Kel-Tec PF-9 vs. Taurus PT709 Slim Compact 9mm Pistols Comparison Review

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Introduction

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (left side).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, left side. PF-9 on bottom. Photo © Russ Chastain

The Kel-Tec PF-9 compact semi-automatic 9mm pistol paved the way for those who want or need a small-sized pistol for concealed carry, but prefer one with more oomph than a 32 or 380. Naturally, there have been imitators, and this article compares the PF-9 with its closest-priced competitor, the Taurus PT709 Slim.

MSRP on the PF-9 is $333, while the PT709's MSRP is $483. Actual retail prices for both should fall well below those numbers, especially for second-hand specimens. For instance, I shelled out $275 for my PF-9, and $335 for the PT709 (both were used).

Having owned, carried, and fired both of these pistols, I decided it's only right to compare them side-by-side, even though I have reviewed each of them separately. Both guns have their good and bad features, but in the end, there can only be one winner.

Let's start with the basics. Each gun holds 7 rounds in its magazine, giving a total capacity of 8 rounds. Both guns have steel slides and polymer (plastic) grip frames. Both guns are chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge, which is not the best in terms of stopping power, but it sure beats smaller rounds such as the 32 ACP and the 380 ACP.

In the photo above, you can see the magazine and slide releases on both guns, and the safety on the Taurus. If you desire a manual safety, the PT709 wins out, because the PF-9 doesn't have one. The PT709 Slim's safety blocks the trigger and locks the slide in the forward position.

As for the slide release, I have to call it a draw. Although the PF-9's frame has a well-thought-out protrusion of plastic to prevent snagging, the serrations on its release are too shallow to be useful. While the PT709 release's serrations are incredibly sharp and provide good grip (and might even slice an un-calloused thumb), it lacks similar protection, and if it didn't have the safety to shrug clothing out of the way, it would be forever snagging when it's time to draw the gun.

A compromise between the almost-not-there serrations of the PF-9 and the too-sharp serrations on the PT709 would be best.

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Weight Comparison, Internal Lock

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (right side).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, right side. PF-9 on the bottom. Photo © Russ Chastain
Weight-wise, the Kel-Tec PF-9 wins, weighing in at 18.05 ounces loaded, and 14.75 ounces unloaded, with the empty magazine inserted. Weights for the Taurus PT709 are, respectively, 22.30 and 19.00 ounces. In this case, the lightweight wins the round. The difference is tangible, and picking up both loaded pistols really brings that home... and the Taurus feels top-heavy.

If you desire an internal lock, then the PF-9 is out. Of the two, only the PT709 has an internal lock. Personally, I don't care for locks that disable guns, because when I need to put my hands on a firearm, it had better be ready to rock-and-roll.

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Width Thickness, Slides, and Trimmed Butt

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (rear view).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, rear view. PF-9 on the right, PT709 on the left. Photo © Russ Chastain

On the subject of thickness (or "thin-ness," if you prefer), the Kel-Tec PF-9 beats the Taurus PT709. The very-slim PF-9 is less than an inch thick (0.97") at its widest point (slide release), and 0.88" elsewhere. By contrast, the PT709's average width matches the widest part of the PF-9 at 0.97", and measures 1.08" wide at its widest spot (safety).

The photo above illustrates some other points, as well. The slide on the PF-9 is roughly the same height as the PT709's, but it is much more trim. Kel-Tec did a much better job of removing corners, which does double duty; it reduces weight while making the gun more comfortable to carry (and less likely to snag on clothing or "bite" the user).

You may also notice the trimmed-off butt on the bottom rear portion of the PF-9's grip. That may seem insignificant, but it's not - it reduces the length of the pistol enough to make a minor but tangible difference in how much the gun "prints," or shows its outline against clothing. That is a definite concern when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun.

