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View Full Version : S&W 638 VS. KelTec PF-9 (really extensive review with pictures)


Anchors
07-31-2011, 2:17 AM
This is my first in-depth review and comparison, so please go easy on me. haha. Yes, the S&W is loaded because it is my nightstand gun. Get over it, my finger never touched the trigger. Hope someone enjoys this and finds it useful. I have included a public poll on which of the two you prefer or think you would prefer. Thanks!

Let me preface this by saying these were both purchased with concealability in mind. They were purchased a few days apart, less than a week ago. This is not a .38 Special vs. 9mm thread. This is the first revolver I have owned and the first product from either company I have owned (though I have shot others from both before). As for my range impressions, they are both equally snappy and really hard to manage. Both much more so than the Ruger LCP I used to have. I'm thinking about switching to slower, heavier bullets and adding Hogue grips to help curtail muzzle flip. I added the magplate extension to the PF-9 after the range trip, so no report on whether it helps. The pinky grip did help on my LCP though. The PF-9 trigger is somewhat long, but surprisingly light and smooth. The 638 trigger is really long, heavy, and not so smooth in DA. It has an amazingly short, light, and crisp SA from the factory though. Overall, due to recoil they both suck to shoot though and aren't a whole lot of fun for the range. I was also in the Arizona desert heat and tired from shooting my M1 Garand extensively for the first time, so I might have been limp wristing or just plain whining about it. My girlfriend liked shooting the 638 more and refused to shoot the PF-9 after a single magazine.

The PF-9 Cerakote finish is a medium tan color (which is skewed by some pictures, lighting, etc). The 638 has an aluminum silver frame with stainless steel cylinder, barrel, and cylinder release.
My first impressions were that the color was really cool, but the Cerakote was kind of crappy and cheap, but after I cleaned it up with some CLP it looked really nice and I changed my mind. I thought my Crossbreed holster wore off some of the finish, but it was actually some of the dye from the holster leather rubbing off onto the gun after drawing. The leather dye was easily removed from the PF-9 with some CLP and the holster's finish was not damaged.
The 638's finish is really nice looking, the aluminum's finish seems a bit more delicate as it easily scratched pretty badly on a hidden test spot I did with light strokes from a brass brush.

All in all though, they both look pretty sweet:

http://i53.tinypic.com/293f0c5.jpg

This picture is most representative of the PF-9's actual color.

http://i51.tinypic.com/11sgger.jpg

Anticipating my PF-9 purchase, I had ordered a Crossbreed Supertuck ($70) in black cowhide a while back (also available in light/natural colored horsehide). It took about a month from order to delivery, but it was worth it. It is a great holster (the best I have ever owned) and Crossbreed customer service is unbeatable. It rides really low if you adjust it down. I opted to adjust the cant forward one peg and then raise them both up one peg (dropped the gun lower into my pants). Totally concealable.
I picked up a Blackhawk Inside-The-Pants ($15) in Size 8 after I bought the 638. I had previously used one of these with my LCP with great success. They are nice because you can use them IWB, pocket, or on the nightstand. They are durable and don't retain moisture at all. Very good value for the price, still doesn't conceal as well as the Crossbreed, but I will probably get both for both guns. The Crossbreed is much better for all day carry, whereas the Blackhawk wins for the glove box gun that you throw on real quick before you head into Walmart or when you hear a noise out front and don't think open carry/gun in hand is warranted. Both very different and very important roles.

http://i56.tinypic.com/mkixqt.jpg

The Crossbreed is best at about three to four o'clock whereas the Blackhawk is great to tuck in appendix carry in a rush. The Blackhawk also works decent at three to four o'clock, but I didn't try appendix carry with the Crossbreed.
They both disappear, even on a big guy in a relatively tight CGN shirt who isn't wearing a gun belt (I normally do wear a belt when carrying and recommend anyone else do the same, it makes a world of difference in comfort!). Here they are, worn at the same time.

http://i55.tinypic.com/241vwog.jpg

They are about the same size for all practical purposes with the KelTec weighing slightly less (12.7 ounces versus the 638's 15.1 ounces). The KelTec grip is also slightly slimmer.
I found the cylinder/slide width and overall length to be completely irrelevant as that part of the gun was tucked far enough down to be completely in my pants. Grip height and width are my main concerns and with that they are about even.

http://i56.tinypic.com/67ipfp.jpg

Cases contained the same crap. KelTec gives you a wrap-around trigger lock while S&W gives you a cable lock. They both contain the same reading material. (eyes rolling).
The real winner here is the case itself. KelTec gives you a real deal hard case. Once locked it is pretty solid and I feel comfortable enough with it to try it for airline travel next month. It reminds me of the material on cheap Plano cases, but with a better locking system.
S&W used to send a blue hard case with their revolvers, but they recently stopped. In fact, the first one my buddy pulled out had the hard case, but the gun looked a bit beat up (like a display model), so I asked for a different one, he then pulled out this one with the cardboard. He said he wasn't allowed to switch them because the serial number was on the outside of the boxes and his boss would get mad haha.

http://i56.tinypic.com/op22dz.jpg

Kel-Tec PF9 was $330 for the tan model after $20 shipping and $20 FFL transfer in Arizona.
S&W 638 was $403 after tax ($369 base price).

saki302
07-31-2011, 4:03 AM
I own a PF9, a scandium 340 and a M60 .357. The PF9 recoil never bothered me the least even with {P loads (tested two mags for function), but those .357 snubs are pretty evil.

For concealability, the J frame with clip-draw and PF9 with pocket/belt clip are about even.

The way I see it, comparing the .357 to 9mm +p, I give the nod in power to the snub, but you get an extra shot or two in the auto. Comparing a .38+P to a 9mm +p, the 9 probably has a bit more punch even with the short barrel.

I wouldn't feel under-armed with any of the above- what I'd pick would probably depend on my mood that day.

-Dave

den888
07-31-2011, 7:53 AM
Nice review!

MrExel17
07-31-2011, 9:04 AM
Dude good job on the review!

Anchors
07-31-2011, 3:02 PM
I own a PF9, a scandium 340 and a M60 .357. The PF9 recoil never bothered me the least even with {P loads (tested two mags for function), but those .357 snubs are pretty evil.

For concealability, the J frame with clip-draw and PF9 with pocket/belt clip are about even.

The way I see it, comparing the .357 to 9mm +p, I give the nod in power to the snub, but you get an extra shot or two in the auto. Comparing a .38+P to a 9mm +p, the 9 probably has a bit more punch even with the short barrel.

I wouldn't feel under-armed with any of the above- what I'd pick would probably depend on my mood that day.

-Dave

I agree that they are about even in concealability and I also don't feel under-armed with either handgun.
One of the main reasons I got these was my lack of confidence in my Ruger LCP in .380. Great little gun and really easy to conceal, but I just don't like the .380.
A .380 is, of course, better than nothing though and certainly better than the .22, .25, .32 found in other guns of similar size.

Out of the two above, it really does depend on my mood too. Clothing concerns are about even with both as well.

Nice review!

Thank you!

Dude good job on the review!

Thank you!