Hello and welcome to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many types of guns, ammunition, and shooting sports! This week we’re diving back into another firearm chambered just in 22LR – the KelTec P17, but this time we’re talking about a new addition to the lineup for the P17 that many people have been waiting for – an optics-ready slide. KelTec is known for producing innovative and affordable firearms, and the KelTec P17 is no exception. The P17 is a reliable and fairly accurate pistol chambered in .22 LR that has gained a lot of popularity among shooters mostly for its price of just $199. However, many users wanted to improve the P17’s performance by adding a red dot sight. In response to this demand, KelTec recently released a new P17 replacement slide that includes a factory-installed red dot sight. In this edition of The Rimfire Report, we’ll take a closer look at the evolution of the P17 platform and how well the new slide provides customers with a turnkey solution for those who want to run the P17 with a red dot.
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The Rimfire Report: The KelTec P17 Gets the Red Dot Treatment
Keltec p17 slide with red dot sight
Keltec p17 specs
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Capacity: 16+1 rounds
- Barrel Length: 3.8 inches
- Overall Length: 6.7 inches
- Weight: 0.7 lbs (unloaded)
- Polymer frame
- Adjustable fiber optic sights
- Dual-function slide stop
- Ambidextrous manual safety
- Picatinny rail on the dust cover for mounting accessories
- Optional P17 Slide with pre-mounted Crimson Trace CTS-1500 Red Dot Sight
If you’re wondering if there is an off-the-shelf version of the P17 that already comes with the optics-equipped slide, the answer is unfortunately no. Additionally, you’re probably also wondering if you can mount any other optics on the slide. The answer to that one is yes and the entirety of testing Hop decided to mount a Vortex Defender CCW red dot to the pistol and as you’ll see throughout this article, we got some pretty interesting results. Overall, the optics-equipped P17 slide looks pretty neat and is easily swapped out with the regular slide in a matter of seconds without using any tools. However, remember that adding a red dot to your P17 sets the price of an optics-equipped P17 at about the same level as a SIG Sauer P322.
Okay we broke the rules, but it worked anyway (kind of)
We had the opportunity to test the optics-equipped P17 at the range a number of times over the last couple of months, and we were impressed with its performance. The Crimson Trace red dot that the slide comes with is very obviously not my favorite optic but it does have one thing going for it – it’s incredibly light. KelTec states on their site that the optics-ready P17 slide is only compatible with the Crimson Trace CTS-1500 – this however, is not true – Hop mounted a Vortex Defender CCW on it – and it works.
While the Defender CCW is just barely under 1 oz in weight, the CTS-1500 is lighter still weighing in at around 0.7 oz. The lightweight optic combined with the new and clever lightning cuts done to the slide means that the optic-equipped P17 runs just as smoothly as the regular P17 does with the ammo it likes (the pistol is fairly picky with ammo). If my assumptions are correct, you should be able to mount other RMSc pattern optics on the P17 optic-equipped slide, however, read on before you decide to do so.
Even when running CCI Standard Velocity ammunition, the new configuration of the slide ran great with the expected ammunition and appeared to have no odd side effects from the new combination at first glance. We continued to run the pistol like this until about 500 rounds in we noticed some pretty severe-looking damage. The pistol started to hiccup a bit more than usual and so we did a quick field strip to check everything out and it turns out that both of the little steel rails that the slide rides on at the rear are now cracked and chipped. The damage pictured is a combination of new damage incurred after the original damaged ear which broke at around 100 rounds into the test.
While it’s not readily apparent what exactly is causing the damage, our best-educated guess is that the slightly increased weight of the Defender CCW is causing extra pressure to be applied on these little rail sections and causing them to crack and eventually break – we’re not sure this is the case since we haven’t been able to poll a large audience of people who’ve done the same thing as us. The only other person we’ve talked to that has an optics-equipped P17 went the route of having an aftermarket CNC machined mount added to their vanilla P17 slide – 2 years later and it’s still running like a champ.
Worth the Investment?
The KelTec P17 is a fantastic pistol that is affordable, reliable, and accurate enough for a fun day at the range of plinking either suppressed or unsuppressed. The addition of the new P17 slide makes it even better by providing users with a turnkey solution to add a red dot sight to their P17.
However, my recent experiences with the P17 have left me questioning just how smart of an investment this might be if it turns out that the optic-slide combination is just going to break after a high round count – hopefully, the damaged slide Hop and I experienced is just a fluke and the market will have yet another reliable and affordable optics-ready 22LR plinker pistol to choose from.
Obviously, if you’ve had any experience with mounting a red dot to your P17 in either of the configurations I discussed today, please feel free to share your thoughts and range notes with all of us in the comments below! As always thanks for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you all next week!
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