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Muzzle, Slide & Frame Corners, Mag Releases

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (front view).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, front view. PT709 on the left, PF-9 on the right. Photo © Russ Chastain

In the photo above, we're looking down the wrong end of the guns. Again, the difference in slide shape is well-illustrated. The Taurus PT709 (left) has those sharp corners on top of the slide, which really makes no sense. The slide was clearly machined during the manufacturing process; why did they not remove those corners? The answer is one of slide shape design, and Kel-Tec certainly wins in that regard.

Score one for Taurus, though, when it comes to the front of the frame. Kel-Tec included an accessory rail on the PF-9 - which is moot on a carry gun, in my opinion - and which has sharp corners that sometimes dig into my hide when I'm carrying it. If I thought the accessory rail was a plus, then I'd call it a draw - but as far as I'm concerned, the rail is not much good on this popper, since I'll be toting it concealed.

That said, I could always cut off the rail corners to ease carrying, and spend a mere $34 plus tax and shipping to buy a new grip frame for the PF-9 should I decide to restore it to its original configuration. I guarantee you won't find a deal like that on a Taurus frame, which is serial-numbered. Chalk one up for Kel-Tec, which will provide some replacement parts free for the asking, and otherwise sells them at a reasonable price.

Then there's the magazine release, which was originally plastic on the Kel-Tec. In the photo, it's steel (as is the non-visible one on the Taurus), because Kel-Tec sent me a new one for free. The PT709 is the clear winner in the mag release category. Both are located well, but the Taurus release sits below the surface of the grip except for its leading edge, thus preventing accidental release of the magazine.

The Kel-Tec's mag release protrudes from the grip a bit too much (making it easy to see in the photo above), and makes it possible for the magazine to accidentally release if, say, you are carrying it in your waistband and the side lumbar support of your truck seat pushes it just right. Been there, more than once, and I don't like it.

The PF-9 has a thin plastic guide rod, with two springs of differing diameters that ride upon it. The PT709 has a Glock-like two-piece steel guide rod affair, which holds two different-diameter springs captive. I guess I'd have to give that one to Taurus, although the plastic one suits me fine as long as it keeps working.

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Sight Radius, Finish, Snagging

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (top view).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, top view. PF-9 on top, PT709 on the bottom. Photo © Russ Chastain

The accompanying photo probably shows the disparity of finish quality better than any other. The Kel-Tec PF-9 (top) is poorly-blued, with an overall splotchy appearance highlighted by stripes (and one blob) of purple. This is an early pistol, and I believe Kel-Tec has eliminated that multi-colored appearance (likely caused by uneven heat treatment of the steel) in current production guns.

The Taurus, on the other hand, has a very good, even, matte blue finish on its slide, and looks a lot nicer.

The ejection port on the PT709 has some pretty sharp corners and edges, which could easily knock a plug out of your hide if you're not careful. The PF-9 doesn't suffer from that malady.

The PT709 has a longer sight radius (5.2") than the PF-9 (4.7"), but that comes at a price... its slide is longer, and therefore heavier.

The Taurus has an easily-adjustable rear sight, but the Kel-Tec's sight is more rugged. The Kel-Tec's rear sight can be adjusted for windage by loosening its screw and sliding it right or left, and it can be shimmed upward if the gun is shooting low. This is a crude approach, but it saves money and simplifies things.

The PF-9's rear sight is narrower than that of the PT709, taking up less real estate and reducing the chances of snagging. And speaking of snagging, the Kel-Tec's front sight is lower than the PT709's, and is made even more snag-proof by the greater slope of its rear surface (that difference is more easily seen in the photo on the next page).

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Dimensions, Triggers, Accuracy

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (side view, PF-9 in front).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, side view. PF-9 in front. Photo © Russ Chastain

Size (in terms of length and height, since we've already discussed width) is another area where the Kel-Tec PF-9 beats the Taurus PT709. The PF-9 is 4.43 inches high, compared to 4.56 inches for the PT709. Length of the PF-9 is 5.94 inches, while the PT709 (contrary to the manufacturer's website) measures 6.2 inches.

