All too often, most especially in the law enforcement world, we forget that shooting should sometimes just be fun. Safety is, of course, always a concern and it’s an added bonus if any type of training value can be added into the time spent pulling the trigger, but when you think about it… shooting should sometimes just be fun. For those occasions, you need a rifle or pistol that isn’t expensive to purchase and isn’t expensive to feed but performs big for the small costs attached. Enter the KelTec P17 pistol.
Chambered in .22lr, the P17 is easy to overlook as applicable in the law enforcement arena. No, it doesn’t have a place as a duty weapon, but does that automatically mean it has no place in your armory or home gun safe? Absolutely not. KelTec has a history of manufacturing pistols that prove far more useful than people originally assume. Take a look at the PMR30 – a .22 Magnum polymer framed pistol that many dismissed early on but now is in high demand. Why? Because it’s accurate, fun to shoot, applicable for lots of off-duty uses and, quite simply, fun to shoot. KelTec also (relatively) recently released the CP33 in .22lr and hit another home run. This polymer framed .22lr pistol was designed for competition use and performs admirably for bullseye work. On top of that, it’s lightweight, inexpensive to feed and offers options for recreational shooting you can’t match with any weapon chambered for what’s commonly considered a “duty” caliber.
Let’s bring this back to the P17. Weighing less than 14 ounces fully loaded, the pistol has a barrel just under four inches long. We can cite specifications all day but what do they mean to the shooter? It’s comfortable and a handy size. Thanks to being chambered in .22lr, the pistol can use 16-round magazines and not be oversized. Every firearms instructor has seen full-grown adults whose hands weren’t big enough for the double stack 9mm duty weapon. No one wants that challenge when practicing marksmanship, having fun educating family or simply enjoying some group therapy (shooting nice groups in a target). So, thanks to the caliber, the polymer frame and the perfect barrel length, the P17 is just the right size to be comfortable shooting. .22lr doesn’t create a lot of recoil – or more accurately (no pun intended) – it creates next to no recoil at all.
The P17 also incorporates some features that aren’t “standard” on other pistols and people pay big dollars to add on or upgrade to. Since the P17 already has them integrated, that’s more savings built in. Such features include a threaded barrel, Picatinny-style accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous magazine release, and three magazines standard. Each magazine holds 16 rounds so, with one in the chamber, you get 17 rounds of shooting fun in the weapon.
As with any weapon you shoot to practice marksmanship (or plink for fun) the sights matter. The P17 is equipped with an adjustable rear sight and a fiber optic front sight, the combination of which makes sight acquisition beyond easy. Sight alignment and sight picture are two of the seven marksmanship basic skills, and your ability to perform/master them is directly related to how well you can see your sights in the first place. These sights support that efficiency of skill performance.
As we round this out, let’s consider how range time often goes with larger caliber pistols. You get up motivated, load your vehicle, get to the range, set up, put on your safety equipment, load up and do some shooting. Whether for fun or training, if you’re shooting duty caliber ammo, your cost is easily four times that of .22lr. After you go through your magazines, you have to reload them and by the time you’ve done that a few times your thumbs start to get sore (unless you use a loader which is unnecessary with the .22lr magazines). Five hundred rounds later, with a duty caliber, after you’ve shot through $150+ of ammo and your thumbs are sore you also start to realize that the web of your hand and wrists might be starting to ache. Change that to 500+ rounds of .22lr (about $25) and not only are your thumbs not sore but neither is any part of your hand or wrist. The bottom line is that you can shoot more comfortably and practice your skills four to ten times as much for the same ammo cost if you’re shooting the P17 as compared to a duty weapon. If this is off-duty potentially fun time, doesn’t that only make sense?