Building guns straight from our dreams, the designers, and engineers at KelTec fascinate us once again with the recent release of the P50 5.7x28mm pistol. Centered around the FN P90 magazine, the P50 features everything you love (or hate) about KelTec. A lot of polymer, stamped metal, exposed screws, high-cap magazines, and loads of fun. The P50 comes standard with a hard plastic carrying case and two ProMag 50 round magazines. A nylon strap with quick detach swivel hardware is also included.
Weight (unloaded) – 3.2lbs
Overall Length – 15 inches
Barrel Length – 9.6 inches
Barrel Threads – 1/2-28 TPI
Height – 6.7 inches
Width – 2 inches
Trigger Pull – 5lbs
MSRP – $1,095
The P50 is a large format pistol with (you guessed it) a 50-round magazine and direct blowback action. On top sits a full-length Picatinny with integrated adjustable iron sights. There are windage adjustments for the rear sight and the front post can be raised or lowered for elevation. The sights sit flush with the top of the rail making them difficult to see but they’re still functional. Most people will be putting an optic on top anyway. The upper handguard has a classic “cheese grater” look that, in my opinion, is a timeless design. It gives the P50 a rugged aesthetic which I enjoy.
The barrel measures 9.6 inches long and has a 1/2×28 threaded muzzle. KelTec includes a simple thread protector. Because this isn’t a traditional pistol with a moving barrel, suppressing the P50 is easy and doesn’t require a piston.
At the rear of the upper is a common AR-style charging handle. To load a round in the chamber, pull back on the T-shaped charging handle just like you would on an AR. The left side has a latch to lock the handle in place. The P50 bolt rides on two spring-loaded guide rods that compress and recoil during firing, stripping new rounds into the chamber. There is no bolt lock on the P50. The entire bolt group can be removed and ready for cleaning in seconds. Putting it back together is easier than most polymer pistols.
Sandwiched between the upper and lower, the magazine faces upwards and locks in place when the P50 is closed. If you’ve never seen a P90 magazine, they are quite unique. Cartridges rotate 90 degrees as they are being loaded and double stack inside the magazine body. Having a clear magazine makes it easy to see how many rounds remain. Loading one for the first time requires some patience, but the results are worth it. I had 0 malfunctions in the 250 rounds I fired. The P50 comes with two ProMag 50 round P90 magazines.
The polymer lower features lots of Allen screws and has a built-in picatinny rail for accessories. Behind the lower rail is an odd angled molded section that connects to the trigger guard. This can be used as a grip section. It also serves as a relief cutout for the KelTec carbine kit (more on that below). It is possible to hold the P50 with a traditional thumb forward position, but I found using the integrated angled grip much easier to use. The aluminum trigger has vertical serrations for improved grip and has a slight curve to its face.
The pistol grip features a frag style pattern and has a grip angle similar to a 1911. I wish the front strap had some more texture. You can feel the seam where the two polymer halves meet. It’s not uncomfortable by any means, just something that would be nice to have. Above the grip sits the 45-degree ambidextrous safety selector switch. It’s firm and snaps into position easily.
An upper release lever sits at the back of the lower and doubles as a beaver tail. The release lever is polymer and has horizontal serrations for added grip. Just above the release lever, and on the bottom of the grip are quick detach points for a sling. KelTec includes a nylon adjustable sling with the P50. It can be used as a traditional sling to carry the pistol and doubles as a shooting aid. Pushing out and putting tension on the sling when shooting creates a very stable platform.
To open and load the P50, push down on the rear release lever and pull the upper outwards hinging it forward. The front hinge is reinforced with metal and should hold up over time. Place the magazine facing upward into the lower section and firmly shut the upper. Pull back on the charging handle to load and it’s ready to fire. Make sure to clear your weapon every time you finish. With no bolt hold feature, it could be easy to leave a round in the chamber. The P50 will fire a chambered round without the magazine.
Using and shooting the P50 is a complete joy – it was hard to wipe the grin off my face at the end of the range session. The 5.7 cartridge has little recoil and shoots like a laser beam. It’s flat, accurate, and fast! With a barrel length very close to the original P90 10.4-inch barrel (which the 5.7 was developed for), the P50 9.6-inch barrel delivers similar velocities in a smaller package. Spent cases eject consistently at a 45-50 degree angle to the right side of the shooter. This may be problematic for some left-handed shooters, but I had no issues.
Ringing steel at 100 yards with the P50 is easy, and we even hit a 36-inch gong at 300 yards (more misses than hits at 300, but it was still fun). For my testing, I topped the P50 with a 3-MOA Vortex Razor red dot. It complemented the P50 well and made for fast target acquisition and follow-up shots. From the bench at 25 yards, I was consistently getting 1-inch groups. With a bipod and magnified optic on top, I bet you could get that group even smaller. Mag dumps with the P50 is the fastest way to spend $50, but the experience is hard to beat. It’s just plain fun!
The trigger pull weight is advertised at 5lbs, but it feels lighter than that. There is slight uptake before a clean break. The reset is a bit long, but positive and still allows for rapid shots. I have no complaints about how the trigger felt or operated. Trigger snobs probably won’t like it, but from the factory, I think it’s great.
Suppressing the P50 takes it to another level. The recoil is cut in half and paired with a red dot you can absolutely unload on targets and keep them on paper. And as I previously mentioned, the barrel is fixed in the P50, so you don’t need a piston for suppressed shooting. I used a SiCo Osprey .45K and had no problems cycling. If I had a .22 caliber suppressor threaded in 1/2×28, that would have been my first choice. Just make sure your can is rated for 5.7 before using it.
Shooting paper: boring. So I wanted to take the P50 out to the ranch to see what it could do on hogs and varmints. I installed the sling and went walking the game trails. The sling is comfortable to use, and fully loaded the P50 weighs about 5 pounds. Although we never saw any hogs to actively engage, we did trap one. At 25 yards we stood back and dropped the hog using FN’s 40 gr V-Max sporting round. The hog immediately went lights out, and I was impressed.
Overall, I had zero problems or malfunctions with the P50. It fed reliably and functioned as expected. The P50 size and weight make for a soft shooting experience and it’s highly maneuverable. Having a 9.6-inch barrel gets the best performance out of the 5.7×28 mm cartridge. Unfortunately, due to ammo shortages, I was only able to test with the FN 40 gr V-Max ammunition. As more manufacturers adopt the 5.7 platform and demand increases, ammo should be readily available and (hopefully) cheaper. My only concern is with the charging handle. The metal is a bit thinner than I’d like. I could see this as a potential problem if someone was in a hurry and torqued the charging handle in a weird way.
Since its initial release late last year, several companies started making accessories for the P50. FarrowTech makes an awesome side-folding pistol brace. Custom Smith Manufacturing has a nice rear pic rail adapter to use with SB tactical folding adapters. At SHOT Show this year, KelTec announced they will be selling a carbine kit for P50 owners. It features a folding rear stock and a 16-inch threaded carbine-length barrel. The kit can be installed at home with standard tools.
Traditionally KelTec weapons are in high demand and nearly impossible to find. That’s not the case with the P50. KelTec has ramped up production and they should be easy to find at your local gun shop. Three shops near me have them on the shelf for just under $1,000. The P50 is one of the most versatile 5.7×28 mm platforms on the market which is why I’m honoring it with the title of – King of the 5.7.