Fight of the pocket rockets. Kel-Tec P-3AT (l) and Ruger LCP (r).
1. Fit and finish: LCP. No surprise there. The Ruger is just more of a refined design that the Kel-Tec and the final finish of the gun is just more pleasant. Just look at the two pictures above, the Ruger is obviously more polished and pleasing to the eye.
2. Features: LCP. Winner by virtue of its slide catch lever. As you can see by the pic above the catch allows the slide to be held open for inspection or range use. I had to use an orange chamber block on my Kel-Tec to show clear. Note that despite the latch the Ruger does not lock back on an empty clip, same with the Kel-Tec.
3. Firepower: Tie. Both fire the .380 ACP from 6 round magazines, no room for victory on either side there.
4. Innovation and Engineering: P-3AT. Funny thought, the P-3AT is just a .380 version of their .32 ACP P-32 pistol. As I state above, the LCP is just basically a copy of the P-3AT. No major innovations other than the slide catch. If they had been able to work in the slide locking to the rear on the last round, that would of probably of swung my opinion thier way. Also you need to take into consideration that the P-3AT has been around (even as the P-32) for a number of years with no major issues, while the LCP had a major safety recall to repair a potential ND issue with the drop safety.
5. Accessories: Tie (abet leaning toward the LCP). Pretty much any holster or other accessory made for one will either fit the other or have a companion product for the other. The slight lean toward the LCP is due to the fact that you can use P-3AT mags in the LCP, but LCP mags will not work in the P-3AT.
6. Ergonomics: LCP. Ruger wins another one here, the LCP just feels slightly better in the hand, probably due to the more refined gripping surfaces. Note though that as I pointed out in my original P-3AT review, those rough diamond points on the grip will ensure sure and positive grasping of the pistol from a pocket or in the hand. They just don't feel as nice as the smoother side plate and more refined texture of the LCP. Neither of the pistols are something you will want to shoot much more than 20 - 30 rounds at a time due to recoil and such.
7. Concealabilty: Tie. Dimensionally they are the same size. The P-3AT is lighter by an ounce but since both of them weight less than 10 ounces to begin with this is moot in my opinion.
8. Accuracy: LCP. After shooting both side-by-side I have to give the nod to the Ruger. I grouped both pistols about the same, but out of the box the sights for the Ruger put the rounds more to where I was aiming than the Kel-Tec. Keep in mind though that at the distances these pistols were designed to be used at, a few inches to the left or right of aim will matter little in most instances.
9. Price: P-3AT. Never in doubt on this one. The extra feature and fit and finish on the Ruger are going to cost you a premium over the Kel-Tec of anywhere from around $50 - $100 dollars.
10. Value: P-3AT. Sorry Kev, the Ruger is overall a nicer pistol, but for what it was designed to do the Kel-Tec does it well, did it first and can do it cheaper. I insert a magazine into it, load and then holster and pocket it. If I would need to draw and use it, it would be up close and personal where the nicer fit and slightly better accuracy would count for little.
For those keeping score, the LCP comes out ahead in this battle 4 to 3, with 3 ties between the two of them.
Honestly, you cannot go wrong with either of these pistols if used for their intended purpose. Availability of either is still a bit spotty so the choice of which one to buy may purely be driven by which one you may actually be able to find in stock (right now, Vance's in Columbus has the P-3ATs on sale for $239 - if they have any left in stock!). If I had to do it over again I probably would of spent the extra cash and gotten the Ruger, but when I found the P-3AT it was the first one I saw actually in stock in a while and had to jump on it. Again, either way you fall in on this you will have a very concealable pistol that will go with you whenever and wherever you need it.
Here's a vid of Kevin shooting the LCP just so I won't go a post without abusing YouTube..