of its type, the P17 has a unique feature: Only a portion of the slide moves rearward during cycling. Yep, look closely and you’ll see that the barrel on the P17 is fixed in position — it doesn’t move! As we’ve seen on other pistols, this fixed-­barrel design tends to improve accuracy potential.

However, unlike most blowback .22s that feature fixed sights over a fixed barrel (to ensure consistent sight-­over-­bore alignment), the P17’s front and rear sight move with the slide’s action during cycling. When fired, the entire top portion of the P17 moves rearward, including the sights. This is not a problem provided that the sights return to the exact same position relative to the barrel after each shot. It made me wonder if this system might limit the accuracy potential of this gun.

KelTec P17
The front sight is a fiber optic.

Another KelTec P17 feature is the set of notch-­and-­post sights fastened to its reciprocating slide. The front sight wears a green fiber-­optic insert and the rear adjusts using an Allen wrench, which KelTec kindly provides. Turning the front screw counterclockwise elevates the rear of the sight and raises point-­of-­impact downrange. At a certain point, the front of the sight blocks the post, but lowering the sight to that level will drop the point of impact to the ground (or nearly) at 25 yards. I didn’t find this to be a real problem for practical shooting applications.

KelTec P17
The rear sight is adjustable using the provided wrench.

To adjust windage, I used the same provided Allen wrench to turn the screw on the rear sight. A clockwise rotation moves the point of impact to the right, while counterclockwise moves groups to the left.

The P17 is screwed together with an assortment of Allen screws — no less than 11 that are visible on the left side of the gun. (This does not include the screws on the rear sight. There are two additional screws on the front sight.) These screws secure the sight’s polymer shroud in place on the slide and hold the two halves of the gun’s polymer outer frame together. For the range, you’ll also want to have a 2mm wrench for sight adjustments (also provided) and a 2.5mm wrench for those other screws.

KelTec P17
The magazine well is basic and thin walled. The magazine holds 16 rounds of .22LR and slides in and out without fuss.

If you enjoy working on your own guns, you’ll love how easy the P17 is to break down, clean and maintain. It’s disassembly procedure is fantastically simple. To fieldstrip the unloaded gun, remove the magazine by retracting the back the slide and pressing down on the two tabs that extend from the left and right of the frame below the barrel. (The tabs protruding from the lockbar are wide and easy enough to use.) Next, slowly lift and move the top of the slide forward to expose the 3.8-­inch barrel. Once the slide is removed, you can easily swab the fixed barrel clean.

KelTec P17
The P17 slide locks back on an empty magazine. With a loaded mag inserted, a .22 LR round has a short jump into the chamber.

If you want to access the internals of the P17 trigger, you’ll have to separate the two polymer halves of the gun. This disassembly requires — you guessed it — an Allen wrench. Removing the top polymer shroud (again, secured by two Allen screws) offers access to the bolt assembly, which can then be separated from the metal slide by pulling them apart. Inside the bolt you’ll find a dagger-­shaped firing pin with a spring on top and an easy-­to-­remove extractor.

KelTec P17
The breech face is recessed into the bolt with slots around the rim of a case allowing the extractor, ejector and striker to work.

Perhaps my favorite design element on this gun is the ambidextrous paddle-­style magazine release located at the rear of the triggerguard. I’m one who likes that the paddle magazine releases on some of the HK and Walther pistols, and while I might be in the minority, I find the paddle design easy to reach with either hand when shooting. Once you’re accustomed to it, this system is quite intuitive.

Full Control

KelTec P17
The safety lever is ambidextrous and reveals a ready-to-fire red dot when pushed down.

The P17’s frame houses the internal hammer. You’ll also see that there’s a square window at the rear of the slide that could acts as a cocking indicator. It also features an ambidextrous safety lever and a small, extended slide-­release tab located in front of and above the safety. Like the slide stop, the safety has a relatively wide tab that’s easy to access from either side.

KelTec P17
The P17’s grip features KelTec’s waffle pattern with a ledge on both sides to support the thumb and paddle-style mag release.

Does the P17’s grip make you feel like you’re picking up and holding something other than a KelTec? Nope. The same can be said of the angled slide cuts on the polymer shroud. The grip on the P17 features KelTec’s signature rectangular box texturing, and there’s a slight arc to the rear of the grip that allows it to sit comfortably in the hand, while also promoting a high hold. The left and right portions of the grip are flat, and the front strap is angled for complete comfortability.

KelTec P17
The P17 is a lot of fun to shoot suppressed.

Up front, KelTec designed an accessory rail under the barrel’s dustcover that will accommodate the attachment of most aftermarket lights and lasers. And to the point of attaching accessories, the P17’s extended ½x28 barrel is threaded to accept either a muzzle device or suppressor. Out of the box, the barrel is given a thread protector and wrench.

KelTec P17
A wrench is provided to easily remove or install the barrel’s thread muzzle cap.

At The Range

As you might expect from a handgun with this much polymer, the P17 is light. Guns & Ammo’s test gun weighed 15 ounces loaded and 11 ounces empty. Suffice to say, the P17 has minimal mass. Magazine capacity is 16 rounds, which is impressive considering its price tag. We also send our compliments to KelTec for including three polymer magazines.

