KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol – Best $200 You’ll Spend?

KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol

I’ve owned several .22 handguns over the past five decades or so. The first gun I bought was an Iver Johnson DA revolver that you had to remove the cylinder to reload. I progressed through other .22s, including a Ruger MK II .22/45 and Single Six, Diamondback Sidekick, S& W Victory, and a few others. So, when I had the chance to review (and buy) the Kel Tec P17, I went to the front of the line. I’m glad I did, as the answer to my question at the top is a decided “sometimes.” This is one case where cheap (MSRP, $199) is good.

When you look at KelTec’s guns, you tend to notice two things immediately. First, they are different in terms of design – very innovative. Second, some of them look like they were put together with rivets. I can’t lie – I’ve not been a fan until fairly recently. I’ve since owned a few of their pistols and would love to have their cool-looking .223 RDP bullpup rifle.

Enter The KelTec P17

But when I saw the P17, I paid attention. There was an interesting gun, warts – er, rivets – and all. The thing is, KelTec guns don’t win any “gun beauty” contests – if there is such a thing – but they tend to work. Located in Cocoa, Florida, KelTec was founded in 1991 by George Kelgren. They started shipping pistols in 1995 and then expanded to rifles and shotguns. Their KSG tactical bullpup shotgun holds 14 and ejects downwards, like their RDB (.223) and RFP (.308) bullpup rifles. Being left-handed, I appreciate not being smacked in the face by an ejected case after every shot. I’m not sure why more gunmakers haven’t adopted that feature. Many have, but more haven’t. To sum up, KelTec makes guns that tend to be reliable for not a lot of money.

KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol

Live Inventory Price Checker

KelTec P17 .22LR PistolKelTec P17 .22LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22LR PistolKelTec P17 .22LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol

Announced in September of 2019, the P17 was the first under-$200 .22LR pistol to boast a 17-round capacity, as far as I know… 16-round magazine plus one in the chamber. Shipping with not two but three 16-round mags, it was pretty popular from the get-go.

  • Price. You can find these for about $200
  • Small and Light. At 12 ounces, this gun can go anywhere with you
  • Three mags included in the box – most pistols come with two
  • Fiber optic front sight, adjustable rear sights
  • Paddle mag release – this left-hander likes that!
  • Ambi safety lever
  • Hard case
  • Decent accuracy
  • The gun looks inexpensively built (but it isn’t)

KelTec P17 .22LR Pistol Specs:

  • MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 16 (three included)
  • HEIGHT: 5.3″
  • WIDTH: 1.2″
  • TRIGGER PULL: 3 lbs.
KelTec P17 .22 LR PistolKelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
KelTec P17 has a paddle magazine release.KelTec P17 has a paddle magazine release.
KelTec P17 has a paddle magazine release.

Uses For The P17

Why on earth would any shooter buy a sub-two-hundred-dollar, 12-ounce .22 pistol? You can’t carry it for self-defense… or can you? You can’t hunt varmints or small game with it… or can you? You can’t “shoot for record” with it… or can you? OK, I’ll stop, but you get it. This light, little .22, is pretty handy, as I’ve found out. Mine is accurate enough to seriously punch paper – more on that later. I’ve also stuck it in a pocket from time to time when venturing out. Let’s look at some reasons to add one to your gun collection.


Now, I don’t recommend carrying any .22LR pistol or revolver for self-defense – there are WAY better choices out there – but what if you are going to run to the grocery and have just finished shooting the little guy? Stick it in a pocket holster (please!) and take it along. Again, I don’t recommend any .22 for self-defense, but if you shoot the P17 well, my feeling is it’s a better gun to have with you than the Glock in your gun safe or the 1911 on your nightstand. The gun you have with you always trumps the one left at home.

One more thought… the KelTec P17 delivers just about zero recoil and has digested every ammo I put through it. I would think any self-respecting punk bent on hurting you for your wallet might think twice when presented with ANY gun’s muzzle. This one definitely counts in that regard. Advances in .22 ammo development (such as Federal’s Punch) have helped increase the caliber’s effectiveness.


