Compare Kel-Tec PF9 and Ruger LC9

Which came first, the PF9 or the LC9? Here is a side by side comparison of the two subcompact 9mm pistols that I recently purchased. Hold the two pistols one on top of the other and you see the outlines are identical. The only difference being the accessory rail on the PF9. The LC9 has better fit and finish, is a little heftier with a slightly heavier slide and barrel. Both pistols use the same serialized aluminum alloy frame concept that fits inside the grip assembly. The pins holding the frame in place on both pistols are in the same location. The DAO hammer operated firing pin systems are very similar with the LC9 being slightly heavier built. The similarities are more than coincidental. The LC9 appears to be a nicer fit and finish version of the PF9.

The Kel-Tec PF9 was first produced in September 2006. The first production models had problems which have all been addressed through the years. The present day PF9 is a fine little 9mm pistol with one exception and that is the small curve radius of the trigger the end of which causes a sore spot on the trigger finger. Some suggest putting shrink tubing on the trigger or installing a trigger pad available from Kel-Tec. That is not acceptable. Just build the trigger with a comfortable curve and be done with it. I noticed at the Kel Tec Owners Group that someone has designed and manufactured an aluminum trigger with a larger radius. I want one of those.

The Ruger LC9 was introduced in January 2011 and already has a loyal following. I purchased my LC9 in July 2011 and have found it to be a fine little pistol with a few drawbacks. The first being the trigger pull. The long trigger pull takes some getting used to and in my opinion is a detriment to the pistols accuracy. If I take the time to stage the trigger, that is pull the trigger most all the way back until my trigger finger touches the rear of the trigger guard, then I can get excellent accuracy and group shots right in the bulls eye. If I pull too slowly I tend to jerk the trigger at the end of pull. Another issue I have with the trigger is that the break occurs right with the trigger pulled all the way back against the frame. I can deal with the long pull but the trigger break is just too close to the frame for me and affects my accuracy. This is the only really negative issue I have with the LC9.

The second negative to the LC9 is the firing pin system. The LC9 suffers from light firing pin strikes and failure to fire certain brands of ammunition. I think that there is something about the firing pin system that damages the primers in certain brands of ammunition. The primer metal melts and is pushed into the firing pin channel. The soft metal actually forms a plug which won’t allow the firing pin to contact the primer on subsequent rounds. The result is light strikes or failure to fire all together. I found this to be true using Remington Golden Saber +P and Sellier & Bellot 124 grain FMJ ammunition. No, it isn’t the fault of the ammunition. I shot the LC9 and the PF9 side by side using the same ammo from the same box. I fired 200 rounds of various brands and types of ammunition through each gun, alternating one magazine at a time. Both performed flawlessly and shot everything I fed them with the exception that the Ruger LC9 couldn’t shoot Remington Golden Saber or Sellier & Bellot ammunition.

I just talked with Ruger Customer Service about the FTF issue using Remington Golden saber and Sellier & Bellot ammunition. They were very nice about it, reminded me that Ruger recommends shooting only USA made ammunition. They also offered to chamfer the firing pin hole if I wanted to return the pistol to them. They felt the chamfering would remedy the FTF issue.

I like the trigger on the PF9, the pull is smooth, the break occurs more than 1/8″ sooner than the LC9 which translates to better accuracy for me.

Here’s an irritating feature that the two guns share and that is each is supplied with just one 7 round magazine and two base plates. Here again, notice the similarity in magazines provided with two base plates, one flat, and one with finger extension.

Comparison of PF9 and LC9 Specifications

                         PF9             LC9

Length:             5.85″         6″

Height:             4.3″           4.5″

Width:              .88″           .90″

Weight:            12.7 Oz      17.1 Oz

Capacity:          7+1           7+1

Barrel length:   3.1″           3.12″

I prefer the the Ruger LC9 over the Kel-Tec PF9. This is primarily because of the better quality and reliability of the LC9 over the PF9. The only negative of the LC9 is the long trigger pull and the need to pull the trigger back so close to the frame for break. If the break happened 3/16 inch sooner the Ruger would be one of the very best compact 9mm pistols you could buy. I have read some reviews of the LC9 by some shooters who have no problem at all with the trigger. This is something you need to try for yourself.

Here is another good article on the Defensive Carry Forum that compares the PF9 to the LC9. It has a series of great pictures too.

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