KelTec P17
The magazine holds 16 rounds of .22LR and slides in and out without fuss.

The trigger on the P17 is actually quite light, also. I measured an average right around 3 pounds on a Wheeler gauge. It had a lot of take up and tightened just a bit before firing a shot, but it is target-­gun light despite not being target-­gun clean. Once you shoot the P17 a few times, you’ll get a feel for the trigger and will be able to better predict when it’s going to fire.

The best five-­shot group of the day was obtained using Winchester’s Wildcat 40-­grain copper-­plated load. From 25 yards, it measured 1.85 inches. It was a strange group with two shots touching inside the center square and the other three shots touching almost 2 inches higher. I had to pull the target off the backing to be sure that there were indeed five holes. Winchester’s Wildcat ammunition later produced the second-­best group of the day, and it seemed to be the ammo that the P17 preferred. CCI’s Mini Mag hollowpoints proved to be the second most accurate. Despite the sights moving with the slide, this didn’t seem to detract from overall accuracy.

KelTec P17

Full Disclosure

Twenty-­two long-­rifle ammunition isn’t the easiest cartridge to make reliable in semiauto pistols. As a point of record, Editor Eric Poole tested two prototypes of the P17 in 2019 and experienced reliability problems. He ended up returning both of G&A’s preproduction pistols to KelTec with advice that they be further developed.

Since January 2020, production P17s have had a few reported problems. However, the one I evaluated produced only a few malfunctions. The majority of the issues involved spent casings getting stuck inside the gun’s action, which jammed the pistol when the return spring slammed the bolt home.

There were also several failures to ignite the primer, and the firing pin struck high on the rim. Four times the extractor failed to draw the spent case from the chamber, but three of those occurred when shooting Aguila ammunition. Two of these failure-­to-­extract times happened in a row, so I swabbed out the P17’s chamber to be sure that the extractor and spring worked properly. Unfortunately, the problem occurred again. The feeding, extraction and ejection issues were most common in the first 100 rounds, but I later ­tried a CCI Mini-Mag High Velocity load and completed the remainder of my endurance testing without issue.

The Verdict

Though the P17 is not perfect, it does offer great value potential. And while its plastic styling and plethora of Allen screws could be a hang-up for some, if you’re still reading this, you’re probably not one of them.

The P17 is intended to be a fun gun, and for under $200 it delivers when fed a load of ammo that it likes. Which ammo is best? I suggest that you shoot a box from several different types and enjoy the process of figuring that out for yourself. Each of G&A’s samples preferred something different.

KelTec isn’t tied to the traditional formula of gun making, and the buckets-­of-­fun P17 is an example of why their guns remain so appealing. 

KelTec P17
Notes: Accuracy results are average of five, five-­shot-­shot groups at 25 yards from a fixed rest. Velocity figures are 10-­shot averages measured by a Shooting Chrony digital chronograph placed 10 feet from the muzzle.

KelTec P17

  • Type: Blowback operated, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: .22 LR
  • Capacity: 16+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 3.8 in.
  • Overall Length: 6.7 in.
  • Width: 1.2 in.
  • Height: 5.3 in.
  • Weight: 11 oz. (tested, empty)
  • Finish: Black
  • Sights: Fiber optic (front); adj. notch (rear)
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., 2 oz. (tested)
  • MSRP: $200
  • Manufacturer: Kel-Tec CNC Industries, 321-631-0068,

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and an erector assembly unlike any other on the market. The Z5(i) is an excellent choice for an all-­around hunting scope.Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review Optics

Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review

Tom Beckstrand - September 09, 2020

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and...

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough.Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

See More Trending Articles

More Reviews

The Hi-Point 995 TS carbine has low recoil, is chambered in a readily available cartridge, and is more accurate than many would expect when shot using loads it likes. It is a good choice for anyone in search of an inexpensive recreational firearm, or one for self-defense.Hi-Point Firearms 995 TS Camo WC Review Reviews

Hi-Point Firearms 995 TS Camo WC Review

Proofhouse - August 03, 2020

The Hi-Point 995 TS carbine has low recoil, is chambered in a readily available cartridge, and...

Building on the Ruger American's success­ful foundation, Ruger, Davidson's and Magpul have teamed up to create an exclusive version of the Ruger American Rifle Hunter that is tailored to the long-range shooter.Davidson's Exclusive Ruger American Hunter Review Reviews

Davidson's Exclusive Ruger American Hunter Review

Cody Eardley - September 16, 2020

Building on the Ruger American's success­ful foundation, Ruger, Davidson's and Magpul have...

It's been a while since there's been a new American-designed and -made autoloading hunting shotgun. For 2020, Savage has stepped up to the plate with the new gas-operated Renegauge series.Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review Reviews

Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review

Robert W. Hunnicutt - August 05, 2020

It's been a while since there's been a new American-designed and -made autoloading hunting...

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a forged slide and frame. The crowned muzzle is cut flush with the bushing, which was given flats around the edges. Few curves were left untouched by flats; even the bottom of the triggerguard has corners leading to the high-grip undercut. The scale motif adds striking functionality. Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review Reviews

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review

Eric R. Poole - July 28, 2020

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a...

See More Reviews

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now