I have hunted with a handgun for years. I am one of the less-than-1% of deer hunters in Indiana who hunts with a handgun and have taken several deer over the years with my reloads for my .44 Magnum and .45 Colt guns. I also like de-populating our trees of the local rattius arboretium, my pseudo-scientific name for tree rats – squirrels. Lots of folks in my neck of the woods hunt bushy tails. Most use shotguns, but I like a decent pistol or revolver in .22LR. This gun, even without a red dot (below), has a fiber optic front sight and an adjustable rear sight. It tends to put holes in the target that are close together, so it would be welcome (at least as a backup) on any small game hunt.

Plus, with 16 in the mag, you won’t be stopping to reload every other hickory tree.


First, I don’t recommend you enter a steel challenge with this gun just to prove a point. But, if you want to get into such shooting or similar sports, it doesn’t hurt to start out with the KelTec P17. You can learn a lot of the fundamentals of shooting (trigger control, sighting, follow-through, etc.) with this small .22LR pistol. Would a more expensive, feature-rich gun be better? Most likely. But if this is what you can afford, go for it. You have to start somewhere!

Home Defense. In a word… no.

Here is one area that I won’t “bend the rules” for. Let’s face it… if this is the only gun you have access to when things go “bump” in the night, so be it. Hopefully, you’re good enough with it that the bad guy might have a bad night. But, if you have a choice, I’d go with at least a .38 Spl, 9mm or up.

Outdoor Tool. Tool? Like a weedeater or leafblower?

This usage may only apply to rural readers, those not within a city’s limits, who can shoot where they live. We live in the boonies, and I have a 100-yard range in my backyard – I am blessed, I know – which means flying bullets and noise are not a problem. We also have (at last count) 14 chickens, down from a whole lot more. We’ve had varmint problems with our birds, including hawks, one huge owl, possums, raccoons, and (at best guess) a juvenile bald eagle. All were trying to “thin the herd.”

Some of these are legal to dispose of with a gun, others not so much. I have lost count of the number of possums and raccoons that I have dispatched, not only from our chicken coop but also from raiding the food we keep for our outdoor cats. (The federally protected birds are being kept away from the chickens by way of a chicken coop “roof” net, not guns; don’t go there). The KelTec P17 is perfect for varmint elimination. Take it with you next time you’re out, and be well-armed against Backyard Bandits!


Looking to buy more stuff for your KelTec P17? Here’s a starting spot for you – KelTec’s P17 accessory page. Don’t get excited – there are only seven items on it, one of which is the hard-shell case that comes with the gun when you buy it. There are three soft cases, $32-$40, an IWB holster, $42, and the slide with the Crimson Trace red dot (see below), $200. However, the most interesting item on this page, in my opinion, is the 16-round magazine for the P17. You know how it seems like SO many pistol manufacturers try to make a third of their yearly profit from after-market magazine sales? Have you paid upwards of $45 or so for one? Well, KelTec doesn’t believe in that. They charge exactly $14.95 for a new 16-round magazine. At that price, nothing is preventing you from stocking up on them. Good on ya, KelTec!

What About A Red Dot?

I mentioned red dot sights above. The allure of a .22 pistol, in its minimal recoil and inexpensive ammo, has been made even stronger by adding a red dot sight. Many .22 pistols benefit from adding one to their slide or rail. But what about the P17? Can you add one here?

KelTec P17 Slide with Red Dot SightKelTec P17 Slide with Red Dot Sight
KelTec P17 Slide with Red Dot Sight

The easiest and most recommended (but most expensive) way is to buy the KelTec factory Crimson Trace CTS-1500 red dot sight slide for your P17. You order the replacement slide, which includes the optic… swap it out, and you’re ready. Or, you can buy a 3D-printed optics mounting plate. There are several out there – I did a quick search and found about a dozen vendors. If you have a 3D printer, there are plans that you can download and print your own. It would be worth the extra $15 or so to get a plate – a red dot would be a great addition to this gun.

Understand that KelTec did not design the original slide for red dots. Those two screws you would remove to mount your sight are not just holding down an optics plate – they’re part of the rear slide attachment. So, act accordingly.

Target Time

KelTec P17 .22 LR PistolKelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol
KelTec P17 .22 LR Pistol

I wanted to shoot the gun – I hadn’t shot it in a while. So, I grabbed some homemade targets and headed to the backyard. I set up a Caldwell Ultimate Shooting Stand at 20 yards and let fly with three different loads.

