Pawn Shop Finds – The Explosive KelTec P11

Matt E
by Matt E
Pawn Shop Finds – The Explosive KelTec P11

Out of all the guns I’ve bought for the Pawn Shop Finds, I never really worried about them being unsafe or having issues despite being dirt cheap. Usually, in the past, I have found some incredibly unique pieces and wild bargains but this one was different from the rest. I think this is a great lesson for everyone when it comes to buying used firearms and what to look at when deciding on a particular firearm. When it comes down to facts, all firearms are mechanical tools that can wear out with enough use. Let’s take a closer look at my recent luck with my extremely worn KelTec P11.

Finding The P11

Just like other editions of Pawn Shop Finds, I roam around my local gun stores and pawn shops looking for interesting guns for under $200. I typically will go to various shops on Monday or Tuesday depending on their hours. This is usually the best time since they get new inventory in their stores over the weekend and have enough time to process them. If you’re looking for a bargain in today’s market, I definitely suggest heading into shops early during the week for the best deals.

After hitting a few of my local shops, I managed to find this beauty in a local pawn shop on the wrong side of town. The worn slide was like a beacon shining in the lights calling me closer. After looking over the KelTec P11, I thought it was a perfect submission to write about for a Pawn Shop Finds if I could snag it for a decent price. Honestly, if I’m being truthful, it was so worn out and rattly that I probably shouldn’t had entertained the idea. Let’s be real though, I have an addiction to picking up weird stuff so this P11 had me hooked from the start.

The Sale

Part of the fun when it comes to buying firearms from pawn shops is haggling with the staff trying to get the best price. This KelTec P11 looks like it has been around the block or two in a few waistbands, so it wasn’t much, to begin with, but the real fun starts when you try bartering the price down even more. After about a half-hour of negotiations, we finally settled on a price of $89.99 with an olive drab gun case, extra magazine, and gun lock.

With all things considered, it really wasn’t a bad price for a cheap carry gun. When it comes to the magazines, the P11 came with one 10-round magazine and one 12-round magazine with a pinky extension which makes it easy to carry with a flush magazine and carrying the spare as a backup magazine. If someone was looking for a great cheap carry gun and if they had a strict budget, this appeared to be a great choice for someone, or so I thought.

Range Time

When it comes to actually shooting the KelTec P11 at the range, it’s a bit of a short story honestly. I decided to take it out and try to put a few magazines through the gun to make sure everything worked properly. Prior to my range trip, I disassembled the handgun to make sure everything looked safe to use and oiled the gun to ensure the P11 ran smoothly. I loaded up the KelTec P11 as well as a few other firearms I was testing out and hit my range spot. Once getting out to the range, I decided to start with the little P11 just to function check the handgun and make sure all was well.

I’ve done this countless times before and everything seemed normal. Every time I picked the gun up it felt really rattly and just tired which was slightly a concern with reliability for me. I ended up starting with just five rounds of 115gr Blazer Brass to make sure the KelTec was functionally good to go. I pulled the slide to the rear and fired three shots without issue. The KelTec P11 is a lightweight double stack so the recoil seemed to be a bit snappy but everything seemed to be going well.

On the 4th shot, the P11 didn’t feed a new round into the gun. I just did a simple tap, rack and the gun seemed to go back into the battery. I fired the 4th round and had the surprise of my life when the magazine exploded out of the gun sending the follower, spring, baseplate and body shooting out of the bottom. The guide rod snapped and locked the gun up entirely.

Lessons Learned

Now, this isn’t KelTec’s fault or a defect in the pistol’s design, it’s simply the fact this handgun was completely worn out with no replacement parts ever put into the gun. Firearms are essentially mechanical tools that can wear out over time just like any other tool. Now, this isn’t a problem for real gun people who can disassemble and replace wearable parts. The problem is when people on a budget buy heavily used firearms with no prior knowledge. These buyers think the firearms are functional and ready to use for self-defense when that’s not always the case. I’ve seen this same thing with a number of old Glocks and Smith & Wessons. It takes a while, but believe it or not, guns do in fact wear out over time and you need to really look over a used firearm before you decide to purchase it.

The parts that were left of the magazine after the detonation.

I can’t tell you how many new buyers have said they expect the pawn shops or gun stores to inspect and test the guns before selling them and that simply isn’t the case. Gun stores and pawn shops don’t have the time or resources to test-fire their firearms so most times you are taking a gamble on a particular firearm. I had a bad feeling about this gun just due to its condition and I decided to try it out anyway for you guys. I feel lucky the outcome wasn’t worse because I walked away with a small cut on my hand and that’s it. Others haven’t been so lucky when a gun had a catastrophic malfunction.

Overall Thoughts

This may not be a really fun Pawn Shop Finds like it typically is, but I think there’s a valuable lesson from this experience. Used guns can be incredibly fun to purchase especially if you find them for a crazy good price. Not all low-priced firearms are bargains though and it’s important to look at the overall condition and wear of the firearm. This KelTec P11 has almost zero rifling and it looks like it was completely worn out. I will retire the little P11 but keep it as a reminder of what can happen if you don’t thoroughly check your firearms before a purchase.

Let me know if you’ve ever experienced a catastrophic malfunction in the comments down below. I’m very interested to hear some of your experiences in the comments so don’t be shy. If you have questions about carry guns or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

Matt E
Matt E

I'm an avid shooter and love educating whether it's at my job or in the shooting community. I'm an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.I'm active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.

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2 of 36 comments
  • NovaPolice NovaPolice on Jun 14, 2022

    I once knew a kat that bought a ticket that exploded....

  • -V- -V- on Jun 14, 2022

    Sounds like you didn’t recognize a squib, shoved a new cartridge on top and had the expected result. Worn guns shoot like crap, or fall apart. They don’t explode.