Those height measurements include the rear sights, and are measured to the bottom of the magazine floorplates.

As you can see in the photo, the PT709 slide is longer than the PF-9's slide - and because of the less-severe angle at its rear end, it is also bulkier and heavier.

The PF-9 has a longer trigger reach and less room in the trigger guard, which makes it a poor choice if your fingers are very large, or if you're wearing gloves. I have fairly slim fingers, and there's not a whole lot of extra room in there. The PT709 provides a lot more room, and its trigger's rearward stance allows a more natural finger placement on the trigger.

Pull-wise, however, I have to give it to the Kel-Tec. Its double action only (DAO) trigger is much more enjoyable and easy to use than the Taurus's double action/single action (DA/SA) trigger. The Taurus trigger is just too heavy (about 7.5 pounds) and creepy to suit me. The PF-9 trigger is about 5.5 pounds, and though it creeps a bit (it should; it's double action), it is the clear winner.

Should you desire second-strike capability (to attempt to fire a round that didn't go bang the first time), you won't find it on the Kel-Tec PF-9. The Taurus PT709 does, however, provide that option.

The difference in barrel length isn't enough to worry about (2.97" for the PF-9 and 3.12" for the PT709), but the Taurus does provide better accuracy. At 15 yards, it produced groups that averaged about 2/3 the size of the Kel-Tec's six-to-eight inch groups. The PF-9's slide-to-frame fit is much looser than the PT709's, and that may be the reason for the disparity in accuracy.

of 07

Kel-Tec PF-9 vs Taurus PT709 Slim - Disassembly, Conclusion

Photo of Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim 9mm semi-auto pistols (angled side view, PF-9 in front).
Kel-Tec PF-9 and Taurus PT709 Slim compact 9mm pistols, angled side view. PF-9 in front. Photo © Russ Chastain

When it comes to disassembly, these guns are pretty close, and I guess I could call it a draw. While the Kel-Tec PF-9 is less awkward to take down than the Taurus PT709, it does require the use of a tool (the rim of a 9mm case works perfectly). Simply lock the slide back, remove the takedown pin, and control the slide as you release it and slide it off the front of the frame.

To take down the PT709, you must pull the trigger (thus dry-firing it) and then hold the trigger back while you push the slide slightly to the rear and pull down on both sides of the Glock-like takedown latch. No tools required, but a little more awkward.

When it's time to put them back together, the PT709 wins, because you can just slip the slide assembly onto the frame, pull it back, and you're done. The PF-9's barrel must be pushed downward when the slide is part-way back, and held there while the slide is pulled fully to the rear and locked in place. Not bad once you get used to it, but it can be aggravating.

The PT709 is striker-fired, and the PF-9 has a hammer. I have no personal preference between the two systems, but the PT709's second-strike capability does give it a slight edge.

Examining the slide serrations, the PT709 wins for good looks, but the PF-9 takes the prize for functionality. On a gun bristling with sharp corners elsewhere, the PT709's serrations lack the depth and grip of those on the PF-9, and make it noticeably harder to hold onto. The PF-9 manages to provide good grip without sharp edges.

When it comes to dependability, I have to rank the PF-9 higher. While the PT709 has not failed to cycle when firing the gun, it has on several occasions failed to chamber a round when I inserted a loaded magazine and released the slide. The PF-9 eats every round, every time, under all circumstances - and that is very important in a self-defense piece.

You may have noticed that, in the photo above, the Kel-Tec PF-9 is lying atop the Taurus PT709. That is no accident. It is simply where the PF-9 belongs, because it comes out on top for me. What it lacks in comparison to the PT709, it more than makes up for in its light weight, slimness, balance, dependability, concealability, and pointability. Best of all, it's the lowest-priced pistol in its class.

- Russ Chastain