I set targets up at 15 yards. As is typical in Indiana, the weather had changed and it was blowing and spitting rain. Plus, I had just had a dilated eye exam yesterday, so I didn’t trust my ancient eyeballs much past 15 yards. Anyway, I grabbed three .22 loads that I’ve had good results from with different guns before. They were CCI Mini-Mag HPs, Aguila .22 Super Extra RN, and Fiocchi Range Dynamics LRN. All bullets were 40 grains.

Live Inventory Price Checker

Here are some targets…

As you can see from the groups, the wind moving the targets around didn’t help, but the foundation is there with all three loads to further experiment with them. I do believe that the CCI load (once I figured out where to hold on to the target) might be the one to zoom in on. When I went to a center hold (I typically use 6:00, but I had not adjusted the rear sight which printed a bit high), 7 of the 10 I shot were in the center white box. A red dot would help with accuracy, but I went with what the gun came with.

KelTec P17 accuracy with CCI Mini-MagKelTec P17 accuracy with CCI Mini-Mag
KelTec P17 accuracy with CCI Mini-Mag
Agulia .22 Super Extra Agulia .22 Super Extra
Agulia .22 Super Extra
Fiocchi Range DynamicsFiocchi Range Dynamics
Fiocchi Range Dynamics

Magazine Loading

You gotta get boolets in the mags to shoot da gun, a pistol truism. I wanted to try a couple of mag loaders I’d picked up at various industry shows, so I thought I’d mention them. There’s always the Uplula – I own two of them – but did not have one for rimfire.

Mag loaders, L-R: Uplula, Bullet Blaster, Taylor TacticalMag loaders, L-R: Uplula, Bullet Blaster, Taylor Tactical
Mag loaders, L-R: Uplula, Bullet Blaster, Taylor Tactical

First is the Bullet Blaster, which costs $20. This Swiss Army Knife of magazine loaders works for pistol mags and rifles of all calibers. It is ingenious. The second one is the Taylor Tactical Supply P17 loader. This $10 loader does one thing – it loads P17 mags. You could also use it on other .22 mags, but it’s purpose-built for the P17. Either of these or the rimfire Uplula should help speed up your loading process. You have three mags with the gun – load ‘em quick!

Cleaning The P17

I tend to overlook cleaning my .22 guns, but I shouldn’t. They need cleaning like centerfires. So, how do you do that here? It’s pretty simple and is explained in detail in the detailed manual that comes with the gun. First, make sure the gun is empty, mag removed, and the chamber clear. If you’ve added the threaded barrel adapter, remove it and put the cover nut back on.

Cleaning the KelTec P17Cleaning the KelTec P17
Cleaning the KelTec P17

Next, put the gun on “Safe” and pull down what KelTec calls the buffer, but Glockies may know them as takedown levers. Retract the slide all the way and lift it up, off the frame. Allow it to go forward, off the muzzle. That’s it. Clean as needed. To re-assemble, make sure the hammer is back and put the slide back over the muzzle, and retract it while holding down the buffer tabs. That should allow it to go all the way to the rear. Place it down on the frame, pressing it into position. It may take a time or two to do this until you get the hang of it. Make sure the slide functions fully – that’s it.


Are you looking for a decent-shooting .22 pistol? Is your wallet a bit thin? Need something with a greater capacity than 10 rounds in the magazine? Want it to be made in the good ol’ U.S.A.? Look no further than the KelTec P17. Sure, it isn’t going to get mistaken for a Sig P322 or S&W M&P .22 pistol, but who cares? I’m a function-over-form guy, and I sure like mine. It could look like old sweat socks, but I’m good if it puts bullets close together downrange with regularity. I sure think you could do worse. For a couple of C notes, you can have a straight-shootin’, inexpensive pistol that goes ‘bang’ most every time you pull the trigger, and is cheap to feed. What’s not to like?

About Mike Hardesty

With experience spanning over 45 years, Mike Hardesty has long enjoyed shooting and reloading. An inveterate reloader, he casts bullets and reloads for a diverse array of firearms, each handled with long-practiced precision. Living in rural Indiana, his homestead boasts a personal 100-yard range where he shares his love for guns to his four sons, their wives, and eleven grandchildren. As a recognized author, his writings have been featured in notable platforms like Sniper Country, Bear Creek Arsenal Blog, Pew Pew Tactical, TTAG, Dillon Precision’s Blue Press, and Gun Made, revealing his ongoing passion for firearms at the age of 72.

Mike HardestyMike Hardesty

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, Ammoland will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Shopping cart