While not as storied a company as Winchester, Colt or Smith & Wesson, the Cocoa, Florida-based Kel-Tec has still become a serious player in the firearms industry. Founded by George Kellgren in 1991 as Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc. – more commonly just “Kel-Tec” – the company entered the firearms world in 1995, making semi-automatic handguns before expanding to rifles and shotguns.
To mark its 30th anniversary, the company returned to its firearm roots but also created a new class of handgun by introducing the P50, a semi-automatic pistol that features an ambidextrous safety and a picatinny-style rail for mounting of sights, optics or even a laser.
It isn’t the smallest handgun out there – and has a width of two inches and a height of 6.7-inches, but that is because it holds a lot of ammunition.
By utilizing a unique top-mounted, double-stack magazine, the P50 can hold a massive 50+1 capacity of 5.7x28mm ammunition.
You read that right, it is a handgun that can hold 51 rounds – and yet doesn’t utilize a massive external drum magazine. Instead, the company took a cue from the Belgian-made FN P90, a futuristic looking submachine gun that features a double stack magazine that lays horizontally along the top of the weapon. The P50 also is chambered for the same round developed for the FN90.
The result is a compact weapon that is still just 15-inches with a barrel length of 9.6-inches, while it weighed in at just 3.2 pounds. The operation of the P50 is a straight blowback system with a five-pound trigger pull.
“It’s only fitting,” said Derek Kellgren, director of sales at Kel-Tec, “that we kick off our 30th Anniversary with the introduction of a firearm that may well be our most innovative yet.”
Innovative it is, as the magazine is sandwiched between the upper and lower assembly. According to the company, the upper assembly, which is the receiver, houses the barrel and bolt assemblies and rotates open on a hinge like the hood of a car, which can in turn free the magazine. The grip, which comprises the lower assembly, houses the trigger mechanism and release lever, while the latter of which locks the upper to the lower assembly and is manipulated by the user’s thumb.
It may sound complicated, but it actually appears to be a streamlined design. While perhaps not ideal for every day carry, this compact firearm could be ideal for home defense – and provide enough rounds that there is no need to reload. If 51 rounds isn’t enough to fend off the bad guys, than moving to a better hood should be considered.
“The P50, like any firearm in our long history, is totally unique,” added Matt Stanek, Kel-Tec’s marketing manager. “It’s this heritage of innovation, quality and performance that we strive to live up to every day.”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.